Ravenswood Elementary School

Essentials Classes:

Arts & Physical Education

All Chicago Public School students receive “essentials” classes. These classes are designed to supplement students’ education in a variety of ways. Here at Ravenswood, we offer four essentials classes: Dance, Drama, Physical Education (PE) and Visual Arts. And, because we’re what CPS calls a “magnet cluster” school focused on the arts, we also integrate arts into our primary curriculum.

Please scroll down or click below to learn more about each aspect of our arts & essentials approaches, including our curriculum and teachers:

Arts Integration



Physical Education

Visual Arts

Our Essentials Partners

Our essentials teachers’ wish lists and supply needs


Arts Integration


As a fine-arts magnet cluster school, we offer integrate art into our core curriculums, like math and literacy, as well as offering arts oriented classes. This integration may include learning about bone structure through artwork, holding an in-class poetry slam to share our own poems and writings, or attending a student-led play in the gym.

We believe this integrated arts approach provides students with opportunities to interact with standard educational materials in new ways. We’ve found, through extensive testing, that this integrated arts approach helps our students achieve higher test scores, creates a better understanding of classroom material, builds creativity, supports critical and analytical thinking and strengthens students’ interest in and connection to learning.

For example, our dance and first grade teams worked together to create a unit integrating studies of space, the planets and patterns within our solar system with explorations of shape, energy, size, level, speed and patterns in movement. Students investigated topics of orbit, rotation, pattern and more through both movement and traditional research. For middle school students, the science department integrated dance and movement concepts with studies of force and motion. Students investigated Newton’s Laws through movement explorations and connected their dance learning with their science learning.

Mr. Guidry, our drama teacher, has developed a number of integrated drama units with classroom teachers. One such example involved creating masks with sixth grade students in support of a literacy unit on Greek theater, mythology and the book, The Giver. He also developed a unit with a third grade teacher in which the class performed part of Another Butterfly, a book about the Holocaust, for other classrooms. With fifth grade students, he taught a unit in which the students took poetry they had written and learned to perform it in a dynamic way.

Our visual arts teacher, Ms. Kitty, also works closely with classroom teachers to develop arts integration units. For example, third grade teachers needed to boost student comprehension of geometry concepts. Ms. Kitty instructed students to build three-dimensional objects that could be used to construct Chicago landmark buildings. The teachers and Ms. Kitty used common math terminology to build the objects, and students were able to connect and interact with the material in a new, tactile way. Test scores increased in student assessments taken after the unit.



The Ravenswood Dance Program seeks to nurture students as movers, thinkers, creators and performers as they investigate and experiment with movement, learn the fundamentals of dance technique, explore various dance styles, build and choreograph dances and present and perform their learning for others.

Dance builds creative thinking, problem solving and collaboration skills. Learning through movement allows students to build kinesthetic connections as they experience the world around them, while encouraging a creative outlet for expression.


Students in every grade experience what it’s like to be choreographers, performers and audience members.

  • Pre-K through 2nd-grade dance classes focus on creative movement, including spatial awareness, dancing fast and slow, creating shapes, freeze dancing to various music, creating patterns in dance and more!

    • Students should wear gym shoes to dance class and be ready to move and have fun!

  • 3rd-4th grade students learn about the basic elements of dance, universal dance concepts, and spend the majority of their class time exploring different dance styles including jazz, ballet, hip hop and modern dance forms. Students learn the basic fundamentals of these styles, research the history of the dance form and its artists, learn and create choreography within each style and present work for their peers and families in school showcases.

    • Students should wear gym shoes with socks to dance class and be prepared to dance in gym shoes for some dance forms and in socks or bare feet for others. Dance shoes are provided.

  • 5th-8th grade students will participate in elective courses for enrichment classes. The dance electives include deep investigations into specific dance styles, studying dance work from specific artists and choreographers, the history and impact of dance in our culture, or creating collaborative work in a variety of settings. All of these courses have a heavy focus on dance-making and the creative process.

    • Students should come to class with gym shoes and socks and be prepared to dance in gym shoes for some dance forms and in socks or bare feet for others. Dance shoes are provided.

Meet our Dance Teacher:



Ravenswood’s Drama program is designed around three primary goals:

  • To create social and emotional awareness within our students

  • To help students develop empathy and to understand their own feelings, as well as the feelings of others

  • To provide an outlet for an intelligence of which a student may yet be unaware or a genius yet undiscovered

When students develop empathy through their understanding of fictional characters in the works they read, write and perform, this often leads students to a better understanding of their own real-life relationships with family, friends and peers. In drama class, students do a variety of activities appropriate to their age level, including game play, acting out scenes and improvising skits.  We encourage students to achieve all of our instructional goals for drama:

  1. Develop awareness of communication choices and how they affect those around us.

  2. Develop safe conflict resolution skills by exploring multiple points of view in drama settings.

  3. Increase confidence in public speaking.

  4. Analyze and reflect on human behavior in others and ourselves.

  5. Develop interpersonal and intra-personal intelligence.

  6. Develop skills in collaboration and the inquiry process.

  7. Analyze literature and create emotional connections with characters and their transformations.

  8. Integrate student's knowledge and understanding of drama with the study of other academic subjects.

  9. Develop an understanding of why people and characters feel and act the way they do.

  10. Develop an understanding of other cultures and practices and how we all fit together.

In the classroom:

Our drama curriculum builds these skills in many different ways as students mature.

PreK, Kindergarten, First Grade & Second Grade

  • Develop focus and concentration through participation in drama activities.

  • Engage in dramatic play to create and review stories.

  • Use movement and pantomime to express emotions, characters and stories.

  • Identify the primary tools of the actor.

  • Solve problems through creative dramatics.

  • Develop physical control and storytelling through tableau.

  • Portray characters vocally and non-vocally.

  • Participate in collaborative decision making about artistic choices.

  • Develop spatial awareness and physical control of themselves.

  • Use their own words to create and retell stories.

  • Develop gesture and vocal expression.

  • Work in pairs to create, rehearse and perform brief stories.

  • Reflect on their own work  and the work of classmates.

  • Recognize plot sequence in performance and be able to act out simple dramas in linear and non-linear forms.

Third, Fourth & Fifth Grades

  • Create pantomimes out of concrete sense memory and abstract concepts.

  • Develop appropriate onstage and offstage behavior.

  • Write shorts plays on topics relevant to their lives.

  • Express multiple characters through use of body and voice.

  • Reflect on their own work and effectively give and receive constructive criticism.

  • Develop vocal expression and literacy through storytelling.

  • Collaborate with other students to create theatrical works.

  • Explore social and ethical issues discovered in dramatic material.

  • Use improvisation to creatively solve problems.

  • Define the roles of the jobs in Theatre.

  • Enhance literacy by writing plays in groups, pairs, and individually.

  • Use world literature to create dramas.

  • Explore different versions of a story through the lens of other cultures and time periods.

Sixth, Seventh & Eighth Grades

  • Discover varying styles of theatre to develop performance, design, and construction skills.

  • Develop their body and vocal range through performance of scripted and improvised drama.

  • Design and create simple sets for classroom dramas.

  • Compare and contrast  similar themes from different plays.

  • Begin taking on the role of director to collaborate in dramas written by students and playwrights.

  • Use props and costumes to define characters, cultures and time periods.

  • Analyze live theatre using theatre vocabulary.

  • Develop effective auditioning skills.

  • Write original and adapted scenes and short plays.

  • Explore peaceful conflict resolution skills through creative dramatics, role-playing and improvisation.

  • Use personal experiences to create dramatic performances and compare/contrast those experiences with other cultures and time periods.

  • Take on the responsibilities of the different jobs in the Theatre.

Our Drama Instructor


Physical Education

Physical activity education in school is the cornerstone of an active lifestyle for all students. Our Physical Education (PE) program provides the skills, knowledge and attitudes to encourage physical activity after school, at home and in the community.

In PE, we will work to:

  • Establish a positive, safe learning environment for all students

  • Teach a variety of physical activities that make class fun and enjoyable

  • Create maximum opportunities for all students to be successful

  • Promote student honesty, integrity and good sportsmanship

  • Guide students into becoming skillful and confident movers

  • Facilitate the development and maintenance of physical fitness

  • Assist students in setting and achieving personal goals

  • Provide specific, constructive feedback to help students master motor skills

  • Afford opportunities for students to succeed in cooperative and competitive situations

  • Prepare and encourage students to practice skills and be active for a lifetime!

Our goal is to encourage our students to enjoy a lifetime of physical activity and good health!


Our PE Instructor


Visual Arts

Our Visual Arts program is rooted in Lois Hetland’s “Eight Studio Habits” approach to teaching art. This approach encourages children to think like artists and to develop an artistic mind. Process, in this approach, is as important if not more important, than the end product.

The Eight Studio Habits are:

  1. Develop Craft: Proper use of and care for studio tools, materials and workspace

  2. Engage and Persist: Embrace problem-solving and develop focus

  3. Envision: Picture mentally what cannot be directly observed to plan projects

  4. Express: Create works that convey an idea, feeling or personal meaning

  5. Observe: Look more closely than usual, discover what otherwise might not be seen

  6. Reflect: Question, explain and evaluate artwork

  7. Stretch and Explore: Reach beyond one’s capacity; embrace play and mistakes

  8. Understand the Art World: Learn about art history and present art practice


Ms. Kitty has set up her art classroom into “studios,” including painting, dry construction, wet construction, technology, collage, clay and fashion. Students learn to “open” and “close” each studio, independently bringing out the materials and later putting them away. Our Pre-K students learn this practice as well, beginning with the painting studio and then applying this practice as each additional studio is introduced. This approach helps students gain a sense of ownership and autonomy as developing artists, internalizing the process of creating art on their own.

In the art classroom, students are taught a mini-lesson and then sent into the studios to work on their art. Projects fall under a variety of parameters, including “must-do” (assigned) projects, “showcase” projects (often displayed outside classrooms), and “bring home” projects. Students are also occasionally given the freedom to choose what type of project they will create.

To learn more about the work Ms. Kitty has done with Every Art, Every Child, a project in arts integration: http://everyarteverychild.org/foundation/whoweare.html

To learn about the experience in Ms. Kitty’s art classroom from a student teacher’s point of view: http://adventuresofanartist-teacher.blogspot.com/2011/01/student-teaching-at-ravenswood.html

Our Visual Arts Instructor


Essentials Supplies & Wish Lists

We really appreciate the kindness and generosity of everyone who purchases school supplies or donates to our essentials classrooms. You can send supplies with your student, or drop them off at school any time.

We always need new & unused socks, gallon ziplock bags, expo / dry erase markers, paper towels, baby wipes, cleaning wipes, cleaning spray, tissues, pencils, pens, tape, and composition notebooks!

We also recycle in the art room, so we’ll happily take and repurpose your paper towel rolls, small boxes, art supplies, corks, wood pieces, costume jewelry, clean toys, or anything else you think our artists might find useful in their art making!


Arts Partnerships



FAME is a committee of parents and teachers focused on the support, evolution and community awareness of the arts and arts integration at Ravenswood Elementary School.

FAME meetings are held once a quarter. Our scheduled meetings are listed below and open to anyone who would like to support fine arts at Ravenswood. Please click on a meeting to add it to your calendar or send us an email at FAME@RavenswoodElementary.org


Artsonia is a digital student art museum that lets Ravenswood students upload images* of their artwork - whether at school or at home - and share those images with family and friends. Pictures of the artwork can be printed on t-shirts, mugs, aprons, jewelry and other great items that make lovely gifts for friends and family. Friends of Ravenswood School (FORS) receives 20% of all Ravenswood order totals.

*Please note that students often upload their own artwork, so photos may be blurry or appear later than expected.  

Visit Ravenswood@Artsonia!


The Center for Community Arts Partnerships (CCAP) at Columbia College Chicago is committed to transforming lives through the arts. To fulfill that mission, CCAP develops programs that expand learning, connect Columbia College Chicago to schools and communities and build a new generation of engaged artists.

CCAP offers classes to Ravenswood learners before and after school, free of charge, taught by talented, experienced local teaching artists.