Bridge 3 Research Findings

Thinking and Working Like an Artist Using a Rigorous Artistic Process, An Artist’s Work Process


Bridges supported teachers’ ability to identify the characteristics of thinking and working like artists, and to observe their students’ artistic development. The program emphasized creative, critical and complex cognitive thinking, as opposed to rote recall of information. Artists typically learn to observe, reflect, construct meaning, represent complex ideas and engage in the higher levels of Bloom’s taxonomy in the cognitive and affective domains to create their art, and the program supported that level of artistic thinking for students.

Students learned a rigorous series of steps for developing and expressing story ideas through the arts and language. The steps of the artistic process included brainstorming, exploring and play, developing an idea, reflection, feedback, and revision. The teaching artists were exceptionally skillful at engaging students through remote learning, and ArtsConnection provided excellent technical and logistical support for sustained instruction. Students practiced developing and communicating ideas and emotions in non-verbal, verbal, and artistic domains. The teachers explored the relationship between multi-sensory learning and developing language skills. Artists helped students explore using their imagination to “visit” and experience different settings through their five senses. The use of metaphors and imagery involved higher-level thinking.

According to teachers

  • Students were able to use their physical body to represent a setting/character and then use vocal expression to describe. This was then transferred to the visual storytelling process.
  • It broadened my horizons in realizing that artistry and puppetry can coincide in both a physical and virtual world, with or without the typical artist tools.
  • I have a lot of students in my class that are shy and have difficulty coming out of their comfort zones to change their voice and read with expression. Creating Bridges supported their ability to read with expression using their puppet as an outlet.
  • It has allowed me to bring the arts to all areas, especially literacy. I have made puppets for other literacy units.
  • Bridges helped me learn how to easily incorporate art and puppetry into my ELA lessons. Also, it helped me learn how to incorporate art into social-emotional learning.
  • It gave my students an opportunity to express themselves more, especially their feelings.
  • They enjoyed being able to get creative and express themselves. It allowed them to release their feelings.
  • They enjoyed being expressive with arts and acting out with [the teaching artist]. They were all involved and excited when we had ArtsConnection.
  • Giving children control of their own artistic process allows every child to take what they have and create what they want. It is more equitable because they are using the materials and ideas they have.
  • We’ve been so surprised with the students with disabilities and the way that they’ve responded and how they’ve really come out of their shell throughout the program….For us it shows that they’re capable, that they’re progressing.
  • [The program] helped me to truly see how the students were able to take their thoughts and emotions, bring them out of their bodies and begin to be able to understand what happens are a physical level and integrate them
  • I have a student whose artistic abilities came out when [the teaching artist] was in the room. He is often quiet and not involved, but when we did Bridges, he was so creative and engaged.
  • Children began to become more comfortable with who they are and understanding other children’s feeling, facial expressions and overall auras in reference to emotions. Seeing how others express themselves and knowing that it is okay that they are feeling that way – understanding that it is all “normal” and to allow themselves to feel it and work with and even how to shift it – how the movements help in the process. They begin to take it all in. The realizations come through while they are having fun and understanding their own bodies and beginning others.
  • It was a way for the students to be able to interact with each other and, most importantly, have fun.