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Opening Minds through the Arts

Opening Minds through the Arts | 2025 E. Winsett, Tucson, AZ 85719 | (520) 225-4900

How OMA Works

Arts integration curriculum at each grade level is determined by brain-based research, multi-intelligence learning and the neurological development of children.

A team of professional art integration specialists, teaching artists and classroom teachers work with all students in an OMA School.

Partnerships with artists, arts organizations and the University of Arizona strengthen instruction and promote collaborate bonds in the community.

The Tucson Unified OMA program recharges educators' passion for teaching and assists them in developing techniques that fully engage the multiple intelligences of all students.

Kindergarten

Skill Matched with Neurological Development

Listening - Auditory acuity and perceptual development

Teaching Artists: Sample Instructional Method

Instrumental Ensembles - Wind or string trios play classical and contemporary music that align with classroom topics

Rationale

Musical training increases sensitivity to & recognition of sounds and patterns, which leads to oral language and literacy development.

 

1st Grade

Skill Matched with Neurological Development

Speaking - Language acquisition - perceptual development is linked to language development particularly important for English-language learners

Teaching Artists: Sample Instructional Method

Opera Duo - After listening to great works of opera sung by the duo, students create their own story, lyrics, and music to stage and perform

Rationale - Opera links writing and music by focusing on comprehension and composition.  A phrase in music is comparable to a sentence.  Several phrases = a paragraph; longer musical works = chapters or an entire book.

 

2nd Grade

Skill Matched with Neurological Development

Physical Movement and Control (Kinesthetic awareness) and Critical Thinking

Teaching Artists: Sample Instructional Method

Creative Movement - Dance Artist help students to interpret and respond to music while collaborating and solving problems creatively

Rationale - Physical movement to spoken language builds bridges of understanding and internalization required for literacy.  Students interpret and respond to a diversity of dance patterns and music thus expanding their vocabularies, enhancing listening/viewing skills and begin thinking critically.

3rd Grade

Skill Matched with Neurological Development

Self-expression, teamwork, problem solving and creativity (Collaboration and improvisation)

Teaching Artist: Sample Instructional Method

Recorder & Keyboard - Daily shared reading of musical scores and composing and improvising original works

Rationale

Concrete reasoning occurs with listening, processing visual information, and coordinating movement.  Phonics, musical notation and math link auditory centers to left and right parts of the brain.

4th Grade

Skill Matched with Neurological Development

Abstract Reasoning that combine listening and physical skills (Development of fine motor skills)

Teaching Artists: Sample Instructional Method

Violin and Thematic Study, Professional Performance/Exhibit Experiences

Rationale

Use of fine motor and auditory skills that work together to decode, create, perform, and evaluate.  The bridge between the right/left sides of the brain complete its development, allowing both hemispheres to respond to an event simultaneously.

5th Grade

Skill matched with Neurological Development

Integration of all K-5 skills - Multi-modal learning; understanding of the process through research, creation and the final product

Teaching Artists: Sample Instructional Method

Wind/String selected by students and Thematic Study through original stories and compositions, Professional Performance/Exhibit Experiences

Rationale

Discrimination skills allow students to respond to the arts attending performances and design an integrated unit through inquiry based learning to demonstrate multi-modal learning.

6th Grade

Skill Matched with Neurological Development

Analysis and Parallel Thinking - Dissecting, comparing, contrasting to understand larger patterns of connections

Teaching Artists: Sample Instructional Method

Instrumental Ensemble music and Theater Arts are analyzed and compared through exploring multiple genres of Performance, preparation and production

Rationale

Categorization and comparison/contrast analysis skills enable the student to comprehend parallel patterns of creation among forms and genres, deepening an appreciation of connections and interdisciplinary relationships.  Foundations for personal expression are substantiated.

7th Grade

Skill Matched with Neurological Development

Synthesis and Movement toward Evaluation - Modeling adaptive behavior understanding and application through personal expression and creativity in communal setting

Teaching Artists: Sample Instructional Method

Dance Forms and Public Performance are placed within historical setting of human cultural expression and Identity

Rationale

Comparison of historical and cultural forms of dance enhance understandings of place and identity, collaboration and cooperation in creation, problem solving and the importance of the appreciation of multiple perspectives in solidifying identity and securing tolerance and the celebration of difference.

8th Grade

Skill Matched with Neurological Development

Synthesis and Evaluation - Constructive criticism and responsibility taken for decisions and collaboration.  Development of discernment and moral and ethical values

Teaching Artists: Sample Instructional Method

Visual Arts and Technology integrated with all core curricular areas with emphasis on interdisciplinary connections and personal and communal creativity and responsibility

Rationale

Critical Analysis/Interpretive skills encourage the defense/justification of creative expression while enabling productive appraisal of the quality of a piece of art or performance.  Technology used to enable creativity.  Ability to discern moral and ethical issues and choices.  Development of strong sense of identity and social place.  Responsibility for decisions and behavior, personal and communal.

OMA Skills & Instruction Per Grade Level (in PDF)

Information

Student and teacher working at desk     students and teacher stretching arms out     student playing keyboard    violin teacher with students