The University of Maryland (UMD) College of Arts and Humanities (ARHU) and City Neighbors High School (CNHS) are partnering to support CNHS to improve student learning and achievement through providing educational instruction through the arts. In Spring, 2013, ARHU launched a 6-week pilot project with CNHS aimed at improving student writing through instruction integrating literary, artistic expression. This comprehensive, skill-building curriculum was designed to improve students’ writing, increase their engagement and creativity, and result in the production of a classroom literary magazine. ARHU faculty and graduate students are uniquely positioned and qualified to provide arts-integrated curriculum instruction and support in partnership with CNHS. With a strong emphasis in the arts and pedagogy, and a number of faculty and students whose focus is arts education, we are equipped to train, supervise, and support this project to reach its goals with a high degree of skill.

The pilot project is an investigation into the effect upon writing ability of participation in the production of a literary magazine.

City Neighbors High School (CNHS) is a public charter high school in Baltimore City serving 68% African American students, and 65% economically disadvantaged students with an art based curriculum. Integrating the arts with academic instruction has been found to increase student learning and achievement, fostering student engagement, attendance, and motivation to learn, and improving school culture and climate. These processes are transformative for the educational environment and are leading indicators of student achievement.

Sessions were conducted in the traditional writing workshop model, assisted by online collaborations, so that conditions cannot be replicated for generalization.  After the first semester, the efficacy of the project was evaluated for writing through a pre-and post-test of writing achievement, after consultation with the National Writing Project.  The University of Maryland is a national site of the National Writing Project.  The prose writing ability of the students was found to have improved after one semester.  The project is ongoing and students will be tested again at the end of the Fall semester.  A reading and magazine launch is planned.