Community Arts Partner

Participant Details

Community Arts Partner Name
Arni Adler
Partner Type
Profile Photo
Individual Bio or
Organizational Statement
I am a multi-disciplinary artist, with many years of experience in visual art, music, writing, theater and dance. I sing professionally with the critically acclaimed folk-pop trio Uncle Bonsai; The Blue Janes, a singing uke trio; fasten with pins; and others. I have worked as a K-5 Writers Workshop coach for over a decade, receiving training from Columbia University's Teacher's College instructors at TC and in Seattle at summer institutes, and participated in a year of continued study with these instructors alongside Seattle Public Schools' literacy coaches. As a writing coach, I have helped launch and maintain writers workshops in collaboration with teachers in several South Seattle public elementary schools. I have taught nonfiction (oral histories, which we turned into essays; personal narrative; How-to's), fiction (realistic);  poetry, and poetry with drawing; and, launching and conferring one-to-one. I have served as an artist-in-residence in singing and songwriting. During the 2014-15 school year, I integrated singing and recycled-instrument making for a kindergarten recycling unit at Beacon Hill Elementary. I have also taught students how to conduct an oral history interview and turn that interview into a biographical essay as part of a social studies unit. I show my visual art in cafes around Seattle, and teach visual art in after-school programs and for the Seattle Children's PlayGarden for children of all abilities. I've specialized in K-5 grades mostly (though at the PlayGarden children of all ages participate), but also teach an adult writing workshop, so could adapt to upper grades.            

Contact Information

First Name
Arni S
Last Name
3245 - 37th Place S.
Address 2

Grade Levels Preferred

Grade Levels Preferred
K-2, 3rd - 5th

Artistic Disciplines

Singing / songwriting: I teach a diverse range of songs that exemplify components of songwriting, such as pattern/repetition, content/message, and structure, verse/chorus. I use the ukelele as accompaniment because it is adaptable to many styles and accessible to many students, as it's relatively affordable and simple to play. I worked at Experience Music Project for three years as editorial manager of multimedia, and use skills and information I acquired there to teach students how to conduct effective oral histories and to write essays based on these interviews. Various writing genres: How-to's, personal narratives, poetry. Recycled instruments Visual art  
Literary Art or Spoken Word/Performance Poetry, Music, Visual Art, Multidisciplinary


Previous School Partnerships
Other Trainings or Certifications
Sample Lesson Description: Student / Classroom Residencies
Sample Workshop Description: Teacher Professional Development

Areas of Experience and Expertise

Approved Professional Development Provider
Approved Classroom Residency Provider
Experience with English Language Learners
Experience with Students in Special Education

Lesson Plan

Integrated Art
Cultural Art

Teaching Approach

Teaching Philosophy + Approach
I have taught in Southend public elementary schools, as a writing coach and an artist-in-residence, in a program that exists to bolster schools with low academic performance. I have an affinity with kids on the margins, who find unconventional routes toward accomplishing their tasks. My mother had a 10th grade education, and two of my siblings were nontraditional learners,
who suffered in a system that hadn't yet figured out how to work beyond the most typical learning styles. I am a very intuitive learner myself, and I work with learners all along the spectrum, including kids with mental and physical disabilities (at the Seattle Children's Playgarden, where I teach visual
art), as well as adult writers. It's the same with all: meet the learner where they are, and nudge them forward.
I try to help students make connections between what they know and what they need to learn. I diagnose where they're veering off course, but also catch them doing something right that they can build on. I'm a firm believer that we are essentially creative as humans, and that, given the chance and the tools, we choose to expressive ourselves freely.
The writing workshop helped me connect real life to academics. Students wrote about missing parents, of cousins' funerals, of family members struggling against terrible conditions to come to the U.S. for a better life. These stories fostered empathy toward one another, and made real connections to the real human reasons for creativity. This connection between art and our real human issues and experiences is something I strongly believe in and practice.
Curriculum Integration Possibilities
I connected classroom writing with songwriting for two 5th grade classrooms last year. Our guiding question was: how does writing turn into songs? I gave the teachers structures for generating writing along themes we chose as a team, and which were relevant to the students' impending graduation from grade school. Each day of four, students generated material on each of these themes. We then sang songs that we could refer back to as examples of chorus, pattern, rhythm, structure, and so on. Students worked with the combined writing of both classrooms, finding patterns in the words, shaping text suitable for repetition into choruses, and taking other texts that told a story or explained something into verses. After structuring the texts, students invented melodic and rhythmic ideas, launching from the inherent musical sounds of words, and encouraging their voices to explore pitch, range, and expression. Students worked on all of these skills within small groups. I often caught kids in the act of creating brilliance. The students didn't have the advantage of musical instruments, per se, but one student, known for "acting out," used pencils to tap out a rhythm on metal chair legs. That groove became the basis for a class song. Students watched their group songs come to life, each one having contributed something to the final songs, one of which was chosen to sing at their graduation. (Please ask for audio examples.) Singing and songwriting can integrate into almost any topic area. Oral history and essay writing work very well in a social studies context. Areas of social interest, science and so forth, worked well with singing and recycled-instrument making. I did this as residency with kindergarteners at Beacon Hill Elementary School. Visual art and writing.   I also think it would be fun to do an independent study on a shared topic. For example, "Bats." In the world outside of school, a visual artist, dancer, actor, playwright, writer/poet/reporter, singer/songwriter would express their knowledge and personal interpretation of the subject differently. In a classroom that has fostered independence, several approaches to the same topic could really bring out so many nuanced angles, improving comprehension for all. Would love to try this sometime.
Special Skills and Areas of Expertise
I have taught visual art after school and at the Children's PlayGarden, working with kids of many and diverse abilities. I am still developing in this area, but I have had success working primarily to improve strategies for success that extends to most creative endeavors. I have adapted my expectations, though not diminished them, according to the physical abilities of my students. For most students, myself included, they need to learn specific strategies for overcoming whatever blocks present themselves. I try to anticipate these in my lessons and provide some possible solutions. I would like to explore more interdisciplinary projects, that involve many art forms. I have combined singing and songwriting, and singing and instrument-making, visual art and writing, oral histories and writing. I could also add other elements, such as writing and performing short plays; writing and performance; singing, songwriting and performance (I have done this several times). As I trained and performed in theater and music, having writing, visual art and related skills, I would like to continue to find ways to integrate these to the particular slant of academic subjects. In addition, I  believe that certain practices and habits of mind are universal to all creative endeavors. I would like to develop a residency that teaches these habits of mind, which are transferable to so many areas of interest, academic or otherwise.
Testimonials from Schools
Claire DeJulio, John Muir Elementary teacher Anne Le, John Muir Elementary teacher Felecia Wells, Mount View Elementary principal Andy Picard, Beacon Hill Elementary teacher  




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Two fourth grade songwriters at Beacon Hill Elementary
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After school visual art at Beacon Hill Elementary
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Student artist at Seattle Children's PlayGarden with a bed she made of recycled materials
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Student with her newly self-constructed thumb piano


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