Professional Development Workshops | Elementary School Residencies |
Middle School Residencies | High School Workshops, Presentations, and Residencies |
College and University Residencies


Leonardo da Vinci said, “Art is the Queen of all sciences, communicating knowledge to all the generations of the world.”

We at Shearwater Productions hold this belief as a cornerstone for our Arts in Education programming.

Our Arts in Ed programming uses performance and performance modalities to teach academic topics. We work closely with the Academic and Arts Teachers as well as other stakeholders to identify the learning needs of the class, and design an exciting and deeply effective topic curriculum using alternative learning strategies based in arts practices.

Arts in Ed projects are usually of residency length, because they target academic learning as well as artistic goals. A ‘residency’ is defined as a minimum of 3 consecutive class sessions that build knowledge in the targeted art and the targeted academic learning goals. That being said, some of the most incredible residencies are integrated into the curriculum for an entire semester or school year. We also offer Professional Development workshops for Academic Teachers, Arts Teacher and Administrators.

Shearwater’s Teaching Artists all have extensive performance experience with a Physical Theatre specialty, as well as training and a minimum of 10 years experience as Teaching Artists. Our lead Teaching Artist, Holly Adams, is a member of the Association of Teaching Artists (ATA), the New York State Theatre Education Association, and other arts and arts education organizations. Holly is also the 2009-2010 recipient of the ATA’s Excellence in Service to the Field award.

Costs for workshops are based on the customer’s local rates.

Professional Development Workshops

Reframing Curriculum for the Kinetic Learner
In this workshop, we will touch on some causes for a gap in subject mastery and on what it means to be a kinetic learner. Then we will dive in to experiencing alternative lesson concepts! After that, we will work as a group to practice creating kinetic learningalternatives ourselves. Don’t forget–lesson plans designed for the kinetic learner also work terrifically for visual learners.


Artist/Teacher Partnerships
If you have ever wondered what it would be like to take your artistic medium into the schools during the school day, this workshop will cover all the bases. Quick sample: How do you get started? Who should you talk to? Are there helpful resources? How do you use your art as a class lesson to help them discover, understand, and care about the material? How do you cook up exercises that link thinking strategies? And on a larger scale, how can you create “meta thinking”—activities that link the content of completely different subjects?

“They just aren’t getting it….You want me to do What?!?!”

Thinking Theatrically to Create Alternative Learning Strategies

In this hands-on workshop, participants will work through examples of curricular challenges reframed for kinetic, visual, and auditory learners. We will then create physical theater exercises/teaching plans for the academic challenges in YOUR class!

Elementary School Residencies

Inference Learning
This residency is designed to improve test scores on the Inference portion of the New York State ELA test, and improve writing skills as well. This project includes self-assessments by students of their own learning styles, ongoing evaluations of core content knowledge, and the creation of icons to better dissect paragraphs, identify types of information, and expand the types of inferences the students make. We use VTS-style questions like, “How did we know that? What were the clues?”, note the kinds of information that hasn’t been implied (“Can we tell the time of day, season, or year?”), and work to connect the more intuitive understanding to written/text based understanding.


Science and Discovery
The Elementary School science curricula are perfect for a Teaching Artist experience. Co-teaching with the Classroom Teacher, the Teaching Artist uses movement and theatre techniques to illuminate the scientific events and processes, from weather patterns to the water cycle to migration and habitat. The Classroom Teacher and students may choose to design a capping performance.


Academic Learning through Performance Practices
Mathematic concepts, punctuation and grammar, geography and history; any of them can be the focus of an arts-based learning residency. We begin by introducing performance techniques, then explore the academic ideas using arts-based alternative learning strategies. We then move into the play-building phase, and end with a performance, using the script-making process a another means to master the academic content.

Middle School Residencies

Do-It-Yourself Shakespeare
We look at the issues of Shakespeare’s times while unpacking and reducing the Shakespearean the Classroom Teacher is using. We then use improvisation, characterization, and plot analysis to create a short “What Came After…” show that deepens the understanding of both the original play and its historical context while developing oral presentation and writing skills.

We can also adapt the Elementary School and High School residencies for Middle School students.

High School Workshops, Presentations, and Residencies

Commedia dell ‘Arte: create your own show (ELA, Social Studies)
This longer residency builds on introductory workshops on Commedia by the Teaching Artist or Theatre Teacher, and cross-pollinates with studies of Western History and Literature of the 1500-1700s. We explore more deeply the historical reasons behind the archetypal characters, then create an original Commedia performance based in classical Commedia charters and structure.

The Novel: point of view and its affect on the narrative (ELA)
Whether they are reading The Catcher in the Rye or Pride and Prejudice, many students struggle with understanding how profoundly the point of view of a novel affects how the reader perceives the events and the assumed socio-cultural values. We use performance strategies and techniques in the English Language Arts classroom as tools for text analysis and leave the students with the skills for vigorous ‘text harassment’.

5 Revolutions; understanding the connectivity between the French Revolution, the Haitian Revolution, the Irish Rebellion,Spanish War of Independence, and the American Revolution (ELA, Social Studies)
This residency integrates the curricula of World History, American history, and various English/Literature classes. The residency examines the rum/sugar part of the slave trade, the revolutions, and such literary works as A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens and The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper (himself a Scot-American,writing about the destruction of a people by an invading/ruling government). We use dramaturgical techniques to understand the connections between historical context and literature as well as to more deeply understand the events themselves. We also use excerpts from the plays about the time and the uprisings to bring home the importance of the actions of the peoples themselves.

The Sciences: Chemistry, Earth Science, Newtonian Physics
These residencies use embodiment, movement and contra-balancing techniques to understand and master the targeted science curriculum, from the movement and resulting activity in tectonic plates to the interaction of atoms.

College and University Residencies

Commedia dell ‘Arte: history, character, and practice
Commedia dell ‘Arte is not only an important part of Western Theatre History and an essential tool for every actor’s ‘toolbox’, but a dynamic performance form itself. In this residency, we move from the academic understanding through technique development and finish up with the presentation by students of original lazzi in classic Commedia style.


Physical Theatre Intensive: breath, body, gesture, intention
This residency does in-depth work on the body as a primary tool for character, beat, tone, intention, and relationships. We explore the role of breath, gesture, energy/movement qualities, focus and precision, as well as introducing various physical theatre forms.


Henry V
We strip the play down, then use play building techniques to create a 20 minute version of this play. To better understand the Henry of Shakespeare’s intent, we align Henry V with Tolkien’s The Two Towers and Hal himself with Theodin King. Our foucs? The Rising Darkness and the Cost of War. “We few, we happy few…how did it come to this?”


Arlecchino’s Cousins — West Africa, Bali and the Silk Road
The character of Arlecchino has ancient origins in a tumbling, singing, satirical clown archetype performed by itinerant players who usually traveled along the merchant routes throughout Europe and Asia. The multiple cultural influences, the artistic borrowing and sharing, and the universality of many of this clown’s attributes led to a string of “brothers under the skin” characters in Asia, Africa and Europe.