What is Comprehensive Opera-Based Arts Learning and Teaching (COBALT)?

Comprehensive Opera-Based Arts Learning and Teaching (COBALT) is an instructional approach that uses the elements of opera to develop essential abilities, skills and knowledge for student achievement. Opera is multi-disciplinary, involving music, theatre, dance, and visual arts. Through opera, students have opportunities to learn and grow in several art forms simultaneously. With connections to other classroom subjects, including language arts, social studies, and foreign language, opera provides a powerful strategy for integrated instruction.

Through COBALT, libretto writing, music composition, staging, acting, singing, movement, literary analysis, and critical response are applied as strategies for classroom learning. Students create and perform their own operatic works adapted from source material (stories, poems, or historical events) from classroom curriculum. Many COBALT experiences also include opportunities for students to see live performances at the Metropolitan Opera and if the students are not in the grade levels that attend, operatic work is shared in the classroom through photograph, video, and audio material.

Through COBALT students develop skills in the artistic, socio-personal, and meta-cognitive realms by creating, responding, and presenting operatic material:

Guiding Principals of Opera-Based Teaching and Learning:

PROJECT-BASED: Students explore the real-world problems and challenges associated with the creation of opera. Students engage in extended work on the creation of operatic material allowing them to solve complex problems and delve into the content and material associated with the work.

STUDENTS AS ARTISTS: When engaged in COBALT, all students are able to engage in all parts of the process. The students are put in the role of artists and the artistic choices are generated from the students.

INQUIRY: Questioning is highly valued as a teaching strategy. Students are encouraged to assess and reflect on their work and their process. Students are provided with opportunities to revise and revisit work.

RESEARCH-BASED: Documentation and reflection are used to further develop teaching practice and student achievement in COBALT. Educators and students foster discovery and learning by using documentation and reflection to further investigate their work and their practice.

ARTIST AS RESOURCE: The artist acts a resource for the teacher and engages in the gradual release of responsibility for the integration of arts in the classroom. The artist begins as a model, demonstrating the teaching of COBALT and then co-teaches with the educator until they can act as a resource supporting the teacher in the integration of the arts and implementation of COBALT where needed.

COLLABORATION: Educators work with colleagues to plan and deliver arts instruction for students. Educators provide opportunities for student group work and discussion but also allow for individual thought and expression. Students work toward a common goal and negotiate multiple ideas to achieve that goal.

Using the Standards:

The Comprehensive Opera-Based Arts Learning and Teaching (COBALT) standards are intended to provide educators with clear, shared learning goals and expectations for students as they relate to COBALT in relation with core grade-level skills. These standards are meant to be a guide to help with the implementation of COBALT. They are a tool for planning and assessment, and are not meant to be a checklist. Educators and students may address one standard during a class period, or many. The standards and skills presented here are not meant to be explored in the order in which they are listed. The COBALT standards are meant to connect to classroom learning and work in concert with other established standards as well as school and educators’ learning goals for students.

CAPACITIES: The core abilities that students will develop as they engage in COBALT.

STANDARDS: The knowledge and skills that students should know and be able to do as they engage in COBALT.

BENCHMARKS: Specific indicators of student achievement at particular grades or developmental levels as they engage in COBALT.

ARTISTIC PROCESSES FOR EXPLORATION: The elements of the artistic disciplines of music, dance, theatre, and visual art that are applied in COBALT.

To accompany these standards there is a GLOSSARY that defines various terms used in the standards. There are also TOOLS that explore some of the ARTISTIC PROCESSES FOR EXPLORATION.

COMMON CORE LINKS: The COBALT standards have many connections with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), so we have provided Common Core Links which allow you to see some of the relationships between COBALT and the CCSS.