Spencer has M.Ed. in Arts & Interdisciplinary Academic Education and has engaged in extensive research on the benefits of an arts-based curriculum for diverse learners. Working with Susan O’Rourke, Ed.D., they have developed and validated an assessment instrument that measures student progress in five dimensions of learning using an arts-integrated teaching approach. In the current environment of accountability in education, it has become increasingly important to link interventions to improved student outcomes. If the arts have any hope of remaining relevant in our schools, teachers must be able to demonstrate effectiveness of an arts-based curriculum across multiple dimensions.
Spencer is both a working educator and a working artist. He is faculty in the Department of Special Education at Carlow University (PA) as well as a touring artist who continues to redefine the art of magic.
Mr. Spencer is an excellent educator. His knowledge of special education, the use of the arts to assist students with diverse learning needs is quite impressive. His journey into the field of education has been nontraditional but, nevertheless, he possesses skills at as high a level as many of my colleagues who have earned a Ph.D. in special education.
Kevin’s work is organized and theoretically sound. His specialized work in the education of those with learning challenges is very exciting and has given many of our traditionally trained teachers an opportunity to be more creative and think outside the box.
Spencer will visit special education and inclusive classrooms (upper elementary, middle and lower secondary levels) for 50-minute interactive sessions. Visits to several classes can be arranged throughout the school day.
Spencer will first perform a few minutes of magic and then students will learn simple magic tricks designed to improve cognitive, motor, communication, and social skills while developing creativity. Activities can be coordinated to connect with academic content being taught in the classroom.
These experiences are engaging, highly motivating, and provide opportunities for students to participate in meaningful activities that support their learning.
Spencer offers several Professional Development training programs for general and/or special educators on arts-integration in the classroom. Some topics include:
Special Education & Arts Integration:
The IDEA legislation mandates that students must be educated in the “least restrictive environment.” However, according to a study released in 2015 by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, almost half of all teacher preparation programs do not mandate field experience with special education students; consequently, few general education teachers are prepared to work with the students they will inevitably have in their classrooms. It is critical that children with special needs aren’t simply “present” in the classroom but are actively “included” in the learning experience. This workshop will focus on arts-integrated teaching methods that are applicable to general and special education students to meet a wide variety of cognitive, physical, social, emotional, and behavior challenges in multiple settings.
Teach Like A Magician:
This highly interactive workshop provides teachers with the tools and knowledge necessary to increase student engagement, boost creativity in the classroom, and transform their life as an educator. In these challenging and changing times, students need leaders who are willing to venture forward and explore new frontiers that will spark and kindle the flame of creativity and imagination.
Autism & Arts Integration:
Many teachers are keenly aware of an increase in the number of students with autism spectrum disorders in their classrooms. In this session, participants explore questions about what autism is, how it affects people, and how some strategies are utilized to help students with autism learn through the arts. Spencer will address the impact the arts can have on motor skills, communication, emotional/behavior, socialization, sensory challenges, cognitive processes and executive function when working with students with autism/ADHD and offers practical suggestions for teachers to use.
Magic in the Classroom:
Phenomenon-Based Learning is a pedagogy in which the student’s own curiosity becomes the driver for learning. The student explores, not from the point of view of trudging through a project or problem, but as a result of seeing some interesting phenomenon and wanting to understand what is going on. This works because interest and enthusiasm do not result from the content alone; they come from the students themselves as they discover more about the phenomenon. In this workshop, the art of illusion is the discipline, the “phenomenon” to which students are exposed. Through the exploration of the methods used to execute a magic trick, students are given the opportunity and encouraged to participate in the productive exchange of ideas associated with the trick. Because magic taps into the natural curiosity of people, this project has the potential to capture the shared interests of all participants and actively engage them in producing, creating, experimenting, and designing as materials and methods used in the trick are manipulated and changed.
“Magic Camp” combines learning magic tricks with storytelling, music, theatre, and creative movement. Through the art of magic, children explore their curiosity, develop their magical creativity, and discover new confidence. And when camp is over, the students perform a live magic show for family and friends that will surely baffle and amaze them!
This is a 2-hour after school program that can accommodate up to 20 students.
My girls attended your magic camp for several years which is how I am now compelled to write you and say, thank you, thank you, thank you for those magical days that you provided them, and for your commitment to kids. My girls absolutely loved those times, and we loved the enthusiasm with which you showcased every one of your students. So thank you again for what you do and who you are. You are a most impressive human being, and a wonderful ambassador for some true American values.
— Ben A., Magic Camp Parent (VA)
Spencer is an educator whose presentations are based on sounds principles of learning. He is always engaging, structured, organized, content-rich yet simultaneously entertaining, motivational, and very much “hands on” for his audiences.
He brings valuable experience and expertise to discussions relating to the impact and benefits of arts integration in:
• Special Education
• Rehabilitation Sciences
It was a real pleasure to have you come and present your work with our University. I was simply delighted with your interaction with everyone. You had so many different audiences- students with disabilities, mixed age groups, college students, faculty, administration, seniors and community stakeholders. I’ve had many people share their thoughts about your stellar work here and the bottom line is: Not only were they impressed by you and your work but you made me look good too.