Engaging Students
In and out of
the Classroom

Through engaging lessons, hands-on interactive projects and visual arts, SHARP Literacy helps urban children identify as confident, capable learners and achieve success throughout life.

STEAM Core and Summer Programs 2019

Summer 2019: Urban Agriculture and Explore MKE: The Power of Curiosity

Students participating in the core program and summer program gain grade level content area background knowledge in STEAM concepts through arts integrated workshops.  Each workshop includes collaborative activities geared towards visual, kinesthetic and auditory learners. The Artful Thinking Palette is woven throughout the curriculums. Techniques called thinking routines from the Artful Thinking Palette allow students to build critical thinking skills while looking closely at art images and nonfiction text. Thinking routines also promote student engagement and conversation, tools that are essential skills for future learners. Another major component of each workshop is a hands-on visual art project that helps build background knowledge and art skills through inquiry and the art making process. In addition, students participate in collaborative writing or drawing to learn activities geared towards building content area background knowledge.

Explore MKE

Students explore many features of Milwaukee such as community, neighborhoods and culture through arts integrated workshops.

Urban Agriculture

Students explore the purpose and importance of urban agriculture and methods used to grow healthy food such as aquaponics and vermicomposting.


The arts integrated STEAM core program allows students to gain grade level background knowledge in a content area through several workshops throughout the school year. Each grade level, K4-5th, has a theme that aligns with their school curriculum. In addition, students go on an educational tour that reinforces the grade level theme.

Design Through Code

Coding is the language of the future. Learning to code can help students succeed in our increasingly connected world. Beyond digital literacy, the process of learning to code promotes essential skills that are valuable across a variety of disciplines from problem-solving and logic, to collaboration, critical thinking and creativity. Through SHARP Literacy’s “Design Through Code” (DTC) program, we provide 4th grade and 5th grade students the tools and techniques to become future-ready.   

SHARP has collaborated with numerous organizations including Northwestern Mutual, Rockwell Automation, Design Fugitives, Quad/Graphics, UWM’s Girls Who Code Club, the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction to develop the DTC program. These individuals vary from experts in technology, engineering, design thinking, art and education.  

In the DTC program, upper elementary students learn about the fundamentals of coding through both “unplugged” (offline) and “plugged” (online) activities. Both unplugged and plugged lessons build knowledge and understanding in different ways, while creating an engaging and collaborative classroom environment.   

The program culminates with a “Design Challenge” – a collaborative project that challenges students to solve a problem they see at school. Working together, students use their knowledge of coding, art and the design process to create a prototype solution to the problem they’ve identified. After creating an artistic rendering with code, a physical prototype and a group presentation about their project, students present their projects to a panel of professionals in STEAM careers. Student groups present their projects to this panel of professionals and in turn gain confidence in their work while also seeing a future for themselves in STEAM.  

Students in our Milwaukee DTC program visit the campus of the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design to see how college students use art and technology to create solutions to real-world problems. Students in our Waukesha DTC program travel to a Quad/Graphics plant to see how an international company uses technology and graphic design to serve their clients. In both educational tours, students not only see technology and art working together,but they will also see a variety of paths to future careers and educational opportunities.   

Current schools: 

  • Banting Elementary (School District of Waukesha) 
  • Doerfler Elementary School (MPS)
  • Escuela Vieau Elementary School (MPS)
  • Forest Home Elementary School (MPS)
  • Notre Dame Girls Middle School (Milwaukee) 
  • Rogers Street Academy (MPS)
  • Summit View Elementary (School District of Waukesha) 
  • Whittier Elementary (School District of Waukesha) 


Beyond the Classroom

Part of our approach is the extension of educational experiences beyond the classroom. Student learning deepens through curriculum-based educational tours to Milwaukee and Waukesha County museums and attractions. These arts-integrated tours help bring challenging science and social studies ideas and academic vocabulary to life.

Integrative Projects

Each year, SHARP works with a select number of schools on integrative projects, such as creating public art murals or developing books that are professionally published. These students work with a professional author or artist in a series of workshops that engage them in inquiry-based, hands-on research. The authors and artists collaborate with educators to develop arts-integrated learning experiences that draw out students’ curiosity and help them make connections between their lives and the real world subjects they study. They also learn how to ask deep questions regarding what they think might be significant to an outside audience and apply critical thinking skills toward an authentic goal that lives beyond the classroom.

Learn More About Our Programs