Walking This Way

What Do You See?
What Can You See?

It’s been a great teaching and learning year. As I look ahead, there are just 5 more weeks of school; I can’t help but reflect on my experiences.

A New Beginning

I became the chair of our school’s technology department in addition to being a chair of the music department at the beginning of this school year. I wasn’t sure how it was going to unfold or how I would feel about heading up another department. I have always been passionate about tech in teaching, but have not thought about using this passion for my career. I have to admit: I’m really enjoying it! Some things I have learned are:

  • I enjoy working with teachers and helping them to build their tech skills
  • I enjoy conversations about instructional tech with my team and the admins
  • I enjoy exploring tech ideas and writing out details to implement them. Participating in #edtechchat  & #digcit chats several times have been great to connect to other edtech PLN!

My team and I have initiated the following this year:

  • Compiled and implemented 3rd-8th Digital Citizenship and Literacy Curriculum
  • Hosted Parent Coffee to have conversations about the digital world and students
  • Send out Tech Tip Tuesday resources out to staff and curate them on 9 Flipboards
  • Help each other to keep learning

And I am glad that I teach music during the day because my students keep me curious and creative. Although there are many things I don’t know yet and will need to learn, it’s been a great learning journey! I’m grateful for this opportunity!

GIVING PROPS

Beautiful {Re}purpose
Beautiful {Re}Purposed PIANO. Photo by @Doremigirl

Isn’t this beautiful? We had a baby grand in our department, which was not repairable. I hate throwing instruments away so I looked up on Pinterest if we could repurpose this piano. Lo and behold, I found some images and asked Greg, a groundsman/maintenance, and all-around hardworking friend, if he had any idea what we can do to make bookshelves out of this old piano. Greg graciously took on this project on and used whatever free time he had to work on this beautiful bookshelf. This beautiful bookshelf is in the main hall and will hold arts books for our students to read. Thank you Greg, for this labor of love! It is so inspiring. Our community will enjoy this art piece for a very long time!


AnnieOur Middle School musical was Annie Jr. We had a wonderful group of students who exhibited perseverance and creativity in their acting and singing. I am always amazed at the help given to us by parents, teachers, and other non-musical students for costumes, set design, and backstage help. It was a great way for the community to come together and put on a great show. Excellent job by all! This picture is of our Annie, one of my students named Erica. She will be graduating this June. She is a sweet, intelligent, and humble young lady whom I have had the pleasure of knowing for nine years. She and her classmates will be graduating this June. The commencement will be bittersweet as we send them on their new journey!


On Thursday, April 17th, our Middle School Choir was invited to sing the National Anthem at the Citizens Bank Park! The Phillies were playing against the Atlanta Braves; my students were nervous, but did a good job singing and representing our school. The choir prepared well and adjusted pretty well to the echoey stadium. It was a great day for us! You can watch the video here. (WP won’t let me embed iFrame code 🙂

MS Choir @Phillies Game. Photo by Heddy Bergsman
MS Choir @Phillies Game.
Photo by Heddy Bergsman
The Phillies Win! Photo by @Doremigirl
The Phillies Win! Photo by @Doremigirl

And each year, the second grade class performs a little musical production. This year, the production was inspired by Eric Carle’s picture book, I See A Song”. I will blog about this amazingly fun and collaborative project  later– I just wanted to post this picture of my students singing their song yesterday. I love their spirit –they have taught me so much through the way they saw songs around them. I promise to post how this project came about and share my project with you. Here are my students performing on Friday, April 25th.

I See A Song! Photo by @Doremigirl
I See A Song!
Photo by @Doremigirl

Blip Update (Daily photo + Music Project) So far, I have 115 Blip entries and haven’t missed a day! All the images above, except the choir singing directed by me, are my photos. It’s been really fun and rewarding to keep this project going; I am learning to use different lenses and compose my shots a bit better. Starting this project with my husband on January 1st was a fine idea! So can you scroll up to the first photo you saw at the top of this post? What do you see?  Sometimes, things look and feel messy, out-of-order, and downright chaotic, just like the ink settling in the vase. What I have learned is that pulling back and being still at crazy times helps me to refocus and see things more clearly. The first photo is a picture I took for a MonoMonday challenge. I decided to experiment with ink and water. Can you see a face? I know what face I see. Who do you see — Mark Twain or Evard Grieg, or someone else? I hope your school year is full great memories and challenges that made you grow. Until next time, @Doremigirl

Opening Ceremony Music at the 2012 London Olympics

Andrew Maunders designed this alternative Olympic poster

It was an amazing night of celebration in London last night. The opening ceremony, under the direction of Danny Boyle, was full of spectacular visuals, integrated social media, tech, doused with delightful surprises and humor.

And of course, MUSIC.

It was a great mix of pop and classical music. I loved hearing two children’s choirs (were there more?) and the London Philharmonic under the direction of Simon Rattle. It was wonderful to see conductor and musician extraordinaire, Daniel Barenboim, carrying the Olympic flag with seven others.

I also loved that happy, energetic drummers stood on the sidelines as the athletes marched in. The drummers kept the atmosphere upbeat and moved the marchers at a fast pace.

Music, once again, played a vital role in the opening ceremonies. Congrats to Danny Boyle and the people of the UK. You have a great wealth of creativity. Thank you for sharing with the world.

So if you were looking for a list of music heard during the entire ceremony, here it is (thank you, Spotify)! My absolute favorite is Elgar’s Nimrod. What’s yours?

(N.B. I started watching the ceremony a bit late so if I missed something, let me know. I know there were some things I missed due to commercial breaks, too. Leave me a comment below!)

~ Yoon (PS. I absolutely love sharing world events with friends from all over the world. Tweeting during the ceremony was memorable!)

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Instant Isaac of J2LComics gets a review from @dougpete!

What an honor!

doug --- off the record

I really like it when an idea takes off.  I also like it when students find a way to showcase their talents and abilities.  There was a convergence of these recently.

Without a doubt, the best takeaway for me from the ISTE Conference in Philadelphia was a chance to meet Yoon Soo Lim (@doremigirl) in person.  It’s one thing to have a friendship courtesy of social media but being able to meet that person face to face certainly puts it over the top.  Since our original meeting there, we have managed to stay in touch.

Recently, we were chatting about our kids and one of the things that came across was the love for creating comics that her son had developed.  It was more than just the type of comic that we see created via electronic media; he drew them by hand.  That makes it extra special.  In…

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Here’s Isaac!

Today, I’m writing a short post as a mom.

Our son Joshua (11-year-old) loved to draw ever since he was able to hold a pencil in his tiny hand. He was also a very early reader, just like his older sister. He spent many hours drawing or reading by himself. We were happy watching him act out scenes from favorite stories…

He is a fun, creative, and happy boy 🙂

Today, my husband and I started a comic blog for Joshua. We’d love for you or your students to check out his comic, Instant Isaac. We have fallen in love with Isaac, a 12-year-old who is fun and innocent. We love seeing life through this quirky boy. I hope you will get a chance to take a look at the first post Instant Isaac 1 and share it with your students. If you’d like to know a bit more about Joshua, check out his ‘about me’ page where he wrote a short introduction about himself.

I’m grateful for school art teachers, Ms. Venueza, Mrs. Schmidt and Mr. Thomas who encourage our son to pursue his passion! And I owe a huge thanks to my friend, Doug Peterson, who suggested that we start a blog for Joshua. Thank you, Doug!

Here’s to a great journey for Joshua and Isaac. Tune in every Sunday evening for a new strip!

~Yoon

Talk it Up!

And Design a Deeper Learning Environment

The following post has been featured in the July edition of VIA, an ezine dedicated for arts integration. I’m honored to have been contacted by VIA’s editor, Susan Riley, who has asked me to write a post focusing on creativity and the arts technique for the classroom teachers. Check out her website which has wonderful arts-integrating resources! If you’re curious about this ezine, download and read the entire July edition for free here (VIA is normally distributed quarterly through subscription). As always, I would appreciate your feedback and conversation!  Happy July!   ~Yoon

While saying good-bye to a happy 5th grade music class, I engaged in a quick conversation with their teacher about what the kids have been learning in my class (song writing: verse, chorus, lyrics, melody, and accompaniment).

And then I asked her, “So what are they learning with you?”
That one question led both of us make time to connect again in the teacher’s lounge and talk about what the students are learning in the classroom. Through one conversation, we discovered how we can connect and build on our students’ learning together. By asking each other questions, we got each other to think about students’ learning at a more in-depth level. The question I had to answer was, “Is there anything I can do to strengthen their learning?”
photo by Kim Davies, Flickr CC
Here is a project that resulted out of that conversation: The Preamble Project (click on the link to listen). The students were learning the Preamble and the US Constitution in social studies. After talking to the teacher, I had to answer the following questions:
  • What would be the best way for the students learn and memorize the words to the Preamble?
  • Would watching a segment in School House Rock be helpful?
  • What musical and thinking skills will the students demonstrate?

I concluded that helping the students write their own original Preamble song was the answer. Rather than just memorizing the words to the Preamble, my students sang the words to a tune they composed. Will they remember the words that precedes the US Constitution? Of course. Were they engaged in their learning? Absolutely!

If you are looking for ways to incorporate music into your lessons, here are some ways you can try:

Don’t be Afraid.
Being fearful snuffs out learning opportunities for you and your students.
As you prepare your lessons, think of a couple ways you can think artistically.
Remember that we are in the classroom to guide the young people in good learning. This means you do not have be the performer. Just create the creative spaces for them.
Start brainstorming arts-infused projects and make lists of possibilities.

Start a Conversation.
Collaborate with an arts teacher at your school. Share what you are currently teaching and ask simple questions to see if there are possibilities to collaborate on a particular unit.

  • Keep communications clear (time lines and goals) and start with simple ideas.
  • Keep a photo/video journal of the project.
  • Remember 2 Things: 1) not all of your conversations will end up as a project and 2) understand that  through the conversations your preconceived  ideas may change.  Keep an open mind!

Look & Listen for Inspiration.
Many teachers in my Professional Learning Network (PLN) share a great wealth of resources and lesson ideas. I read blogs posted by these teachers and see how I can apply their project ideas into my classes. You can do this, too. Look for inspiration in other creative teachers. Also look for inspiration in your students. Many young students are tech saavy and know really good sites for music. Ask them to share their good finds with you. They will be happy to share when they know you are opened to be taught by them. Here is an example of how I listened to my students.

Try.
Did you ever try using applications like GarageBand or Audacity to create your own remixes or mashups? Or have you ever tried playing music related games like Tap Tap? What is keeping you from learning? What would you like to try first?

~ Making an iTunes playlist titled, __________ (fill in the blank, i.e. quiet work time). What music would you include and why?

~ How about a podcast featuring a student and using music in the background?

Whatever the project, give yourself some time to use a specific tool and get comfortable.
Here are some links you can start exploring.

Have Fun :^)
Relax. Take one step at a time and enjoy the process. Your joy of learning will be infectious– even when things just don’t work out. Remember I asked you to journal about your learning process? Now share your journey with other teachers!

Hi! I’m an ISTE Newbie.

I was attending the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference for the first time past week. I had no idea how big this conference was before my arrival. To tell you the truth, with the exception of my presentation, I was not at all prepared for its enormous everything. With 12K+ attendees and exhibitors the Pennsylvania Convention Center was one busy hotspot (this is an unofficial number. I’ve also read other attendees mention 18K…)!

With many conferences under my belt, I thought this conference would be just like the others. The truth is that I felt quite out of place as I wondered around the crowds and (what felt like) endless conference space. But all was not lost!

I is for Interaction:  F2F Conversations

 I am connected to a lot of educators online and have been “conversing” with many of them over the last year and a half. But meeting these people in person is one of the greatest moments I will experience. I have had the pleasure of seeing and hugging many of my friends for the first time. It was incredible to match their faces with their voices. What was more fascinating was that many of our edu conversations continued on. I enjoyed every conversation whether it took place in the conference lounges/cafes, over dinner, or right after some sessions. Passionate learning and thinking together in person beats any virtual space. I am also thankful to have met new teachers with whom I can learn from.  

S is for Sharing: Arts are Alive in the Mix

ISTE panel
E.Peterson, Y.S.Lim, M.Baldwin, & K. Pace @ISTE11

Presenting at ISTE was something quite special. I was honored to present with  Elizabeth Peterson, Michelle Baldwin, and Kyle Pace for the Music and Tech: Harmony in the Making session. Although I was a presenter, I learned much more. I really appreciated how my co-presenters shared about how they help their students to make deeper connection to learning through music and tech.

I am so glad for those teachers who were hesitant at first, but decided to to come to our session. My friend Doug Peterson (@dougpete) came to our session and wrote this blog post. I was quite nervous to have friends like Doug in the crowd, but also was empowered by their support. So thank you, Doug, friends, and all those who attended our session! It was especially great to meet @musictechie, @dougbutchy, @rdammers, and @DoeMiSo from my MPLN (Music PLN).

I was reminded again that many teachers are looking to the “arts experts” for creative ways to teach. I hope I can continue to do my part in sharing ideas and advocating for the arts education. I was thankful to see many arts offerings at ISTE and feel tremendous honor to have had the experience. I hope to encourage and partner with many arts teachers to consider presenting in the future. Kudos to all educators!

T is for Telic: Taking Notes

There are several things I want to remember if I ever get another chance to attend ISTE.

  1. Read the program & add handful interesting sessions at least to the ISTE app. I did not look carefully or plan well. I, unfortunately, did not get over the enormity of the conference. It was hard for me to know what to pick on the spot. Next time, I will at least have a list of sessions I want to check out.
  2. Know the layout of the venue. I was clueless where things were. I would not have wasted a lot of time if I knew at least where some things were. I was thankful for the many volunteers who were everywhere who helped me. Next time, I will look at the map!
  3. Enter the exhibition with a goal. I had some kind of allergic reaction (not really, but figuratively) when I entered the exhibition hall that made me come right out. It was just so big and I didn’t know where things were. Next time, I will seek out specific companies to check out innovative ideas.
  4. Set aside time for poster sessions and special workshops. Again, there were so many that I’ve missed because I was so tired! 
  5. Talk to more people. I may not get another chance to talk to a presenter or someone from the PLN ever again. I need to make time for more f2f and make effort to talk to more people. They just might be as lost as me!

E is for Excogitate: Now Think Out {Loud}

So what am I going to do now that I have attended, ISTE? I am going to remember what great experience it has been to connect and learn. You, who are in my PLN, will be there to excogitate (to think out; to find out or discover by thinking; to devise) with me. It comes back to building relationships and conversations, doesn’t it?

I’m thankful for you!

~Yoon

Arts & Culture: The American Right

I just watched Kevin Spacey on Hardball (msnbc.com). It doesn’t matter what political side you are on. The arts and culture are should be rights of all Americans to have and to protect. As Spacey says in this segment, it’s not about who hates the arts (the act of cutting budget on programs such as PBS or Metropolitan Museum of Art), but it’s about making the Arts and the Arts Education a must-priority of our country.

We need to fight and protect the ARTS. This is for our children and their future.

Who’s with me?

~Yoon

Vodpod videos no longer available.

So Pumped!

I guess I can use any these words: psyched, elated, happy, & inspired.

Today is an in-service day. All of my colleagues and I have been working hard, thinking, teaching, laughing, and making connections with the kids. We’ve been feeling like we’ve had too much snow, and feeling like we’ve had too much of everything.

It’s just that time of the year when everyone’s sluggish (not to mention, our students started their 5-day break today!).

And then it happened.

My closest colleagues, Dina, Evan and Jerald, and I met together after lunch to talk about our department happenings. Dina and Evan teach art; Jerald and I teach music. All of us are very different, but work really well together.

We began to talk about our Visiting Artist Week – answering questions to what worked well? What didn’t? What can we do better?

And then it kept happening.

What, do you ask? Collaboration of ideas! Four of us actively engaged in lively conversations about integrated curricula for next two years. We were drawing, writing, laughing, smiling, and passion-driven.

This is why I love working with these people. They inspired me to keep going and create art and solve problems together.

I love it that we work beautifully together and make learning fun and excellent for the students.

Here’s a recent picture of us:

How incredibly blessed I am to learn and work with them!

 

N.B. This particular meeting went half hour into our personal learning hour (first time we were given this for in-service day). Since were encouraged to do something for ourselves to either learn or do,  I chose to reflect. It was fun sharing this post with my colleagues during our wrap-up!

Collaborative Reflections… Part 2

So yesterday’s part 1 was about the conversation. Now what?

Here are some of our ideas.

The Fun Part ~ Elizabeth Peterson


Going beyond the conversation is the fun part.  That’s when you get to put your ideas into play.  For me, that means bringing arts-rich experiences to my students while tying them into the curriculum.  How about some drama and storytelling during reading instruction?  (Get kids to look back in the story, pick out details, visualize, conceptualize and bring the story to life.)  How about movement in science?  (Get students to move through the water cycle or work together to become the parts of a plant.)

Sure, there are hurdles along the way, but I’ve learned I need to trust myself.  And BECAUSE of the conversations I have had: the ones that help me to define my position on arts integration and reinforce the idea that what I do is important, I go into the “do it” part of the journey with a little more confidence!  It’s also a great feeling knowing that I will have my PLN to reflect with at any time as well.

@eliza_peterson


Yes, You Can! ~ Kyle Pace

Technology integration with the arts. It’s a little bit more difficult to do in these areas but it can be done! We’ve complied some resources on our Google site on the Teacher Resources page. Those are just a few examples but here’s what we have to remember: don’t use technology just for the sake of the technology. It shouldn’t make your job harder. It should enhance what you’re already doing and the real benefit is when it positively impacts student learning. Is there a time commitment upfront? Absolutely. You have to become comfortable with the technology and have a strong support system from your administration and colleagues. If you have an instructional technology specialist to work with, please utilize them! If you don’t, please feel free to tweet to/email myself, Michelle, Elizabeth, Yoon, or Andrew and we’d be happy to help in any way we can.

@kylepace


Brainstorm Your Ideas! ~ Yoon Soo Lim

Take a look at collection of tools here. This tool remix is a great place to look as you brainstorm ideas to integrate into your lessons. There are web 2.0 resources for drawing, painting, storytelling, music making, dance, and multimedia. Start simple and add different dimensions to your projects as you collaborate. I personally use Symbaloo, an online organization tool, to have all my tools in one place. Especially for our EduCon session attenders (and our readers), Symbaloo is giving away Certified Voucher so that you can get trained to create your own Symbaloo.

@DoremiGirl


Action Plan

Now Do It! ~ Elizabeth Peterson

Actions speak louder than words.  I could talk forever about the importance of arts education and integration, but putting it into play – that is the key.  Since my EduCon experience, I have had a jolt of motivation to continue what I do and to explore how I can share my experiences with other teachers in new ways.

My first line of action will be with my own students.  MCAS, our Massachusetts testing, is on the horizon and with all these snow days, the pressure is on to prep for the test.  But after having these conversations with others who are equally adamant about the values of the arts, I am confident that I will not let that dissuade me from doing the arts-rich lessons the students yearn for.

For example, I want to have another “Studio Day” where students spend nearly the entire school day working on one focused arts integrated project.  The one I am planning on doing before February vacation involves Vivaldi’s Winter, poetry, visual art and descriptive writing.  I believe that having the students work for an extended period of time using the creative process is invaluable.  And the ending to the experience is self and peer reflection.  It teaches the students so much about themselves as learners.

The other plan of action needs to be outside of my classroom.  I feel the need more and more to make change outside my “four walls” by doing things such as inviting my administrator and other teachers into my room, working with other classroom and arts teachers to collaborate and to showcase the work we accomplish by sending out a press release or incorporating what we do into the spring “Celebration of Learning.”

The idea is to get gutsy and do it.  (That just became my motivation phrase to myself!)  People are really starting to understand the value of arts education, but to make change, we need to put those ideas into practice and actually show how arts education and integration affects student learning.

@eliza_peterson


On a Mission ~ Yoon Soo Lim

After EduCon, I’m all the more convinced that we (arts teachers) not only have to be our own advocates, but also be active participants in the general educational community. Arts people are known to do our “own” thing. I think it’s been a long segregation. We need to join and partner together with passionate teachers who believe in making connected learning a reality for students. The only way this will happen is if we are present. I hope to talk to my colleagues on musicpln.org and twitter to join the general ed conversations to build relationships. I bet we’d have a very different experience if we had more arts educators at EduCon next year!

One of my professional goals this year was to work closely with classroom teachers to integrate the arts into the curriculum. I will take what we preached and do exactly that: engage in lively dialogs, brainstorm, and make meaningful projects with teachers at my school and beyond!

Lastly, I am going to work on a proposal and meet with our administration to restructure my department to answer the question: “What role does music have at our school?” I will look at our existing schedule, our school expectation of our students in the role of music, and determine which learning environment would best align with our school mission.  And then I can move on to our art department and do the same.

Here’s to a great shift in paradigm!

@DoremiGirl


Going Beyond ~ Andrew Garcia


The following were contributions from the Arts Integration conversation at EduCon:

  • “It requires a human to make Art!”
  • “We teach all subjects within the arts.”
  • “In the school day, we are not getting any more time. The only way to do better job [keeping the arts alive school] is to integrate them.”
  • “When you’re in a drum circle, all are responsible for each other. Need to respect everyone in the drum circle.”

Moving beyond the conversation means making the above explicit in each of our schools-in our local places. I have five recommendations for moving forward:

1-Be The Change: Collect/Keep and Share Student Work(s) and Performances

There is no denying that good work in the name of the arts and student learning is happening all the time in schools..both in and out of arts classes.  However, if nobody sees or experiences the work, it’s tough to convince others that it is happening.  As Stephen Sondheim’s Georges Seurat sings in Sunday in the Park With George: “A vision’s just a vision if it’s only in your head.  If noone gets to see it, it’s as good as dead.  It has to come to life”.

Indeed.  It has to come to life.  Your vision.  Your artist-teacher vision. And the vision and creations of your students. They must come to life and be seen and experienced by other teachers, administrators, parents, school committee members, reporters from the local paper, senior citizens and pre-school classrooms. When others experience these visions and creations, they will be moved on a human level.  Nothings “speaks” louder than an emotional response.

2-Examine the school’s Mission Statement

On a practical level, getting the staff on board to examine the school’s mission statement can be a backdoor approach to achieving agreement about valuing the arts in schools. As conversations unfold as the ‘old’ mission statement is examined, insert your thoughts, ideas, opinions about the arts/arts integration into the conversation and see where it leads.

3-Study the Curriculum of Other Subjects/Make Connections  with other Teachers

Aligning with other teachers is a powerful way to achieve recognition for the arts in schools.  If your school has undergone a curriculum mapping process, the curriculum of every teacher should be posted for all to see.  Usually, the specific units and resources that they use are included. As you examine the curricula of other teachers, you can make connections with them to see if they are interested in collaborating on any of their units. Arts teachers will see many ways to bring the arts into a unit.  That is a skill we can share through collaboration with other teachers–one unit and one teacher at a time. And. if you have the inclination, make your collaboration Global.

4-Know Your Principal

I can’t stress enough that it is completely detrimental to have a ‘long-distance relationship’ with your school Principal.  My approach is to actually make several appointments per year to to have a conversation framed around what’s happening in my classroom and more broadly to read the Principal’s perceptions around the arts’ place in school.  In the very best cases, Principals are explicit about their support in word and deed.  But if you don’t know, it’s important to probe their understanding.  Misconceptions abound–even in the minds of administrators.  Many may not know how the arts can help students to grow/learn in concrete ways. Some administrators may also have had ‘bad’ arts experiences in school themeselves.  Help to educate misperceoptions and misconceptions. The Principal holds much Power to make or break the creative spirit in schools.

5-Do Arts Integration Inversion:

If you are an arts teacher, try subject integration in arts classes. Depending on circumstances endemic to your school culture. It might have more impact than the other way around.  In my situation, 100% of all students in grades 6-8 take music for 10 weeks, every day, every year.  That amounts to 80-100 hours of music class at the middle school level, all said and told.

Doing Arts in schools can go viral if we keep the ‘conversation’ going within our local situations and continue to document, collect and share the good work that we and our students do everyday in the name of the arts. In the name of Humanity.

@berkshirecat

How will you  move forward? Talk to us!

contributing writers :: blogs :: twitter

Michelle Baldwin: http://avenue4learning.com | @michellek107
Andrew Garcia: http://educationalparadigms.blogspot.com/| @berkshirecat
Yoon Soo Lim: https://singimagination.wordpress.com | @DoremiGirl
Kyle Pace: http://www.kylepace.com | @KylePace
Elizabeth Peterson: http://www.theinspiredclassroom.com/ |  @eliza_peterson

Collaborative Reflections on EduCon & Arts Education, Part 1

I am happy to post a two-part collaborative reflections written by Michelle Baldwin, Andrew Garcia, Kyle Pace, Elizabeth Peterson, and myself. These two posts are about our EduCon conversation and the Arts Education. Here is part 1. Part 2 will be posted on Thursday. I’m listing the writers below for reference. Come join the conversation!

writers :: blogs :: twitter

Michelle Baldwin: http://avenue4learning.com | @michellek107
Andrew Garcia: http://educationalparadigms.blogspot.com/ | @berkshirecat
Yoon Soo Lim: https://singimagination.wordpress.com | @DoremiGirl
Kyle Pace: http://www.kylepace.com | @KylePace
Elizabeth Peterson: http://www.theinspiredclassroom.com/ | @eliza_peterson


Moving Beyond EduCon 2.3 by Yoon Soo Lim

3 days of EduCon 2.3 were jam packed with meeting my colleagues, thinking and rethinking education (and my role in it), and carrying on conversations about LEARNING environments and good practices for our students. So what did I learn?

Conversation:

Cultivating Connected Learning Experiences through Arts Integration

@eliza_peterson, @KylePace, @michellek107, and I decided to bring a vis-a-vis conversation to EduCon about learning through integrated arts curriculum. Why? It is believed that in our society art, dance, music and theater are considered nice, feel-good things, especially for kids. Take a look at our crowdsourced virtual bulletin board here with teachers answering the question, “Why Integrate with the Arts?”. After reading through these posts, one cannot help but ask a follow-up question, “If the arts are so important, why aren’t they integrated more into the curriculum?”. This is precisely why we wanted to have this conversation with our colleagues at EduCon.

Interestingly, creativity and arts education had been mentioned many times during EduCon, starting with Friday night’s panel. During the discussions of EduCon sessions and in my preparation for our conversation, these words kept popping up: “cultivating”, “connected-learning”, and “experiences”.

These words also happen to be the first four words of our session title :-).

When it came to our session time on Sunday morning, these are the words we focused on.

Why?

Everyday, Elizabeth, Michelle and I are immersed in music while Kyle gives support to his arts teachers. We teach about music, we create music, we teach others how to teach music, and we learn new ways to learn about music. We live and breathe the joys as well as the pains of being “in” the arts field. To move our schools forward and to collaborate with teachers, we motion to cultivate a new culture – to prepare the ground, and foster growth through refining of the mind – for all of our students’ learning. So why does it matter to connect?

This screen shot is from RSA video we shared in our session. The video is RSA Animate – Changing Education Paradigms of Ken Robinson (05:41 and on). It’s a clear capturing of what a fully-engaged learning looks like. Senses, brain function, and passion all working together, so focused and fully alive!

To the teachers who attended our session in person or virtually, making this kind of “aesthetic experience” mattered. Some teachers grew up being in the arts. For some, they were curious how to integrate the arts in the classroom. These teachers engaged in conversations fully and intentionally.

Some of the examples we shared on our Google Sites were good starting places to delve into deeper conversations with teachers who were in attendance.

Encouragement: if you want connected learning for your students, make it a priority. Take the first step to get in a consistent conversation about what students are learning and how you as teachers can give support to each other.

This charge is for both classroom teachers as well as the arts teachers. WE ARE ALL TEACHERS. We no longer cannot monopolize our “subject” areas and consequently keep ourselves at an arm’s distance. Students will not connect their learning if it is not encouraged or modeled for them. It will be hard. It will be time consuming, but by creating this kind of learning environment, learning becomes real and interesting for students.

Make Arts Your Priority, Admins!

If you truly believe creativity is something that needs to encouraged, and cultivated, make arts education a high priority! I am tremendously blessed to work with administration who support the arts education at our school. I am going to quote one of the administrators at my school: “Creativity, critical thinking and innovation – all are important terms in today’s education. Integrating the arts is a great way to tap into all of these while making learning more meaningful to the students.” Follow Susan’s advice and make it an important priority for your school.

Start with a Simple Conversation, Teachers!

Routinely get into conversations with your students about what they are learning. You are good at asking specific questions to elicit information, teachers! Engage in conversations and learn about what they are learning. It shows not only that you are interested in who they are, but that you are curious about them as learners. Talking to other grade teachers in person is always good idea. Again, connecting with another teacher is something that is time consuming, but in teacher’s lounges, or even in passing, make an effort to start a conversation. If you need help integrating the arts in your discipline, ask an arts teacher you are interested in partnering with. There just might be an area where two classes can naturally work on a project that will bring deeper learning.

I am humbled to have worked with Elizabeth, Kyle and Michelle. I am thankful teachers like Andrew joined in virtually and shared their knowledge during and after Educon. They are not only active in their own learning, they make connected learning come alive. I learn much from them and work harder to make connected learning a reality for my students.

The EduCon conversation was a great beginning. I cannot wait to have more of these important conversations and see the changes in many classrooms. I believe there will be a time when more decision makers for schools will make arts a priority. Until then, our work continues.

Before I end my thoughts for today, I want to ask you to think about a question based on @mrchase’s post titled, Things I know 36 of 365: We’re really good at not teaching kids to sing. Why are kids afraid of singing?

For further discussions on Arts Education, check out:


EduCon Experience by Michelle Baldwin

Educon was a fast and furious experience for me, but one that I will value for a very long time. So many conversations, both scheduled and impromptu at lunch or dinner, have kept me thinking and questioning since I returned home.

During our session, we talked about how arts education helps students to understand not only how everything is connected in our world (as an adult, you don’t just do math at 10:00 in the morning and then switch to science or reading), but also how arts education helps to understand how everyONE is connected. Through music, art, drama, and dance, students can view similarities and differences across cultures. Isn’t it interesting that every culture on our planet utilizes the arts to express what it means to be human?

At one point during our session, we began discussing how the arts really help students learn about each other and work together. I said, “When you’re taking a math test it’s all about YOU. When you’re in a music class, it’s all about US. ” How often in school do students have an opportunity to truly work toward a common goal? Most of the time, that is going to occur in an area where the arts are involved. When I think about how important teamwork and collaboration are in our society, I wonder why students spend most of their academic careers competing with each other for class rank, grades, etc. It’s no wonder they have difficulty translating their learning in school to how to succeed in a connected, global society. By integrating arts lessons throughout the curriculum, students may have more opportunities to work together, to learn ensemble, and to feel the power of WE, instead of only ME.

Thanks to @brophycat for the pictures of our team during the presentation!


The Virtual Experience                                                    by Elizabeth Peterson


Attending a conversation virtually can be interesting. You are listening in, taking it all in, but your voice may not be heard. Let’s face it, one of the best parts about a conversation is the give and take. You can’t just take, you have to give!

The platform used for the live streams at EduCon 2.3 was great because not only were you able to view and hear our session(once it got up and running), but you could participate with other virtual viewers in the chat room.

Our team tried to make sure that other virtual attendees were part of the conversation. There was a give and take going on in the chat room that posed some interesting thoughts, resources and even built relationships. We echoed the important points made in Philly and added our own two cents, making for a full experience.

There is something about listening in on a conversation that allows for great reflection, too. As you sit in the comfort of your home, slippers on, letting the sound of others talk together fill your headset, you have a relaxed feeling of being there. And when you are ready to respond, your thoughts, written out, not spoken, are thought out a little differently than if you are there. You are able to complete your thought, look it over and then send it out to the others in attendance.

I, being Skyped in as part of the presentation team, had the other advantage of being able to speak at times when I thought appropriate. My wonderful teammates would make my talking head a little bigger on the screen and allow me to add my thoughts. (That was another interesting aspect of Skyping in – I was always being projected on the screen in the front of the room! 🙂 )

At the end of the session, everyone in the chat room made sure we all knew each other’s Twitter handles so that we could keep in touch and keep the conversation going.

The other venue we provided for our attendees was the #artsint backchannel. Here, both face to face and virtual participants could tweet and reply to one another. This backchannel is now in full swing as people are starting to use it more and more! Again, we are keeping the conversation about the ever important topic of Arts Integration alive!

Sure, there are limitations to being virtually in attendance to a conversation among peers. But this is yet another wonderful example of what the virtual world can do for us as educators. We connect online, have opportunities to converse in person and continue the discussions for weeks and months into the future.

See what happens when you allow teachers to connect? Go us!

Thanks to @brophycat for the pictures of our team during the presentation!



ATTENDING EDUCON VIRTUALLY                       by Andrew Garcia

Despite the video feed glitch delaying my remote entry to the Arts Integration conversation, I found attending virtually to have several benefits (some of which I tweeted using the hashtag #noncon). First, the view of the presenters and what they were saying was clear (most of the time). From home there is no obstructed view or “overflow room”. Second, it is actually easier to ‘take notes’ during conversations by listening and writing and/or live-tweeting. This would quickly become annoying to a neighbor if I were actually present at Educon. (One great benefit of being an auditory learner is the ability to at once listen and type!) Question is, which is more important? Silent and still listening to preserve the peace of your proximal #educon attendee or to passionately listen, process, type and connect (w/ others on a backchannel)? Who is to say that the backchannel conversations aren’t the ones that will assure that the message lives beyond the moment?

To me, at least with regard to conversations, I learn best by listening and processing. Right there, right then. With any good talk, keynote, session, workshop, ‘conversation’ NOW is the moment to key into. (And why so much Professional Development efforts fail- it’s too easy to lose that lovin’ feeling once tomorrow comes.) Attending virtually, I was 100% THERE and turned ON to the moment/topic at hand. I was simultaneously documenting the moment. As Connie Weber of Fireside Learning wrote to me after the keynote, “I definitely felt you there!” Being ‘there’ is all about the quality of attention and intention. I might argue that some folks “at” Educon, may, at times, have been physically there but mentally elsewhere. If I were at Educon, I would have been, at least to some extent, distracted by all the awesome Educators around me (‘OMG, there’s @willrich45!!’). And, if reading the tweets of some of my followers is any indication, this is definitely true for them, too.

Third, attending Educon online actually allowed freedom to attend multiple conversations without being considered rude. I was interested in many conversations that were scheduled at the same time. I would time my exits accordingly (a lull in the conversation, a tech problem, but I always returned). Doing so also allowed me to be a minor asset to presenters. I took screenshots of conversations and posted them at BOX.net-free for the taking. Many presenters were grateful to have “evidence” of them in action for their professional portfolios. I was happy to be a minor but helpful resource.

Finally, far from feeling alienated and excluded by those attending Educon, I would argue that relationships with #educon friends in my Twitter PLN, were kicked UP a notch. Circumstances (multiple snow days, committee obligations) kept me away from Philadelphia during Educon 2011 but I feel closer to those who attended than I did before as a result of the conference, and the multiple live and virtual conversations being had in those 2 thought-provoking days. Sure, I would have loved to see @NMHS_Principal’s karaoke skills. But (apparently) I am glad I missed the Applebee’s experience on Friday night. (Eh?) It also was a plus to be able to prepare a meal and/or go to the bathroom without missing a word that was said. Good perks, those! All this said, I can’t wait to be at ISTE2011. Live. In person.

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There you have it. Thanks for reading!

Stay tuned for Thursday’s collaborative post, Part 2.

~ Yoon