Arts Education

Collaborative Reflections… Part 2

Posted on Updated on

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