Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Preparing for a new year....yikes!

It seems as though, when the calendar marks August 1st, 
teachers start crawling out of the wood works like swarms of ants.  
This is said with great respect and understanding because I am one of those busy, fast moving critters that took a hiatus from the teacher scene this summer.   It's the final countdown to what we anticipate being a great new year with a fresh start and some new ideas that we picked up during the summer.  Check list, do to lists, to buy list, to build lists, to copy lists, to put up lists, to hold off for later lists....we have lots of them.  Perhaps too many, but it seems we are at our best with the hustle and the bustle of creating a learning environments that will best benefit our students.  I have been working on a few projects that will (I hope that will--that is) engage my students thinking skills while learning about art and making some ;-)

Let's talk COMMON CORE.....(do we really have to?)
Like everyone else in the education world, these two words have become the buzz words for....well just about everyone.  But really...what does it all mean, especially in the profession of art education.  
Let's break it down: COMMON,  depending on how you use the word can mean several different things.   In this case, I see the definition as "something agreed upon as a norm".  CORE, I see as the "central component" of something (in this case the vitality of our educational system).  My question has been the implementation of this new initiative within an art curriculum.  In July, the NCCAS released the preliminary version of what the CCSS for art would be and would look like. The matrix looks great, the definitions sound pretty good and the overall grade level targeted goals...look ok.  Yet, how are we all (the common) suppose to teach the same fundamental (the core) skills, so this streamlining effort is successful?

In preparing materials for my own art classroom, I thought about how to make "looking", "listening", "responding" and "connecting" a natural process within what we do everyday.  But this "natural process" is not so natural.  The natural process only surfaces when students and teachers alike use their knowledge and skills without even thinking about it.  So the "natural process" only comes with practice and mastery.  

That's a whole lot of pressure for a 6 year old.  And then you have tying your shoes!  Poor little guys.

I'm a very "minds on" and then "hands on" type of art teacher, so my very first instinct is for my students to begin discussion about what we are doing, or looking at, or going to do.  They need to talk, they need to question and they need to discovery answers to questions, issues and queries.  And my main goal is for my students to achieve their answers independently (meaning, without me giving them the answers).  But his too is a learning process and while thinking about my successes in the classroom and the goals of common ideas at the core of teaching, I came up with a system for encouraging student critical thinking, participation and inquiry.

I came up with a set of cards that use the common language of the CCSS standards and combined them with visual thinking strategies as to promote student and teacher language familiarity.  The cards are divided by four colors (blue, green, yellow and pink) into four categories that guide the students (and teachers) through the sequence for art discussions.

 Students and teachers use these cue cards as prompts to begin to use language that aligns with other subjects.  Now, this is a work in progress, in which case all the kinks have not been worked through.  Somehow, these cards and colored coding kids will create a system that will open discussions and make the students think.  

Check back and see my students' progress, as I implement, document and trace their progress.  

xoxo, SMocK you.