Wednesday, October 21, 2009

21st Century Skills

I've been hearing a lot about 21st century skills! They are all over education, being talked about in the biz world and there was an panel at the AEP (Arts Education Partnership) Forum this past month in Cambridge that talked about these skills and how THE ARTS can play a part in their development in children.

This is a big topic and a way for the arts to be promoted in the schools. Although the skills themselves are not directly associated with the arts, the are embedded in the arts and arts education.

In future blogs I would like to talk more about this and also put this topic in the forum, but for now, here is some basic info on 21st century skills:
Learning and Innovation Skills

* Creativity and Innovation
* Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
* Communication and Collaboration

Information, Media and Technology Skills

* Information Literacy
* Media Literacy
* ICT Literacy

Life and Career Skills
for much more informative and elaborate information, visit

As I mentioned above, these skills can certainly be taught through the arts. This idea of workforce preparedness and people's ability to think critically plays a huge part in this as well.

There is so much to this...more is sure to come.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

response to "Learning to Take Risks, by Taking Risks on Art"

Thank you for sharing this story. It is a true testament to arts education and the values of all arts-infused learning. As a teacher, I hope I inspire my students to develop these skills that are intrinsic to the arts. Not just in arts education, but in arts integration is this possible.

These are the stories and experiences people need to hear in order to trust the arts as being at the core of education. Please continue to share!
See blog:

Friday, October 16, 2009

Being a Creative Teacher is OK! - a lesson in Main Idea

Scripted Teaching - yuck! But is it part of our everyday teaching routine. Our reading and math series are so planned out, that it is rare that I make an actual lesson plan. The editors have given objectives, procedures, warm up activities, enrichment ideas, projects, games, material lists, materials and extra practice, to name a few. Sure I tweak the lessons to fit the needs of my students, but do I dare stray from the book?

Well, YES sometimes I do. In fact, it happened this week and I am so glad I did!

The topic was main idea in the reading series we use and I decided to call on an old favorite of mine - bringing in a guest teacher, "MI". This character (that I become) talks funny, acts funny and gets the point across. MI talks about what he wants to talk about and then asks the kids to come up with reasons why he said what he said. For example, if MI says "Dogs are cute!" One student may give a reason (a supporting detail SD): They tilt their head when they look at you. Then that student comes up and holds up (supports) MI's arm. This goes on a couple more times until the other arm and a leg is being supported by the details for the main idea. There is more to this lesson, but in short:

The kids love it and always ask for more, "When is MI coming back??"

The arts - in this case, drama - bring ideas alive, give life to lessons and help students to gain a deeper understanding of a concept. I can guarantee that these kids will remember MI for years!

Better than a worksheet, huh??

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

So many assessments!

I just attended a workshop about assessments and in particular, we looked at the results of our state's high stakes testing (MCAS). We scanned, compared, looked at the challenges and weaknesses of our students in terms of what is tested and then our principal asked us to create a list of other ways we can show growth in our students aside from the MCAS.

So we broke up into groups and created a list - a list of ALL the other assessments we have and do with our students each year to help us show the growth in our students from year to year. All the while I sat with a burning question: what about the non-paper and pencil, non-timed, non-quantified assessments.???

Finally, one woman spoke up. She asked if we could put authentic assessments up on our list. (YES!) And then we spoke for the last 5 minutes about the true growth we see each day in our students: when they speak in front of the class for the first time, get excited about learning, dance joyfully, write a great story, participate in class. When are THESE things going to "count" as a true means of assessment?

I guess it could start with us - the teachers. We can't hold these stories in, but must share them and in doing so express the importance they carry. It's not about the score, it's about the whole child!

Monday, October 12, 2009

New Discussion Group

Let's start to build community using a new discussion forum we just started. Please, check it out by clicking the link on the website: or by using this URL: . There are a couple of discussions started in the forum tab. Please try it out and add your insights, thought and stories!

Monday, October 5, 2009

In Response to Mae Jemison talk on

Mae Jemison spoke on about connecting and teaching the arts and sciences together.

Thank you for this message. It is necessary that this is widespread and understood. Arts are connected to all disciplines and need to be integrated, infused into all aspects of our education system. Our system is flawed and based in the wrong century.

Too many teachers want to be creative and to integrate disciplines to show the interconnectivity they posses. However, the pressures posed on we teachers prevents this from happening in its true form. All too often, we find ourselves preparing our students for the next high stakes test, when in fact, we need to teach like Muses – Inspiring our students in the Arts and Sciences!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

AEP Forum - An Urgent Message

After attending the two day forum in Cambridge, MA hosted by AEP (Arts Education Partnership), it is evident that there is an urgency to bring arts education and integration into the forefront of our education system. Now is the time to get inspired and be inspiring to your students.

It is through the arts that students can learn such 21st Century Skills as innovation, creativity, determination and initiative: skills that will be necessary , not just beneficial, for our children to compete in the workforce.