Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Last Year Helps You Look Ahead

So many things made this school year exceptional: 1) first year for the new state evaluation system; 2) I took on another club, unplanned, but it turned out great; 3) this was a Course of Study year (i.e. rewriting curriculum to align with state standards; 4) participated in a district "Envisioning Team", which developed a real "out of the box" PD Day, and lead to some deep discussions about 21st century learners. Lots and lots of opportunities to deeply evaluate past practice to inform future practice this year, and not in the usual "teacher reflecting" kind of way. So much is changing in education, and so many of those changes strongly impact content areas like Art (and Music, P.E., etc.).

Let me take on the first look back: evaluations. Man, I was quaking in my boots about implementing SLO's ("Student Learning Objectives"). It just did not seem like I could find anything helpful online or in other districts. I ended up doing a sketchbook assessment, which worked out fine, other than organizing 660 sketchbooks! There are elementary art teachers out there doing tests, which are easier to score, especially if you use "clickers." Being me, by which I mean, being true to what I feel my program is about, we pre- and post-assessed students' ability to draw. Really, that is at the core of most art programs. Like I said, it worked out fine! Of course, the answers to the state online evaluation form took forever, but I love rattling on about art education, so it was a pleasure.

The "unplanned club" was a Broadcast Studio. At first, I had to learn a lot of technology, but I do pick up on that stuff easily enough. It also gave me the wonderful opportunity to work with another teacher in the district; we had a lot of fun brainstorming our way through multiple tech issues and broadcast snafus. Of course, experiential learning is messy, but the students involved learned so much. So now, I am the proud advisor of three clubs next year again!

The Course of Study: new standards, new ways of approaching integration and habits of mind for lifelong learning. This was a laborious process, but I really thought that I was in a great place to rewrite my curriculum having over twelve years of teaching under my belt (this was my second Course of Study revision). All told, I put in well over a hundred hours on this! I put a lot of care into the assessment pieces, knowing that making art is about so much more than the final product, especially at the elementary level.

The "Envisioning Team": well, PD Day was a huge success if you use the metric of getting people to think! Plus, loved curating the live Twitterchat as Dave Burgess (Teach Like A Pirate) gave the final address via Skype. I have to say, we are a very progressive (and successful) district. This day lead to several offshoot activities, including a Twitter book chat, our own district version of TedTalks, and the "Minecraft Experience" up at the high school and elementary school. We are still feeling our way around engaging more teachers in the deep philosophical issues of teaching lifelong learners.

In conclusion, one of the most challenging and strenuous, yet rewarding years I have had yet. I already put together my curriculum map for next year (posted below) plus signed up for a three credit hour class called "Creativity in Crisis" through AOE. I decided to dial back on a few non-art core commitments and dive deep into creativity for myself this summer. I will let you know how it goes…

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The Sketchbook Project

The Sketchbook Project: 2011

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The journey of process intrigues me and I am always changing it up.

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