Thursday, May 5, 2016

Lack of Art Classes in Our Schools is Educational Malpractice...

Lack of Art Classes in Our Schools is Educational Malpractice...  More money for standardized tests, test prep, and teacher PD in instructional approaches that convince our kids that school = pain? Seems to be pretty widespread.

The news that's got me steamed today is presented as good news, and (alas) in a way it is. Our schools have been cutting The Arts to free up resources for "other, more important things" (ugh!) and here we have volunteers who come in to the schools to keep Art going there, even though they don't have access to licensed teachers in that area. On the surface it sounds good. But let me tell you, I was a licensed (both B.A. and M.S. in Art Ed) Visual Art teacher in NYC Public Schools for 18 years and there is NOTHING like a fully qualified teacher to make this crucial subject come alive! Before I go on and on... here's the article that just appeared in my in-box and that's set me off, today (grrrrrrr!

Volunteer Group Restores Art Lessons in Schools

Calif.-based group works in 19 states

Until recently, 11-year-old Sinai Medina dreamed of playing pro basketball. Now, he also imagines becoming an artist.

What makes his shift so surprising is that until last year, the dark-haired, serious 5th grader never did art. He never finger-painted, colored in a coloring book, or drew chalk pictures on the sidewalk. He had no arts and crafts at school—no Play-Doh, painting at an easel, or making collages with dried macaroni and glitter.
"Before, we didn't have art and we weren't creative. Now I want to come to school," said Sinai, a 5th grader at Taft Community School here in this community, located about halfway between San Francisco and San Jose.

When Robyn Miller became principal three years ago, Taft didn't have an art program. Her school had been among the thousands of schools serving predominantly low-income African-American and Hispanic populations that were compelled to eliminate the arts as far back as 1982 and saw steady declines ever since because of budget woes, according to a 2011 report from the National Endowment for the Arts... but, even with the end of the Great Recession, the school didn't have the money to hire a credentialed art teacher."

later in the article the following is pointed out...

Not a Replacement

But some art education advocates are ambivalent about organizations like Art in Action.
"We would never want to see an outside arts or culture organization replace an arts teacher," said Doug Israel, the director of research and policy at the Center for Arts Education, which pushes for professional art teachers in every New York City public school. He applauded principals like Miller for seeking affordable and creative arts education for their students, but said outside programs are inadequate substitutes for having a licensed art teacher on staff. Art teachers provide daily instruction and other important enrichment programming, explained Israel. They help with school plays, do fundraising, and coordinate outreach to community arts groups for such activities as museum field trips and special lessons with professional artists.

Ultimately, however, Israel said Art in Action and similar programs are "a benefit for students and better than no arts."

The only excuse I can think of to justify the actions of those Cultural Philistines who cut the Arts in our schools is that they are the products of public schools themselves and so it is small wonder they have this gap in their own education... a blind spot that that are now magnifying and passing on to the next generation.  Want ample evidence that Arts Education is the gateway to Literacy and Math competence? That it makes school a positive experience for so many kids? That it truly is an essential, necessary component of an acceptable education? Look for it! Google for it and you'll be overwhelmed with what you turn up, Philistines!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Big Declines on 12th Grade NAEP Test Bites Schooling in its Arse!

From EdWeek... predictably, this is presented as important news. But the field will instantly go into its standard 'what more should we do to fix this?'

The problem stems not from what we aren't doing, it stems from what we are doing with out students! Interesting, the population of students for whom the biggest decline is noted is that which often gets the lion's share of a school's effort. The Law of Diminishing Returns once again has bitten the institution of Schooling in its arse!

We can not force students to learn what doesn't seem important or relevant to them. WE must learn to light the spark and fuel the fire of their enthusiasm by honoring their interests, passions, and concerns. Once we get students to participate in their own learning, the sky will be the limit!!!

"Low Performers Show Big Declines on 12th Grade NAEP Test

Much like their 4th and 8th grade peers, high school seniors have lost ground in math over the last two years, according to the most recent scores on a national achievement test.
In reading, 12th grade scores remained flat, continuing a trend since 2009.
Perhaps the most striking detail in the test data, though, is that the lowest achievers showed large score drops in both math and reading. Between 2013 and 2015, students at or below the 10th percentile in reading went down an average of 6 points on the National Assessment of Educational Progress—the largest drop in a two-year period since 1994. The high achievers, on the other handthose at or above the 90th percentile—did significantly better in reading, gaining two points, on average, while staying stagnant..."

Read the full article at its source:

Essential Elements of Passion-Based Learning

Some great thoughts from eSchool News... 

"The 4 essential elements of passion-based learning"

"...Teaching students effectively means getting to know them — and their passions

Think back to when you were still in school. What do you tend to remember most? Do you think back to the unique field trips you went on? The cool science experiments? What about a favorite teacher?
For me, it was projects and Mrs. Gianni. That’s what I remember most about school and the teacher that comes to mind. Mrs. Gianni had blond hair that always looked like it needed to be dyed. She was young and energetic. I also remember the way she made me feel, her high expectations, how she was always smiling, and how I felt like I could be anything in her eyes.

Teachers have always had the ability to make a big impact on their students. The teacher chooses whether it will be a positive or a negative impact. Of course every year we start the year with the best intentions. We love all our kids the same. However, there is always that one student (sometimes more) that we just can’t seem to reach. We try different things, we ask for help, we learn their background, but we still can’t seem to figure out how to get through.

At the beginning of the school year, we spend a lot of time working on teambuilding activities and passing out questionnaires. Rarely do we ever stop and ask ourselves who this really helps. Are we trying to get to know them or are we looking for specific information and not what students actually want to tell us? After all, we’re the ones that write the questionnaires.

Perhaps it’s time for a new approach. Passion or strength-based learning is based on the idea that if you really want to get to know your students, you first need to find out what they are passionate about. Figure out why they behave the way they do and how they learn best. Then show them that you care. Instead of focusing on their deficits, focus on their strengths. Teach through their strengths to address their weaknesses.

Getting started

What is passion/strength based learning?  Passion-based learning is using a student’s passions to help them learn. Strength-based learning is using their strengths to teach to their weaknesses. For instance, if a student is struggling with counting but they love building, a teacher might have them count blocks as they build. Not only will they enjoy the exercise more—and not ask, “Why do I have to do this?”—but they will build up their weakness. These methods help students feel valued and they turn your classroom from a teacher-centered classroom into a student-centered one..."

Read the full article at its source: