- Check back often for research, lesson ideas, and resources, as I continue to add to this post all week long.
- If you have ARTS Education ideas to share, please leave a comment, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week is going to be all about the ARTS!!!
Teachers are savvy about finding what they need for students and lessons in their classrooms. They scour websites and thrift stores and pick people's brains for ideas and resources. When it's for the success of their students, barriers crumble by the sheer power of their will and passion.
When kids leap quickly, how do we know if they really looked at lightning speed, or just bypassed looking all together?
Fast thinkers often leave educators in awe and on the chase for more activities and curriculum to keep them moving forward, but fast thinkers also need their teachers to develop an awareness of when it would be good to slow them down. This may seem like an argument against differentiation for gifted students, but it is an underrepresented form of gifted advocacy.
Sometimes our students' greatest strengths can also be their greatest weaknesses. Fast thinkers can process vast quantities of information in a short amount of time, but they can also be obedient to absolutes because they need less repetition to understand an idea, and therefore spend less time incubating about concepts.
I'm so inspired by kids, everyday. I'm inspired by how they think, how they discover, how they believe, how they exude compassion, how they can and do change the world. The stories of these young entrepeneurs are more than amazing.
In working with schools and teachers, I've found that the most powerful change in practice comes from Follow-Up Coaching, and a focus on student learning as a priority over teacher actions.
When we "provide" teachers with information and strategies about good classroom practices, and then leave them to implement those changes, often very little actually shifts. Instead, setting student-centered goals based on new initiatives, curriculum, or strategies (What would students be doing and saying if I was successful with _____? implemented ____ ?), helps teachers make small manageable changes to improve their craft.
As teachers, we are constantly looking for new ideas to engage our learners beyond textbooks, and create extension activities for those who are moving fast or need a different path to content. We see ideas everywhere! The two "How to Draw..." images of a panda and koala came from the inside of my kids' cereal boxes. Thank you Nature's Path.
During a recent snow day, my five-year-old daughter started drawing the panda on her magna-doodle. Pretty soon she was transforming the original drawing ideas into a "dancing panda," adding bamboo for it to eat, and asking questions about pandas. So of course, I did a google search about pandas and stumbled across a few live panda cam sources.
In 2007, I took my then 7-year-old sister to see Disney's Meet The Robinsons, a story of a child inventor who learns to "Keep Moving Forward" in the wake of failed experiments, no matter the obstacles or how frustrated and fruitless his attempts felt. The characters are similar to many of the gifted and creative students I taught in an Arts Academy in Oregon, although the results of their struggle were not quite so Disney-esque. Watching the film was a practice-altering experience. Clips still sift through my mind when I plan curriculum. It ignited ideas to reinvent my classroom as one that encouraged kids to "keep moving forward" in the face of challenge and failed first attempts in learning.
As a writer and Language Arts teacher, I've been trained to believe that each word we write, or speak, is significant. Each word choice conveys a depth of meaning beyond its denotation, and therefore should be sought after, pondered, swirled about, revised, reinvented, and given gently, yet confidently, to the world in order to craft an intentional understanding.
On many occasions I've labored over word choice, lusted after the perfect sound and connotation, pausing publication and missing deadlines, even when the word seemed of little value in the grand scheme of the text. So maybe I'm biased... but I find it painful when words, especially those critical to the topic, are carelessly tossed out to an eager audience from a perceived expert. A result lost in translation I could let go, eventually, but too often real harm can be done when we are not precise with our words and their definitions. After all, the lure or perception is stronger than that of reality. In education, where practice is shifting in directions far from the norm, clear communication is critical. Without it, the much-needed growth of our profession runs the risk of stalling out or moving backwards due to fear and misunderstanding.