11 04, 2014

Students practice compassion through mathematics

As an arts integration consultant and Executive Director of Creating Communities, I receive incredible opportunities to use the arts to affect real change and provide meaningful learning experiences. Recently, I had the pleasure of working with the 7th grade math students and teachers Ms. Poynton, Ms. Moore and Mr. Mangold at Annapolis Middle School March 13-17 to create scale drawings and models of affordable apartments for senior citizens. The program was funded by a generous […]

10 04, 2014

Integration Stations through QR Codes

One of the ways I love to integrate is through the use of stations.  I find this to be both practical and authentic to a laboratory experience for students.  When using stations, students are able to be active in their learning, collaborate through cooperative groups, and engage in hands-on experiences that bring their learning to life.  For the teacher, it requires some setup time beforehand, but then it runs fairly smoothly depending upon the […]

21 03, 2014

The Desiderata of Teaching – Words of Encouragement

It’s been a tough winter filled with obligations, overextended projects, colds and fatigue. As educators and artists where do we find the solace and personal strength to make it to Spring, not crawling, but invigorated and loving life? When seeking the answer to this question I rediscovered The Desiderata written by Max Erhmann in 1927. It’s basically a short and profound guide to life and I wanted to share some of the lines that […]

10 03, 2014

Oh… the Grading: strategies for grading student work

*Writers note: Usually, the second week of the month is devoted to the topic of Common Core, but as I began preparing for my article on the unedited conversation of common core, I received so much feedback that it needs a two part series.  Since the month of March has five weeks,  I have decided to move the common core conversation to the end of the month so that I can do both parts […]

26 02, 2014

Yes, and: Teaching Students to Improvise

“Yes, and” is a popular improvisation exercise and is a guiding philosophy for the famous improvisation troupe out of Chicago, The Second City.  The organization has created an entirely new aspect of the business called The Second City Communications specifically devoted to corporate training and marketing.  As is stated on the website:
No joke, improvisation is about more than being funny.  The skills our actors need to be successful are the same skills businesspeople need […]

17 02, 2014
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    Focused Notes: it’s not the note-taking, it’s the note-making that counts

Focused Notes: it’s not the note-taking, it’s the note-making that counts

Last week I grappled with the idea of college readiness.  What does it mean?  How do we help our students achieve it?  And will Common Core help us get there?  With this in mind, and as we move into the Common Core, it is important that we provide our students with the tools that will not only prepare them for Common Core and career readiness, but also the consistency of college readiness.  One of […]

14 02, 2014

Paul Gauguin and the Three Questions

As a graduate student at New England Conservatory in the early 1990′s, I was lucky enough to live within walking distance of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Of the myriad of masterworks there, one stood out as easily the most amazing and profound: Gauguin’s massive work depicting life and the human condition in all its divergent and amazing forms. The title of the painting and the amazing scenes of life it depicts ask […]

11 02, 2014

iNotice3 Arts Integration Strategy

A great strategy for extending and deepening learning through the arts is the iNotice3 strategy.  This technique is easily accessible for all teachers and students because it doesn’t require knowledge within the arts itself, yet it is something that all artists inherently do throughout their work.  What’s more, it’s also something that scientists and mathematicians do as they hone their skills and work to solve a problem.

iNotice3  Strategy Steps

Choose a composition.  This could be […]

10 02, 2014
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    Preparing for the Test or Preparing for College: what is Common Core actually doing?

Preparing for the Test or Preparing for College: what is Common Core actually doing?

 We are all familiar with the idiom teaching to the test and while I like to think this new shift in education provides opportunities that reach beyond the test, I still wonder whether or not we are actually preparing students for life out of high school or just another assessment?
While working with my fellow WASC Accreditation (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) focus group leaders we began discussing the Common Core and the upcoming changes in […]

7 02, 2014

Are you the “fun” teacher or the “mean” teacher?

As I prepare to present two workshops in Memphis at Harvard’s Project Zero Perspectives educational conference, I am reading Making Thinking Visible, an instant classic on “teaching for understanding” and metacognition. Even though it is mentioned very briefly, one of the authors, Mark Church, describes that early in his career he was considered the “fun” teacher who always had activities that caught the interest of his students. As he matured as an educator he […]

31 01, 2014

A New Perspective On Gaining Respect

This week I had the opportunity to lead a seminar on respect in the workplace for twenty homeless adults in a culinary and custodial employment program. They were wonderful to work with because they were so open and appreciative of someone spending time with them to help them succeed. It was really a co-learning experience because I enjoyed it as much as they did. It is awesome to work with people so hungry to […]

27 01, 2014
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    1500 essays, 80 teachers, 9 support staff, 4 administrators, 1 prompt: How one school came together for a common core goal!

1500 essays, 80 teachers, 9 support staff, 4 administrators, 1 prompt: How one school came together for a common core goal!

In December I had the privilege of being the room leader for the grading of our district’s practice common core assessment.  The topic was the Great Depression, and our students had to analyze multiple sources and synthesize them into an essay discussing the effects the Great Depression on the people of the era.  Once this was complete, came the task of reading all 1500 essays!!  Our staff had professional development training on the use […]

24 01, 2014
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    Exploiting Chaos – Thriving When You Think You’re Failing

Exploiting Chaos – Thriving When You Think You’re Failing

I love the book title Exploiting Chaos because it’s so contrarian. We often think of chaos as negative, harmful and confusing and we often think, feel and live like our lives are chaotic. Yet, we all know educators who seem to exude equanimity, grace under pressure and almost superhuman organizational skills. Well, let me fess up: I’m not one of them, at least some of the time. However, I would like to share a […]

20 01, 2014
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    4-Read Strategy: a tangible way to teach annotating and analyzing text

4-Read Strategy: a tangible way to teach annotating and analyzing text

Supporting the common core through the Arts can come in many forms, one effective strategy can be found in the anchor standards of college and career readiness as presented by the Common Core State Standards via the reading strands.   The reading standards administer the following objectives:  read, determine, analyze, interpret, assess, integrate, evaluate, delineate, and comprehend.  So how do we as arts educators support the development of critical reading while we prepare for […]

17 01, 2014

Artist Habits of Mind – A Great Planning Tool for 2014

Harvard Project Zero’s 8 Artist Habits of Mind (aka Studio Thinking) provides a great framework for planning your personal growth as an educator in 2014. If you haven’t had the opportunity to reboot, retool and renew your plan for 2014, there is still time to be intentional and take steps toward a productive and fulfilling year. Here are some sample questions for each category to jump start your reflection. Grab a journal and write!

Develop […]