STEAM Leadership: 5 Steps to Help Facilitate a Conversation About the National Core Arts Standards

By |2018-08-23T00:54:47+00:00November 27th, 2014|

The National Core Arts Standards are causing educators, leaders, and community stakeholders across the country to engage in meaningful dialogue and discussions about student learning through the arts.  That is exciting and a powerful step forward as state’s and school district’s wrestle with adopting, adapting, or dropping the new standards.  Yet, we must pose the question,

Where do you even begin with such a monumental task?  

Below, we outlined five simple steps to help facilitate a large or small group conversation about the National Core Arts Standards.  Keep in mind, this is a place to start in a long process requiring time and patience.  Don’t forget to enjoy the journey, and how much you will learn along the way!

Step #1 Think about Your Current State Standards

  • Facilitate a small or large group to frame a conversation about your current state core arts standards.  First, ask individuals to draw a large box on a piece of paper and consider their point-of-view that they are bringing to the conversation.  Have them consider their teaching background, current position, professional development, research in the field, or their role on a local, state, or national committee.  Have them write this information near the outside edge inside the large box.
  • Next, have the individuals draw a circle in the center of the paper and then draw a smaller circle inside the larger circle.  Inside the small circle write “current state core arts standards”.  Then have individuals brainstorm all the positive components and all the challenging components of the current standards in the larger circle.
  • Next, ask participants to pass their paper to a colleague near them and then have the colleague place a circle around one positive and one challenging component of the current standards.  Have the colleagues return the paper back to the originator.  Have each other share in small groups one or two items that were circled on the paper and allow participants to discuss.
  • Open the conversation up to a large group discussion and record all of the positive and challenging components of the current state core arts standards.  What themes emerge?  What can you build upon?  What needs further exploration and consideration? 

Step#2 Think about the National Core Arts Standards 

  • Complete a similar activity in step #1 for the National Core Arts Standards and modify as needed.  First, ask individuals to draw a large box on a piece of paper and consider their point-of-view that they are bringing to the conversation.  Have them consider their teaching background, current position, professional development, research in the field, or their role on a local, state, or national committee.  Have them write this information near the outside edge inside the large box.
  • Next, have the individuals draw a circle in the center of the paper and then draw a smaller circle inside the larger circle.  Inside the small circle write “National Core Arts standards”.  Then have individuals brainstorm all the positive components and all the challenging components of the new National Core Arts Standards in the larger circle.
  • Next, ask participants to pass their paper to a colleague near them and then have the colleague place a circle around one positive and one challenging component of the new National Core Arts standards.  Have the colleagues return the paper back to the originator.  Have each other share in small groups one or two items that were circled on the paper and allow participants to discuss.  Open the conversation up to a large group and record all of the positive and challenging components of the National Core Arts Standards.  What themes emerge?  What needs further clarity, exploration, and consideration? 
  • Once you have completed both steps #1-2 place the responses from both activities (current state standards and new National Core Arts Standards) side-by-side and ask participants to compare both sets of group feedback.  What “big ideas” or “take aways” do you see?  What areas need further exploration?  Which areas do you need to conduct a “deep dive”?  

Step#3 Conduct a Gap Analysis 

  • There are many ways to conduct a gap analysis.  If  you are facilitating a large group, you first might want to consider breaking the group into core arts areas (visual art, dance, music, theatre and media arts).  To begin, start by laying out the current state standards in an electronic document.
  • Next, place each of the four national core artistic processes beside each current state standard in the electronic tool.  You will want to lead each group through this process to look for natural connections between the current state standard and the artistic process. Things to look for during this process would be cognitive demand, content, skills, and processes between the current standards and the new standards.  This is a time-consuming process but it is well worth the time to take a “deep dive” into the standards because it will give each participant some great professional development with the new standards.
  • Some state or districts hire outside consultants to do this level of work because of the amount of time involved and it can help speed up the process.  What themes emerge?  What are strong areas to build upon?  Are there gap areas needing major attention?  Can we make any conclusions?

Step #4 Complete a Cross-Walk

  • To gain as much insight as possible between the current state of your standards and the new standards completing a cross-walk is a natural next step.  During this step of the process you will want to list all of the artistic processes and anchor standards for each national core arts area in an electronic document.  Since there is strong similarity at this level of the organization of the standards it will be easy to set up the document.
  • Next, list each core arts area across the top (Visual Arts, Music, Dance, Theatre, and Media Arts).  Then you will ask each small group to identify “how” they are already addressing that particular artistic process in their current role or position (classroom teacher, curriculum specialist, curriculum supervisor, etc.)
  • This collaborative dialogue will be valuable as the gap picture will start to become more clear. Which artistic processes, critical content, and skills required in the National Core Arts Areas ARE and ARE NOT included in the current state standards? How similar or different are the performance standards to our state standards?  What connections have you noticed between the core arts areas?  How can this lead to a greater level of integration among the core arts and between other content areas? 

Step # 5 Answer the “Big Questions” and Draw Conclusions 

  • After completing each step and collecting all the feedback and insight from all stakeholders you will want to seek clarity around the major themes that have emerged from the process.
  • Some questions will require you to dig even deeper and further explore some major philosophical questions.
  • What should be the organizational structure for our standards?  What language should we use?  Do we want to have specific standards for each grade level? How should we address the level of specificity for secondary music?  What does advanced proficiency look like at the elementary and middle school level?  How should we address students who self-select into a core arts area?
  • Remember that this is a process and that in the end the group will need to come to consensus in order to make a final recommendation to adopt, adapt, or drop the National Core Arts Standards.

Leave A Comment

Looking for a FREE conference to attend? Check out the Online Winter STEAM Summit.LEARN MORE
+ +
Share This