Friday, October 31, 2014

Objective or Subjective Assessment Data

Greetings, I originally posted this as a comment, but see that comments can get lost in blog format so I'm re-posting as a Post. 
I was touched, saddened, maddened and "get it" when I read this response on the teacher reflections list:

"Lessons that are easy to assess and show “data” – Even though we are evolving as art educators, we are being pressured more and more to show “data” and “evidence of learning.” I love the new approaches I’ve adopted and the students are being more reflective of their process, but creating ways to measure this practice is a tough task so I’m still embracing some of those old lessons that are easier to show datA and all the other accountability admin wants."

Remember that the use of the term "data" is a fad. 

If questioned even the most hardboiled administrator will explain that what s/he wants is clear evidence of learning that is summed up in numerical form. 

A typical criteria for an "old school art style project" might state that "Shading creates a 3D form" or "Use elements and principles to create expressive meaning." One can then write out a rubric--which usually amounts to 
"doesn't, somewhat does-does well-does exceptionally" 
and then assign numbers to these categories. One is still making (professionally informed) subjective judgments and then correlating these with numbers. 

The weird illusion is that somehow we now have objective data when we quantify subjective judgments.

Here's one criteria from the Model Cornerstone Assessment for Visual Arts High School Proficient : 
"Apply relevant criteria from traditional and contemporary cultural contexts to examine, reflect on, and plan revisions for works of art and design in progress."

*  How to implement: As projects near completion teacher and students review the different sorts of criteria that seem to apply to a particular work.
* Students then describe and analyze what this criteria suggests as a way to bring a work (their own and the work of others) to a higher level--what is good and meaningful about this work-in-progress? What might be done to make it even better? 
*  A teacher could then easily create a score for how well a student participated in this activity with regard to his/her own work and to the work of fellow students. 

New paradigms for assessment may seem strange and complicated, but it's really a matter of habit, 
of making and re-using rubrics and forms, of educating students and admin about what we are assessing. 

It's important to recognize that quality summative arts assessment of the future will summarize data gathered through in process formative assessments. 

I don't think Art Education can remain credible if the only evidence of learning we base our evaluations on are projects made in response to assigned art exercises. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

"Silly" Unit Development

Devin, Kate, and I found a commonality between our students in their writing. Many of our students were talking about things that seem silly or nonsensical to us like robots made of string cheese or chocolate fountains. We each teach primary grades so we wanted to work with a theme that was age appropriate but interesting to them. We decided upon silly early on and began generating questions for our students like "when have you been silly?", "what happens when you get silly?", "what would a silly school look like?", and "what do you think is silly?". We began talking about artists that explore this theme, either through hyperbole, size manipulation, or through content. We plan on meeting again soon to generate a list of questions for our students to help them understand this theme more. We briefly talked about what grade might be best to do this with and what materials might be interesting to explore, but it seems like that will be hashed out more in our next meeting. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Limit Situations

On Oct. 23rd a group of teachers from the Spaces for Possibility learning community met with Olivia Gude to collectively explore the generative themes that had begun to emerge in their classrooms. A thoughtful and exciting conversation took place. I am in the process of collecting "takeaways" from the participants that I will later post on this blog. In the meantime, I wanted to share what I witnessed and heard during this three-hour experience.

Solving the Unresolvable... I love this idea and heard the concept come up time and time again throughout our conversation. Olivia mentioned that she prefers to think of "every problem as a curriculum problem." This seemed to resonate during discussions about assessment and rules and disruptions to teaching. It was remarkable to hear how many teachers agreed that the stress of grades, tests and assessments was something on many of their students' minds. The complication of having to teach in the midst of chaos was also very interesting. What is the effect of one individual (student, teacher, or administrator) sabotaging the larger learning experience?

YELLING... What is yelling? This topic was briefly mentioned during our conversations, but it stuck with me. What does it mean to yell? Is yelling a critique? A punishment? Praise? I began to think of yelling within my personal experiences. Why is the majority of my yelling angrily or sternly directed towards those that I love the most? Why do I hold in yelling at those that I despise the most? I yell in excitement when I'm cheering for a favorite team. I yell when I speak with my hard-of-hearing grandma. It seems as though one could approach yelling through a variety of Principles of Possibility - Playing, Encountering Differences, Empowered Experiencing, Deconstructing Culture, etc. I wonder about the benefits of yelling and what it can do to relieve stress. I could use that. 

NOT just ARRIVING at a theme... This seems to be an important statement to revisit throughout the process of developing comprehensive contemporary curriculum. Olivia continues to reminds us that this is a process and showed us examples of how Spiral Workshop has worked through a sequence of themes. We talked about going bigger and bigger with a theme... how a theme may emerge and then we can continue to pull new ideas and new themes out of it. I thought Jeanne's method for pulling out themes (Root Cause Analysis) was a good example of this. After students have generated a response or questions to a particular theme or issue, they use a color-coding system to breakdown the problem into Intrapersonal - Interpersonal - Institutional - Historical connections. I would love to learn more about this method. 

These are my "takeaways" from our engaging conversation. What were yours? What is your response to some these "takeaways"? Do they resonate with you? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

What Are You Afraid to Let Go Of?

What are you afraid to let go of?

Here are the responses to the final question we asked at our first workshop. We can tell that this is going to be an exciting and rewarding group of teachers to work with. Burn it Down!
  • Stress, structure, expectations
  • Can’t think of anything!
  • My youth
  • Comfort. Security. Easy.
  • Control.
  • IB Curriculum plans and requirements.
  • I don’t know yet. A level of control with younger grades. BUT really I can let go of ANYTHING!
  • My great projects that I love doing (not all but some). My independence (group work is hard but rewarding).
  • The need for good products to “sell” myself as a teacher, art education as successful (based on the general ed. Teachers, kids, parents and admin expectations and definitions).
  • Nothing! I am willing to let go of past comforts.
  • Discipline in the classroom.
  • I’m ready to get rid of all of it!
  • Certain projects I love but can’t explain why they are valid. I have illustrated what already exists in my room (often)… Maybe how can I make these projects more open ended, contextual.
  • Skills teaching and teaching Art History.
  • Letting go of control… of my classroom!
  • Just comfort of something different!
  • Nothing.
  • Not sure- I don’t think I am holding on to much regret now!
  • What is comfortable and proven… taking chances and failing.
  • Lessons that are easy to assess and show “data” – Even though we are evolving as art educators, we are being pressured more and more to show “data” and “evidence of learning.” I love the new approaches I’ve adopted and the students are being more reflective of their process, but creating ways to measure this practice is a tough task so I’m still embracing some of those old lessons that are easier to show date and all the other accountability admin wants.
  • I actually like to reinvent and experiment, and always do a decent amount of PD and grant writing to build new worls/curriculum. I am a snake.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What Does "Spaces for Possibility" invite you to do?

What does “spaces for possibility” invite you to do?

Here are some more responses from the questionnaire we collected at our first meeting on October 9th. Your thoughts are exciting and refreshing... here's to connections and exploration!

  • Change, experiment, explore, performance and video as art
  • More thoughtful choices w/ my curriculum
  • Challenge my teaching practice and continually grow
  • I am ready to take apart my entire curriculum. It’s been changing dramatically in response to my existential question. What do my kids REALLY need to get from art.
  • Break free from my old ways of teaching. To be challenged. To try new stuff (that challenges me)
  • Grow and let go.
  • Break out of the 8”x10” artwork at the table. Get students to think about mark making and intentionality.
  • To share with others and blog experiences, thoughts and ideas. To try new ideas and let go of others.
  • Have time (carve out) to meet w/ educators and not talk about stodgy, foggy, bureaucratic stuff.
  • Plan, develop, organize, collaborate, redefine what I am doing as an art educator. Plan curriculum that actually matters to my students and me.
  • Explore 

  • Engage other art teachers in Chicago in professional development and personal growth.
  • Converse, share and collaborate. Reinvent/reimagine my classroom space. Create new spaces for my students and myself.
  • Rethink my curriculum, as questions, investigate different ways to approach the elementary school “arts standards.” Develop ways to make lessons more connected to my students personal experience… community… concerns.
  • To take ideas/lessons/projects apart and put it together again. What else can be added?
  • Anything, everything. Have students and my self create deeper meaning in their art.
  • I think being extremely “open minded” to the possibility of ART. Don’t be afraid to try something different.
  • Explore in a safe place w/ support.
  • Explore more ideas
  • Collaborate. Communicate. Support. Fail (try) – grow/change.
  • Opening ourselves up to new ways of thinking about our curricula and teaching approaches.
  • Connections. Inter connections. Cross-sections. Play. Experiment. Transform. Build-Expand.

The Faces of Spaces for Possibility: 2014-2015

Friday, October 17, 2014

What Brings You to this Learning Community?

What brings you to this learning community? What do you hope to get from it?

Here are the responses from the questionnaire we handed out at our first workshop with the Spaces for Possibility learning community. We're excited for a great year working with this fantastic group of teacher!
  • Continuing the greatness!
  • Chrissy. Ways to integrate better w/ elementary classroom. I’m currently co-teaching w/ 4th grade team.
  • Community, conversation, to collaborate w/ other art teachers.
  • The teachers who have been a part of our group. New blood, new ideas. Olivia!
  • To learn more about this pedagogy. To be around other passionate art educators. To become a better art educator.
  • The great ideas shared. I hope to grow in curriculum development.
  • 20+ years experience. 3 years with project. Revamp my art curriculum.
  • To share with others, to be inspired by others in the community. I hope to get new ideas and find the support of like minded people.
  • I feel inspired to make meaningful curriculum and to be inspired by other art teachers (as I was the past 3 years). I would like to walk away w/ new ideas and being nudged to expand what I do as an art educator.
  • Need for collaborative brain stimulation. Help organizing a very not good just-getting-by curriculum.
  • A broader idea relating to curriculum development and a deeper, more inclusive, and diverse curriculum.

  • I want to connect with other art teachers and practices. Ideas, experiences, conversations, and opportunities.
  • Collaboration, conversation, community. I’m looking to push my practice – I don’t wanna get stale.
  • Interest in growing my practice… having meaningful conversations with other art educators.
  • It was recommended by my co-worker. I hope to stay innovated and critical the entire school year. Keep the creative juice flowing.
  • New ideas. Fresh thinking. Collaboration.
  • I have been in this program for 3 years, and I really don’t want to quit the group, because I enjoy working with artists. I really learn wonderful fresh IDEAS.
  • Share and learn, Olivia, mastering my mapping
  • Well, I just founded a Visual Art program… It was non-existent before. I have LOVED growing it from the ground up. We have grown so fast and I need to connect and learn from the wealth of knowledge in this group. I hope to be challenged by teachers and all their years.
  • My quest for knowledge, ideas, inspiration.
  • Create curriculum that is broader in that my students are able to express themselves. Less “cookie cutter” art. But… incorporate skills and aesthetic at the same time?
  • I have been involved in this project for 3 years. This community has provided a “spark” I’ve needed for some time. We are often isolated at the grammar school level, without peers to bounce and share ideas. I’m excited to experience new ways of teaching and how to tackle core standards in unison w/ others.
  • Support, resources, research based info. Olivia Gude is a great opportunity. Networking, keeping me and my work fresh. I hope to have some research/intellectual capital to promote (something) art experiences (something my ADD LOVES), but my partner art teacher does not practice and he has AP scores to back up this total focus on drawing.