Thursday, November 13, 2008

Out in the Real World

I'm on my way back from southern California and a visit with our teachers at Lake Elsinore Unified School District. Unlike previous times this was not a professional development day for, but instead I visited about nine classrooms. In some I got to see products and exchange a few words. In others I saw integration in action- both visual art and music.
So, what did I learn? First I re-learned that we must stay close to our classrooms. We must understand the complexities and pressures that our teachers face and celebrate the ways they find to be professional in uneasy times.
The picture on the left is from one of our classrooms. Students drew a tree in four seasons and wrote an artist statement discussing the choices they made as artists.
The work was great- diversified and creative. It illuminates a topic we've been thinking about in assessment of creativity at the classroom level. The more products look identical the less likely it is that students were actually creative. This classroom showed that you can have a teacher who is not an artist be able to guide a very specific art activity and still leave a lot of room for creativity.
In music integration we observed kindergartners playing ORFF instruments to Saint-Saƫns' Carnival of the Animals. The children really started taking to it after a while. It did make me acutely aware of how important classroom organization is with music, and the importance of creating a routine that our students can get used to in transition to music.
More thoughts about music integration next time.
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