Video: Grade 4 CMM Linguistic Lesson

Maritsa Madias-Kalasz teaches in Dearborn, Michigan.  She is a music teacher who specializes in special needs students, including the population of her school who are low achieving and English Language Learners.  Maritsa is a master teacher who believes in teaching IN and THROUGH music at the same time.  She really understands that good music learning patterns the brain for all learning.  That teaching in one language builds neural pathways with other languages if the connection is made intentionally.

Maritsa send an e-mail that said, “CMM 4 linguistic lesson – great work!”  The students have created their own versions of body percussion patterns to go with a song.  They read and followed specific directions, working together and solving a specific problem.  Take a look by clicking the underlined words below.

Question:  Where on the website can you share this type of video?  Make sure its an mp4, and post it with a short description in Share What Works!

Masterful Content and Masterful Teachers

This topic has been sitting in my file for a week. What was I thinking???

Masterful content is determined by a group of teachers who ponder what the core of their curriculum will be – what do we want our students to know and be able to do by the end of the [lesson][day][unit][marking period][year]? This content includes concepts and skills from the core curriculum, which includes language arts (speaking, listening, reading, writing), mathematics, science, social studies/history, music, visual art, physical education/movement, and drama. Yes, these are ALL core curriculum. The content also includes overarching sets of skills, such as social-emotional, 21st century (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity/innovation).

Masterful teachers manage to blend and deliver these content components through

  • planning of meaningful instruction and tasks that build understanding by taking students from the known to the new by connecting the new content to students interests and lives;
  • creating circumstances for frequent, positive, engaging, and challenging interactions with students and between students so the child’s voice is heard; and
  • using authentic, performance assessments that indicate whether students understand and what they don’t understand.

Is the content you are teaching masterfully designed to provide your students with the understandings and skills they will need as a foundation for future school and life? Is your teaching of that content masterfully crafted to develop independent learners who not only learn, but can demonstrate and apply that learning? As you read the Total Learning lessons (lesson, videos, studio and additional resources), notice and explore the way they are constructed, and how many disciplines, concepts, and skills are interwoven in each lesson. Let the lessons and their structure be models for you as you become a masterful teacher. Then think about what happens when this ideal concept is applied in real classrooms. Share your story by commenting here.

The arts or the “core curriculum?”

First students learn IN the arts, then they can learn THROUGH the arts!

First students learn IN the arts, then they can learn THROUGH the arts!

First, this title contains a flawed question, because the arts ARE core curriculum as of ESEA. Music, art, dance and drama are ways of knowing, and are essential for our students to grow as whole human beings. For some of them, the arts will be a career. For many more, the arts will enrich their living, working, and participation in their community and society.

For those of us still working in a traditional school paradigm (most public schools and many charter, magnet and private schools), the answer is “both!” Most smart educators know that the arts are important to enrich the curriculum, and each of the arts provides a different delivery modality for content and skills. However, children can’t learn THROUGH a modality until they have skills IN that modality.

So start by teaching students the arts skills, then use them as a delivery system for other curricular content. The benefits are measured in happier students, deeper learning retained longer, and an engaging and motivating learning environment. Where do you start? Total Learning lessons and studios!

Total Learning Summer Camp – It Makes a Difference!

TL Summer Camp Overview and Research Findings

It was always a plan for Bridgeport’s Total Learning Initiative to have an extended year – an additional month of school.  Research told us that if the children were behind their more advantaged peers, they would need time to catch up!  ABCD received funding for a pilot this year.

It was only 18 days in July for 22 rising 3rd graders.  The air conditioning was broken, and it was summer!  And . . . it was Total Learning  Summer Camp from 12 noon to 3:30.

Why rising 3rd graders?  To reduce the dreaded summer slump – the loss of reading skill over the summer break.  With mastery tests in 3rd grade, this was the obvious choice for a pilot program.

Did it make a difference?  The report is attached so you can read for yourself!  It’s pretty exciting what can happen in 18 days!  And if you think about your school year in 18-or-so day chunks, how much could get done?

Most exciting for me was the attitude changes of almost every child.  By the end of July, they were asking if they could come for another month!  Kudos to Allison Logan for creating an exceptional plan, and Rosmarie Marquez and Diane Bolarinho for their support.

Unanswered questions:  Will the gains remain through August?  Will they make a difference in Grade 3?  Will the district notice the findings and plan a larger sample for next summer?  Let’s hope the answers are yes, yes and yes!  Stay tuned to find out!

The Power of Our Words

Words Can Change your Brain, Psychology Today

The Power of Our Words, book

The Power of Our Words book

The Power of Our Words book

Everyone smiles in the same language. 
-Author Unknown

I can’t imagine a better resolution for the New Year than to re-commit to powerful, positive communication.
Perhaps you’ve noticed the tone of the words we use in Total Learning Digital to share with teachers or communicate with children, whether spoken or in print.
There are two resources that come to mind:
1. One book that we often share with teachers is The Power of Our Words: Teacher Language that Helps Children Learn, by Paula Denton, EdD.
2. Today, in Exchange Every Day, was the following message: Anger Never Works (see below). There is a related blog in Psychology Today that I’m going to read. I’m also going to get the Words Can Change Your Brain book.
Click respond and tell how you use words positively in your teaching!

Anger Never Works January 6, 2014 (from Exchange Every Day)

In personal relationships, punishment — whether in the form of anger, criticism, or judgment — rarely works,” opines Andrew Newberg in Words Can Change Your Brain (New York: Plume Books, 2013). “But the brain seems to be hardwired when it comes to disappointment. If we don’t get what we want — even if what we want is unrealistic — the brain’s anger center gets stimulated….

 “The best solution to the cycle that we know is to interrupt the negativity by generating a thought that expresses compassion for yourself, the situation, and other people involved. The research is robust: if we deliberately send a kind thought to the person we perceive as having violated our personal space, we psychologically increase our sense of social connectedness and strengthen the neurological circuits of empathy and cooperation.”

 

It’s Dr. Sue from the Smart Board!

 

 

Second graders work on line     2013-11-06 23.53.43
Second graders work on line!

Last week we started video lessons as part of Total Learning Digital. I’m in my office, or in a quiet space somewhere, with my computer and a prepared environment. The teacher and students are in the classroom. I’m connected to the classroom over the Smart Board. The children’s reactions are very interesting. In Kindergarten, I’m not sure they’ve got it yet – we need a few more sessions. The first graders thought they were seeing a video until I started describing their movements and actions, and calling on them to answer questions! Second graders watched a demonstration of creating an art print following specific directions. It was quickly interactive because they were quickly telling me what to do next! We’ve only started, and I’m sure to get better at demonstrating skills and interacting with students and teachers. But it’s REALLY fun! And the kids are REALLY engaged!
Yesterday I was in the hallway at Cesar Batalla School as the kindergarten class was returning from lunch. “Hey, There’s Dr. Sue from the Smart Board,” said one child. “Hi, Dr. Sue!” the chorus rang out. Then one young man asked, “What are YOU doing HERE? You’re supposed to be in the Smart Board!”
Ah, progress. One more way to confuse our children?
It surely has made me rethink my practice once again.
Signing off now –
Dr. Sue from the Smart Board
P.S. You can see some of these early attempts in the Video Chat Room. Click the View Previous Chats button. 

Let’s Embrace the Evidence!

Students who read music learn to read.

Students who read music learn to read.

Julie Schmidt just sent a link to Using Music to Close the Achievement Gap, in The Atlantic magazine. (http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/10/using-music-to-close-the-academic-gap/280362/)

The evidence for the power of multimodal teaching and learning from the early years on continues to grow, and yet educators continue to embrace the politically simple solution of insisting that teachers teach to the test, then being amazed that students do not climb to reach higher and higher, developmentally inappropriate benchmarks.
Living and learning for our complex world requires skills and understandings that cannot be tested with a pencil mark in a bubble, or with a snapshot of a moment. Children who are prepared should see multiple right answers, and be asking questions constantly. They should be learning through their ears, eyes, bodies and words – and therefore be measured in ways that celebrate this complexity.
As articles and new books appear supporting multimodal and arts-integrated learning, I will share these with you. However, when you find a great article or book, please join me in sharing, but commenting either here or on the discussion board.

The Case for Creativity

Ken Robinson quote

Ken Robinson quote

“Children have extraordinary capacities for innovation.”
“All kids have tremendous talents and we squander it shamelessly.”
“Creativity is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.”
“We stigmatize mistakes.”
“We are educating people out of their creative capacities.”
“We get educated out of creativity.”
Sir Ken Robinson gets to the heart of the matter. With all the testing that has dominated the education scene for several decades, the essential processes required for creative thinking are pushed out. Either we’re going to teach in ways that honor childhood curiosity and inventive thinking, or we’re not. It’s not an either-or proposition. If we teach the concepts and skills kids need to succeed through tasks and processes that develop imagination, we can deliver the content at the same time. But if tests are created with right answers in mind, rather than all possible answers in mind, we do disservice to children, learning, and ultimately our society. Total Learning is taking the logical step of teaching for imagination and critical thinking, as well as delivering the content. We’ve started to create the kind of formative assessments that honor creative thought. Do you think the Common Core assessments will provide formal measures that likewise ask us to build the 21st century skills our kids will need? Listen to Ken Robinson at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY#t=225 to get started. What do you think?