Saturday, January 24, 2009

Let President Obama know the importance of the arts in education

My good friend, Lesley University professor and movement educator Doug Victor sent me this letter after we had traded numerous emails regarding integrating the arts in education. In it he asks everyone who is so moved to contact President Obama and remind him of the importance of the arts in education. So, I'm posting it here in hopes that some of you who read it will feel compelled to contact the President.

Hi, Everyone,

Hope this finds you all well and inspired in your lives and your teaching. I am writing to ask you to consider giving our newly inaugurated President some feedback about his plan for Educational Reform.

I know how committed you all are to teaching creatively through the arts so I thought this might be the perfect opportunity to have your voice be heard in concert with other past Creative Arts and Learning Lesley students from around the country with whom I have had the joy to get to know.

First make sure you watch the 2 following powerful and thought-provoking videos, if you have not already:

1) Sir Ken Robinson talks inspiringly about creativity being as important to teach as literacy...
http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html

An article to go along with this video: http://www.edutopia.org/node/2829

I also recommend his website at http://www.sirkenrobinson.com/; and

2) A moving song by Tom Chapin It's Not on the Test re: No Child Left Behind.... http://www.notonthetest.com/

The credits and text for the song are in attachment.

You may wish to to include the links to these videos for President Obama to view along with your personalized message.

Of course send a message if you are inspired to do so and not if you are not but as you can see below the new President is asking for your feedback.

President Obama is committed to creating the most open and accessible administration in the history of the United States.

In the President's own words, "We face many challenges. But we face them as one nation.
And we have seen, time and time again, that there are no limits to what we can accomplish when we stand together. Our journey is just beginning. Thank you for all you do."

President Barack Obama

These are the Obama administration's goals:

Reform No Child Left Behind: Obama and Biden will reform NCLB, which starts by funding the law. Obama and Biden believe teachers should not be forced to spend the academic year preparing students to fill in bubbles on standardized tests. They will improve the assessments used to track student progress to measure readiness for college and the workplace and improve student learning in a timely, individualized manner. Obama and Biden will also improve NCLB's accountability system so that we are supporting schools that need improvement, rather than punishing them.

I did not see any mention of the Arts in the President's plans. For me, this is a missing piece. You might consider mentioning the importance of the Arts in your comments and give some of your own terrific direct experience testimony.

You can find this and other information about Educational reform and the government in general on the following link: http://www.pic2009.org/whitehouse

Other White House Contact Information FYI:
Comments: 202-456-1111
Switchboard: 202-456-1414
FAX: 202-456-2461

TTY/TDD
Comments: 202-456-6213
Visitors Office: 202-456-2121

Website: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

With terrific memories of our time together and now tasking for a better world.

My moving best to you all as ever.

Doug Victor

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"Not on the Test" by Tom Chapin. You have to watch this!

Click on the title of this post and listen to the song and watch the video by songwriter Tom Chapin called "Not on the Test" It really gets to the heart of the matter regarding the growing trend of "teaching to the test" and the return to rote education. It also serves to underscore the importance of integrating the arts into the curriculum. This is something that should be shared with policy makers, administrators, teachers, parents, and students alike.

Here are the lyrics:

Not On The Test
by John Forster & Tom Chapin
© 2008 Limousine Music Co. & The Last Music Co. (ASCAP)

Go on to sleep now, third grader of mine.
The test is tomorrow but you'll do just fine.
It's reading and math, forget all the rest.
You don't need to know what is not on the test.

Each box that you mark on each test that you take,
Remember your teachers, their jobs are at stake.
Your score is their score, but don't get all stressed.
They'd never teach anything not on the test.

The School Board is faced with no child left behind
With rules but no funding, they’re caught in a bind.
So music and art and the things you love best
Are not in your school ‘cause they’re not on the test.

Sleep, sleep, and as you progress
You’ll learn there’s a lot that is not on the test.

Debate is a skill that is useful to know,
Unless you’re in Congress or talk radio,
Where shouting and spouting and spewing are blessed
'Cause rational discourse was not on the test.

Thinking's important. It's good to know how.
And someday you'll learn to but someday's not now.
Go on to sleep, now. You need your rest.
Don't think about thinking. It's not on the test.


Not On The Test
Sung by Tom Chapin
Written by John Forster & Tom Chapin
© 2008 Limousine Music Co. & The Last Music Co. (ASCAP)
Not on the Test video: Directed by Yuichi Hibi
Edited by Timothy Gregoire
Art Direction: Marie Christine Katz
Production Coordinator: Mary Croke

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Participant Reflections on Integrated Teaching Through the Arts k-12 Workshop January 2009

Everyone had a great day at our Integrated Teaching Through the Arts workshop at Barnstable High School on January 16th. Focusing on Creative Movement, Poetry, Music and Drama, the day was full of energy and engagement. Here are some reflections from the participants.

Great workshop, now we are all ready to move in our classrooms. It has
brought the fun back into teaching!

This workshop was incredible and rejuvinating!! I've already started
making a list of activities that I can do with my first graders to go
along with what we are learning about now. I can't wait!!! A big
THANK YOU!

This workshop introduces methods that can be adapted to fit any level or subject area by providing simple yet far-reaching practices that enhance students' thinking and creativity.


This workshop was very successful in addressing my interests and needs. This was one of the best workshops I've ever had.

I liked how the workshop flowed from one activity to another. Sometimes we sat and then we'd get up. Every time I take [other] summer courses, I have to sit all day. This reminds me to get my own students up and moving. Now I feel I have some new ideas to use such as building community spirit during those movement times.

This workshop was a nice boost-with all that 's going on in the district, it's nice to have a focus on how to make learning engaging.

It reinforces the feeling I've had that creativity is being pushed aside. I find myself guilty of "teaching to the test." This course will re-energize how I approach my topics.

I truly feel like I can walk into my classroom with a new approach.

I'm going to try and build in more movement to energize the kids. I also want to try and build community in class, so that all kids can feel comfortable taking risks.

Excellent! Excellent! Excellent!

It was organized and structured perfectly. It was so much fun to be out of our seats and moving and working with others.

The workshop exceeded my expectations. The presenters made clear connections with the curriculum and emphasized the benefits of integrating the arts.

This workshop opened my eyes to the p0ssiblities of presenting learning standards in more powerful ways that involve the different arts modalities and talents of students.

The leaders were honest in their responses offering varied ideas and opening it up for input from the participants.

The pacing was perfect. There was an effective mix between discussion, presentation, and hands-on activities. Well organized and powerful!

These strategies will help me plan and organize lessons that will engage students on a different level and promote deeper understanding of the curriculum.

This helped me to see education/teaching/counseling with new eyes in a creative, fun, supportive environment. Creativity needs to be stressed instead of testing, testing, testing. Research shows that creativity works in the classroom.

Gave us fresh ideas with movement and poetry. How to make learning fun, creative and relevant.

Loved it! It's a great way to teach curriculum. I learned a lot and am taking away a lot.

The instructors were great-completely knowledgable; they believe in what they do--Passion!

This was the best in-service workshop I've taken in years! As a teacher of young children, the ideas I learned in creative movement and music today can be easily incorporated into my teaching day.

The instructors gave us just enough information to get us started on the activities. This made us use our creativity to come up with unique ideas. They were right there to give us direction and answered all questions.

The instructors were knowledgable, well-prepared, and had excellent presentation skills. They kept us involved and motivated in all the activities.

I was surprised to see how well this could fit into a science curriculum. I expected a visual arts focus, but was very happy to see so much movement and drama was incorporated into the activities.

This is the way we should teach.