ASCD salutes a new generation's passion for education excellence through this year's selection of two Outstanding Young Educator Award winners: Joshua Garcia, deputy superintendent of Tacoma Public Schools (Wash.), and Parkville High School (Parkville, Md.) teacher Ryan Twentey. Twentey teaches art, photography, and interactive media production and also serves as the school's technology liaison.
This award celebrates teachers and administrators who demonstrate outstanding leadership, as well as a passion for and commitment to educating the whole child; improving student engagement, achievement, and learning; and contributing to the education profession.
"It takes a whole village to raise a child," goes the African proverb in the focus of Jane Cowen-Fletcher's 1994 children's book1. I'd like to build on this wisdom to propose that it takes a whole school to educate the whole child. All of us, policymakers; communities; families; administrators; staff; teachers; and, importantly, school librarians, must work in concert to ensure that children are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. School librarians have a special contribution to creating an environment that welcomes all forms of expression; creativity; and active, interdisciplinary learning.
Post submitted by Whole Child Blogger Tymeesa Rutledge
"We cannot use the excuse 'I've always done it this way,'" said speaker Laura Erlauer Myrah.
In the ASCD Annual Conference session "Instructional Tips to Tell Teachers," Laura Erlauer Myrah provided eight tips for educators and teachers to engage their students and allow them to remember concepts taught in class. The eight tips cover categories such as the body and brain, movement, emotional environment, collaboration, relevant learning, enriched environment, and Net Generation learners.
In the first category, "body and brain," Erlauer Myrah referred to research that supported children needing oxygen and water so that their brains would not become dehydrated. She suggested that teachers open windows in the classroom, have plants in class, allow students to carry water bottles, and educate parents about the need for students to get adequate sleep.
But students need more than proper sleep, hydration, and oxygen to remain engaged in the material. Erlauer Myrah offered a tip on how to make a lesson that students can be engaged in. She provided research from Sheryl Feinstein, "Handling Specific Problems in Classroom Management" in The Praeger Handbook of Learning and the Brain (2006), as the basis for her tip on how to change the lesson plan to accommodate how the brain works: You should capture your students' attention in the beginning of a lesson. For example, when you begin class, instead of using the first 10 minutes to take attendance or review daily tasks, use that time to teach the most important concepts. This is the time that students are most engaged, according to Erlauer Myrah. For the next few minutes, allow the students to "pair and share" what they have learned with one another. Then, use the next seven minutes of prime time to teach some more concepts.
The four main takeaway points that teachers should want for their students are: know the concept, want to know more about the concept, know what was learned, and know how students can use and apply the concept.
A 1st grade teacher from Southern California enjoyed the session and felt that she could use the tips for her students.
"What I really enjoyed about the session were the practical tips given," said Lisa Taylor.
Another member of the audience was also inspired by Erlauer Myrah's tips.
"I loved the session. It was inspirational, motivating, practical, and respectful of the hardships and challenges within the education world," said Marcia Richards after she had finished dancing a two-step to Kool and the Gang's "Celebration." She also has hope that teachers will "continue to make a difference in children's lives."
This session suggested that in the 21st century, teachers should embrace the changes that are happening in the world and allow them to be available to the students. The old ways of teaching are of value, but if the students aren't engaged and learning anything beyond the classroom, they will not be prepared to thrive in this new world.
Tips that can be used in the classroom:
1. Body and Brain
Have plants in classrooms.
Allow your students to have water bottles.
Educate parents and students regarding the need for adequate sleep.
Ask your students to stand instead of raising their hands.
Questions around the room
New location for important material
3. Emotional Environment
Make every student feel unique and secure.
Meet and greet.
Listen and show interest.
Expect respect from all.
Relationships transcend everything.
Emotions and memory
Pair and share (tell students to talk to classmates and practice answers)
Connections with other levels
Connections with community
5. Relevant Learning
Make the relevance obvious to students.
Make it interesting and fun through your delivery.
6. Enriched Environment
Challenging problem solving
Play music during tests or writing.
Use of music: a. Primer; b. Carrier; c. Arousal/Mood
7. Assessment and Feedback
Know it well.
Remember it always.
Use it readily.
8. Net Generation Learners
Youth don't see working, learning, collaborating, and having fun as separate experiences.
They believe in, and want, these experiences occurring simultaneously in school and in future careers.
This generation wants to problem solve and innovate.
When Peter Reynolds' teachers dared him to teach others, through art and storytelling, they uncorked the genie of Ish-ful thinking.
At the second general session of ASCD's 2011 Annual Conference in San Francisco, the award-winning children's book author, illustrator, and software designer (FableVision), shared some of the backstory to Dot and Ish, and how educators can incorporate the maxims from these books into their classroom culture and practices.
Dot encourages readers to "make their mark and see where it takes you." Ish builds on this theme, advocating that there are no prescribed "right" ways of imagining and creating.
How well do all schools reflect these values of creating something meaningful to yourself and the world and breaking free of conformity and standardized thinking?
Reynolds suggested six essentials for classrooms that support creative ideals:
Environmental Cues: How does the physical space of our schools encourage creativity?
Open-Ended Invitations: A blank page, or a blank screen, invites creative thinkers. Let the good stuff come from you and your students, not scripted curriculum, said Reynolds. "Bottled-up creativity leads us to consume, not create. We need to make more."
Expressive Tools in the Hands of Students: Reynolds demonstrated a digital drawing tablet that turns a computer mouse into a pen. "Technology lets us explore and share ideas, and see what else is possible."
Time and Freedom: Reynolds said teachers need more time and freedom to dive more deeply into learning. "We're much more creative than standardized testing. Standardized testing is like dial-up in a broadband world."
Visionary, Enlightened, and Engaged Leaders: Reynolds aimed this appeal not just at school leaders, but political leaders who need to "get it" that creativity is not just a once-a-week art class. It's every day, across curriculum. Art can connect the dots between the subjects and fun.
Love: Let every child know they exist and they matter. Ask students, who are you? Where have you been, where are you going, and how will you get there? Reynolds' middle school math teacher noticed him and connected the dots between doodling in class to using art to teach lessons through stories. Know that you change the lives of your students for the better, and let that prompt you to do it even more.
ASCD's Annual Conference is an "opportunity to stop and imagine what next year could be like," noted Reynolds. He called on educators to express themselves bravely; to be kind, creative, and generous and to "let no one squish your ish or the ishes of the ish-ful thinkers around you."
Bronx Preparatory Charter School in New York prepares underserved middle and high school students for higher education, civic involvement, and lifelong success by holding high expectations and providing a caring, structured environment. The school's 700 students in grades 5–12 spend 50 percent more time in school than their peers in traditional public schools. Heavy emphasis is placed on math and literacy. Middle school students attend up to two hours each in math and English daily and are introduced to high school-level content in 8th grade. During the 11th and 12th grades, students can take college-level courses.
College is integrated into every aspect at Bronx Prep, with rooms named after colleges and universities and teachers constantly referring to students' future higher education. Consistent science, social studies, physical education, and artistic block scheduling provide a well-rounded education. Middle and high school students spend one hour a day, four days a week participating in classes such as piano, violin, dance, and drama. One hundred percent of the school's first three high school graduating classes were admitted to four-year colleges.
This month, the Whole Child Blog has been focusing on the critical role of the arts throughout a whole child education. The arts play an essential role in providing each student with a well-rounded education that meets the needs of the whole child. Although classes strictly focused on music, visual arts, drama, dance, and art history are critical, integrating the arts across the curriculum is also key to ensuring that students are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.
Listen to the Whole Child Podcast with guests Peter Yarrow, recording artist and founder of Operation Respect and United Voices for Education; Mike Blakeslee, senior deputy executive director and chief operating officer of (Whole Child Partner) MENC: The National Association for Music Education; and Vanessa Lopez, an exceptional arts educator from Roland Park Elementary/Middle School in Baltimore, Md.
Learn about the connection between creativity and the brain with guest blogger Judy Willis, ASCD author and expert on learning-centered brain research. Read the first, second, third, and final posts in the series.
Find resources for arts and arts-integrated educational content for students, families, and educators looking for lesson plans, multimedia-enhanced instruction, and performance footage on Whole Child Partner the Kennedy Center's ARTSEDGE website.
Watch musician Peter Yarrow and conductor Plácido Domingo talk about their belief in the importance of the arts and the value of a whole child approach to education.
Think about the research-based benefits of arts education experiences and how the arts engage students in ways that other subjects may not, providing ways into learning that compliment learning styles and encourage creative risk taking.
Discuss whether or not public education is educating children out of their creativity after listening to an engaging presentation by Sir Ken Robinson. How can schools do a better job of recognizing and encouraging creativity during class to stimulate thinking and as preparation for the future work arena?
Support and advocate for all core academic subjects—English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography—that make up a well-rounded approach to education.
Sign the Whole Child Petition to tell your state board of education that it must do more to educate the whole child.
Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter to find more resources, research, and stats, including links to
What could a focus on the arts look like at your school? The PS22 Chorus is an elementary school chorus from Public School 22 in Staten Island, N.Y. It is composed of 60–70 fifth-graders, and is directed by Gregg Breinberg ("Mr. B."), who started blogging and created a YouTube channel to promote the benefits of keeping the arts an integral part of the school curriculum. As of this month, the chorus's videos have been watched more than 23,000,000 times.
In Choral Director, the choral director's management magazine, Mr. B. talks about the importance of integrating the arts throughout the curriculum:
I hope that these kids take away a confidence, a sense of empowerment, and a sense that anything is possible. That last bit is certainly more along the lines of the last few years because of the amazing opportunities we've had, but I don't want this chorus to be just about the exposure that these kids are getting. I do think it's so important that this is blowing up at a point where our budget is a mess and music and arts programs are being cut left and right, so in a sense, globally, with the success, I'd love to keep people thinking about how important music is. I don't think anyone can miss by watching how those kids sing how important it is to them, how it keeps kids wanting to come to school. Every kid in my chorus will tell you that they look forward to coming to school. That's something we take a lot of pride in because we just happen to be a school that really subscribes to the arts.
We've also used the music to teach other areas of the curriculum. The kids learned PEMDAS through rhythm equations that I made. I try to keep things fun and keep the students on their toes. I want them to love music, learn, be engaged, and I want them to come to school. When you take the arts out of schools, there's a risk of drop outs, especially among children who maybe don't have great parental support and might be saying to themselves, "Why am I going to this place where I'm not succeeding, I'm made to feel like an idiot, there's nothing I do well in this life, and I have to come back tomorrow to feel like an idiot again?" I want to reach these kids, and a lot of the children in my chorus do not necessarily succeed in other academic areas as well as they and their families would like. It's so important that we tap into other avenues that kids are capable of succeeding in. I think that every one of these kids in my chorus has something to offer. Maybe they don't have that prodigious, exceptional vocal talent, but there's more behind the music that these kids are tapping into within themselves. They're amazing people and that's a part of it, too. I want them to be open to each other. I want them to be open to life and to new things.
How are you or how is your school integrating the arts throughout the curriculum? What are the benefits to students?
When a high school eliminated the last-period guitar instruction elective available to students who had attended all of the day's classes, there was a significant dropout of the students who tolerated their other classes to enjoy the pleasure of that guitar class. What a shame at a time when we are experiencing the highest high school dropout rate our country has ever had. For the first time in our history, for students in high school, it is now more likely that their parents will have graduated than they will graduate.
You've heard the comments: The arts are nice to have but not necessary to have. We have an afterschool program that integrates the arts so that they don't take away from the curriculum. If a kid can't read, does he really need music? And on and on. Yet NCLB includes the arts as core content, and there is plenty of research pointing to the value of arts education not only as a stimulant for student engagement and deeper learning in other core content areas, but also as a valuable curriculum all on its own.
What makes a subject or discipline a "major discipline?" In his book Arts with the Brain in Mind, ASCD author, former teacher, and leader in the brain-based-learning movement Eric Jensen tackles this question and arrives at the conclusion that the arts are not only fundamental to success in our demanding, highly technical, fast-moving world, but they are also what make us most human, most complete as people.
The book describes what findings from neuroscience and cognitive science research are teaching us about the need for the arts in our schools and presents instructional strategies and classroom activities that promote the musical, visual, and kinesthetic arts in school, as well as recommendations for assessing arts instruction. Do the arts help develop the brain? Are there special age-groups important for introducing the arts to children?
What do you think? Do the arts receive a passing grade?
"Make the goal high test scores, and you get a majority of students who get higher test scores and a minority who are turned off by learning and school. Make your priority better human beings, and you'll not only get better test scores; you'll also get cooperative, self-disciplined, creative, and compassionate students with a real love of learning." —Eric Jensen
World-renowned tenor, conductor, and general director of Whole Child Partner the Washington National Opera, Plácido Domingo believes in a whole child approach to education.
The arts stimulate the very qualities that make us human and are an essential component in a whole child approach to education. Arts education engages young people in critical skills essential to success in the 21st century economy and global society: the ability to communicate [and] empathize for other human beings, the development of abstract thought, and the ability to work as part of a team.
For the world of opera is not just for singers, orchestral musicians, or dancers—you can also sew costumes or apply makeup on the performers; you can design, build, and paint the set; you can work on lighting, moving the set, or promoting the opera. The job opportunities are immense. So, opera isn't just about singing. There is a role for virtually everyone.
The stories of diverse cultures told through the arts give young and old alike tools to understand a complex, global society rich in history, convention, and beauty. Finally, the arts allow us to express our feelings in a healthy way, and sharing emotions is the bond that ties children to their families, friends, and community. People who are emotionally bonded to each other make up a healthy and empathetic world.
I hope you will join me in making the story of arts a priority in our schools and thus help make our world a better and more beautiful place.
If you stand for whole child education, you can speak out for it, too. Contact your senators, and ask them to support the National Whole Child Resolution, S. Res. 478, which makes a whole child approach to education a national priority and designates March as "National Whole Child Month." Don't forget to sign the Whole Child Petition to tell your state board of education that it must do more to educate the whole child.
As supporters of a whole child approach to education, we believe that each student must receive equal access to a credible, comprehensive, and well-rounded education that includes instruction in all core academic subjects—English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography—delivered at appropriate times throughout the school experience. Credible and comprehensive instruction should also apply to physical education and health education.
Each of these subjects is crucial to a student's learning in its own right, and no single subject should be considered more important than another. Indeed, the combination of the subjects and the interrelationship among disciplines enhances learning and understanding for each student. Moreover, a well-rounded education provides students with the academic preparation and knowledge to succeed in the increasingly global marketplace and in our own complex and ever-changing society.
In July 2010, ASCD and major education organizations representing a wide array of subject areas released consensus recommendations for how the federal government can better support core subjects beyond reading and math during a policy briefing on Capitol Hill. The policy recommendations are a response to the No Child Left Behind Act's singular focus on student performance in reading and math in addition to the Obama administration's Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) blueprint and FY11 budget request, which continue to prioritize reading and math over other subjects.
As part of her testimony, educator, artist, writer, theater maker, and mother Kate Quarfordt said:
I know that when we talk about the importance of ensuring every kid in America gets a well-rounded education, we're not talking about funding cute and cuddly side projects; we're talking about one of the crucial factors that determines whether we graduate healthy, engaged kids who are ready for college, career, and citizenship—or funnel kids into the dropout machine, into the welfare system, into our nation's prisons, and onto the street.
Now, I know that may sound extreme, but I'm here because I know firsthand that every time our nation's schools miss an opportunity to engage kids in broad-based and transformative learning that persuades them to stay in school, graduate, go to college, and participate meaningfully in the world, we lose them. When their experience of school is limited to cramming for standardized tests in a limited number of subjects, we lose them. As a nation, we are losing them at a rate of 7,000 kids every school day; 1 dropout every 26 seconds. And when we lose kids, especially in neighborhoods like the one I work in, most of them don't get a second chance. But when we offer them an education that is well-rounded, that engages them in multiple interconnected ways of seeing the world, that feels relevant to who they are and who they can become, great things happen.
Organizations continue to sign on to endorse the policy recommendations, but what can you do? Whole Child Partner Americans for the Arts asked why arts matter and one of the winners, Student Advocates for the Arts, answered.
"Every child should have access and have a well-rounded education. And they cannot have a well-rounded education without the arts." —Richard Kessler, executive director, Center for Arts Education, and musician
Student Advocates for the Arts (SAA) is a grassroots student organization dedicated to educating on and advocating for public policy affecting the arts in the United States. Founded in 2002 by graduate students in the Arts Administration Program at Teachers College, Columbia University, SAA engages students in hands-on lobbying, workshops on advocacy and cultural policy, and discussions on the American system for funding the arts. Read SAA's guest post on Americans for the Arts' ARTSblog.
Act now! Sign the Whole Child Petition asking your state board of education to support policies and practices that ensure each student is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. When your state has reached its goal, we will deliver the petition to your state board of education.