This is the online stream for sharing conversations that happened throughout the Greater Bay Area from March through June 2012 around the question:

How can we collectively transform public education through the arts to create a better future for everyone?

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Hello from Carolyn S. Carr

Name Carolyn S. Carr
Date of conversation Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Conversation Participants Mike Walbridge, San Leandro USD; Zach Kahn, Muir Middle School; Carrie Wilson, Mills Teacher Scholars; Claire Bove, Mills Teacher Scholars; Cynthia Medina, ACOE/ ELD; Ai Vu, ACOE/ IMSS; Tana Johnson, ACOE/ Alliance; Louise Music, ACOE/ Alliance; Carolyn Carr, ACOE/ Alliance.
Meeting Topics?
This meeting was a convening of IMSS/TARI Planning and Implementation Group. IMSS stands for Integrating Middle School Science and TARI for Teacher Action Research Institute. This collaboration of educators is working in San Leandro on science, arts and ELA integration in middle schools. In an effort to develop a professional development plan for the next 3 years of IMSS/TARI work in San Leandro, we engaged in a “Back to the Future” envisioning process. First, projecting to September 2015, what does it look like for teachers, students, and district administrators? Next, we looked at where we are today. We then “plotted” how to get there from here.
Where are we now? Share key takeaways • There is a tension between pacing guide and integration application and inquiry approaches
• There is a conflict between the pacing guide and where students were at
• District recognition that teacher leadership and knowledge are necessary for decision making about pacing guide foundation to be changed and improved to meet learning needs of students
• There is an excitement about altering pacing guide and transforming content through the arts
• Shelley and Gaia have approaches to teaching science by learning from students, looking closely at students
Where should we go, and why? Share key takeaways
In September 2015 we envision:
• Every Science & ELA middle school teacher is integrating the arts to deepen content knowledge
• Cross disciplinary planning time is regular practice across grade levels
• Course A- like PLC groups are talking about integration
• Teachers are experts at integrating and it is the way we teach now in San Leandro
• President of Rhode Island School of Design has invited San Leandro students to present model STEAM example
• Teachers are going into each other’s classrooms to collect data for each other’s research
• Common formative assessments, aligned to new common core standards and teacher inquiry questions were aligned
• Roosevelt school presented to all SLUSD principals about how formative and summative assessments are improved through inquiry and teacher action research
• August 2012 coaching academy/ TARI site leads were active participants/ Roosevelt/ Mills Scholars Project – bringing all of the professional development together/ looking at common assessments and data from active research – the idea of date was expanded
• Teachers responded to a deeper trust; adding a sense of professionalism
• Teachers look responsibly as a new culture emerged
• Teachers are using performance-based assessments and are able to clearly convey what their students are learning and how it aligns with new common core standards
• SLUSD has been a model from California of elementary and middle school math, science, ELA and arts common core standards
• Teachers and students are using real life issues and problems as their course of study
• Collaborations with California Academy of Science and Chabot Space and Science Center
• San Leandro students are thinking, acting as scientists and connecting with scientist in their labs
• Families and students were central presenters at our August 2015 Summer Institute called “The Future is Now”
• SLUSD students are all deeply engaged in their learning and are excited about their important role to play in their future
• Students and teachers are able to explicitly describe how the racial achievement gap was closed
• Excited students, teachers and administrators
• Strong bridge built from elementary, middle to high to world
• SLUSD teachers are talking about constant improvement
• Students and teachers all use a common language about reflecting, observing and engaging and persisting…
• Science teachers are engaged together in discovering and deepening their science content
• Science teachers are using metaphor and analogy to convey deeper understanding of science concepts – cells, atoms, gravity
How Should we get there? Share key takeaways
How shall we get there?
• Teachers across schools come together and develop common assessments
• E-newsletter next steps for going deeper 1. IMSS in May 2. May 19 retreat 3. June 5 Mills Teacher Scholars
• EdModo model improves communication shared work, create blogs. Carolyn Carr and Ai Vu work together to make this resource available to SLUSD teachers
• Site leads are identified at middle schools and 10-12 site leads presented at conferences on EL, common core, etc.
• Roosevelt teachers are a model that other schools learn from
• IMSS/ TARI/ Mills leaders pay attention to where teachers are at and provide coherent, coordinated aligned instruction
• Mills Scholars project provides essential insights into teacher learning and ongoing improvement
• Science teachers are asking “how is art going to help me improve instruction and student learning outcomes?”
• There is a cultural shift that teachers can and need to change/ respond according to knowledge developed by looking at what students are doing, saying and making
• March 22, 2012 three science teachers, two EL teachers, one are teacher, one instructional lead, eight elementary site leads attended
• There was a sense of refreshment being with teachers from across grade and content levels and an excitement of an expanded view
• Excitement for potential of cross curriculum planning
• It was a taste – teachers wanted more…
Next Steps? Keep communications ongoing. Create an E-Newsletter
to update all IMSS/TARI teachers and principals

Promote involvement/attendance to:

1. Leadership Retreat May 19 at Jefferson El, SLUSD

2. “Inventing Our Future” Summer Institute, August 7-9, 2012

Artists Brings What Schoo…

Artists Brings What Schools Need

Teaching artists are a catalytic force for teaching, learning and generative education transformation.  An article in the Huffington Post by Nick Rabkin articulates well the value teaching artists bring to our work.

New Report from National Endowment of the Arts

Love it!

“At-risk youths with a history of intensive arts experiences enjoy better academic outcomes and are more civically engaged than disadvantaged students who largely miss out on the arts, finds a new report from the National Endowment for the Arts.”

“The benefits can be seen across a variety of measures, from test scores and school grades to honors-society memberships, high school graduation, and college enrollment and attainment. In addition, these young people are more likely to get involved with volunteer activities and local politics.”

Intrinsic Motivation: Creating Habits That Work In The Classroom!

Photo By: Alvimann

By: Jennyann Carthern 

Time and time again. I have this special knack for spotting out the creative students in a classroom. Psych! It’s not really a knack, but rather the behavior they exhibit while being involved in an activity. The creative student’s lose themselves completely in the creation process. Vanishing, into a whimsical place that only exists for them.The Wonderland or Oz effect I like to call it. I myself have drifted off to this place, while gazing into the eyes of my paintings.

Intrinsic Motivation is rooted in this place. It’s a powerful pull, you long to return to over and over again. So how can we get more students to take this journey?

It’s by creating new habits in the classroom, and inviting more experiential learning to take place, rather than seated learning, memorization, and test scores.

After School Programs do a great job creating experiences for their participants. They do this through recreation, game play, visual arts, and collaboration. Students also have a voice in the program, they are heard, by  helping design the process, and taking leadership in its creation.

In one instance. While helping students with homework, I noticed that many students didn’t know how to spell. So during the weekend I researched some activities and landed on some sort of theatrical scramble game. The game consisted of pre-writing 2 sets of letters from the alphabet on index cards. Then splitting the students into two teams, and assigning a leader. I’d say a word, and students had to work with their team to spell the word. If a word had a double letter. That student had to bounce back and forth between the spaces of that letters existence. Whichever team spelled it first, got the point! To this day, they’ve learned to spell, and remembered it, because they experienced it!

Now in a classroom environment, students are given the same set of words and told to write them ten times, put them in a sentence, find the definition, draw, memorize, and then take a spelling test. Some pass, some fail, but a week later. The student’s brain boards are completely blank. This idea of memorization, repetition and seated learning needs to change. It’s a habit that hasn’t learned it’s lesson!

New habits involve outdoor play, collaboration, and experiential learning that allow students to think on their feet, and generate ideas by way of imagination and play.Our brain freezes when it’s not in action. I really don’t believe we were meant to be sedentary robots. Humans are inventors, innovators, and problem solvers. We seek adventure, and journey out to find it. If that’s the case, why aren’t journeys taking place in the classroom?

After school programs are in the habit of teaching math, history, science, literature, and art by giving their students experiences they talk about, for years to come.Every student should have a chance to experience OZ on their way to Wonderland. How about we start navigating them in the right direction!

Hello from Ann Wettrich

Name Ann Wettrich
Date of conversation Monday, April 16, 2012
Conversation Participants MOCHA education staff: Roxanne Padgett and Brandy Gardner ; MOCHA Teaching Artists: Nicole Chan, Mittie Cutera,Angela Gomez-hoffman, Lauire Croft, Mona Chitkara, Jordana Autrey, Danielle Freeburn, Kara Fourtune, Veronica Graham, Michelle Villoria,
Jill McLennan and Amy Ortiz and Leticia Padgett;
Conversation facilitated by Ann Wettrich, MOCHA interim executive director.
Meeting Topics? • Resources for Transforming Public Education
• Addressing Issues of Violence
Where are we now? Share key takeaways
We began by interrogating the question: How can we collectively transform public education through the arts to create a better future for everyone? and our discussion generated new issues and questions: Art alone cannot transform public education. Government’s responsibility for public education is waning as evidenced in on-going budget slashing. How can this be prevented? If we create a big vision, can it attract more funding?

Violence in Oakland and its impact on teaching and learning emerged as a fundamental concern. Teaching artists discussed lock downs they’d experienced this year at school sites. Many mentioned their desire to be better informed and expressed the need for professional development and support in addressing the issues.

Where should we go, and why? Share key takeaways The healing role of art and the creative process was discussed. An idea for MOCHA to develop an anti-violence curriculum was suggested. Thinking together about the role and responsibility of art and artists to society, helped to surface the potential of art education as a creative liberating force with the capacity to resonate across individual, school and community contexts.
How Should we get there? Share key takeaways
We began to identify a few potential resources to address issues of violence
• MOCHA teaching artists experienced in this area
• Art education organizations with expertise in anti-violence curricula Art Esteem and Destiny;
• Beyond the arts—Wright Institute, mindfulness/conflict resolutions approaches, family counseling agencies.
• Tony Smith/OUSD
• Rainbow Youth Center

We discussed a few possible strategies:
• Partnerships to strengthen communication and evolve effective educational policies and practices
• Professional development at MOCHA for teaching artists
• Incorporating non-arts issues (like violence) into discussions with students
• Youth advisory group at MOCHA
• Paid youth internships at MOCHA for 8th grade through high school students

Next Steps? Posting our conversation here for others to weigh in and share their thoughts.

A Conversation in Washington DC about Californians Working Together

Name Louise Music
Date of conversation Friday, April 13, 2012
Conversation Participants
On April 13, participants at the Arts Education Partnership Spring Forum in Washington DC, met for a lunchtime conversation to discuss opportunities and challenges unique to California. 14 leaders gathered at lunchtime. They were: Anthony Cantrell from CSU Northridge, Julie Fry – Program Officer at the Hewlett Foundation, Martha McKenna, Michael McCarthy and Lisa Donavon from Lesley University, Eric Engdahl from Cal State East Bay, Browning Neddeau from University of San Francisco, Julia Marshal from San Francisco State, Jessica Mele from Performing Arts Workshop, Oren Slozberg from Visual Thinking Strategies, Lauren Stevenson, researcher and writer, Sharon Herpin from West Ed, Linda Johnson from Streetside Stories and Louise Music from the Alliance for Arts Learning Leadership
Meeting Topics? The conversation was framed around benchmark opportunities in California such as Create CA (the statewide effort by the California Department of Education and California Arts Council to bring arts into every school), planning for the Bay Area National Arts in Education Week in September, legislation to create a Creativity Index to assure access to opportunities for creativity in schools, and the November ballot initiatives to raise money for schools (the millionaire tax sponsored by the CTA and the governor’s office, and Our Children, Our Future sponsored by the CA PTA.
Photo: courtesy students at the Arts and Humanities Academy at Berkeley High School, from the RADIATE project – an interdisciplinary study of radiation, issues of power, language and visual arts
Where are we now? Share key takeaways
The group brainstormed ideas about how to demonstrate the intrinsic value of the arts for individual and collective solution finding:
a. Connect to Linked Learning
b. Get out of the arts education silo
c. Connect Lesley University cohorts to local networking and learning opportunities by creating and distributing a packet of resources
d. “Tagging” resources and compiling them into resources that make them easily accessible
e. Connect with CAAE’s local advocacy networks to schools, districts, higher education and each other
f. Connect and mobilize teachers
g. Convene arts teachers to name their value and their new leadership role in helping all teachers learn to teach in and through the arts
h. Host a ShoM-apalooza for dance, music, visual, media arts and drama teachers
i. Dance and theater credential
Where should we go, and why? Share key takeaways
Next Steps:
Think about Pollinators in Teacher preparation, Pre- Service and In-service- Work together to eliminate access to arts learning through inequitable zip code predictability
-Focus on schools in most need and directly confront issues of poverty, race and trauma through the arts.- Prepare teachers for reality and change making
– Define role of teachers
– Define role of teaching artists
– All educators creating deep and important learning toward valuable purposes
– Connect to common core movement
– Move from a stance of hoping to be included to bringing arts educators as resources that can help
How Should we get there? Share key takeaways Connect to Systemic Strategies and Systems
1. CORE – 7 school districts in California
2. CSUs / Bob Bullwinkle Fresno COE

Define the knowledge, skills and dispositions that every child should develop through our California public education experienceDefine what we can imagine that children can develop into and become
– Dream, Design, and Critique
– Diane Ravitch “Will California lead the Nation?” YES

Next Steps?
Assemble a committee to review the CDE’s Education Blueprint in order to:
o Connect arts as solutions to Blueprint goals
o Include non-arts educators
o Revisit the goals and make sure they are the right ones
o Assure content integrity in all disciplines
o Professional development in eco-literacy
o here’s how arts educators can help complete the Blueprint and what needs to be added

 Draw on Lauren Stevenson’s Ethnographic study of Destiny Arts as a means to craft the language to emerge from boundaries and to describe:
– How we live
– Social lives
– Artistic lives
– Make wordles of Destiny kids experiences: Involve Destiny Kids and others

Thoughts from Eric Engdahl

Comment: This is about equity and access. Certainly access is a theme given the minor but time consuming irritations of getting on the blog; equity and access are also themes because I am mourning the death yesterday of a young man of color from Oakland whom I knew well.

I noted earlier that the Alliance seems to consist primarily of white women. But there are other lacunae we need to be aware of as we plan for the next ten years. We need to include people and bureaucracies in the educational system who are not part of the choir – people who may not even know there is a choir. We need to have representation from elementary, middle and secondary teachers – arts teachers and non-arts teachers. We definitely need administrators and school site leaders. We need to reach out to schools not making AYP. We also need the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and the accreditation agencies for schools and teacher education programs. We need the professional organizations in music, dance, theater and visual art and of course we need parents and students. We need to involve communities of faith. Perhaps we can start to involve them as we become more specific about the student outcomes we will craft. What is the outcome of every child having art every day? Sounds good but what does it mean, what will the child be able to know and do by 12th grade and how will the child know? I don’t refer to standardized tests. We need to look at creativity indices and we need to look at some of the quality of life metrics found in longitudinal studies – we need data, as we know. I am also tired of the arts content/academic content divide. We need to get that out of the discussion. Additionally, we need to make the case more strongly how the arts make teachers more effective.

Most importantly, we need to aggressively reach out to the economically disadvantaged and people of color – those people whose lives and education can most affected by the arts and who are least likely to receive it as part of their education. I suggest that we also need to think about where and on whom we should focus our resources. The ‘new normal’ means finite resources. Especially given the recent NEA report “The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth” I think we need to put a more overt focus on at-risk populations: students of color, students of low SES backgrounds. In ten years, will society be better off if more children enrolled in school have the arts everyday or will society be better off if through the arts we can increase the graduation rate by 4% of African-American and Latino males? A lot of data I have looked at suggests the former.

I am don’t think we should set limits but that we may want to focus and set a target for those populations who can benefit the most from the arts. We need to be aware if we are unwittingly excluding groups – if the Bay Area is called the new Florence couldn’t just as easily be a new Malian Empire, a new Byzantium, and new Gupta Empire?

I hope I am not ranting, too much. The young man whose death I referred to earlier was the son of a white American woman and an African father. He could have been the next Barack Obama. But the educational system did not do well by him. We can do better and the arts are integral to making that occur.