Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Standardized Testing in the Arts. No. Please No.

by Nancy Flanagan from EDUCATION WEEK on June 19, 2012 4:26 PM

When it comes to assessing music students, and their learning, I can say with confidence that I am a bona fide expert.

I did this work for thirty years--by my count, evaluating well over 5000 music students, giving them grades and feedback. Which only means I had lots of practice--not necessarily proficiency--but depth of experience matters here. Over three decades, I developed and continuously adjusted a conceptual framework for evaluating the most important skills and knowledge of student musicians, using (and often rejecting) multiple models and metrics. I did it wrong before I did it right. Once I understood that I finally had it right, I kept fine-tuning.

Monday, July 30, 2012

So How DO We Measure Learning in the Arts...

by Nancy Flanagan on June 27, 2012 4:37 PM

... if we don't use some kind of standardized assessment?

My previous blog has been re-posted, dissected, praised and scorned. But the question is still out there: How do we measure learning in the arts?

Two critical observations:

• Contrary to what some commenters seem to think, nobody is suggesting that learning in arts education can't or shouldn't be assessed. The blog wasn't a half-baked claim that the arts are too creative/expressive/ethereal/woo-woo for teachers to properly evaluate what their students have produced and learned. Assessing learning in the arts is precisely how students grow in arts knowledge and skill--with the assistance of their teachers, who use those assessments to tailor and improve their instruction as well.

• This contention--that we can't measure something unless we standardize it--is driving a whole lot of truly damaging, excessive and deceptive testing right now, and not just in the arts. How many times have we heard this: "If we don't use standardized tests, how will we really know what students have learned? Or how they compare to kids in Singapore?"

N.C. to Require Arts Integration in Teacher-Prep Programs

Efforts to promote integration of the arts across the curriculum got a boost in North Carolina last month, when Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue signed legislation stipulating that those studying to become elementary teachers get some grounding in the concept.

The measure, contained in a broader education bill, says elementary education programs "shall ensure" that teacher candidates "are prepared to integrate arts education across the curriculum."

Arts integration is nothing new, but it does seem to be building some momentum lately. For example, I recently wrote an EdWeek story about initiatives to promote adding an "A" for the arts into the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) acronym, so that the arts are infused across the disciplines.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

ABSTRACT of Sparks of Genius – The 13 Thinking Tools of the World’s Most Creative People.

By Robert & Michele Root-Bernstein.

Chapter 1 – Rethinking Thinking
Invention presupposes imagination. Einstein once revealed to his friend, “The words of the language, as they are written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in my mechanism of thought” Some scientists insist that thinking in feelings and mental images can be rationally manipulated.

MIT Prof. Richard Feynman (Nobel Prize winner) told once, “Mathematics is the form in which we express our understanding of nature, but it is not the content of that understanding”

In Creating minds and Frames of mind, scientists are logico-mathamatical thinkers, poets and writers are highly verbal thinkers, psychologists as intrapersonal thinkers and politicians as interpersonal thinkers.

Poincre (greatest mathematician in19th century) once said, “it is by logic we prove, but by intuition that we discover...”

French physician Armand Trousseau agreed, “All science touches on art; all art has its scientific side. The worst scientist is he who is not an artist; the worst artist is he who is no scientist.

Sculptor Naum Gabo once wrote. “Every great scientist has experiences a moment when the artist in him saved the scientist.”

Various professions including medicine are beginning to recognize intuition as a necessary part of disciplinary thinking.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

NCLB vs. ARTS Education

Although we've used the cartoon on our site in the past, as a new year starts it's
worth a new life and a new look.  Let's pass this on to our colleagues as the
reauthorization discussions continue.

Full STEAM Ahead: Valve Launches Classroom Video Game Program

by Andrew Miller

Video game company Valve is going deep into the education world with a new initiative using Steam, their free online game platform where users can download games and communicate and play with other players. The initiative is called Steam for Schools, and a free educational version is now available to teachers to use in the classroom.

What makes it unique for schools is that all functionality unrelated to education is disabled and only certain games are made available for teachers and students.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Just a Few of the Highlights from the 2012 RA

Video highlights of NEA's 2012 Representative Assembly (RA) held in Washington, DC

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel opened the National Education Association's 91st Representative Assembly today with a challenge to members to stand up for their profession and come together in a united mission to transform America's public schools into world class institutions of learning.

NEA's Community Outreach Caucus gives back to the host city where the NEA's Annual Convention and Representative Assembly is held each year. The group did landscaping at a school, painted a women's shelter and fed the homeless.

The 2012 National Teacher of the Year delivered captivating, moving and inspirational words about the power teachers have to shape and transform the lives of their students. Rebecca Mieliwocki spoke before thousands of fellow educators gathered at the National Education Association's (NEA) Representative Assembly (RA) in Washington, DC. Mieliwocki is an English teacher at Luther Burbank Middle School in Burbank, California.

NEA's Outreach to Teach took place on June 27th, 2012 at Thomas Johnson Middle School in Lanham, MD. Sponsored by NEA's Student Program, each year Outreach to Teach selects a deserving public school in the area of the host city of NEA's Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly to receive a free makeover. More than 400 future, current, and retired teachers, higher ed faculty and education support professionals painted, cleaned, landscaped and decorated the high-needs school.

Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden appeared at the National Education Association's Representative Assembly on July 3, 2012 in Washington, DC. Biden said teachers make dreams a reality. He stressed that our success as a national depends on our ability to educate all children.

Teacher-Voice: How Not to be a Bobble-Head Doll


"Teacher voice" is one of the most ambiguous phrases in education reform—used differently by governors, chancellors, commission leaders, advocacy organizations, and school administrators.

Sometimes, "teacher voice" means that the convening group or individual actually wants meaningful input from educators. But more often than not, teachers are being asked to complete a project or support an agenda that needs little more than their reluctant signatures. 

I offered a different definition of "teacher voice" at April's TEDxNYED conference. This is a phrase we can reclaim. Truly engaging with "teacher voice" means taking seriously the collective and individual expression of teachers' professional opinions based on their knowledge and classroom expertise. Anything else is just a "teacher nod." Like we’re all bobble-head dolls.  

Teaching Foreign Language Through Storytelling

What is the best way to help students learn a second language?

Traditionally, teachers tackle the "how" of the language. Students learn a list of vocabulary, are introduced to various rules, produce language according to those rules, and are corrected as needed.
This year I tried something different: using storytelling to help my 8th graders become more confident second-language (L2) learners. This method emphasizes the gradual acquisition of language rather than the memorization of vocabulary and rules. It's more about "what" is said than "how" it is said.

Here are my takeaways from this big change. While these insights are about teaching Spanish, they could apply to any major pedagogical shift.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Districts Push for Texts Aligned to Common Core

NOTE: For those who believe that the ARTS are not part of the COMMON CORE, and for those states that have not yet recognized the ARTS as part of the COMMON CORE, here is an article that demonstrates why what we do needs to be recognized in the core.  The texts that are being developed nationally are preparing to write the arts out of existence in those states that fail to recognize the contributions of the arts as part of the core.

by Christina A. Samuels

Flexing billions of dollars of purchasing muscle, more than 30 of the nation's largest districts have come together to say they will only buy common-core instructional materials that meet a set of "publishers' criteria" written by a nonprofit organization that played a leading role in crafting the new standards.

The new criteria, meant to govern the development of instructional materials aligned with the English/language arts portion of the standards, were publicized June 28 at a press event organized by the Council of the Great City Schools, the Washington-based membership group to which the districts belong. But the criteria were released last summer by the New York City-based Student Achievement Partners, whose founders were among the lead writers of the Common Core State Standards now adopted by all but four states.

White House Announces $1 Billion 'Master Teacher' Program

In today's article from US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT, we see those who are pushing the STEM initiative working in as narrow of a Sputnik-minded fashion as those of the past.

When will those who are promoting the STEM initiative in the US realize that we are missing the boat. Years ago, the acronym TEAMS was used (A for Arts); that was followed by STEM-A and STEAM. We are losing the economic battle by ignoring the important work of Root-Bernstein (SPARKS OF GENIUS) and Pinket (A WHOLE NEW MIND) that demonstrate this silo/compartmentalized, stringent Carnegie unit approach to the initiative is ignoring the very important tools of innovation that other countries embrace in order to really apply and use STEM content to drive the economy. Integration is the key to innovation. Let the STEAM discussion get started on the national stage.

Top educators could earn up to $20,000 in annual bonuses
July 18, 2012 RSS Feed Print

For years, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has said teachers have to be more respected in the United States. Wednesday, he'll get his wish—the Obama administration plans to form a corps of
"master teachers" who will specialize in science, technology, engineering, and math and will receive annual bonuses of up to $20,000.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Next Generation of Max Headroom

1984 was the year when Max Headroom debuted as the first computer generated personality bringing life to computer technology. However, the original image of Max was actually not computer generated; it was a green screen image of Matt Frewer with latex prosthetic make-up and fiberglass costume. Even the background was initially hand-drawn cel animation at first, but eventually was generated by a Commodore computer.

Since Max Headroom, computer generated characters have become a part of everyday life, and today people use computer generated avatars to represent themselves in binary form. However, not since Max Headroom, has a hyper-realistic appearance of humans been generated.

Last week, new 3D like technologies enabled innovators James George and Jonathan Minard discover what they call “virtual cinematography.” The two have created new technology that is “redefining the talking head,” impacting the future of computer generated avatars. The two innovators use open-source software which maps the video image to the Kinect, producing a truly computerized human.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Economic Impact of Nonprofit Arts & Culture Industry on the American Economy

This June, Americans for the Arts released the new Arts & Economic Prosperity IV (AEP IV) study demonstrating that the nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $135.2 billion in economic activity and supports 4.13 million jobs in the United States! These powerful findings from the largest and most comprehensive arts impact study ever conducted can help you showcase the economic power of the arts in your community and help you leverage more support.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


"Watch this you tube video about a doctor who uses art to help his patients understand heart surgery. Here is an example of how ART is so important to science. His brother Ken Bichell is a ceramic artist in Dubuque, and is a friend of mine. I was telling him about STEM to STEAM and he told me of his brother. It is amazing. Enjoy." Colleen Hughes, NEA FAC Member.

Saturday, July 14, 2012


ARTStem: Teaching & Learning at the Intersection of the Arts and STEM disciplines
An ongoing initiative of the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA), in Winston Salem. Inspired by artists and scholars who efface the lines between “the arts” and the “STEM” disciplines, the project brought together academic and arts faculty members from UNCSA with an interdisciplinary team of public school educators for an academic summer seminar about teaching and learning at the intersection of the arts and STEM disciplines, followed by a year of creative teaching collaborations and programming. www.artstem.org

Bridging STEM to STE(A)M: Developing New Frameworks for ART/SCIENCE Pedagogy
RISD Event Logo
Artists, scientists, researchers, educators and leaders in information and creative technology gathered at this NSF-funded workshop held at the Rhode Island School of Design, Jan 21-22, 2011, to explore the questions: What do you consider the greatest potential of your field of research, work, or teaching? How might you see the value of your work benefiting from interaction with other disciplines?

Communicating Science to the Public through the Performing Arts
The 2010 Conference of Science and the Arts, a program of CUNY Graduate Center. Website

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Visual Arts and Math Integration K-5

See how to convey core K-5 mathematical concepts through visual arts with Object Lessons. 50 classroom-tested activities use everyday objects—flags, shoes, paper, rocks, faces, and more—to encourage problem solving and develop spatial abilities. Preview Chapter 1: The Face.

U.S. Drops in Global Innovation Rankings


Perhaps those who are opposed to STEAM should read this to understand why the transferable skills learned in the arts are so vital to our competitiveness in the global economy.

The United States may be home to Facebook, Google, Apple, and taco shells made of Doritos, but according to a recent international study, our nation is becoming less innovative, at least compared to last year. After ranking 7th in 2011, the U.S. is ranked 10th in this year's Global Innovation Index, a massive report published by Insead, an international business school, and the World Intellectual Property Organization, an agency of the United Nations.

The report ranks 141 nations on nearly 100 factors related to innovation, in areas like "Business sophistication," "Human capital & research," and "Knowledge & technology outputs." Switzerland and Sweden are ranked Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, for the second straight year. Rounding out the top five are Singapore, Finland, and the United Kingdom.

The Arts Gap in America

by John Wilson, April 10, 2012

We have a major arts equity issue in this country. And, we have a major denial issue about the power of the arts in driving student achievement. Who gets hurt? Of course, as always, the poor children of America are the have-nots. The facts don't lie.

Recently, Education Secretary Arne Duncan spoke eloquently about this issue. He called for all schools to be "arts-rich." He lamented that the arts opportunity gap is widest for children in high poverty schools. He said, " Low-income students who had arts-rich experiences in high schools were more than three times as likely to earn a B.A. degree as low income students without those experiences." Ignoring the research on this issue is malpractice.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

What is STE(A)M?


STE(A)M is also known by other acronyms like the original title: TEAMS and others like STEAMi, STEM-A is an initiative that recognizes the importance of marrying ARTS education to our nation's STEM movemnt.

In this climate of economic uncertainty, America is once again turning to innovation as the way to ensure a prosperous future.

Yet innovation remains tightly coupled with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – the STEM subjects. The ARTS are poised to transform our economy in the 21st century just as science and technology did in the last century.

We need to add THE ARTS to the equation — to transform STEM into STEAM. Let's lose the parentheses and make STEM stronger by adding the strength of the ARTS and the awesome tranferable skills learned primarily in the arts to the education of our nation's students.

to learn more about our need to integrate ARTS education into the STEM movment, take a look at the following resources:

STEAM Whitepaper

Seattle's ARCADE Magazine devotes entire Spring 2013 Issue to STEAM
STEAM Ahead: Merging Arts and Science Education
STEAM Not Just STEM from the Huffington Post

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

NEA FAC RA Meeting Minutes July 4, 2012

NEA RA 2012 - Washington DC
NEA FAC Meeting Minutes - WED, July 4, LUNCH BREAK
Convention Center Room 147B
I.       Call to order. Meeting was called to order at 1:35pm, texting update, meeting procedures and protocols were discussed by Chair, Tom McLaughlin (IA).   24 RA delegates were in attendance.
II.    Adoption of Agenda--(Fitzwater, Moved Dinneno, Seconded PASSED)

III. Adoption Minutes (07/03 - Woodman/Fitzwater PASSED) (07/04 AM - Fry/Gary PASSED)

IV.NBI #36 - “STEM to STEAM” Modifications have been made to this NBI.   NBI comes up onto the floor after Lunch Break.   Mic are all covered.  Speakers are 1. Meikel (CO); Lemmo (PA); Fitzwater (MD) yielding to Johnson (CA); McLaughlin (IA); Turici (PA)  $18,398.00 is the new cost.  The modification save over $150,000.00.  Note the word "reframe/reframing" was responsible for the additional $150,000.00 in cost.  Discussions with Michael McPherson, NEA CFO gleaned this costing information from us.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


An agreement on what drives the US economy in the future

Even in today’s very politically partisan time there is one point of agreement between most of the political leaders when it comes to the future of our economy – it is
The strength of the US economy in the future will be determined by our success in innovation versus the existing developed nations and their economies and, probably more importantly, the emerging nations and their rapidly developing economies.

Clinton’s former Secretary of Education, Richard Riley, summed up this need for innovation to drive our future when he predicted,

“The jobs in the greatest demand in the future don’t yet exist and will require workers to use technologies that have not yet been invented to solve problems that we don’t yet even know are problems.”


I.     Call to order, short introductions, texting update
II.    Adoption of Agenda
III.   Adoption of Minutes
A.  Text of speeches/photos of speakers
B.   Caucus Thanks
C.   Mic Yielder Thanks

Arts Advocacy Resource Guide Overwhelmingly Adopted

Adopted As Modified

The NEA will advocate for arts education through these means:

Acting as a partner with fine arts education organizations, including the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA); the National Association for Music Education (NAfME); the National Art Education Association (NAEA); the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) and Americans for the Arts to collect and disseminate existing arts advocacy tools to create an electronic “NEA Arts Advocacy Resource Guide”.

Devoting portions of NEA TODAY to arts education and promoting the electronic “Arts Advocacy Resource Guide” in the NEA TODAY, on the NEA website and in social media.

The electronic “NEA Arts Advocacy Resource Guide” will address the importance of the arts in a student’s comprehensive education and the need for the arts to be represented in curriculum reform, highlight models of effective advocacy campaigns and provide specific tools for students, arts educators and supportive patrons to use as they advocate for arts education.


This NBI can be accomplished at an additional cost of $13,670.

FAC Membership on the RA Floor

Want to become an NEA FAC Member and not take the trek to the Non-Profit Booth (that has cool arts giveaways, raffles, policy papers and more)?  Come to an NEA FAC Caucus meeting from 9:30-10:00 each morning in room 147B of the Convention Center or see one of the members of the Fine Arts Caucus Executive Board Tom McLaughlin (IA), Chair; Debbie Turici (PA Western Region), Vice-Chair; Oscar Forsman (IL), Treasurer; Rich Nicklay (IA), Secretary; Pam Gibberman (CA), Music Rep; Jessica Fitzwater (MD), Music Rep; Ginger Fox (CA), Theatre & Dance Rep; Carol Woodman (WA), Theater and Dance Rep; Carlos Meikel (CO), Visual Arts Rep; Sue Lemmo (PA), Visual Arts Rep.  JOIN US.


Full coverage of new business items, amendments, resolutions and other items considered during the 2012 Representative Assembly.

STEAM vs. STEM New Business Item


The NEA will support efforts to integrate the fine arts into the educational movement known as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM); assist in reframing the related discussion to: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM); use existing means of communication to advocate for the importance of integrating arts education into the STEM movement, and creating a stronger national awareness of STEAM's importance as they advocate for arts education.

NEA FAC RA Meeting Minutes July 3, 2012

NEA RA 2012 - Washington DC
NEA FAC Meeting Minutes - TUESDAY, July 3, 2012 LUNCH BREAKConvention Center Room 147B

I.       Call to order, short introductions, texting update by Chair, McLaughlin (IA).  15 delegates in 

II.    Adoption of Agenda - Passed (Fry/Turici)

III. Adoption Minutes 07.02.2012 - Passed (Woodman/Rowe)

IV. NBI #1 - “Arts Advocacy Resource Guide”
A.       Text of Speeches delivered & not-delivered will be available on blogspot.
      B.    THANKS to all who covered mics.  Mics were all covered.  Special Thanks to these people
      for the extra leg-work in getting mics covered:  Patch(IA), Forsman(IL), Woodman(WA).  Thank
      yous will try to be delivered to all mic yielders.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

NEA Fine Arts Caucus Agenda July 2, 2012


9:30-10:00 AM

I.      Call to order, short introductions, texting update
II.    Adoption of Agenda
III.  Adoption of Minutes
IV.  Booth copying/form approvals and set up and sign up
V.    Microphone Strategy
VI.   BLOGGER and you
VI.   STEAM New Business Item
VII.  Announcement
VIII.  Adjournment

NEA FAC Introduces RA's New Business Item #1: Creating Partnerships with Education Arts Organizations & Creating the Arts Advocacy Resource Guide

Due to the wonderful work of a dedicated caucus, the NEA FAC will speak to its modification of a new business item intended to implement some of the recommendations of the NEA Fine Arts Task Force from 2010-2011.  The cost impact is .0045 cents per NEA member.  That's less than one-half of one-hundreth on once cent.

Let's hope that the budget cruch keeps doesn't blind our delegates into believing that we need not invest in anything because of a financial crisis.  The arts are encountering their own crisis nationally and we need to share tools to protect these vital program's for our nation's students.



The NEA will advocate for arts education through these means:
  • Acting as a partner with fine arts education organizations, including the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA); the National Association for Music Educate (NAfME); the National Art Education Association (NAEA); the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) and Americans for the Arts to collect and disseminate existing arts advocacy tools to create an electronic "NEA Arts Advocacy Resource Guide".

Research & Articles Supporting STEAM vs. STEM





NEA FAC Proposes Putting Some STEAM into STEM

In the ISDOE's recent Arts for the Core Curriculum Conference in Des Moines, author Robert Root Bernstein discussed the vital role the arts play in his book, Sparks of Genius: The Thirteen Thinking Tools of the World's Most Creative People. These thoughts have prompted another new business item at this year's NEA RA.  The working language of this will be posted here in just a few minutes.