Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Principal Notes

By Doug Lyons

Teaching and Learning - “…Creating Work for an Audience Greater than One…”

“We at Parker have for the last several years been working on helping students make their work public. The theme we talk about and share with visiting teacher teams and administrators who come to Parker to find out about student engagement and how to help students use technology and media to display their work is “…producing work for an audience greater than one…” The reference, audience greater than one, refers to the “old school” version of kid’s writing papers or taking tests that only the classroom teacher would see. We have learned that when we change the audience for kids the level and creativity of their work increases dramatically. We have also learned that by using technology and media to allow students to share their work and get feedback, it improves their work product.”

I wrote this in September 2011 for the Parker Blog. At the time, the theme of making work public was based on the work of the Parker Instructional Leadership Team and author/teacher Ron Berger, An Ethic of Excellence: Building a Culture of Craftsmanship with Students. As we wrap up mid-year goal meetings with teachers and teams (January/February 2013), and look back at the progress we have made, we are most pleased, impressed and optimistic about the work students are creating and especially about the student and adult learning that has taken place since the paragraph above was written.

Curricular areas such as Art, Music and Chorus have influenced our core subjects of Math, Science, Foreign Language, English, and Social Studies and vise-versa. The enrichment or specialist classes (Art, Band and Chorus) where performance is a standard part of the curriculum is now common place in core subjects where students regularly need to demonstrate what they know through a variety of modes. Moreover, the Art, Band and Chorus classes have taken a page from core classes and are reading, writing, researching and developing ideas.

Art classes are making their work public using technology to showcase art and present artwork to the world through Artsonia.com. If you check out the site not only will you see art work for all of our students, you will see artists’ statements written by our student artists, where they use text to explain their thinking about the art they are creating. Additionally, you will see digital portfolios of work that have been visited and have received feedback from peers and other on-line audiences that encourage students and help them to refine their work.

As part of this process, teams have been working with students to craft objective, meaningful feedback. Rather than relying on non-descript terms like “good work” and “well done,” students are being challenged to thoughtfully comment on each other’s work and then use feedback to improve the final product. This approach emphasizes the value of the learning process and recognizes the significance of reflection and revision.

Jessica Squires has earned a Silver Key Award in this year’s Boston Globe Scholastic Art Awards for her drawing "Ephesus" (above). Jessica is an incredible young artist who truly deserves this recognition! Congratulations!! (see Jessica’s digital portfolio on Artsonia by clicking http://www.artsonia.com/artists/portfolio.asp?id=2541789&artid=22574097

By Christopher Balboni (see his digital portfolio on Artsonia by clicking http://www.artsonia.com/museum/art.asp?id=20034787

We continue to share what we are learning with visiting teams of teachers and administrators from other public schools as well as professors from colleges and universities. Our teachers have presented at the Blue Ribbon National Conference, the Learning Forward Annual Conference and the SRI Winter Meeting. The more we share, the more we grow and our expectations also grow, focusing more and more on what kids would be able to do if we – as teachers and administrators - continue to create opportunities that challenge and engage them in genuine ways. We are grateful to be in a public and professional community that fosters professional growth and learning; it makes all the difference.