Posts Tagged ‘education’

Get Rid of the Snow Day Boredom

Monday, January 27th, 2014

We’ve settled into a winter that echoes those of my childhood. It’s been a while since we have seen measurable snow, lasting subzero temperatures, and snow days that become weeks. Everything seemed to slow a bit and perhaps this is what we need. After all, winter is a time for hibernation. It’s really difficult for teachers and students, though. The lag in classroom instruction can be frustrating, but there are plenty of learning opportunities during these cold, gray days and there is a place one can go to find answers to the many random questions that can pop up when one is suffering from cabin fever.

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PBS LearningMedia isn’t just for the classroom. This free service is full of P-20 resources to help feed the curiosities that naturally arise during winter snow day activities, whether they be sledding, reading, playing video games, or just trying to find something to do. Current, interesting, thought-provoking, inspiring, and truly educational videos and interactives are just a click away for students and parents, too! PBS LearningMedia is great for studying, researching, learning how to make or do something, working out, or simply satiating a desire to learn. It’s trustworthy and diverse. If you ever want to know about something, this is one of the first online places you should look.

 

The Colors of Our Lives

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

I am blessed. I have several artists in my life. The walls in my home are adorned with an eclectic mix of visual art that has been given to me over the years by my friends and family. The iPod connected to our surround sound stereo is playing beautiful, experimental, and profound music most of the time. We read often. We write often. Together, we enjoy theatre and dance. Our son has various musical instruments strung throughout the house. He recently saved his money to put an electric guitar on layaway at our local music store. If you come to visit, a musical instrument is not far from reach.

"The Rift" by Monica Taylor

I have no idea where I would be if I wasn’t surrounded by art. I certainly doubt that my life would be as rich, colorful, or adventurous without it. All disciplines of the arts mark our time in history. We can better understand the past by studying the art forms of the times while embracing the human condition that is driven by emotion. Today’s art is no different. Today’s artists can’t be forgotten.

Research has shown that implementing the arts in education across the curriculum improves student performance in school, including retention rates and increased test scores. I see on a daily basis how important the arts are to lifelong success. Creativity is everywhere. I don’t know of anyone who has succeeded without it, and learning how to channel that creativity is empowering. Exercising artistic talent expands the mind. It also allows a different and effective approach to teaching and learning. For some students, it is the highlight of their school career. For others, it’s the beginning of a new life. Tomorrow’s artists cannot be stifled.

Late last week, I received a call from my good friend and favorite artist. She is a high school art teacher in Indiana who was teaching in the perfect creative environment. The school had a team of art teachers that offered classes in photography, pottery, 3-D art, drawing, painting, music, dance, drama, and others that I can’t remember right now. Last week, she and other art teachers received a pink slip by mail due to the declining focus of arts in the classroom. To me, it is heartbreaking. As an extremely talented artist and teacher, she will find a new venue to grow her gift (hopefully, that will happen in another classroom). Her students, however, are the true victims of this decision made by school officials. They have produced some incredible art. Some of which is included in my own collection. The students participate in the Empty Bowls project to end hunger. How rich is that?

My niece and nephew’s school tossed out the arts when they learned it was no longer being tested in the Interim Reform period. The kids are so sad. They really enjoyed and looked forward to art class. Both are very creative and talented in visual art. They will be fine, though, because they have a family that supports the arts and caters to their talents. This is not always the case.

We are fortunate that our son’s district has not removed the arts from the curriculum. I am happy to learn that Kentucky’s new core standards will eventually bring back the arts. Anyone who has studied teaching and learning must know that the creative exercises in the brain are what keep it active. Stifling that breeds failure on so many levels.

Though the tone of this post is a little blue, I have a strong hope that the arts will once again be a strong component in our education standards. I am so proud that KET has dedicated hours and hours to the arts. Our teams have produced many brilliant arts resources for teachers, students, and individuals. The KET Arts Toolkits are being aligned to the social studies standards. Learning history with art? What a great idea! Take a peek when you have a while. You will definitely want to linger in the fascinating world of art.

Icing on the Holiday Cake

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Happy cold, icy, snowy, sleepy Friday afternoon. It’s been an interesting December, as the weather has been surprisingly generous in precipitation. After the dry summer and fall conditions, it’s nearly shocking to feel such moisture in the air. Many of you have had several days away from school due to all of this winter weather. Our son is thrilled about this. I am certain that this break has allowed you some extra time to get ready for the holidays. It’s nice to have a jump start on relaxation, and I hope you have taken full advantage.

Since my last post, I have almost caught up with the rest of you. I only have two gifts to buy. The snow doused me into the spirit of the season. There is one thing, however, that I haven’t yet accomplished. I still have to decide on my New Year’s resolution. There are many things I want to change, so pinpointing which aspect I want to focus on for 2011 is proving to be difficult. It has to be a realistic goal. I have actually been surprisingly successful in sticking to my past three resolutions. I am a slow learner. I really don’t want break this cycle, so this decision is very tricky.

The Winter Solstice will take place this Tuesday, December 21st, at 6:38 p.m. EST. I plan to have my resolution in place by then. It will be interesting because this year’s Solstice will be accompanied by a lunar eclipse. If you would like more information, see NASA’s article, Solstice Lunar Eclipse. For the east coast, the lunar eclipse will begin Tuesday at 1:33 a.m. EST, reaching totality at 2:41 a.m. EST. I hope to be able to stay awake long enough to experience it. It’s times like these that make me wish I was still teaching. I would love to have the opportunity to study the Solstice and lunar eclipse with students. I didn’t teach science, but there is always a way to incorporate topics into drama and creative writing assignments (which I did teach). Ah, but being a parent fills that void. Our son is knowledgeable of the astronomical phenomena that drive our seasons, but there is always something new to discover with him.

I also wanted to remind you of some energy saving/green holiday practices. In the rush of the events, we sometimes forget.

1. When you are away from your home, lower the temperature in your house by a couple of degrees. Your energy bill will be a bit less.

2. Shut off your holiday lights. This prevents fire and saves money. Also, if you are thinking of replacing your holiday lights next year, consider buying LED sets. They usually go on sale after Christmas.

3. Recycle your gift wrappings and boxes. Leaving them by the curb allows opportunists to easily see what you received that they would like to have. It’s very good for our trees, too.

As we wrap up 2010, I want to wish each of you the most precious, memorable, peaceful, and bountiful Christmas. May the New Year bring reality to all of your dreams.


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