Thursday, March 29, 2012

Common Core Standards and SLO's

That was an image found on the latest email from NYSUT. I thought it was too humorous, unfortunately, not to use.

So what's the deal with the "Common Core?"

I had an Art Networking Conference yesterday and usually it's one of my more favorite things to look forward to during the school year. I get to hang out with the art teachers of other local districts, share lessons, discuss other related agendas appropriate for the art room, all that good stuff..

But yesterday was different... we discussed the Common Core Standards and SLO's. To be honest, I'm still not sure what the heck they're all about- all I know was that I left very overwhelmed and with a head ache.

We did have a Professional Growth Day earlier in the year that was for our whole district to discuss the Common Core, but as you all know, when speakers come to speak to the masses, us art teachers often get overlooked as to how this applies to us.

I was excited to learn how this could pertain to our field with some good, specific and concrete examples as to what the Common Core Standards are for the Visual Arts and how to create some SLO's. From my understanding, there is already a lot of overlap with what we currently do, but with a lot more emphasis of higher level thinking and analysis from the students. Think- VTS times three.

When it's all said and done, I've come to two conclusions. One, it just seems like "they're" once again asking for more while giving us less to work with. Our budgets are cut almost every year, my faculty alone has dropped considerably in the mere 4 years I've been working and classroom sizes are getting larger. On top of all that, we have all the testing we need to accomodate to and be flexible with while teaching art history, different cultures, basic fine motor skills, produce quality products, hang and display for bulletin boards and shows, mentor ... (the list goes on.) I mean.. when was the last time these people were teaching in a classroom?

My main concern is, when are we supposed to do all that and ask my students to really look and study art and artists while creating a project when I only see them once a week for 50 minutes? I'd love to really have a nice long discussion about a piece, trust me, I think it really sinks in for many kids that way, but I find it very hard to imagine spending twenty minutes each class to have an open conversation about art without actually producing anything. Heck, sometimes I need at least 10 minutes alone just to do one demonstration for one step of a project!

My second conclusion was, I'm trying to be brief, is that.. honestly, by the time this is implemented and integrated into our school system, there will be something new. I was speaking to a student teacher about what she is learning currently in undergrad and it's very different from what I was doing- and I graduated less than a decade ago!

I appreciate the evolution of education, of couse I do, but it just seems as if everything has become so "standardized." CHILDREN ARE NOT STANDARD. Neither are our budgets, our locations, our communities and everything else that goes along with teaching our future. Instead of trying to have our children reach the same test scores, goals and achievements, wouldn't it make more sense to look at each child as an individual and teach to their strengths? (I know, I know, that's asking a lot... but there's gotta be another way!)

On a side note, this morning on the announcements, our Principal reminded our 3rd and 4th grade students in a peppy tone to look over their packets which will help them with their ELA assessments that take place right after break. Talk about a buzz kill. : /

Maybe I still don't understand the Common Core really and maybe you can enlighten me as to why this is a good thing and explain it better.. but as of the conference, I'm just another cranky art teacher that left completely confused.

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24 comments:

  1. We are leaders don't you see. . . trailblazers they call us! My real feelings can't be discussed on the internet. The breakdown in the system is making everyone especially those at the top scramble for answers to keep their jobs. The state of education becomes more unfortunate to me as I have my own child now. I don't want her treated like a TEST SUBJECT.

    I am seriously considering looking into schools that have 15 students or less/class OR a Montessori. I know that is polar opposite. But 25+ students/ teacher with all the testing is absurd. Parents have no idea how much time their child's teacher is out of the classroom and in the hallway testing students while a sub is "teaching" the class. Teaching has been replaced with testing. They are looking for a formula while they sit in a laboratory with other people exactly like them. Trying to fund grants with vocabulary and acronyms and mandates.

    I think it starts with taking the EGO out of education. Everybody is trying to look like a superhero putting on these ridiculous costumes when they should be putting on their WORK BOOTS instead!

    Okay I said it!

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    1. I agree with you about pulling my kids out of public school....but how can I? I may not have a job in a few years- after we are all replaced with cheaper labor. It is sickening what is going on.

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  2. Hannah, I love what I do every day, and am going to miss the kids terribly, but I am OH SO GLAD that I picked this year to retire, because the government is trying to suck the life out of education. I've been teaching 36 years, and have been through more initiatives, regulations, and changes in jargon than you can possibly imagine. This new stuff that is so data based means teaches will spend more time testing and assessing and collecting data, all time that would be better spent in creative exploration.

    I'm a good teacher, I know I am, the kids are learning and creating, and I'm not spending one moment of my time writing SLO's so that somebody who knows nothing about teaching art and nothing about the creative thought process can judge me based on this crap. It breaks my heart.

    I wish I had a good answer or help or advice for those of you who have your whole careers ahead of you. I feel for all of you, and I feel for the kids who will be losing out. That photo at the top of the post is right-on. :(

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  3. I agree with all of you wonderful art teachers completely. I have been teaching 30 years and feel badly for my younger colleagues who are just starting with this nonsense. It does absolutely suck the passion right out of you. We CANNOT be highly effective teachers anymore when nothing we have to work with is even slightly effective. I just finished grading 800 students. Almost inhuman. I really don't know what to do....I have 3 kids to put through college and it is only gonna get worse I fear.
    Stay strong. Phy you lucky little dragon!!

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  4. Ladies, I can not agree with you more when you mention collecting data and sucking the life out of the arts. I even mentioned at the conference that in the last four years, I have never been so bombarded with literature and charts and graphs about student achievement before! There was just so much..... text.... I feel like if a solution is spelled out for us in 10 pages, front-to-back... it just starts to look "official" with very little depth or any sense. When I ultimately reflect on things.. this field is slowly changing to not what I was expecting it to be and skewed from I was originally passionate about.

    I hate to be such a negative nancy.. really.. I'm a very happy-go-lucky person.. just had to vent

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  5. You GO, girl! Vent away!!!! I came back to see where this conversation is going. My heart goes out to young teachers; I am in a very lucky place right now personally! You've inspired me to think about something related that I want to post, probably later this weekend, to continue the conversation. Don't give up; the kids need you!

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  6. Okay, I agree with everything you all have said-LET US TEACH ART,DAMMIT!!!! I only have one question: What the heck do all of those
    acronyms mean? SLO? VTS? Yabba dabba dooo? Please, enlighten me!:)Pat

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  7. SLO stands for Student Learning Objectives, which from my understanding, we will be implementing sometime soon? Basically certain benchmarks for each grade level? I think we will be conducting some sort of pre evaluation on the students, a formative evaluation and a summative one to see their progression.

    VTS is Visual Thinking Strategies (http://www.vtshome.org/) which is basically a guided exercise for critical thinking using visual examples.. kind of like the Socratic Method of questioning but with much more specific questions.

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  8. Unfortunately, all of this has already happened in England.

    Have a look at this website for more info on our experience:

    http://www.educationbynumbers.org.uk/

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  9. SLOs are terrible time wasters and quite silly overall,I agree, but we do still have to do them. and because of that, I was wondering if anyone have any suggestions for selecting an SLO that theyd be willing to share? I find it easier to learn and understand when i can first look at an example.

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  10. Hi, Anonymous- I hope you subscribed to this post! Are you by any chance in New York State? We received our SLO's last week and I could share the document with you if you'd like. Apparently for K-7 our focus is on portraits- which who apparently made the decision that drawing the perfect portrait assesses 1. how well we are teaching art and 2. how successful a student is in art- it's beyond me. Anywho, if you'd like a copy, I'd be more than happy to email you the document.

    Phyl, hope retirement is treating you well! Abe was AWESOME when we got home from the hospital. He officially turned a month yesterday and has recently decided to start being Mr. FUS-SY! But I'll take crying and no sleep over thinking about SLO's any day- you're lucky you don't have to worry about those bad boys!

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    1. How can I get a copy of the SLO too? I am in the same predicament. I teach middle school art and have to have an SLO by next week and I've never seen one in my life. What does the template look like? Can anyone out there direct me to some easy to understand well written SLO examples???

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  11. Mary Not Merry in Indiana here. Can I just say a huge Thank You to all of you who have put voice to my professional frustrations. Over thirty years of a job I love still outweighs my disdain for data. Yes, we have SLOs in Indiana as well and we are all feeling the pain like so many of you. I get through every day repeating a mantra my dad said to me many times when I was first starting out and changes kept happening: you were here before them and you will be here after they are gone! I admit that I wish I was in retirement like Phyl, but I'm still in the trenches. Now I just think of myself as the Don Quixote of the Art Ed. world. I refuse to see art education only as it is. I still see see it as it should be. My students are still having fun running headlong at windmills!

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    1. Thank you common core. I now hate my job. The Sad art teacher.

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  12. I just asked my husband if I can quit my job! All of this SLO crap has hit OHIO and I want no part of it. Since I see no other way around it, I went googling and stumbled apon this. Hannah, I would love a copy of your SLO's on portraits. (I love the decisions that come out of nowhere!). Could you send me a copy at my email: lorinhud@bright.net
    Thanks,
    Lori (I wish I was retiring, but I only have 19 years in!)

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    1. Lori, where are you at in Ohio? I'm in Central and I feel like we are way behind! We are supposed to be judged on our SLO's, but we haven't spent one second even writing one. I just read through ODE guidelines and I got the impression that we are not writing SLOs for units...it has to be about what your kids are leaning all year and you can use formative assessments throughout the year as checkpoints, but they cannot be used as your final year-end assessment. Basically it sounds like we are writing out 'power standards' and then creating our own OAA type test for April. The deadline to turn in all data is April 15th. I'm feeling overwhelmed! Jen

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  13. Great to hear from all of you. I have taught art for 20 yrs. I have always loved my job. This year I cannot say the same! I and most of my co-workers are drained and exhausted. I had to write my students' SLO tests in September, give them in October and will have to re-write the test in the spring and give it again. Meanwhile, fufilling APPR requirements is unbelievably time consuming. This year, I am not only an art teacher, now I am a clerical worker and an ELA teacher as well. Our students are now required to write and essay in art class! Along with all of this, more and more special needs students are being added to our classes. Ugh...this is the first time I am feeling I want out!

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  14. I hate all of it, the SLO's the LATS the data driven crap we are all going through. Unbelievably, I am on a school board too, and many board members hated the fact this was rammed down our throats by the race to the top funding through the federal grants. As an art teacher it truly throws us into a quagmire we never thought we would have anyone tell us to write a SLO for imagination!

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  15. You all make me feel SO MUCH BETTER! I am supposed to have an SLO started for our inservice tomorrow and I cannot do it! BAHHH! I just don't get why we need to do all this extra work. And for what? I am on year 4 and hate SLO's already. :(

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  16. The kids are also learning to hate school due to all of this testing. Sad. Jen

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  17. I too, feel better after reading the comments here. Not better about this new fiasco, but better because I know I am not alone in feeling frustrated and upset. This is year 32, and I have been thinking about retirement, even though it will be a struggle. After our first meeting tomorrow afternoon, I may be ready to retire at Christmas. I love the comment about being there before them and being there after they are gone. I have seen so many things come and go and come back again, that it is almost laughable. When we do find something that works, we find something else and then throw the baby away with the bath water. I teach 860 students a week for forty minutes at a time once a week. I barely have time to give brief instructions and get a project started as it is. I simply cannot believe this is happening. Am I correct in understanding that is all about some kind of race for the money coming from Washington?

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  18. Well I was confused about all of this too and then our school system told us they will have to cut art, music and P.E. at the elementary level. Yikes, after 25 years I'm too old to start over and too young to retire. I think education is just plain SLO. Anyone need a wonderful art teacher with lots of experience k-12!!

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    1. I'm sorry to hear that! After this year they will be closing down the elementary building I work at, so I, too, will be searching for a job : (. Best of luck!

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  19. Hello all from Ohio! I'm in my 4th year of teaching and I am having all of these same issues! Hannah I would love to see your SLO just to have a starting point. My issue with all of the expectations is it sounds like lawyer talk to me, NOT education. Thanks for any help!

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