Thinking About Standards

I just got back from an excellent conversation about education with a colleague and friend, and I want to capture my thoughts both "on paper" and "out there" in the world. A lot of our conversation comes from the experiences we have been having teaching this year. Personally, it is a lot of different things coming to a head for me. Whether it is leaving next here, missing out on the curriculum review process, and thinking about my legacy at Centennial, or the professional learning we are doing as a staff and district, or the new beginnings I will have in Charlottesville and as a DMA student in music education at Boston University. I guess you could call this a more evolved version of my "philosophy of music education." Here goes:

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Multi-Tiered System of Supports in Instrumental Music

Multi-Tiered System of Supports in Instrumental Music

As part of my school's professional learning this year, we have been looking at integrating a Work Habits tool into our instruction. As part of our district's transition to standards-referenced grading, we have removed behavior from the academic grade. The Work Habits tool is a means of assessing behavior. Our staff's learning around the science of behavior, collecting and analyzing behavior data, and responding to behaviors has been fascinating to me. Specifically, we have been looking at how our academic AND behavior standards fit into the MTSS (Multi-Tiered System of Supports) framework.

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A Standards-Referenced Instrumental Music Program: Prioritizing Standards

Those previous four posts have been setting up the background for our answer to Question 1 of the four essential questions for a PLC: what do we want students to learn/know/be able to do? The answer that our K-12 music teachers came up with during the 2011-2012 school year was the following:

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Iowa Fine Arts Standards Adoption

As I updated in a previous blog post, the Iowa Department of Education announced a team to develop fine arts standards for schools. This Fine Arts Standards Adoption Team has been meeting almost monthly to:

  1. Examine all relevant Fine Arts Standards
  2. Create and/or recommend statewide recommended Fine Arts Standards in Visual Arts, General Music, Instrumental Music, Vocal Music, Theater, Dance, and Media Arts.
  3. Write recommendations about implementation of the standards through
    1. Professional learning
    2. Materials and resources
    3. Offer final recommendations to the State Board of Education

More recently, they put out a call for feedback from teachers, administrators, community members, and students on the National Core Arts Standards.

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Music Standards

In 1994, the then Music Educators National Conference (MENC), adopted the following music content standards (numbers) and achievement standards (letters).

In 2014, the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards published new National Core Arts Standards for dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts. The NCCAS developed an excellent document detailing their work entitled A Conceptual Framework for Arts Learning.

States have developed their own standards for music education prior to, out of, or in reaction to the National Core Arts Standards. As part of the creation of the new standards, the NCCAS reviewed several states' arts standards including Colorado (2009), Florida (2009), Michigan (2011), New Jersey (2009), New York City (2007), North Carolina (2005), Tennessee, and Washington. A simple Google search will turn up results from other states.


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Iowa Core Curriculum

From our Curriculum Review Guidelines (September 2016), "each curriculum review begins with a study of the significance of content literacy to all content areas. The Iowa Core literacy standards are reviewed with each curriculum review team."

All of the Iowa Core literacy standards are based off the Common Core English Language Arts Standards. Specifically, they identify College and Career Readiness (CCR) Anchor Standards for Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language. These standards are made more specific for each grade level from K-5 and in strands for grades 6-8, 9-10, and 11-12. There are also specific Reading and Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects for grades 6-12. Because our PLC focuses on grades 6-12, I am going to focus this post there.

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Curriculum Review

Every K-12 music teacher in Ankeny went through the curriculum review process in 2012-2013. As part of that process, they developed a Music Curriculum Review Summary upon which we based our work as a data-driven professional learning community. This year (2016-2017), we have been reviewing our decisions, ensuring we are adequately answering the four fundamental questions of a high-functioning PLC:

  1. What do we want students to learn/know/be able to do? (Standards)
  2. How will we know they have learned it? (Assessment)
  3. How will we respond when they have not learned it? (Remediation)
  4. How will we respond when they have learned it? (Extension)
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Recording Assessments in Year 4

Our professional learning community has changed some things for this coming year:

It looks like Keith Ozsvath has beaten me to the punch with a post on using Screencastify, but I'll still detail what we are doing:

Our district is 1:1 with Chromebooks for students in 5th-12th grade. Each of our ensembles has its own Google Classroom. In it, we have created an assignment for our 12-Week Assessment.

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Collecting Data in Year 4

Our Vertical PLC is doing things a bit differently for this coming school year (16-17). I've written about what we did in Year 1 (13-14), Year 2 (14-15), and Year 3 (15-16) as well as a presentation at the 2016 Iowa Bandmasters Association Conference. Part of our decision to change in the coming year was out of a desire to better communicate student progress in Infinite Campus to students and parents. Our district has also set the following goal for high schools:

By September 2017, 100% of staff will have aligned their work with academic standards for the course as measured by standards/skills-referenced organization in course gradebooks.By September 2017, 100% of staff will have aligned their work with academic standards for the course as measured by standards/skills-referenced organization in course gradebooks.

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2015 in Review

A look at all of the blog posts I made in 2015. Not as much as 2014, perhaps a resolution for 2016... Looking back at the posts, it looks like 2015 was a year frustrated by the conversation around educational funding. It was also a year of learning for myself and my PLC in our work to become better teachers for our students. Take a look: An Update on Iowa's New Start Date - February 14 The Iowa Department of Education and then Director, Brad Buck (now Superintendent of Cedar Rapids Schools), released new criteria for receiving a waiver under Iowa Law requiring a start date no earlier than the week where September 1st falls. This is my analysis of the document.

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Iowa's School Report Card

One of our Governor's four goals is the Best Schools in the Nation. As part of his progress towards "world-class schools," the Governor and the Republican-led House passed an education reform bill in 2013 which led to the creation of the Iowa School Report Card. The Department of Education's FAQ and Technical Guide have several details about the what, why, and how of the report cards. I'll briefly summarize:

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Reflecting on What We Do

This past week, we had several guests from Summit Middle School in Johnston and Lenox Community Schools to discuss our implementation of standards-based learning practices, our use of vertical teaching, and our beginning integration of Chromebooks into our curriculum. We pointed our visitors to our work-in-progress website that provides detailed information about all of the above pieces of our program, and then provided opportunities to observe it in action at our 8th and 9th grade building, as well as with our 6th & 7th grade counterparts across town. It was a great time for us to both celebrate and reflect on how we do what we do with our students, and I wanted to write a little bit about that process. My three biggest take-aways were:

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Collecting Data in 2015-2016

If you are a follower of this blog, you know that we teach in a vertical team across three buildings for 6-12th grade band. Over the past three years, that vertical team has put together a system of assessments that aligns to our power standards. We currently use Google Apps for Education to collect our data, but things have changed a bit for this year.

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Standards for Jazz Band - TQ Project

This past week, our Vertical PLC chose to use Teacher Quality funds to spend some time developing standards for our 7-12th grade jazz bands.

Much of the time we spent worked backwards from the top high school group (Jazz Collective) to our first groups (7th Grade). As team, we identified the skills we wanted students in Jazz Collective to be able to do. We then worked backwards from these skill sets through our different ensembles (Jazz Studio, 9th Grade, 8th Grade, 7th Grade) to identify what was going to be taught when.

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What We do Matters

I am currently working on a post that traces the history of funding public education in Iowa. I am curious just how the funding formula has changed since the 1950s. This is taking a lot of research and as a "break" (HA!), I thought I would respond to a post my friend and colleague, Pat Kearney, wrote last week entitled A Community of Educators. Pat wrote an outstanding post about his thinking around the challenges facing educators today. I can't encourage you enough to go and check out his writing.

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2014 in Review

I know that I am 3-4 days late, but the stomach flu will do that to you. 2014 was a big year for me. I began blogging about my teaching experiences in October of 2013. The spring of 2014 is where that began to pick up as our professional learning community looked into curriculum and assessment and I began my Masters of Music Education program at VanderCook College of Music. Here is a review of all I posted over this past year: Vertical Teaching - October 10, 2013 While I know this isn't part of 2014, it is the only post on this blog that occurred before 2014, and it is a pretty critical part of several of the posts that followed! I discussed the vertical nature of our professional learning community: 5 teachers that teach lessons and rehearse instrumental music groups in grades 6-12 across three secondary schools.

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Reflecting on Standards-Based Grading

For our final assignment in my VanderCook class, Teaching Music in a Common Core World, we were asked to look reflect on the work we did for our choice assignment earlier this week. I chose to look at standards-based learning, grading, and reporting. PromptComplete a comprehensive reflection paper. Include a recap of the concepts and strategies learned from the assignment that you created and completed over the last week. Please explain why this project was important to you and how it helped deepen your understanding on the topic you chose.

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