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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An Update on Vertical Teaching

As I have been working on blog posts and a website for our 2017 IBA presentation, How-To: A Standards-Referenced Instrumental Music Program, I realized a lot has changed in the how of our vertical teaching program. I wrote about it a long time ago (April 11, 2014), so lets revisit. As of the 2016-2017 school year, Ankeny has two high schools, each with its own 6-7 middle school, 8-9 middle school, and five K-5 elementary schools:

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Spring Break Reflections

As I have been avoiding my Nintendo Switch over Spring Break, I came across a sheet of paper I had scribbled things on during a professional development day earlier this year. I want to save those thoughts for later, so I can flesh them out. Specifically that morning, we were working on two different areas: our district's instructional framework (gradual release of responsibility/productive group work) and teaching behavior. Here are my notes:

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To my Republican Legislators and Friends

Dear Representatives Koester and Landin,

Dear Senator Whitver and Governer Branstad,

Dear Representative Deyoe and Senator Schultz,

Dear Iowa friends who voted for Republican state legislators in this past election,

I am writing to ask a simple question: why? What is it that we did to make you want to propose the changes you did to collective bargaining?

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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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The New SmartMusic Web

This year, we have been using the new web-based version of SmartMusic with our 10-12th grade students. We were awarded a grant for our 5 teachers and 116 teachers to have SmartMusic Teach subscriptions. Dr. Christopher Russell has a description of the different platforms, but here is a brief summary:

  • TEACH Free: Allows teachers to try out the new SmartMusic Web prior to purchasing. Library is limited to SmartMusic's free catalog (Free Selections 1 & Free Selections 2).
  • TEACH: 3 teachers can assign repertoire from the full library to 50 students for $399. Students can only access materials that are assigned to them. Each additional teacher is $40. A block of 5 additional students is also $40.
  • PLAY: Upgrade individual student accounts to access the full library. $20/account.

I should preface this post with the statement that the web-based version of SmartMusic is not yet a finished product. They are continuing to add and refine features, to take feature requests, and to provide quality support for the new product.

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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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SmartMusic: Comparing Classic to New

Apologies for the long delay between posts. I am in the midst of my Master's Project for my program at the VanderCook College of Music. Couple that with the normal stress and business of three ensembles and a studio of 112 students, and you see why I haven't been writing.Earlier this week, SmartMusicreleased a publicity campaign touting their new web-based version coming this Fall. I have been both a private and public beta tester of the software, and I've remained pretty quiet as we've moved through the testing. I can tell you I am very excited for the implications of this as my district moves to 1:1 with Chromebooks for grades 5-12. Let's take a look at what the new version has to offer:

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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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GOP Math on Education Funding Doesn't Add Up

On December 10, 2015, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities published a report entitled Most States Have Cut School Funding, and Some Continue Cutting. I discovered it from Scott McLeod's tweet: https://twitter.com/mcleod/status/678953406548082688

According to this report:

  • When adjusted for inflation, the state of Iowa has only increased total state funding per student by 0.04% from 2008-2014.
  • When adjusted for inflation, the current state formula funding per student is 6.2% lower in the current school year (2015-2016, FY2016) than prior to the recession (2007-2008, FY2008).
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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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