Iowa Core Curriculum

On October 23, I began a blog post trying to collect my thoughts around our work in standards over the past four years. As I have organized (and reorganized) those thoughts, the post has evolved into plans for a presentation at the 2017 Iowa Bandmasters Association conference as well as a companion website of "how" we did our work in standards. This is the second in a series of posts detailing the "how." The first post details our district's process for curriculum review.

Literacy Standards

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. Here are the CCR Anchor Standards for Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language:

There are also grade-specific standards:

The grades 6–12 standards on the following pages define what students should understand and be able to do by the end of each grade span. They correspond to the College and Career Readiness (CCR) anchor standards below by number. The CCR and grade-specific standards are necessary complements—the former providing broad standards, the latter providing additional specificity—that together define the skills and understandings that all students must demonstrate.

I am not sure where our district will take us in our review of the Iowa Core literacy standards. I do know that our team believes wholeheartedly that we want our students to be "musically literate," and much or our work should revolving on students knowing, understanding, and being able to decode music. Our current standards (2012-2013 Review Summary), are very literacy based:


These standards are not aligned with the Iowa Core Literacy Standards, but this alignment would be easy to accomplish. For example, let's take the College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards and draw parallels in music:


    • Key Ideas and Details: Identification of tonal center and meter.

    • Craft and Structure: Identification of form.

    • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: Combining reading of notes, rhythms, articulations, expression, etc.

    • Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity: Reading a wide variety of musical literature at varied grade levels.


    • Text Types and Purposes: Performing music from different time periods and genres.

    • Production and Distribution of Writing: Understanding transposition, communicating musically with other instruments.

    • Research to build and Present Knowledge: Making informed style choices in performance.

    • Range of Writing: Performing (composing? improvising?) a wide variety of musical literature.


    • Comprehension and Collaboration: Balance, blend, vertical alignment.

    • Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas: Performing together.


    • Conventions of Standard English: Characteristic tone production.

    • Knowledge of Language: Understanding of music vocabulary.

    • Vocabulary Acquisition and Use: Correct application of music vocabulary.

All of these are my own personal conclusions working through the College and Career Readiness Standards. They should not be taken as conclusions drawn by our professional learning community or curriculum leadership team. I drew similar conclusions in my work at VanderCook when we looked at the Common Core State Standardsunpacked the CCSS and looked at implementing the English Language Arts CCSS in my classroom as part of a MECA class on Teaching Music in the Common Core World.

Fine Arts Alignment with Universal Constructs

From the Iowa Department of Education website for the Fine Arts:

The Fine Arts Alignment with the Iowa Core Universal Constructs documents were written to illustrate how fine arts teachers can align their instruction to the universal constructs from the Iowa Core. By showing connections between the universal constructs and fine arts, these documents demonstrate how fine arts support the implementation of the Iowa Core. Fine arts are particularly well-suited in supporting students in developing the universal constructs important for success in the 21st Century.

The Universal Constructs "were identified following an analysis of the competencies and habits of mind needed for future successes in careers, college and citizenry." They include critical thinkingcomplex communicationcreativitycollaborationflexibility and adaptability, and productivity and accountability. In the companion documents, the team created some visual aids showing their thinking:


Finally, they pulled out skills from the Iowa Core that align to the Fine Arts and paired them with instructional strategies aligned to the Universal Constructs:

I heard this past weekend at the 2016 All-State Music Festival that money has been allocated for a team of educators to begin looking at writing Iowa music standards. I'll update you as I hear more.

Next, we look at the different national and state standards available for music.


Burton Hable

Burton Hable is an instrumental music educator from Central Iowa. In 2013 he helped open Centennial High School in Ankeny, the first time in forty years that a school district in Iowa expanded to two high schools. He served there through 2018 as Assistant Director of Bands: conducting the 10th Grade Symphonic Band, directing the varsity Jazz Collective, co-directing the Centennial Marching and Pep Bands, teaching music theory, and providing individual and small group lessons to brass students in grades 6-12 at Prairie Ridge Middle School, Northview Middle School, and Centennial High School. During his tenure in Ankeny, enrollment in band grew from 450 to nearly 700, the jazz program expanded from four to seven ensembles, and ensembles under his direction were invited to perform at Iowa State University, Harper College, and the Veterans Day Parade in New York City.