I am very satisfied about how things are unfolding with our Studio to School project here at Lorna Byrne Middle School. Our community in Cave Junction and the surrounding Illinois Valley seems to be excited and enthused about having this opportunity. Our arts integration portion of the project has had a slower start than I would have liked however, our goals are being met. I believe that the staff has not yet caught the vision we are trying to create with the integration piece, however we are having overwhelming success with the project in our ELA (English/ Language Arts) classes. I am quite confident that the rest of our teachers will soon realize the value.
The students tell me they are excited to have the visitors with them in the classrooms and from a principal’s perspective this increases the engagement of all students.
The after school program (Art Novas) is working wonderfully. We have 10-15 full time attendees and it is really exciting to see how much fun these middle schoolers are having. My hope would be to continue to grow this program and involve as many students as possible. I am extremely anxious to see them perform on December 13 and 14.
Words from Gina our lead community artist:
First, I want to articulate that I felt a lot of positive energy throughout the school in general…with many kids running up to tell me either about their plays in Mr. Jelderks’ class, or their practicing for Art Novas. It was exactly the kind of ‘buzz’ I like to see and feel when we are working with a school.
Even kids I didn’t know would come up to tell me why such and such got in trouble and couldn’t make it to class….signifying that kids care enough to talk with their peers about this work!
The classroom was vibrant with energy and good focused work. We broke into groups to work on student plays, modeled after what we introduced in week one through “The Death of Mr. Jelderks,” and other exercises. Our student/ teacher ratio was a total luxury- about 8 kids per teacher. Two things stick out in my mind as being significant. First, Mr. Jelderks at one point spoke about how good project based learning is, and how wonderful it would be if there were a small brigade of adult volunteers so he could design these kinds of projects when we aren’t with him. That got me thinking.
Clearly, group work would not have been as successful without the teachers, we had to work hard to ask the right questions and pull out of the groups some of their own ideas. I have seen adult volunteers in the past fail miserably at working with student groups, either dominating and squishing student creativity, or sitting with them equally perplexed and immobilized by a lack of creativity. BUT, what if we re-organized next year, and pending our ability to recruit a small group of able, reliable, and talented parent volunteers, invested some pedagogical time to infuse them with a basic skill set for project based learning/arts integration? What if this parent brigade were available to teachers whenever teachers thought a project would be a better way of teaching a particular topic?
hmmmmm….food for thought.
Another thing stuck out. We noticed that through this group work students kept offering and volunteering to do more/ extra work. If their play was set in the 1960’s for example, they would volunteer to go home and research the period a bit more to have better ideas for their plays. Mr. Jelderks affirmed that in general, this kind of learning gets kids to do way more work on their own, like making costumes and props, re-writing parts of their scripts, correcting each other’s spelling, all kinds of relevant research etc. I’d like to do a brief survey after our plays, or even just continuing to make lists amongst our educator team, about the ripple effect of this project, and how the kids are extending the project to do voluntary work out of class.
Attendance is consistent. In pedagogy we spoke about one of the major things we are bringing is discipline, and how needed this is for the successful futures of each of our students. We also spoke about the value of having kids participate even in their less comfortable discipline, and the learning that emerges from choosing to see opportunity out of challenge. We feel good about the theatre/ dance vocabulary students are already assimilating, the team work they are exhibiting, and the skill set they are developing.
Ms. Snook (our school media specialist and afterschool activities coordinator)alerted me to the fact that many of our Art Novas have incompletes for their grade reports. I just sent out permission slips for “A Christmas Carol,” that would give me phone numbers.
Apparently, the protocol is that I cannot have access to student contact info until they give it to me with parental signatures. Once I get these back I’ll be able to contact parents directly about student grades and the relationship to participating in the Art Novas.
Above are “Art Novas” practicing their craft.
I want to stress that it is a good thing to have so many struggling kids in the Art Novas, as we want to catch the kids who are failing to connect into school through other means. This just means we have good work ahead. Once I have contact info, I’d like to work with Ms. Snook to track each student who is struggling, and use the carrot that is the Art Novas to improve the likelihood of them turning their grades around. I’d like to discuss this more with you Mr. Polen, in person.
That’s the update for now. My most sincere thanks and gratitude for all the effort you each put forth!
Words from Mr Jeldrecks, our full time Lanuage Arts teacher for 7th and 8th grade:
Qualitative Data: There was a lot going on with the Project-Based Learning that we did. Students were cooperative learning, writing, speaking, and learning PLOT and how to create a detailed, well-thought out story. They were doing this for the first time this year. It would be BEST to have them do a group project again and see how they do compared to this time, but, YIKES, we don’t have time for that!
All-in-all, this was a good project for students. I think it helped meld the students together and prep them to work together as groups in the near future. It also helped them help/teach each other good story writing techniques/skills. We also got them using Google Docs for the first time—writing their skits together as a group! Some reluctant learners were more engaged. This was great! Other students had an opportunity to shine—they put in much more work than a “regular” class. This is great, as well. The project is a good one to get students ready to read a NOVEL in class and do some group work with it regarding PLOT/THEME.
Quantitative Data: We did not do a great job at the pre-assessment data. The rigor of it was not as good as it should have been. Simply put, just having students remember the 5 stops is not enough. They should have been able to EXPLAIN the five stops as well. Next time, we need to be more aware of this. If I was aware you needed data, I could have done this. Please explain your data needs to your new teacher that you work with.
· Next time: My recommendation is to have students write a PLAY at the beginning of the unit (before you come) and then at the END of the unit, after you leave—then compare grades/growth.
Period 1: 95% of the students present could identify the 5 stops afterwards. All the students who had struggles showed marked improvement (proficiency, including the SPED students!).
Period 2. Three students who struggled received 100% on the post-survey. 95% of the students present scored 90% or greater on the quiz. All students showed growth.
Period 3—95% of the students got a 100% of the five stops correct, including the one student who did not get it on the pre-assessment.
Above local artists integrating art into the Middle School English/ Language arts classroom.
Lorna Byrne Middle School