2016-2017 Montana Teacher Leader in the Arts now taking applications!

Do you believe in the power of arts learning to make a difference in the lives of students?  Do you want to take a leadership role in expanding arts education opportunities in your school and community?

The Montana Arts Council, in partnership with the Montana Office of Public Instruction, is now recruiting educators across Montana for the second year of Montana Teacher Leaders in the Arts. Through this innovative program, MAC and the OPI seek to develop teacher leaders who can support other teachers statewide in integrating the arts into their classrooms.

The program includes an on-site summer institute on arts learning, June 20-29 at Salish Kootenai College, online professional learning opportunities throughout the school year, and support for a field project in the arts in the teacher leader’s school or region.

All K-12 teacher in Montana’s public schools, arts specialist and classroom teachers, as well as qualified teaching artists, are welcome to apply for the program.

Full program information and an application is available here.

The deadline for application is now Wednesday, March 30, 2016.  Contact Emily Kohring, Director of Arts Education at the Montana Arts Council, ekohring@mt.gov with questions.

Check out this video of our 2015 inaugural Summer Institute, made by Teacher Leader in the Arts Wes Hines:

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Want to learn more about the National Core Arts Standards? Join us for a free online course!

The Montana Arts Council is offering a free online course for educators on the Montana Digital Professional Learning Network:

Exploring the Arts Standards

with Emily Kohring and Barb Good

NCCAS logo

The National Core Arts Standards were launched in June, 2014 in a continuing effort among a broad coalition of national organizations to create a sequential, standards-based approach to arts education across grades and levels.  In addition to Music, Theatre, Dance and Visual Art, the standards also include a new discipline, Media Arts.

This 3-session online course will offer an introduction to the National Core Arts Standards, and facilitate discussion among participating educators about how the discipline-specific National Core Arts Standards may or may not be useful to teaching and learning in the arts in Montana schools. The second session will be a live webinar hosted by Emily Kohring, Director of Arts Education at the Montana Arts Council, and Barb Good, member of the music writing team for the National Core Arts Standards.

Session objectives:

  • Understand the philosophy and intended outcomes that shaped the creation of the National Core Arts Standards.
  • Understand the structure and components of the new standards.
  • Identify the intersections between the National Core Arts Standards and the Montana Common Core, and how arts learning supports MCCS learning goals.
  • Identify the intersections between the National Core Arts Standards and the current Montana Standards for Arts, scheduled to be revised beginning in 2015.
  • Analyze the potential for using the new National Core Arts Standards in your classroom, and how Model Cornerstone Assessments (MCAs) are being implemented to gauge student learning related to the new standards.

Target Group: PK-12 Teachers & Administrators, especially Arts Specialists; Post-Secondary Arts Education Instructors

Delivery Method: Online via MDPLN; course opens January 16; live, 1-hr. webinar February 10 from 4:00-5:00 pm (webinar will also be archived for later viewing)

Renewal Units/Credit: 5 OPI renewal units are available for completion of this course.

Cost: No cost

Click here to register for the course or go to http://www.mdpln.org

Contact: Emily Kohring, Montana Arts Council, ekohring@mt.gov 406-444-6522

 

What’s the big deal about arts standards?

Missoula middle school students in The Flagship Program's Photovoice photography project.

Missoula middle school students in The Flagship Program’s Photovoice photography project.

The Montana Arts Council, in partnership with the Montana Office of Public Instruction, will lead an upcoming statewide effort to revise the Montana Standards for Arts for K-12 public schools.

I get really excited when I tell people that Montana is getting ready to revise their state standards for arts education. Sometimes when I tell people they share my excitement, and think it’s a really cool thing. More often, I get a polite “Oh, that’s nice” or a blank, rather puzzled look.

So, what’s the big deal about revising arts standards?

If you go on the website for the Office of Public Instruction and search for a page about arts education, you won’t find one. In the category of “Content Standards and Instruction”, arts standards are not listed along with English Language Arts, Math and Science. If you search, you will come across one document, the Montana Standards for Arts, a brief document listing six standards that cover all the arts disciplines. They are general, not specific to music, or theater or visual art. There are benchmarks under the standards for what students should know and be able to do in the arts by the end of 4th, 8th and 12th grade. The entire document is only twelve pages long. By comparison, the Montana Common Core Standards for English Language Arts is 67 pages long.

This lack of focus on arts education is not a Montana problem, it is a national problem. The arts have received the short end of the stick in nearly every state by many years of federal No Child Left Behind/Race to the Top-era policies. The good news is that the tide is turning. The arts are resurgent, and starting with a revision of our standards it is possible that Montana will be at the forefront of the effort to restore the arts to their place of critical importance in a high-quality education.

Standards in education are a way for educators to measure what their students know and are able to do in a content area. It is often repeated in the education world that what we can measure, we value. Improving our arts standards will increase the value of arts education across Montana.

Our new standards will be discipline-specific, which will be of huge benefit to teachers who teach in these specific content areas, helping them build assessments specific to what their students are learning. Montana will even have new standards in Media Arts!

It is an oft-cited fact that 72% of business leaders say creativity is the number one skill they are seeking when hiring. Teaching the arts, whether it is in a stand-alone music or theatre class, or integrated into a teacher’s science or history curriculum, is teaching “applied creativity.”

We need stronger benchmarks to measure what high-quality teaching and learning in the arts looks like, and revising the Montana arts standards will allow us to help creative the college, career and civic readiness that is the primary goal of a public school education in our state.

The business and education communities are investing in opportunities for students to develop their creative skills in the classroom that leads to future innovation in science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) and other creative industries. Studying the arts help to develop critical habits of mind—creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking, among others—that can complement STEM learning initiatives in schools. In fact, we arts educators like to call it STEAM! With stronger arts standards that are useful to arts specialists and classroom teachers in other content areas, that “A” for arts in STEAM will help create our next generation of scientists and innovators.

Here is what excites me the most: revising the Montana Standards for the Arts is an excellent opportunity to gather groups of educators, parents, business and civic leaders across the state to engage in an important dialogue about what we would like arts education, or “applied creativity” to look like in our schools. A lot of people are going to be involved in this effort, through focus groups, writing teams and review teams, and a lot of dialogue about arts education is going to happen. Who knows what the result of that could be? Beyond new arts standards, what new relationships, new ideas and new collaborations could happen that benefit Montana students? This is going to be good! If you want to get involved, please contact me at ekohring@mt.gov or (406) 444-6522.

Carolyn Pardini's 4th grade students at Pablo School, creating artwork with teaching artist Jennifer Thompson.

Carolyn Pardini’s 4th grade students at Pablo School, creating artwork with teaching artist Jennifer Thompson.

National Core Arts Standards Launch

NCCAS logo

On June 4th, after collecting input from over 6,000 educators and artists and culling through over one million comments submitted during three different draft reviews, the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS) published the National Core Arts Standards on a new, interactive website, found at www.nationalartsstandards.org (I personally find the website to be very clunky, but I understand that it is a work in progress).

The National Core Arts Standards now include a total of five artistic disciplines. In addition to music, theatre, dance and visual art, the new standards now include media arts as its own distinct artistic discipline, recognizing the role technology now plays in how every art form is practiced and taught.

Executive Director of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies Jonathan Katz pointed out at a June 4 launch webinar that one strong benefit to having a set of national standards is that it gives arts educators a common language to describe what students should know and be able to do in the arts, and it helps make the case for the importance of artistic literacy as another way that children can learn. Noted arts education researcher Dr. James Catterall also added that arts standards create “an expression of intention and purpose” for arts education advocates, making the arts important alongside other subject matters.

The new standards are organized by a set of four overarching anchor standards, followed by discipline-specific performance standards, broken down by grade band.   The four anchor standards describe artistic processes that apply to all the disciplines: creating, performing (referred to as presenting in visual arts and producing in media arts), responding and connecting. In addition to allowing users to organize the standards in different ways, the website also hosts instructional support resources, including Model Cornerstone Assessments for each discipline, enduring understandings and essential questions for each standard, and glossaries and additional resources teachers can utilize in their classrooms.

Adoption of the National Core Arts Standards by each state is completely voluntary. Some states are already in the process of adopting or adapting the standards, and some states will keep the standards they have. Montana educators have been involved in the draft review process for the National Core Arts Standards since spring of 2013 and have offered both individual and collective feedback to the NCCAS. When the time comes to revise Montana’s Standards for Arts, a broad coalition of Montana citizens invested in education will likely take a look at the National Core Arts Standards in the review process.