Tag Archives: Arts

End of the year? Let your students “shine”!

This is my favorite time of year!  Students work so hard throughout the year (regrettably – intently focused on test taking) that they deserve to have opportunities to “shine” while enjoying the activities (once considered best practice) that they should have learned with throughout the year.


Some of the activities in my classrooms have been:

  • Survey students – ask them what they would like to learn about in the last weeks that you may not have touched on during the year.
  • Review favorite stories and/or units taught throughout the year using the arts and hands-on activities that scheduling may not have allowed time for during the year.
  • Presenting plays
  • Creating scenery backdrops
  • Puppetry
  • Create puppet stages using file folders, pvc pipes, and cardboard boxes
  • Writing songs that review content learned
  • Storytelling
  • Publish a class magazine featuring student writing and illustrations
  • Plan a concert for grade levels featuring individual classroom presentations
  • Involve parents – invite parents to an end-of-year pizza or ice-cream party
  • Plan interesting field trips – unique to your school’s geographic area
  • Plan unit instruction unique to geographic areas – i.e.: Ocean/sea life studies, mountain/wildlife studies, desert habitat studies, etc.

Closing out your school year with enjoyable learning activities will leave you and your students eager to come to class the last few weeks and looking forward to returning in the new school year.  Enjoy!

Behavioral chaos or means for a better way?

I thought about the front-page article I read (School suffers rising chaos) while listening to the students at the Pinellas Youth Symphony’s concert at St. Petersburg College in St. Petersburg, Florida one evening. I watched and listened to students from every race and creed enthusiastically share their passion for music while delighting a capacity audience.

It was such a stark contrast to the events at a local middle school and far too many schools across the nation – behavioral chaos. In a society in which learning to pass tests reigns supreme, programs in the arts are easily cut for lack of funding and we wonder why behaviors escalate in our schools.

We need only look at the work of Jose Antonio Abreu in Venezuela to see how the arts can transform a society by bridging the gap between rich and poor while increasing intellectual and emotional capacities in children. From an original group of 11 impoverished children Abreu built the more than 300,000 student El Sistema, a nationwide organization of more than 100 youth orchestras made up of students from poor and middle-class neighborhoods. As Abreu states: “It is evident that music has to be recognized as an element of socialization, as an agent of social development in the highest sense, because it transmits the highest values: solidarity, harmony, mutual compassion.”

Perhaps it is time to implement a proactive approach to our societal dilemmas by providing all our children means for a better way.

Modified from my original opinion published at http://www.tampabay.com