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I know I'm about 3 years late to this party - but I've had the book (affiliate link) Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites on my shelf since 2015 and I knew I needed to read it! Since I've been working in an Arts-Integrated school, my teaching has really transformed.  I don't do nearly the same amount of crafts as I used to, students create their own graphic organizers and Thinking Maps in composition books, and my reading instruction doesn't include the same amount of comprehension worksheets as it used to.  With today's education focusing on brain research and appropriate development, it seemed like a good time to crack this book open and dive on in. 

Marcia Tate (as seen in this YouTube Video) starts the book off with two scenarios:

  1. Mrs. Taylor, a civics teacher, who gives lectures day in and day out.  Sometimes her lectures go on for the whole class! She doesn't use visuals and expects students to take notes on what she says. She has them round-robin read (which we know is a huge no-no for a whole group setting).  Not surprising - few of them are listening or engaged.  
  2. Mr. Stewart is a civics teacher next door, but he has different techniques for his classroom.  He uses graphic organizers, checks for understanding with questioning techniques, and even gets students involved in a simulation activity to learn the branches of the government.  He has few behavior problems and his students excitedly learn the content.  
As 21st Century teachers, we know that they ways we were taught in school just don't work anymore.  They weren't engaging then and they aren't engaging now.  We want ALL of our students to succeed, not just the ones who are intrinsically motivated.  Tate has come up with 20 strategies to ensure that students are learning and having fun at the same time:
  1. brainstorming and discussion
  2. drawing and artwork (Yay for arts-integration!)
  3. field trips
  4. games
  5. graphic organizers, maps, and webs
  6. humor
  7. manipulatives, experiments, labs, and models
  8. metaphors, analogies, and similies
  9. mnemonic devices
  10. movement (more arts-integration!)
  11. music, rhythm, rhyme, and rap (even more arts-integration!)
  12. project-based and problem-based learning
  13. reciprocal teaching and cooperative learning
  14. role plays, drama, pantomimes, and charades (arts-integration again!)
  15. storytelling
  16. technology
  17. visualization and guided imagery (ahem, arts-integration)
  18. visuals
  19. work-study and apprenticeships
  20. writing
As you can see, there are quite a lot of connections between Tate's 20 strategies and arts-integration.  There are also a lot of connections with visual learning, which is helpful for struggling learners and multi-language learners.  We know that long gone is the Sage on the Stage, that we need to be the Guide on the Side.  If you are interested in expanding your repertoire or even validating some practices you already do, I suggest checking out this book. I was not compensated for providing this review, I just love reading teacher books and sharing them with you. 

Which strategy are you excited to learn more about or try? Which is one that you already do?

I recently had a DonorsChoose.org project funded that I'm really excited about - Legos to teach place value! I got the idea from my friend Jen who blogged about it over on Hawaii's HSTA HYPE blog.  Basically, instead of using base ten blocks for place value, you use Legos.  Here's why Legos are better:
  • Many students have Legos at home and can use them while doing homework
  • Students have background knowledge of Legos and already love using them
  • Legos create a novelty and bring some fun into your math class

I was intrigued by the idea, so I wrote up a project.  Here is what I requested - there are some affiliate links that help me continue to run this blog :)
From Amazon:

Did you know that The Lego Store is now an approved vendor for DonorsChoose? So excited about that! Unfortunately, I had to write a special request because it was a few months ago.  

I went into the Pick-a-Brick section of their website and ordered 240 white 2x10 plates (part # 383201) and 200 gray 1x10 bricks (part # 4211521).  Using five 2x10 plates lined up on top and 3 spread out on the bottom to secure together, I was able to create 10x10 pieces to use as the hundreds pieces.  I got this great idea from Jen, too. 

In our math curriculum, we are currently working on standard 1.NBT.C.4: Add within 100, including adding a two-digit number and a one-digit number, and adding a two-digit number and a multiple of 10. Understand that in adding two-digit numbers, one adds tens and tens, ones and ones; and sometimes it is necessary to compose a ten.

It's a long standard and it's a hard one for kids who are still very literal.  We've been counting the days in school using base ten blocks every day, but they still don't understand that 7 tens and 4 ones is the same as 6 tens and 14 ones.  Using Legos is absolutely helping.  Here are some photos from class as we were adding two 2-digit numbers and regrouping.

You might be wondering about storage and management. I got the drawer organizer so the kids have easy access to the materials and can grab them when they need them.  We have to practice with them whole group so they will know how to use them independently.  I have 16 sets of tens and ones, but 20 students.  So some of the students share.  We call that "making a strong choice to share" and I praise the ones who choose to share so that others can have their own.  We like making strong choices in my room and doing something that's best for everyone even if you don't want to :) 

I put the brick separators in a little container on the top.  I put the base plates 
in that green scrapbook paper container at the bottom of this pic.

I made these labels, laminated them, and stuck them on to the drawers with double sided tape.  You are welcome to grab this as a freebie

Let me know if you end up making a Lego cabinet by tagging me in a pic on IG and using the hashtag #learningwithlegos.  I bet your students will love it! 

In Part One of my Arts Integration series I introduced what is arts integration.  In Part Two, we will dive into Visual Text.  We will answer the following questions:
  1. What is visual literacy?
  2. How do we observe and describe visual text?
  3. How do we make sense of and connect to visual text?

What is Visual Literacy? 

When Common Core came into practice, visual literacy was a term many teachers were not familiar with.  Yet, it cropped up in many standards.  For example: 
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.7: Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2: Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
Edutopia blogger and assistant editor Todd Findley defines visual literacy in simple terms: It's how we teach kids to think about and think through pictures.

How do we observe and describe visual text?

A Honolulu Museum of Art docent once told me she on average witnesses museum patrons looking at a piece of art for seconds before moving on to the next piece.  I get that - the museum is a big place.  There is a lot to see.  But what if our eyes were trained to look longer and closer at certain art that caught our fancy? I think we would notice more and appreciate more about the art.  I saw that even with art that I didn't like at first glance, once I spent some time with it and noticed more and more, it started to grow on me and I liked it more.  

The key to looking at art is to actually look at it.  Set a timer for 1 minute.  It will seem like eternity, but keep looking.  Notice the details.  When you think you've seen enough, look again.  Look closer.  Look for more.  Ask yourself "What else?" In the arts integration world, this process is called Observe.  The first step to looking at art is actually looking at it and noticing all the details.  

The next step is to Describe.  This is where you will verbally talk about what you see.  In the first PD I took about this process in 2014, we viewed the painting "Lei Sellers".  Hearing others' descriptions helped me see things differently.  The painting is a bit abstract and I did not know what was in the background.  After hearing another teacher say he saw a white boat, the painting made a lot more sense to me.  It was a cruise ship and the woman and girl were selling lei to the tourists who arrived by boat. My mother in law had told me a story about her first visit to Hawaii was by boat from California when she was a teenager.  She told me it was a rough ride across the Pacific and it took several days.  Once I knew the painting had a boat, I could start to make deeper connections and form a deeper understanding of what was going on.  

Lei Sellers by Juliette May Fraser, 1941
Oil on canvas, 26 x 18 in. 

With young children, typically we first focus on quantity, size, and color of the subjects in the painting.  This helps them know what to look for and know how to describe what they see.  In the case with the Lei Sellers, I could say "I see one large, white boat in the top left background. I see four people.  Three are facing the front and one is facing the back."  This would get us started noticing and describing.

 How do we make sense of and connect to visual text? 

The next step is to Interpret.  This is where students make inferences.  Kids are good at inferences, but we have to make sure they are grounded in evidence.  In close reading, students make claims based on text evidence.  In visual thinking, they make claims based on visual evidence.  Look at the Lei Sellers painting again.  "I think the girl is bored of waiting for the ship to come to port because she is standing with one knee popped and she is staring at her hands.  When I stand like that, I'm waiting in line at the grocery store or post office.  I'm really bored when I stand like that." Notice how I made an inference of how the subject of the painting is feeling based on what I see in the painting and also on my own experiences.  One very important phrase you will repeat over and over while interpreting paintings is "What do you see that makes you say that?"

The last step in the ODIC process is Connect.  This is the part where I would share the story that my mother in law told me about going to Hawaii in a ship when she was a teenager.  We could talk about how we can sometimes hear cruise ship horns when we are close to the harbor, or see them tendered off shore in Lahaina.  Students might talk about their parents taking a cruise in the Caribbean or Alaska, or how they have been in a boat before.  Students might make connections to selling things.  Some students might sell Girl Scout cookies or fundraising items for sports teams.  The connect section is a great way to create deeper understandings of art because we have experienced some part of it ourselves. 

Another C is Create and we do that with drama.  That is another post entirely ;)


Honolulu Museum of Art Teacher Resources - they will only send posters to teachers in Hawaii schools, but you can download them and print them out or project them for your students to view. 

Example video of ODIC - see students from my school walk through the process on our morning Keiki Honu News.

My first visit to the museum - read about my first visit to the art museum in an old post.

Reading Portraiture Guide from the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery - they have other fabulous teacher resources, as well!

See Melanie Rick, from Focus 5 Consulting, talk about the process of reading art, from Any Given Child Sarasota - they have a great IG account, too!

Bring high quality arts integration professional development to your school! The teaching artists at Focus 5 Consulting lead my favorite workshops to attend! Talk to your administrator about bringing them to your school.  They travel all over the US!

Want to give the ODIC technique a try? Gather up some art - it doesn't need to be printed, you can show your students PowerPoint slides if printing is an issue.  Then download my updated ODIC posters to help you guide your students through the process.  I promise, your students will surprise you with their descriptions, inferences, and connections.  This will probably become your new favorite way to introduce and connect topics to art.  It's definitely my favorite!
Click image to download

What is Arts Integration?

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I teach at an arts integrated school.  In fact, it is the only arts-integrated public school in the state of Hawaii.  We still teach required curriculum - Hawaii is a one-district state with mandated curriculum for math and ELA.  But at our school, we use the curriculum as the content to teach the standards and use arts integration as strategies for HOW we teach that content.  One main focus is on professional development.  We need to learn from teaching artists how to teach through the arts.  We need to be inspired.  Our professional development also brings the artists into our classrooms so we can see how they work with students.  And sometimes it leads to mentoring.  We all know that sitting in a one-hour professional development does not make the biggest impact on our students.  It's revisiting the content, talking about it with peers, seeing it in action, and then being coached on it after we've given it a try.  That's the model my school employs.  At each meeting, we are expected to get up out of our seats and do the work we ask our students to do everyday.  We dance, we sing, we act, we draw, we write.  If I can't get out of my comfort zone with my colleagues, how can I ask my students to do it with their peers? It's amazing how empowering it is.

Many of the teaching artists who visit my school are from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC.  Here is how the Kennedy Center defines Arts Integration:
The part that really sticks out to me is that in order for integration to occur, you have to have evolving objectives in both the subject area and art form.  Reading about the Statue of Liberty and then painting her is not integration.  It's a great art enhancement.  For it to be integration, you would need to have visual arts standards that you are focusing on, as well, not just social studies.  In first grade, one of our visual arts standards is about the elements of art: line, shape, color, texture, and form.  I could focus on her color (mint green) and have students mix primary colors to create her green patina.  We could then do a science experiment with pennies to find how copper oxidizes.  The final project might very well be a drawing or painting of the statue, but after learning about color with an art perspective and her color from a science perspective, students would have a much deeper understanding and more connection to the content.

When creating a work of art (dance, drama, visual arts, poetry, etc), students naturally go through a creative process.  This process can be entered from any stage and doesn't follow the same path each time.  We all have heard it, art is messy.  But that's the beauty of it.  By not following the same exact process, we can surprise ourselves.  And that element of surprise is what is intriguing about art.

ARTSEDGE is a wonderful collection of lessons that you can try for integration purposes.  I find that ELA and social studies lend themselves to integration very easily.  Those standards are a great place to start.

Go try a lesson and let me know how it goes!

Part of the first grade standards for Hawaii state social studies is to learn about American Symbols! My teaching team puts together these adorable books that I want to show you and provide some resources for where you can put together your own!  I've included lots of pictures, lots of links to products and freebies that I use, and also a freebie I put together for you that you can download at the end of this post!

We start by singing a silly song I found on YouTube by KinderBlossoms.  We then do a simple foldable in our Science and Social Studies Books.

I use the organization idea from my gal Corinna at Surfin' Through Second to separate my notebooks.  You can download the song freebie here.

We then make US Symbols books that I prep and comb bind ahead of time.  We use a combo of pages from Lindsay at Teacher Bits and Bobs and craftivities.  Each day we introduce a new US symbol, write about it, and make a craft.  We start with the world's oceans and continents, then focus in on our state in the US, Hawaii.  I like to play a continents and oceans song from YouTube, too.  I can't find the one I usually play, but there are a lot of good ones if you search on the site.   

These are some of the crafts we've done in the past. 

However, I switched some of them up this year.  We made the eagle and Liberty Bell crafts from Mrs Ricca's freebie President's Day packet.

For the Statue of Liberty, I did a directed drawing.  I love this one from Art Projects for Kids and also this one that is just her head.  The kids' paintings turned out beautiful! The parents loved seeing this project at Open House!

Speaking of Lady Liberty, I like to throw in this fun experiment when we learn about her to find out why she is green if she is made out of copper.  The kids love it! I bought this pack and use the worksheets in our science and social studies journals from Kindergarten Boom Boom, and also these directions from Buggy and Buddy.  I printed this out and put it by our experiments during Open House.  You can download it here.

For the flag, I cut white rectangles as the background, smaller rectangles for blue, red stripes, and then glitter for the stars.  

For the Pledge of Allegiance, I use Lori's freebie, just shrunk down to fit on the page.

There are a couple pages we made ourselves.  That includes symbols for our state and school, the White House, the world, and an assessment.

We also did a Lady Liberty OCDE Project GLAD® Pictorial Input Chart.  I'm becoming an OCDE Project GLAD® trainer, so I try to practice the strategies any chance I get!  The kids were fascinated that you can walk inside the statue and see out from the crown! I also wrote a poem that I included in my freebie.  

Via Pinterest

You can download my freebie with a poem, interactive journal, crafts for the world, state symbols, and the White House, as well as an assessment for free on my Google Drive!

How do you teach the US Symbols? 

I love decorating, both my home and my classroom.  When it comes to classroom decor, I have used Schoolgirl Style for the past 4 years.

It started in my 2nd grade classroom on the island of Lanai in 2013 when I used the Rainbow Chalkboard collection.  I love the bright colors and it mixed perfectly with my black fabric bulletin boards, freshly painted black bookcases, and bright colored accents.

I even used some of the signs to label areas in the computer lab

When we moved to Maui and I got a transfer to a school in Lahaina teaching first grade, I wanted an under the sea Eric Carle theme to match my new ocean rug from Kid Carpet.  So I combined the Bugs and the Ocean collections. 

Then, I learned about our neighborhood school (I had been commuting 45 mins to an hour each way).  It's arts-integrated, a newer building with AC, and full of passionate teachers.  I needed to be a part of it! They offered me fifth grade and I happily accepted the challenge.  I went for the Flamingo Watercolor collection to create a calming, yet fun environment.  I used the same curtains from my Lahaina classroom and I brought the ocean rug up to 5th grade, too.  The kids liked laying on it to read because it is so soft.  I also kept the same library bins, although I had to get almost all new books. I added a bunch of alternative seating options, such as pillows, a pub height table with stools,  a lowered table with stools, a elastic strip chair, and a large bean bag.

Front of the room.

Notice the READ letters on the wall from my 2nd grade classroom on Lanai and the fabric bunting on the windows from my 3rd grade classroom in Oregon!

Other corner showing the library.

I loved working with upper grades and re-learning the standards myself.  I can say that I am SO much better and more confident in math than I ever have been! Thank you visual strategies! But at the end of the year when my principal needed to move an upper grade teacher to a new section of 1st grade and asked me, I jumped at the chance to be with the little ones again.  My husband wasn't so happy about helping me move classrooms, yet again, but cest la vie.

I brought back the black fabric for my bulletin boards and wanted to mesh the Rainbow Chalkboard collection with the Watercolor Flamingo form last year.  The result was actually Melanie's newest collection: Color My Classroom! It's perfect, too, because of all the art cutouts!

Notice the library bins, READ letters, curtains, and ocean rug are back. 

I love this mail sorter.  Been going strong for 7 years now.

I brought down the elastic band chair, bean bag, and free Craigslist table from 5th grade.

Writing nook and shared supplies

Adorable tent from Target and sturdy, yet comfy cushions from Luv Chicken.  I am not affiliated with Luv Chicken in any way. I am an Amazon affiliate so if you do order one from the link provided, a small percentage goes towards the maintenance of my blog! Thank you for your support!
You can get the pillows here: http://amzn.to/2lZKuHL

In my fifth grade room I used the background watercolor papers to create my own cursive letter alphabet to hang.  

Well, I accidentally printed two sets!! I got permission from Melanie to give away the 2nd set, since I definitely won't be needing it in 1st grade.

If you are interested in winning, enter the rafflecopter below! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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