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  1. page The Balancing Act edited ... Brought together by chance, sticking together by choice. Our group will grow and learn togethe…
    Brought together by chance, sticking together by choice. Our group will grow and learn together over the next year, taking experiences from each of our classrooms and teaching experiences.
    Return to Cig Groups
    Here are some of the things we've learned through Arts Educator 2.0 this year (in our own words):
    "I love that we were made to be creative beings and its apparent through simple guided imagery."
    "I also have been paying visits to both Camille’s and Cory’s blogs so I can learn new ways to spice up my blogs. Incorporating picture helps me to tell my story, I would like to record some videos to show others what is going on in my classroom."
    "Several of my students shared with me that they created their own collage over Easter break, which really informed me that they enjoyed the lesson, and they were confident enough to uses the acquired skills independently."
    "This year, I encouraged student collaboration and inquiry. The students were very successful, however I don’t feel they would have had as much success if they didn’t have the teacher-direct instruction as the ground work.
    If the students only had the teacher-direct instruction I don’t feel they owned their work, nor did they enjoy it as much. On the other hand, if the students went straight into an inquiry approach I feel they may have missed some of the basic steps of how everything is to operate correctly."
    "With Stop Motion photography, I chose for the balance to happen naturally. I started with the necessary skills using teacher direct instruction and then learned from my students what their needs were. This project of stop motion photography is a lesson that the students have been working on for about 8 class periods (two months). I feel things are going slow because of the limited time I have with my students. Even though it is coming along slowly, seeing my students learning through their own inquiry is very rewarding."
    "They also went beyond this “working together”… and actually went on there own to say things like, 'how will you angle the camera if you want this piece of clay to look like it is floating in the air'. They conducted the inquiry on their own. This was a huge breakthrough for me."

    "Challenge is a word that I absolutely love. It is something that I seek personally and professionally for myself on a daily basis and it is something that I push for my students. Frequently as my students are working on pieces I will stop them and ask them to explain to me where they are in their inquiry and process/actions that brought them to that exact moment and then I usually ask them a question that begins with the phrase. “Did you consider…” This usually turns into a moment of realization for the students and they go back project at hand. I would consider the skill of asking knowledgeable questions about a students work a strength that I have and continue to use it to challenge them on their quest."
    "This is something I have always wanted for my classroom. To not make it about me teaching them, but about them learning. They begin to gradually assume musical responsibility and ownership."
    "As we began working on how to define/refine our question I realized that we kept using terms such as 'inquiry-centered instruction,' teacher-centered instruction,' and 'student-centered instruction.' I found that this conversation began a personal inner dialog/struggle over the terminology. I had the sudden realization as to what these terms began to mean to me."
    "To me, the entire struggle of inquiry is how to allow students as much freedom as possible while still setting a precedent for their success (an end result). What kinds of things could I predict from an unknown outcome? How can I word the objectives and assessment criteria to promote this freedom? I think this is something I can really wrap my head around. It’s like a “what if” game. I try to think about the most unusual idea a student might develop at one end of the spectrum, but also what a student without much interest / motivation would come up with. I write the objective to be as general as possible to accommodate all learning abilities and creativity levels while maintaining a challenging goal for students to attain."
    "This unit seems to be more successful in comparison to my other Arts Educator 2.0 lessons because I pushed myself outside my comfort zone – allowing for more unstructured learning."
    "Now that I’ve taught this lesson multiple times multiple ways, I can say that there is a comfortable (and, of course, I refer to just what’s comfortable to me) balance. I want students to have as much freedom within the lesson as possible to be creative, but it has to provide some critical initial content, structure, and / or restrictions. There also may need to be a point at which the facilitator steps in and kind of “pulls it back together.” The students may need to be reminded of the time constraints, limitation of materials, or (in this example) group management."
    "I want students to EXPERIENCE learning art this way. I want to see how many lessons I can adapt to a similar format. I think that inquiry is possible, relevant, and even crucial to student success. I just need to find my own balance within it."

    "As a teacher, our goal is to access when the proper time is to let the student “fail” in order to find their own solutions. There is a grey area where if you let them struggle too long, they just become frustrated and give up. But if you dont let them struggle at all with their decisions you are actually doing the work for them. It balances between inquiry and instruction. I have had many times where I know i have a good answer, but have to take a back seat to see what the student can come up with on their own. And usually they are proud of what they come up with, and you can see the light “click” in their eyes when they realize they were able to find a solution that works. Many people do not understand this process when looking from the outside. They see it as the teacher not doing their job. As someone not wanting to help their students the way a traditional teacher would. This causes both a problem and a solution for me as a teacher. It gives me the chance to explain my methods to others, causing them to be involved in my classroom indirectly."
    "I have been able to continue working with inquiry and with different things in my school to promote arts to the district and other teachers."
    "They were able to identify the shapes so I let them try on their own to make the shapes with scissors and construction paper. Frustration was rampant. They made their shapes too small to even cut out. The first graders need to learn fine motor skills so I encourage large ovals and circle. I stopped the class and did a quick demo of a large oval for the body and a smaller shape for the head. You could feel the tension disappearing. Maybe since they need my input, they may listen a little more carefully. In first grade they need the structure that I give at the beginning of each lesson."
    "The inquiry approach for the beginning of the lesson really improved the outcome."
    "The next lesson I gave them the same size square in multiple colors and asked them to make a symmetrical shape. Most of them began by folding the paper but were waiting for me to instruct. I stayed quiet and said hold the fold and use their scissors to make the lines . Again some of them took the scissors and enjoyed the practice. Practice using the scissors while their little minds are creating is fun to watch. After a few minutes, I modeled the cutting to create simple shapes."
    "This year I wanted to give them more time to create. I purposely referred to the video and did not do a demo. The students took their clay and got started. Many questions ensued."
    "Usually I would have lots of questions like “Can I do…….?.”. My answer was , it is your piece off work, you are in charge. This year I have tried to generate s’more lessons that increase the student’s own production of new ideas. This has always been the area where my students are the weakest."

    "Unfortunately, many art one students either do not inquire at all, or use inquiry quite unconsciously. Rarely do they use it to its full potential. With some thought, and conscious intent they may find that inquiry can bridge gaps previously uncrossed and reveal information critical to a deeper understanding and study of the work of art."
    "At the conclusion of the project the students participated in a critique of each others work. The students were asked to notice and describe the features of the painting; some informal inquiry was discussed on how the piece was composed and some thoughts on its content and meaning. The goal was is not only to learn a particular artist’s techniques, but to inquire about the thought process in creation.
    The administration was pleased that my class incorporated thought and writing, which they see as an important addition to the overall curriculum."
    If you want to read our entire stories, head on over to:

    Day 4: CIG spotlight
    We used some time during the morning of DAY 2 at the IU1 to work on some problems that we had on the blog. We all made sure we have correctly labeled TAGS and Titles so that we can easily navigate the site. The group also discussed when and how we will be meeting. We decided to meet on the three optional days at the IU1. We added each other to skype so that we can meet when needed online. This afternoon we will work to finalize our inquiry question. We will also work on how we are going to use our time together during future meetings.
    Afternoon: Spent much time working on the wording of our inquiry question. David Berlin and Mara worked with us. We have been spinning in circles- so we decided to think of the question on our own and meet on skype or through the wiki. During this meeting,
    Day 1:
    Each teacher came up with an individual wondering that we wanted to work towards this year. Then, we were categorized into CIGs based on shared wonderings. Our group is a little different than it was last year, but several "green" cig members remain. We welcome our new group mates and look forward to working together towards the idea of "balance." We'll have varying viewpoints and experiences to go on. yay!

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    3:36 pm