Saturday, September 17, 2011

Making Connections

Lately one of the things I've been working on is how to connect State and National standards to the Neurodevelopmental Constructs within my lessons. I feel it is important to teach the the Elements of Art and the Principles of Design but, how many art teachers give credence to how they affect our students? Some be asking what are the constructs? They deal with different areas of the mind and how it works: Attention, TSO (Temporal Sequential Ordering), Spatial Ordering, Memory, Language. Neuromotor Functions, Social Cognition, Higher Order Cognition and Sensory. Each one of these has several sub categories to them which you can research by Googling the Constructs. But, for me the fun doesn't stop there. As I kept diving deeper into the subject, I thought how do the Standards and Constructs mesh with the 7-steps of Design Thinking, which is a huge part of my teaching philisophy. You may be thinking, "Oh my God. this is to much." But is it really? And, is there a Bigger Idea here?!?! The 7-Steps of Design Thinking are: Define, Research, Ideation, Prototype, Objective, Implement and Learn (depending on which site you look at the wording may different but, they still work in the same matter). So how do these three areas come together to create a curriculum that helps not only us but our students on many levels. Start with the Design steps. When you start you have to define your problem the lesson, how you deliver it and how the students receive it. At this point what part of the "Brain" are you asking your students to engage. This is important because everyone one of us engage's in a different way. What if one of your student's has low Memory retention, or, another has severe ADD or ADHD which will affect their Attention. We have to adjust the lesson immediately to keep everyone at the same place. Think of it like this: if you were to create a three column chart with the 7-Steps of Design Thinking on the left the Neurodevelopmental Constructs in the middle and the Standards on the Right (which is the goal we are after) these three areas "will" intersect on several occasions or many times crossing back and forth. I have found the greater my understanding for the Neurodevelopmental Constructs the more successful the outside two columns of the chart have become. Why is this important? I feel it creates a learning atmosphere where no one falls through the cracks, it helps students to recognize their strengths and areas that need further work. I'm not saying everyone is going to become a artist but, they will develop skills that foster a better learning environment for them. I don't care what we do in life but, when the fun is removed and it becomes work we tend to mentally disengage. Think about your students and what they are going through. What if one of them has trouble with their Social Cognition and the teacher just perceives them a quiet student who just sits there? I hope this has peaked your interest to learn more about yourself and how this thinking affects you, cause in my opinion (yes, I occasionally have one) this is where it starts. As I dive deeper into this subject I post charts and research to let you know about it. So, may the creative spirit run through your blood freely causing mass chaos with your thoughts!! Have a great day!

Monday, September 5, 2011


Tomorrow starts my second year at the school I'm currently working at and I have to say, though it has been a very relaxing day the excitement is building in me. I've been researching all summer, watching other artist perfect their craft and was even given the chance to teach gifted children this summer. What's the difference between all of that and the students I work with everyday? Nothing! Learning new techniques and methods from my colleagues has only sparked the fire within me. I got to work with several professionals this summer and we all agreed: we believe the level of our students works is because of what we except from ourselves. You may say, that is kind of arrogant to make that statement. The friends I am speaking of all became artist first and teachers' second. I think that makes a difference on how we approach a lesson. I think it is important to take our students through the process or art. Not just come sit down in class and mass produced product to justify mine, theirs and your existence. The arts are so important to everyone and to think some actually have forgotten that, sad. For me its the other side of the spectrum. My idea machine is up and running, and I'm ready to take my students in directions they may not have thought of. Of the many things I love about being an artist and art teacher all falls under two catagories the first being: Higher Order Thinking. Within it: concept formation, critical thinking, creativity/brainstorming, problem solving, rule use, reasoning/logical thinking and mental representation. The second being: The Seven Steps of Design Thinking. Within it: define, research, ideation, prototype, objectives, implement and learn. Depending on the source that you research it may be more than seven but, usually it is seven and possibly even worded different. But, the all follow the same path in there thoughts. Anyway, check out this website to get a brief idea of it, Well I( have some much needed work to get done and relax for the evening. Cause tomorrow is "another" year that holds great promises and many stories to be told. Let the creativity flow freely through your body and mind, Cheers Mates!