Reopening: Moving Toward More Equitable Schools

Get Your Blues On: Illuminating Standards Video Series

Created By

EL Education

Type

Videos

Grade Level

This video features an interdisciplinary project that joins poetry, music, visual arts and history. As part of an historical case study of The Great Migration, students studied the Blues, wrote original poems/blues songs, performed those songs for an audience, and created a book that combined the poems with original collage art. This film is a fine example of the arts providing a foundation for engaging students in learning and standards.

The Illuminating Standards Project

In the last two decades of the ‘standards movement’ in American public education, many educators have concluded that ‘teaching to the standards’ and project-based learning are incompatible. Ron Berger (Expeditionary Learning) and Steve Seidel (Harvard Graduate School of Education), co-directors of The Illuminating Standards Project, wondered if this conclusion was true. Indeed, they speculated that long-term, interdisciplinary, arts-infused, community-connected projects may well be one of the best ways to actually see what state standards look like when fully realized in the things students make in school—to make the standards visible.
Three questions frame the work of The Illuminating Standards Project:
~ What does it look like when state standards are met with integrity, depth, and imagination?
~ How can we use standards to open up and enrich curriculum, rather than narrow and constrain it?
~ How can we use student work to raise the level of our understanding of standards and our dialogue about them?

The Videos

Collaborating with Berger and Seidel on The Illuminating Standards Project, over 30 students at the Harvard Graduate School of Education have explored these questions by choosing projects from the Student Work Archive in the Center for Student Work and considering the ways in which those projects did—and didn’t—meet specific state standards. Further, they examined how the student work illuminated the standards—and vice versa. Many of those students created short films and 13 of those films are presented here.
We invite you to watch these films and we encourage you to use them as the catalyst for discussions with your colleagues about the relationship between your commitment to meet demanding state standards and approaches to designing powerful learning experiences for our students.


Created By

EL Education

Type

Videos

Grade Level

This video features an interdisciplinary project that joins poetry, music, visual arts and history. As part of an historical case study of The Great Migration, students studied the Blues, wrote original poems/blues songs, performed those songs for an audience, and created a book that combined the poems with original collage art. This film is a fine example of the arts providing a foundation for engaging students in learning and standards.

The Illuminating Standards Project

In the last two decades of the ‘standards movement’ in American public education, many educators have concluded that ‘teaching to the standards’ and project-based learning are incompatible. Ron Berger (Expeditionary Learning) and Steve Seidel (Harvard Graduate School of Education), co-directors of The Illuminating Standards Project, wondered if this conclusion was true. Indeed, they speculated that long-term, interdisciplinary, arts-infused, community-connected projects may well be one of the best ways to actually see what state standards look like when fully realized in the things students make in school—to make the standards visible.
Three questions frame the work of The Illuminating Standards Project:
~ What does it look like when state standards are met with integrity, depth, and imagination?
~ How can we use standards to open up and enrich curriculum, rather than narrow and constrain it?
~ How can we use student work to raise the level of our understanding of standards and our dialogue about them?

The Videos

Collaborating with Berger and Seidel on The Illuminating Standards Project, over 30 students at the Harvard Graduate School of Education have explored these questions by choosing projects from the Student Work Archive in the Center for Student Work and considering the ways in which those projects did—and didn’t—meet specific state standards. Further, they examined how the student work illuminated the standards—and vice versa. Many of those students created short films and 13 of those films are presented here.
We invite you to watch these films and we encourage you to use them as the catalyst for discussions with your colleagues about the relationship between your commitment to meet demanding state standards and approaches to designing powerful learning experiences for our students.


Transcript

- [Conductor] One, a two, a one, two, hey and.

- It’s a Get Your Blues On project in fourth grade, and it was really awesome. It’s called Big Fat Purple Toe Blues. ♪ I’ve got nobody, uh ♪ ♪ I wish I had a limousine uh ♪ ♪ I got nobody, uh ♪ ♪ I wish I had a limousine, uh ♪ ♪ But I need it ♪ ♪ That’s a right, uh ♪ ♪ I just want to go somewhere ♪ ♪ But this rain makes me feel like I can’t move ♪ ♪ I just want to go somewhere ♪

- So I’m Rachel Cate, the fourth grade teacher, and last year I taught the students an expedition on the great migration. We launched the expedition through a gallery walk. There were four panels and books all over the classroom and the students had no idea what the expedition topic was. They walked around and they were recording how they felt, what questions they had. Powerful words and phrases. We started reading a lot of poetry by Eloise Greenfield and Langston Hughes. And we’re looking at their poems and analyzing the mood that they felt and what basically they were going through as they were migrate and then decided to write our own blues poems. Saying what could make a fourth grader blue, whether it’s a personal topic or a big world topic.

- A really rough start because I didn’t know what to write about.

- To be personal to them and we wanted them to feel passionate because as we listen to songs and write poems we knew the people felt really strongly about you know their emotions that they were expressing through their words. When we looked at art we were really looking at history through an artist’s eye which we’re looking through a poet’s eyes as we read poetry. We read a lot of first hand and second hand accounts and learning about the great migration through a historian’s eyes. And then they enjoyed taking on the life of another character.

- I would, I would actually put my shoes into the person who was singing.

- We came into the classrooms, as a resident artist, and we just talked to them about improvisation. We talked to them about the structure of the blues and how to express yourself through music. What do those things look like. Technical aspects on your instruments. They had their stanzas that they had written, their poems, in A A B form. And we came in the blues works in the same way A A B form. So it laid over the chords very nicely and so I would just play the bass line on the keyboard and have them speak their words.

- [Rachel] All right let’s hear it.

- Oh big fat purple toe. Oh I feel so low. My heart stops like a timer, I can’t take it anymore. Ow ow my toe throbs and drips with blood.

- Listening to they had been doing to prepare them for this, they really had a really strong concept of what their melody sounded like. You know with their words. And we start going and I looked at Anthony, I was like. He gets up there and sure enough “I got no money uh”. ♪ I got no money uh ♪

- And we had such a good time. I think they were clapping and everything. Creating a sense of empathy you know for those travelers. What was that experience like. Learning about the blues, learning about ways to express yourself not only in words but through music and through collage work, artwork. They may not remember you know the bits and details but they’ll remember that they were on that stage and they have the power and potential affect changing themselves, affect change you know in an audience by simple point.

- But this is my first official poem.

- [Rachel] And how do you feel about it?

- I feel pretty proud of myself. ♪ Lie on the grass ♪ ♪ The dog jumps on me ♪ ♪ That’s when I felt it all pass ♪

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