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The Wolf That Would Forgive: Illuminating Standards Video Series

Type

Videos

Grade Level

Discipline

Eighth grade students in Greenfield, MA created a book for younger students featuring original fables accompanied by cut-block print illustrations. The students studied the genre of fables; wrote personal narratives to surface issues in their own lives; created animal protagonists and stories to embed those issues in fables with helpful morals. This video features an interview with the teacher, discussing the process of learning, drafting and critique. It celebrates how academic standards and skills can be built from work that is deeply artistic connects the heart to learning. Illuminates CCSS ELA standards W.8.3, W.8.4, W.8.5.  

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 (EL Education) 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.


Type

Videos

Grade Level

Discipline

Eighth grade students in Greenfield, MA created a book for younger students featuring original fables accompanied by cut-block print illustrations. The students studied the genre of fables; wrote personal narratives to surface issues in their own lives; created animal protagonists and stories to embed those issues in fables with helpful morals. This video features an interview with the teacher, discussing the process of learning, drafting and critique. It celebrates how academic standards and skills can be built from work that is deeply artistic connects the heart to learning. Illuminates CCSS ELA standards W.8.3, W.8.4, W.8.5.  

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 (EL Education) 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

- Either personally through your relationship with them or by having them encounter something that really has meaning. Where they can touch the felt experience of another person. That’s what motivates them. I think, in my experience.

- [Narrator] One of the dispositions identified by the Common Core state standards in English language arts is that students respond to the varying demands of audience, task, purpose, and discipline. Little children of the earth, these fables are for you. The boys and girls who wrote them were once little, too. Some stories end in smiles, while others end in sorrow. So take the wisdom at the end, which you are free to borrow. Little children of the earth, these fables are all true because the boys and girls who wrote them were once little, too.

- Kids were first asked to do an informal piece of writing where they documented a time when something happened and they learned something from it.

- [Narrator] Kyle would only be back for major holidays and other vacations. I can imagine how hard it must have been on my dad. His son was moving out all the way to a little town called Blairsville, Pennsylvania, almost nine hours away. For me though, it was one of the hardest moments I’ve ever lived through. That feeling of movement nothing else could compare to. The feeling of freedom and despair.

- They had studied fables and read some fables. And so they rewrote the story changing the characters to animals. And when they change the characters to animals, the details of the stories change as well.

- [Narrator] Turtle and Heron were constantly playing and helping each other in new ways. They built a strong and caring friendship throughout the summer. When it started getting colder, Heron knew it was time for him to migrate south. Turtle and Heron said their goodbyes, and Heron left. Even though Heron was incredibly sad, he knew that he would return to his great friend as soon as it was warm again.

- And so they worked, and when they had a finished job of that, then we were ready for the illustrations. They had to practice doing their drawing on cheap scratch paper. And as soon as they had nailed it, they got a really high end block and they did their final line. And they knew they only got one block! And here’s the block, and they had to be ready for it. And some kids, before they could approach their block, they practiced and practiced and practiced. There’s a caterpillar on a leaf. He practiced so many times getting, making the texture of the leaf different enough from the texture of the caterpillar so that you could see the caterpillar and the little bug next to it. And how the leave enough block for the little bug’s legs. I mean, you know, they really worked at that. They had the experience of all those steps. Step after step after step after step. And so, I just think that all the work of the illustrations was a great a primer for craftsmanship going forward.

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