Stand Up for Vigorous Education – Ted Warburton speaks on the importance of moving in the classroom
Dec 14th Regional Meetings – Reserve your spot today!
Demystifying the Common Core – How we have been teaching the common core all along!
NHSDA Update! – Avilee Goodwin shares the growth of NHSDA in Northern California
Closing the Year with Community
Having recently taken time to head home to Australia to visit family and friends, I am reminded of the importance of the Australian dance community in my life: touching base with old colleagues, learning about new dance initiatives, taking in performances when/where I can and sitting down to share dance experiences with friends. I may not see them often, but I leave enriched and supported, knowing that I can reach out whenever I need them to further inform and invigorate my work.
Similarly, community is key to CDEA. Promoting community among our membership is an important focus as we step into 2014. We have been working hard to enhance our digital communications and further develop our website to provide valuable resources and opportunities for members to engage with colleagues on a variety of dance fields and topics.
On behalf of the CDEA Executive team, we wish you a happy, safe and restful holiday season. We look forward to continually growing the CDEA community in the coming year.
Stand Up for Vigorous Education
Changing Rigor to Vigor in our Schools
by Ted Warburton
When was the last time you walked into a kindergarten class? The play-based, experiential programs of the past are mostly gone. Instead, hours are devoted each day to teaching the three “Rs” and giving tests or preparing the children to take them. Rigor is the banner. Supporting our underachieving and underprivileged children is the byline. Good intentions, surely, but why the narrow focus on so-called “cognitive learning”? Obviously there’s a lot of evidence for the approach?
Well, actually, there isn’t.
Take the “reading by five” rage for example. Sebastian Suggate and his colleagues (2013) have conducted a series of studies that show a profound lack of evidence to support keeping our youngest learners sitting at desks and working on reading and writing for hours a day. His extensive search for quantitative, controlled studies that showed long-term gains for children who learned to read at five, compared to those who learned at six or seven, uncovered one methodologically weak study from 1974 but could find no others. National scores over the past 20 years have not increased enough to indicate that we are making strong gains. Moreover, a growing body of evidence demonstrates that fine and gross motor skills play vital roles in the healthy growth of our children’s brains and bodies. Basically, there is no evidence that pressuring children to read at five improves their later reading, and much concern that it is damaging.
And that’s just the beginning of our educational system “stand down.” Students at all levels are sitting more and studying longer. Good news, right? I often hear doctors opine about the ills of a sedentary life style. There is a large body of evidence linking a physically active lifestyle to lower rates of morbidity and mortality. But what are the health effects of a sedentary life? What kind of life are we setting our sitting children down for?
The effects of extended periods of sedentary behavior in otherwise physically active individuals are worrisome. Medical researchers led by Peter Katzmarzyk (2009) cite a recent study using data from the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reporting that children and adults in the United States spend an average of 55% of their waking day in sedentary pursuits: riding in a car, working at a desk, eating a mean, playing video games, using a computer, and watching television. These research scientists find a significant association between sitting time and mortality from all causes plus increased cardiovascular disease, independent of leisure time physical activity. The strong recommendations are clear: in addition to the promotion of moderate-to-vigorous activity and a healthy weight, physicians should discourage sitting for extended periods.
So, what might education look like if we give the “rigor” word a rest and instead put more attention on the “vigor” of our children? What might happen when we allow our naturally moving, exploring, imaginative children to stand up and out of their chairs?
That’s the inquiry-based education mantra, right? Not exactly. Inquiry-based learning has long advocated for self-directed exploration across the curriculum, but these approaches often treat one’s body as no more than a vehicle for transporting one’s large brain from desk to lab and back again. The fundamental insight of the embodied cognition literature—and the emerging field of embodied education—is that even very abstract thinking may be parasitic on evolutionarily older brain systems that originally subserved purely sensory and motor interactions with the world.
In short, the connections between thinking and moving and feeling are hardwired. I believe that it is educational malpractice (not to mention unethical) to weaken these connections. I can think of at least one discipline that is fundamentally about strengthening them.
Ted Warburton, CDEA Past-president
Katzmarzyk, P.T., Church, T.S., Criag, C.L. and Bouchard, C. (2009). Sitting time and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 41(5), 998-1005.
Suggate, S.P., Schaughency, E.A., and Reese, E. (2013). Children learning to read later catch up to children reading earlier. Early Childhood Research Quarterly 28(1), 33-48.
NHSDA: Taking off in Northern California
by Avilee Goodwin, NHSDA Coordinator for CDEA-North
The National Honor Society for Dance Arts (NHSDA) has been taking off in Northern California! The NHSDA is a national program that allows outstanding dance students from public schools, private schools, or private studios to be recognized for their achievements and leadership. The mission of the program is to “recognize outstanding artistic merit, leadership and academic achievement in students studying dance” and to “foster an appreciation for dance as a true art form and one worthy of recognition and prestige.” The NHSDA is also a form of recognition that looks good on those all-important college or scholarship applications!
Five years ago, when I first began a chapter at East Oakland School of the Arts, we were only the fifth chapter in the state, and the third in Northern California (the early trailblazers in California were Shawl-Anderson Dance Studio and Roseville High School in the north, and Diamond Ranch and Palos Verdes High Schools in the south). For a while it felt pretty lonely, as there was only one northern area chapter added between 2008 and 2011 — Del Oro High School (Loomis) in 2010.
Things started to take off a bit in 2011, as Moreau Catholic High School (Hayward) and then The Branson School (Ross) both began chapters; the 2012 – 2013 school year saw Carlmont High School (Belmont), El Cerrito High School, and Mercy High School Burlingame come on board. Now word is apparently out about the benefits of the program, as four more schools have started chapters just since August — Marin School of the Arts (Novato), Bay Area Dance School (Los Altos), Inspire School of Arts and Sciences (Chico), and The Harker School (San Jose). There are now twelve chapters in Northern California — a long way from those lonely early years (but still with room for many more!).
Junior and senior high school students who have been inducted into the honor society are also eligible to apply for the Artistic Merit, Leadership and Academic Achievement Award, a national award recognizing students who demonstrate technical and artistic excellence, outstanding leadership in and outside the field of dance, and academic excellence. Over the years, California has sent five state winners on to the national adjudication; of those, two have earned Honorable Mention for the national award, both from the northern area: Antonisha Bibb of East Oakland School of the Arts (2009) and Kali Nita Jones of The Branson School (2012).
Starting a chapter in your school is easier than you think! If you would like to begin a chapter, please contact your area NHSDA Coordinators:
Northern California – Avilee Goodwin
Southern California – Typhani Harris
We are always open to any questions!
Demystifying the Common Core
by Typhani Harris, PhD
Well, if you are an artist … you abhor the term Common. Artists seek to be innovative, ground breaking, and inventive. We create, exasperate, and astound. We push the envelope, jump out of the proverbial box, and hail unorthodox as our main mantra. However, the truth is … Common Core is more Common than you think, at least for us artists. This is what we do, and what we do best. We have been doing it all along. The idea of synthesizing, applying, and creating are in our nature, our backbone, and our structure. We are engaged in a broad spectrum of activities and we relate, practice, demonstrate, and create. This is the arts! So, when you think about it … we are Common Core … and we always have been.
Along with the inevitable educational paradigm shift to Common Core (which I like to think of as everyone else finally doing what dancers have been doing all along) are the multitude of attached acronyms … as if we didn’t have enough already! Here’s a quick rundown of the newly adopted acronyms for 21st century education. It’s not scary; just think of it as Labanotation, Language of Dance, or motif writing.
(And they think they are groundbreaking?) We have been doing this all along, and on a greater scale, I might add. So, dance educators unite!! Common Core is our language and our foundation. We know it, we’ve always done it, and we practically invented it. So, here are some of the predominate acronyms:
CCSS: Common Core State Standards. These are the current common core standards published for English Language Arts and Mathematics. Although they have a section entitled: Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, & Technical Subjects, which, apparently, we are supposed to fall under, the only currently recognized standards are in English Language Arts and Mathematics.
DOK1: Depth of Knowledge. To me, Depth of Knowledge has now trumped Blooms Taxonomy. Don’t get me wrong, Blooms is very effective and has recently revised to include creation as its pinnacle. So the arts, as a creation-based subject completely support Blooms. However, DOK offers a more in depth view of ascertaining knowledge, and producing outcomes.
SBAC: Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. This is one of the leading testing systems for the common core assessments. Their examinations involve computer generated questioning and synthesized writing prompts.
PARCC: Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career. The other leading testing system for the common core assessments. promotes evidence based writing and real-life situations.
There are an infinite amount of acronyms circling education today as we move into this new system of delivery and assessment. If you are really interested, the a list of reference website can be found at www.cdeadance.org. But for the purpose of this article … we will stick to the four mentioned above. My message here is plain and simple. Dance educators! Don’t fret over Common Core, we have been doing it all along. My purpose here is to help guide our fellow educators to helping everyone else. Common Core, and the new assessments are about understanding how to analyze and synthesize … not just regurgitate and reproduce … congratulations, you are finally a dancer!
So what does that mean for us in the arts? It means supplementing our movement with information. We can do this! It means reading with our students (meaningful articles, or excerpts from articles, that help our students “get the point”) and it means helping our children to comprehend, and apply informational text to their daily lives. So what’s “it”? “It” can be so many things. What are you teaching in class? Traditional jazz, a codified modern technique, even checcetti ballet, it doesn’t matter. Whatever you are teaching lends the opportunity to read up on “it”. And that’s how we can start to support the Common Core Initiative!
Now let’s think back for a moment. The 90s!! Love that time! I was in high school and thought I knew everything! At this point, our educators were doing what they do best … .talking about what they love. There wasn’t necessarily unification or standards at this point, but they taught us with passion. Prior to the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, education began realizing, maybe we should make sure everyone is learning the same thing.
Cue: State Standards in Education.
The California State Standards for Dance were adopted in 2001. I am sure all core subject standards were adopted previously, but let’s be honest, I’m a dancer so I am concerned with dance! And then they decided we must test these standards to ensure all students are learning and are accountable for the same thing.
Cue: Standardized Testing.
I don’t know about you, but as an artist I always wanted to choose f, g, or h … because they weren’t there! And my psyche told me that the answer could be anything, because I could dance anything. So why is that not right??? Then … in comes No Child Left Behind.
Cue: NCLB and STAR Testing.
NCLB was a policy to ensure all students are proficient (whatever proficient means) by 2014. It’s almost 2014 … congratulations!
For years education has attempted to put everyone inside a pretty little box with a bow. Finally, education has realized that not everyone fits inside this box. Some want to be outside the box, some may want a different color bow or different shaped box, and that’s ok. Regardless, we are not all the same and we as dance educators are proponents of individuality, thank goodness someone realized this was not going to work!
Cue: Common Core Standards and Assessment.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I hate the vernacular! As an artist and an arts educator I struggle with the word Common … as we pride ourselves on being far from Common.
I believe in the underlying principles of Common Core:
- Depth not Breadth
- Synthesizing not Recalling
- Real life not Arbitrary
- Inclusive not Exclusive
- Extensive not Isolated
These are the foundations of the real world, and if we are preparing our students for life after high school then this is the axis. After all, they certainly cannot answer C in an interview! The CST’s (California Standards Test, what can I say … I’m in California) provided assessment in isolation, an assessment of each subject independent of any additional subjects. The Common Core provides assessment in collaboration; the ability to inclusively bring all subjects together for a Common goal. In that way we are Common, we embrace Commonality, and we as artists promote the Common Core ideology of collaboration. Common is defined as joint, equal, shared by, and general. As an artist, I don’t want to be joint, equal, shared by, or general to anyone, however, as an educator I believe that ALL students should have the opportunity to learn, ALL students should have multiple ways of demonstrating their knowledge, and ALL students should be prepared for the real-world. And although Common Core doesn’t make that happen, it is certainly a step in the right direction of ensuring our students are prepared for their futures.
1 Webb, N. L. (2005). Web alignment tool. Wisconsin Center of Educational Research, University of Wisconsin.