I know it's not time for this chapter yet, but there's just something I simply can't wait to share about Dave Burgess' Long Live the Arts chapter from his book Teach Like a Pirate. It's "The Picasso Hook"... I absolutely believe with all the passion my inner pirate can muster (is that more of a cowboy word?), that kids benefit from learning with and through the arts! So, when I asked for some advice at the end of this year on further improving test scores, and was told to stop doing creative projects, I was astounded!
- First, my class more than doubled test goals in all areas.
- Second, I had eleven of 22 students (yep, that's half) qualify for the gifted program at our school (I must be doing something right, right? That's not to mention that from the entire grade, there were 23 students who qualified, meaning again that almost half were my students!).
- Third, this advice came from a former teacher of the arts.
I thank goodness that I teach in a school with a phenomenal related arts team, with whom I truly feel a sense of collaboration! Our art teacher and I always talk about how what the two of us are doing can compliment each curriculum, from history and art history relevant to the social studies unit I may be teaching, to science and illustrating animals, habitats, or even changes in states of matter. Our PE teachers are awesome, allowing me to use equipment like hula hoops to create mini-ecosystems, Frisbees and balls to measure real world distances thrown, kicked, rolled, etc., and figure stats and percentages, or probability. Our music teacher is wonderful, bringing in songs and instruments from around the world, celebrating cultures and holidays to help students understand that our little town really isn't the center of the universe. She helps me with recording my students singing, helps me write lyrics to pop music to help them remember key information, and loans me anything I've ever asked for to help teach through the power of music.
I am so very thankful to Mr. Burgess for validating what I do, for permission to integrate the arts into learning, and, mostly, for reigniting my passion for teaching, learning, and continuing to do what I know is right for my students. Without passion, we have mediocrity, which, as Mr. Burgess points out, never taught anyone anything! You might notice, Teach Like a Pirate is on my short list of Amazon Recommendations at the bottom of this page. Having read the entire book in a day and a half, it is the reason I signed up for the Amazon program, giving me the ability to share with you the best books I know. If it's the only thing you read this summer, be sure you don't miss this must-read!