Susan Riley | October 2015

Periscope PD: Tips for Teaching Simple

The air was crisp.  The water was still. And the leaves were the most beautiful array of colors.  Just a little while ago, I went on a quick trip up to Lake Placid to celebrate my latest wedding anniversary.  We go away every year, even if it’s only for a few days, to make sure that we recharge and take a little time for ourselves.  And while I look forward to these weekends every year, this one was particularly memorable.  Because within the first 12 hours of our arrival, it started to snow.

Now, I wasn’t planning on snow in the middle of October.  I hadn’t packed for snow and I was sure I’d be a bit upset that the white stuff was going to impact my carefully planned weekend of admiring fall foliage.  Ah…but what is it they say about that?

“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans”

Thank you John Lennon.

It took us about 2 seconds to realize that the simplicity of being able to stay in, watch the snow and enjoy some rest and relaxation were exactly what we needed after all.

Arts Integration lesson planning is a lot like this.  We get so busy trying to fit everything in to a lesson that we miss the opportunity to keep teaching simple (and thus, more helpful) for our students. In today’s Periscope PD episode, I’m sharing with you my top 3 tips for “teaching simple” through your lessons.

Can you design a big, beautiful, complex lesson with lots of connections thrown in all over the place?  Sure you can.  Should you?  I’m not so sure.  When we keep our eyes on the end goal for our students, it’s much easier to design a teaching simple, streamlined lesson that is still engaging and meaningful in and through the arts.  It just might take a little unexpected turn in our plans for us to appreciate it.

About the Author

Susan Riley is the founder and CEO of The Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, STEAM, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and STEAM education. Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter. Email Susan