Typhani Harris | April 2017

Assessments & the Arts: Clear/Modeled Expectations

Continuing our Defining Engagement through STEAM series, based on the research of John Antonetti and Phillip Schlechty, takes us to the next way we can articulate and define our student engagement.  Our sessions explain definitions, share strategies, provide templates and rubrics to self assess, and/or offer downloadable resources to ultimately define engagement in an actionable way.  Check out the introduction to this series here.

Just to recap, we have defined engagement through STEAM by assessing the use of Personal Response in Session 1 ,  introducing Variety and Novelty to help bring arts into school in Session 2.  Then we visualized the Emotional and Intellectual Safety needed in order for our students to truly engage in the classroom in Session 3 .  Session 4 [CAN WE LINK TO THIS EVEN THOUGH IT IS IN THIS MAGAZINE EDITION] covered how the Sense of Audience provides greater engagement especially in STEAM and Arts Integration.

This month we are also examining Assessments and the Arts which is built upon the sixth strategy of engagement: Clear/Modeled Expectations.   So often we tell students what we “want” to see, but we don’t “show” them what it actually looks like… this is an underlying principle of the arts “Show don’t Tell.”  Clear/Modeled Expectations are imperative to building engagement in STEAM.  In order to be authentically engaged, students must know exactly what is expected and furthermore, what that expectation tangibly looks like. When students are able to create, design, and engineer with a clear expectation in mind, their creations tend to exceed expectation.  Let’s take a look at some of Antonietti’s suggestions for developing authentic engagement through Clear/Modeled Expectations.

Session 5: Clear/Modeled Expectations

Clear Objective of Activity and Learning

Objectives are key to ensuring our student know the daily expectations and can articulate the criteria for their success.  Even when working with the most independent classroom set up, like AP studio art or dance composition, empowering our students with the ability to articulate and create their daily objectives is an invaluable skill.  We just finished up a series that included composing 3 part objectives.  Check it out here!

Visual Exemplars

We don’t often think about actually providing our students with exemplars.  We want our students to do great work, but then we don’t show them what great work actually looks like…and then we get disappointed when they don’t give us the great work we never actually showed them, oh the irony!  Students need to see what excellent looks like so they can work toward that expectation.  This is also a great place for you to involve Sense of Audience.  Let students know that their exemplar work will be showcased for the next generation.

Rubrics and Self-Assessment

Rubrics are our friends!  I know just the sight of the word Rubric triggers the app mantra “there’s an app for that” replaced with “there’s a rubric for that” but really, there is! The more you design and implement rubrics the better your students understand the expectation and actually meet it.  Ideally as a teacher you should have some go-to content rubrics that are used frequently and not changed so that the students are very familiar with them.  But on a larger scale, there should be department and school wide rubrics that the students use for cross curricular expectations.  For example, an expected paragraph rubric is a great idea for a school wide venture.  This way paragraphs in science are evaluated the same as in English and in history.  It becomes a known expectation that students are familiar and comfortable with.  This will engage students because they are prepared and know exactly what is expected.

Clear Formats and Procedures

It is no secret that we are all more engaged when we know exactly what we need to do.  As you build interactive activities and tasks like gallery walks, stations, and group work, ensure that your procedures are clear, explained, posted, and modeled.

Next Month: Sessions 6 & 7
Next month we will look at two more way to define engagement in STEAM: Learning with Others and Student Choice.

About the Author

Dr. Typhani Harris, author of Putting the Performance in Performance Task and Stop Teaching, brings over 2 decades of educational experience to The Institute. Originally a high school English Language Arts teacher, Dr. Harris transitioned into a dance educator who cultivated an award-winning collegiate style dance education program at a public school in California. Prior to joining the Institute, she was an educational leader and instructional coach specializing in preparing new teachers in secondary urban schools.  As the Executive Director of Academic Affairs, Dr. Harris maintains courses, conferences, and the accredited certification program at The Institute.