Arts Integration


Wow,  7 months have past since my last post.  I need to get better at this blogging thing.  I keep telling myself . . .  just a short paragraph a day will keep this blog alive.  The unfortunate (or fortunate, based on how you look at it) thing is that once I start writing, I can’t stop, so to me, there is no such thing as a short paragraph.  🙂

I’ve been busy though.  The most recent time-consuming activity has been the third RYSAG summer camp.  Once again, it was a success, although there was doubt at the beginning.  Would the students be interested in “saving the environment”?  Was the topic “sexy” enough for them?  In the end, the students came to campus already aware of and concerned with issues of global warming and the need to change the way we all treat the environment.  While there was no real element of discovery or suspicion, as there was in the last two camps, and students didn’t seem super motivated in class, the final presentations impressed us all, as they have always done.

The typical subject collaborations existed as they have in the past – science/chemistry, math, research, public speaking/communication and technology.  In addition, we invited a few “green experts” from campus to each teach one day on their specialized topic.  An Anthropology professor took students back 1000’s of years to introduce the idea of those people’s “waste,” to make the point of how much that waste has grown into modern times.  She had students calculate their individual carbon footprint. Two Geology professors discussed water runoff and global warming/climate change, respectively. A History professor introduced students to the campus’ community garden and talked about sustainable agriculture, including the creation of  compost piles.  Finally, a Chemistry professor engaged our students in the harnessing of solar power based on blueberries as a source of energy.

Small student groups within each of our four camp teams were assigned to particular interviewees that would lend their perspective on sustainability issues and efforts.  Interviewees ranged from the middle-aged curmudgeon professor who’s only motivation to recycle was to recoup 5 cents from each plastic bottle returned to the sports enthusiast Geneseo alum who didn’t care how the new stadium was designed as long as he could attend his favorite sports events to administrative officials of our campus food service who introduced students to the idea of biodegradable cups and other “plastic ware” and the push to purchase food from local farmers.  Additionally, students designed 8-question surveys that they administered to anyone on campus that would take the survey.  All of these ideas and data were incorporated into each team’s final presentation – a formal plea to college administration to “green-up” our future athletic stadium by implementing the suggestions made by our students.  As mentioned above, the delivery, data and teamwork employed in each presentation was incredibly impressive.  Our youngest team consisted of 15 11-year olds (incoming sixth graders) and they did a fantastic job!

The ppt presentations will be loaded to the GREEN-UP camp website soon, but in the meantime, enjoy the public service announcements that our students created while on campus (found on the right hand page of the GREEN-UP webpage).

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Yay, the LOEX powerpoints are finally online! Susan Norman and I presented “Summer Sleuths in the Library” (name eventually changed to “The Multicultural Classroom: Plan, Build, Renew – Librarian as Constructivist Architect”) at this year’s LOEX conference in Oak Brook, Illinois. We had a small audience but those who attended really seemed excited about our summer camp program. Here are the powerpoints – one that works better in Office 2007 (although the video doesn’t not seem to be loading, at least not on my slow laptop) and the other that’s better suited for Office 2003. The handout consists of acronyms used in our presentation and a bibliography. The slides obviously cannot represent all that we discussed in our presentation, but the video fills in a lot of gaps. If you are interested in learning more about our program, please don’t hesitate to comment or send me a message.

If you cannot easily get to the video, look for it at http://rysag.geneseo.edu.

I am thrilled to report that the entire ppt is playing in our library’s lobby on one of the large plasma screens. Hopefully, it will attract the attention of prospective students and their families while on campus tours and of the few students, staff, faculty, and community members using the library this summer. The adventure of the summer camp will begin again on July 14.

A communication professor and I met earlier this morning  to develop a general set of lesson plans to be used in this summer’s D.I.G. camp.  It was really an amazing experience, working together and seeing how many of the NYS standards our new curriculum, Research & Rhetoric (R&R – formerly C.T.U. for Critical Thinking Unit), hit.  And when you combine our curriculum to that of our teaching partners (Chemistry, Anthropology, Digital Arts, and Math), we really do touch upon all of the intermediate standards as a whole.  The standards addressed in R&R include:

  • English Language Arts, standards 1-4 (Listening & Reading and Speaking & Writing)
  • Social Studies, standards 1-3, 5 (History of US & NY, World History, Geography, and Civics, Citizenship & Government)
  • Math, Science and Technology, standards 2, 5-7 (Information Systems, Engineering Design, Tools, Resources & Technical Processes, Computer Technology, Management of Technology, Systems Thinking, and Strategies)

Meredith and I talked about how, at the college level, we aren’t used to preparing formal lesson plans to guide our teaching practices.  We agreed, however, what a useful tool these completed plans will be when July hits and we start preparing for the students’ arrival on campus.  Where student or novice teachers may begin looking at educational standards and develop lessons and activities around them, we preferred to dive into the lesson planning first and then align our activities to the standards.  From last year’s camp experience, I knew that Meredith and I would work well together, but now that we’ve joined forces, I am thrilled to be brainstorming with her.  Although our current lesson plans are fairly general and will be tweaked as July approaches and while the students are on campus, we have a really good start, including some very specific ideas about how each class will be run.  We agree that ice breaker and self-esteem boosters are essential for the beginning of each class session.  I think Meredith and I make a natural teaching team.

I was expecting to write more of an opening post to my new blog, but considering that I am in the midst of sifting through the NYS standards in order to design lesson plans for the D.I.G. summer program, it seems appropriate that I launch right into librarian-faculty collaboration.  This program has been the epitome of educational collaboration.  Last year, the camp focused on CSI techniques under the premises of a series of fictitious art thefts that happened on SUNY Geneseo’s campus.  Each of the disciplines was dependent on each other, especially in the lessons provided by the Critical Thinking Unit (CTU) – a mixture of sociology, ethnographical and library research, and overall critical thinking.  In the CTU curriculum, students put the pieces of the puzzle together working with interview transcripts, forensic evidence, information found from the web, and tips and additional pieces of evidence left by a secret admirer.  Story boards were used to visually tie the different disciplinary information together in one place.  With this information, a communication professor and a graphic arts specialist worked with the student teams to develop an oral and pictorial presentation to be delivered to a “grand jury.”  Depending on how compelling each team’s case was presented, a panel of three judges ordered an indictment for our four criminals

I never would have been involved in such a fantastic program had it not been for the Sociology professor with whom I had been working in her semester courses.  Because she saw that I was able to weave in research skills to cover the content of her designated lessons, she knew we could work well together to deliver a fun and meaningful curriculum to our middle school students.  You never know what good things will come out of your everyday work responsibilities.

Anyway . . . back to those standards . . . This year’s mystery – an archaeological dig where we hope to find Seneca artifacts – goes even further as far as seamlessly merging academic disciplines.  Archaeology, chemistry, history, math, english language arts, technology, art – each subject will rely heavily on the other in the hope of providing another enriching experience for our young scholars bound for college . . . in about 4 or 5 years.