Have the performing arts quit performing?

I remember when I was a kid and enjoyed projects in 4-H. Those projects (livestock, leadership, performing, etc) all let me do one thing: be me. It was always awesome to go to a contest or show and be able to stand out for who I was and not what someone else wanted me to be. Fine arts should give students those same opportunities. Some do. Some don’t.

I watch all of the flash mob videos on YouTube and wonder where all of the experiments in creativity have gone in schools today? I know there are many out there still providing kids with the chance to show who they are, but it seems as a rule, the more standardized our core classes have gotten, the more standardized our elective classes have as well.

When you go to a band concert, the same thing gets pumped out each time. The curtains rise. The director crosses the stage. The tap on the lectern. The band plays. The parents applaud. The director bows. The curtain lowers.

When you attend a choir concert, well, CC of the band concert above.

When you go to a play, you get a small semblance of what the kids can truly do because they have no budget in the props area to draw the audience into the moment.

I’m not bashing these teachers, honest.  I’m just wondering why we see so few things like the video below in our schools. Why do they not allow the kids to take chances in their performances? Why do they not allow the kids to decide it is time to put together their own performance and showcase their talents in a way they choose to? What better place to have true independent study? The fall/spring concerts have been on the calendars as long as the Big Chief Tablet. And the adults run those things to make sure they stay between the lines.

I say, it’s time to let the students run with scissors. Please, let them step out of the shadows of the lectern. Let them enter the stage from behind the audience and down the aisles instead of hiding behind the curtain. Let them be original and not carbon copies of the generations who have come before them. Besides, they turn to YouTube in their own hours to do this anyway.

“iPhone/Touch App” shared Doc has a new sibling: iPad Only

The Google Spreadsheet for iPhone/Touch Apps by subject area we (over 60 contributors) have been building since November 2009 has been extremely popular. How do I know? Well, the Apple rep said she has been sharing it with all of the other Apple reps and they have requested an iPad only version as well. I actually had that in the works, but I just never got to sharing it out. So, I’m doing that now.

iPad Only Apps spreadsheet is now ready for contributions. I shared it with the same crew who has been editing the iPhone/Touch apps sheet. Hopefully, this one will grow as plentiful and popular as the other. I have a few listed already, but I know there are tons more ready to be added.  Yes, I do realize the iPhone and Touch apps will work on the iPad, but there are some just for the iPad that will not roll backwards and are worthy of attention. Now is the chance for that to happen.

Leave me a comment below or shoot me a message on Twitter (@woscholar) if you want to be added as a contributor on either/both of these. I just need your Google Docs email address.

Little Copyright Thugs

Okay, so Alan Levine was kidding in his comment to the post introducing this video to me when he called them “little copyright thugs.” One has to kid about the topic after seeing the following video posted on Alec Couros’s blog. But let me say before you watch it, art and music are SOOOOOOO important for all of us to be able to express our emotions and life lessons in a format rather then keeping them pent up inside and not letting the world see how great a person each of us can be on the inside. We all have our favorite picture or song or poem that means the world to us for personal reasons. I think this teacher and many of the kids just found one of their own. 

With that being said, here are the “little copyright thugs.”

Can you see the engagement in the song that the kids had? It was not “hey we’re making a movie” or “watch me be the star of this thing.” It was a genuine expression of engagement brought out by an educator that we all hope to see in our classrooms (albeit, I never had poetry written or recited in my class with such passion as these kids shared). Oh, and the kicker is that these kids have been invited by Stevie Nicks after she saw this video on YouTube to sing it in Madison Square Gardens. Feel free to drop by the kids’ blog and let them know how great they really are: http://www.ps22chorus.blogspot.com/ Not bad for a campus where 3 out of 4 are on free/reduced lunch, huh?

Quick point here. Notice they blog. Notice that we now notice how great these kids AND their teacher both are. Enough noticing. Read on.

Now, let’s consider what Alec was getting at. This explicitily shows why we should be publishing our kids’ work. They are going to experience things because of this short 2 minute video that most of us only dream about. Why? Their teacher thought enough to show off what they can do to the world. Sure, it might all be a fluke that Stevie Nicks saw the video and invited them, but the fluke was not possible without that teacher making that concious choice to publish the work. Also, think of the lives this can touch with those kids. Already fighting their way out of a hole poverty-wise, they can now see they have value, skills, hope, and a teacher that obviously loves them very, very much. Did you catch his commentary at the end? It was three words: “That was goooooood.” I have not seen a bigger smile on any face than he had on his at that moment. Even Darren Kuropatwa zoomed in on that part of it. It just says so much.

So, let’s review here. The kids practice a Fleetwood Mac song. The teacher decides to record them singing it. The outcomes:
1. We are inspired by what these kids can do with a passion.
2. The parents obviously know their kid’s teacher loves his job and his students a TON.
3. Stevie Nicks sees the video via a social networking video site, cries, falls in love with the kids, and invites them to perform at Madison Square Gardens.
4. Ed tech guys and gals jump on the story as a way to motivate their own teachers to do such things as publishing more (any) student content.
5. The students see a new value in school and learning and that there is light at the end.
6. Teacher gets a book and movie deal and becomes Mr. Holland’s Opus II: The Modern Version (I made that up, but it could happen).

I hope Alec finds a way to weave this post and video into his time with us in White Oak on June 12th. Did I mention he is one of the keynoters and a featured presenter? Feel free to join us.

In the meantime, fire up your class blog and get your students’ work out there. The world needs to see just how good they (and you) really are.