Monday, October 26, 2015

A Change (not applicable for all)

This doesn't apply to most students or parents, so if you aren't used to getting - or never plan to get - below a C- in my class, you can stop reading now. Otherwise, please read on.

We have all become accustomed to being able to check grades (whether you are a student and they are yours, or you are a parent and they are the grades of your offspring) "whenever" we want. I mean, you do need an internet connection and all appropriate servers do need to be functioning.

For years digital grade books have made this possible. Now, with Canvas, it is easier than ever.
Well, "easy" maybe isn't the right word, but Canvas allows for a much more robust sense of the overall grade than ever before.

Rubrics can be built in, comments can be left - in separate parts or as a whole, engagement (what for others is "participation) can be broken down in massive detail, and then some. It's crazy how much content can be acquired regarding the content of classes here at LGHS.

Some of you never really need to fret too much about your grades as you make sure to work hard and turn every assignment in. Because of that you know that not every paper or test is worthy of an "A", but you know through experience that your grades won't be terrible if you put an appropriate effort forth.
Some of you don't exactly put an appropriate effort forth as often as you could. You know you won't ace every assignment/project/test, and you are ok with that. It happens.

In terms of my class, I know from experience that if you put a conscious effort forth you will get so much better while also having a lot more fun with the entire process. As you get better and accumulate points your grade "magically" gets - or stays - strong.

I know what you're saying, "it isn't about the grade (product), it's about the process", and I couldn't agree more. That's why you are amazing.
The good news is that if you pay attention to the process, the product will turn out just fine. Trust me, I'm a professional.

This is all a long-winded way of explaining that I am making a change.

I will no longer be emailing families with students earning lower than a C- at the end of a grading period.
The administration has requested that we teachers email each family - parent and student - at the end of each grading period to let them know if the student's grade has fallen below a C-. Actually, this "policy" has been in place for a very long time, but I want to publicly address it here.

I have been "obeying' this request every six weeks for as long as I can remember. While I never have a ton of students this concerns, I usually have six or so that are below the 70% threshold each grading period. Almost always this is due to lack of turning in work.

What most families don't know is that to email six families and explain the how and why of a low grade takes time. A month ago it took me over two hours.
This is two hours I was not able to lesson plan or build out Canvas or make a new instructional video or spend time on my art or spend time with my family.

I almost always get grades posted in Canvas within one day of assignments being turned in, and it is extremely rare for students to not have a grade and some feedback within one week of a due date.

In my experience, those families that have students earning low marks are generally aware of the type of student their child is anyway.
Those students - or families - that are not aware of a grade can only say it is because they haven't taken the time to make themselves aware. I am putting all of the information out there that I can.

If you are interested in your student's grade, please go on Canvas and have a look. Better yet, have your student go on Canvas and walk you through the interface and have a conversation with them about the system, their classes, and their grades.
Ask them what they are up to in their classes.
What are you painting for your oil painting?
What did you talk about regarding that book in English today?
Did you blow anything up in Chemistry? Why not?
You know, a conversation based on inquiry and curiosity.

I expect that a high school student that has been logging in to a website/app to see their grades for years can, and should, be well aware of how they are doing. They know when the due dates are because they are listed online, I remind them in class, and they see all of their peers turning in work on the due date.

My philosophy is that the students should take the responsibility to engage in that part of the course. I put a wealth of content out there for them to access, and they need to know how to navigate the web and be a proactive digital citizen. That's part of what they should be getting out of high school so they are all the more prepared for what they will experience once they graduate from our institution.

If you have additional questions about this change, please send me an email. I don't want to sound harsh or neglectful, and if we didn't have so much information so readily available this wouldn't be an issue, but since Canvas is so robust, well, I'm hoping you catch my drift at this point.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Little Glimpse

If you are interested in seeing some of the work that goes on in the art studios, you're in luck. This is just a tiny tiny sliver from each of the four Art levels here at LG that I could get in between doing demonstrations, helping students, grading, and prepping for the next thing.
By this point, much of this work is well behind us, but this will give you a glimpse of what the very end of Sept and/or the very beginning of Oct looked like.

If you have 4:30 to spare, enjoy.

Studio502 Update

We've gone through the stencils and the grisaille painting for Art 2's, and are on to bigger and longer term oil paintings for all of the advanced levels.
In Art 1 we are beginning our first forays with color, and will begin truly brainstorming what we will create with our first painting over the next couple of class periods.
Below are just a few photos of some of the things we have been up to. I hope to have a quickly edited video soon, so stay tuned...just don't hold your breath. Please.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


"I literally hate this rock, but I know the more that I work on it the better it will get."

A student working on her painting - before school - to a peer this morning. That's a good way to start the day, what with such a positive mindset and all.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Daily Splice

I don't even know how I found out about Adam Hale or his work under The Daily Splice theme/moniker, but I love it.

There is a wonderful story behind the images.

"The Daily Splice was started early in 2015 as a platform to share my analogue collage work, created using free weekly London magazines. There’s an immediacy to the work in which current topics, trends and affairs are given new context, turning something disposable into something of permanence."

Find something that is discarded by someone else, and make something fantastic out of it. What a great goal/objective/direction.

Here are a couple of example images.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

From The Jealous Curator

Since we are all getting in to our oil painting lesson(s), and since I just ran across this post, I thought I would direct your attention to these paintings since they are portraits...there are a few great close up images...and there are some wonderful ideas.
So here is Meghan Howland on The Jealous Curator.

New Artist of the Month

As we'll be going over Jeff Koons in all of the advanced classes I thought I would link to a couple of interesting articles here.
The first comes from Vice, that you can read HERE, and the second from Time.

Above you'll see the image you need to draw for this month's worksheet before taping it in your sketchbook, and below you'll see Mr. Koons and a few select pieces of his art.

Friday, October 9, 2015

College Rankings in the NYT

Because of my previous recommended reading, you had to know that when I saw this article staring back at me last week at my local Peet's, that my interest would be piqued.

Apparently the Obama administration has a new College Scorecard out. In all that this scorecard does, it certainly doesn't get to the "heart of the matter" in terms of telling you which institutions are "better" for your student/you. It certainly has a bias to it - which is unfortunate.

You should definitely read the entire article by James Stewart, and I'm really glad that he got the paycheck that the Scorecard focuses on out of the way and got someone to deal with "value added" colleges.
When that is done - because all of those liberal arts majors add so much to our society (really, would you want to live someplace where everyone was a scientist or engineer???), I find it interesting that there is yet another system that gives completely divergent rankings than even Scorecard or the woeful and highly flawed US New & World Report rankings.
The "top schools" become: Cogate, Carleton, Washington and Lee, Westmont, and Kenyon for the first five. The highest ranked Ivy was Brown at no. 45.

And the article closes with what is clearly the best quote coming from Jerry Z. Muller - who has studied the misuse of metrics in his research - saying that an obsession with college graduate earnings "is just the most recent example of a larger phenomenon, which is that the gathering of numerical information acts as a kind of wish fulfillment. If you have enough metrics and benchmarks, somehow people believe that's going to solve a major problem. It rarely does."

Such a good ending to a really interesting story.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Book Information

For those of you parents that were at back to school night I mentioned some of the books that have been on my "recently read" list.

One of the big highlights was by Frank Bruni and is Where yYou Go Is Not Who You'll Be so I thought I would put a link to it here in case you are interested.

Another book that I am still in the middle of, but is fantastic, is by a speaker I had the pleasure of hearing at a Challenge Success event at Stanford a few weeks ago. Below I'll put the link for Teach Your Children Well by Madeline Levine.

Both are excellent books and completely worth your time.