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Infusing the Arts in STEM.

Due to the fact that there is evidence that the arts play a significant part in developing areas of the brain that enhance learning in areas such as what STEM offers, there has been conversation about adding an arts component to the STEM acronym.

There is also interesting fodder regarding how the electronic tool has made music so much more accessible and varied (Byrne, David, 2012, How Music Works, McSweeney,'s [Todo Mondo], San Francisco, $40, ISBN: 9781936365531 [ebook also available].

What about the tool to do much of this? Is this an area that we as teacher librarians aren't maximizing? In examining what tools students find most helpful and use as their BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) choices, is this an area that we haven't examined well? Are we building curriculum around only the "factoid" of research rather than the emotional/creative avenue of research?

We can't touch much art or even describe it in words, but it allows us to give opportunity to how we perceive or even use information in different ways than the concept of the fact. So how has technology changed learning? And how has technology contributed to differentiated learning above and beyond the limited concept of what differentiated learning is all about.

A concrete example: Why not have students examine not only what was said at the recent presidential inauguration, but also the music used, the colors of the banners and the prints/colors of the men's' ties and women's' clothing (even down to their shoes). There are plenty of YouTube samples to help with this. Could technology not only quickly deliver this information but also allow for some thought into why these things appear as they do? Rather than just discuss the verbiage of what was said and how it was said, look into who sang what, when, and why. There are many who, what, when, where, why, and how questions to ask regarding all aspects of the event. Ask questions about the meal, the music, the colors, and so on. There is a vast amount of information that is readily available to students on their electronic devices that reflect the impact the arts are having, not only on their learning habits, but the messages sent by others using the arts. How about having students use the arts capacity of their tool to develop something that might be of influence to others?

Hurricane Sandy recently happened on the east coast of the United States and Canada. Images and music as well as words were sent via television, radio, YouTube, and many other electronically interesting ways. Tap into this rich connection to both current events and human interest stories and look to see how art influenced our way of thinking both about various public figures as well as the storm itself. All of this can be gathered together using one of our standard technology tools.

Now let's talk about Common Core(CC) and its issues regarding technology. Not only does it spell out the critical nature of using technology effectively, it even gives us a bit of a roadmap for doing this. But that isn't to say the CC has the only answer to using technology.

Look into technology and the arts, technology and learning, and the Common Core and arts and technology. For instance, there is a great tool that can be used to create lessons that reflect the issues of the CC. It takes the CC standards and breaks them down into manageable pieces that can be used to align what is happening in terms of learning and include elements that are assessable from the CC. By defining the elements you're looking for, which in this case is something regarding the arts, you define what you are looking for in terms of quality. Applying a rubric you are helped to create and based in CC expectations allows the student to know up front what expectations will be. Sharing what is learned from the lesson via technology can encompass collaboration between the classroom and the school library, collaboration between the student and the teacher, and collaboration between students. Here's the link: While it focuses upon an essay, I encourage you to consider variety in how you choose to use it. It will be available for free for a period of time, but then you will have to pay for use; however, it is worth looking into and using it at least for the free trial period.

A recent presentation by Mary Meeker of Kleiner, Perkins, Caufleld & Byers (KPCB--a venture capital company in investments in incubation and early stage companies,, suggests that students in our midst today are part of the "asset light generation" and will need to not only function in that world, but also present their information in enticing and meaningful ways that will speak to others in that generation. Meeker goes on to assert that "asset light" workers and consumers are the future to many. As you and I both know, we gravitate to that which is esthetically pleasing, and away from that which is not. Technology and the understanding of how it can be esthetically appealing are critical to student learning today.

You don't have to be well versed in "the arts" to do this. You are experiencing art all around you, as are your students. Incorporate it into their lesson and their learning. Allow them to show a creative side in what they learn and share.
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Title Annotation:SCHOOL LIBRARY TECH IDEAS; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
Author:Marcoux, Elizabeth "Betty"
Publication:Teacher Librarian
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2013
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