MAT Blog

Using the Blues to Teach Standards-Based Curriculum

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Nov 16, 2012 2:15:37 PM

standards based curriculumWhen Jon Schwartz broke out his guitar and started plucking old blues tunes in front of his first-grade class, he never imagined that he’d eventually be forming a band with them. Nor did he imagine that this random jam session would be the impetus for a standards-based curriculum—one that would use the blues to uphold reading, writing, speech, social studies, math and technology standards.

Impossible, you say. Not in the least. 

In Schwartz’ class, students engage in sing-alongs to help them build their vocabulary and sound out multi-syllable words with fluency and correct intonation. Geography and social studies lessons trace Greyhound bus tours along with the lives and culture of those who rode them. Then, when it’s math time, Schwartz has students draw their own tour bus to illustrate the illusion of depth, placement and size.

Once they’re done with this, each student scans his or her art into the classroom computer, edits it in Photoshop and uploads it to their own personal blog where parents can read and comment. Inspiring, isn’t it?

To learn more about Schwartz’ methodology, check out his website, Kids Like Blues.






Our students love technology, but educators often wonder how mat_technology_webinar_nov2012they can:

  • Keep up with technology when it changes so rapidly?
  • Know what tools they should use?
  • Work around Internet filtering? 
  • Use technology to nurture relationships with parents?

If you’ve ever asked yourself any of these questions, we are inviting you to attend Ten Common Challenges, a FREE webinar presented by award-winning teacher and technologist Richard Byrne.  As a secondary educator and Google Certified Teacher, Byrne is a presenter who speaks from an “in the trenches” perspective, offering practical, easily-implemented solutions any teacher can use right away.

Join us on November 27th at 3:30 pm for our FREE webinar. Register Now!

Tags: the blues, arts integration, standards-based outcomes

Extensions of the Classroom: Fruits of your Classroom Labors

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Oct 11, 2011 5:10:00 AM

As we’ve discussed in previous posts, an extension of the classroom is simply a way to support what is being taught by a teacher in class when a student is outside of class: at home, on vacation or on a field trip. In a daily lesson plan, teachers can recommend and encourage an extension for what the child is learning.

Extensions may involve an outside resource such as a computer lab, the library, or even parents who are willing to help a child with extra activities. Sometimes an extension of the classroom can make all the difference to a student who is struggling with a lesson. Tactile learners, for example, need to touch and feel a concept before it is truly absorbed.

We'd like to follow up on last week's post about extending the classroom through field trips with this new video blog. Since I recently had the opportunity to attend a field trip to the apple orchard with my daughter, Sedona, I was interested to see how her teacher would tie the trip to classroom discussions or experiences.

The connection was obvious as I started to see the groundwork being laid in the week prior to the trip. One day, Sedona brought a project home that she eagerly explained; it told a story about the process of planting and growing an apple tree.

Sedona may not yet grasp the finer details about germination or pollination, but she sure understands the general process and has connected her understanding to the physical world around her. The extension of the classroom is less about mastery and more about establishing an authentic connection between in-class learning and the real world. Remember to always link motivational activities, like an "apple unit" to state standards, learning outcomes and developmentally appropriate practice. 

For more apple theme or “apple unit” ideas, many teachers love Teaching Heart.

The weather in Michigan is never predictable, but we could not have asked for a more beautiful day! Take a look at our video where Sedona explains how we end up with apples. And when you’re done, make sure you download our Free Extension of the Classroom Guide. It’s packed with creative, time-saving approaches from world class teachers. Have a great fall and make the most of your opportunity to extend the classroom for your learners.

 -Dreu Adams, Director of eCommerce Marketing, Marygrove College Master in the Art of Teaching (MAT) Program

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Tags: downloads, Extension of the Classroom, standards-based outcomes, K-12 classroom, apple unit, free field trips, daily lesson pla

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