I had a GREAT day today at the Oklahoma A+ Schools annual conference. I’ll be posting a new photo set to Flickr tomorrow with images of the conference. Of all the educational organizations in Oklahoma I have encountered to date, A+ “gets it” more than any others in terms of the pedagogical reforms we need to see in schools. “The “eight essential commitments” are at the heart of the A+ philosophy, and include a focus on:

  1. Arts
  2. Curriculum
  3. Multiple Intelligences
  4. Experiential Learning
  5. Enriched Assessment
  6. Collaboration
  7. Infrastructure
  8. Climate

In addition to recording part of the opening ceremony at today’s conference, which was quite moving and inspirational, I also recorded about six interviews with different organizational representatives that sponsored booths at the conference. In contrast to many conferences, which are open to any vendor, the A+ conference requires that vendors justify how their educational products or services specifically address and meet their pedagogical commitments.

The A+ Schools organization is a participant and contributor to the Oklahoma Creativity Project, which kicked off in 2006 with an inspirational presentation by Sir Ken Robinson If you haven’t seen his 2006 TED Talk presentation exploring the question, “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” take time to view it.

I am SO enthused to connect with so many other passionate educators in our state, motivated to make a positive difference each day in the lives of school children and ALSO work to improve the overall climate, culture, and everyday practices of schools! As the state education Arts Director Glen Henry said in the opening video, “Now is the time.” Now is the time for school reform to move forward, and there aren’t many ideas and goals better than CREATIVITY and ENCOURAGING CREATIVITY to put at the center of the school reform agenda.

Long live creativity in schools! Wahoo for using the arts in all content areas for learning! 🙂

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4 Responses to Great day with Oklahoma A+ Schools

  1. Eric Hoefler says:

    This does sound very encouraging, and I especially appreciate the focus on the arts! I look forward to learning more about this through your blog, and hopefully seeing this kind of positive reform in other parts of the nation. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Gary Stager says:

    How does a school in Oklahoma earn a B?

  3. Wesley Fryer says:

    I’m thinking that question was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but I’ll offer an answer– formally schools are graded here as in other places, standardized test scores rule and determine “school quality” in the eyes of the state, and sadly in the eyes of many parents who believe that test scores do indicate quality rather than reflect mostly the socio-economic demographics of the student population. This organization has taken the name “A+” and the idea is that if teachers in an entire school follow the “committments” of the organization, the learning experience will be “A+” quality for students. At least that’s my understanding.

  4. Tina Steele says:

    Wes – thanks so much for posting this site! I wish I would have known about the conference! I am sharing this link with my husband, who is an art teacher, here in rural Oklahoma. I love that they use Gardner’s multiple intelligence’s. I want to explore this more. I am anxious to more thoroughly look through your notes and post on this conference! Tina

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