Making, Art(s) and Design Career Connections

In the third meeting of the Making, Art(s) and Design Inquiry Group we continued feedback and support on Portfolio and Reflection practices, introduced Career Connections and discussed how these can be applied in a cross-curricular way throughout different grades and classes.

career readinessFeedback on Portfolio & Reflection Processes
During the first ten minutes of the Inquiry Group we checked in with teachers about the ongoing portfolio and reflection practices, and discussed any setbacks, issues or successes. As this is a new model for documenting students’ work, the process will certainly take a while to fully implement, but already staff and students in most Inquiry Group classes have been following the website and reflection template and, in some cases, the Critique Protocol has been tested out. A challenge however remains, and that is how to introduce Documentation and Portfolio Reflection in certain classes, due either to subject matter or grade level. For example, in Kindergarten it might be preferable to arrange for a physical journal with images and written reflections, rather than an online platform. As mentioned earlier, this is a new process for many teachers, and our goal is to steadily reach a sustainable, organic, and efficient process, not just with Making, Art(s) and Design, but with other classes and grade levels.

Career Connections
After the feedback, we moved on to discuss the importance of building Career Connections with students and helping them understand their options when it comes to college and employment. The following quote is taken from “Getting Ready For College Careers, and the Common Core”:

“The goal is not to have students pick occupations, but to have them begin to make stronger connections between what they are learning and what they are interested in doing with their lives”

This brought on the following reflections:

  • How can we, as a school, prepare students in a focused way for college/careers, without pigeonholing or limiting their choices?
  • How can we create a single cross-curricular program (pathway) that is applied to every student, and gives them the necessary support?
  • How early should we introduce this program (pathway)?

Our Career and College Counselor, Josh Weintraub, shared an article from Converge in order to introduce us to a model pathway. A pathway is typically a four-year program that offers students technical skills as well as rigorous academics, and it is usually based on industry themes like engineering, arts, maths etc….A pathway program is the latest answer to the problem of how to instill modern, real-world skills and a career-focused education for our students. Similar concepts to pathways, already in place in more traditional settings, are CTE (Career Technical Education) and Career Academies. A successful pathway provides:

  • courses on-par with college preparation (English, Maths, Science, History etc…)
  • technical skills
  • work-based learning (i.e. mentoring, job-shadowing, internships etc…)
  • personalized student support

Our challenge, especially in such a small school, is to be able to provide a pathway suitable for all students, giving them the support they need. We should especially look closely at our Graduate Profile, and work backward from there to create a valid pathway in tune with our norms and values.

Next Steps
To wrap up our meeting, we reviewed the Work Based Learning Continuum and ackno wledged what is already in place at Lighthouse that connects learning to career pathways. At LCPS we provide students with ongoing visiting mentors and guest artists; we organize a “Manufacturing Day” in which we visit manufacturing companies; we partner with MOCHA to create art shows with students’ work on display; we participate in Maker Faires around the Bay Area.
Our goals for the future are to create specific Learning Targets for Career Readiness, conduct more hands-on projects with professionals such as interviews and fieldwork, organize a portfolio panel with guests, off-campus concerts for the music class, and try to move into job-shadowing for the students.

Anna Milada Grossi is currently an Americorps VISTA Project Coordinator, serving through MakerEd at Lighthouse Community Public School. She is assisting in the Making, Art, Design and Lighthouse Creativity Lab Programs.