Posts Tagged ‘science’

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Creativity and Common Core

March 21, 2014

Professional Development Workshop for Maine Teachers – April 1

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Lesley University’s Creative Arts in Learning Division proposes to offer a professional development workshop for teachers in your district focusing on creatively implementing the Common Core State Standards. The 2-hour workshop will introduce teachers to strategies for designing curriculum and pedagogy that utilize creative processes across the disciplines to implement Common Core State Standards.  Just one example is preparing students to “actively seek the wide, deep, and thoughtful engagement with high-quality literary and informational texts [drawn from all of the arts] that builds knowledge, enlarges experience, and broadens worldviews.”[i]   The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education points out that it is important to select “informational texts and multimedia resources to create coherent curriculum units that link science, social studies [and] the arts.” [ii]   This workshop is offered at no cost to the district.

Design of the Program

The district-wide professional development workshop will be offered for teachers across disciplines and grade levels.  The workshop will focus on creative strategies to support teachers in integrating creative movement, drama, music, poetry, storytelling, and visual arts into teaching and learning activities.  At the conclusion of the workshop, teachers will have the opportunity to imagine creative project-based learning activities that meet Common Core State Standards in their classrooms.

The Creativity and Common Core workshop is designed to address best practices in education that Cambridge’s Superintendent Young identified in his district’s 2011 Innovation Agenda.  These include “engaging students in project-based and experiential learning, interdisciplinary curriculum and instruction … and providing professional support for teachers to provide effective differentiated instruction.”

Workshop Leader

Martha McKenna is University Professor and Director of the Creativity Commons at Lesley University. A senior administrator of the University for 27 years, Dr. McKenna founded the Creativity Commons in 2011 to support innovation in teaching and learning.  The Creativity Commons is committed to active learning, scholarly research, critical inquiry, and diverse forms of artistic practice through the development of close mentoring relationships with students, faculty, and practitioners in the field.


[i] Introduction: Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects.  Common Core State Standards Initiative: Preparing America’s Students for College and Career. 2012.  p. 3.

[ii] Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Resources for Implementing The Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks

in 2012-2013.

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The Science of Learning

April 26, 2012

How much is too much?

Practice makes perfect or does it help to really learn something. For a short period I gave end of unit “tests” to see if students had learned the concepts and skills related to the artwork. This was often very separate from assessing their art work.

In an article written by Annie Murphy-Paul she discusses the idea of practicing and how much it takes to really learn something, overlearn it, learning beyond mastery. Scientists are studying how the brain performs when learning something new and the continuous process of learning. I wonder how this information relates to teaching and learning in the classroom setting considering most arts educators see students for relatively short time each week. And how much impact the student who works individually “practicing”?! You can read the entire article by clicking here.

Thank you to friend and colleague Anne Kofler for sharing this article.

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Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge

February 27, 2012

February 3, 2012 Science

In a special issue, Colin Norman, News Editor of Science, reports on the entries for the 2011 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge.

Metabolomic Eye, Bryan W. Jones (Photography - 1st Place)

The challenge has taken place for the past 9 years and is sponsored by the National Science Foundation and The purpose is to “promote cutting-edge efforts to visualize scientific data, principles, and ideas—skills that are critical for communication among scientists and between scientists and the general public, especially students.”

Imagine, creating images for communication? Sound familiar? This is taken from

Chapter 132 Maine Learning Results: Parameters for Essential Instruction- Visual Arts B3 Making Meaning, Pre-K-2: Students create art works that communicate ideas and feelings and demonstrate skill in the use of meida, tools, and techniques.

This year there were 212 entries from 33 countries. The finalists were selected and posted and visitors were asked to select their favorite. The “People’s Choice” was selected by the 3200 votes that came in. The winners are posted on an online slide show at http://scim.ag/y41Bht or at www.nsf.gov/news/scivis. You can read the entire article at http://www.sciencemag.org/content/335/6068/525.full.

The National Science Foundation encourages entries and the competition opens May 31, 2012. You can find information on their website (2nd link above).

Thank you to my colleague, Peter Bernard, at the Maine Department of Education, for sharing the link to this information.

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Fruit Street School Artists

February 5, 2012

Bangor third graders create like the Masters

I must admit that I have always had high expectations of my students and most often they live up to those expectations. A project I recently did with my third grade classes at Fruit Street School has blown my socks off. They far exceeded anything that I thought would be capable of this age group. Not just one class of students but all four of my third grade classes and not just a few students in each room but all students. I give credit of the idea to a fifth grade class from Bangor Christian School which explored this creative lesson last year.

We began by viewing various artworks by numerous Master artists. I collected at least 3 or 4, 8 by 10 reproductions of around 35 artists and we viewed and discussed the styles and techniques of the diverse work comparing similarities and differences. Students were then paired into groups. The partners were asked to select their top 3 or 4 pieces of art work that they would like to paint. For three sessions the students created 18 by 24 size paintings fashioned after their selected reproduction. They worked on the same painting, first they drew the work to scale and then matched the colors and textures that the artist used. Their teamwork was amazing. The third graders were excited to experiment mixing the tempera paints to match the artists colors as well as mimicking the textures the artists portrayed which were a great learning experiences. Students dabbled, smoothed, dotted, and blended using various size paint brushes and swabs.

The excitement the students exhibited was contagious, exclaiming they felt like real artists. The pride they felt contributed to the atmosphere. They were always on task with quiet conversation about what they were doing. They were eager to listen to directions on how to make the “right” colors or the “right” proportions or textures to make their work look like the actual artists work. The works the students created are PHENOMENAL. Their enthusiasm, exhilaration, and pleasure were contagious. They could hardly wait to come back to the art room and I could barely wait until they did. Right now the 25 paintings are hanging in the school’s lobby next to the artists’ reproductions.

In the next steps the students will be researching their artist and their work from books that were purchased through an art fundraiser held last year. The few artist books not available in our library were loaned to us from other school libraries, the Bangor Public Library as well as University libraries. The students will work on their biographies for about three weeks and then will present an artist share and exhibition where one of the two team members will dress like the artist and the other student will become the artwork and they will converse with each other giving the viewer knowledge of both.

To add animation an oval will be cut out of the painting large enough for the student to put his or her face through. The students face will be painted with face paint to become part of the painting. We will collaborate wtih students from Bangor High School art club and University of Maine art students to help with the face painting. Anticipation is building for this event which will take place on the afternoon of Thursday, February 16th where the third grade artists will present their artist share and exhibition to other students at the school and to their parents.

The learning accomplishments are many in this project that supports the importance of the wide platform of art beginning with discussion of various artworks, decision making, and cooperative working. Besides the process of creating and the production of a visual piece of art, mathmatical skills were practiced by reproducing an 8 by 10 image to an 18 by 24 image. The science of color mixing was a constant triumph the students experienced as well as the capability to create various textures with paint. Researching information on the artist and the art work will expand the students’ knowledge of biographical research which is part of their third grade curriculum. The students will need to accurately record information and transcribe it to an interesting oral presentation. Their ability to converse with another student will strengthen their communication skills. I am extremely proud of my third grade students whose capabilities went beyond proficiency.

Thank you to Wendy Libby, Fruit Street, Bangor art teacher, for sharing this post including the pictures of the student artwork.

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Art/Science Connection

January 2, 2012

New Year cleaning up time

During the past few days while on vacation I have been slowly boxing up my holiday “stuff” and putting it away in the attic for another year. I enjoy packing it up almost as much as I like to unpack it in early December. The difference is that not all of it goes back where it came from. I find that the packing leads to rearranging items in my home and make several piles; yard sale, town thrift shop, dump, give-away, and save for my children. I easily get side-tracked and end up sewing, reading, creating, and putting items up on the wall. At the end of each day I go to bed exhausted and wonder where the day went.

My clean-up mode continued today on my computer. Those of you that know me well are aware of my LOVE for “stickies” on my Mac. Yup, I went through and deleted a bunch of them and organized them by color and size. I spent some time on the meartsed blog and made some deletions as well. I found 24 drafts for blog posts. During the next few days I will publish some of the drafts. This is one…

I have published a couple of posts on “doodling”. One was a TED talk by Sunni Brown who leads the Doodle Revolution – a growing effort to debunk the myth that doodling is a distraction. Sunni’s wrtten a book called GameStorming: A Playbook for Rule-breakers, Innovators and Changemakers.

A second post called Doodling in Math Class which talks about mathemusicians. It is not only fun but a great view at how some people learn best through music and math. There is a video at this blog post where you’ll see Vi Hart eating candy buttons like a recreational mathemusician.  If you missed it when it was originally posted on January 6, 2011 I suggest you check it out now. And, of course go to her site where you can learn so many ideas.

The last post on doodling that is archived is a story about Robert Redford and his doodling experience. The post is from July 11, 2010.

So, here is one more on the topic of doodling. It is from an August 26, 2011 blog entry in, Teaching Now, written by Liana Heitin. Research has been done that suggests that drawing helps students understand science concepts, and should be used to complement writing, reading, and talking in science education. The post is called Don’t Forget to Show Your Doodles. I hope you have a chance to read the post. It has many points that you might want to share with colleagues.

I am certainly glad I had the chance to complete this blog post!

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