Archive for November, 2018

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Americans Who Tell the Truth in Syracuse

November 30, 2018

Just imagine

At Syracuse University this week all 238 Americans Who Tell the Truth portraits are being displayed. Many of the visual and performing arts faculty are involved in using the portraits as part of their fall curriculum. Several of the living portrait subjects were on hand for part of the week. I can only imagine what a sight this was for all of the visitors. AMAZING! An true testimony to the power of art! THANK YOU to artist Robert Shetterly for his amazing art and his willingness to share it with others. THANKS to Connie Carter, who works with AWTT for taking and sending the photo below which shows only a portion of the exhibit. It’s wonderful that this is taking place along with the two last blog posts on AWTT and the Samantha Smith Challenge.

 

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Caitlin Hunt’s Story

November 29, 2018

Samantha Smith Challenge

Thank you to Caitlin Hunt, Warsaw Middle School teacher, who shares an amazing story about her students participation in the Samantha Smith Challenge. Yesterday’s blog post provides an overview of Americans Who Tell the Truth and the Samantha Smith Challenge and how you can participate this year. This is a powerful statement that Caitlin shared from her experience of bringing art into her classroom: “Perhaps it is this empathy borne out of their art that helps them to better understand the true meaning of social justice.” Below is Caitlin’s, and her students, story in her own words…

Artist Robert Shetterly speaking to students

I have been a middle school teacher for 13 years, and I can honestly say that the Samantha Smith Challenge, (SSC) which my students and I participated in last year, provided some of the most important and exciting learning we have ever had in my class. SSC is a program of Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT) established by artist Robert Shetterly. Many of the 70 students I taught in my 8th grade social studies class last year were not academically motivated and struggled just to complete assignments. Many of them required considerable support, and had completely lost interest in school. However, I noticed those who had become apathetic were constantly drawing during my class and I realized that art might be a motivator for my students. At that time, I had no idea that bringing the arts into my social studies classes would dramatically improve my students’ knowledge, their confidence, and their ability to empathize with people in situations much different than their own. And perhaps it is this empathy borne out of their art that helps them to better understand the true meaning of social justice.

Student created flyer for gallery opening

UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

Together the students and I studied the United Nations document, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights as our anchor text. After they developed an in depth understanding of the 30 basic human rights outlined by the document, they chose the one that was most meaningful to them. Each student was charged with researching current events around the world, to see if the human right which they chose was being denied anyone, or any groups of people around the world. They focused in on this particular event, and learned as much about it as possible. It was interesting to me how much the information they discovered shocked them. Many of them had no idea about the extent of these injustices. After my students showed a full understanding of the injustice, they designed and created works of art, and wrote artist statements, based on their understanding of the denial of this human right.

Art in the Lobby

We titled our project You Be The Judge: Justice Through Art. Our mission statement, the art work, news and images of the students’ work in gallery displays, and our thank-yous can be viewed on the website the students and I created after we finished the project.

AUTHENTIC WORK

The students knew their work would be shown in at least one gallery display. We were fortunate to be able to set up our week long gallery display in an old school house that we named that currently serves as an office building in our town of Pittsfield. We named it Lancy Street Gallery. The students became docents, showing community members around the gallery, and explaining individual pieces to anyone visiting. Their understanding of

Bailey Working

this authentic audience, along with their commitment to the issues they researched, helped them create and participate in quality work throughout the project. We all worked extremely hard to complete pieces, edit artist statements, hang the gallery display, and show the work. What was so different about this project was that the students were no longer struggling with motivation. They saw the importance in what they were doing. They understood that they could teach their fellow community members. Their work reached beyond the local gallery we created with showings at the Universalist Meeting House in Pittsfield, Waterfall Arts  “Young Artists’ Gallery Takeover” exhibition in Belfast, and Art in the Lobby at Railroad Square Cinema in Waterville.

Holocaust and Human Rights Center, Augusta

Along the way, as we were in the thick of the rigorous work it takes to pull off a project like this, it was connections to the real world outside the classroom walls that kept us going. We were able to visit the Holocaust and Human Rights Center in Augusta that, at the time, had an amazing exhibit called America Now… A Dialogue. We also visited the Portland Museum of Art where students participated in case studies to look into other works of art connected to social justice.

VISIT FROM ROBERT SHETTERLY

Universalist Meeting House

As a part of participating in the Samantha Smith Challenge, artist Robert Shetterly visited our school. His talks inspired many students to dive deeper into the current events they found. He challenged them to look at situations from multiple perspectives and he helped make connections between my students and some of the “courageous citizens” he painted. These experts shared their first hand knowledge with my students. It was so powerful for the kids to hear from people who work on the front lines of the issues they had become so passionate about.

DISTRICT REQUIREMENTS

Visit to Portland Museum of Art

Before we started the project I identified the district standard we would be addressing throughout, “researching, selecting, and presenting a position on a current social studies issue by proposing and revising research questions, and locating and selecting information from multiple and varied sources.” I used our district learning targets, to create a rubric for assessment. In order to meet standards, students had to do the following: 1. Summarize and interpret information found in varied sources and from fieldwork, experts, and interviews. 2. Distinguish between primary and secondary sources. 3. Evaluate and verify the credibility of the information found in print and non-print sources. 4. Make individual and collaborative decisions on matters related to social studies using relevant information and research and discussion skills. Of course, along the way we participated in mini-lessons geared towards each part of these learning targets as well.

HIGH EXPECTATIONS LEAD TO PRIDE

Jackson, Docent at Lancy Street Gallery

After completion of the entire project, I sat down one weekend to assess their work using the rubric I had created at the beginning. When I came back to school on Monday, I told the students how fun and exciting it was to assess their work. Authentic, real-world application of their knowledge had earned nearly all them 4s or “exceeds standards” on their work. I told them I felt like Oprah doling out 4s instead of cars, “You get a 4, and you get a 4, and you get a 4!” Although, as I write this, I realize how ironic the term “exceeds standards” is. It was always my expectation that students would apply their new found knowledge in a real world situation; that was the whole point of the project. If we set our expectations high, students will rise to meet them, and then we can all be proud of the work we accomplish. Perhaps one of the most difficult, yet important parts of teaching is finding a way to inspire students to rise to those expectations. The Samantha Smith Challenge helped provide that inspiration for my students.

Part of the exhibit at Waterfall Arts, Belfast

Lancy St. Gallery Pittsfield

Ruby Working

Lancy Street Gallery Pittsfield

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Samantha Smith Challenge

November 28, 2018

Americans Who Tell the Truth

Americans Who Tell the Truth and MAMLE are excited to announce that the registration for the 2018-19 Samantha Smith Challenge (SSC) is now open! As we launch the fifth year of the Challenge, we are excited to know that middle school students across Maine will be tackling important issues and modeling for all of us what it means to be an engaged citizen.
What is the Samantha Smith Challenge?
The Samantha Smith Challenge (SSC) is an American Who Tell the Truth (AWTT), MAMLE & Thomas College Initiative designed to build a bridge between the classroom and the world, teaching students to identify, study, and work to solve the challenges and problems they see around them in their communities. Participants will hear from past SSC participants and learn how to bring the Samantha Smith Challenge to their classrooms and help students use the curriculum to turn global concerns into positive action while connecting to standards.
This year’s focus
We are especially enthusiastic that this year’s SSC will focus on the different aspects of individual and group identities as students learn to become engaged, change-making citizens. We are asking SSC students to think first about their own identity, considering identities that, for the most part, are unchangeable — race, ethnicity, gender, age — and also those identities they can choose –beliefs, clothing styles, groups they join, issues they engage, etc. How do these characteristics affect expectations they have for themselves and expectations others have for them?
Then, as they look around, in their community or across the state, nation, and world, think about these identities and expectations affect others. How does this combination of identify and expectation connect to the justice and equity issues they see?
This year’s celebration
Mark your calendars for this year’s celebration which will be held on Monday, June 3, 2018. Besides having the opportunity to share important work on many social justice issues, there will be a great program that emphasizes how important youth activism is to our world.

As in past years, Robert Shetterly and I will be available to do workshops with your students. It is always a highlight to meet your students and experience their energy for their chosen issues.

REGISTER

We look forward to working with you and your students as you engage in the Fifth Samantha Smith Challenge! Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns.
Tomorrow’s blog post is provided by a teacher whose classroom participated in the Samantha Smith Challenge.
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Fall Into Dance

November 27, 2018

Community Dance Performance

One hundred and forty young dancers representing twelve schools and studios participated in the 4th annual Fall Into Dance performance at Thornton Academy on November 16. It was an amazing evening filled with energy, variety, and thought provoking dances. Students were confident, skilled, fun and serious. They danced with their hearts and it was clear that they were invested and passionate about their dancing. I was reminded over and over about how critical dance education is to the development of each young person. I was very impressed!

A great big THANK YOU to Emma Arnestam Campbell, Thornton Academy dance teacher, and Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader (MAL), for her time and energy behind helping to establish this yearly performance. And, thank you to the many dance educators, instructors, and parents who help make the performance possible. And, the students who have dance in their hearts!

The money raised goes directly to the Maine Arts Commission Dance Education Grant. This year, in spite of the snowy weather, the event raised $3,810.00. To date the dance education grant has awarded $17,421.00. Dancers Making a Difference contributing one year to this grant in addition to the funds raised by Fall Into Dance. All of this money goes directly to schools to create a dance education opportunity that works towards establishing dance education programs.

The grant will be available this winter, watch for the announcement in this blog and the weekly email to the arts education list-serv. (Consider subscribing to this blog on the right side of this page so you don’t miss the announcement).

To learn more about the Maine Arts Commission Dance Education grant please go to THIS LINK

Students from the following participated:

  • Berwick Academy
  • Brixham Danceworks
  • Community Dance Project
  • Dance Moves Maine
  • Drouin Dance Center
  • Exchange Street Studio
  • Miss Annabelle’s Dance
  • New England Dance Project
  • Portland Youth Dance
  • Steppin’ Out Dance Center
  • Studio for the Living Arts Dance Complex
  • Thornton Academy

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Critical Friend Days

November 26, 2018

Maine Arts Leadership Initiative

What happens when you bring together arts teachers, teaching artists, and arts leaders who are committed to arts education? An opportunity for all to learn at a very high level. On October 13 and November 13 – both rainy days and one a little snowy – educators traveled from all parts of the state for the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Critical Friend Days.

CRITICAL FRIEND DAY

Critical Friend Day provides an opportunity for MALI educators to share their “Logic Model” work that has been underway since the summer institute and for some before that time. Each educator has taken on a challenge that they wish to work on and devise a plan to solve the challenge. They share their projects to date and get feedback from “critical friends”.

Some of the topics:

  • Collaboration & Emotional Intelligence
  • Poetry and Improv Play Together!
  • Empty Bowls- Nourished Hearts!
  • Increasing Art Instruction at the Elementary Level
  • Authentic Pre-Assessment
  • Dance, Sculpture, Our Ocean
  • Self-Care in Education
  • Quality Elementary Music for ME
  • Math and Music : The Leonardo Effect
  • Theater Today, Building the Foundation
  • Valley K-12 Art Curriculum

In addition to sharing their Logic Models other educators are invited to take on the role of “critical friend” that we define this way: “critical” – expressing or involving an analysis of the merits and faults of a work of literature, music, or art. “Friend” – a person who gives assistance. Both are done in a direct and gentle helpful way. Feedback from the day includes: We want the teacher leaders to create the best work possible so please be honest in your feedback. Thanks so much for your participation!

FEEDBACK

MALI education leaders and invited critical friends often say that the day is their favorite one of the year. A few comments from the participants are included below.

  • I thought it was a wonderful opportunity to hear and see what educators are doing across the state.
  • I LOVE hearing about what people are doing.
  • For Theater Today I certainly struggled with what I wanted to present and what I wanted for feedback. I found just putting it all out there and having a supporting critical friend room was wonderful and filled with growth. For Poetry and Improv this work keeps showing its beautiful placement.
  • It was good to see how committed these presenters are to their work as teaching artists. I was also impressed by how articulately they talked about their work and how it serves their students.

The day ended with an opportunity to do theater improv lead by MALI Teaching Artist Leader Nicole Cardano. The group created a “Dragon” which you can see in the video below.

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Portland Community Chorus

November 25, 2018

Rob Westerberg, conductor

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Bangor Symphony Orchestra

November 24, 2018

Opportunities for young people

YOUNG PEOPLE’S CONCERT

The 2019 Bangor Symphony Orchestra invites students in grades 3 – 8 to attending the Young People’s Concert at the Collins Center for the Arts: Monday, May 20, 2019, 10:00 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. Lucas Richman, Music Director and Conductor for the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, has made it his mission to instill in young children the awareness of music as an integral part of their lives. This year’s concert theme is “Orchestral Stories”. Each selection will display how composers use the orchestra to tell a story through the unique arrangements of musical notes, gestures and instrumentation. Orders are filled on a first come, first serve basis.

  • Richard Strauss – Also Sprach Zarathrustra
  • Lucas Richman – Playground Escapades
  • TBD – Winner of the Maine High School Concerto Competition
  • Paul Schoop – The Wishing Tree
  • Ludwig van Beethoven – Allegro con brio from Symphony no. 5
  • Leonard Bernstein – Mambo from West Side Story

The hour-long education and music program is supplemented with an instructional packet for students and teachers providing information about the orchestra and the selections that will be featured. Concerts are open to public, private, and homeschooled children.

Tickets are $3 each for students and teachers. We will fulfill orders on a first come, first serve basis.Reservations should be requested by Friday, March 30, 2019, and can be made by phone, fax, or mail.

Box Office
5746 Collins Center for the Arts
University of Maine
Orono, ME 04469-5746
Phone: 207.581.1755 Toll free: 800.622.8499 Fax: 207.581.4690

MUSICIAN IN YOUR CLASSROOM

Have a BSO musician come to your classroom! You are invited to be part of a pilot program that would bring a BSO musician to your classroom prior to the Young People’s Concert to give a personal introduction to the symphony and a brief overview of the concert you will be attending. There is no cost for YPC attendees for this program. Availability of musicians for a potential visit may be limited and will be determined on a first-come, first-served basis. If you are interested, please email katie@bangorsymphony.org.

BANGOR SYMPHONY YOUTH ORCHESTRA

Please spread the word to eligible students that the Bangor Symphony Youth Orchestra is holding Winter Admission Auditions on January 10th. Please click here for more information or to apply. Winds, brass, strings and percussion all needed.

MAINE HIGH SCHOOL CONCERTO COMPETITION

Deadline for applications for the Maine High School Concerto Competition is coming up on January 18th. Click here for more information or to apply.

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