Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category


STEAM in Poland

September 22, 2016


img_4192xThank you to Poland Community School art educator, Jonathan Graffius who shared the following information on the summer “STREAM camp” that took place in RSU16. As you will read it was a fabulous opportunity for elementary school student to dive deep into the connections between science, technology, reading, engineering, the arts, and math. During February break 2016 Jonathan designed a STEAM camp so this next step was built on what he learned from that first experience. A meartsed blog post on the STEAM camp is at THIS LINK.

For the STREAM camp, Jonathan designed the concept and the art projects, as well as, making the contacts at the Maine Wildlife park, but there was a team approach to providing the instruction and assessments related to reading, writing and math.  The funding came from a grant that was written by the RSU16 assistant superintendent who also assembled the entire instructional team. Since Jonathan states up front that his expertise is not in reading and writing, therefore he sees the benefits of bringing the staff together who specialize  in literacy and its related classroom instruction. The team worked extremely well together and developed a “center” approach to the STREAM camp instruction that brought individualized literacy instruction to the project. 

RSU 16 SUMMER SCHOOL EXPERIENCE  – In Jonathan’s own words…img_3586

This summer, RSU 16 received a grant allowing Title I students entering grades 3 and 4 to participate in a unique and engaging 4 week STEAM experience. Our goal was to maintain spring reading scores, while providing an engaging program that focused on researching, reading, writing, and creating art based on the animals who live at the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray, Maine. Throughout this program, students positively responded to literacy instruction, participated in a variety of engineering projects, received small group instruction, went on field trips to gather information to influence their work, and were given individualized instructional time with teachers from multiple backgrounds. The staff consisted of classroom teachers, literacy specialists, general education and special education ed techs. Together the team brought their expertise and experience to deliver instruction through center rotations and three highly engaging field trips to the Maine Wildlife Park.

img_3705Each morning students were greeted with a written building challenge. Students were allowed to work individually or in small groups. Students primarily used wooden blocks and craft sticks to solve the daily building challenges, which involved architectural concepts like column, post, beam, cantilever, arch, and span. Building challenges included specific criteria that allowed for a personal aesthetic and individualized problem-solving. These engaging challenges also required students to apply math skills, primarily through the measuring and recording of data, such as height, number of blocks, span distances, and carrying weight, in their science journals. All of the finished products were photographed.

We gathered every morning after our building challenge to conduct a morning meeting. Following components from the responsive classroom model, morning meeting was an important part of every day because it allowed us to become comfortable and familiar with one another, make connections, share information on a personal level, and build our classroom community. During morning meeting, each student was greeted by name and often had the opportunity to share information about themselves to the whole group. Before our meeting ended, the group collectively reviewed the expectations that were drafted by the students on the first day of meeting each other. Students and teachers signed their name in agreement of the expectations, holding everyone accountable for their actions and words. This familiar routine of welcoming and accepting one another each morning helped set a comfortable, safe, and productive tone for the rest of the day.

img_4088After morning meeting, students broke off into four different groups (which were determined by reading performance data) to rotate among four different centers. Our centers included guided reading groups, phonics focus groups, writing workshop, and art. Through small group center rotations, students were able to receive more focused instruction to meet their academic needs.

At writing workshop, students used iPads and laptops to research information about the animal they had chosen to study from the Wildlife Park. Students wrote poems, riddles, and informational pieces about their animal’s habitat. Students used graphic organizers, wrote drafts in their science notebooks, revised and edited their work with support from their teachers, and all ended up having three pieces of writing published in our final, collaborative anthology of the animals we studied at Maine Wildlife Park.

img_4251When students went to the guided reading group center, they were able to receive direct reading instruction at their level while reading a variety of nonfiction texts. Students were supported by reviewing and practicing reading strategies, listening to each other read, and by writing facts about what they learned from their reading in their individual reading notebooks. Students also had the opportunity to use iPads as a technology resource to read or listen to stories and to take comprehension quizzes about the books they were reading right on their device. Using the guided reading model gave the students the opportunity to recall and reinforce skills learned throughout the school year. Our data showed that students had regressed from the end of the school year to the beginning of the summer program. Our work together helped students get back to where they had ended the school year.

img_3922During the phonics focus group, students participated in a variety of vocabulary and word work activities that related to the animal research they were doing for their writing. Students learned visual and oral cues to match all the vowel teams to bump their sounding out skills to the next level. Practice reviewing phonemic sounds and patterns influenced their reading decoding and performance. Students also read silly animal rhyming poems to recognize and read spelling patterns, as well as talk about their animals and what they were learning through their research.

During the visual arts center, students had the opportunity to be creative in a multitude of ways using a large variety of mediums. Students created works of art that related to their chosen animal and its habitat. Student-led inquiry and research provided a solid foundation for realistic and objective representation in their works of art. All students completed representational drawings, “painted-paper” collages, hand-built clay sculptures, and folded paper trioramas of their animal’s habitat. Many students also used digital cameras, iPads and other portable electronic devices to visually record their observations and experiences from their perspective.

img_3676We also were able to utilize our reading specialist during our center rotations as a resource for our most at-risk students. She was able to pull students for 1:1 reading to help them maintain their spring reading scores.

All students contributed research, writing and art work on a chosen animal at the Maine Wildlife Park that was published in their collaborative book Maine Animals–Their Stories. Learning extended beyond the school walls as students had the opportunity to take three field trips to Maine Wildlife Park and observe their animals firsthand. Students filled the role of field researchers at the park, receiving guided tours with volunteer park guides who answered students’ questions about their chosen animal. At the Park, students also photographed their animals in their habitats and took notes in their science journal. Through expeditionary primary research, students gained an authentic purpose to their research, writing and art.

img_4022The grant that was allocated to RSU 16 stated that 90% of our students would maintain their Fountas and Pinnell reading level at the end of the 2015-2016 school year. Students were able to meet this goal through the use of our STEAM model.

Jonathan will be on the STEAM panel at the Maine International Conference on the Arts, sponsored by the Maine Arts Commission on Friday, October 7, at the Bates Mill, Lewiston. The STEAM panel is one of 4 sessions in the education strand being held that day. There are 3 other arts strands along with other opportunities taking place that day and the pre MICA conference for arts educators on Thursday, October 6. To learn more and to register please CLICK HERE or contact me at


Pecha Kucha in Waterville

September 21, 2016

October 1


Held in collaboration with Maine Craft Weekend at the Waterville Opera House on October 1st.

PechaKucha Night Waterville (PK WTVL) Volume 22 promises to be the craftiest PechaKucha Night yet! Held in collaboration with Maine Craft Weekend, all PK WTVL V22 presentations will feature a wide variety of craft stories — including a presentation focused on the history of the Hathaway shirt factory presented by a former Hathaway employee. This will be a night to remember, not a night to miss! PechaKucha Night Waterville is scheduled for Saturday, October 1, 2016 at the Waterville Opera House with presentations starting at 7:20 PM. This event is free and open to the public.

The PK WTVL Volume 22 presenters are Lisa Eaton, Lee Folsom, Laurie LaBar, Johanna Moore, Jennifer Olsen, Nicholas Rossi, Claire Unsinn, and Geoffrey Warner. The event will feature a wide variety of craft stories including hand forged knives, furniture design, historical frame making, Franco-American history in quilted portraits, bow tie making, history of the Hathaway shirt factory and more. Waterville Creates! board President Larry Sterrs will be the emcee. PechaKucha Night Waterville volume 22 will be a fantastic night of merriment, community, storytelling, creativity, and celebration!

PK WTVL is Waterville’s connection to a global storytelling network of creative people sharing their creative muse in 20×20 (20 images showing for 20 seconds each). For more than six years, PK WTVL has brought thousands of area residents together in celebration of passions and creativity. A free opening reception will take place from 5p-7p in the Common Street Arts gallery located at 93 Main Street, Waterville, ME. Light refreshments will be provided in conjunction with the gallery’s mud. works in clay by maine artists exhibition opening. All are invited to this free event!

About PechaKucha Night Waterville
PK WTVL is presented by a volunteer Team PK, Waterville Creates!, and the Waterville Public Library. Four events are held per year. The Colby Center for the Arts and Humanities is the PK WTVL 2016-2017 season sponsor. PK WTVL V22 event is a collaboration with Maine Craft Weekend, Ticonic Tales, Common Street Arts, and the Waterville Opera House. PechaKucha Night was created in 2003 by Klein Dytham Architecture in Tokyo and has become an international phenomenon with events happening in more than 900 cities around the world. The 20×20 format makes presentations concise, keeps the evening moving at a rapid pace, and allows for plenty of discussion among participants and attendees.


Two Weeks Left

September 20, 2016

Register today for the MICA and arts ed conferences


The Maine International Conference on the Arts in Lewiston/Auburn
October 6-7, 2016

Don’t miss your chance to network, work, and learn with artists, arts organizations, arts educators, community developers and policymakers from throughout Maine.

  • CLICK HERE for the full schedule
  • Opening Reception & Keynote: Thursday, October 6, 4:30 p.m. at the Gendron Franco Center. Poet,  essayist, advocate, and Vice President of the Office of Diversity at Bates College  Crystal Williams. Williams will speak on “Practical Approaches to Creating Impact: Getting to Cultural Equity.”
  • Celebrate Lewiston/Auburn’s vibrant creative culture and industries Thursday evening visiting downtown local artist studios in an Art Crawl; enjoying some of your favorite show tunes and getting behind the scenes in Maine’s oldest community theater, the Community Little Theater in Auburn; or attending a poetry reading at the Lewiston Public Library in which Maine’s Poet Laureate Stuart Kestenbaum will be joined by some of the diversely talented, poetry slam-winning students from Edward Little High School in Lewiston.
  • Friday morning Idea Lab featuring five of Maine’s most innovative artists
  • 20 breakout sessions focused on the skills and discussions you say you need and want to strengthen the arts in Maine. Workshop sessions are offered in each of the priority areas of the Commission’s 5-year Cultural Plan: Leveraging Investment, Visibility for Arts & Culture, Arts Education & Lifelong Learning, Cultural Tourism, and Building Capacity.

More than a dozen pop-up performances showcasing Maine talent

The October 6 focus will be arts education with Cheryl Hulteen ” “Teaching Artful Practice/Practice Artful Teaching”. Cheryl is the author of YES YES GOOD: The heART of Teaching.

Arts teaching professionals have much to share in their partnership to create personal artful pathways for students to express and explore creative voice through the arts. Using the Multiple Intelligences Theory, join us in a collaboration defining, exploring, celebrating and understanding different practices of artful teaching. We will build a learning community that reflects the role the arts play in everything we do, teach and learn by strengthening the creative exchanges of artful process and practice-defining, exploring, celebrating and
understanding different practices of artful teaching. We will build a learning community that reflects the role the arts play in everything we do, teach and learn by strengthening the creative exchanges of artful process and practice.

The arts education conference takes place at the Franco American Heritage Center, Lewiston, 11:30 am – 4:00 pm, $40 (includes lunch). For details CLICK HERE. For registration CLICK HERE.


Tim Christensen – Teaching Artist

September 16, 2016

Berwick Academy Community Emotional Map Sculpture

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-7-37-10-pmTim Christensen, in his own words below provides an overview of a residency he did at Berwick Academy. Tim graduated from Berwick Academy in 1987 so returning to his community to collaborate on this unique project is pretty special! Congratulations to the community, Tim, and Raegen for carrying out this idea. The artwork is permanently displayed in the Commons building on the Berwick Academy campus.

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-7-25-33-pmRaegen Russell (Berwick Academy art teacher) and I started talking about me coming to Berwick Academy, in South Berwick, at last year’s Haystack Maine Art Education Association fall conference. As the conversations continued, an idea began to form of making a community sculpture with the entire Berwick Academy (Pre-K to alumni to faculty to staff) in commemoration of the 225th anniversary of the founding of the school.

I started thinking about what was really being celebrated, what we mean when we say, “this school is 225 years old”. I figured out what was being celebrated was an unbroken chain of relationships that went all the way back to those three boys going to school in what is now on campus called, “the 1791 House”. Those relationships I wanted to document are the result of feelings and emotions of the community members for each other, and so could be recorded as abstract expressionist marks.

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-7-24-45-pmI asked the artists to think about how it felt in their guts when they came up the hill in the morning to go to school, or were laying in bed at home at night and thinking about school. I asked them to make marks that seemed in concert with those feelings, and not to worry about drawing anything, to have no expectations except to show up and make marks.

They were each given a disk of dried porcelain which had been covered with black underglaze, and into the center of which I had drilled a hole, and gave them an etching tool of one sort or another. Most artists worked for 20 or so minutes, although some worked for 15-20 hours on their disk.

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-7-25-22-pmThese were then fired and installed on 1/8″ brass rods into which I cut threads on either end, to allow them to screw  into a metal insert in maple orbs, which I turned on the lathe. The result looks like dandelion fluff, or atoms, or drawn circles.

It is basically a community self-portrait, in which every member has an equal voice. In my opinion, one interesting result was a school-wide conversation about the community’s feelings about itself, a self-assessment if you will. This of course invited the related questions of “where do we go, and what do we value as a community?”.

It was an honor to be part of this project.

Tim can be reached at Last Spring he worked at the Camden Rockport Middle School on an integrated unit. The blog post describing the residency is at THIS LINK. Tim is on the Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist roster at THIS LINK. Tim is available for school and community artist residency’s. Tim is also a Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teaching Artist Leader – a new program established this year. The Teacher Leaders are listed at THIS LINK.

Embedded is a video that provides a close up look at this project.


Maine International Conference on the Arts

September 14, 2016

MICA – Lewiston/Auburn – October 6-7

image003October 6 and 7 will be two days filled with great learning opportunities and lots of excitement for the Arts in Maine. This is Maine’s ONLY statewide convening of artists, arts organizations, arts educators, public policy makers, and community and economic developers who know the power arts and culture brings to Maine’s communities.

The October 6 focus will be arts education with Cheryl Hulteen ” “Teaching Artful Practice/Practice Artful Teaching”. Cheryl is the author of YES YES GOOD: The heART of Teaching.

Arts teaching professionals have much to share in their partnership to create personal artful pathways for students to express and explore creative voice through the arts. Using the Multiple Intelligences Theory, join us in a collaboration defining, exploring, celebrating and understanding different practices of artful teaching. We will build a learning community that reflects the role the arts play in everything we do, teach and learn by strengthening the creative exchanges of artful process and practice-defining, exploring, celebrating and
understanding different practices of artful teaching. We will build a learning community that reflects the role the arts play in everything we do, teach and learn by strengthening the creative exchanges of artful process and practice.

We will meet at the Franco American Heritage Center, Lewiston, 11:30 am – 4:00 pm, $40 (includes lunch). For details CLICK HERE. For registration CLICK HERE.


Following the arts education conference, the MICA will officially open at 4:00 pm on Thursday, October 6 with a reception at 4:30 pm, Franco Center, Lewiston. Following the reception Pam Breaux, CEO of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) will provide a brief “State of the States”. Crystal Williams will be the opening keynote at 5:30 pm for MICA. Poet, essayist, and Bates College VP and Chief Diversity Officer Crystal’s keynote address “Practical Approaches to Creating Impact: Getting to Cultural Equity,” will establish several themes to be furthered during the rest of the conference. Following the keynote in downtown Lewiston: cultural offerings including Downtown Lewiston Gallery Crawl, showcases at The Community Little Theater in Auburn, Franco-Fest at Bates College, Poetry Reading at the Lewiston Library, and more.


MICA starts on Friday morning with an Idea Lab – 5 artists presenting in a Pecha Kucha format. Included in the Idea Lab is Nancy Frolich who works with the arts and literacy with a program she created called LEAPS of Imagination. Following the opening there are over 20 sessions – 5 different strands with 4 sessions under each of these topics: Leveraging Investment, Visibility of the Arts & Culture Sector, Arts Education, Cultural Tourism, and Building Capacity. A general schedule is located at THIS LINK. A pdf and more schedule info is located at THIS LINK.


Advance Registration is now open, and still offers a discount over registration at the door. Registration is located at THIS LINK. Conference website pages START HERE.


Two Articles

September 9, 2016

Arts Ed Partnership Arts Ed Digest articles

Writer, Stacy Teicher Khadaroo looks at how arts education is increasingly being considered as an effective way of fostering creativity and critical thinking skills. The School that Art Saved includes information about the pre-K-8 Roosevelt School located in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The classroom description includes learners engaged and focused on learning – not a focus on the test. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t measuring their success since they’ve infused arts education into the instruction. In fact, they’ve scaled back on the testing. “The school has gone from being one of the lowest performing in Connecticut to a significantly improved institution: Disciplinary infractions are down, academic performance is up, and both parent and teacher pride in the school are increasing.” CLICK HERE to read the entire article published in the Christian Science Monitor.


Maker Space at Dyer Elementary School, South Portland

You’ve been hearing about the “Maker Movement” and in fact, I visited schools last spring to learn more about what’s going on in Maine on the topic. Vermont educator, Cynthia Day wrote an editorial called Why Making and the Arts Need Each Other to Survive and Thrive in Schools and explores why they can’t survive on their own. Partnering with the arts can provide for a powerful teaching and learning environment that can help transform schools for this time period we live in.

Cynthia’s list for “Making mentality,”:

  • Creativity: Making engages a student’s mind creatively and practically. The senses are engaged as emotions and thoughts are shared in community with others.
  • Technical Skills: In Maker culture, engineering skills develop without always needing to be explicitly taught. Tools used in the world outside of school are put into the students’ hands.Time seems to fly by, and students don’t want to put away their work.
  • Collaboration: Real problems are solved and social groups are formed around relevant, challenging endeavors.
  • Reflection: Reflection happens as students discuss their progress and wonder aloud about the possibilities.

CLICK HERE to read the entire piece that was published in Edsurge.  Cynthia Day is an educator at Barre Town Middle and Elementary School in Vermont.



September 8, 2016

In the words of Martin Swinger


Martin Swinger

I was encouraged by my agent, Jean Butler, to attend a workshop with Cheryl Hulteen in Hartford, CT a couple years ago. I agreed to make the drive down from Maine only because I trusted Jean. I’ve been thanking her ever since.

Cheryl Hulteen’s her-story Yes, Yes, Good! shares the real-life experience of an arts educator in an inner-city classroom, spinning ‘To Sir, With Love’ into a whole new category about the effectiveness and JOY of real arts integration in an educational setting.

Cheryly Hulteen

Cheryly Hulteen

She is an inspired teacher who does not fail to plant brilliant ideas and amazing possibilities into the minds of anyone in her presence. Experiencing her workshop is a life-changing event I cannot recommend highly enough to anyone working with children in any educational capacity – especially in the arts!

$40 for lunch and an afternoon with Cheryl Hulteen? TRUST ME on this one – it’ll be the BEST $40 investment in your self in a long time!  I’ll see you there!

Thank you Teaching Artist Martin Swinger for sending me this piece on why others should attend the conference on Thursday, October 6 in Lewiston, 11:30am – 4:00pm, Franco American Heritage Center, Lewiston. 4 contact hours included. For registration please CLICK HERE.

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