Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

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EXPLORE

October 21, 2017

Art Teacher and Teaching Artist collaborate

Acton Elementary School students in the EXPLORE: Visual Art program worked with Maine Teaching Artist Ann Thompson to create woven wheels, kinesthetic sculptures using bicycle wheels and nylon climbing rope. Ann collaborated with Art Teacher Cami Davis to create and install the pieces at Kelly Orchards in Acton during Applecycle, a bicycle tour of orchards in southern Maine on Saturday, October 14. The sculptures will take permanent residence on the school grounds along with six other pieces that will hang indoors.
Cami said: “Students loved working collaboratively on the three dimensional pieces and learning about the donated and recycled materials used to create the sculptures.”
Applecycle is a fund raiser for the Community Bicycle Center
after school youth development program.
And, Teaching Artist Ann Thompson, who is on the Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist roster said: “The CBC is one of my favorite collaborators and a vitally important program for our community!”

 

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Lego World Record

October 19, 2017

Lego Origami Crane

80,000 pieces of legos, over 200 people, breaking a world record. To celebrate International Peace Day, Brick X Brick partnered with Play Well TEKnologies to bring the people of Los Angeles a LEGO event they will never forget! In Japanese culture, origami cranes represent peace and hope. It is said that anyone who makes 1,000 cranes will be granted a wish. We wanted to bring the community together to work on this record-breaking goal, and maybe make a few new LEGO-loving friends in the process.

Check out friends at Play Well TEKnologies! WEBSITE: http://www.play-well.org/ FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/PlayWellTEK Click here to learn more about the history of origami peace cranes: https://goo.gl/8yCKEK We love to connect with YOU, no matter what language you speak. Help SoulPancake create captions in your language by clicking here: http://bit.ly/27FqhGH

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Who Are They? Portland Stage – Part 4

October 18, 2017

Student Matinees

Portland Stage, located in Portland, Maine, offers vital theater arts education to learners ages 4-18 through our In-Theater and In-School programming. All classes and workshops are taught by professionally trained Teaching Artists and focus on literacy, cultural awareness, collaborative play, and creative thinking. Our teaching philosophy highlights process over product, deepening students’ ability to analyze, synthesize, and think critically while making connections to the thoughts and ideas behind the written word. This is one of a series of 6 blog posts outlining who we are and what we do, brought to you by Hannah Cordes, Education Manager, and Julianne Shea, Education Administrator. These posts will appear September 27 through November 1, 2017, on Wednesday’s.

Portland Stage’s Student Matinee Program annually offers students the chance to see our Mainstage productions at a discounted ticket rate during the school day. Prior to the performance, students and teachers receive our educational resource guide, PlayNotes. Created by the Portland Stage Literary and Education departments, these extensive guides present a broad spectrum of information and perspectives on each play in our Mainstage season. These guides are designed to support and further audiences’ experience of each play.

On the day of the performance, students and teachers take over our mainstage theater! For many students that attend these productions, it is their first time in a professional theater. As Jenna Quimby, a fifth grade teacher at Hall Elementary School, said: “So many of our students at Hall do not have the means or opportunity to attend a play. I think that it is so culturally important for students to experience theater.” Pat Fox, the drama teacher at Fryeburg Academy, brings her students to see every show in the season every year. This means that by the end of a student’s senior year, they will have seen 28 productions at Portland Stage! It is a privilege to watch the ownership these students have of the space and listen to them compare the shows in the season.

Following the performance, students participate in a talkback discussion with the cast and crew, which helps them gain a deeper awareness of the creative process in a professional context and encourages them to think critically about the themes and messages of the play. These discussions are often insightful, funny, and delightful. One of my favorite memories from a talkback was the engaging conversation after our production of The Mountaintop by Katori Hall. This play is a theatrical re-imagining of events the night before the assassination of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Students and teachers alike were deeply moved by this story. Even after the talkback had ended, and students were leaving the theater, a group of students stayed to continue the conversation with the inspiring actors in this production. They didn’t leave the theater until they had to because the bus was about to drive away!

Another memorable student matinee moment came at the end of our production of Buyer and Cellar by Jonathan Tolins. This play is a one man show about Alex, a struggling actor, who takes the bizarre job of working in a shopping mall that Barbra Streisand has built in the basement of her Malibu home. As students were leaving, one young person stayed behind in order to talk to myself and Hannah Cordes, our education manager. He let us know that he had been skeptical about whether he would like this one person show or not. He had thought this format might be boring, but was instead inspired by the actor’s performance and in awe of his nuance, humor, bravery, and specificity. He told us that he is a basketball player, but that he was interested in delving into more acting experiences in the future. It was lovely to watch this student feel so compelled to share his reaction with us.

We also offer pre- and post-show workshops with our student matinee program. We design these workshops to further deepen the students’ experience with the play. When schools request a workshop, we tailor them to the needs of the students and the content of the play. After a workshop with Deering High School students, educator Kathleen Harris noted that “The fine work of the three Portland Stage educators made the personal, educational and societal experience of attending Disgraced a deeper and more meaningful one for many students. Portland Stage provides a tremendous arts and education…they are a valuable and important asset to our efforts to educate and inspire our youth.”

James Carlise at Waynflete School reached out to us as he was planning his dramaturgy class. Before and after students came to see a production at Portland Stage, our literary manager and the assistant director & dramaturg on the show went into his classroom and talked to students about the play. One student in his class wrote, “Meeting and hearing two actual dramaturgs explain their work and the impact it had on the other members of a production brought a sort of concreteness and tangibility to a role we have studied primarily on paper, and seeing the bar lifted to such a height by professionals has inspired me to look at theater work with a more critical and creatively educated eye, weighing all options and taking the time to look at everything from several angles.”

We are grateful to be a part of exposing young people in Maine to the arts through this program that offers students the chance to see a professional production with their peers.

Please watch the video below to learn hear more about the program!

Interested in learning more? Email education@portlandstage.org or call 207-774-1043 ext. 104

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Arts Assessment Article

October 15, 2017

Ed Week

The co-founders of a Washington-based consulting practice, Artful Education, Emily Gasoi and Sonya Robbins Hoffmann, authored this article How to Assess Arts Education – And Why You ShouldEducation Week, October 9, 2017.

As many of the Maine Arts Education blog readers are aware in 2010 when the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (now called the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative) was established, the spotlight was shed on assessment in visual and performing arts classrooms across the state. Since the first statewide conference focusing on arts assessment in 2011 Maine has transformed – assessment in the arts is more commonly part of everyday practice.

How timely that Gasoi and Hoffman make points in their article that I mentioned in a recently (blog post Our Responsibility as Educators), addressing and assessing the 21st century skills.

Taken from their article….

Teaching and assessing skills gained through the arts, as well as in creative processes across other disciplines, will become the norm. Here are some examples of the kinds of demands we are already responding to in the 21st-century that compel us to advocate more and better arts education:

1. To sift through the constant flow of information, students need to develop skills to evaluate the quality and accuracy of content and recognize false information.

2. A wide variety of technology and media platforms necessitates the ability to think critically and work with a variety of tools.

3. Employers are demanding creative problem-solving skills, as well as the ability to self-direct and collaborate.

4. In a gig economy characterized by temporary projects and frequent shifts in occupation, students will be faced with both increased control of career path and no clear road map. Being able to imagine one’s path and to pivot as external realities change is critical.

5. In our global society, curiosity, flexibility, and particularly the ability to see multiple perspectives are necessary building blocks for interacting with other cultures.

And, speaking of Assessment – The Art of Education included a recent post with 5 Simple Pre-Assessments for Short Class Periods written by Kelly Phillips. She uses a technique called “Now I Know/I Already Knew That” and claims that it is a perfect pre-assessment for showing growth for Student Learning Objectives (SLOs). In her post she explains the details.

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Who Are They? Portland Stage – Part 3

October 11, 2017

PLAY

Portland Stage, located in Portland, Maine, offers vital theater arts education to learners ages 4-18 through our In-Theater and In-School programming. All classes and workshops are taught by professionally trained Teaching Artists and focus on literacy, cultural awareness, collaborative play, and creative thinking. Our teaching philosophy highlights process over product, deepening students’ ability to analyze, synthesize, and think critically while making connections to the thoughts and ideas behind the written word. This is one of a series of 6 blog posts outlining who we are and what we do, brought to you by Hannah Cordes, Education Manager, and Julianne Shea, Education Administrator. These posts will appear September 27 through November 1, 2017, on Wednesday’s.

Education Artists Bess Welden and Julia Fitzgerald at a Play in Schools dramatic reading Photo by Aaron Flacke

Portland Stage’s PLAY in Schools program brings children’s books to life through a school-wide dramatic reading, followed by interactive classroom workshops. The goal of PLAY is to connect theater with literacy by making literature performative and encouraging character recall, understanding of themes, emotional recognition, physical storytelling, and vocal characterization. We actively engage students in small groups/workshops using their bodies, voices, and imaginations to build understanding of the text while bringing the stories and characters to life.

Each school-wide dramatic reading includes three picture books and two poems centered on a theme. These themes range from Choosing Kindness to Made in Maine. It is exciting to explore books that young people know well and to introduce them to new stories. During the 2016-2017 season, we included Chris Van Dusen’s The Circus Ship. Each time we announced the title of this book at the all-school assemblies, the room would erupt in cheers. Beverly Coursey, the principal at Ocean Avenue Elementary School, said it was like when Billy Joel announces that he will be performing “Piano Man”! There is nothing quite like listening to a room full of elementary school students laugh at a particularly funny story or moment! It is a privilege to witness this reaction to so many engaging stories. We ask each audience to pay attention to the three actor tools (Portland Stage defines these three tools as body, voice, and imagination) that will be used during the reading. That way when the students enter the workshop, they are prepared and empowered to explore their own actor tools to bring the story alive in their own way.

We then give students the chance to dive further into these works during workshops with our professional teaching artists. We are delighted by students’ thoughts and creations as they explore their actor tools through the texts and characters. On our third and final visit of the year to one classroom, the students were invited to write their own versions of Holly Meade’s If I Never Forever Endeavor. After a year of exploring their actor tools with Portland Stage Teaching Artists, the students wrote this poem:

“If I never endeavor to perform, I won’t get to try and be brave.
If I did endeavor to perform, I could play with my voice, my body, and my imagination!”

Nathan Pike from Ocean Avenue Elementary stated that his students’ “creativity, physical movement, and imagination” when engaging with stories “has dramatically improved since participation in the PLAY workshops. Portland Stage has become a vital component to the culture and learning of our students.”

Education Manager Hannah Cordes in a Play in Schools Workshop Photo by Aaron Flacke

Theatrically exploring text can help students find a new way in to reading. Alec Lapidus, PhD, and Heba Ahmed from the Literacy, Language, and Culture Program at University of Southern Maine produced a report on the PLAY program titled Multiliteracies in Maine: The Play Me a Story Program. They state that “PLAY caters to a wide array of learning styles and linguistic backgrounds, offering a variety of ways to interact with content, explore new ideas and concepts, and create meaningful output…As the learners use their body, voice, and imagination to observe, analyze, interpret, and express thoughts on the world around them, they become able to go beyond passively absorbing information provided to them…This multiliteracy approach is clearly indicative of the program’s awareness of the changing linguistic and sociocultural landscape not only in Maine, but also in the United States in general.” It is powerful to create a space were students can get excited about text in a new way. We hear feedback from teachers that reinforces the idea that for many students PLAY has opened a door for them. A 4th grade teacher shared with us, “This student struggles to remember letters, sight words, and other information. With the PLAY program, he could remember EVERY word and act out the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I know now how to teach letters, sound, math, sight vocabulary, etc. To this student!”

We are continually grateful to be able to bring theater to elementary school students through this program. Witnessing students get excited about literature, see professional actors fearlessly use their bodies, voices, and imaginations, and explore their own actor tools during the workshop is a joyful experience.

Interested in learning more about this program? Email education@portlandstage.org or call 207-774-1043 ext. 104

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Arts Education Network

October 11, 2017

Opportunity to connect

Heather Martin from Arts are Elementary in Brunswick

On Friday, October 6, representing organizations, institutions, and schools almost 40 people gathered at the Farnsworth Art Museum for the Maine Arts Commission Arts Education Network.

PURPOSE

The purpose was to meet and learn from each other by sharing information and resources, exchanging ideas about education programs, and collaborative thinking.

Hannah Cordes, Portland Stage Education Manager listens while Julianne Shea, Education Administrator introduces herself

It was a great opportunity to NETWORK!

The first part of the agenda included the opportunity to hear about the statewide arts education census that was conducted during the 2015-16 school year. Julie Richard, the Maine Arts Commission executive director shared highlights.

Julie Richard, Executive Director at the Maine Arts Commission reviews what we learned through the state wide census in Arts Education conducted during the 2015-16 school year

Andrea Curtis shared information about the Farnsworth education programs. Teaching artist Alexis Iammarino provided the background information on the murals she has created with students that are located throughout Rockland.

All participants introduced themselves and answered What drives you? Why do you do what you do?

Chrissy Fowler from Belfast Flying Shoes and Joshua McCarey listen while Jessie Davis the Executive Director of the Strand introduces herself

The second part of the day, the participants were in four groups to discuss the following audience questions and vision questions.

AUDIENCE 

  •      With whom do you currently collaborate?
  •      With whom might you like to collaborate?
  •      Who are your programs currently reaching?
  •      Which demographic would you like to engage more?

 VISION

  •      If there were no constraints on your resources (i.e. time,   staffing, funding), what would you do?

ridget Matros from Waterfall Arts listens while the Arts Education Exchange participants share information about their work in arts education

Small groups shared with the entire group. Participants were invited to visit the Midcoast Music Academy, the Strand Theater, CMCA, the Farnsworth, or the murals they had learned about earlier in the day.

Notes were taken in each group which will be collated and shared with the participants and the 20 others who were not able to join us. If you are part of an art organization, institute, or school and have an arts education arm and are interested in connecting please email me at argy.nestor@maine.gov.

Ian Bannon from Figures of Speech and Celebration Barn documenting participants comments

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Who Are They? Portland Stage – Part 2

October 3, 2017

Directors Lab

Portland Stage, located in Portland, Maine, offers vital theater arts education to learners ages 4-18 through our In-Theater and In-School programming. All classes and workshops are taught by professionally trained Teaching Artists and focus on literacy, cultural awareness, collaborative play, and creative thinking. Our teaching philosophy highlights process over product, deepening students’ ability to analyze, synthesize, and think critically while making connections to the thoughts and ideas behind the written word. This is one of a series of 6 blog posts outlining who we are and what we do, brought to you by Hannah Cordes, Education Manager, and Julianne Shea, Education Administrator. These posts will appear September 27 through November 1, 2017, on Wednesday’s.

Performance of Macbeth with Education Artists Megan Tripaldi, Hannah Daly, Erica Murphy, & Christopher Holt Photo by Aaron Flacke

One of our exciting In-School programs is called Directors Lab. Directors Lab engages middle and high school students with Shakespeare through performance, workshops, and active text-work. This year, we will be performing a 45 minute version of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar followed by a talkback with the actors and exciting hands-on workshops in classrooms. Directors Lab puts Shakespeare’s language into the hands and mouths of the students, empowering them to be the artists, directors, and ensemble with the power to interpret the text and produce meaning.

On a personal note, this is my absolute favorite program to teach and engage with. As the director of the touring production, I get the privilege to be in the room with our fantastic actors as we explore the text and characters of Shakespeare’s plays. We put on the production with only four actors, so a large part of the rehearsal process is problem-solving, brainstorming, and playful experimentation. How do we show which character you are playing in any given moment? How do we fill in the gaps that a 45-minute adaptation poses us with? How do we bring this story alive in an engaging way? Rehearsal is an action-packed week of collaboration, laughter, tears, and joy that makes bringing it to schools all the more exciting and valuable.

The final and most important part of the equation is the students! It is remarkable to watch students bring Shakespeare’s language alive using their own experiences and emotions as the backdrop for approaching the text. I rediscover Shakespeare’s plays each time I step into a classroom, as the students introduce new ideas and layers to these stories.

Students make for the best audiences because they have less social restrictions as spectators. They organically respond to what is occurring on stage, which makes for a transformative 45 minutes. During a performance of Romeo and Juliet, the woman playing Juliet asked the nurse “Shall I speak ill of him that is my husband?” and the crowd of students erupted with an “OHHHHH!”. The students’ response was because they knew that this was a huge moment for Juliet’s character and an important reveal. Clearly, they were following the story and invested in the characters’ journeys. The energy in the cafeteria, gym, theater, or wherever else we perform is electric and like nothing else I have ever experienced.

Directors Lab Workshop Photo by Aaron Flacke

One of the first activities that we do in the workshops is called “text layups” (an activity created by the education team at Shakespeare & Company) where each student performs a single line of text. Another student stands behind the performer and reads the line from a piece of paper. That way, the actor is not reading and trying to comprehend or “get it right”. Their job is simply to listen to the line, repeat it, and bring the text alive, whether through an emotion, a gesture, a tone of voice, or a combination of all of the above.  At a school visit last season, one student got up and completely froze. He had wanted to try to say the line out loud but once he was faced with the moment, he couldn’t bring himself to speak. I went up to him and asked him to say the line just to me so that he would have an experience of speaking the words without worrying about an “audience”. He looked me right in the eye and spoke the line of text with emotional clarity and power and I was incredibly moved by his performance. He continued to participate throughout the workshop, playing a witch in our exploration of the “double, double” text and making brave acting choices throughout. At the end of each workshop, every student reinforces one thing from the workshop and many students reinforced the boy for his bravery. He was beaming by the time he left the room. After all the students were gone, the teacher came up to me and told me that student not only never speaks in class, but he also had never made eye contact with a fellow classmate or a teacher before. This is just one of many moments we have experienced in this program that sheds some light on the extraordinary power of theater and Shakespeare.

I could talk about this program for pages, so instead I will end with some quotes from teachers that I believe sum up the magic of this work.

“The workshop brought out the chance for some kids to really shine. Those students who struggle sitting in a chair all day had the most fun, I think. The activities moved along at a good pace and were valuable to the students, giving many a chance to take risks, not something middle school students do. Now a couple want to be actors!” – Jane Lombard, 8th grade teacher at Lincoln Middle School

“Thank you for coming to King and creating a wonderful play for the seventh graders of our school to see. The experience was very fun and helped us learn more about Shakespeare, without making it too complicated to understand. I admire that you were able to do multiple characters in just one play, it must have been very difficult to do.” – Student at King Middle School

“The students loved the post-performance workshops. They were a wonderful way to capitalize on the performance and appreciate Shakespeare’s craft in fun new ways…In short, [the students] got thoroughly engaged and involved in your wonderful post-performance program. I am already working on obtaining the necessary funding to have you back next year–no matter what play it is. That’s how highly all the 11th grade teachers thought of your efforts.” – Rich Westley, English teacher at Scarborough High School.

Interested in learning more about this program? Email education@portlandstage.org or call 207-774-1043 ext. 104.

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