Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

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ECET2 Spot On!

August 14, 2018

Gathering at Colby College

The ECET2 – Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teachers – conference held last week at Colby College was outstanding. ECET2 Maine is an educator community and two-day event and based on the ECET2 national model offering a unique opportunity for teachers from across Maine to connect with other practitioners to gain leadership skills, share innovative classroom practices, and be “celebrated” for their work on behalf of Maine’s students.

Allan Monga speaking with Sydney Chaffee

There were three Cultivating the Calling speeches that provided seeds of inspiration. Hearing educators stories is motivating and validating. One was provided by the 2017 National Teacher of the Year, Sydney Chaffee. She has been moved by her own students stories and by Maine’s Poetry Out Loud champ Allan Monga.

The breakout sessions were terrific, presented by thoughtful educators sharing their ideas and practices. The Colleague Circles provided time to discuss challenges and successes and it was made clear that we share so much across our state in schools/districts.

Colleague Circle presentations during Gallery Walk

Participants could add their “Why I Teach” to a wall and I’ve included some of them in this blog post. You can see that the arts were well represented.

The conference closed out with a Shark Tank where three teams pitched their ideas. Five hundred dollars was given to the most convincing idea which was decided by participants votes on Twitter. And, of course, the door prizes were super!

A great big thank you to the planners – once again they did an outstanding job providing an opportunity that was “spot on” for educators!

There were at least 5 participants who said they will be working on having an ECET2 event in their communities. Watch for the information as it becomes available on their website or Facebook.

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In Today’s News

August 13, 2018

Ashley Bryan

Bob Keyes article in the Maine Sunday Telegram provides the latest news on Ashley Bryan. His show opened recently at the Portland Museum of Art and it is fantastic. At age 95 Ashley is working on a number of books and is planning on one being completed within the month. It is a book of collages based on Christina Rosetti’s poems. He’s also working on a larger project based on his time during WWII when he served in the segregated Army. Seventy four years ago he was at Omaha Beach.

I was very excited to read that he is working with Maine composer Aaron Robinson who happens to be a former student of mine. They are collaborating on an African-American requiem for chamber orchestra, choir and spoken voice.

He’s calling it “A Tender Bridge: An African American Requiem,” based on a Bryan quote: “I always confuse the past and the future, the way I mix up death and life – they are connected only by a tender bridge. This is why stories are at the heart of civilization.”

Plan to take your students to the museum for the show and watch for information on the performance of one of Ashley’s books scheduled for the end of October.

READ the entire article.

“Oh, When the Children Sing in Peace,” 2006, collage of cut colored paper on paper, from “Let It Shine: Three Favorite Spirituals,” 12 by 20 inches. Photo from Portland Museum of Art

 

 

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Junco’s Nest

August 9, 2018

Influenced by Maine artists

While growing up Anya Tuton spent every summer in Maine with her grandparents. This week she returns to read and sign her first children’s book, Junco’s Nest, at Owl and Turtle bookstore in Camden, Sunday, August 12, 2:00 p.m.

Anya has volunteered extensively in schools and the story came to her while talking to children about teasing. The teasing had resulted in one boy concluding that “I can’t draw”.  This broke Anya’s heart as drawing has always been such an important practice for her, and further because the uninhibited art of children (and art brut!) is some of her most favorite.

back cover

Anya says: “We lose so much when we disrespect another’s creative process and creative view. I made this story with the intention of touching the hearts of those who doubt their creative selves, helping them to know that staying true to their work while respecting others is a path worth taking.”

Anya has a special place in her heart for Maine and much of her inspiration comes from our state – the sea, and the air, and the land itself. Also the artists that she grew up with including Dennie Deitz, Stell and Shevis, Blackie Langly, Siri Beckman, Bill Thon and more. “They were like lampposts for me before I even knew it.”
In Anya’s words
“It has been such a pleasure, and an out breath to bring this work from inside of my head and studio, into the world of people!
I’ve had SO MANY INCREDIBLE teachers, both in the classroom setting and outside of it. I have been very very fortunate in this way. They have taught me to not be afraid of messes and mistakes, to try, and work hard, to be disciplined but to allow the work to evolve as it wants to. They have taught me that there is tremendous value in seeing from another’s perspective and that this is truly one of the greatest gifts of art and art making. They have taught me that art making is a journey and a practice and can be a beautiful social act. We are human! Art is in us!
I have always loved books and am loving making them. I enjoy the layers of meaning that
illustration can add to text and vice versa.
I chose birds as my protagonists because the children were drawing birds, but also because birds are like ideas- hard to grasp, elusive, beautiful and squawking at the same time. They inhabit a space that we can’t always access. The act of making the nest- of bringing the idea to the ground, actually materializing it, that is the work of the creative.  it is a diligent process and calls for support not unkind criticism.
This story is dedicated to teachers. I am so thankful to them for their work, for nurturing and guiding generations of individuals into a healthy future. Their heartfelt, thoughtful work is really a gift to all of us. As said, initially the story was written for that kindergarden class, but really it is for everyone. We all have to come to terms with how our
creative selves meet the world at one point and/or another.”
Thanks Anya for contributing to the Maine Arts Education blog.
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MALI Summer Institute

August 7, 2018

Work is just beginning

Even though another Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Summer Institute (MAL) is history (number 8), the work for the MALI Teacher Leaders and Teaching Artist Leaders is just beginning.

I am so impressed with the topics that participants have taken on – each year the work is more comprehensive! I will include information about the research the leaders have underway in a future blog post.

The work is challenging and participants make a commitment to stretch themselves as they build on their knowledge and expertise as educators in the arts. MALI’s educators are committed to providing quality arts education for every Maine learner.

Often I am asked so what’s MALI all about and how can it impact me as a teacher? Below you will find some of the initial feedback received at the conclusion of the institute. The comments reflect the thoughtfulness of the participants and will provide a glimpse of the power of participating in MALI as a “leader”.

  • This institute may have changed my entire outlook. I feel like I have value and can help others through my work.
  • The energy was great.
  • Thank you for bringing us all together! The constant stimulating conversations are exhilarating! (joyfully exhausting). I LOVED the storytelling element.
  • Powerful presentations great stories
  • Gained a tremendous amount of insight into other teacher’s schools, jobs and lives. Always amazing experiences with MALI.
  • Thank you for the community connection of the Museum of Art and Ashley. Very inspiring.
  • Lots of great info. Introduced to new concepts. Networking and connections.
  • Amazing sharing! Inspired beyond belief by my peers.
  • Once again, I’m leaving excited about this year.
  • Leadership and creativity hit the spot for me personally. As always you can’t beat the connections made and renewed at MALI. I think I have benefitted a lot from a few key conversations.
  • OMG! I needed a 4thday now! Can you believe it? Great re-boot to my goals as an educator. Focused organization to start the year!
  • It was great! I have much to ponder over the coming months.
  • Lots of great information and inspiration. I liked the small workshops best.
  • I feel motivated and empowered by being around so many like-minded people. The positive energy that is found in this room is amazing.
  • This might be my favorite yet! I feel so fulfilled but not overwhelmed! So re-energized! Thank you and so much love for this organization!
  • I find it fascinating that as we add years on to our MALI gatherings our topics and ideas for our projects and presentations get bigger, better, deeper, more thoughtful, more global. I am so lucky to be part of this organization. Your hard pre-game work was truly appreciated!
  • Love the peeps – Love the sharing – especially the personal journeys. Leadership and artistic.
  • My overall reflection brings me to WOW! I have thoroughly been challenged, inquisitive, curious, exhausted, reignited, and REWARDED. Being surrounded by greatness has, again, been humbling.
  • This was an awesome opportunity to converse with people with similar professions and a wealth of experience to reflect on.
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Ashley Bryan at the PMA

August 6, 2018

Amazing artist and storytelling – share with your students

Ashley Bryan’s prolific and varied creative career has spanned more than half a century, and this is the first major art museum exhibition in Maine for the award-winning, 95-year-old artist and Little Cranberry Island resident. 

A pioneer of African and African American representation in the children’s book medium, Painter and Poet highlights the breadth of Bryan’s work, from his earliest books of African folktales to his 2016 book Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan, which won a Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Honors in both Author and Illustrator categories.

Coming in October
Beautiful Blackbird: An Adaptation of the Story by Ashley Bryan presented by the Theater Ensemble of Color. This will take place at the PMA and also at USM where you will be able to bring students to the play. Watch for more information on this opportunity.

Coming in November. PMA Films presents I Know a Man…Ashley Bryan

Take a trip to Bryan’s Little Cranberry Island and into his home and studio in this article from the most recent edition of the PMA magazine, Inside the Circle. 

Ashley in his home

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MALI Summer Institute Day 3

August 3, 2018

Hard at work

Brian and Kris

The day started with Teaching Artist Leader Brian Evans Jones and Teacher Leader Kris Bisson sharing their story. For several years the Great Works Bridge in South Berwick, where Brian and Kris live, has been closed. Last year at the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) summer institute Brian and Kris decided to collaborate and shed light on the bridge by composing a song. Brian is a poet and creative writing teacher and Kris is the music educator at Marshwood Middle School; they each brought their expertise to this year long project and the results are amazing. A true integrated unit that involves real life learning and students making a difference. Kris and Brian shared their inspirational story with the participants at the institute.

The day continued with teachers working independently and collaboratively on their Logic Model which outlines plans for the next year (and some longer). Intervowen in the day was the opportunity to watch the Ashley Bryan film “I Know a Man” and to slip into the home made story corps booth with one other person to share a story.

The end of the day included a gallery walk to take a close look at the participant’s plans and provide feedback to each one. Some expressed that a 4th day should have been included as participants left excited and feeling accomplished.

Speaking of storytellers, some educators extended the day by hearing the panel discussion on Ashley Bryant’s work and seeing his show at the Portland Museum of Art (PMA). Mr. Bryant is quite the storyteller and his children’s books are exemplary; marrying the words and images beautifully! Quotes from Ashley in the film were good reminders for all of us: “Don’t lose in us it’s the one thing we have in common.” “Be reminded of the child in you…you sometimes suppress it….” Thanks to the PMA for providing the opportunity that directly connected with our summer institute theme: Storytelling!

 

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MALI Summer Institute Day 1

July 31, 2018

Storytelling at its finest

Today marked the first day of the phase 8 Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Summer Institute and what an amazing day it was! Almost 40 educators are attending the three day professional development, exchanging ideas, collaborating, and building on their knowledge.

Participants comments

  • “Learning to lead the story to my “why” versus the “what” was a huge revelation today – and we’re only on day 1!” ~Shawna
  • “Love the social aspect of MALI and seeing old friends and making new ones.” ~Catherine Ring
  • “Exciting and inspiring safe space to share ideas with people who get it.” ~Dorie
  • “Such a beautiful and supportive group.” ~Nicole
  • “Always wonderful to have the “tribe” back together!” ~Pam
  • “Hair on fire.” ~Tom

The institute theme is “storytelling” which is integrated throughout the institute. The day started with the MALI story and ended with a story from Dorie Tripp who shared information about the drums created by the students of Dorie and art teacher Hope Lord. Making music together was amazing!

Throughout the day there were sessions on assessment, the Logic Model design, Express-a-Book (MALIs version of a book club), and making stories.

Tomorrow will be another day filled with new learning. If you have questions please be sure and email me at argy.nestor@maine.gov.

 

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