Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

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Role of Joyful Music

September 18, 2020

Report from Wolf Brown

Dennie Palmer Wolf is a friend of Maine Arts Education having been the consultant in our first state wide census that was a project of the Maine Alliance for Arts Education. The Maine Department of Education and the Maine Arts Commission collaborated on the project in 2007.

In July 2020 Wolf Brown released a report for the Bernard van leer Foundation called Making a Joyful Noise: The Potential Role of Music Making in the Well-Being of Young Families. I encourage you to download the report (no matter what grade level you teach) and use segments of it to support your music programs. It is timely with the pandemic dictating parents to take a more active role in their child’s education. We know it is critical that the school and home teaching and learning be filled with balance. Not to mention the enormous benefits to the development of young children and how to support learners on the ‘human’ side through all of this.

The report highlights several areas and provides a substantial overview of why music is important to our youngest learners. It is broken down by periods of development; Pre and Perinatal Period, Early Infancy: 2-5 Months, Later Infancy: 6-12 Months, Interdependence and Autonomy: 1-3 Years, and Expanded Learning: 4-5 Years. Researchers looked closely at programs across the country and around the world. Schools with pre-school programs would find this report useful. Many of our students have younger brothers and sisters so sharing the report through school and district newsletters would help build future elementary programs.

Wolf Brown include techniques and activities for adults to guide young children in their development and joy of making music, what an emphasis on music provides young children and families, and how music impacts their well being and social emotional learning.

Interestingly enough the opening report statement on “why music matters” is comprehensive and supports why music matters for every individual and family in the world.

Find the report at THIS LINK

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The Ways of Our World

September 17, 2020

Rapid changes

I don’t know about you but ideas continue to fly into my email box on how best to do “school” at this time. I trust and value some resources more than others, sometimes depending on the source. Edutopia from the George Lucas Educational Foundation provides thought provoking and action packed articles, many times written by practicing educators. When I see that, it’s a 5 Star resource. Below are links to articles sent by Edutopia that contain valuable teaching strategies. Most of them include addressing the social and emotional learning needs of students. Even though not all are not specific to arts education they can be adapted and I hope you find at least one useful. You can sign up to receive Edutopia emails by going to their website.

  • Teaching Drama in Distance Learning written by Shana Bestock. Shana provides tips for transferring practices to virtual spaces, how to dig deeper with students, create community, and reminds us that how in uncertain times the arts helps us embrace uncertainty and foster resilience.

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Dance Education

September 16, 2020

Andrew auditions – don’t miss this

Watching this video reminds me of why we should focus on the whole child and why dance is so important. It’s often the art form forgotten in schools. And, during the pandemic dance education is more critical. The dance education programs in place across the state are excellent, sadly there are not many, especially at the high school level. The good news is that almost all music and physical education teachers at the elementary level include dance and movement in their curriculum in some way.

The benefits that dance offer to developing and supporting the body and mind are enormous. There is plenty of research that emphasizes the benefits of dance.

Interestingly enough the Maine Arts Commission (MAC) Teaching Artist Roster has 14 dance teaching artists. Consider bringing a dance educator to your school this year. There is funding available through MACs Arts Learning grants which will become available in January 2021 with a deadline of April 2, 2021. Plan ahead for the next school year.

Let’s think about the possibilities for dance and why the time, right now, is PERFECT!

  • We’re wearing masks, dance doesn’t require speaking or singing, just movement
  • Some dancing requires close contact but it certainly doesn’t have to as you’ll see in Andrew’s video below
  • Dancing doesn’t require dirty hands so there is little reason to be concerned about hygiene
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic is one of the 8 Multiple Intelligences and it is ‘dancing’ – coordinating your mind and your body.

If you’re wondering about the benefits of dancing for all learners watch Andrew in this video.

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Incredible Resources in Maine

September 15, 2020

Ashley Bryan

As educators around the world seek ways to incorporate racial justice into their curriculum right here in Maine we have a treasure that leads us to multiple resources. Ashley Bryan, now 97, has been sharing stories, songs, history, and the culture of black people for years through his work as an artist.

Ashley first came to Maine in 1946 to study at the Skowhegan School of Paining and Sculpture Ashley. In 1988 he retired from Dartmouth College and moved to Little Cranberry Island where he has continued to create. In 2013 the Ashley Bryan Center was established to preserve the over nine decades of Ashley’s work. His art has a strong message but is stated in a joyful way, as only Ashley Bryan can do. He has received many awards including the Coretta Scott King Award for illustrators multiple times and the John Newberry Medal.

Ashley’s work is on display in the Maine State House until December 30 as part of Art in the Capital provided by the Maine Arts Commission (MAC) with a virtual show on the MAC site.

Recently Maine Public Broadcast featured I Know a Man … Ashley Bryan, a film created by Kane Associates and available streaming.

The Ashley Bryan Resource & Activity Guide is available for free. In addition is the companion short film. Thanks to Richard Kane, Melody Lewis-Kane, and Kane Productions for their outstanding work.
In 2018 Kate Smith and I traveled to Ashley’s home on Little Cranberry. It was a special day and I shared the adventure in a blog post.
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What Does 6 Feet Look Like?

September 9, 2020

Moose, salmon, blueberries, Chamberlain, Lobster

The Nature Conservancy of Maine has created images that illustrate what and in some cases how many of something represents 6 feet distance. They asked me to share but to be sure and give them credit if you reuse them.


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Spoken Word

September 7, 2020

Brandon Leake – America’s Got Talent

I’ve been thinking, listening, reading, having conversations and researching on how to address racial justice in my teaching and learning. I think the world works in magical ways when ‘stuff’ happens that I’m not looking for. And sometimes ‘different stuff’ intersects which, in this case, has led to this blog post.

First I want to say that my favorite podcast at the moment is Cult of Pedagogy started by a middle school Language Arts teacher Jennifer Gonzalez. Jennifer has brought together an experienced group of educators who help make the Cult of Pedagogy. If you’re looking for a podcast that will push on your thinking and curious where you might find ideas that are sometimes raw and grounded in reality combined with thoughtful educational research, then I suggest that you check out Cult of Pedagogy. Many of the episodes are Jennifer’s interviews with teachers, learning experts, parents, and other people who make things happen in education. There are a handful on the social justice topic. If you’d rather read than listen, each new episode comes out also in an email, on Sunday’s. You can learn about all that she has to offer and sign up for her weekly emails on the START HERE PAGE. An example of the podcast resources that Jennifer provides is episode #147 Why White Students Need Multicultural and Social Justice Education  from June 7th an interview with Sheldon Eakins who founded the Leading Equity Center, an online resource for educators.

I was first introduced to poetry by my 7th grade language arts teacher Mrs. Leeds. Each week on Friday we would learn about a poem, write it down in our poetry notebook, and over the next week memorize it and each student in my class would stand and recite it. I can dig into my memory today and recite Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost and In Flanders Fields by John McCrae and probably a few others. Every so often I rediscover my poetry notebook and think about how nervous I was standing up in my front my class. I don’t recall actually learning how to recite poetry. We’ve come a long way in this area; now we have poetry slams, hip hop, jazz poetry, beat poetry, spoken word, and Poetry Out Loud (POL). POL is a partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation, and the state and jurisdictional arts agencies. The Maine Arts Commission administers the recitation program.

I’ve been curious for some time about how ‘poetry’ has, for the most part, been taught in English or language arts class. Why poetry is considered an art form yet in schools we don’t include it when we reference visual and performing arts. In our standards documents it’s not clearly defined as part of the arts. When I try putting poetry in context I explain it like this: in schools poetry is behind the English teaching door and in the real world it is part of the performance arena.

I wanted to better understand this separation so I did a little sleuthing on the internet and, of course, I start with the Greeks. From the Ancient Greek word ποιεω (pronounced poieo) which means ‘I create’. Definition: an art form in which human language is used for its aesthetic qualities in addition to, or instead of, its notional and semantic content. In most poetry, it is the connotations and the “baggage” that words carry (the weight of words) that are most important. Poetry.org.

And further on about ‘spoken word’. Spoken word is poetry, and more recently spoken word poetic performance art that is word-based. It is an oral art that focuses on the aesthetics of word play such as intonation and voice inflection. It is a “catchall” term that includes any kind of poetry recited aloud… Unlike written poetry, it has less to do with physical, on the page aesthetics and more to do with phonaesthetics, or the aesthetics of sound. Wikipedia

A focus on words, sounds, presentations and performances using poetry has become more prevalent in our society since about the 1980’s but certainly it is embedded and has been for years in many cultures and their traditions. The connection between poetry as a performance and music is closely aligned.

In fact, in Ancient Greece, the spoken word was the most trusted repository for the best of their thought, and inducements would be offered to men (such as the rhapsodes) who set themselves the task of developing minds capable of retaining and voices capable of communicating the treasures of their culture.

I think poetry’s biggest potential is to light kids up and engage them in learning about themselves and the world. If only Mrs. Leeds had someone guide her in the pedagogy of teaching poetry. A good reason to promote integrated curriculum.

Here’s where the intersection of learning takes place for me. On my phone last week a video from America’s Got Talent popped up. A powerful performance by Spoken Word Artist Brandon Leake began to help me formulate curriculum for racial justice. You can LEARN more about Brandon and the organization he established Called to Move. I suggest using Brandon’s performance with your students.

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Two Mindsets

September 3, 2020

A Poetic Tale

Many of you have read Carol Dweck’s Mindset and have incorporated some of this line of thinking into your work as an educator and perhaps applied it personally. If you’re not familiar with the book Dr. Dweck provides insight on the power of mindset, how we think about talents and abilities and how mindset influences success in school and every part of life.

People with a fixed mindset—those who believe that abilities are fixed—are less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset—those who believe that abilities can be developed.

In this video called A Tale of Two Mindsets, the young British poet and filmmaker Tom Roberts provides examples of what each mindset might sound like in dealing with today’s reality.

Roberts also created the poem The Great Realisation, a bedtime story video about the world in March and leading up to it. In 48 hours it went viral and had over 20 million views. Find it at THIS LINK. Roberts uses the name Tom Foolery in his posts.

A Tale Of Two Mindsets

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Blissful Year

September 2, 2020

Cassie Stephens

Tennessee elementary art teacher Cassie Stephens continues to remind her readers that ‘we got this’. And, the reality is that she continues to seek ideas and design lessons that ‘walk that walk’.

Recently she interviewed family doctor Dr. Deborah Gilboa who is a resilience expert and whose skills are in high demand with the pandemic. Cassie learned some tips on how to manage her own stress during the school year and you can listen to part of the interview at THIS LINK.

In her first two weeks in her classroom Cassie realized what she misses most is being able to tell how her students are really doing since she couldn’t see their faces where they normally provide the continuous reminder of feelings. Cassie’s response? She built a lesson around creating facial expressions so each student has the necessary tools to communicate with Cassie. Find the lessons at THIS LINK. I plan to use the idea with my middle schoolers. If you have ideas you’d like to share please contact me at meartsed@gmail.com.

Please remember in order to provide for our students we need to take care of ourselves.

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Th!s is Our Chance

August 31, 2020

Film Festival

Lindsay, Alex, and myself – Helsinki, November 2020

One of the educators I met while in Helsinki, Finland in 2018 while attending the HundrED Summit was Alex Bell who is the founder and director of Portland Education. One of the first questions I asked Alex was, why would a guy from the UK name his consulting business ‘Portland Education’?  I quickly learned that he had gone to school at USM in Gorham and loved Maine so much that he wanted to honor his time spent in our beautiful state, hence, the name. After the summit we stayed in touch with Alex. The ‘we’ is my colleague, Lindsay Pinchbeck, who I traveled to Helsinki with as Ambassadors.

Alex is a likeable guy who has big ideas about education and believes in the power of the voices of children. He was working with a group of educators in a different part of Malawi which paralleled our project in Malawi. Alex has a few projects going on in other parts of the world.
For one of the projects this year Alex teamed up with volunteers, educators, and organizations in the US create the world’s first free online film festival about how to confront, examine, reimagine and create our education ecosystem. Alex says: “If you’ve got kids, are a kid or care about the bigger picture of education in our society, then you really are going to want to watch.” The film festival will include some amazing and beautiful films all about young people and education.

Th!S is Our Chance film festival runs October 6-27, 2000. Sign up at THIS LINK.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

https://www.facebook.com/OurChanceFilms

https://twitter.com/OurChanceFilms

https://www.instagram.com/ourchancefilms/

Alex promises a family bucket of popcorn if you sign up to attend TH!S IS OUR CHANCE film festival.

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Creating Online Community

August 27, 2020

Upper Elementary and Middle School virtual classrooms

Start off the year by combining creativity and a willingness to utilize technology for the advantage of getting to know your learners and you’ll be creating a classroom culture that will serve you well throughout the year. If you’re starting the year virtually these ideas from an Edutopia article written by Susan Yergler should serve you well. We all know that unlike in March when we were forced to go remote overnight starting this year with new students provides a different challenge. Below are the authors suggestions for students in grades 3-8 to feel a sense of belonging. Use these activities during the first several weeks of class – short and meaningful to help create the culture.

ICEBREAKERS

  • Share a drawing or an object that represents their personality or interests. As you move around your virtual classroom from student to student, they will hold their item or drawing offscreen while the rest of us try to remember.
  • Students complete one-pagers or a Frayer Square on themselves on a shared Google Slides deck and then present to the class.
  • Include favorite pastimes such as Hangman, interviewing partners in breakout rooms
  • Flipgrid introductions
  • Students enjoy a round of thumbs up/down with slide shows of foods, sports, and other images. Instead of (or in addition to) the “two truths and a lie” game, try “two objects and a lie.” That calls for students to show two objects that belong to them and one that doesn’t. After completing these activities, a fun way to cement these impressions is by playing a Kahoot! or Quizizz game about the members of your class

CREATING CLASSROOM RUL.ES AND EXPECTATIONS 

  • Collaborating on a list of classroom rules. Ask them how they envision the virtual classroom that supports their individual learning and the community.
  • Consider using a plus-delta chart, so that students can indicate what worked well in remote learning in the spring and what they would like to change this school year. You can use a digital idea-sharing platform such as Mural or Google Jamboard to collaborate. The list of rules and expectations will can be displayed on the class’s virtual classroom wall or resource page.

CREATE CLASS TRADITIONS

  • Establishing classroom traditions can happen online similarly to what happens in a classroom space. Depending on your class size perhaps a bell-ringer or a short journal-writing assignment or a song, dance or art making exercise. Students can be assigned different roles in the tradition you’re establishing.
  • At the end of a class there can be an exit question like what kind of food you like that most people don’t? Or who is your superhero power? Or have the students brainstorm a list of them and you pick one for each class ending.

COLLABORATIVE PROJECTS

  • Service learning projects bring students together with the opportunity for them to focus on their strengths.
  • Solving a community problem – perhaps collecting food to donate to the local food bank. They still exist and food is needed more than ever.
  • Creating art together by each contributing a photograph or a line of a song. These can be publish in a Google Slide format as a book or digital notebook. Each can contribute to a script and then perform it collaboratively online.

FORGING INDIVIDUAL CONNECTIONS 

  • This is probably the most difficult component of online learning – how to get to know your students individually. Individual conferences on zoom or by google meet.
  • Emailing each one or sending individual videos for them to respond to.
  • Good old fashion phone calls make the connection unique.
  • Responding to their work individually in Google classroom can mean the world to them.

We know that the disconnect existed before with so many people communicating online and not face to face. The pandemic has exaggerated that. Continue trying ideas in a variety of formats for learner. You can make a difference!

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