Archive for the ‘Curriculum and Instruction’ Category

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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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New Blog

September 8, 2020

Bill Buzza

Bill at the Richard Rodgers Theater, NYC, set of Hamilton

Many of you know veteran music educator (27 years) Bill Buzza. He’s one of those people who has a warm smile and a soft voice. And, he’s such a thoughtful person that when he enters a conversation you know he’s listening carefully to what you’re saying (and not focusing on how he’ll respond). Bill is the music teacher/band director at Edward Little High School in Auburn.

Just like the rest of us he’s been dealing with the pandemic since March 13. Always one for thinking deeply Bill decided to start a blog that will document his learning and begin a dialogue.  Bill’s calling it Teaching Instrumental Music During COVID-19.

Bill says: As I think about the coming year, I anticipate many new experiences and a journey that will redefine my career of instrumental music education.

This is a great opportunity for you to read about Bill’s experiences and know that you’re not alone. While thinking about returning to school and all the details of it Bill’s been doing research on how to play an instrument with a face mask on. Yes, of course you can read all about it on Bill’s blog. Subscribe in the sidebar of the front page of the blog.

Bill earned his M.S. Ed in Educational Leadership from the University of New England and B.M. in Music Education from the University of Southern Maine. At Edward Little High School, he conducts the concert, marching, pep and jazz bands. He also teaches three levels of guitar, and a beginning band class. Bill was a Finalist for the 2011 Maine Teacher of the Year and was chosen as a Teacher Leader, phase 1, of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI). He also served on the MALI Leadership Team.

Phase 2, MAAI/MALI, Bill front row, 1st on left

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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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So Long Sir Ken

August 25, 2020

The world loses an incredible voice for creativity and the Arts

In 2006 the first six TED Talks (Technology, Entertainment, Design) were published online. One of them called Do School’s Kill Creativity was presented by author and educator Sir Kenneth Robinson. During that talk and ever since Sir Ken’s life has taken on twists and turns, and his voice and message have been cherished around the world. In fact his TED Talk has been seen more than 65 million times, more than any other.  He has inspired educators and worked with governments, corporations, and cultural organizations helping them unlock their creativity. He has influenced classrooms, schools, districts and country’s.

He encouraged all who listen to change the way we do business while criticizing the educational system which he believed was about teaching students to “become good workers, rather than creative thinkers.” For over 20 years Robinson’s message was clear: “A top-down focus on math, reading and testing, at the expense of the arts and creative pursuits, stifled their (children’s) abilities.”

In an 2018 interview with the head TED Chris Anderson Robinson said: “The best evidence of human creativity is our trajectory through life. We create our own lives. And these powers of creativity, manifested in all the ways in which human beings operate, are at the very heart of what it is to be a human being.”

“We have to recognize that human flourishing is not a mechanical process; it’s an organic process. And you cannot predict the outcome of human development. All you can do, like a farmer, is create the conditions under which they will begin to flourish.”

Sir Ken authored and co-authored several books including The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, (New York Times bestseller, translated into 23 languages), Creative Schools, Out of our Minds, and You,Your Child and School. Sir Ken was born in Liverpool and led the British government’s 1998 advisory committee on creative and cultural education, which looked into the significance of creativity in education and the economy. For his achievements he was knighted in 2003.

Sadly Sir Ken Robinson died at the age 70 on Friday, August 21, 2020, after an extraordinary life as one of the world’s leading thinkers on creativity and innovation. He influenced my thinking and was an inspiration to the work I’ve done as an arts educator in my classroom and beyond. I’ve watched (and shared) his TED Talk over and over – delivered with humor, grace and filled with wonderful stories. My favorite is the one about Twyla Tharp. I’m so grateful for his offerings and the messages that will live on into the future. I bow down to you kind sir – Rest in Peace Ken Robinson!

“The best evidence of human creativity is our trajectory through life. We create our own lives. And these powers of creativity, manifested in all the ways in which human beings operate, are at the very heart of what it is to be a human being.”

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Blogging Again!

August 24, 2020

Last week in August!

Here we are at the last full week of August and the end to a summer vacation like no other. The Maine Arts Education blog returns today and will continue to provide resources, information, stories from teachers and learners, opportunities and so much more! I know many of you are planning for another odd school year. Schedules will vary from class to class, school to school and district to district with a mixture of half classes, two days a week, hybrid model, remote learning, on a cart, face to face and on and on. I’m certain whatever comes your way that your resilience will serve you well and that you’ll reach out to colleagues to support you along the way. I am continually amazed at the great ideas that arts educators have and on top of that their willingness to share!

Please know that I am happy to support your work in any way that I can. I invite you to share your ideas in video clips or short paragraphs that can be posted here on the Maine Arts Education blog. Please don’t hesitate to contact me at meartsed@gmail.com.

My summer has been filled with reading, exploring teaching ideas, attending zoom meetings to learn how educators are navigating this challenging time, making art, time on the water, visiting with friends and family from a distance, gardening, and canning and freezing food. Many of you are familiar with the work I’ve been part of in Malawi with the Go! Malawi program. Several volunteers sewed 300 dresses and pants for the children, and 300 masks for members of the community. They were shipped on July 29th along with integrated arts education lesson plans. Even though we couldn’t travel to Malawi in June to take everything and to provide workshops we were thrilled we found a way to ship everything. Our friends in Malawi are grateful for the gifts and to everyone who helped!

 

 

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Not All Heroes Wear Art

July 10, 2020

Art started in Washburn Elementary School

This story made the news station WAGM. Check it out at THIS LINK! Great work art teacher Beth Ann Cummings from Washburn Elementary School.

With students learning from home, many teachers have had to get creative. Including one local art teacher who wanted her students to use their art homework to reach out to members of their community.

Beth Ann Cummings is the visual arts teacher at Washburn Elementary School. She says teaching art remotely is difficult because she is never sure what materials her students have on hand. So, while looking for ideas on a group Facebook page with other art teachers, she came across the idea to use student art work to honor first responders. So, she decided to do her own version, called Heroes for Hearts. She sent out a video of instructions to her class. Cummings says, “We all know about heroes from television, movies or books right? I think we all are finding out that no all heroes wear capes. To participate in this project, all you need to do is to cut out a big heart. If you don’t have big paper you can do a bunch of little hearts. You’re going to decorate them and hang them in the windows of your home, or send them to work with your parents in their place of business to hang them. You can write messages of hope on your hearts, encouragement. I’m hoping these hearts will bring smiles to peoples faces and show these heroes on the front lines that we really, really appreciate them, during this tough time.”

In addition to students from Cummings school participating, she mentioned the idea to other art educators in the County and some of those schools decided to participate as well. Easton, Hodgdon, Houlton and Van Buren joined in. Cummings says she would love to see other communities participate in honoring the County’s heroes.

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Young Artist’s in Quarantine

June 30, 2020

Student’s share their stories

This is part of a series highlighting the stories of young artists in quarantine. The period of free time that many people are experiencing has led to a sense of freedom in creating– when not held back by the standards expected by society and in much of art education (or needing to prove talent/fill resumes) it’s incredible what can be done. Alone in your room with just a paintbrush or guitar has led many students to find a new independence in art when they have the ability to create just for themselves. We’re hoping that by telling these stories, a change will occur in the way we approach arts education, to focus on the growth of the individual, even after quarantine comes to an end. Thank you Robyn Walker-Spencer, 2020 graduate, Camden Hills Regional High School, for launching this series of young artists in quarantine.

Kate Kemper just graduated from Camden Hills Regional High School. Below is her pandemic story.

I have always been an artist, I think. I have a grandparent on each side of my family who were extremely gifted in the arts, and my parents always say the “artist gene” skipped a generation. Over my life, I’ve expanded my mediums. I work in many forms of fine art; I am a painter, singer, poet, ceramist, and beginning mural artist.

What really sparked my love of art and helped me develop good foundations was my education at Ashwood Waldorf School. As a part of the core curriculum, I painted wet-on-wet in painting class and made a crayon drawing for every academic lesson over eight years.

In my senior year of high school, I took an advanced art portfolio class which pushed my artistic abilities even further. I learned about putting meaning into art and the different ways to make a statement about the world through the lens of creation. I now feel empowered to express my voice through a piece and do art much more frequently.

Separate, 2020, 14” x 17,” Mixed Media

There are a few common ways to make a statement about the world. Protesting, voting, speaking out, and art. You cannot have a successful social movement without art to move people. It can unite by interpreting a message into a visual format that makes it easier to understand. The repetition of an idea through many artworks grows a movement and can make real change in the mind of the audience.

But ultimately, art is what you want it to be. For me, among many others, it is a reaction.

I paint absent-minded abstractions when I need to relax, I express my frustrations when I’m angry, and I admire beauty when I’m joyful. I use it as a tool, a way to process emotion. This has come in especially handy during recent months. Amidst a global pandemic, one can expect many emotions. I went through a whirlwind of life events simultaneously, good and bad, so it is no surprise that I made a lot of art. The most defining piece of this era was one called “separate.” It was a paper cut representation of the idea of social distancing. It will join the large body of work that I am sure will arise worldwide in reaction to this pandemic.

Fruit Salad part 1, 2020, 24”x 24,” acrylic on canvas

Two Shrooms, 2020, 8” x 5,” ink pen on paper

Flank Study, 2019, India ink on paper

Blind, 2019, 6”x 12,” pen and paper

Sea Tea, 2019, 6” x 6” x 4,” ceramic and ceramic glaze

Skull and Books, 2019, 18” x 24,” conté on paper

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MMEA Statement

June 27, 2020

Black Lives Matter

Maine Music Educators Association (MMEA) unequivocally affirms that Black Lives Matter and that the horror of systemic racism and violence perpetrated against Black people must end.
The mission of the Maine Music Educators Association is to promote and advance music education for all students. Affirming that Black Lives Matter everywhere—in our classrooms and communities—is fundamental to our mission as an organization. MMEA has not done enough to address systemic racism and to support Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).
Our practices and curricula must elevate the lives, voices, experiences, cultures, and histories of Black and other marginalized people. We must begin by addressing gaps in our knowledge. We are called to fundamentally transform the school experiences of our students, shifting from non-racist to true anti-racist teaching. This requires continuous and deliberate reflection and change within MMEA, as well as at an individual, school, and district level.
Effecting change is going to be long term, challenging and sometimes uncomfortable, but it is necessary. MMEA is committed to supporting music educators, students, performing artists, and community members as we begin this work.
We must listen to and amplify the voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. We must do it together. In the coming weeks, the MMEA will provide resources while preliminary actionable steps are developed. We invite you to join us with this important work.
Black Lives Matter
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