Archive for the ‘Curriculum and Instruction’ Category

h1

Arts Integration Workshop-Malawi

November 20, 2017

Lend your skills and travel to Africa, summer 2018

Are you a visual or performing arts educator or a teaching artist considering travel options during the summer of 2018? Are you interested in sharing arts integration methods in a small country in Africa? If so, consider traveling with Go! Malawi to the beautiful Ntchisi Village in Malawi to provide teacher workshops for local teachers. You might be the ideal educator to share your knowledge and make this the third summer that Maine educators have traveled to Malawi doing so. In return, you will be forever impacted by the experience.

In 2016 Lindsay Pinchbeck, founder and director of Sweetland School, an arts integrated school in Hope and Argy Nestor, director of arts education at the Maine Arts Commission traveled to Malawi and provided a 13-day workshop with 12 teachers from M’Pamila Primary School. The experience was so amazing that they are committed to continuing the program through 2020.

Go! Malawi’s mission is to collaborate with rural Malawian communities to develop sustainable programs in education, healthcare, commerce, and education. Read more about the teaching opportunity on the Go! Malawi site.

Read the documented story of Lindsay and Argy’s experience with a description of their program from July 2016. Contact us with questions or to obtain an application. Applications are now being accepted!

h1

Americans Who Tell the Truth

November 10, 2017

Samantha Smith Challenge – Register by January 15, 2018

“If we could be friends by just getting to know each other better than what are our countries actually arguing about? Nothing could be more important than not having a war if a war could kill everything”. ~Samantha Smith

Samantha Smith

Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT), partnering with Maine Association for Middle Level Education (MAMLE), and the Center for Innovation in Education (CIE) at Thomas College, is excited to launch the Fourth Annual Samantha Smith Challenge. The Samantha Smith Challenge (SSC), a dynamic educational program for Maine middle school students, promotes social justice through the arts. It is designed to build a bridge between the classroom and the world and to create curious, courageous, and engaged citizens. SSC projects teach students that, no matter what age, they can be part of solving the challenges and problems they see around them.

At the depths of the Cold War, when hot war between the Soviet Union and the United States seemed likely, a frightened young girl from Maine did something about that grim situation. Samantha Smith began by asking “Why?”. She went on to advocate for open communication and peace. A compelling storyteller, Samantha left us a legacy and an inspiring challenge: What can each of us do to make the world safer, healthier, and more fair?

Samantha was a narrative activist. By telling HER story she changed THE story-definitely a creative art! The power of the arts to deliver a message or to invoke action is indisputable. Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT) combines art and other media to inspire a new generation of engaged Americans who will act for the common good, our communities, and the Earth. Over thirty of the AWTT portrait subjects have used the creative arts to inspire action and are located on the AWTT website.

The SSC is about identifying important community and world issues, understanding them, and making a compelling argument in an effective medium. After doing extensive research and engaging community members and experts, student participants in the SSC will make their case for positive change. They may paint a portrait of a truthteller in their community, create a dramatic production or tell a compelling story about their issue, or write music that makes us feel braver and less alone. They may write an essay that makes a powerful argument for why we should all join in their effort to make the world a better place. Some students may choose their medium while others may be working in a specific class that teaches drawing or painting, theater or filmmaking where the teacher will define the medium.

The SSC asks, “How/why can creative arts and writing inspire action on serious issues?” All participants in this year’s SSC will gather at Thomas College on June 4, 2018 to showcase and celebrate their work.

Use the arts to showcase and bring attention to your issue, your findings, and your actions.  FOR MORE INFORMATION about the program or contact  Connie@americanswhotellthetruth.org. REGISTER by January 15, 2018.

h1

Who Are They? Portland Stage – Part 6

November 1, 2017

The Education Team and What We Value

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 Artist in a workshop Photo by Aaron Flacke

As Portland Stage’s education program has grown over the years, so has our educational aesthetic. Thanks to the continuous work over the years by a delightful, curious, joyful, caring, and silly team of educators and administrators, our program has developed into what it is today.

All of our classes are process-based. The work is focused more on having an experience with theater rather than on the final product. Our text work is focused on bringing the text alive. We make time for scavenger hunts and theater games because we believe that these activities build theatrical skills as well as encourage collaboration, creative play, and communication.

Students drive the work that happens in the classroom. We honor and celebrate the ideas they bring to the table. For example, we talk to them about what characters and stories excite them. At the end of a class we ask them what they would like to share in their open studio. In our PLAY in Schools program, we ask students to come up with a simple movement to bring particular words in a poem to life and those become the actions we use to tell the story. In our Directors Lab program, we invite students to take ownership of Shakespeare’s language. We are always searching for ways to increase student investment and creative ownership.

Whenever possible, we work with a co-teaching model. This allows for us to have multiple people in the room cheering for each student and championing their experience! When we co-teach, we increase the likelihood that students will find a way to connect with a teacher and find an entry point into the work. As teachers, we work together and model the collaboration and problem-solving that we ask young people to participate in.

Hannah Cordes in a workshop Photo by Aaron Flacke

We consistently celebrate each other’s work! We devalue competition and focus on fostering ensemble. We invite greater and greater levels of participation in students’ work. We celebrate each seemingly small but monumental acts of bravery that are present in each classroom we enter.

The people you are most likely to see at a Portland Stage workshop are Hannah Cordes, Julianne Shea, and our two education interns. We love reading picture books, playing theater games, exploring texts, and working with young people. We are also lucky enough to have a whole team of over 35 education artists. These education artists have trained at theater companies across the nation, many have B.A.’s or B.F.A.’s in theater, others have Masters Degrees, and others teach at academic institutions. All of the people you find working in Portland Stage’s programs are practicing artists. The work they create both through Portland Stage and with other companies in Maine’s rich artistic community informs their work in the classroom. They personally know the thrill of creating art and the vulnerability it calls for. This practice allows them to excitedly create a supportive environment for students to learn about theater themselves. They understand the risks they are asking students to take because they often take risks in their own creative projects. We also make time to continue to learn new things about theater and about teaching. Notably, Portland Stage’s education team gets together one weekend every year to engage in training. For the last three years we have had Kevin Coleman, the Director of Education at Shakespeare & Company, lead our educators in a teacher training intensive. It is important for all of us to learn new skills and reinforce concepts we value. We also cherish the fact that this training allows for us all to be in the same room at the same time asking questions, getting curious about teaching practice, and sharing stories (both successes and failures).

As our program develops and we collaborate with more and more artists, we continually gather feedback and implement that into our process. We strive to learn and grow. We are grateful for the opportunity to work with so many strong educators.

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

h1

Vinalhaven 2nd and 3rd Graders

October 30, 2017

LEAPS of IMAGINATION

LEAPS of IMAGINATION is an in-school art program for students in underserved communities. Our team of eight mentor artists interweaves art, literacy, science and mapping to create month-long projects with environmental sustainability and social justice as overarching themes.

Recognizing that art is a vehicle for teaching thinking, our projects support class curricula and empower children to participate in local and global issues. We work with children in their classrooms for two hours each morning twice each week. Envisioning programs that cut across disciplines, artists dovetail literature, environmental exploration, and artwork with student interests.

LEAPS of IMAGINATION’s MISSION is to ignite the imagination and inspire new ways of thinking so that young people can realize that their ideas have purpose and that they have the courage to act on them.

LEAPS of IMAGINATION was a Maine Arts Commission Arts Learning grant recipient this year.

h1

Who Are They? Portland Stage – Part 5

October 25, 2017

In-Theater Program

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.

Photo by Aaron Flacke

Our In-Theater programming is particularly close to my heart because of the students who come back year after year and class after class, taking in every Portland Stage experience that they can find. This is my third season at Portland Stage and even in that small amount of time, I have been able to see the students grow as actors, collaborators, and creators. We offer classes and intensives for middle and high school students, vacation and summer camps for all ages, and dramatic readings and workshops of children’s books for ages 4-10.

At Portland Stage, we take After School to a whole new level. We devise haunting pieces for our All Hallows Eve Conservatory in the fall and tackle the humor and drama of Shakespeare in the spring. Our students are delightfully outspoken, endlessly creative, and admirably dedicated. What I enjoy most about working with these young people, however, is how much they make me laugh. Their quirky uniqueness never fails to create an eventful class each week. For example, when we brainstormed our company name in last season’s All Hallows Eve Conservatory, some of the suggestions they came up with included: “The Tell-Tale Kidneys”, “Trainwreck”, “The HallowTWEEN Company”, “The Ghosts of the Purple Floor” (our Theater for Kids space has a bright purple floor), and, the name they ended up selecting, “The Democratic Grim Society of Hauntedness”. On day one of our spring Shakespeare Conservatory last season, we asked the students what they loved most about Shakespeare and storytelling. Of course, their first answer was “the intensity and the mass death scenes”. Armed with that information, we created a Shakespeare mash-up of the utmost intensity that ended in a mass death scene where each student dramatically died not once, but TWICE.

Photo by Aaron Flacke

This past summer, we ran 13 summer camps and welcomed nearly 200 students into our building. All of our camps are based on a book or play, so we got to play with spectacular stories such as Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Macbeth, and Ramona Quimby. Each student picks which characters they want to explore and then are given a scene and a speech to work on throughout the week. The students become an ensemble of actors who work together to tell stories, solve problems, and create theater. At the end of the week, we invite family and friends into our space to share what we have been working on. The bravery these students exhibit by stepping up in front of other people to share their work and the pride they have in each other creates for a beautiful end to many fantastic weeks of camp.

Our Play Me a Story program (PMAS) is a dramatic reading series that takes place on Saturday mornings. Professional actors perform picture books and poems for an audience of 4-10 year-olds. After the reading, teaching artists lead the students in an active workshop where the students become the actors. They explore their actor’s tools (voice, body, and imagination) through games, activities, and performance. This program is an absolute blast for our actors and teachers, as well as the kids! One element of our job in the education office is reading tons of picture books in order to select books for both PMAS and our PLAY In Schools program. Julianne and I are what you might call picture book aficionados. Any time someone in the office needs a smile or a pick-me-up, we will get out one of our favorite picture books and do an impromptu reading. In fact, on the new education interns’ first day, we all read one of our favorites (Drew Daywalt’s Legend of The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors, highly recommended!) in a circle and it was absolutely magical. Moral of the story is: we love this program and picture books and all of the joy they bring to both adults and children.

At Portland Stage, I have met a wide array of students who teach me more than I could ever teach them. They teach me to be brave with my creativity, fearless in the face of any challenge or prompt. They teach me to be kind and supportive of one another, reinforcing each other’s successes and courageous attempts. They make me laugh uncontrollably and cry unapologetically. Most importantly, they remind me of the importance of theater education and the agency, confidence, and independence that it can give to young people.

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

h1

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

h1

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

%d bloggers like this: