Archive for the ‘Food for thought’ Category

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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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Rangoli Designs

June 28, 2020

Pretty amazing and calming

A Rangoli is a colourful design made on the floor using coloured rice powder. It is often used by Hindus throughout Diwali. … In math, Rangoli patterns are a creative way to discover symmetry, reflection and tessellation.

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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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In Today’s News

June 24, 2020

Maine DOE begins work of creating ME Learning Platform

Created by Maine educators for Maine educators and students, the Department of Education is proud to announce that the work of creating the Maine Learning Platform has begun.  To provide anytime, anywhere learning options and resources for educators, students and their families, the Maine Department of Education, in collaboration with curriculum coordinators, Maine educational community organizations, museums, learning centers, and Maine educators, is creating a library of asynchronous learning modules that are aligned to Maine’s Learning Results.

Developed by the over 400 Maine educators who have answered the call to create innovative lessons, these modules will be integrated to ensure that learning is synthesized across subject areas, and are project-based to encourage learning that is active and engaging.

The Department is developing a custom web-based platform to house these modules. The platform will provide educators and families with a bank of resources, with which they can provide students robust learning opportunities.  These modules could be utilized for enhancing lessons, remediation, enrichment, credit recovery, or for use during remote learning – whenever a student cannot access classroom instruction.

Each module will be designed around the essential question, “How do I Interact with and Impact My World?” The format will organize modules by grade level in grades pk-5, and by grade span for grades 6-8 and 9-12.

The essential elements of each of the modules include:

  • A project-based format
  • Best practices in asynchronous lesson design
  • Embedded formative assessments and opportunities for students to check for understanding
  • Standards in two or more content areas, three preferred
  • Opportunities to demonstrate growth in one or more of the Guiding Principles
  • Content that is inclusive of the experiences and multi-cultural backgrounds of  students.
  • Considerations in accommodations for special education and English Learners
  • Embedded elements of social/emotional/behavioral learning and trauma-informed practices

During the first planning meeting that was held on June 15, 2020 the elements, format, and timeline were reviewed with the dynamic group of teachers, and the brainstorming and collaboration began for creating modules for a quarter of a school year.

The platform will be launched at the beginning of September, and feedback on the modules will inform the continued development process throughout the 2020-2021 school year. We are excited by the professional collaboration and creativity that the platform will ignite with Maine educators, and by the development of organic, Maine-based learning resources and opportunities.

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Tracy’s COVID Teaching Story +

June 24, 2020

Music teacher extraordinaire

Tracy Williamson

My musical career started in 4th grade when I picked up the flute in the beginning band at Metcalf Middle School in Exeter-West Greenwich, RI. My middle school music teacher, Joe Smith, was an inspiration to me and all my classmates. He was quirky, fun, and taught us interesting and different music.  It was truly an amazing middle school music experience. I would definitely say that he inspired me to be the kind of teacher I am today. 

I went to Boston University for my Bachelors degree in Flute Performance and to Boston Conservatory after that for my Masters degree in Flute Performance and Music Education. I then moved up to Maine and finished my certification requirements through USM while playing in the Southern Maine Community Orchestra and continuing to seek out performance opportunities in the area.

My first teaching job was at Marion T. Morse Elementary School in Lisbon Falls teaching K-5 General Music and beginning band. I was hired at Gorham Middle School (GMS) in 2003 when the school was built and I was tasked with developing a brand new middle school music program that had not previously existed. Currently I teach General Music to all 6th & 7th grade students, Chorus for middle school and Steel Band to middle and high school students. My amazing colleague, Rose Skillling, also teaches GMS General Music as well as the Band and Jazz Band program.

I have always been a huge proponent of educational technology and the positive impact it can have on music education particularly in schedules where we see students so infrequently. dHaving Apple devices, a large portion of my curriculum has been based in Garage Band for many years. So when our technology director announced that the entire 6th grade would be moving to Chromebooks a few years ago I had a panic attack thinking I was going to completely lose the amazing possibilities I had opened up for the students. I did some research and I found a couple of apps that would work on the Chromebooks in a similar way and thankfully administration was super supportive and on board with purchasing Soundtrap and WeVideo for every student in the 6th grade.  Unbeknownst to me, this was about to open up a whole new avenue of connections across the world for me and the students.

At the time, Soundtrap, a small company based in Sweden, was still only a few years old and not that well known. But there happened to be a Maine educator who had connected with them and taken a position as an educational consultant. I quickly connected with her, and we teamed up to present Soundtrap at the student MLTI conference the same year I introduced the software to my curriculum. From there, the opportunities for sharing student work, lessons, ideas, connecting with music educators, blog posts, and articles just kept coming. Soundtrap has since been acquired by Spotify and is being widely used by educators and musicians. In January of 2020, through Soundtrap, I connected with the Society for Online Music Education and was invited to direct a Virtual Choir project for the International Music Education Summit to be premiered in mid-March. There were a couple of other Virtual Choir projects out there that I knew about but this was to be a new vision, one that included collaboration amongst participants, making Soundtrap the ideal software to use. We had a handful of teachers signed up for the pilot project. Things were going calmly and smoothly, and then COVID-19 hit us.

With the swift move to on-line learning, every music educator in the world immediately started to seek out virtual ensembles for students to participate in. Our project was quickly populated with hundreds of teachers and students and my director position got a lot more complicated! I asked two Maine colleagues, Rachel Scala-Bolduc and Patrick Volker, to help create vocal practice tracks to support the diverse group of new participants. Another music educator who teaches full-time at a virtual school suggested I try a Zoom rehearsal for participants to help them learn the parts. She hosted a how-to-run-a-virtual-rehearsal webinar that I participated in which ended up being an invaluable resource. The edit of the recordings took many, many hours of organizing, communicating, editing, and figuring out how to make the best quality audio. At one point I was playing the tracks for my husband and he suggested just dipping the volume at a certain point and it made a huge difference! During another moment of frustration, I listened to one of Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choirs to get some inspiration and realized that reverb was a key component to blending the voices that I had yet to try. I am so thankful for this learning opportunity because it gave me a head start for what was to come with the extension of distance learning to the end of the year.

As soon as our school announced the closure in March, I set up Zoom virtual rehearsals with the Chorus classes right away. We continued rehearsing just the same as we had in school. The only difference being, I couldn’t hear them as a group and they couldn’t hear each other. We experimented together, recorded during Zooms, recorded after Zooms, talked about other apps that might accommodate multiple singers, but we just kept on our path of our end-of-year performance goals and figured out everything together along the way. The students continued learning music we had started in school and also learned new music purely through our virtual rehearsals. In the end, they have recorded six pieces of music during our time home due to COVID-19, all of which I am turning into virtual choir videos to serve as our “spring performance”. While this is certainly not an ideal scenario for ensembles to rehearse, it is temporary and it can be successful!  

Unfortunately, because the steel pans are housed at school, and the steel band program is extracurricular, that is now in a bit of a holding pattern until we know the future of getting back into the school this Fall.  I have been researching apps that could provide some type of virtual pan experience to get the students by in the meantime and I have been in communication with our facilities department about potentially holding outdoor  parking lot rehearsals for steel band next year.

General Music Class was another whole challenge when we moved to distance learning! At GMS, students have 7-9 week rotations of Allied Arts. Both the 6th & 7th Grade Music Classes were about halfway through the rotation when we moved to online classes so we had established relationships and structures ahead of time. However, the student rotation change to a new Allied Arts class was scheduled for right after April break. This meant students and teachers connecting with and getting to know each other for the first time in a new content area, virtually.  As an Allied Arts team we worked together to help our current classes connect with the next teacher through Google Classroom. In Music Class, we introduced a Tabata composition project that combined physical activity and Music to help make the Music to PE transition smoother. The last rotation has been a challenge. It has been difficult to connect with kids with the asynchronous model that our district adopted due to many class meetings happening simultaneously. I have learned a lot about what I need to change in order to effectively teach new music concepts to individuals in an online format as opposed to a full group in person where we utilize a lot of repetition and group collaboration to help support learning. Although there are plenty of other variables in a new grouping of students, there was a marked difference in the performance of the General Music students who started before distance learning and those who started purely in the online format. This summer, my colleague and I plan to meet to talk about some of these challenges and make plans for how we can better teach General Music class should we remain in distance learning this Fall.

There have been a lot of worries circulating amongst Music teachers with research studies outlining the risks of the high transmission rate of COVID-19 through singing and instrument playing in conjunction with news of music educators being laid off in districts around the country.  The best thing we can do right now is to show our communities and administrators that, despite temporary limitations, music can and should still continue in our schools regardless of whether we are in the building or learning remotely. Think of solutions that will work and suggest them to colleagues and administrators before something is suggested for you! That also requires creativity, experimenting and out of the box thinking from all music educators. During the last few months, I had an overall participation rate of about 80% in my chorus students with a couple of overwhelmed students asking to drop and a couple of students asking to join because their schedule was suddenly free to do so. I had students completing Music Class work first thing in the morning saying they liked to do “the fun stuff” first. I had parents emailing about how much fun they had helping their child compose music or how amazing it was to hear the final virtual choir recording after hearing their child singing their part alone at home. The more success stories we share, the more everyone will continue to see the value in continued music and arts education whether we are teaching in the comfort of our classrooms or through the virtual world.  

Here are the various end-products I’ve worked on with the GMS Virtual Chorus:

“I See Colors” – May 2020

Audio recorded in Soundtrap, edited in Garage Band, video collected in Flipgrid, edited in iMovie, collage and effects in WeVideo:

 

“Home” – April 2020

Audio recorded in Soundtrap, edited in Garage Band, slideshow videos of staff messages collected in Flipgrid, compiled in iMovie:

 

“Between the Bells” – March 2020

Audio recorded in Soundtrap, edited in Garage Band, stock images from pexels.com, lyrics added in Adobe After Effects:

 

“The Tiger” – May 2020

Audio recorded in Soundtrap, edited in Garage Band, video recorded in a Zoom session, compiled and lyrics & effects added in WeVideo:

 

“The Never Ending Story” – June 2020

Audio recorded in Soundtrap, edited in Garage Band, pictures from the Gorham MIddle School Facebook page, compiled in iMovie:

 

6th Grade General Music:

“Tabata Soundtrack Project”  

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Young Artist’s in Quarantine

June 23, 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.

This post is written by Caleb Edwards who will be a senior at Watershed School in Camden in the fall.

What instruments do you play and what is your artist medium?

  • I play violin, piano, drums, mandolin, and I sing. I draw with colored pencils.

When did you start making art and playing music?

  • I started playing violin at age 8 and picked up other instruments over the years. I have been drawing forever, but I guess I started taking it seriously in middle school.

What experiences have you had with arts education in the past that shaped your experience?

  • My Waldorf School elementary experience definitely sparked my interests in the arts, especially life drawing.

What role does art and music play in your life now?

  • Music is everything for me and I am hoping to go to college for music production and composition I’ve picked up a few more instruments one the years since I started playing the violin. I also work with Logic Pro and produce both my music and help other artists on recording.

How has quarantine changed the way you approach art (new sense of independence/freedom)?

  • I think the extra time has had the biggest impact. I did a month-long project through a media class at school which I wrote and recorded a piece of music everyday. This turned into a welcome routine in my life and the outcome is a large collection of work I can draw from in the future.

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Fellowship

June 22, 2020

Maine connecting  with India

Sweet Tree Arts is thrilled to announce their Fellowship Program in partnership with SLAM Out Loud. Sweet Tree Arts and the Sweetland School are located in Hope, Maine. SLAM Out Loud is an organization in India. The Fellowship is open to artists and educators and begins in August 2020. The Fellowship offers experiences in arts based, learner centered approaches with trailblazing educators and learners in Maine and India. Learn the details by clicking on the flyer (below) to make it larger. The application available at THIS LINK.

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Amazing Educators

June 20, 2020

YOU did it!

CONGRATULATIONS EDUCATORS

…for taking on most likely the biggest challenge in your teaching career and for getting the JOB DONE! As you close the door on another school year I wish you a relaxing summer. As you take time for yourself and reflect on the last months please know I am grateful for the commitment you make to your learners and to ARTS education!

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Juneteenth

June 19, 2020

Teaching Tolerance

I didn’t learn about Juneteenth until I was an adult. I wonder why it was never part of my formal K-12 education. Teaching Tolerance website has included a blog post today that was written by Monica J. Bell and actually first published June 18, 2015. It provides history and clear information which I encourage you to read as a teacher, parent, adult seeking clarity so you can be better informed living in America or beyond.

So, what is Juneteenth? The name combines the words June and nineteenth, the day in 1865 when enslaved Texans in Galveston were informed that slavery was over. Learn more in today’s post called Happy Juneteenth! from Teaching Tolerance.

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Indigo Arts Alliance

June 19, 2020

Releases every Friday

Indigo Arts Alliance  is a proud partner with I’m Your Neighbor Books and Diverse Book Finder bringing this important program for young children and families everywhere.

Starting today and every #FestivalFriday through August 31, Indigo will release a new reading video on the Beautiful Blackbird website that highlights a different book, as well as its Black author and illustrator.  Browse the book titles here and stay tuned for the live recordings, performances, arts and crafts activities weekly this Summer!

Stay connected to Indigo Arts Alliance on Facebook, and Instagram for updates.

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