Archive for the ‘Integration’ Category

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Visit to Wyoming

May 22, 2019

Amazing opportunity

Mary and I at the Wyoming Arts Council

I am so grateful to have traveled to Wyoming last week. I went for two main purposes – one to sit on the arts education grant panel for the Wyoming Arts Council and the second to attend the connect2women conference, especially to attend a session provided by Mary Billiter. Mary is the Arts Education Specialist at the Wyoming Arts Council. I love the Council’s slogan: Grow – Connect – Thrive.

During my almost six years as the director of arts education at the Maine Arts Commission I have been fortunate to mentor two other state arts agency arts education directors. Both have provided me with opportunities to reflect on the work that I view as so important to quality arts education in our schools and communities throughout the state and country. And, is often the case, I have learned so much and have been grateful for the chance to interact with two amazing women! Now, they are not only colleagues but friends.

Denver airport looks like a giant sculpture

It was fascinating to see ‘close up’ how another state coordinates their arts education grant panel. I have read about how other states run their panels and talked with other directors about the process but experiencing the process was much different. It gave me the chance to pause, reflect, and learn.

The panel of 8 traveled from all over Wyoming and we reviewed 53 grant applications, which is almost three times as many as are submitted in Maine. The applications received cover a wide range; PreK-through higher education institutions, arts councils, non-profit, for profit, community organizations and much more. Some of the challenges and successes the applicants face day to day are similar to what I find in Maine and some were very different. It Applicants were required to demonstrate alignment with the state’s arts standards, among other requirements. Needless to say I loved taking on the challenge and since I knew very little or nothing about the applicants and communities, in some ways the task was easier.

First Lady Jennie Gordon

Attending the connect2women conference was a real gift. Kate Debow Hayes serves as the executive director and is the energy behind the work that the organization has underway. It is their fourth conference and the first as a non-profit. Each year the conference grows as people learn about the opportunity.

The speakers, presenters and workshops were varied and interesting. Mary’s workshop was called “Writing Your Online Presence” and it was useful on many levels. From writing emails to formal and informal letters to requesting face to face meetings and much more – I was reminded of how important communication is on a variety of levels. The room was packed with about 50 people. Mary Billiter is the award-winning author of the highly acclaimed resort romance series, which she wrote on her cell phone while she underwent breast cancer treatment. She has a new book coming out in July. I will include a blog post tomorrow that I hope you’ll read since it covers a topic that is familiar to all of us and an important one to address as educators.

Giant boot mosaic

I attended a second workshop called “Brand Your Story” that was presented by Elizabeth Dillow who is an accomplished photographer and designer. The seeds she planted provided the chance to work on “advocacy” through a different lens. It is so fun to be presented with challenges when traveling.

One highlight of the conference was the keynote provided by Wyoming’s First Lady Jennie Gordon. She shared her story growing up with a mother who was born in Austria and coming to the states after marrying an American service man from WWII. She has 9 siblings and now grown children of her own. Her story was very inspirational.

One of the many beautiful flowers at the botanical garden

During my down-time in Wyoming I had a chance to visit some local spots. The Cheyenne Botanical Gardens was one and they are amazing. Many of you know that I create mosaics so seeing the giant boot in mosaic form was a real treat. The gardens also include 3 floors of beautiful plants, an extensive children’s garden, a rooftop garden spot, and much more. I loved seeing the tulips, the vegetables and flowers waiting to be planted from the greenhouse, the indoor/ outdoor classroom and the rooftop providing a wonderful view. While there I met an interesting 80 year old man who was retired from a career in education – teacher, principal, and superintendent – he was spending his day fishing.

The best part about being out west is how everything feels so HUGE. I landed at the Denver airport with a tent like design, the Rockies in the distance, the intense blue sky, the clouds that go from white puffy to grey rain clouds in a matter of minutes, the boots and hats, and the people who are curious and friendly! I am grateful to experience and learn so much while traveling and LOVE returning home to Maine!

Indoor/outdoor classroom in the children’s area of the botanical gardens

I’m sure many of the meartsed blog readers have been out west. If not, I recommend a trip – rent a car, drive around, stop in the local  shops, and stare at the immense sky and land. Ask the local people a question or two and let them talk about their lives.

 

 

 

 

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Storytelling and Innovation

May 19, 2019

Southern Maine Partnership

The annual conference sponsored by USM and the the Southern Maine Partnership, Assessment for Learning & Leading was outstanding. These year’s theme was Brain-Based Strategies to Cultivate Positive Learning Environments. Conference planners Jeff Beaudry and Anita Stewart  McCafferty did an amazing job planning two days of

Jen Etter

keynotes and sessions that left participants excited and filled with information to use in their classrooms and school districts.  The featured keynote speaker was Dr. Marcia Tate whose work parallels much of the teaching and learning that takes place every day in visual and performing arts education.

Arts education played an important part of the conference as it has each of the past three years. Presenting at the conference were Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI)

Shawna Barnes

Teacher Leader York Middle School Music Educator Jen Etter and MALI Teaching Artist Leader Shawna Barnes. Their session was titled Brain-Based Strategies – Gateways to Creativity, Growth and Recovery. Jen provided information on strategies used in the music classroom that align with the brain research. Shawna offered information the role of the arts has in responding to disabilities and injuries. Each of them used examples from their work as teachers in the different settings.

I had a chance to with Lindsay Pinchbeck and offer a workshop called Storytelling and Innovation – an exploration in arts integration. If you click on the image on the right it will be larger and you can read our agenda. 

The participants were thoughtful and willing to share – opening their thinking and ideas. During part of the session participants had a chance to try Express-a-Book which is an idea created by Falmouth High School music educator Jake Sturtevant, Lindsay Pinchbeck and myself. It’s our answer to traditional book clubs. An opportunity to dive into a resource like a book, TED Talk or a pod cast and instead of only ‘talking’ about it, participants create a response using an art form and share the art with the group. We created it as part of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) and have tried it with people around the world through our work with HundrEDExpress-a-Book is part of Jeff and Anita’s recently published book Teaching Strategies That Create Assessment-Literate Learners.

Participants used the Hundred site or a segment of The Innovators Mindset by George Couros, Mindset by Carol Dweck or If I Understood You Would I Have This Look on My Face? by Alan Alda. Afterwards they shared their take-aways from these resources so they could help build on everyone’s knowledge. I highly recommend all four resources for independent or collaborative reading with colleagues.

The most fun part of the session was at the beginning when participants used “story starters” and created a dragon together – a technique that we learned from MALI Teaching Artist Leader Nicole Cardano who is the founder of Theater Today.

We provided numerous research reports, articles and links to a variety of resources that participants could follow up with if they wish to learn more on arts integration, innovation, mindset, storytelling and many more topics that are centered on good teaching and learning.

We completed the session by participants providing a “one word poem” – growth, environment, open-minded, transformative, opportunities, engaged, non-linear, and global.

Lindsay and Argy

For those of you who don’t know Lindsay, her bio is below. If you’re interested in purchasing Jeff and Anita’s book please contact them at jeffrey.beaudry@maine.edu and anita.stewart@maine.edu

Lindsay’s Bio – Originally from Scotland Lindsay Pinchbeck came to Maine for her undergraduate degree. Lindsay has been teaching with and through the arts in a variety of settings for the past 20 years. Lindsay is the director and founder of Sweet Tree Arts and Sweetland School, a community organization in Hope, ME offering a K-6 arts Integrated, Reggio Emilia inspired school. Pinchbeck received her Masters in Education through Lesley University’s Creative Arts and Learning program. Lindsay believes the creative arts should be accessible to all. She encourages everyone to be active participants and keen observers with the hope of enriching communities through the arts. Learn more at sweettreearts.org.

 

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Teach to Lead

May 15, 2019

Powered By Summit

Are you and your colleagues looking for a leadership opportunity to build curriculum and collaborate with a team? Have you been wishing for an extended time to develop an idea that you can implement at your school/district? Do you have one day during the summer to devote to professional development? If you answered yes to these three questions consider submitting a proposal for the Powered By Teach to Lead Summit.

The Summit will be held on August 16 at University of Maine Farmington. Last year the event was held at Husson and the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) took a team. MALI took a team several years ago Teach to Lead held a Summit in Washington, D.C. It was the turning point for the initiative in multiple ways and an amazing learning opportunity.

Space is limited so gather your colleagues together and see what they think. The link for submitting your idea is at THIS LINK.

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Sustainability Festival

May 11, 2019

Sweet Tree Arts

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Gone to Malawi

May 2, 2019

Water is Life

Thank you to Krisanne Baker, Ecological Artist and Educator, teaches Visual Arts at Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro,  who provided this blog post. It was previously published in the Union of Maine Visual Artists Journal and again in the Courier-Gazette newspaper. You can see Krisanne’s artwork at HER WEBSITEKrisanne has continued the work that was started in July 2016, Arts Integration workshops for teachers in Malawi, Africa. If you’re interested in learning more please contact me at argy.nestor@maine.gov.

At this time last year, Medomak Valley High School art teacher Krisanne Baker took her mantra, “Water is Life,” to Malawi, Africa, where she educated teachers at the top of a rainforest about their water systems, and then made art about preservation and conservation.

I found myself waking up, in what I thought was a National Geographic magazine spread, at the top of a rainforest mountain in Malawi, Africa. Passion can take you on some funny paths. Ten years ago I could easily have imagined a safari in Africa, but not for the reason that got me there in April 2018 with my teaching colleague, Melissa Barbour, who had invited me to collaborate with her. My reason for embarking was water, the rains of Africa, and the passion to make and empower change.

My day job for the past 25 years has been as a crazy high school art teacher. I get a kick out of working with hormonal teenagers getting ready to jump into life. When people find out that I teach at the local high school, they say, “Oh, thank you!” They can’t imagine why I’d be crazy enough to want to spend all day with their kids, but they are grateful.

Teaching also funds my main job – I mean the one in my head and my heart – being a painter; and all the expensive art supplies that go along with it. Once my son was old enough, I finally had the opportunity to work on a Master of Fine Arts. I didn’t do it to become a better teacher, although it did make me that, but to get deeper into my own work. You see, I’d always felt like there was something missing.

One of the hardest and yet simplest things to put together as a research thesis in grad school was what I was passionate about. I knew it was water. But where to go from there? Twelve years ago, there were no front page headlines about climate change; Flint, Michigan; Nestlé Corporation or drought. Why water? I’d spent years making paintings of its many moods and atmospheres. But the reveries just weren’t enough. What it came down to is that I CARE about water. And when you look at the myriad ways in which it touches our lives and makes our lives possible, I thought, well, EVERYBODY should care about water!

My research led me down a road I never thought possible – one that scared the pants off of me – ACTIVISM. “Oh, no, I can’t do that! I don’t know the first thing about it… what would I say? What could I possibly do? Does that mean I have to give a performance or something? Wait, no, I can’t do that, I’M AN INTROVERT!”

All I can say is, introvert or extrovert, if you are passionate about something, you find a way to share it with people. The hardest thing I found was to stay positive and not blame or make people feel bad about all the difficult water situations. I found the most meaningful way to bring about a change is to educate people. With knowledge comes the care and the desire to do positive helpful things. Actions start small and grow bigger, bolder and louder.

First I did my work in true introvert style. I made short videos, using myself as a model, superimposed upon various water situations that need our attention. That way I could perform, but didn’t have to come eye to eye with an audience. But after my short films, I began having to do question and answer talks, or tell stories… or give a gallery talk about series of paintings I made to raise awareness of water quality, chemical infiltration and women’s body burdens.

Five years ago, I began incorporating my water awareness work into my classroom teaching. I developed the “Gulf of Maine: Endangered Ocean Creatures” curriculum and “Gulf of Maine: Dare to Care.” Students wholeheartedly engaged. When I was presented with the idea of interdisciplinary teaching in Africa to teachers in a remote area, the first thing I looked up was their connection to water. My first thoughts were the Darfur droughts and water wars between Israel and Palestine. The area where I was to go was water rich in comparison. Malawi, if you don’t know where it is – I didn’t – is just inland from the Eastern shores of Africa, and is home to one of the largest bodies of fresh water on the continent, Lake Malawi. It’s just above Mozambique.

My mission was to incorporate art and the local rainforest ecology in a teachable curriculum for the Ntchisi district teachers, in the hopes that they would implement local ecological stewardship through art and action. When we think of rainforests, we usually think “rich in resources,” which they are. Rainforests currently face major deforestation problems, not only due to removal of rare and beautiful woods, but also through exponentially increasing populations – a global problem. I hired a forest ranger to guide 12 teachers and me through the Ntchisi rainforest. We learned about the water system, in concert with the plants and animals, and how everything is connected through water. Back in a classroom, I drew global water systems on a chalkboard. I talked about how much the ocean covers the planet, and how we need to care for all waters, as they continually circulate from oceans to clouds to mountains to rainforests, and beyond. There were looks of amazement, and lightbulbs glowing in the minds of these remote educators. I was amazed that this was new knowledge to them, but in a landlocked very remote area, what else should I expect? I was grateful that they were receptive and completely engaged and passionate.

We discussed the water sources that humans use, the mountain rainforest, and how people cutting down trees for cooking fuel would eventually collapse the water system. Malawi is the world’s second poorest country. This mountaintop population of about 40 small villages has no running water and no electricity, no fuel other than wood. When I say poor, I mean to write on a piece of paper, a teacher would first divide it into four quarters before handing it out, if they had any. Children walking with me on the road between the school and the Go! Malawi compound would ask for a sweet. If I didn’t have any, they would ask me for a pencil. They are hungry to learn. Books are a rarity. A current fundraising project begun by an 8th grade student in Maine through the Go! Malawi non-profit will build the first mountain library in the Ntchisi region, hopefully in 2020. (Visit go-malawi.org/donate-online/ if interested in making a donation.)

I led the teachers to incorporate their drawings (images from our rainforest walks, talks and microscope viewings) into plans for three large, painted murals. Each mural showed the place, the cycles of water, plants, trees, animals, people, fish, phytoplankton and zooplankton. I brought a digital microscope, which we plugged into a solar inverter at the Go! Malawi compound. Each told a visual story of how we are all connected through water and how we must care for this place to protect the water. Each mural had the simple words: Water is Life / Madzi ndi Moyo.

At the end of two weeks, my teachers had become new water art activists. They had a plan to circulate the murals amongst several schools, with thought-provoking questions to spark discussions with their students. We have future plans through Go! Malawi to underwrite tree planting workshops and do-it-yourself solar cookers. Until my workshop, many of the teachers had not ever been in the rainforest at the top of the mountain. They thanked me for opening up that part of their world to them, along with the concept and practices of stewardship. I thanked them by asking them to engage their students, and left a suitcase of art supplies for them to make more murals in their classrooms as constant reminders of the importance of water to our lives. Someday I hope to meet up with one of those rainforest village children who has become a water activist.

Krisanne Baker is a Waldoboro artist, an art and ecology educator at Medomak Valley High School, a former professor at the University of Maine Farmington and an avid ocean advocate. Her work concerns water quality, availability and rights, both locally and globally. Baker’s multimedia installations and paintings are studies of the patterns of the natural world, arrangements of colors and ocean life in macroscopic and microscopic views of the “heart of the planet.”

Baker exhibits nationally, gives talks internationally and collaborates with others. She was recently a Visiting Artist in Residence at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in its world-renowned living marine algae lab. This collaboration will result this summer in a large-scale installation of phytoplankton created as phosphorescent glowing glass sculptures.

Baker’s paintings can be seen locally at Caldbeck Gallery, 12 Elm St., Rockland and online at KrisanneBaker.com.

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Teaching Artist Professional Development Workshop

April 23, 2019

Space limited

The Arts Commission is providing a one-day professional development workshop for Maine Teaching Artists.
Monday 17 June 2019
8:45 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Only 20 spots available – REGISTER TODAY
Viles Mansion/Governor Samuel Cony House, 71 Stone Street, Augusta.
$25.00. Registration is required.
Purpose
The workshop is focused on the role and benefits of a teaching artist. We will address how to structure and market a residency as well as tips for communicating and collaborating teachers,  administrators, and community arts representatives. The workshop will include resources and techniques on applying your expertise as an artist to the structure of your work as a teaching artist including communication tips, connecting standards and assessments in your lessons, promotional information, funding opportunities, messaging and much more.
Outcomes
  • Information on applying your expertise as an artist to the structuring of your lessons and residencies.
  • Hands-on experience in relating the learning standards and assessments to your work.
  • Participation in sessions that are planned to fit your specific needs as a teaching artist.
  • Promoting yourself and your work as a teaching artist
Workshop Presenters
  • Tom Luther – Teaching Artist, Musician, Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teaching Artist Leader
  • Lindsay Pinchbeck – Arts Educator, Founder and Director Sweetland School, Hope
  • Kate Smith – Elementary music educator, Central School, South Berwick
Please note: To be eligible to apply for the Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist Roster teaching artists must attend the one-day workshop.
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LEAPS

April 12, 2019

Art program in schools and community

Jonathan Frost speaking with the 5th graders at his gallery. Their portraits are displayed on the left and bark drawings behind him.

Several years ago Nancy Harris Frohlich created LEAPS of IMAGINATION where artists work with students in connecting the environment and history to making art. Much of the work is done through literacy. Recently I visited the Jonathan Frost Gallery in Rockland during a celebration of art created by 5th graders from South School in Rockland.

The students worked with teaching artist Susan Bebee and after studying bark created drawings. The drawings were amazing and it was clear that the students will not look at a piece of bark the same way again. I remember when I learned to make rock baskets (forming a basket around a rock, whatever size), I never look at rocks the same way again. Always wondering what shape the basket might be if I used it for a form.

The bark drawings were followed by portraits created with a combination of prints and drawings. Students were invited to speak about their artwork and I so enjoyed how articulate they were – they learned so much and were so proud. Thank you Nancy and those who work with LEAPS to provide such rich learning environments for learning in visual arts.

Below are some student responses.

Tell us Why Art is Important for Kids?

  • Because if you have a job, you need to have IMAGINATION.
  • Art helps kids feel INSPIRED.
  • Art is a great way for kids to EXPRESS THEMSELVES.
  • Art is FUN!
  • Art lets kids show their FEELINGS.
  • Art helps kids be CREATIVE.
  • Art makes it possible for kids to be ARTISTIC.
  • Art is so important and helps kids CONNECT to NATURE in so many ways.
  • Kids can get BETTER at drawing.
  • Art helps kids TAKE their MINDS off the REAL WORLD.
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