Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

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EXPLORE

October 21, 2017

Art Teacher and Teaching Artist collaborate

Acton Elementary School students in the EXPLORE: Visual Art program worked with Maine Teaching Artist Ann Thompson to create woven wheels, kinesthetic sculptures using bicycle wheels and nylon climbing rope. Ann collaborated with Art Teacher Cami Davis to create and install the pieces at Kelly Orchards in Acton during Applecycle, a bicycle tour of orchards in southern Maine on Saturday, October 14. The sculptures will take permanent residence on the school grounds along with six other pieces that will hang indoors.
Cami said: “Students loved working collaboratively on the three dimensional pieces and learning about the donated and recycled materials used to create the sculptures.”
Applecycle is a fund raiser for the Community Bicycle Center
after school youth development program.
And, Teaching Artist Ann Thompson, who is on the Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist roster said: “The CBC is one of my favorite collaborators and a vitally important program for our community!”

 

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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

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Arts Education Network

October 11, 2017

Opportunity to connect

Heather Martin from Arts are Elementary in Brunswick

On Friday, October 6, representing organizations, institutions, and schools almost 40 people gathered at the Farnsworth Art Museum for the Maine Arts Commission Arts Education Network.

PURPOSE

The purpose was to meet and learn from each other by sharing information and resources, exchanging ideas about education programs, and collaborative thinking.

Hannah Cordes, Portland Stage Education Manager listens while Julianne Shea, Education Administrator introduces herself

It was a great opportunity to NETWORK!

The first part of the agenda included the opportunity to hear about the statewide arts education census that was conducted during the 2015-16 school year. Julie Richard, the Maine Arts Commission executive director shared highlights.

Julie Richard, Executive Director at the Maine Arts Commission reviews what we learned through the state wide census in Arts Education conducted during the 2015-16 school year

Andrea Curtis shared information about the Farnsworth education programs. Teaching artist Alexis Iammarino provided the background information on the murals she has created with students that are located throughout Rockland.

All participants introduced themselves and answered What drives you? Why do you do what you do?

Chrissy Fowler from Belfast Flying Shoes and Joshua McCarey listen while Jessie Davis the Executive Director of the Strand introduces herself

The second part of the day, the participants were in four groups to discuss the following audience questions and vision questions.

AUDIENCE 

  •      With whom do you currently collaborate?
  •      With whom might you like to collaborate?
  •      Who are your programs currently reaching?
  •      Which demographic would you like to engage more?

 VISION

  •      If there were no constraints on your resources (i.e. time,   staffing, funding), what would you do?

ridget Matros from Waterfall Arts listens while the Arts Education Exchange participants share information about their work in arts education

Small groups shared with the entire group. Participants were invited to visit the Midcoast Music Academy, the Strand Theater, CMCA, the Farnsworth, or the murals they had learned about earlier in the day.

Notes were taken in each group which will be collated and shared with the participants and the 20 others who were not able to join us. If you are part of an art organization, institute, or school and have an arts education arm and are interested in connecting please email me at argy.nestor@maine.gov.

Ian Bannon from Figures of Speech and Celebration Barn documenting participants comments

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Maine Teacher of the Year – Kaitlin Young

October 4, 2017

Announced today at a surprise assembly

Kaitlin Young when she was recognized as the 2017 Piscataquis County Teacher of the Year

CONGRATULATIONS to Kaitlin Young, 2018 Maine Teacher of the Year. Kaitlin teaches music to elementary and middle school students and is a proud member of the SeDoMoCha teaching staff. She loves teaching, her students, and her community. When she joined the staff at SeDoMoCha Elementary and Middle Schools there were 4 students in the chorus and today the chorus has 175 members. WOWZER!

Today is a special day for Kaitlin! In a surprise assembly each year the new Maine Teacher of the Year is named and today is the day!

Kaitlin is a teacher leader with the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative and her project this year is Showcasing the Learning Process Through “Informance”.

Kaitlin was named the 2017 Piscataquis County Teacher of the Year in the Spring and spent the summer on the next step – being considered for the state honor. She spent hours putting together her teaching history, answering questions, and presenting in front of peers.

Along with Kaitlin two other state finalists were selected. Jennifer England, an English teacher at Noble High School in North Berwick, developed a program for at-risk students at the school and oversees senior projects. And, Kasie Giallombardo is a social studies teacher at Nokomis High School in Newport. Principal Mary Nadeau said her work there represents the “art and science” of teaching, with effective strategies for student learning.

In September a team visited the three finalists schools for a site visit. They visited Kaitlin’s classroom, interviewed her colleagues, administrators, community members, and students. Maine’s selection process is long and tedious, unlike most other states.

The last music teacher who was selected as Maine Teacher of the Year was Charlie Seymour. Charlie was teaching at Camden Hills Regional High School and the year was 1986.

I am sure you will all join me in CONGRATULATING Kaitlin – she will do a wonderful job representing educators from across the state as she travels in and out of state during the next year. Soooooo excited for Kaitlin Young, especially since she speaks our language – ARTS education! YAHOOOO!

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Who Are They? Portland Stage – Part 2

October 3, 2017

Directors Lab

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.

Performance of Macbeth with Education Artists Megan Tripaldi, Hannah Daly, Erica Murphy, & Christopher Holt Photo by Aaron Flacke

One of our exciting In-School programs is called Directors Lab. Directors Lab engages middle and high school students with Shakespeare through performance, workshops, and active text-work. This year, we will be performing a 45 minute version of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar followed by a talkback with the actors and exciting hands-on workshops in classrooms. Directors Lab puts Shakespeare’s language into the hands and mouths of the students, empowering them to be the artists, directors, and ensemble with the power to interpret the text and produce meaning.

On a personal note, this is my absolute favorite program to teach and engage with. As the director of the touring production, I get the privilege to be in the room with our fantastic actors as we explore the text and characters of Shakespeare’s plays. We put on the production with only four actors, so a large part of the rehearsal process is problem-solving, brainstorming, and playful experimentation. How do we show which character you are playing in any given moment? How do we fill in the gaps that a 45-minute adaptation poses us with? How do we bring this story alive in an engaging way? Rehearsal is an action-packed week of collaboration, laughter, tears, and joy that makes bringing it to schools all the more exciting and valuable.

The final and most important part of the equation is the students! It is remarkable to watch students bring Shakespeare’s language alive using their own experiences and emotions as the backdrop for approaching the text. I rediscover Shakespeare’s plays each time I step into a classroom, as the students introduce new ideas and layers to these stories.

Students make for the best audiences because they have less social restrictions as spectators. They organically respond to what is occurring on stage, which makes for a transformative 45 minutes. During a performance of Romeo and Juliet, the woman playing Juliet asked the nurse “Shall I speak ill of him that is my husband?” and the crowd of students erupted with an “OHHHHH!”. The students’ response was because they knew that this was a huge moment for Juliet’s character and an important reveal. Clearly, they were following the story and invested in the characters’ journeys. The energy in the cafeteria, gym, theater, or wherever else we perform is electric and like nothing else I have ever experienced.

Directors Lab Workshop Photo by Aaron Flacke

One of the first activities that we do in the workshops is called “text layups” (an activity created by the education team at Shakespeare & Company) where each student performs a single line of text. Another student stands behind the performer and reads the line from a piece of paper. That way, the actor is not reading and trying to comprehend or “get it right”. Their job is simply to listen to the line, repeat it, and bring the text alive, whether through an emotion, a gesture, a tone of voice, or a combination of all of the above.  At a school visit last season, one student got up and completely froze. He had wanted to try to say the line out loud but once he was faced with the moment, he couldn’t bring himself to speak. I went up to him and asked him to say the line just to me so that he would have an experience of speaking the words without worrying about an “audience”. He looked me right in the eye and spoke the line of text with emotional clarity and power and I was incredibly moved by his performance. He continued to participate throughout the workshop, playing a witch in our exploration of the “double, double” text and making brave acting choices throughout. At the end of each workshop, every student reinforces one thing from the workshop and many students reinforced the boy for his bravery. He was beaming by the time he left the room. After all the students were gone, the teacher came up to me and told me that student not only never speaks in class, but he also had never made eye contact with a fellow classmate or a teacher before. This is just one of many moments we have experienced in this program that sheds some light on the extraordinary power of theater and Shakespeare.

I could talk about this program for pages, so instead I will end with some quotes from teachers that I believe sum up the magic of this work.

“The workshop brought out the chance for some kids to really shine. Those students who struggle sitting in a chair all day had the most fun, I think. The activities moved along at a good pace and were valuable to the students, giving many a chance to take risks, not something middle school students do. Now a couple want to be actors!” – Jane Lombard, 8th grade teacher at Lincoln Middle School

“Thank you for coming to King and creating a wonderful play for the seventh graders of our school to see. The experience was very fun and helped us learn more about Shakespeare, without making it too complicated to understand. I admire that you were able to do multiple characters in just one play, it must have been very difficult to do.” – Student at King Middle School

“The students loved the post-performance workshops. They were a wonderful way to capitalize on the performance and appreciate Shakespeare’s craft in fun new ways…In short, [the students] got thoroughly engaged and involved in your wonderful post-performance program. I am already working on obtaining the necessary funding to have you back next year–no matter what play it is. That’s how highly all the 11th grade teachers thought of your efforts.” – Rich Westley, English teacher at Scarborough High School.

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

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Marshwood Middle School

September 25, 2017

MALI Teacher leader and Teaching Artist Leader collaboration

It’s been a lot of fun planning, and an idea that began as a seed back in snowy February, but Marshwood Middle School Grade Seven and Eight Chorus is embarking on a new curriculum to compose an original work that will be premiered at their June concert with guidance and instruction from two MALI teachers.
Thanks to Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader, Kris Bisson and Teaching Artist Leader, Brian Evans-Jones. Below is the description of this fabulous work!  

Bridging Adolescent Learners – A River Runs Through Us: Composing our Story is a year-long chorus composition unit that will be explored by the Grade Seven and Eight Choruses throughout the 2017-2018 school year. Through weekly classwork, a field experience, and working with a guest poet-in-residence, students will create their own original lyrics, melodies, harmonies, and accompaniment for an original piece to be performed in their June concert.

An important aspect of this project will be the S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) inter-disciplinary explorations students will make throughout the project. Also critical to an authentic learning experience will be the integration of our work with poet, writer, and MALI Artist-TeacherBrian Evans-Jones, a local resident of South Berwick, who will lead the students as Artist-in-Residence in finding their writing, speaking, and singing voice.

An early piece of our project is to bring the entire chorus (seventy students) and Mr. Evans-Jones on a field trip to the bridge on Vine Street in South Berwick, the Great Works Bridge, at Leigh’s Mill Pond and the Great Works River. This trip will take place on SEPTEMBER 19 from 8:15 – 9:50 a.m. Here the students will be able to have a direct experience with the river as well as with the condemned bridge structure in order to create more meaningful and informed writing for their musical composition.

Coincidentally, the existing bridge, closed in 2007 due to deterioration beyond the state of Maine’s repair, is being removed in 2018 and a grassroots effort to construct a footbridge is already successfully raising funds to support the effort through their group, The Great Works Bridge Brigade. The Chorus students will have the opportunity to discuss their work with them and take action to make a difference financially, musically, and ethically in their local community.

Goals of this project include science, mathematic and technological integration; collaborative learning, creative thinking, listening skills, reflective writing, problem solving; exploratory composing techniques, music theory, form and analysis; various recording platforms, and online manuscript technologies.

Students will keep worksheets, reflective journal sheets and videos, and e-journals in Google Classroom to record thoughts, reflections, and developing lyric and melodic ideas.

The opportunity to have an artist-in-residence is a wonderful enhancement to the curriculum being explored. Having an expert help students with their learning is always a beneficial experience for all. Last year was the first time Choral Director and MALI Teacher Leader, Kris Bisson, and her students composed in the choral ensemble and the experience was amazing:

“Through composition in the chorus classroom, students are able to explore their own individual and collective ideas that help them express themselves personally as well as musically. Students elevated and increased their musical knowledge through the composition process and it was such an engaging and advanced learning experience for all. I am very excited to have the students reflect on their sense of place in their community, the history of our rivers and towns, the importance of keeping a bridge to connect our community, and have the opportunity first-hand to directly influence change around them.  At our Spring Concert, June 5, we will be sharing an informance, or interactive performance, where the students will have the opportunity to share their learning and conduct audience participation at our premiere performance.”

A very special recognition of appreciation is extended to the Marshwood Education Foundation for supporting this project.

Updates throughout the year can be found on our website:  https://sites.google.com/a/rsu35.org/mms-chorus-music/
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Dancing Can Reverse Signs of Aging

September 24, 2017

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience

The excerpt from a new study, published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, shows that older people who routinely partake in physical exercise can reverse the signs of aging in the brain, and dancing has the most profound effect.

“Exercise has the beneficial effect of slowing down or even counteracting in mental and physical capacity,” says Dr Kathrin Rehfeld, lead author of the study, based at the German center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Magdeburg, Germany. “In this study, we show that two different types of physical (dancing and endurance training) both increase the area of the brain that declines with age. In comparison, it was only dancing that lead to noticeable behavioral changes in terms of improved balance.”

You can read the entire article by CLICKING HERE.

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