Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

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Music and Mental Health

April 5, 2021

Casco Bay High School

The Music and Mental Health website was created by Gridley Abercrombie, a student at Casco Bay High School in Portland. The Casco Bay curriculum is organized around Learning Expeditions which are long-term, in-depth studies of a single topic that explore vital guiding questions. They incorporate standards and involve fieldwork, service and research, culminating in a project, product or performance. Expeditions require strong habits of work and quality thinking that come through the daily rituals of reading, writing, research, problem solving, and discussion. Individual and group projects are designed to unify and ignite student learning by calling for concrete products or actions that address authentic problems, typically with a component of social or environmental justice.

Casco Bay High School principal Derek Pierce said that the expeditions encourage students to take on a project that is an intersection of their personal passion and a need in the world. They are an example of educators allowing students to pursue their interests to do something that will make a difference. He said that Gridley’s expedition is a great example of that.

When Gridley started the project he knew from his past musical experiences and learning over the years that the arts were good for the overall well being of individuals and for parts of the brain. His research helped him go deeper in his understanding of the science in the brain chemistry and the impact on the neurotransmitters. Music effects the mental health on the brain and body.

Along with learning the science Gridley learned how to create a website and he effectively uses it to include information that is useful for young people, parents and educators. Gridley researched the following topics in relationship to music and mental health: The Problem, Music’s Effect, Musical Opportunities, Who to Contact if You Need Help and Resources.

Some of the statistics that Gridley includes in the website are helpful to have a better understanding. For example, in 2017, “An estimated 3.2 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This number represented 13.3% of the U.S. population aged 12 to 17.” The potential of music and its impact on mental health is enormous.

Especially during the last year we know that we have students who are facing challenges that didn’t exist earlier. I suggest that you check out the website Music and Mental Health and share with your own school community. Thank you Gridley for your research and sharing it with the world through the creation of the website.

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The Arts and Cognitive Skills

March 29, 2021

Recent research published

Some of the latest brain research supports the notion that the arts impact the neural pathways including cognitive and social skills. T. Christina Zhao and Patricia Kuhl have been studying the impact of music on babies brains. Kuhl explains in a TED Talk that music is positively impacting Executive Functions. In a video, embedded below, which was found on the Edutopia website, the research is highlighted. For school age children a study in Texas that followed 10,000 students researchers learned that students who participated in arts programs not only scored higher on writing tests but were also more engaged in school and had more compassion for fellow students, among other points. Another study showed that drawing had a positive impact on memory among other points. These reports and other research can be found in an Edutopia article at THIS LINK

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Primary Source Documents

March 11, 2021

State of Maine

It’s great to find resources that are authentic instead of creating fake ones to use. Recently many of the cultural agencies in Maine worked together to create Primary Source Sets on two topics – several Bicentennial topics and a general one on Pandemics. I have scanned the resources and found them very useful. We can thank the Maine State Archives, Maine State Museum, Maine State Library, and Maine Historical Society. They are wonderful resources on specific topics to make resources easily findable for teachers.

These are wonderful resources to use collaboratively with colleagues to help plan connected authentic curricula and experiences. Currently, the educational sets live on the Maine State Museum website, but the collaborative group is working to create a separate website to house them.

The information for this post was provided by the newly elected Maine State Archivist and first woman to serve in the position, Kate McBrien. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Kate with questions and/or ideas. She can be reached at Katherine.McBrien@maine.gov. Interestingly enough when I was online learning more I found a youtube video of a presentation that Kate did for the Southwest Harbor Library on Malaga. I am curious about Malaga and how to incorporate the history into my curriculum and found this very interesting.

Message from Kate

“The cultural organizations of Maine hold a treasure trove of important material that help to connect students to Maine’s history. These Primary Source Sets are meant to help teachers easily find and use a wide range of historical resources from a variety of institutions. Our collaborative approach allows the most relevant historical material to be available to every student and educator in one, easy place to access. We plan to continue this program and will continue to develop more primary source sets.”

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Relationships, Distance Learning, Reducing Stress

February 24, 2021

Edutopia Resources

I am continually impressed and influenced by the resources that are provided by Edutopia and encourage you to check out the recent articles that they’ve provided.

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Black History Month

February 8, 2021

Over the past two weeks I’ve been considering what to include on the blog to recognize Black History Month. I don’t want what I offer to be just for this month but something that can be for every month. Like excellent arts education should be fostered every day in every classroom, black history should be part of our everyday education. One of the questions I’ve asked myself: how do I, a white woman living in a predominantly white state, avoid common errors that white people make when attempting to provide educational resources that support and recognize black and brown people? I’ve been reading many books and articles, checking websites and listening to podcasts to help open my mind, help me better understand, and move out of my comfort zone. I’ve stopped bashing myself over the head about ‘getting it’ and moved to realizing that I need to be patient with myself because the unlearning necessary will take time and its most likely not a place I’ll reach – my learning will be ongoing.

So, what can I offer you at this time and share with you, the Maine Arts Ed blog readers? Some of the educational resources that I access regularly and some of what I’ve read recently. Places I turn to that pushes on my thinking, sometimes making me uncomfortable. I invite you to share what you’ve been learning by commenting at the bottom of this blog post or by emailing me at meartsed@gmail.com.

Credit: Black History-Shenandoah University

PODCASTS

  • Leading Equity – Sheldon L. Eakins, Ph.D. is an accomplished K-12 educator and administrator and provides the podcast. He has taught at the elementary, middle, and high school levels during his career in the states of Florida, Louisiana and in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands.  Dr. Eakins also served several years as a school principal in the states of Louisiana and Oregon. His most recent podcast was an interview with Stephanie Gates and is called How to Combat Colorism in the Classroom with Ms. Stephanie Gates. Dr. Eakins faces challenging topics head on and helps us move to a helicopter view as well as down in the weeds.
  • The Cult of Pedagogy – Jennifer Gonzalez is the Editor in Chief and works with a group of thoughtful and knowledgeable individuals to provide the podcast. Jennifer taught middle school language arts in the D.C. area and in Kentucky. She provides the podcast to support teachers through a community approach. The Cult of Pedagogy website includes an overview of podcasts by category. I suggest that you go to the category called ‘Hot Topics’. Jennifer interviewed Dr. Sheldon Eakins for one called Why White Students Need Multicultural and Social Justice Education. You’ll see a variety of ‘hot topics’ there including one called Talking about Race in School: An Interview with Jose Vilson.

RESOURCES ONLINE

  • Americans Who Tell the TruthMaine artist, Rob Shetterly’s portraits and narratives highlight citizens who courageously address issues of social, environmental, and economic fairness. Paintings of ‘truth tellers’, their stories, and what they stood and still stand for. The paintings communicate all by themselves.
  • Natasha Mayers – Activist artist from Maine and one of Rob Shetterly’s portraits. See film trailer, an Un-Still Life created by Maine film makers Anita Clearfield and Geoffrey Leighton. Website will include many resources in the near future. (blog post later this week with film premiere info)
  • Edutopia – Teaching Black History in Culturally Responsive Ways written by Rann Miller. In this article Rann discusses how Black History is American history, and it should be taught throughout the year across the curriculum—not confined to a single month.
  • Learning for Justice recently changed their name from Teaching Tolerance. Learning for Justice seeks to uphold the mission of the Southern Poverty Law Center: to be a catalyst for racial justice in the South and beyond, working in partnership with communities to dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements and advance the human rights of all people. Visit their site to sign up for their weekly emails and access many free resources for K-high school including downloadable posters that will inspire teachers and learners. They also publish a magazine, this springs edition White Supremacy in Education.
Learn more at https://www.learningforjustice.org/magazine/black-lives-matter-week-of-action.
  • The Art of Education PodcastsCelebrating Black History Month through Art, 17 Black Artists to Know, 5 Black Female Artists You (and Your Students!) Should Know, Where Does Black History Month Stand in the Art room?, 4 Artists that Show Black Lives Matter.
  • Anti-Racism Daily – Since June 3, the Anti-Racism Daily has been sending one email a day pairing current events with historical context and personal reflections on how racism persists in the U.S. (and around the world). You can subscribe and receive an email daily or the weekly archive. The daily information is provided at no cost and was created by Nicole Cardoza. You can subscribe on the website.
  • Teaching for Change – Their website helps connect to real world issues and encourage students and teachers to question and re-think the world inside and outside their classrooms, build a more equitable, multicultural society, and become active global citizens.
  • Inspired Teaching – They provide innovative professional learning programs and help teachers build their practice to engage their students as empathetic, critical thinkers. They have several programs and resources that you can access on their website.
  • Indigo Arts Alliance – Portland, ME and cultivating the artistic development of people of African descent. Mission: to build global connections by bringing together Black and Brown artists from diverse backgrounds to engage in their creative process with an opportunity to serve as both mentors and mentees. An integral aspect of the Indigo vision is to provide Maine based artists of African descent access to a broader range of practicing artists of color from around the world. Website.
  • Holocaust and Human Rights Center – Augusta, ME. One of the educational resources that they have available on their website is called Decision Making in Times of Injustice. A presentation filled with facts to help support educators in their teaching of the injustices in the world.
Located in Montgomery, Alabama

BOOKS

  • Black Like Me written by John Howard Griffin was written over 60 years ago. Griffin embarked on an experiment. He darkened his white skin to become black and traveled through the south, from New Orleans to Atlanta. He wrote the book to share his stories traveling as a ‘black man’ which ended up selling ten million copies and became a modern classic. I was able to purchase a used copy and I was mesmerized. “Black Like Me disabused the idea that minorities were acting out of paranoia,” says Gerald Early, a black scholar at Washington University and editor of Lure and Loathing: Essays on Race, Identity, and the Ambivalence of Assimilation. There was this idea that black people said certain things about racism, and one rather expected them to say these things. Griffin revealed that what they were saying was true. It took someone from outside coming in to do that. And what he went through gave the book a remarkable sincerity.” READ MORE about the book in a Smithsonian Magazine article from 2011.
  • Waking Up White: and Finding Myself in the Story of Race written by Debby Irving. The author tells her true story growing up in a somewhat sheltered upper middle class suburban childhood in Winchester, Massachusetts. Her career focuses on working in nearby Boston in performance art and community based non-profits where she learned that her best efforts were actually doing more harm than good. Her persistence provided lessons along the way and a racial understanding and her white privilege revealed her past.
  • Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption written by Bryan Stevenson. A true story (made into a movie) about the inequities in the justice system. Just out of law school Mr. Stevenson moved to Alabama and established the Equal Justice Initiative. He represented the poorest and most marginalized people in the country: those suffering from excessive or unfair sentences, or facing the death penalty. The stories of the people he represented provides a clear picture of the inequities. In addition to writing this book Bryan Stevenson and a small group of lawyers spent years immersing themselves in archives and county libraries to document thousands of lynchings. From their research a sculpture was created called the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and installed in Montgomery, Alabama. It is the nation’s first memorial dedicated to the legacy of enslaved Black people, people terrorized by lynching, African Americans humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow, and people of color burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence.

In addition to the resources included above on June 8, 2020 I created a blog post called Social Justice Resources that includes nearly 50 links to a plethora of resources. Included are books for young children, middle school, and young adults along with many other resources.

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Communicating Science Through Art

February 1, 2021

Artist and Scientist Jill Pelto

On May 21, 2017 I wrote a blog post about artist and scientist Jill Pelto. Jill uses her art to communicate scientific research. As many are well aware, scientific jargon to the rest of the world can be easily misunderstood. As educators we know this happens when we communicate with non-educators using educational jargon that others don’t understand. This is an opportunity to hear from Jill herself talking about incorporating her scientific research and climate change data into watercolor paintings to share stories about what is happening in the environment.

Join Jill Pelto, climate change artist and scientist, as she talks about communicating human-environment connections on Wednesday, Feb. 3, at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom. Her talk will cover how she uses her dual background to incorporate scientific research and data into watercolor paintings, and why interdisciplinary science communication is a powerful way to share environmental stories. 

Jill Pelto holding up a watercolor of the landscape at one of the remote campsites she worked at in the Antartica while pursuing her Masters of Science.

Her diverse background has allowed her to create artwork that engages broad audiences with climate change data. Because climate change can be difficult to verbalize and visualize, Pelto hopes her work will encourage open dialogue about human impacts at different scales. She is inspired by her work in Antarctica, and on alpine glaciers in Washington, and by other scientists who are fighting to conserve fractured ecosystems. From the impossible blues of a single glacier to the concentric secrets held across nature, Pelto shares many stories of change.

Measuring Crevasse Depth

Pelto’s work has inspired online features in Smithsonian, PBS News Hour, and National Geographic. It is also being used in K-12 curriculum programs across the U.S. and Canada. Her work also was featured on the cover of the July 2020 Time Magazine. Pelto will be exhibiting at the Friends of Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge Art Gallery in Rockland this summer.

Register at http://bit.ly/2M8UNYi or on the Friends of Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge website at mainecoastislands.org. For questions, email info@mainecoastislands.org or call 594-0600, ext. 5.

This article is from the Courier-Gazette and Camden herald, and The Republican Journal, January 28, 2021.

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Celebrating Indigenous Song

November 29, 2020

Global Oneness Project

Global Oneness Project is providing incredible resources which you will find below and linked.

We are part of an old story, and involved in it are migrations of winds, of ocean currents, of seeds, and songs of generations of nations. 

—Joy Harjo, member of the Mvskoke Nation and first Native American Poet of the United States

Songs often reflect cultural values, ethics, and beliefs. In Indigenous cultures, songs are passed down from generation to generation and contain stories that honor ancestors and the living world: rivers, the earth, and animals. Many Indigenous songs do not translate directly into another language, a reflection of how the messages are unique and specific to people and place. 

In partnership with Google Earth’s Voyager story, Celebrating Indigenous Languages, we produced an in-depth discussion guide, Exploring Indigenous Language Vitality, which provides ways for students to explore the linguistic diversity and vitality of Indigenous languages from speakers around the world. Students discover how Indigenous languages are interconnected through identity, cultural heritage, traditional ecological knowledge, and how Indigenous peoples and communities are a vital part of the fabric and story of humanity.


Use the following four question sheets we developed to further explore the Google Earth Voyager story, which contains eighty-four Indigenous peoples who share their favorite phrases and songs. Students are encouraged to make their own observations and connections. 

Margaret Noodin—American poet, linguist, and Anishinaabemowin language teacher—briefly joined us during our recent webinar, “Enhancing Our Understanding: Learning and Teaching About Indigenous Cultures,” with Christine McRae from Native Land Digital. She said that one of the things she learned from her father and paternal grandmother was “the ability to listen to the world singing” around her. And, with that, she said, “there is a desire to sing back to it.” Listen to Noodin sing a beautiful poem, “Chickadee Song” (at the 1:09:55 mark) in her Native language, Anishinaabemowin. There is so much joy in this song.  

If you use any of these resources in your classes Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director of the Global Oneness Project would love to hear from you by emailing info@globalonenessproject.org.

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Arts are Important

November 9, 2020

Whether education systems and individuals believe that arts education is essential, referred to as enrichment, are extra-curricular or an elective no one will disagree that the arts provide something that other content do not.

Last week the Bangor Metro published an article supporting the value of arts education. The article called Here’s Why the Arts are Important in Education. It cites research from the University of British Columbia published in the Journal of Educational Psychology and from Dr. Frank Wilson who is the assistant clinical professor neurology at the University School of Medicine in San Francisco, and from “Critical Evidence: How the Arts Benefit Student Achievement,” a publication by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies and the Arts Education Partnership. Highlights point to higher test scores in math, science, English, and reasoning and creative thinking when engaged in the arts. Also, the positive impact on coordination, concentration, memory and improvement of hearing and eyesight.

In addition to research, Maine educators from Thornton Academy and Lewiston provided their own observations and experiences supporting the value of arts education programming. The next two paragraphs are taken directly from the article.

Kelsey Boucher, a K-6 Visual Arts Educator at Connors Elementary School in Lewiston, agrees, saying children are like sponges and will absorb everything in. “The earlier they are exposed to the arts and languages, the more confident they are in these areas as they grow older,” Boucher said.

Sarah Helgesen, a Special Education Teacher at Thornton Academy in Saco has witnessed nonverbal students “enunciate sounds to music and play instruments to the beat while having the best time,” and said that’s when she feels enrichment programs have proven to be the most successful, adding value to every student.

You can read the entire article at THIS LINK!

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Role of Joyful Music

September 18, 2020

Report from Wolf Brown

Dennie Palmer Wolf is a friend of Maine Arts Education having been the consultant in our first state wide census that was a project of the Maine Alliance for Arts Education. The Maine Department of Education and the Maine Arts Commission collaborated on the project in 2007.

In July 2020 Wolf Brown released a report for the Bernard van leer Foundation called Making a Joyful Noise: The Potential Role of Music Making in the Well-Being of Young Families. I encourage you to download the report (no matter what grade level you teach) and use segments of it to support your music programs. It is timely with the pandemic dictating parents to take a more active role in their child’s education. We know it is critical that the school and home teaching and learning be filled with balance. Not to mention the enormous benefits to the development of young children and how to support learners on the ‘human’ side through all of this.

The report highlights several areas and provides a substantial overview of why music is important to our youngest learners. It is broken down by periods of development; Pre and Perinatal Period, Early Infancy: 2-5 Months, Later Infancy: 6-12 Months, Interdependence and Autonomy: 1-3 Years, and Expanded Learning: 4-5 Years. Researchers looked closely at programs across the country and around the world. Schools with pre-school programs would find this report useful. Many of our students have younger brothers and sisters so sharing the report through school and district newsletters would help build future elementary programs.

Wolf Brown include techniques and activities for adults to guide young children in their development and joy of making music, what an emphasis on music provides young children and families, and how music impacts their well being and social emotional learning.

Interestingly enough the opening report statement on “why music matters” is comprehensive and supports why music matters for every individual and family in the world.

Find the report at THIS LINK

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Spoken Word

September 7, 2020

Brandon Leake – America’s Got Talent

I’ve been thinking, listening, reading, having conversations and researching on how to address racial justice in my teaching and learning. I think the world works in magical ways when ‘stuff’ happens that I’m not looking for. And sometimes ‘different stuff’ intersects which, in this case, has led to this blog post.

First I want to say that my favorite podcast at the moment is Cult of Pedagogy started by a middle school Language Arts teacher Jennifer Gonzalez. Jennifer has brought together an experienced group of educators who help make the Cult of Pedagogy. If you’re looking for a podcast that will push on your thinking and curious where you might find ideas that are sometimes raw and grounded in reality combined with thoughtful educational research, then I suggest that you check out Cult of Pedagogy. Many of the episodes are Jennifer’s interviews with teachers, learning experts, parents, and other people who make things happen in education. There are a handful on the social justice topic. If you’d rather read than listen, each new episode comes out also in an email, on Sunday’s. You can learn about all that she has to offer and sign up for her weekly emails on the START HERE PAGE. An example of the podcast resources that Jennifer provides is episode #147 Why White Students Need Multicultural and Social Justice Education  from June 7th an interview with Sheldon Eakins who founded the Leading Equity Center, an online resource for educators.

I was first introduced to poetry by my 7th grade language arts teacher Mrs. Leeds. Each week on Friday we would learn about a poem, write it down in our poetry notebook, and over the next week memorize it and each student in my class would stand and recite it. I can dig into my memory today and recite Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost and In Flanders Fields by John McCrae and probably a few others. Every so often I rediscover my poetry notebook and think about how nervous I was standing up in my front my class. I don’t recall actually learning how to recite poetry. We’ve come a long way in this area; now we have poetry slams, hip hop, jazz poetry, beat poetry, spoken word, and Poetry Out Loud (POL). POL is a partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation, and the state and jurisdictional arts agencies. The Maine Arts Commission administers the recitation program.

I’ve been curious for some time about how ‘poetry’ has, for the most part, been taught in English or language arts class. Why poetry is considered an art form yet in schools we don’t include it when we reference visual and performing arts. In our standards documents it’s not clearly defined as part of the arts. When I try putting poetry in context I explain it like this: in schools poetry is behind the English teaching door and in the real world it is part of the performance arena.

I wanted to better understand this separation so I did a little sleuthing on the internet and, of course, I start with the Greeks. From the Ancient Greek word ποιεω (pronounced poieo) which means ‘I create’. Definition: an art form in which human language is used for its aesthetic qualities in addition to, or instead of, its notional and semantic content. In most poetry, it is the connotations and the “baggage” that words carry (the weight of words) that are most important. Poetry.org.

And further on about ‘spoken word’. Spoken word is poetry, and more recently spoken word poetic performance art that is word-based. It is an oral art that focuses on the aesthetics of word play such as intonation and voice inflection. It is a “catchall” term that includes any kind of poetry recited aloud… Unlike written poetry, it has less to do with physical, on the page aesthetics and more to do with phonaesthetics, or the aesthetics of sound. Wikipedia

A focus on words, sounds, presentations and performances using poetry has become more prevalent in our society since about the 1980’s but certainly it is embedded and has been for years in many cultures and their traditions. The connection between poetry as a performance and music is closely aligned.

In fact, in Ancient Greece, the spoken word was the most trusted repository for the best of their thought, and inducements would be offered to men (such as the rhapsodes) who set themselves the task of developing minds capable of retaining and voices capable of communicating the treasures of their culture.

I think poetry’s biggest potential is to light kids up and engage them in learning about themselves and the world. If only Mrs. Leeds had someone guide her in the pedagogy of teaching poetry. A good reason to promote integrated curriculum.

Here’s where the intersection of learning takes place for me. On my phone last week a video from America’s Got Talent popped up. A powerful performance by Spoken Word Artist Brandon Leake began to help me formulate curriculum for racial justice. You can LEARN more about Brandon and the organization he established Called to Move. I suggest using Brandon’s performance with your students.

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