Archive for the ‘Resources’ Category

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Pentatonix

December 30, 2020

Get in the Holiday Spirit with this performance of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” by the A Capella group Pentatonix.

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Ode to Joy

December 29, 2020

Musician and Conductor André Rieu performing “Ode to Joy” by Beethoven live in Maastricht with His Johann Strauss Orchestra. Even with the video a bit blurry the performance is beautiful. Please listen and see for yourself.

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Nat King Cole

December 28, 2020

Merry Christmas to you lyric video

This song is definitely the one that I remember him singing. The Christmas Song, also called Merry Christmas to You, in this video with the lyrics that you may want to share with elementary students. There’s also a wonderful new animated version that can be seen on Facebook Watch.

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The Lennon Sisters

December 27, 2020

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

From the Lawrence Welk Show, 1958. I wonder how many of the Maine Arts Ed blog readers remember The Lennon Sisters?

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Spanbaum Herstellung

December 24, 2020

Beautiful wooden tree carving

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The Poetry Place

December 7, 2020

Teaching Artist Brian Evans-Jones

Maine is fortunate to have Brian Evans-Jones as a poet and writer. He has established a unique website called The Poetry Place. What’s so interesting about it is that he offers The Poetry Parlor to offer support and an online learning environment for participants to write poetry. If you’re interested in writing poetry or perhaps you write poetry but want to learn more about writing poetry, I recommend Brian and The Poetry Place. Here are some questions (from Brian’s site) that can help you get a better idea:

  • Do you want to write better poems?
  • Do you wish you knew more about the techniques of poetry?
  • Do you need help with ideas and getting poems written?
  • Would you love to connect with like-minded poets?

There are many free resources on the site including a 30 page .pdf that you can download. It is called 8 Steps to Better Poems and is filled with a plethora of ideas and information to guide you to writing better poems. The document is broken into 3 segments: Poetry Techniques, Mastering Drafting and Your Next Steps. You can’t go wrong since the document is free! I suggest that you check it out and recommend that your colleagues and students do the same. You can also sign up for his newsletter which is filled with inspiring ideas.

LOOKING FOR INSPIRATION?

Poetry Parlor took me on a positive journey from using an existing poem as an idea to developing the first draft of my poem. The chosen poem and the discussions were inspirational in my own poetry writing.

Then, there were excellent tips on editing that helped to produce a published poem.”

— Sue B.

Brian is a teacher who is providing the motivation and guidance on an individual basis as well as providing time with others who write poetry. You can become a member of the parlor and benefit from following:

  • Getting authentic feedback and support from Brian and others
  • Learning techniques
  • Reading great poetry
  • Writing every month
  • Meeting other poets

Poetry Parlor can work for you if…

  • You have written poetry before, maybe for years, and you would like to broaden your knowledge and skills
  • You would like to learn more about the techniques and forms of poetry
  • You are looking for regular inspiration to help you create poems
  • You want to get feedback on your poems to help you improve
  • You want to know more about poetry being published now
  • You’re just starting poetry and would like some structure and guidance to help you
  • You’d like to get to know other poets in similar positions to yourself, for support, friendship, and encouragement.

ABOUT BRIAN

I was Poet Laureate of Hampshire in the UK (where I used to live) in 2012‑13, and in America I won the Maureen Egen Award from Poets & Writers in 2017. I’ve had poems published in magazines, competitions, and art events on both sides of the Atlantic. And I’ve taught at three colleges/universities, visited dozens of schools as a visiting Teaching Artist, and worked with hundreds of adult students through my own workshops and courses.

Brian coached the Maine State Poetry Out Loud (POL) champion Joao Victor before he traveled to the national competition where he finished in the top 10. Brian served as a judge for POL during 206-2018. POL is open to all Maine high school students and administered by the Maine Arts Commission (MAC). Brian is a member of the MAC Teaching Artist roster and a Teaching Artist Leader with the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) established in 2011.

If you want to learn more check out the site and contact Brian at brian@brianevansjones.com and please let him know I sent you.

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I Am Grateful for Dance

December 1, 2020

Thornton Academy Dance program

The dance education program at Thornton Academy is well established and meeting the needs of all learners who are deeply engaged in their learning. Thornton Dance educator and Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader Emma Campbell has high expectations and understands how to connect with all students.

Every year Emma has students respond to the question – What am I grateful for? In a non-Covid year student responses write their gratitude notes on giant cut out leaves and tape them to the mirror in the dance studio.

This year the assignment was adapted to replicate while students are at home this year. They use the Google app called jam board to draft the notes. So everyone contributes a sticky note and then they get to pick from that as groups of that makes sense. Students use this format so there was no need to learn a new concept for the project.

Emma splits the group into breakout rooms to brainstorm thoughts and ideas and recorded one voice from each group and sent Emma the recording. She screen recorded them saying the phrase. Emma takes the footage and voices and does the editing and uploaded it to YouTube. The results are below. A wonderful way to incorporate dance into student thoughts and the outcome is amazing! Thank you Emma and Thornton Academy dancers for sharing your love for dancing and your gratefulness during this season.

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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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Thanksgiving Takeaway

November 23, 2020

Food for thought

Susannah Remillard is a language arts teacher in Cape Cod where she has been working to “present a balanced Thanksgiving story to students.” She has been building her knowledge by participating in professional development online sessions being offered by the National Museum of the American Indian, Shelburne Farms and the Tarrant Institute at the University of Vermont. The archived webinar is available at THIS LINK.

Recently she wrote Thanksgiving Takeaway for the Atlantic Black Box Project. These are her sharing points taken directly from Susannah’s writing:

  • Scrub the word tribe. So many good things happen when you focus on the indigenous groups that live in your particular area and use their names. Adopt words like peoples and communities. Drop Squanto for Tisquantum and use Ousamequin instead of Massasoit. These may seem like small switches, but the thinking behind them, and the thinking you ask students to do because you have made these priorities, can teach them much about honor and respect.
  • Release the primary sources into the classroom. Students need the skills we teach with primary sources, the skills of discernment and comparative analysis, even though these documents can be challenging to analyze. Present them with voiceovers. How is your colonial English accent? It doesn’t really matter. When students examine sources from a time period, they feel that they are solving the puzzles of the past, so they often come to realizations in authentic and deeply felt ways. Give them the time and space to do this work.
  • Talk about the difference between inaccurate and inappropriate. Talk about how an inaccuracy can start a conversation, but inappropriateness can often shut one down. Bring in the mascot debate, even when it’s hard to talk about or you can’t find an easy counter argument for every justification. Use examples with white people. Talk about pain. These are important conversations that bring up hard historical truths that need unpacking today. You are in a position to do this.
  • Finally, just keep doing the work. It took years for our educational system to look like it does today. It’s not a bad system, but we know how to break through some of the most damaging remnants of our colonial past, as long as we keep doing the work.

What Susannah says makes good sense and reminds me of the work my colleagues and I did when we established a Holocaust unit when we realized that the number of survivors of the Holocaust were dwindling. Primary sources and resources on the topic are plentiful today. A fair and comprehensive curriculum honoring and recognizing truth is at the foundation of education that we must all be committed to and strive for in all subjects – for the learners we presently teach and the ones not born yet.

Susannah teaches language arts at Cape Cod Lighthouse Public Charter School. She holds degrees from Colby College and the University of South Carolina and is a National Geographic Certified Educator, an NEH Summer Scholar, and a lifelong Cape Codder.

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Freeport High School Theatre

November 3, 2020

Antigone Now

At the end of October Freeport High School theatre program created something pretty special! Everyone felt the success and benefits from students and staff to administration and the community.

I met Natalie Safely about 3 years ago when she and dancer Nancy Salmon worked together after receiving a dance grant from the Maine Arts Commission. Natalie is the theatre teacher at Freeport High School. I had a chance to chat with Nancy last week and she mentioned the work that Natalie did this fall. I was impressed!

At our first meeting in the spring of 2019 I visited Freeport High School to learn more about the dance residency and the teaching and learning underway. I immediately noticed Natalie was an outstanding collaborator! This fall Natalie worked with Nate Menifield, Zoe Konstantino, and Ben Potvin and Freeport students and in five weeks they put together and performed the play Antigone Now. It is a GREAT example of the amazing work that takes place when we collaborate and focus on the pathway and possibilities! Looking at the file of photos taken by parent Ingrid van Duivenbode illustrates the magic of the performance. It was performed outside practicing appropriate pandemic safety abiding by the CDC guidelines.

 Photo by Freeport High School parent Ingrid van Duivenbode

Antigone Now, by Melissa Cooper was performed by Freeport High School’s Theatre Arts program on October 23, 24, 25. Nancy Salmon was fortunate to attend and she said: “My husband and I saw the 2nd night of Antigone Now at Freeport High School, tucked into a U-shaped alcove outdoors. We were SO impressed by and proud of the students (on “stage” and tech), the directing staff and the administration who made this COVID-safe, live performance of quality, resonating theater a welcome relief from Zoom.

They had to keep the cast and crew under 50 in order to be able to rehearse indoors.

 Photo by Freeport High School parent Ingrid van Duivenbode

I am grateful to Natalie that she took a few minutes out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions.

How did you come up with the idea to perform outside?

When schools closed last March, we were working on two different productions. As the days became weeks, and the weeks became months, we soon realized that our stage, like thousands of others, would remain dark. We didn’t know when we would be able to perform again. During a socially distanced walk with a friend, I was explaining how we couldn’t do a musical, how we can’t dance, and on and on. She said, “Natalie, why don’t you do a play with masks?” I was too close to the situation. I was focused on all of the things we couldn’t do instead of focusing on the things we could do! Sometimes, we get in our own way. When we are able to look outside ourselves: other perspectives, other options, other interpretations, the impossible becomes possible. With perseverance and flexibility we were able to create a live piece of theatre that six months ago seemed impossible.

 Photo by Freeport High School parent Ingrid van Duivenbode

What did it involve taking the performance out of doors?

In two words: Ben Potvin…It was a lot more difficult than I had anticipated. The first challenge was agreeing where on campus we could put up a set that had access to power, where cars would not drive by and where we would not be competing with sporting events and practices. When we finally agreed on a location, then came the logistics of building a moveable set. Once we got into tech week the lighting and sound had to be set up and taken down each night. We set up the soundboard in a classroom that acted like a booth where the stage manager called the cues, sound board op and spot operator ran their cues from there, however we had to set the light board up in a different location because we couldn’t keep social distancing with four students in the area we were using as a booth.  The sound was our biggest challenge. There were so many outdoor factors that came into play: airplanes flying over, sound from the traffic on I-95, masks and mic placement, sound signals cutting in and out for a variety of reasons. When I approached my principal, I said, “No problem, we can do it outside!” It took a knowledgeable tech director (Ben Potvin) to work through a lot of logistical challenges.

 Photo by Freeport High School parent Ingrid van Duivenbode

How did you keep the students safe while practicing, creating set, and performing?

Everyone had to use hand sanitizer before entering the space and throughout rehearsal. Longer rehearsals everyone was reminded to take a moment to wash their hands. Masks were worn by all inside and out.To keep the actors safe during rehearsal we put tape marks on the floor indicating 6 feet distancing, no actors shared props–we did have one prop that needed to be brought on by one actor and then used by another–as a cast we figured out that he could wear rubber gloves to bring it on stage. The actors did not wear makeup, they executed their own hair design, put on their own microphones and did not have any costume changes. During tech calls, all tools were sanitized before and after each use. Techs wore masks when working inside and outside as well as maintaining social distancing.

 Photo by Freeport High School parent Ingrid van Duivenbode

Tell a bit about the support and from who to make it happen

Our principal, Jen Gulko, is incredibly supportive of our program. After explaining to her how we would adhere to all guidelines she approved our pursuit of producing a fall play. 

We have an amazing artistic team: Ben Potvin (Technical Director), Nate Menifield (Music Director) and Zoe Konstantio ( Choreographer) and myself as Director and Producer.  These positions were in place for the fall musical, however we quickly transitioned our roles to put on a play in 5 weeks.  It took each member of the team to make this happen! Nate focused on the text analysis and vocal performance, Zoe and I focused on staging and movement, and Ben focused on the tech. With each one of us able to focus on one area, the students were more focused and remained on task.

I hope that this blog post provides you with inspiration to figure out how you also can perform with your students. I’ve included the Press Release below so you can get the full impact and hopefully take away some ideas that you can adapt for your own work this year.

Antigone Now, FALL PLAY, PRESS RELEASE

A battle for honor takes place in Freeport High School’s upcoming production of Antigone Now, a modern adaptation of Sophocles’ Antigone, written by Melissa Cooper.

Contact: Natalie Safley, 207-865-4706 ext. 801, safleyn@rsu5.org

October 12, 2019

Freeport, ME– “Theatre artists have been wearing masks since 400BC, so why can’t we?”  said Natalie Safley, Theatre Arts Director at Freeport High School, when discussing their upcoming fall play performance. When schools shut down last March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, hundreds of theaters also went dark, cancelling shows across the country. Once Safley learned that RSU 5 was going to return to school this fall under a hybrid plan (where students attend in person part of the time), she immediately reached out to FHS Principal, Jen Gulko, to discuss doing a fall production.  Maine CDC guidelines prevent musical performances at this time, and currently limit outdoor gatherings to 100. Safley and Gulko determined that a small-cast fall play – produced outside and in accordance with all current safety guidelines – could take place. Safley rushed to choose a script, gather her artistic team, and conduct auditions.  Of the experience, she notes, “Putting together a show in 5 weeks instead of 10 is an unbelievable undertaking, but FHS accepted the challenge!”  

Playscripts, Inc. describes this adaptation as a “…contemporary response to the myth of Antigone…” Antigone (played by FHS junior, Ella Vertenten) strives to bury her brother, Polyneices, with honor, defying a decree from the king (who also happens to be her uncle) that, “No one may bury him, no one may touch him. It’s against the law.” Drama ensues as the characters fight to preserve the laws of the city while keeping the family intact.  

All performances will be held outdoors, Friday-Sunday, October 23-25, at 7PM, adjacent to the entrance to the Joan Benoit Samuelson Stadium (30 Holbrook St., Freeport, Maine). Tickets must be purchased in advance; no tickets will be sold at the door. All patrons must wear a mask, practice social distancing, and should bring a blanket or chair to sit on. 

Purchase tickets to live performances here:http://bit.ly/FHSAntigone

Direction: Natalie Safley, Nate Menifield, Zoe Konstantino

Technical Direction: Ben Potvin

* Patrons must bring their own chair or blanket to sit on

*Masks and Social Distancing in place 

Contact Natalie Safley, safleyn@rsu5.org

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