Posts Tagged ‘Aroostook County’

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Dance Grant Series 3

February 11, 2017

Dance education funding – “Hopes for the Future”

This is the third of three blog posts included, February 9 – 11, describing the dance education residency that took place in December 2016 from a special grant called the “Hopes for the Future” funding. Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teacher Leader and dance educator from Thornton Academy Emma Campbell collaborated and planted a seed and it grew into a dance education opportunity for Maine students. Thank you to John Morris, teaching artist and dancer for contributing this post. He describes the work that he did in MSAD #33 with the grant funding. Please note: funding will be available again during 2017. Please watch the blog and the Maine Arts Commission arts education list-serv for information.

A Teaching Artist’s Perspective

John Morris

John Morris

Thanks to a dance grant created by the Thornton Academy Dance Program and the Maine Arts Commission, in December of 2016 I conducted a week-long arts residency for MSAD #33, in Northern Aroostook County. My approach in working with students in dance is creative, student-centered and standards-based. I give students foundational movement tools to invent and explore their own movement, and I guide them through the process of making their own dances.

In collaboration with visual arts teacher Theresa Cerceo, I worked with a group of middle and high school students, and with S.L.A.M.!, the high school arts advocacy group directed by Ms. Cerceo, to create dances based on a theme of identity and community. The dances were shared during an end of week holiday performance put on at Wisdom Middle/High School.

img_4561During the week, I also worked with music classes at the elementary school in the district. Along with music teacher Charles Michaud, we explored connections between the elements of music and dance. In addition, I worked with Ms. Cerceo’s visual arts classes to explore the same theme of identity and community.

It was a full week working with every grade level, from Pre-K through grade six, to explore their class content in movement. The students created dances based on poems and visual art works they had made individually and as a group in the weeks before the residency. Their dances incorporated the elements of dance movement, including use of different shapes, change of speeds, and variation of high, middle and low levels. We worked together to structure their dances with clear beginnings, middles and endings. We also addressed the crucial life skills of collaborating with others, building confidence, and evaluating work – all in one class session.

screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-1-51-58-pmI encountered students in the elementary school at every age and developmental level who were eager to move, explore, and make connections to other content areas, including music, visual art and language arts. They were curious, inventive, and open to exploring the arts in a structured way to express their thoughts and feelings.

The middle and high school students, having more time together, were able to more deeply explore the dynamics of working collaboratively, the process of making artistic choices, and polishing artistic work for performance.

The week went by in a blur, and before I knew it, the performance (a full house!) was over, and I was making the long drive toward southern Maine. I felt both satisfied and inspired by the students’ work. What made this residency so successful? Three factors, which I believe are important for the success of any arts residency in the schools, stood out.

Planning and prep work in collaboration with the teacher

img_4610 Ms. Cerceo and I were in contact long before the residency began, brainstorming ideas together using a shared Google Doc that allowed us to work around our busy schedules. We arrived at a theme (identity and community) that would be timely for her students to explore in visual art and writing, and that I could work with easily in dance.

As the residency drew closer, we continued to share documents, trade emails, and supplement with a few timely online conference calls. Ms. Cerceo articulated her plan for exploring the theme with her students before my arrival. I shared an outline of how I would approach the theme in movement based on her work and the student samples she posted online. This step was critical, helping me to be ready with a flexible plan for each class, and know what to expect when I walked into each classroom.

Full support of the school administration

img_4641Ms. Cerceo maintained regular contact with her administrators about our plans. As a visiting teaching artist, it was both reassuring and freeing for me to know that I had their support. I felt free to fully engage with the students in the creative process of dance-making.

The administrators introduced themselves and welcomed me to their schools. The superintendent of schools in the district sat down with me early one morning before classes began to talk about the residency. The teachers I met expressed their support for the project, and turned out in force for the performance on Friday night.

 

Classroom culture

img_4570I could tell that the students were used to focusing on the process of structured creative exploration in their classes. Also, because their teachers had prepared them for my visit, they were excited and positive about our working together. One fourth grade student even sent me a video in advance, inviting me to create a dance with her!

This expectant, growth-oriented mindset set the tone for our time together, and was supported by the collaborative planning Ms. Cerceo and I did beforehand. The connections she and I found between our ways of working helped her to guide the students with confidence that my work with them would integrate with their classwork, and deepen their connections to the arts.

Thank you John Morris for providing this blog post and the work that you did before and during the dance education residency in MSAD #33. I am sure that the learning that you provided will be felt for the lifetime of those involved.

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Dance Grant Series 2

February 10, 2017

Dance education funding – “Hopes for the Future”

This is the second of three blog posts that will be included, February 9 – 11, describing the dance education residency that took place in December 2016 from a special grant called the “Hopes for the Future” funding. Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teacher Leader and dance educator from Thornton Academy Emma Campbell collaborated and planted a seed and it grew into a dance education opportunity for Maine students. Please note: funding will be available again during 2017. Please watch the blog and the Maine Arts Commission arts education list-serv for information. Thank you to Theresa Cerceo and Charles Michaud for their contributions to this blog post.

img_4626On a chilly Friday night in early December the Wisdom Middle / High School Arts Faculty hosted the Holiday Night of the Arts. The performance was very well attended with the Wisdom High School cafeteria being filled nearly to capacity. The audience was treated to a variety of holiday songs, new and old. In addition, SLAM!, the Student Leadership in the Arts Movement, Wisdom’s student led arts advocacy group, created a performance art piece as a form of arts advocacy. The evening included the Pioneer Band, solo performances,  student artwork, and for the first time ever, thanks to the Teaching Artist Dance Grant from the Maine Arts Commission and the Thornton Academy dance program, two dance performances under the direction of teaching artist, John Morris. The students created dance performances were the result of a week-long residency with Mr. Morris. Students worked with Mr. Morris & art educator Ms. Theresa Cerceo to create original dance pieces based on students’ poems around the theme of identity & community.

img_4607Throughout the week, John worked with two groups of high school students, S.L.A.M.! and a volunteer group of 8 students that became known as, The Butterfly Group. The students worked with John, first learning basic techniques, warm ups and then exploring concepts around identity. S.L.A.M.! used a poem about artistic process and struggle written by member, Jasmine DeMoranville, as inspiration for exploring personal expression and collaboration. The Butterfly Group took time to write “I am…” poems and then, individually created movements in response to their writing. Through much planning; reflection, critique and practice, the students worked with John to use their individual work and build a unified dance that expressed their interdependence as a community.

Student comments

“This work was more intense then I thought it would be and I learned more about physical motion then I thought I would.  It opened my eyes to a new medium of expression that I never explored before. SLAM!” ~ Daley

screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-1-20-43-pm

John Morris

“The experience last week was beyond words. It actually taught me that any idea can be turned into something great and to never give up, no matter how stupid it may seem. It also taught me that there can be different interpretations to your idea that may contribute to other great ideas. Yes, I was shy because that shell of me is still not gone but I think this experience finally cracked my shell a bit and I know that SLAM! is capable of cracking and breaking my shell little by little. This dance residency helped me think of new ideas for SLAM!. What I want to do with SLAM (since it is my first and final year)  is to have fun and really advocate for art (music, dance, art, drama) in the community and I think the things that happened (the week of the dance residency)  is really going to help me throughout the entire year with my ideas because I have learned that no idea is going to go wasted and it could trigger other ideas!”  ~ Kelly

“As the author of the poem, it was an incredible experience to see and be a part of the process of transforming my poetry into another form of art. Watching (other students) interpret my work deeply and out loud is something I’ve never really had before. Seeing the thought process and the thoughts that it instilled was amazing. Then performing it was really incredible.” ~ Jasmine

img_4639In addition to the work Mr. Morris did at the Wisdom Middle/High School, he had a full week, teaching in the elementary visual art and music classes as well. Along with Mr. Charles Michaud, John worked with general music classes, using dance to teach music elements.  The work done in the Ms. Cerceo’s  classroom was integrated with visual art lessons that were implemented before Mr. Morris’ arrival, around the theme of individual and community identity. Under John’s direction, students used dance to further explore their compositions as well as artistic purpose and communication. These dances included individual, small group and whole class collaboration.

 

Reflections from grade 5 students:

  • “I learned to personify a painting (using elements; pattern, repetition, etc.).”
  • “There are more categories of dance than I thought.”
  • “Dances need cooperation & teamwork.”
  • “You can see a painting and then dance it out!”
  • “I figured out that movement is a type of beautiful art.”
Theresa Cerceo and Charles Michaud

Theresa Cerceo and Charles Michaud

“As arts educators, our goals are centered around the students. We are here to give our learners a place to be self directed, a place to explore and express themselves and their emotions, and a community where their differences are strengths instead of mistakes. Being able to include dance into our arts program at MSAD #33 has expanded our the students’ understanding of arts and arts education and has increased our knowledge base as educators.” ~ Theresa Cerceo and Charles Michaud

Highlights

This video provides highlights of the dance education residency. Thank you to Theresa for creating it! https://vimeo.com/198665764

February 9-11 are the blog posts about the dance education residency in MSAD #33. If you have questions please don’t hesitate to contact me at argy.nestor@maine.gov.

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Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Pamela Kinsey

March 31, 2015

MAAI Teacher Leader series

This is the seventh blog post for 2015 on the Phase 4 Maine Arts Assessment Initiative’s (MAAI) Teacher Leaders sharing their stories. This series contains a set of questions to provide the opportunity for you to learn from and about others. You can learn more about MAAI at http://mainearts.maine.gov/Pages/Education/MAAI# and learn more about all 61 of the MAAI Teacher Leaders at http://www.maineartsassessment.com/#!teacher-leaders/c1qxk.

Sunday best 1Pamela Kinsey serves on the MAAI Leadership Team along with being a Teacher Leader. She teaches music in Easton, Maine where her responsibilities include General Music K-6 (including Recorder), Beginning Band, Elementary Chorus, 7-12 Band, 7-12 Chorus and High School Jazz Choir. Pam has taught Music Appreciation at the High School level as well and she is the Co-Team Leader of the Wellness Team! She has been teaching music in some form since high school and gave private lessons. She has maintained a private ‘studio’ of varying numbers of students ever since. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education (with an instrumental emphasis on Flute) from the School of Music at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. Pam has been teaching in schools since 1984, and in Easton since 1988.

What do you like best about being an music educator?

One of the things that I like best about teaching music is that it gives me an opportunity to share my love of all types of music with new ears. I see students from a young age and watch them grow and mature into wonderful young ladies and gentlemen and amazing young musicians. I can look back at several of my students and see them still actively participating in music! It is very rewarding. I have second-generation students continuing in the musical paths of their parents. I take them to concerts of every type available in a region where that is not necessarily the norm. Seeing their eyes roll at the prospect of going for the first time to the American Folk Festival in Bangor and then seeing their eyes light up at the idea of attending the Folk Festival a second…or third or fourth time….that is what makes me love my job. When students come back and seek me out to tell me how things are going. When students call me on the telephone to chat. When students invite me to their weddings and baby showers because we became friends while we were making music together. Those are all reasons that I teach music. It is a life style, not just a job.

What advice to you have for young teachers?

My advice to teachers and students alike is to take advantage of as many of the opportunities that present themselves to you as possible. You never know when something new will be the thing that hooks your interest and it might just take you places unimagined and amazing!

What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?

Keys to any successful program? I think that first of all, you must love your art form. I think it is important to be out there, practicing our craft, and letting the students see us in that light. My students know that I play in a Community Band. I bring them on a bus to see the diversity of membership from young to old, all participating together. They know that they are invited to play in the group once they have the ability or the desire! My students know that I play in a Community Orchestra. Again, I bring them on a bus to see an orchestra in action. We don’t have a string program and I like them to see that art form live. They also know that I am involved in music at my church. Again, music is more than my job: it is my vocation, my passion and part of my daily life. Truly, I practice what I teach!

I think it is important to help students to succeed, but equally important to let them know that failure is OKAY! They have to make mistakes with their singing and playing so that they can learn from them and grow as musicians. It makes me sad when I ask students ‘Is it okay to make a mistake in music class or in school?’ and have them answer ‘NO’. I tell them of course it is okay…that is how we learn! If we make a mistake because we are trying, then we know it is there and it is something we can fix.

How have you found assessment to be helpful to you in your classroom?

I consider myself an ‘Old Dog’, and ‘new tricks’ come hard to me. Assessment in my classroom has forced me to re-evaluate how I am teaching and connecting with my students…especially the younger ones. We now have clearer reasons for doing what we are doing and the students are taking more ownership. Now when they create, I show them the rubric that tells them exactly what to do for each level of grading. When they try to hand that in, I remind them that they still need the rubric to complete the project. They can view and listen with discerning eyes and ears, because the expectations are clear. That is very powerful.

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the arts assessment initiative?

Becoming involved in the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative has given me more confidence in my teaching and in my advocacy skills. Finding my way as a department of one was difficult, since there was no support system that understood what I was trying to accomplish. Now, I am part of a caring, safe and supportive community of Arts professionals, ALL of whom understand what I am trying to accomplish and the struggles that I encounter on a daily basis, since they are very often shared struggles.

What are you most proud of in your career?

In my career, I am most proud of the relationships I have built with students and the hope that they possess an appreciation of music that will stay with them throughout their lives. I am proud of the fact that others see me in leadership roles that I might not have seen myself in. I have built up a rapport with other Arts educators throughout the state and region as a result of these leadership roles. I am proud to be a past chair of the District VII Northern Maine Music Educators Association, the former Secretary of the Maine Music Educators Association and the current President of the Maine Music Educators Association. I am also very proud of the work of MAAI and I am pleased to be a small part of the amazing leadership team and ‘Argy’s Army of Artists’!

What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?

Sometimes, I think that all of the mandates for standardized expectations get in the way of teaching…and learning….simply for the joy of teaching and learning. There are expectations that our students have the very highest level of achievement, but we are allowed only the very minimum of time in a week to meet these expectations. Of course, funding is an issue in all of education. For me, time to prepare and collaborate with others would be amazing, but again, there isn’t time in the day for this type of group planning in the Arts, especially in a Music Department of one.

What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be do to “luck” or circumstances?

Hard work and determination are necessary in any job. I think that one thing that I have accomplished is a successful blending of a 7-12 Band. Many years ago, we moved our 7th and 8th graders form the Elementary School, where I had a proper Middle School Band, to the High School and I was told there was no room in the schedule for Middle School Band and the program would now be a combined Band. You can imagine my concern at the idea of mixing students with two years of playing experience with students with five years of playing experience. I feel that the people in the position of making that decision really didn’t understand what they were expecting would just ‘happen’. It was a real struggle, especially at the beginning. Now, however, it is a successful blending of abilities and the Band is pretty darned great in my opinion! On the surface, it was just expected, but I had to be creative and work very hard to make it succeed and not lose students due to frustration by being too difficult or too easy.

If you were given a $500,000.00 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?

Wouldn’t it be amazing to have funding like $500,000! I would begin by purchasing instruments, so that every student would have the opportunity to play an instrument, regardless of financial status. New instruments are psychologically better than used. In a rural, depressed area, often cost is the only deterrent to playing an instrument and I hate seeing students have that obstacle in their path. If I could put an instrument in the hands of every child to use for their entire school career, I would love that.

Imagine you are 94 years old. You’re looking back. Do you have any regrets? 

When I am 94, and I can only hope to have that longevity, I hope there won’t be any regrets! I know I won’t regret my career choice. I was fortunate enough to have a grandmother that had a very long life. When she was in her 90s she was still making music, playing in three hand bell choirs, and playing the piano. She is my musical success story for my students. If you have music in your blood, you will always have music in your life!

 

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Essence of the North Student Art Exhibit

March 25, 2013

Aroostook county

Thank you to art teacher Ruth McAtee for contributing this blog post and the photos that accompany it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This is our fifth annual Essence of the North Student Art Exhibit. It is now on display at the Aroostook Centre Mall in Presque, Maine. This show is put on by the Northern pARTners Aroostook county regional art educators, a group of art teachers from school districts around Aroostook county. Throughout the year we meet once a month or every other month to share information on what’s happening in the visual arts at the state and national level as well as what we are doing in our own visual arts programs. We usually meet at a school site, and art teachers who cannot come to the site, attend via Tandberg. Planning for the our annual art show takes place at these meetings.

This year the show features selected art pieces from the following districts: Caribou, Limestone, Connor, Easton, St. Agatha, Frenchville, Hodgdon, Houlton, Mars Hill, Presque Isle, Mapleton, Ashland, and Washburn.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA reception for the student artists, their families, teachers, and administrators took place March 15 from 7:00-7:30 in the gallery space at the Aroostook Centre Mall where the student work is being showcased. Visual Arts teachers at the reception:  Judy Babbidge (Pre-K-6, Connor) absent from photo, Ruth McAtee (MSAD#1 grs. 3-5 Zippel and Pre-K-5 Mapleton Elementary schools), Beth Ann Walker (K-8, Washburn),  Sue Beaulier (Pre-K-12, Ashland), Jane Hutchison (K-12, Easton), Bonnie Tidd (High School, Houlton), Wanda Jackins (K-12 Mars Hill).

The art work is on display from March 11-April 6th.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

While in Aroostook county for the Mega-regional workshop in Easton I had a chance to visit the exhibit at the mall. It was great to see the work of the Northern pARTners. I could imagine the art teachers there together putting the show in place and the families at the opening enjoying it. The collaboration that the art teachers have is marvelous. CONGRATULATIONS and THANK YOU for providing the opportunity for your community!

Angela Wang, grade 10, Drawing II - student of Ellyn Whitten Smith at Presque Isle High School

Angela Wang, grade 10, Drawing II – student of Ellyn Whitten Smith at Presque Isle High School

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Summer Opportunity in the County

June 7, 2012

Arts Assessment course

The New England Institute for Teacher Education will be bringing graduate level courses to Aroostook County this summer, including Arts Assessment courses in Music and Visual Art.

Bill Buzza will be teaching the music course and Catherine Ring will be teaching the visual art course. Both are on the Leadership Team with the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative.

Please register with the New England Institute if you are interested in taking your assessment practices to a deeper level.

Working with a cohort of colleagues who share best practices and resources is stimulating and fun. Deep discussions around how to assess, benchmark, and align to standards are helping to improve learning in the arts classroom.  Graduate courses made available in other parts of the state have met with great success.  Join Bill and Catherine in Presque Isle this summer!

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Sooooooo Many Celebrations!!

March 16, 2012

I LOVE March!

I know many people dread March but I’ve ALWAYS LOVED it. I know it is because, as an arts educator, there is so much to celebrate this month. With Music In Our Schools Month, Youth Art Month, and Theatre In Our Schools Month, anyone who is an arts teacher can find the silver lining in March – the month that is not really winter, nor spring, just in between.

It is a wonderful month to celebrate and during the last week I have attended a variety of celebrations. Starting on Saturday with the state Youth Art Month opening at the Portland Museum of Art, on Monday in Presque Isle at the mall for the Aroostook County art exhibit, yesterday at the Blaine House for the Celebration of Arts Education, and tonight in RSU#40, my home district, for their once every four years Arts Celebration.

From the actors on the stage, to the musicians in the band, the classes of singers, the art work covering the walls; students, parents, grandparents, and educators had much to smile about. It’s an event that brings the community together.

The event was dedicated to former colleague Anne Kofler, elementary art teacher, who retired almost two years ago after teaching in Friendship, Washington, and Union for 21 years. We collaborated often bringing together her elementary students with my middle school students in Union. We worked with our students to transform the elementary and middle schools (located upstairs and downstairs). Everyone’s artwork was important and played an integral and necessary part of the collaborative outcome. And we had FUN!

Anne and I giving Christo and Jean-Claude a book of our student collaboration.

Anne and I giving Christo and Jean-Claude a book of our student collaboration.

As I walked through the exhibit tonight and saw former students who were there with their own children I thought of how fortunate we are to be arts educators.

When students have the opportunity to exhibit and perform, Visual and Performing Arts Educators:

  • bring people together
  • celebrate students
  • bring out the best in students
  • provide the stage and the wall space to show accomplishments
  • push students to the edge
  • challenge creativity and imagination
  • create the forum to show accomplishments
  • use curriculum, instruction, and assessment seamlessly
  • provide a public space to show the standards are being met

During this month, I hope you are getting many YAHOOOOOOOOOs for the work you do providing the above and much more to all students! And, if you are not celebrating your students and colleagues accomplishments, well, we’re only half way through the month, there is still time! Take the time to SHOUT about arts education!

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Youth Art Month Exhibits

March 14, 2012

From Portland to Hallowell to Bangor to Presque Isle

Celebrating Youth Art Month with student art exhibits throughout the state.

Art in the Heart student exhibit, Bangor Mall

Bangor Mall – Art in the Heart student exhibit. Fifty five art teachers have contributed about 800 pieces of student artwork and came together on a recent Sunday to set up the exhibit. The artwork will be in place until March 17th.

Kal Elmore’s description: “Teachers had selected work, matted work, made lists of students, etc. Calls had been made to arrange mall space, panel moving, etc. The day had arrived. It was time for all the parts to come together. And, yes, it was a Sunday morning.

The panels arrived. People started to set up their exhibits. Art teachers greeted old friends with hugs and news. “Oohs” and “aahs” could be heard as art teachers found pieces that are appealing. It truly was glorious to see this exhibit come together!”                                              

The state Youth Art Month exhibit is at the Portland Museum of Art until the end of the month. The exhibit is sponsored by Maine Art Education Association (MAEA). The official opening was on Saturday, March 10th with hundreds of people there to celebrate the 131 students from grades K-12. It was marvelous! Carol Trimble received the Arts Advocacy Award from MAEA and Linda Stanley, MAEAs selection for the Art Teacher of the Year; both had wonderful messages for parents, teachers, and most importantly the students! The show remains until the end of March.

Camilla Jones, "Me on My Worst Day" Tempera, Hall-Dale High School

The Harlow Gallery in Hallowell annual student exhibits are top notch. The high school exhibit was on display during the first part of the month and presently on display is the elementary student art work. The high schools represented each send one student to actually hang the show. They did a marvelous job on the collaboration.

The Northern pARTners – art teachers from Aroostook county, came together last week to hang their student art show at the Aroostook Centre Mall. The art teachers traveled from Houlton, Easton, Caribou, Hodgdon, St. Agatha, Washburn, Mars Hills, Connor, Fort Fairfield, Limestone, Ashland, and of course Presque Isle. The show has 346 pieces from 12 towns. Hundreds of parents and students attended the opening and there were smiles and smiles to go around.

Madasyn Shorey, Grade 3, Zippel Elementary School, Ruth McAtee art teacher

Aroostook county art teachers at the opening of the exhibit.

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