Posts Tagged ‘arts education’

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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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Art and Climate Change

November 2, 2020

Student response 

Thank you to Cynthia Pease, art teacher at Deer Isle Stonington High School, for providing the information for this blog post.

The Deer Isle Stonington High School 8th grade Art students have produced a number of paintings reflecting their thoughts and feelings about climate change and their global concerns.  In this show, you will see hope, anger, humor, and a plea for everyone to wake-up and take action.  Above all else, the art show reflects the concerns our students have for their future.  This show is about raising awareness!

In order to achieve this level of work, students researched the topic they connected most with.  There were weekly critiques and class discussions on each topic chosen.  Sketches were created and refined with a focus on the Elements and Principles of Art and included Type Face as an element of their designs.  Color compositions and final drawings were created prior to the final work being painted.  These students “earned” a higher level of recognition because of the hard work, grit, awareness, and level of honesty they have portrayed in their final work. 

To bring this show into the public light, we give great thanks to the climate change organization, Climate Action Net (CAN), and to the DIAA Gallery for hosting this show.  Other elements of this initiative included a conversation with these young artists about their work and the climate situation they are inheriting. The interviews were conducted by Rob Shetterly of Americans Who Tell the Truth.  The paintings will be displayed on the CAN website in order to select a painting which  powerfully communicates a young person’s view of Climate Change. The most popular painting will be reproduced on ‘T’ shirts and offered for sale in order to raise money for school ecological initiatives, such as solar panels.

Special thanks to Tony Ferrara for his support, commitment and passion to inspire and motivate young people to take action.  From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you!  Our deep gratitude goes to DIAA for hosting this event.

Cynthia expresses many thanks to Dennis Duquette for positive energy and support and Little Eagle for making all the frames.

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Resources Supporting Arts Education

October 19, 2020

Amazing work

I know how time consuming it can be for teachers to collect resources so I’ve put together another list to help support your work – this one compiled over the last several weeks. Hopefully you’ll find the information informative!

  1. Neuroscience and Music written by Cassandra Sheppard – At a time when singing in school is marginalized this article/research reminds us that we need to sing!
  2. ArtsEdSearch A hub for research on the impact of arts in education where you’ll find academic studies and resources
  3. pink portfolio exercises As in Daniel Pink who I heard speak about the importance of the creative thinking people.
  4. Onion Foundation Funding source for Maine education
  5. STE(A)Mrolled Blog post from Americans for the Arts. Writer Daryl Ward is the principal of the Harrison School for the Arts in Florida. 
  6. Teaching Arts Education Advocates Blog post for Americans for the Arts. Written by Jennifer Katona, Director and Founder of the Graduate Program in Educational Theatre at the City College of New York (CCNY), oversees the certification of pre and in-service Theatre teachers and training of non-certified theatre educators.
  7. The Teaching Channel has outstanding resources. Here’s one: Post Modern Art: Everything Is Information 
  8. Collective Impact in the Arts – Createquity. One persons information on the possibility of developing a collective impact model for the arts. Written by Ian David Moss a few years ago but information is still relevant for those interested in this work. 
  9. Deeper Learning: Why Cross-Curricular Teaching is Essential written by Ben Johnson for Edutopia. More difficult but so many benefits that outweigh not doing this type of teaching.
  10. Unlocking Passion in Education written by Tom Segal for Education Week. Another older article but good information. 
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Teaching in the Pandemic

September 22, 2020

Charlie’s story

One of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teacher Leaders from the first phase is Charlie Johnson. Charlie teaches Digital Design, 3D Design and Photography at Mount Desert Island High School. For many years he has been a proponent of student centered learning and using technology as a tool for effective teaching. He wrote the essay below “Teaching in the Pandemic” for the Union of Maine Visual Artists Journal.

Charlie has worked tirelessly as an art educator since 1973 and over the years I’ve been happy to watch him be recognized for his commitment to Arts Education. Charlie received the Carol Trimble Award for Exemplary Service to Education Award in 2015, was a finalist for the 2008 Maine Teacher of the Year, and is the 2006-07 Maine Art Teacher of the Year from the Maine Art Education Association.

Matilda A., Spring, Mixed Media, 12” x 12”, May, 2020 “I’m grateful for spring coming and all the flowers starting to come up.”

My initial concern as a high school art instructor with the closure of school buildings within our district was that I had no time to prepare my students for the transition. Fortunately students in my classes used the Google Suite of applications on a regular basis, primarily for presenting their work on Google Drive to obtain formative feedback and ultimately to organize their summative portfolios. Their previous work with the structures and protocols of digital submission of work did provide them a basic foundation.

Working with a Digital Media class in a computer lab equipped with the Adobe CC Suite did not translate to student laptops or home computers. Adaptations to software available on student laptops had to be constructed, causing a shift in curriculum structure and constricting student choice for exploration purposes within a less robust software .

The class that caused me the most regret for my students was Black & White Photography, as the creation of individual darkrooms labs in student homes was impractical. Even with these changes, the photography class has been particularly resilient, with the requirement to switch to digital imaging and to shoot in grayscale causing several students to improve the content and quality of their work significantly.

Alex S., What Makes Me Happy, Mixed Media/Photograph, 12” x 12”, May 2020 “I am grateful for the ability to create, both physical and emotional, to keep my inner colors bright and vivid, even when I’m the only one who sees them.”

While there remains a visual and performing arts requirement for graduation at our school, all of these classes are elective by students, and in some cases are chosen out of necessity rather than interest. Being present physically in these classes allows the instructor to personalize instruction and teaching as students become more familiar with both the content and the teacher.  Because this had already taken place during the school year for semester long classes, there was a certain basic foundation to work from during the transition period.

The group of students that I am in contact with in the most meaningful ways during this pandemic is the National Art Honor Society art students. Now, this is not an art class, but a group of the most interested and dedicated visual artists in our school, and from the very first “virtual” meeting we all shared not only time, but ideas and concepts for artworks, emotional states in reaction to the closure of classroom doors, and an artistic fellowship that was purely exuberant! During the second weekly meeting of this group, students decided to create “squares” of their feelings of gratitude that would eventually become a “GRATITUDE QUILT”, expressing the variety of things to be thankful for during the difficult time of the pandemic. 

Charlotte P., Technology, Digital, 12” x 12”, May 2020 “I’m grateful that technology is able to keep us connected even if it can become a little too overwhelming sometimes.”

 

MDI NAHS, Gratitude Quilt, Digital Assemblage, 4’ x 4’, May 2020
“A collaborative piece by members of the MDI HS Chapter of the National Art Honor Society”

IMAGE LIST/CAPTION:

  1. MDI NAHS, Gratitude Quilt, Digital Assemblage, 4’ x 4’, May 2020

“A collaborative piece by members of the MDI HS Chapter of the National Art Honor Society”

 

  1. Charlotte P., Technology, Digital, 12” x 12”, May 2020

I’m grateful that technology is able to keep us connected even if it can become a little too overwhelming sometimes.”

 

  1. Matilda A., Spring, Mixed Media, 12” x 12”, May, 2020

            “I’m grateful for spring coming and all the flowers starting to come up.”

 

  1. Alex S., What Makes Me Happy, Mixed Media/Photograph, 12” x 12”, May 2020

I am grateful for the ability to create, both physical and emotional, to keep my inner colors bright and vivid, even when Im the only one who sees them.”

 

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Positive Outcomes

June 5, 2020

What are your thoughts and experiences?

I Invited past Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teacher Leaders and Leadership Team members to answer 4 questions – both personal and professional. Each day this week another set of answers is being posted. Today’s blog post includes answers to number 3. Please don’t hesitate to share your answers to the 4 questions. To the teachers who responded (so far. THANK YOU for your honesty and sharing your new reality. One word that came up for me as I read your responses was BRAVERY! I am grateful that you’re being brave for the learners across the state!

  1. Name one thing that has been an ‘ah-ha’ moment for you during ‘teaching away from school’? One success.
  2. What have you learned that you didn’t know before the school shut down?
  3. What are you doing to bring yourself joy/to take care of yourself?
  4. When this is all over – what do you imagine might be a positive that comes from the pandemic?

Kris Bisson says it best – YOU ALL ROCK!

The last three days blog posts have been filled with inspiration from the voices of Maine visual and performing arts educators. Today’s post is filled with HOPE. And, as we continue to deal with the biggest challenges of our lives I hope that you won’t forget the struggles that have the possibility of morphing into positives for our communities and the world. It will take all of us to continue working together and supporting one another. Thank you all for the amazing work you’re doing and for being such an inspiration to me and those who you touch in your worlds! Know that I’d love to hear your stories – please don’t hesitate to contact me at meartsed@gmail.com.

IMAGINE THE IMPACT 

  • That we will have made changes to focus on what really matters in our lives. This action will lead us to create teaching and learning environments that focus on relevance, action and compassion. ~ LINDSAY PINCHBECK
  • What scares me is that many educators, parents and administrators are saying “can’t wait to get back to normal”. All I can think about is the amazing things that we have learned to do in the past few months, how easy it is to collaborate, why push all that back into the “box” and “go back to normal”. CHARLIE JOHNSON
  • Normal wasn’t doing it for everyone. I like to think that we will be a much more compassionate group of educators, who, “Take time to smell the roses” with our students and not always operate at such a frenetic pace. I also think that snow days will never be the same again. We now know we can teach remotely on those wintry days! ~JENNI NULL
  • I hope with all my heart this will start a positive shift in education. I think teachers, empowered by the networking, shared experiences and tremendous PD opportunities, will demand change and in fact, be willing change agents. ~KATE SMITH
  • I hope families will continue to spend time together and walk together, slow down from the rush of life many of us were living in. I hope that all who are able will continue to work from home at least one day a week – this would cut the emissions by 20%.  ~SUE BARRE
  • My hope is that as a system we will have a better grasp of what students really need. I think many have seen first hand the joy that the arts bring while staying home with their families. I would love it if that carried over into schools and we begin to see more of a focus on social-emotional health and less on mandated testing. ~JEN ETTER
  • I hope there will be a greater appreciation for all the hard working first responders, grocery clerks, truck drivers and delivery workers. I hope that there will be greater respect and appreciation for teachers. Overall, I hope that the world views the arts as a cultural necessity to inspire, express, and support each other through stressful times. ~HOPE LORD
  • I really hope for a large scale “shaking of the etch -a-sketch” as I always say. We need to teach students how to learn, harness their natural curiosities and allow them to lead the way. Throw away our expectations of how and when things should be learned. I would also like to see a more cross curricular and holistic project based approach to learning. ~SHANNON WESTPHAL
  • I feel the obvious positive will be the appreciation for what teachers do on a daily basis. The bigger positive I am hopeful for is a change in society on people being kinder to each other and the planet, seeing the positive effects of humans being out and about less. ~JEFFREY ORTH
  • Families will eat dinner together, take walks together, sing together (I’ve seen some fabulous family sing a longs!) My wish is that they remember it all when this is over and don’t stop those things that are so important! ~LINDA MCVETY
  • Hopefully families will remember what it’s like to be a family and rely less on the screen and more on each other. Times spent outside together will be recognized as sacred and hopefully families will keep going outside together after this is all over. That’s my fervent wish.
    Personally, the positive for me is all the exercise and a little bit of weight loss. I’ve also enjoyed making the teaching videos for my kids. Whenever I run into parents or kids on the trails, they always mention how much they enjoy the videos. ~ALLIE RIMKUNAS
  • Our 7th grade students do not currently have art. Due to COVID 19, our 6th grade Gifted and Talented ART students will be missing a new field trip to the high school for ‘firing’ day. Our district has approved our elementary trip to be moved to the fall and to include the students leaving us for the middle school next year. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it inspired the school to create art field experiences for all 7th grade students? …recreate the 7th grade art classes as once existed? ~LYNDA LEONAS
  • When this is over I hope the clean, clear, fresh air so many, especially in cities, are experiencing right now will open their eyes to the beauty of it and have a positive impact on our environment and world for now on.  ~HOLLY LEIGHTON
  • I think one of the positives may be that we have a renewed appreciation for the community-building aspect of the arts. Right now it’s such a void that cannot be filled by technology. Yes, there are virtual ensembles that are beautiful, but they aren’t live. I’ve watched some phenomenal performances online, but for me, nothing matches the aesthetic power of being in the moment and sharing that moment with those around you.
    I think a positive outcome could be that we continue to make use of technological  resources we’ve discovered during this time of exclusively remote learning to change our thinking to how we can customize students’ experiences more. ~BILL BUZZA
  • There are many positives to this situation, but for me the biggest impact has been the ability to slow down without judgement.  I know this will be something I consider upon ‘reentry’ to my dance program. ~EMMA CAMPBELL
  • I hope we never have to use another snow day!  I hope there will be a better appreciation for teachers. ~JANE KIRTON
  • The increased connectivity and support between home and school, and between educators, has been the most apparent to me. It’s human nature to come together as communities during times of need. Even during these times where physical distancing is required, I have felt an increased sense of support and togetherness. This is a positive that’s come from COVID-19, and I hope it sticks around when we get “back to normal”. ~DORIE TRIPP
  • First of all, we have been “taught”, by being thrown into this situation, how to use a variety of resources that will help support our student’s learning. Whether through the use of online platforms, or simply the research of new ideas and possibilities, we have seen that many things are possible. I know I have learned a lot about different programs that I am excited about using in (and out of) the classroom. I think that this will also pave the way for utilizing “remote” learning in other situations as well such as snow days, or other interruptions to our daily schedules helping to support consistent development. It may also be an excellent resource for keeping students connected over extended breaks and bridge the gap of relapse we often see.While we have been separated, we have been able to connect with each other. In difficult times, people rise to the challenges. It brings communities together to fight and survive. It helps us to set aside differences to focus on what is most important. So, while I know this has been difficult, I think like many difficult situations in history, it will strengthen our communities.  ~ANTHONY LUFKIN
  • The one positive I can imagine is renewed appreciation for my real teaching experience, the one in the classroom, face to face, having those moments of greatness and inspiration and activity and noise and sass- from the students as well as me! ~DANETTE KERRIGAN
  • Many people will have adapted skills for distance learning and connecting with others anytime/anywhere. Distance learning is not only about using technology. It is about the human experience and reminding us of our desire for connectivity and the security that we are all in this together. ~LEAH OLSON
  • I have a saying that I have used with my students for a very long time…..”Yes you can, yes you will”.  After this is over I am hopeful they will know the truth in this and it will become. their mantra. ~DIANNE FENLASON
  • My fellow educators will be far more digitally savvy and will continue to utilize a blended learning approach since they now are beginning to understand the value of asynchronous learning. The Arts educators in my District have historically been excluded from targeted professional learning. Now we are actively developing courses and resources for them to continue their learning. The students will understand more about creation versus consumption. Their ability to explore resources and use their creativity with found objects in the Arts has already been exhibited. ~BARB VINAL
  • Professionally speaking I feel much better at technology. Personally I look at this time as a gift with my children. As a mom of teenagers I know they will be “leaving the nest” fairly soon and I truly cherish this time with them. ~ANDREA WOLLSTADT
  • A huge positive to carry over once this is done is the community that we have all done well to foster. Regardless of where we are geographically, people are willing to use any means of technology to help. That drive and ability to foster and support community is my hope of what carries into the after. It has been incredibly meaningful and heartfelt how we as a people honestly are striving to find the good in those around us.  ~IVA DAMON
  • I think we ALL – communities, parents, students, teachers – will all have a greater and deeper appreciation for school and all it entails. It’s been amazing to hear from everyone I talk to that EVERYONE misses it. We tend to spend a lot of time looking at the negative of our schools and jobs and not enough time just enjoying all that is wonderful about it all. I hope there is a lot we stop taking for granted. ~ROB WESTERBERG
  • My hope is that we do not lose the lessons we are learning about the interconnectedness of schools, teachers, and communities. I have reached out to the parents of my students in ways that weren’t really expected before we switched to remote learning. This will hopefully continue to be a priority once we figure out our ‘new normal’. ~LISA INGRAHAM
  • I think that teachers, families and students will be a little more appreciative of one another, and how much we need and rely on one another as we move forward. ~ CARMEL COLLINS
  • I’ve tried to provide very detailed lesson plans for students and families. Initially,  I still received LOTS of questions, “I don’t get its”, etc. That has lessened a bit. I think that sometimes we “overteach” and spoon-feed a lot of information. They are now forced to figure that out for themselves, and probably approach the assignments more creatively.  In any event,  those who are still engaged in their learning seem more resilient and creative. ~SUE BEAULIER
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Ah-ha Moments

June 2, 2020

What are your thoughts and experiences?

I Invited past Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teacher Leaders and Leadership Team members to answer 4 questions – both personal and professional. Today’s and the next three blog days posts will include the responses. Please don’t hesitate to share your answers to the 4 questions. Today’s post includes answers to the first question. To the teachers who responded (so far)- THANK YOU for your honesty and sharing your new reality. One word that came up for me as I read your responses was BRAVERY! I am grateful that you’re being brave for the learners across the state!

  1. Name one thing that has been an ‘ah-ha’ moment for you during ‘teaching away from school’? One success.
  2. What have you learned that you didn’t know before the school shut down?
  3. What are you doing to bring yourself joy/to take care of yourself?
  4. When this is all over – what do you imagine might be a positive that comes from the pandemic?

AH-HA MOMENTS

  • I am heartened to find that both kids and parents seem to see art class as an important part of their education. I’ve seen great response in student work, parent questions, teacher consideration, when it comes to the projects that I’ve provided remotely. I’ve heard from parents who do not show up for P/T Conferences (ever). The Administrative Assistant at our school expressed that her 2nd grade daughter would not work on her art homework with her. The second grader said, “Mom,  I need Mrs. Beaulier! You don’t even know who Pablo Tabasco is!!!”  We had a private ZOOM in response to that. ~SUE BEAULIER
  • Connecting with the families in our school in new and authentic ways. A deeper understanding for the work we are all doing on both sides has strengthened the teaching and learning opportunities. Building relationships has happened through purpose and we have had more time and direct application for us to do this work. ~LINDSAY PINCHBECK
  • The “ah-hah” moment is realizing the content needs to be about something that ties itself to students, something that gives them ownership, not just a set of criteria to follow. ~CHARLIE JOHNSON
  • Students have been paying more attention to their assignments than what I anticipated. They are really getting on board! ~CARMEL COLLINS
  • I sent a hand-written card to every homeroom student in my Advisory the first day of vacation so they knew I was thinking of them. I wanted them to take a much-needed break from their devices and the card allowed that friendly reminder to occur. ~KRIS BISSON
  • Realizing that the content of what I am teaching is not as important as the connection with students. At school we are so curriculum-driven and as a music teacher, I’m always preparing for that next concert looming ahead. Now, thanks to remote learning, I realize that my students look forward to simply hearing from me…receiving my silly frog video taken along my daily walk, sharing my boomwhacker videos of pop tunes, or asking one of them about a new puppy. It’s all about sharing and realizing that we are all in this together, young and old... ~JENNI NULL
  • I would say the greatest success was the immediate networking between music teachers from across Maine and beyond. What could have been tremendously overwhelming alone became easier through sharing resources and experiences.  Teachers built trust through shared vulnerabilities. Everyone was building the plane while flying it. I was incredibly proud of my profession and the way we rose together to meet the needs of our students, all of our students. ~KATE SMITH
  • Having a parent reach out after “sitting in” on a class to thank all teachers for what we do – in her words – “These past few weeks have definitely opened my eyes to all that you guys have to do. So thank you for that. Teachers are definitely under appreciated and do more than parents know. You guys are my rock stars!” ~SUE BARRE
  • These are not my words but totally ring true! This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon! Our superintendent said this to us on day 1 of distance learning but it took me about 2 weeks to realize what that really meant. For probably the first time in my teaching career I needed to REALLY lower my expectations for what students would accomplish in terms of content and replace that with what I felt was best for them both socially and emotionally. Many kids are really struggling right now and they need relationships with their teachers more than anything. Finding a way to connect and reach as many students as possible is tricky but it needs to be at the center of everything we do in order to try to protect the well-being of our kids. ~JEN ETTER
  • The importance of creativity in teaching all subjects remotely. As teachers we are recreating our curriculum, so that we can deliver instruction remotely. We have had to think creatively to problem solve what means, technology, and resources do we have to teach our students. Many students lack art materials at home, some still have no internet access available to them. However, we are creative teachers and we find ways to connect to our students and inspire them to create art during this stressful time. ~HOPE LORD
  • I have posted a quote by Commissioner Makin above my work station: “Children’s brains are wired for learning.  Learning happens everywhere and doesn’t always require a specific plan of measurable outcome.” This ideology helps me stay focused on the goal of inspiring an art curriculum that is engaging, inspires curiosity and is rooted in the real world. I am so inspired by my children (daughters, ages 3 & 4)and their curiosities and imaginations. I try to harness that sense of wonder to inspire my curriculum. We have to let go of all of the things we are usually required to control; behavior management, rule following, accountability for learning and finishing assignments. For some that is extremely hard to move on from, but if you can you are free to create something really special for children. ~SHANNON WESTPHAL
  • As an observer, I am amazed already at the sheer numbers of resources teachers have put together and are willing to share. Never before have I seen so many businesses reach out to help – from Zoom to media outlets, online courses, apps, state and federal government, non profits and others. We are a world that connects and doesn’t wait for someone to tell us how or when. ~CATHERINE RING
  • The one ah-ha has been the reaffirmation of the importance of the arts to allow people to express their feelings, their joys, their anxieties. My students have used their art as a way to cope with the ‘stay at home order’ and it shows that the Arts goe beyond just an assignment or some standard.  ~JEFFREY ORTH
  • That students want that music connection. ~LINDA MCVETY
  • I joined a few classrooms on zoom and was surprised to see a keyboard sitting behind one of my most difficult students. It was a total surprise and really made me think about my preconceptions of our students. Now I have a new tool to connect with this kiddo-Music! ~ALLIE RIMKUNAS
  • One positive was calling a home without internet to check on an advisee. I talked to a mom for a long time. She was stressed and worried and yet doing an amazing job helping to teach her 5 children. My phone call cheered her up and helped her to realize just how well she was doing in an emergency situation. I will now call and talk to this mother each week because I have a connection with her that I might not have established except through the desire to maintain connection with students and their families. I’ve certainly learned the value of parent teacher relationships. I will never again make an assumption about a parent without truly interacting with a parent in an authentic way. ~GLORIA HEWETT
  • The Joy of Art as Positive Outreach – Adding our art show to the world of tech!!!! Parents (even some that classroom teachers had not had contact with) are responding and replying to the positive outreach from the arts department. We have been working together to gather permission to add students’ work and names online for the new VIRTUAL ART SHOW at two schools! ~LYNDA LEONAS
  • I have always taught by talking to my students face to face, building relationships, giving support and conferencing over their art projects. So now I reluctantly had to learn to use technology to do my job and I was very apprehensive. I have found (ah-ha) it can be effective and even though I  am just learning I can do it and am enjoying it with my students. ~HOLLY LEIGHTON
  • I have been very pleased to see some of my students take ownership of their own learning and embrace this opportunity to direct their own educational experience. For these students, I’ve truly felt like a guide / coach by providing them resources and materials to further fuel their own internal motivation as they choose the areas and skills to explore and develop. In my situation as a band director, I’ve told the students they need to change their mind set from “being a member of the band” to “having the opportunity to develop their own musical ability and interests”. ~BILL BUZZA
  • I have tried to keep my students in a positive mindset by adopting different assignments — I am not trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, we are not in our normal space so I am adjusting my expectations accordingly, which has worked well for me. We are doing things like video choreography, online movement classes, and Zoom interviews with dance professionals. I am actively trying NOT to do the same things I would do if we were meeting in person, I think that creates a sense of disappointment in the kids and for us, this is working well. ~EMMA CAMPBELL
  • Lesson #1 – online never sleeps. ~JEFF BEAUDRY
  • As a music educator, teaching remotely has made me realize, you can’t teach chorus with success unless you are in the same room as your students. When we make corrections, we need to make them as they happen not at a later time. We also desperately need to feel each other in the same room to make the music beautiful. A success would be the new ways I have learned how to use a variety of technology tools that I would most likely never have done. ~JANE KIRTON
  • LESS IS MORE. Initially, I had the idea that I needed to recreate school for students to access at home. After a week or two of juggling my “work from home” responsibilities with my new “homeschool Mom” responsibilities, I got a glimpse into what some schools are really asking of their families. It’s been very overwhelming at times, and so I have been able to change MY expectations and activities to help ease the burden for my students and their families. I have found success in collaborating with my colleagues to create meaningful and creative activities for my students to enjoy at home. ~DORIE TRIPP
  • When schools closed their doors and we were asked to create remote learning opportunities I was intrigued by the possibilities albeit stressed and a little confused by how it would work. I have to say one thing that I have been impressed with, is the capabilities of technology platforms.  I don’t think there is any substitution for the in-person instruction that our educational systems are built on, however technology is constantly improving to give better alternatives when that is not available, like right now. Having done my master’s program completely online, as well as working in several different school systems on different platforms, and using several different types of online programming certainly prepared me for attempting to teach remotely.  At this point in our current situation, I am not getting a lot of participation, however, I feel that I am using due diligence to provide students with many opportunities to develop their understanding and ability to communicate visually.  While we can’t teach in a traditional manner, we can still teach. Where there is a will, there is a way.  It is amazing to see what can be done that would otherwise have been said to be impossible. ~ANTHONY LUFKIN
  • I can still be surprised by my students- in particular those who were historically not as active as I would have hoped and are really doing amazing things in these challenging circumstances. I find myself hollering YES when opening e-mails. This insight will be so helpful in supporting those students in the future.~DANETTE KERRIGAN
  • It was when a student said during a Zoom meeting that she is experimenting even more with art materials.  She said, “You see this?” while pointing up, “It’s a butterfly mobile that I made with dental floss, sticks and colored paper.”  She shared it with the class with no fear at all. Students are sharing stories and ideas about making art I would have never known about otherwise. They are opening my eyes about what is possible right at home. ~LEAH OLSON
  • I made a rap (my least favorite genre of music ironically) video for my students and staff the day before our online learning started in order to encourage everyone and I know it lifted the spirits of all who viewed it.  The “ah ha” was that if we can put aside our uncomfortableness for others, the reward is priceless (I have attached the link below for you)  I will be sending out another one this Sunday providing them some encouragement for the last 7 weeks) ~DIANNE FENLASON
  • It has been so amazing to see that FINALLY Arts educators are getting included in technology training. I have had the privilege of being part of VPLTs (Virtual PLTs) with Arts educators and providing training for hundreds of educators in my District. ~BARB VINAL
  • As an elementary specialist is that it is challenging to make connections with students remotely. Recently I started joining zooms that the classroom teachers or case managers have. This has been a nice way to make a connection with the kids. As far as getting activities out to them we have been doing this through the packets that are sent home and through a facebook page that I set up. ~SAMANTHA ARMSTRONG
  • I have really been able to dig my teeth into some of the technology that I never seem to have time to really explore. I feel much more confident using various applications. I am also extremely lucky to have two musical children who are willing to help me. We’ve been able to put out material that I think is appropriate and user friendly for my students and their families. ~ANDREA WOLLSTADT
  • The personal relationships between teacher-teacher, teacher-student, and teacher-parent are the most important aspects of effective teaching. Regardless of the content I am trying to still teach my students, it’s the relationships and reaching out to others that really matters the most right now. In this new world of teaching virtually, often just a personal email, a phone call, or hosting a Zoom Meeting just to check in matters far more in the grand scheme of things than whether an assignment was handed in on time. ~IVA DAMON
  • Technology and online resources are pretty amazing if you have the time to dive into it and actually figure out how to best utilize it all for your own situation. This is SO happening for me right now, and it will positively impact me and my work for years to come. ~ROB WESTERBERG
  • I was struck by how much I miss making art with my students. This is something that I just took for granted in the whirlwind of the school day. ~ LISA INGRAHAM
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Virtual Exhibits and Performances

June 1, 2020

Sanford, South Berwick, Camden Hills, Fiddle Camp

Schools and arts education programs throughout the state are finding ways to share student work virtually this spring. Last week I shared Sebago Elementary School Virtual Arts Festival. Below are some of the virtual exhibits and performances and a virtual opportunity to learn during the summer. If you have a link to share, please send them to me at meartsed@gmail.com. You and your students have amazing accomplishments that others would like to learn about!

SANFORD

Six years ago I posted about the first Sanford Fallen Soldiers Project honoring WWII veterans. The project has continued over the years and because of COVID this year it had to take place virtually. The TV production lab at the high school/vocational center. Thanks to Sarah Schnell, who runs the station, WSSR-TV, who made the VIRTUAL CEREMONY possible. Thank you to music teacher Carol Baker-Roux who is retiring this year, for sending it for the blog.

 

CENTRAL SCHOOL, South Berwick

Central School celebrated their third graders with a Variety Show. The students could essentially share anything they wanted. Over 60 second and third-grade students and teachers were on the zoom call watching their videos. Kate Smith said: “It was absolutely precious to see the performers’ faces as they watched the reactions of their classmates”. You can watch the 22 performances in these GOOGLE SLIDES. Thank you Kate Smith for sharing!

CAMDEN HILLS REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL

Work by Svea Delevett. (Photo courtesy Camden Hills Regional High School)

On Thursday, June 4 all three art disciplines – music, art and drama will be represented at the Virtual Fine Arts Night for Camden Hills Regional High School. The link will be available at 5 p.m. on Thursday when the event goes live.

The visual arts department will be providing a virtual gallery tour of this year’s outstanding student artwork. The online showcase includes 2D work in drawing, painting, photography, visual journaling, printmaking, and 3D work from Big Art, Metals, and Clay classes.

The theatre department will be showcasing the work of actors and “techies” in curricular theater classes. The work of students in extra-curricular courses will also be presented including a Zoom performance of Arsenic and Old Lace.

Students in vocal music have been working on Virtual Fine Arts night songs, by learning and performing songs in their homes. Those songs have been shared with classmates on local platforms where students listened to each other’s performances and gave comments.

Students in instrumental music have been working on several “virtual” videos in which students have worked individually with a “guide track” to be presented as one ensemble. The Concert and Jazz Bands will also be joined by selections presented by the CHRHS Brass Ensemble.

MAINE FIDDLE CAMP

Virtual Maine Fiddle Camp will be held June 19-21, and your V-MFC team has been hard at work. The weekend is REALLY coming together. I’ve been told that it’s going to be TEN times the program of any other virtual fiddle camp at, well let’s just say a REALLY reasonable price! REGISTRATION IS OPEN!!!

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Sebago Arts Festival

May 26, 2020

Unstoppable

Sebago Elementary School arts staff had plans to continue a school wide arts festival this spring but due to COVID-19 plans were halted. But music teachers Jenni Null and Lindsay Waller and art teacher Brenda McGuinness weren’t going to let that stop them from providing a virtual extravaganza and that they did! You can view Sebago Virtual Arts Festival. Thank you to Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader and instrumental music educator Jenni Null for sharing the story below.

In 2018, the town of Sebago withdrew from the Lake Region School District. I retired as the Fine Arts Coordinator in Lake Region that same year, (where we had a longtime history of a District Arts Festival), and brought the idea with me to the newly formed Sebago School District where I continued to teach instrumental music to fourth and fifth graders. Our new Art and Music teachers were totally onboard, so last year, we had a school wide Arts Festival to celebrate both Youth Art Month and Music-in-Our-Schools Month. The event was so well-received in the community that two years later in 2020 we wanted to keep the tradition going. COVID-19 was not going to stop us!
Our Visual Art teacher, having experienced the traditional festival last year, knew what to expect this time around. She was extremely organized  and took photos of class projects during the year. When COVID struck and we transitioned to remote learning, she had most of what she needed, with the supplement of some student work that was returned to her in April. She also had an ongoing relationship with professional artists in the town, one of whom is on our School Board, Wendy Newcomb, an accomplished painter. They kindly added their amazing work to our virtual festival.
The music piece was a bit more problematic. We normally would have an entire class playing recorders, and performances of the Chorus, Grade 4, and Grade 5 Bands. Now, however, that was not possible and we music teachers had to rely on individual performances from our students. As you might imagine, some were reticent about doing this, some were very enthusiastic, and others needed prodding. What I love about our performances here, is that they represent all levels and stages of readiness. Some are so polished, some not so much, but in the end this is so representative as to what a performance program is all about. It’s the continuum of progression in regard to skills. In this case, the students took the initiative to create and submit their videos on their own.
I will always remember this with a lot of nostalgia. Toward the end of the performance section is “Misty” performed by my former students now in 8th grade, and a mom of the twin boys who is a fifth grade teacher and accomplished musician in her own right. They are well known in the town of Sebago, and I view them as an inspiration to my current students as to what practice and perseverance can achieve.
The finale is by the accomplished dancer/mime artist, Karen Montanaro who lives in nearby Casco and has provided us with her expertise as a teaching artist in past years. Her performance, What a Wonderful World, seemed like the parting message we wanted to convey to our virtual audience. I hope you enjoy our show!

SEBAGO VIRTUAL ARTS FESTIVAL

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Gray-New Gloucester High School

May 22, 2020

Zoom connection

Carol Clark, Instrumental Music Director at Gray-New Gloucester High School, recently shared a wonderful story about a zoom meeting that she arranged with someone many of you music educators may know. Below is the exciting story in Carol’s own words. Thank you Carol for sharing!

World renown composer, conductor and lecturer, Dr. Bruce Pearson, joined the Gray-New Gloucester High School Concert Band via Zoom. Although he lives in Minnesota, Dr. Pearson has had considerable impact on our students’ musical development, as many learned from his instrumental music methods. In our high school band, we typically began our class sessions with his Technique & Musicianship exercises and chorales. Now, during remote learning, they continue to work with this method at home. Dr. Pearson spent an hour talking to our students, answering questions about his life, music and the creative processes of composing and arranging. We all had a great time learning from such a kind, knowledgeable and creative teacher!

Here is a link to his website:  http://brucepearsonmusic.com/about-bruce/

From our students:
*  It was good to be able to hear Dr. Pearson’s answers to our questions. I think hearing his story and a bit of his composing process was helpful. It was also just really cool to be able to hear what he had to say, since he wrote the books that we’ve been using in band since 5th grade. Thank you.
*  I found this class interesting and informative, and I’m so glad we could do it! It was fun to hear from someone on the other side of the music we play in band, and to have some ideas and direction for approaching composing, which is something I have been interested in recently. Thank you for the opportunity!
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Patti’s COVID Teaching Story

May 20, 2020

Music teacher

Thirty eight year veteran music teacher Patricia Gordan teaches in two schools in RSU#14; Raymond Elementary and Windham Primary. Patti is a Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader. Almost a month ago now Patti shared that this has been the most difficult time in her teaching career. In this blog post Patti shares some of the work she has been doing with her students during this time – ‘schooling away from school’. Thank you Patti for sharing your story!

She read Janie Snider’s story from April 27 and when Janie said, “I am their resource!” Patti yelled, “YES!” Her story really resonated with Patti and perhaps that will be the same for others when you read what Patti’s story and what she misses most.

I want to hold hands and play a circle game with my Kindergarteners. I want to teach a folk dance to my 3rd graders. I want to sit next to a 4th grader and actually help her cover the finger holes correctly on her recorder so that she can produce a pleasant sound. I want to be the audience in front of twenty students on Orff instruments and thrill to their beautiful music, and see their faces light up when I enthusiastically compliment them. And I miss, miss, desperately MISS the angelic voices of my 3rd/4th grade chorus. I hope I can do the virtual choir with them on their favorite song that we’d been working on, “Send Down The Rain.”

Patti had just tried to play all four of the students’ “instrument parts” by herself.

IN PATTI’S WORDS

My chorus at Raymond Elementary is made up of 3rd and 4th graders and a few invited 2nd graders. “Send Down The Rain” is one of five songs we began practicing in January for a May concert which will not happen now. This song was their favorite and they sang it with such feeling, even at the beginning of March when it was not yet polished. 

I always put lyric sheets and practice tracks on the Raymond Elementary music website for them so they can practice at home and that was already done when we left. What I’m looking into is to have them perform that one song as a virtual choir.

A 4th grader emailed me this morning after she’d sent me videos, two different times, of herself playing recorder and I’d sent her back some tips. She said she was trying her hardest but that she was “bad at recorder.” (We play recorder third trimester and had had ONE recorder lesson before we were sent home.) It broke my heart because I wasn’t there to help her and it’s very difficult to teach a nine year old how to play the recorder by email, even though they can watch the recorder instruction videos on the website. Of course I told her she was not bad at recorder and that I admired her tremendously for her perseverance.

The lyrics to “Send Down The Rain, which help Patti and her students! 

Send Down The Rain

I live in the desert, only trouble comes my way as I try to make a living off the land. All the trees have withered, and the birds have flown away,
And my shattered dreams have gone with the shifting sand.

(Arias) Send down the rain.
(Cantos) To wash the dusty sky.

(Arias) Send down the rain.
(Cantos) To water the thirsty land.

(Arias) Send down the rain.
(All) To soothe my burning soul (Cantos-again) (Arias-my burning soul again) Send down the rain.

Lord I’ve had it with trouble, disappointment, broken dreams, And I long to see the lightnin’ flashin’ ‘round.
You know I’m a believer, and you know I’m prayin’ hard
To hear the rollin’ thunder’s mighty sound.

(Arias) Send down the rain.
(Cantos) To wash the dusty sky.

(Arias) Send down the rain.
(Cantos) To water the thirsty land.

(Arias) Send down the rain.
(All) To soothe my burning soul (Cantos-again) (Arias-my burning soul again) Send down the rain.

(Arias) Send down the rain.
(Cantos) Oh, Lord, I see the lightnin’,

(Arias) Send down the rain.
(Cantos) Oh, Lord, I hear the thunder.

(Arias) Send down the rain. (All) hoooo.

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