Posts Tagged ‘arts learning grant’

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317 and Casco Bay

July 20, 2018

Songwriting Intensive

The Maine Arts Commission Arts Learning grant funded a collaborative with 317 Main in Yarmouth and Casco Bay High School in Portland during this past school year. The program provided an intensive and inspiring week for students who made incredible music together. For some of the students involved it was their first opportunity to collaborate on writing and performing new songs. The impact was incredible and will go on for years.

This short video provides a glimpse into the work that students and instructors did.

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In Today’s News

June 18, 2018

Union Elementary School

For the past several weeks artist Randy Fein has been working side by side with art educator Anthony Lufkin and the students at Union Elementary School to create a community themed clay mural. The project was partially funded by the Maine Arts Commission. Check out the article and photographs from the Village Soup at THIS LINK.

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Longfellow School

June 8, 2018

Seussical

The Maine Arts Commission Arts Learning grant provided funding to support the Longfellow Elementary School (Portland) production of Seussical. It will be performed at the Deering High School Auditorium on Friday, June 8, 6:00 p.m. and Saturday June 9, 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the door with the suggested price $5.00 and kids are free! Students have been preparing for months – sure to be a wonderful production!

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Arts Learning Grant Recipient

April 18, 2018

Learning Works

Heather Davis and Amy Pichette

I had the chance to meet with Heather Davis, Executive Director of LearningWorks and Amy Pichette Learning Works After School (LWAS) Team Program Director recently. I learned about their comprehensive after school programs, had a tour of the Portland facility and to visit one of their after school programs at Reiche School. LearningWorks received Maine Arts Commission Arts Learning grant funds for the 2017-18 school year.

LearningWorks Mission

LearningWorks reimagines learning through innovative programs that help children, adults, and families realize their potential and build thriving communities. 

I asked Heather to answer some questions so the Maine Arts Education blog audience could learn more about the LWAS program.

What do you see/know are the greatest benefit(s) to students at Reiche and the other schools you are working with to offer the afterschool program?

The greatest benefits to students in the LearningWorks LWAS program are the opportunities to continue building skills, background knowledge, and confidence in a supportive environment.We love afterschool because it is flexible and student centered. We are able to provide students with structured learning activities, but the students can help guide the direction of the ship based on their inherent interests.

What do you hope that students will remember or will be saying in the near or far off future about the opportunity to learn in this manner?

We hope students will remember the experiences they had while participating in LearningWorks Afterschool and how it helped them perform better in school. We also hope that the students develop new interests and skills through participation in activities they may not have had the opportunity to participate in if they weren’t a part of LearningWorks Afterschool. For example, those students who participated in the Portland Youth Dance Club are developing new dance skills and it is our hope that some of the students will be able to take advantage of participating in Portland Youth Dance beyond their time in LWAS and it can becomes a lifelong engaging activity for them.

Success story

A LearningWorks Afterschool/Portland Youth Dance success story comes from our performance yesterday afternoon (Wednesday, April 4th, 2018) during our LearningWorks Afterschool/Portland Youth Dance Final Showcase. All six groups (Reiche, East End, Ocean Avenue, Presumpscot, Hall and Riverton Schools) of LWAS/PYD dancers traveled to the Casco Bay Movers Studios to show off their dances to their peers, parents, and the community. The energy in the room is like no other…students are full of excitement and nerves. Some dancers are so nervous when they walk into the studio, they don’t want to dance. But, when the music starts, every dancer is ready to use their dance energy. There are constant cheers of support from the audience and the other dancers throughout each and every performance. The room was packed and this year’s performance had the most dance participants and the most parent/community audience members than any of our showcases in the past. One dancer from Hall School had 14 family members attend the performance! This is the best day of the year!

This video is on the Learning Works After School Portland Facebook

Check out the energy of the dancers and the crowd – Ocean Avenue’s dance team.

LearningWorks Commitment

LearningWorks is committed to strengthening the communities we serve by providing free community-based education programs for children, adults, and families throughout Southern Maine. Our primary goal is to support academic and personal success for our neighbors who lack resources and/or fall outside traditional educational structures. Our unique blend of academics, youth development, and social and emotional expertise makes it possible for us to transition our students from a place of struggle and hopelessness to a place of possibility and opportunity.

LearningWorks History

In the mid-1960s, residents of Portland’s West End neighborhood banded together to advocate for change on behalf of families who were struggling to maintain affordable housing. This coalition became known as Portland West in 1967. Through its housing rights work, Portland West came to appreciate that education is the best pathway out of poverty. Thus, the group reoriented its mission to focus on education.

LearningWorks’ journey from a grassroots neighborhood advocacy group to a unique and innovative education nonprofit has been long and remarkable. In late 2016, our staff and board joined forces to rewrite our organizational mission statement to focus on the concept of “reimagining learning” to help Mainers of all ages realize their potential and build thriving communities.

As we celebrate 50 years of service, we look to the future with a focus on what we do best: reaching students that no one else can reach; breaking down barriers to create educational opportunities for all; and helping people of all ages and backgrounds achieve academic and personal success.

LearningWorks AfterSchool (LWAS) provides free, high-quality afterschool and summer programs for students in grades 2-5 who are below grade level and come from families that cannot afford a paid afterschool enrichment or tutoring program. The curriculum utilizes an innovative blend of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) and literacy to help improve each child’s academic standing, all in a safe and supportive environment. The primary focus of the afterschool program is academic enrichment through project-based, hands-on, and engaging curriculum. Transportation and a snack are provided.

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Arts Learning Grant Recipient

April 12, 2018

Portland Stage

Portland Stage received a Maine Arts Commission Arts Learning Grant for the 2017-18 school year. Recently I had the pleasure of visiting Lincoln Middle School in Portland where teaching artists from Portland Stage were on site working with grade 8 students. When I walked in I remembered instantly of how much I love teaching middle school. I’m so fortunate to have had this opportunity to see Portland Stage and middle schoolers ‘in action’.

Students shouted out at one another in their best Shakespeare voices: “I do not like your faults.” They attempted to beat their partner with words, to manipulate and convince them. The only rules in one of the word games: 1) be safe 2) gotta win as they learned about understanding Shakespeare. I was impressed with the engagement of the students and wowed by the teaching artists techniques. What a great way to learn about persuasive language.

Portland Stage Teaching Artists: Khalil LeSaldo, Hannah Cordes, Chris Holt, Ella Mock

Portland Stage provides excellent and age appropriate learning opportunities for these young adolescents. Thanks for your good work Hannah Cordes, Portland Stage Education Manager and the other teaching artists working at the school (and in the theatre): Chris Holt, Ella Mock, Khalil LeSaldo, and Megan Tripaldi.

The following information was provided by Hannah Cordes.

Describe the work you’ve been doing with Lincoln Middle School students. 

Every year, we bring the Directors Lab Shakespeare School Tour program to the 7thand 8th grade students at Lincoln Middle School. Students watch a shortened adaptation of a Shakespeare play performed by professional actors and then are invited to explore the story and language of the play themselves in interactive workshops in their classrooms. In these workshops, students practice effective communication, creative collaboration, rhetoric, and critical analysis. Directors Lab puts Shakespeare’s language into the hands and mouths of the students, empowering them to be the artists, directors, and ensemble with the power to interpret the text and produce meaning. We also work with the 6th grade students at Lincoln Middle school through our winter show. This year, 6th grade students came to Portland Stage to see our mainstage production of It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, adapted by Joe Landry. Prior to the performance, we did pre-show workshops in their classrooms with a focus on the play’s story arc and character development, particularly exploring the theme of how an individual can impact an entire community. We find that these workshops enhance student ownership over the language and story of the play. Additionally, many Lincoln students also participate in our In-Theater programming, through camps, after school classes, and other programming.

What language do you hope impacts these students and what language do you want them to walk away with? 

Chris Holt, teaching artist

I hope that our work helps students realize how brilliant they are at understanding and bringing Shakespearean language (and any complicated or dense language, for that matter) alive. The workshops are designed to empower students to feel a connection to the language by using their bodies, voices, and ideas to explore the text.

In terms of specific language, I would love for each student to come away knowing at least one line of text from Julius Caesar. In her feedback, Language Arts teacher Antona Bailey remarked that students were quoting the lines from the play that we used in contrapuntal arguments on the bus! So I would call that a success!

What do you want the learners to remember in the near and/or far future?

The goal of our programming is to enhance literacy and to empower students to be brave with their creativity, so that is always my number one hope of any given program. More simply than that, I hope that Portland Public School students look back on their Portland Stage experiences from K-12th grade and feel connected to art in a meaningful way. I hope that our programming inspires them to seek out theatre and other art forms, as both audience members and artists themselves. I hope that the access to art provided by Portland Stage programming will help shape future generations into people who appreciate and value artistic expression as a means of understanding and investigating the world.

What are the greatest benefits of the work with Lincoln Middle School students/staff?

Hannah Cordes

What I love most about our work with Lincoln Middle School students/staff is that we are able to continue to build relationships and build upon the work that we do both with teachers and students. We interact with students all three years of their Middle School experience, with the intent to build upon the work we have done the previous year. In 6thgrade, we focus on the elements of storytelling (characters, theme, plot, etc.) and how to bring that alive using your voice, body, and imagination. In 7th grade, we engage students with Shakespeare (often their first experience of Shakespeare’s work) through the lens of creative collaboration, exploring how to tell stories as an ensemble. Then in 8th grade, we explore Shakespeare again, this time with a focus on rhetoric and critical analysis, investigating how to make an argument, how theatre engages with its audience, and how the audience/actor interpretation impacts the content of a play. With teachers, I am grateful for the relationships we have created with Lincoln teachers. This allows us to find more and more ways in which Portland Stage can continue to support classroom teachers and how we can make our work even more impactful to teachers and students alike.

STUDENT FEEDBACK

  • “This was the best day ever”!
  • “It was so cool being Brutus, I might seriously be an actor one day”.

TEACHER FEEDBACK 

  • “We used a lot of the resource guide. The comic and synopsis were essential. The historical facts gave good background knowledge and helped kids have an in-road for the plot of the play.”
  • “The actors are so talented and committed. They are clearly present in the work and it’s so fun to see them experimenting to convey the meaning of the text, and connecting with the audience. I loved that the staging was including the audience and surprising them—reinventing how they think “the theater” should be. Their reactions to the drumming, to “Citizen 3,” were just awesome.”
  • “The multiple modalities that are included—the resource packet, the performance, the Directors Lab become a kind of perfect storm for a memorable experience. I think Shakespeare can be seen as an elitist text and this program brings equity, and equal access, to it.
    The fact that all of my students, because of this experience in a public school, will be able some day to be saying, “Oh, well, yeah,
    Julius Caesar, that was all about power and betrayal.” That is really empowering. They might shatter a stereotype of their culture or economic background because they can summarize or allude to Shakespeare. So many of them already see the relevance now, and my hope is that all of them can reach back to this experience and use it, build on it, surprise or delight someone with their knowledge about it. Also, the teaching actors are seemingly endless fonts of energy for this work. It was lovely to see them being energized by students”.

NOTE: In the fall I posted a series of blog posts on Portland Stage. You can access the series by typing in Portland Stage in the “search archives” box located on the right side of the blog.

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Arts Learning Grant Recipient

April 9, 2018

Bangor High School

Potter and MALI Teaching Artist Tim Christensen

“Sharks, tarpan migration, stingrays. Canoeing in deeper water while a dolphin gave birth under the boat. No tolerance for being bored. I had something to say. Being a potter let’s me capture information and communicate it in a durable way. In 500 years what do you want someone to know about you, what your life is like in 2018”?

These are some of the stories that teaching artist Tim Christensen shares when he visits classrooms – stories of how he got where he is and how he is living in Maine and working as an artist. He shares why he does what he does and how it came to be. He started out selling text books after majoring in writing in college. But at age 28 after losing his job he took time to consider what he really wanted to do.

Earlier this month I visited Bangor High School while they had Tim working with their students from all three of their art teachers students. The school received a Maine Arts Commission (MAC) Arts Learning grant to provide this opportunity.

Tim makes clay bowls by throwing them on a potter’s wheel and uses the sgraffito process to decorate the pottery. Sgraffito is made by scratching through a surface to reveal the lower layer of contrasting color.

I’ve visited Tim in action in other classrooms and its always interesting to see where he is in his development as an artist and as a teacher. The Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) is pleased to have Tim as a Teaching Artist Leader and on the Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist roster. It is clear from the teacher and student responses that Tim did a fabulous job and impacted students and teachers during during his four days at the school.

ART TEACHER EVA WAGNER’S REFLECTIONS

Tim Christensen was such a refreshing presence in our classroom. His knowledge, skills, talent, creativity and energy inspired our students to create truly unique artwork. I learned so much from him in just a few days and I am hoping to get him to come back and work with my classes again.

He is a great story teller and he really took an interest in the students’ artwork. They really responded to him personally.

Working with a professional artist is such a valuable experience to give to our youth. It helps them to see fine art as a viable career and exposes them to a whole new way of working and caliber of work. Often high school teachers, like myself, become a sort of jack of all trades because of the amount of time we spend teaching and preparing different lessons. A professional artist has the luxury to focus which raises their production and craftsmanship –  it is wonderful to be able to expose the students to someone who works in this way.

STUDENT REFLECTIONS

  • I enjoyed working with a professional artist because it’s broadening who we learn from. It was cool working with someone who makes and sells art for a living.
  • I learned that quality is better than quantity. I would love to work with this artist again.
  • I enjoyed that Tim took the time to teach us individually and took interest in our art. I also enjoyed the story he told us about sailing across the Pacific ocean.
  • It makes us realize that there are artists out there that make a living from their art. It broadens our outlook on art and gives us perspective of art in the real world.
  • It was inspiring to hear someone’s personal story of how they became a professional potter.
  • I learned about creating sgraffito that tells a story on pottery. I would love to learn more about throwing with Tim Christensen.
  • I liked hearing about Tim’s life story and how he started art. He had many interesting views on art and how he saw the world because of his art. His art itself was incredible, and I had never heard of the techniques he used.
  • Having a Teaching Artist in the classroom can further your understanding of a subject to have someone that is specialized in that art. They can inspire students with their story and give hands on advice.
  • It helped me to see what it would be like to be a professional artist.
  • I enjoyed it because I got to work with a professional on my favorite subject.
  • I learned that there were more than just the few art styles that I’ve learned about over the years so far.
  • I learned how to do sgraffito and that sometimes you don’t need to work from an immediate drawing, you can just start from nothing and keep going from there.
  • It allows you to explore ideas and techniques you might not normally do.  It allows you to learn from them, and hear their stories and get new ideas.  It dispels the idea that artists are unapproachable. It allows you to see other career options beyond lawyer, doctor, teacher, etc.
  • Working with a professional artist was really nice and eye opening to see what his type of life is like. He was a really good artist that was super different from any work that we’ve done in school but it was really eye opening. He was really nice and helped me personally open my eyes to doing different work that was outside my comfort zone.
  • Tim Christensen taught me to step outside my comfort zone and to realize that when I think I’m done with an art piece, if there is still open space on my work, then I am not done. He helped me make my work better and was overall a good teacher.
  • He was an excellent teacher, and had a thoughtful answer to everything we asked.

ART TEACHER ERIC HUTCHINS REFLECTIONS

Many of our students want to become professional artists, but it is a scary thought for them and even their parents to survive as an artist. It is really nice for them to see a Maine artist that is successful at what he does! Tim was able to introduce new and different techniques to many different classes, and offer opportunity for ceramic works to classes that would never get a chance to experience that. Every opportunity students have can open new doors for them.

Tim’s stories about his travels around the world set it apart from other artists that have spoken to our students. His travels and stories connect to the art that he creates, so the students can hear and see the stories at the same time.

We had teachers from other departments visit while he was presenting and even had the opportunity to create their own work with him. They were as engaged as the students.

Students were so impressed with how incredible his work was they were captured by him at the very beginning. It was nice to be “on the outside” and see the students entire conceptual process with the art and see how they react to someone else. It provides you with insight in how students understand and comprehend what is being taught.

PRINCIPAL PAUL BUTLER’S REFLECTIONS

The quality of the contact between Tim and the students was outstanding, and he brought great energy to his visit. Technique sharing is one thing, but interacting with a practicing artist in the way that our students were able to is quite another– and will have a lasting impact on them.

TIM CHRISTENSEN’S REFLECTIONS

I see my value as a teaching artist to be manifold. I create connective tissue in the arts education field by helping people to network, and by connecting art teachers working on the same ideas. I also can bring specialized knowledge into the classroom, whether it be about natural history, technical clay knowledge, or professional and funding opportunities. For the students, I am a fresh face with no baggage, someone who is working in the field of fine art, and is very comfortable sharing all of my professional knowledge. I also provide a platform from which the students can speak and be heard, by stressing the communicative, content bearing parts of any art project.

I very much enjoy teaching the sgraffito technique as a communication tool that transcends culture and/or time. In a way, sgraffito was the original emoji. I urge the students to think about what they would like to say to someone five hundred years hence, and to create artwork that is capable of doing that. I am successful when I have empowered students to speak using their visual voice and to create from a place that is uniquely theirs, confident that they will be heard and that what they have to say matters in the global conversation about our world.

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LEAPS of IMAGINATION

December 15, 2017

Kids Put the Pieces Together

LEAPS of IMAGINATION received funding from the Maine Arts Commission Arts Learning grant to provide amazing opportunities this year for some midcoast schools. If you’re not familiar with the LEAPS program, this is what they ‘walk’ day to day: LEAPS of IMAGINATION brings local Maine mentor artists together with elementary school students and teachers in a collaborative school-day classroom program. Mentor artists interweave in-depth art making experiences with carefully chosen social justice and literature themes linked to the class curriculum. Our project empowers children to believe in their own capacity to create and to make change in both their local community and the larger world.

Thanks to Nancy Frohlich, founder and director of LEAPS of IMAGINATION, for sharing her latest blog post with the Maine Arts Education blog. Students from grade 4, St. George School, spent a day at the newly opened Bernard Langlais Preserve. 

Working in Langlais’ medium, on his home turf, next to his own studio brought the artist to life for St. George School’s fourth graders today. LEAPS’ mentor artists had been planning this visit for months. Although adults had anticipated children’s reactions, they hadn’t quite envisioned how children would put the pieces together.

Once kids had toured his workshop, they skipped around the property, astounded at the scale and detail of his sculptures. Sitting by the fireplace on a chilly morning, they listened to the story, “Why am I me?” Then, imagining what it must have been like to have been “Blackie” Langlais, they shared their insights with their classmates.

“He was creative – how he made the cow with the utter.” “He used a lot of random stuff.” “He doesn’t just use wood. He adds texture.” “With his bears, he adds creases.” 

He made his own tools.”  “In his photos he looked so serious. But if he really was serious, he’d make things serious. Instead he made them imaginatively!”  “He just went on and took a risk. If he made a mistake he just kept going and went with the surprises.”  “He made animals you can walk into.”  “He used ladders.” “He was smart.”  ” I can’t believe he made 3,000 sculptures!”  “He used a lot of measurements.” “He was inspirational!”

A few minutes later they began investigating animals and wood for themselves. Each child had a 12X12 piece of plywood on which to create a creature they identified with. They had plenty of time to “play” with the wood pieces, choosing them, adjusting them, and exchanging them. When they felt ready – they adhered them to their square.

We thought, what would happen if we put all the pieces together like a quilt? So that’s what we did! If you look closely you can see an eagle, a butterfly, a monkey, a chameleon, a cheetah, a wolf, a shark, a tiger, a horse, a hummingbird, a fish, a caribou, a pig, a bunny, a worm, and a whale. In the new year, we’ll install the art in the school. We bet our fourth grade Langlais experts will be excited to talk about the artist and how they approached this collective work of art.

We thank Cynthia Trone at the Langlais Sculpture Preserve for making us feel at home. We loved that roaring fire and the opportunity to become explorers on the artists’ own turf.

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