Posts Tagged ‘Brian Evans-Jones’

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Marshwood Middle School

June 4, 2018

Performing tomorrow

Maine Arts Leadership Initiative participants, teacher leader Kris Bisson and teaching artist leader Brian Evans-Jones have collaborated on a project that will be premiered tomorrow night, June 5 at Marshwood Middle School.

The premiere performance of “The River Sings its Song”, funded by the Marshwood Education Foundation will take place on Tuesday, June 5, from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Marshwood Middle School’s seventy-six member chorus has worked the entire school year to research, discover, and collaborate to create a unique curriculum-based study of our local community through the Great Works River and Bridge in South Berwick, Maine. The students worked with artist-in-residence, Brian Evans-Jones, to create their thoughts and then with their Choral Director, Kristine Bisson, to take their words and compose an original piece of music to be sung by the Grade Seven and Eight Marshwood Middle School Chorus.
The students are donating $200.00 from their annual Middle School Talent Show to the Great Works Bridge Brigade to help support the fundraising efforts of the Brigade to build a timber-frame footbridge where the bridge once was accessible. They will be presenting the check to members of the Brigade this Tuesday evening at the concert.
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MALI Teaching Artist Leader Story: Brian Evans Jones

March 13, 2018

Teaching Artist – Poet

This is one of several blog posts in 2018 that include stories of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Phase 7 Teacher Leaders and Teaching Artist Leaders. This series includes a set of questions so you can learn a little bit about each leader. CLICK HERE  for more information on MALI. CLICK HERE  for more information on the 93 Teacher Leaders and 8 Teaching Artist Leaders.  CLICK HERE  for Arts education resources. CLICK HERE  for the MALI Resource Bank. Search in the “search archives” box on the bottom right side of this post for past teacher leader stories.  Thank you Brian for sharing your story! Learn more about Brian at his WEBSITE. You can find Brian’s teaching artist profile on the Maine Arts Commission roster

Brian Evans-Jones is mainly a poet these days but also does creative writing. Brian has been teaching since 2005 and doesn’t have a favorite grade or age to teach. “They all offer something different and wonderful. I like to teach by excitement and discovery. I want students to be excited about the idea of writing before they begin, and then to discover what they’re capable of while they actually do it. I want the whole experience to be fun—though also serious fun, the way that kids’ games can be serious.

What do you like best about being a teaching artist?

That’s a hard question! I guess first of all because I get to see a lot of different ages and types of students, and touch a lot of different lives. Lately I’ve also realized it’s because I get to partner with many wonderful great teachers and teaching artists. And on a personal level, I like the flexibility: I could never see myself being happy in a regular job! 

Brian at Hermon High School, November 2017

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

Thinking about creativity in general, I might say:

  • To be supported to take risks
  • To feel OK about failure
  • To learn the unique habits and (wholesome) props that scaffold your own personal creative process.

Have you found assessment to be helpful in your classes, workshops and residencies, and if so, how?

Not being a regular teacher, I don’t often think about “Assessment.” But I do constantly assess how the class is going, how students and I are bonding, how well I am generating enthusiasm, how well my instructions are being understood and used, how well balanced my activities are between support and openness, how much effort students are putting in, how much they seem to be learning, and how keen they are to keep working. I can’t imagine teaching a class without monitoring those things constantly, and many more, but I don’t formalize them. I do frequently use the SWOT framework to assess how I think a class went and plan for the next one, though.

Brian at Hermon High School facilitating a workshop to help guide students working on Poetry Out Loud

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the Maine Arts Leadership initiative?

People! Meeting cool people who do similar things and make me feel encouraged. Also getting to work on specific projects in partnership with other MALI people, like Kris Bisson, Lindsay Pinchbeck, and Tim Christensen.

What are you most proud of as an artist and/or a teaching artist?

As an artist: winning the 2017 Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award from Poets & Writers.

As a teaching artist: the fact that I do this at all, having jumped into the financial and professional unknown in order to do it. Also some big residencies I have run or am running, like working with 80 second graders for 2 weeks in South Berwick, ME, and leading a team of 4 TAs on a poetry residency with the 8th grade at Wells Junior High School.

What gets in the way of doing a better job as a teaching artist?

Isolation, which makes me less likely to find more work, and makes it harder to plan great classes. Collaboration and MALI connections work against this.

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

Leaving my role as a high school teacher, which didn’t suit me, to piece together a patchwork career, including being a teaching artist. It happened because I sought out any opportunities I could to get experience in the right areas.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about becoming a teaching artist or is just starting out?

See the previous answer! Plus also:

  • Make connections
  • Take (some) chances—trust the creative process with your career just as you do when you’re making art. 

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

Brian at the summer MALI institute leading a workshop on writing

That’ll be just enough to pay for college for my two kids by the time they’re ready to go, right? I wish I was even joking…

In a world where college didn’t cost so stupidly much, I would use the money to set up and fund a nonprofit to take poetry to places and people who need it but don’t get exposed to it: prisoners, the homeless, older adults, children in poorer areas, etc.

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

I should have ditched other work and done more teaching artist work sooner! It makes the most difference and is the most rewarding of the several things that I do.

NOTE: Brian traveled to Hermon High School and Van Buren District Secondary School in November 2017 to work with students with the Poetry Out Loud program that the Maine Arts Commission provides in collaboration with the Poetry Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Brian is on the Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist roster and is available to travel to schools and communities to provide poetry and creative writing instruction. 

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Deep Learning with Pottery and Poetry

January 23, 2018

YEEHA at Sweetland School

What happens when a collaboration takes place with an arts integrated school and two teaching artists? MAGIC! I had the amazing opportunity to be present while young learners were engaged in connecting their learning through pottery and poetry.

Lindsay Pinchbeck, founder and director of the SweetLand School in Hope invited poet Brian Evans-Jones and potter Tim Christensen to create connected curriculum and learning for the school’s students.

Both Brian and Tim are on the Maine Arts Commission (MAC) Teaching Artists roster and are Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teaching Artist Leaders. Lindsay is a member of the MALI Design Team and started her school three years ago.

This blog post combines the background information with the participants responses, observations, learnings, and feelings.

FROM THE COLLECTIVE VOICES OF THOSE WHO PARTICIPATED
LINDSAY
The Sweetland School recently had the good fortune of a residency with ceramist Tim and poet Brian. Both artists wove together a program sharing passion and skill in poetry and clay with the children. They created work that knocked all our socks off. Magic was the word tumbling off our tongues this week. For the teachers of Sweetland it was a wonderful opportunity to see the children with fresh eyes.

Brian shared a style of poetry called the Anaphora, with repeated lines. He pushed the children to apply real and imaginary content into their poems. He helped the children generate ideas and then edit and refine their poetry. His goal was to support each child to make a 5 line poem, they all generated much more work. I observed writing, reading, sharing, helping one another, public speaking, laughter and pure joy as the children created and shared their work. 

Tim worked in the studio over 4 days with the children to create 5 or so place settings – cups, plates, bowls, even forks and spoons were created.  The children took their lines of poetry and added the words from the poetry workshop along with images to each piece. Stories of travel and adventure, wove through their clay making experiences as Tim led the children forward in their pottery explorations.  

Children’s conversations:

  • “I know what you find in the magical misty woods!” “A smiling carrot.” 
  • “What do you do when you don’t know what to draw?” Tim “I make a mark and see where it takes me.” 
  • “You know what I have to say about this – It’s really hard but incredibly fun.”  

This week I observed a community of learners drive their learning forward. They advocated for what they needed, supported one another, weren’t afraid to ask questions and were giving and thoughtful hosts with our visiting artists. We saw the children at their best, staying focused for long 2 hours sessions in detailed work and generating work they were proud of. The power of visiting artists to inspire cannot be underestimated. In this safe environment where the children have learned to be themselves and own their ideas they were able to fly with the support of professionals who are passionate about sharing the magic of the process and their craft.  We as a staff learned alongside the children and were a community of learners together. 

To say thank you at the end of their visit the children encircled Brian on Tuesday and Tim on Thursday and sang to both visiting artists. This has officially been termed “Sweetlanded,” by Tim and it’s a pretty magical experience. When all the pieces have been fired we plan to have a special celebration of the work  at the Hope Library. Thank you Brian and Tim! and a note of thanks to Argy Nestor and the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative where this collaborative residency was hatched. It was a magical experience. 

BRIAN
At the close of my two days teaching at Sweetland Arts School, the 12 children with whom I’d been working asked me to sit in the center of a rug. Standing around me, they joined hands and began to sing. The song was new to them, so there were a few stops and starts, but they got there in the end. This is what they sang to me, twice:

In this circle deep peace

In this circle no fear

In this circle Great Happiness

In this circle safety.

This moment felt completely, beautifully appropriate for my experience on the residency. It wasn’t just that the song used anaphora (repeated phrases) to create its structure, which was the technique I had helped them learn for the poems they wrote with me. It was that, through their song and their spontaneous desire to give it to me, they were teaching me something, as they and their school had done all residency.

During the previous two days, I had sometimes felt the opposite of deep peace, great happiness, and safety: I had feared that my whole work at the school was going awry. I am not now sure why I felt this way, except that panic and a feeling of ineluctable disaster are often a part of a creative process. But by the students’ continued steady efforts, and I suppose mine too, things had turned out right in the end. Their poems collectively were funny, tender, deeply personal, wildly inventive, and above all wonderful to hear all read out one after another, as they had just done.

When I sat in the middle of their voices, I knew that they had given me this moment to teach me that I need not have feared: if you keep working, wisely and with good heart, your projects will succeed.

So what I will take away from this residency is a feeling of gratitude, not for what I taught, but for what I learned. I learned that a vision, to create a school where the arts are not peripheral but central, can be made to happen, by Lindsay and her husband Chris. I learned that children who are skillfully supported to trust their own decision-making and imaginations can invent the most marvelous things, such as the spontaneous class play involving sheep and blades of grass that was scripted and performed by the grade 1-3 group, to illustrate concepts of division and remainders, based on a poem they’d made about the number 17. I learned that there is more scope in my own teaching to allow students to make their own choices about how they grow their writing. And I learned a little, just a little, about what can be achieved if we step back, let go of control, and trust the kids, the process, and the art.

NINA
Watching the children with these visiting artists has been both inspiring and illuminating. They brought their best selves to the work each day, and churned out pieces that are jaw-drop-worthy. One word comes to mind in particular when thinking about their manner throughout this residency: absorbed. Their attention never seemed to wander, their focus remained strong, and their process was steady. The visiting artists were strong guides that brought their wealth of experience effortlessly to the children, openly sharing and encouraging progress and process along the way. The response from the children was eager and positive; the energy of creativity filled the room and excitement and pride about their work bubbled up. It was tangible.
Watching the children thank the artists at the end, was perhaps, my favorite part. They circled around each artist, holding hands and sang them a song we sing here at Sweet Tree to celebrate birthdays. A song about creating safety, deep peace and great happiness. This was both instigated and carried out by the students as an offering of gratitude, creating moments that were as beautiful as the work they made this week.
TIM
For four days, I had the great pleasure to work at Sweetland School. The students wrote poems, working for two days with Brian, an award winning poet from South Berwick. They then created 5 functional pieces of pottery, on which they etched, using the sgraffito technique. Starting with individual lines of their poems, the young artists translated verbal language into visual language, creating a place setting which could be rearranged in different settings, making mix and match pottery poems. This exercise challenged the artists to formulate imagery that was as specific as their words: no mean feat! 
For the younger artists, some in the 7 year old range, making the leap from verbal to visual was a struggle, though they were able to write their poems on the pieces, and had a ton of fun creating useful, functional pieces. For the older artists, in the 10-12 year old range, the concept came easily, and their illustrations highlighted specific points in their poetry lines, illuminating their intent, adding focus and emphasis. All of the poems, read aloud during a sharing period at the end of Brian’s time at Sweetland, were insightful and important, the young poets finding their voice easily, conveying thought and emotion beautifully.
I was struck by the powerful way that the younger students looked up to the older cohort, striving to match them in the quality of their products. I was also struck by the kindness of the students, the emphasis on community, collaboration, sharing, and creative expression at Sweetland. Real learning and growing was evident at every step!
OLIVIA
I could see the children’s minds work as they sat molding the clay and thinking about how to visually describe the words of their poems. It was incredibly inspiring and exciting to watch how naturally art meshed with all learning.
LINDSAY LAST WORDS
Thanks for sharing your very open and wonderful impressions. They are feelings I feel often and hope that others can experience too. That piece about being in the creative process and not know the road ahead or how we’ll get there is something that is so much a part of creative thinking and so scary for adults. It can be explored safely with the help of the children and I believe at the very heart of deep learning.
When we don’t know where we are going I think we are on the right track because doesn’t that mean we are learning something new?
 
Thank you all for trusting the process, believing in the arts and being able to stand back and see the magic the children have to offer, I think standing out of the way is sometimes the hardest thing to do.
Not only did this residency exemplify why bringing outstanding teaching artists into the environment is so important but that every one processed the learning so the value of it became clear.  A great big THANK YOU to Lindsay, Brian, Nina, Tim, Olivia, and the YOUNG LEARNERS for contributing to this blog post and for the great work they do every day as educators!
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Marshwood Middle School

September 25, 2017

MALI Teacher leader and Teaching Artist Leader collaboration

It’s been a lot of fun planning, and an idea that began as a seed back in snowy February, but Marshwood Middle School Grade Seven and Eight Chorus is embarking on a new curriculum to compose an original work that will be premiered at their June concert with guidance and instruction from two MALI teachers.
Thanks to Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader, Kris Bisson and Teaching Artist Leader, Brian Evans-Jones. Below is the description of this fabulous work!  

Bridging Adolescent Learners – A River Runs Through Us: Composing our Story is a year-long chorus composition unit that will be explored by the Grade Seven and Eight Choruses throughout the 2017-2018 school year. Through weekly classwork, a field experience, and working with a guest poet-in-residence, students will create their own original lyrics, melodies, harmonies, and accompaniment for an original piece to be performed in their June concert.

An important aspect of this project will be the S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) inter-disciplinary explorations students will make throughout the project. Also critical to an authentic learning experience will be the integration of our work with poet, writer, and MALI Artist-TeacherBrian Evans-Jones, a local resident of South Berwick, who will lead the students as Artist-in-Residence in finding their writing, speaking, and singing voice.

An early piece of our project is to bring the entire chorus (seventy students) and Mr. Evans-Jones on a field trip to the bridge on Vine Street in South Berwick, the Great Works Bridge, at Leigh’s Mill Pond and the Great Works River. This trip will take place on SEPTEMBER 19 from 8:15 – 9:50 a.m. Here the students will be able to have a direct experience with the river as well as with the condemned bridge structure in order to create more meaningful and informed writing for their musical composition.

Coincidentally, the existing bridge, closed in 2007 due to deterioration beyond the state of Maine’s repair, is being removed in 2018 and a grassroots effort to construct a footbridge is already successfully raising funds to support the effort through their group, The Great Works Bridge Brigade. The Chorus students will have the opportunity to discuss their work with them and take action to make a difference financially, musically, and ethically in their local community.

Goals of this project include science, mathematic and technological integration; collaborative learning, creative thinking, listening skills, reflective writing, problem solving; exploratory composing techniques, music theory, form and analysis; various recording platforms, and online manuscript technologies.

Students will keep worksheets, reflective journal sheets and videos, and e-journals in Google Classroom to record thoughts, reflections, and developing lyric and melodic ideas.

The opportunity to have an artist-in-residence is a wonderful enhancement to the curriculum being explored. Having an expert help students with their learning is always a beneficial experience for all. Last year was the first time Choral Director and MALI Teacher Leader, Kris Bisson, and her students composed in the choral ensemble and the experience was amazing:

“Through composition in the chorus classroom, students are able to explore their own individual and collective ideas that help them express themselves personally as well as musically. Students elevated and increased their musical knowledge through the composition process and it was such an engaging and advanced learning experience for all. I am very excited to have the students reflect on their sense of place in their community, the history of our rivers and towns, the importance of keeping a bridge to connect our community, and have the opportunity first-hand to directly influence change around them.  At our Spring Concert, June 5, we will be sharing an informance, or interactive performance, where the students will have the opportunity to share their learning and conduct audience participation at our premiere performance.”

A very special recognition of appreciation is extended to the Marshwood Education Foundation for supporting this project.

Updates throughout the year can be found on our website:  https://sites.google.com/a/rsu35.org/mms-chorus-music/
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MALI Summer Institute: Day 2

August 4, 2017

Wowzer!

Kate Cook Whitt

Day 2 kicked off with an amazing STEAM presentation from Kate Cook-Whitt. The opening was titled This is your Brain on Art: Neuroscience and the Arts  – “Examining the World Through Different Lenses: Art and Science”. Kate is an Assistant Professor of Education at the Center for Innovation in Education (CIE) at Thomas College. Participants agreed that Kate’s presentation was outstanding!

Teacher Leaders participated in several great mini-sessions, some led by teacher leaders and teaching artists leaders themselves including:

  • Nancy Frolich, Social Justice mini-lesson

    Social Justice and the Power of the Arts with Nancy Frohlich from Leaps of Imagination

  • 7 Strategies of Assessment with Jeff Beaudry from USM and visual art teacher leaders Holly Leighton and Samantha Armstrong

  • National Board Certification with visual art teacher leader Danette Kerrigan

  • Connecting the STUDIO HABITS of MIND to the NATIONAL STANDARDS in the Visual Arts classroom with visual art teacher leader Jane Snider

  • Things Into Poetry session with Brian Evans-Jones

    Things Into Poetry with poet teaching artist leader Brian Evans-Jones

In addition Bronwyn Sale and John Morris provided a session called Teaching for Creativity. The afternoon brought all three strands together (teaching artist leaders, new PK-12 teacher leaders and returning PK-12 teacher leaders) for a session with teaching artist leader and potter Tim Christensen. We engaged with a small medallion of clay using the process Tim is so in tune with: sgraffito.

The rest of the afternoon was spent on leadership, advocacy, and putting it into action on the follow up plans for the next year. Strand 1, the Teaching Artist Leaders met with Jeff Poulin, electronically, from the Americans for the Arts.

Day turned into night and educators gathered around the Thomas College fire pit for drumming and a chance for Tim to fire the clay pieces created earlier in the day in the propane fire pit. This provided a wonderful opportunity to connect with colleagues from across the state. What a great way to end an outstanding day!

Strand 1 with Jeff Poulin, Americans for the Arts. Kate Smith, Design Team member, holds the computer during the question and answer period

Jennie Driscoll, Elise Bothel visual art teacher leaders

Jen Etter, music teacher leader

New teacher leaders David Coffey – music and Amy Donovan-Nucci – visual art

Tim Christensen firing the clay pieces

Fun around the fire pit!

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Awards Presented

May 25, 2017

Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award

Poet Brian Evans-Jones is a familiar name here at the Maine Arts Commission (MAC). He is member of the Teaching Artist roster and this past year he traveled to Washington county to provide workshops for students and teachers as part of MACs Poetry Out Loud rural school initiative. We learned this week that Brian and Maine fiction writer Joan Dempsey are recipients of the Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award. Congratulations to both of them! The prize includes an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City, meetings with publishing professional, and a month-long residency.

The prestigious award, which aims to provide promising writers a network for professional advancement, has helped to launch the careers of Sue Monk Kidd (The Invention of Wings,The Secret Life of Bees), Elaine Beale (Another Life Altogether), Sandra Beasley (Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl), David Mura (Turning Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei), Fae Myenne Ng(Bone), Mona Simpson (My Hollywood), and others.
Each year, Poets & Writers selects one state (or Washington, D.C.), and invites writers from that jurisdiction to apply for the Writers Exchange Award (WEX). For 2017, the state of Maine was chosen. This year’s judges were Tania James for fiction and Cynthia Cruz for poetry. Excerpts from the winning manuscripts can be found at at.pw.org/wexaward.
The Writers Exchange Award offers winners an unusual opportunity. Poets & Writers will ask Ms. Dempsey and Mr. Evans-Jones to identify agents, editors, authors, and others in the literary field that they would like to meet. Then, over the next several months, staff will work to arrange appointments with as many of these individuals as possible. In October, the two winners will travel to New York City, all expenses paid, and and representatives of Poets & Writers will accompany them on a round of visits to gain insight and advice and to establish professional contacts.

As a direct result of these meetings, past WEX winners have had their books published, received fellowships, secured teaching positions, and laid the groundwork for their professional lives as writers. To date, ninety-nine writers from thirty-nine states have participated.

Joan Dempsey – Photo credit: Greta Rybus

New England native Joan Dempsey received an MFA and teaching certificate in creative writing from Antioch University in Los Angeles. Her writing has been published in the Adirondack ReviewAlligator JuniperObsidian: Literature of the African Diaspora, and Plenitude Magazine, and aired on National Public Radio. Dempsey was the recipient of a significant research grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation for work on her novel, This Is How It Begins. She lives in Maine with her partner and their family of animals. Find her online at www.joandempsey.com.

Brian Evans-Jones – Photo credit: Michael Powers

Brian Evans-Jones immigrated to southern Maine from Hampshire, England, in 2014. He received his BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Warwick, U.K., and was poet laureate of Hampshire, U.K., in 2013-2014. He received his MFA from the University of New Hampshire in 2016. He is a juried teaching artist in both Maine and New Hampshire, and teaches poetry and creative writing in schools, colleges, and community venues in both states. Learn more about Brian at his website http://www.brianevansjones.com.

The judges also cited first runners-up Flavian Mark Lupinettifrom Orono (in fiction) and Julie Poitras Santos from Portland (in poetry), and second runners-up Kathleen Donkin from Gardiner (in fiction) and Judith Grey from Nobleboro (in poetry).

Poets & Writers will sponsor a reading and reception for Ms. Dempsey and Mr. Evans-Jones during their visit to New York. In addition, the winners will be offered a one-month residency at the Jentel Artist Residency Program in Wyoming. A complete list of past winners can be found at at.pw.org/wexaward. The Writers Exchange Award is generously supported by Maureen Mahon Egen, a member of the Poets & Writers Board of Directors.  
If interested to learn more about Poets & Writers go to pw.org.
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Poetry Residency

April 27, 2017

South Berwick – Central School

This is being re-posted from http://www.brianevansjones.com/ with permission from Brian Evans-Jones. Brian can be reached at brian@brianevansjones.com

This week I finished the biggest project I’ve yet worked on as a teaching artist: teaching poetry to 80 second-graders at Central School in South Berwick, ME.

The residency spanned 11 days of teaching, plus an evening Showcase event, from the end of March to the middle of April. The aims were two-fold. First, to teach the second graders some important things about how to write poetry. But behind that, the goal was to use the writing of poetry to increase their overall confidence in themselves as writers and users of language.

Over the first 9 days, I helped them to draft 7 different poems using different tools. We started with group poems composed of lines beginning with repeated phrases. At this stage I introduced them to the idea of writing discrete sentences on strips of paper (Sentence Strips) which they then assembled into a poem, not only to make writing easier than starting with a blank page, but also to get them thinking about poetic lines. The Sentence Strips were also perfect for our first lessons in rewriting, when we added words to our Strips to make them more descriptive, thought hard about what order of Strips made the most sense, and looked at where we could insert new Strips to expand our ideas.

Here are some of those Strip poems in process:


We kept on using the sentence strips for poems built around verbs (an animal performing a mixture of real and impossible actions) and then metaphors (transforming an ordinary classroom object into many different things). Along the way we practiced using rhyme effectively. The last poem was a Personal Poem on a topic special to them, and this they wrote without the Strips. Finally, they chose their favorite poem for sharing, and worked on intensively on revising and editing it. The poems were shared with parents at the Celebration Night, when the students also worked with their parents to write new poems using some of the techniques they’d learned.

Here are just some of the poems and accompanying art, ready for display at the Showcase night.

As an extra bonus, one of the parents (Deb Cram) made a montage video of almost all the students reading a line or two from their poems, which you can view here. The poems will also be published in a chapbook along with student artwork, and there will soon be an after school Creative Writing group to help keep the writing going! Phew—now I understand why I was exhilarated and exhausted when we finished…

The residency was funded by the Marshwood Education Foundation, which funds projects in the Marshwood School District. We hope that the residency may have demonstrated sufficient value for the District to fund future annual second grade poetry residencies, although with budget issues everywhere, who knows what will happen.

As a teaching artist, this was a huge undertaking, working with a large group of fairly young writers for 12 consecutive days. I was tremendously conscious of how much the second grade teachers were giving me, trusting me with their students for so long, and allowing me to disrupt their well-oiled routines! From my point of view, the residency, while challenging at times (it was my first time managing classes with up to 40 second graders at once), was a great success. Not only did the students write very many wonderful poems, but the majority of them also enthusiastically grasped the idea of revising their writing, which is so important for their school writing careers. I know that several students who had struggled with literacy and writing produced poems that surprised and delighted their teachers and themselves. It’s too soon to say definitively whether the residency will have a significant long-term effect on the cohort’s performance as writers and users of language, but the signs are good. And the poems are great.

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