Posts Tagged ‘Bronwyn Sale’

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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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Creativity: What Do We Really Mean?

February 12, 2013

Blog post series

This summer during the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative Institute we added Creativity to the overarching components of the focus for the professional development opportunity. The reason for this Creativity blog post and others in the future are because of the following question: How do we provide others with the information and opportunity to think deeply about creativity? Maine is fortunate to have Bronwyn Sale and Trudy Wilson offer this educational opportunity on the meartsed blog.

This is the first in a series of blog posts on creativity written by Bronwyn Sale and Trudy Wilson. Bronwyn was a teacher in a variety of grades and settings for fourteen years, seven of those as a visual art teacher at Brunswick High School before joining the faculty at Bates College. Trudy was a professor of art Education at USM and was a member of the Visual and Performing Arts writing team for the Maine Learning Results. Both Trudy and Bronwyn did graduate research on creativity and have much to offer on the topic. 

We hear the terms creativity, creative, creative thinking, and creative problem solving frequently used (and perhaps misused) in the education world today. Assertions include:  the need for schools and students to be more creative because “21st century skills” demand it, that teachers can’t be as creative as they once were due to testing and other mandates, that schools somehow “kill” creativity,  (we prefer to say: some practices in some schools and in some classrooms may not facilitate creativity), that creative processes, artworks and performances created in arts classes can’t be assessed, or that “creative” is at the top of the new Bloom’s taxonomy (it’s not, create is). In this series of blog posts we will describe what creativity researchers say creativity is and unpack some of the terms associated with creativity most often heard in education: creativity, creative thinking, the creative process, and creative problem solving.  Although these terms are all related to creativity, they all have nuanced meanings that are important for teachers to distinguish when designing curriculum and instruction that may encourage creativity.

We hope this blog series inspires teachers to reflect on their own teaching practices and to think about what they do or do not do to cultivate the potential for student creativity in their classes.  We want to encourage teachers to delve more deeply into research around these terms in order to advocate for the creative processes of teaching that promote student learning and that are grounded in creativity research, rather than educational fads or trends. By including links or references to research, teachers can find the sources they need to advocate for the importance of teaching in ways that promotes creativity within their disciplines to colleagues, administrators, students and parents.  In each blog post we will provide a framework of questions or strategies that gives arts educators in particular a way to consider how their teaching practices may facilitate or inhibit students’ creative potential.

So, what is creativity?

Creativity is not a unique “21st century skill” nor is it exclusive to the arts. Creative processes, creativity and the potential for creative solutions are possible in any discipline or domain and a quick study of history reveals how we have always needed creative solutions to problems!  Arts Teachers, however, may be uniquely positioned to facilitate creativity in their classrooms:  the arts, when taught well, immediately engage students in the habits of mind, thinking and problem solving associated with creative processes in arts disciplines. In exemplary Arts programs, students develop “studio habits of mind” that support creativity and facilitate creative processes in the arts.  These habits are listed here: http://www.artsedsearch.org/summaries/studio-thinking-how-visual-arts-teaching-can-promote-disciplined-habits-of-mind and summarized in a recent post on the Maine Arts Education blog by Pam Ouellette:  https://meartsed.wordpress.com/2013/02/04/habits-of-mind/.

So, what is creativity? Alternatively, what does it mean to say something is creative?  Most researchers (and probably most teachers) do not entirely agree on a definition of creativity and have come up with a variety of theories to explain creativity  (for an extensive text on the subject we recommend Explaining Creativity by R. Keith Sawyer).  However, the most commonly agreed upon definition is originality or uniqueness.  Some would also add appropriateness and/or usefulness.  What is complicated for the arts teacher (or any teacher) is gauging when a student has come up with a unique or original solution to a problem.  Not all arts or classroom products are inherently original or unique. When describing something as creative, point of view and context matter. What may be a unique or a new approach for the student may seem typical from the perspective of the teacher who has experienced the artworks and performances of thousands of students.

In fact, creativity researchers have documented that creative solutions to problems often take years of training, thinking, and “doing” in a domain or discipline before they are realized. So, in order to facilitate creativity in any subject a teacher must teach “domain knowledge” or the content, skills, rules, history and thinking patterns associated with their discipline. Sometimes in arts classes students work on technique or skills: they practice. This practice may actually be one important component of supporting creativity. Although an emphasis on skills and practice may seem counterintuitive at first, it is difficult to be a creative scientist, potter, mathematician, actor, dancer, or musician, if you do not have a solid background and understanding of the techniques, thinking and knowledge associated with these domains. Creativity researchers have documented, with few exceptions, that almost all of the people that we consider “creative” scientists, artists, musicians, poets etc. in our culture, have extensive knowledge and/or training in their respective fields. The type of creative work that alters a domain, field, or history is referred to as “Big C” creativity.

What we are most concerned with facilitating in K-12 classes, however, is often described as  “little c” or personal creativity. Research around “little c” indicates that we all have the capacity for creativity in our lives. It is this education for the “little c,” that may make the “Big C” possible. The dilemma in the classroom, however, remains: how do we know when a student has pushed themselves toward an original or new solution to a creative problem (from the perspective of the student) and when is something a student’s default or common approach? To use language from the book Studio Habits of Mind: How do we know when students “stretch and explore” in their performances, artworks and other assignments? A few strategies may help:

  1. Have students reflect on their personal creativity/originality. You might ask students to describe orally or in writing: How did you arrive at this solution?  Was this a new approach for you? Why or why not? What did you do or think about differently in the work/performance? What have you never done before? Where did you get your ideas? How were you inventive? What skills do you still need to practice in order to realize your vision?
  2. Read and seek to understand the language of the VPA Maine Learning Results that embeds Creative Problem Solving (which is further broken down into understanding the creative process and using creative thinking strategies within the domain of the arts) into the Visual and Performing Arts.
  3. Self-reflect on your approach to teaching: Can students distinguish between technical practice and times when a unique solution is encouraged? Do technical practice and finding creative solutions ever come together for students in my class? Do I strike a balance in my classes between building skills, domain knowledge and problem solving? Do I always provide the solutions for students? Which assignments are open-ended? Closed-ended? Why? Do I always describe in detail how to create every artwork or performance? When do students solve artistic problems for themselves?  When do students find and define the problem for themselves? Do I design some learning experiences for students that allow both problem solving and problem finding?
  4. Balance structure and freedom. Creativity research seems to indicate that too much structure in assignments and classes may decrease creativity but no structure at all also decreases creativity. How do I balance structure and freedom in my classes? What is the “sweet spot” or optimal balance between the two? How can I structure and scaffold learning experiences that allow for student exploration/choice or freedom? What “big” or essential questions are students working toward investigating, exploring and answering in my classes that might help structure and tie curriculum together?
  5. Do I acknowledge or specifically praise inventive and original solutions when they occur?
  6. Teach students about the creative process in your field (model your own process if applicable) and have students document and reflect on their own creative processes. This documentation could occur in sketchbook or process journal. Or, students could videotape/photograph and/or describe the steps they took toward final works and performances.
  7. Teach and model creative thinking strategies (more on this in a future blog post).

For now, to delve deeper we recommend the following:

Explaining Creativity by R. Keith Sawyer  http://ascc.artsci.wustl.edu/~ksawyer/explainingcreativity/

Creativity by Mihayli Cziksaintmihaly

Creativity Research Journal (you may have full access through public/university libraries) http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/hcrj20/current

Art Education (Journal) published by the National Art Education Association has had many issues in the past few years addressing creativity in the Visual Arts. The Publication is Free with NAEA membership: http://www.arteducators.org/

Studio Thinking by Lois Hetland, Ellen Winner, Shirley Veenema and Kimberly M. Sheridan  (Not about creativity directly, but describes the Habits of Mind that are developed in exemplary arts programs that certainly facilitate the potential for creativity in the arts)

Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe offers a useful and impactful methodology for designing instruction using essential questions and deep understanding in ways that often balances structure and freedom in the classroom.  Their methodology is being used in the design and writing of the new National Core Arts Standards.

Next post in this series: What is the creative process? What are ways to promote creative thinking and creative problem solving in your classroom?

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MAAI Update

January 4, 2013

Leadership team meets

Today the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI) leadership team met to take a look back and a look ahead. Our day was filled with a rich discussion, thoughtful questions, brilliant ideas, and food for thought! Catherine Ring, Jeff Beaudry, Bronwyn Sale, and Matt Doiron met with me in Augusta at the Maine Department of Education and Pam Kinsey joined us by Skype from Easton (where it was 20 degrees below this morning). At lunchtime Meagan Mattingly, Arts in Education Associate, stopped in to discuss possibilities for connecting Maine Arts Commission work.

Pam Kinsey on Skype from Aroostook county

Pam Kinsey on Skype from Aroostook county

As you know we are in the middle of phase 2 of the MAAI. Today’s goal was to reflect on what has been accomplished through the MAAI and to discuss what the next steps might be. The information will be summarized and in early February the teacher leaders will join the leadership team to discuss the ideas to confirm the direction.

In August 20 teacher leaders attended a 4-day institute where they participated in professional development in assessment, leadership, technology, and creativity. They created workshops and are presenting them throughout the state during the 2012-13 school year in 20 locations. These workshops are FREE and contact hours are available for participating.

Along with the regional workshops Mega-regional workshops are taking place in 4 locations. These opportunities are offered by the teacher leaders from phase 2 as well as some teacher leaders from phase 1. At each of the 4 locations Maine Learning Technology Initiative Technology Integrators are partnering with a teacher leader to present an integrated session.

The Mega-regional workshops are being offered, 8:00 to 3:00:

  • January 14: UMF
  • March 1: USM, Portland
  • March 22: Presque Isle High School
  • March 29: Ellsworth High School
Matt Doiron and Jeff Beaudry listen intently

Matt Doiron and Jeff Beaudry listen intently

You MUST register for the Mega-regional workshops. They are FREE to all arts educators, PK through grade 12 and contact hours are available. Participants need a laptop with the most recent MLTI image. If you do not have one we will lend you one for the day. Please check the appropriate box while registering to communicate that.

PLEASE don’t hesitate register today at http://www.maine.gov/education/lres/vpa/assessment.html#regional or at http://www.maine.gov/tools/whatsnew/index.php?topic=MLTINews&id=469365&v=details.

Soooooooo… what do you think phase 3 of the initiative could/should include??? Please post your feedback below or email Argy at argy.nestor@maine.gov with your ideas and suggestions!

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Happy New Year!

January 1, 2013

Reflecting

I have taken some time today to reflect on 2012 and realize how fortunate I am to work with incredible arts educators in Maine and throughout the United States. Educators who are dedicated, passionate, and fully committed to providing an outstanding arts education for every student!

The year has been filled with many successes, some challenges, and sad losses! I wish I had time to go back through all the blog posts that I wrote in 2012 to help me remember all of the successes, challenges, and losses but instead I will provide the highlights.

Successes

The biggest success is the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI). The second phase of MAAI officially kicked off in the spring with the identification of 20 teacher leaders. These arts educators joined the 18 teacher leaders from phase one. They participated in a 4-day institute in August at the Maine College of Art (MECA) in Portland where they expanded their knowledge in the areas of assessment, leadership, technology, and creativity. They have created workshops that are being delivered throughout this school year at the regional and mega-regional level. (Registration for the mega-regional workshops is now open – FREE and contact hours are available.) The topics of the sessions are as varied as the individual teacher leaders. I am so grateful for their commitment to the work that is making a difference for arts teachers and in arts classrooms across Maine each day. The impact on students learning is amazing!

And, uniquely the Mega-regional workshops are being co-sponsored with the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI). At these workshops their will be at least one session that is integrated with an MLTI integrator to provide a first time opportunity for educators!

The MAAI would not be possible without the commitment of the leadership team who have consistently shepherded the work. A GREAT BIG THANK YOU to Catherine Ring, Rob Westerberg, Jeff Beaudry, Bronwyn Sale, Pam Kinsey, and Matt Doiron. Their willingness to lead has made a difference! Close to 1000 arts educators have taken advantage of the professional development opportunities during the last year and a half.

The MAAI is aligned with the Maine Department of Education’s Strategic Plan: Education Evolving: Maine’s Plan for Putting Learners First.

In July Catherine and I flew to Denver for a national conference on arts assessment held at the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design. I was proud to let others know of the grassroots efforts that Maine arts educators are involved with.

Art educator Chris Milliken, on sabbatical from Wells schools, has been following and doing research on the MAAI during this past year. He will join art teacher Lisa Marin and present a session on their findings at the Mega-regional workshop at Ellsworth High School on March 29, 2013.

Literacy is a statewide focus with the Literacy for ME being launched this fall and arts education has stepped up to become an integral part of the cross content literacy connections. Arts educators Jen Nash, Suzanne Goulet, and Lisa Gilman have been facilitating literacy webinars. Suzanne is also co-facilitating face to face sessions.

We have had 4 wonderful art exhibits at the Maine Department of Education during this past year from Maranacook Community Schools, Bangor Elementary and Middle Schools, Lake Region High School, and Messalonskee High School. Along with the exhibits we had receptions at the Blaine House with music and dance performances from each school/district. Participating and collaborating are First Lady Ann LePage, the Maine State Board of Education, and the Commissioner of Education, Steve Bowen.

First Lady Ann LePage partnered with the Barbara Bush Foundation to create a new baby journal to present to parents at hospitals across Maine when their babies are born. We did a call for K-8 artwork and 867 young artists submitted work. Thirty two pieces were selected to be published in the book which will be completed in June 2014.

The Maine arts education list-serv has grown to 1200 and the meartsed blog is growing as a source of information, not only for arts educators but for all educators. If you are not on the list-serv but would like to be, please email me at argy.nestor@maine.gov. On December 5, 2013 the blog set a record high day of 976 visitors. And a record high week happened during that same time of 2508 visitors. Thank you for taking the time to visit and informing others about what is available on the Maine arts education blog.

Challenges

  • Common Core standards for ELA and Math were released this year and teachers are being asked to incorporate them into their curricula.
  • We are waiting patiently for the next iteration of the national arts standards to be released in March March 2013.
  • Arts education in Maine is underserved. As the economy continues to be a challenge so is providing adequate arts education programs and teachers.
  • Determining how to provide quality arts education to be ready for the “proficiency based graduation requirement” slated for the graduating class of 2018.
  • What will determine “teacher effectiveness” for arts educators (the non-tested content)?

Sadness

In March music teacher Beth Polletto died in a car accident driving to school. Beth taught at Gray New Gloucester and Georgetown Central School. In May art teacher Jackie McTigue died in a car accident on her way to school. Jackie taught at Glenburn Elementary School. Both teachers were amazing arts educators and have left a huge hole. My friend and colleague 2nd grade teacher and Maine’s 2010 Teacher of the Year Kevin Grover died on Thanksgiving day after returning from a run. He is greatly missed by family, friends, and colleagues.

Looking forward

photoBeing forever optimistic, I know that 2013 will be filled with many more successes and that the challenges will be small mountains for us to climb. I invite you to collaborate with your colleagues to face the challenges and enjoy the successes. I hope you will continue to use the meartsed blog for resources and to access information. Many of you have heard me say “none of us is as smart as all of us”. Please continue to share information that I can pass on to others through the blog. I appreciate it!

I am confident that 2013 will be filled with opportunities for arts education to move forward. For example part of phase 2 of the MAAI is videotaping arts classrooms to respond to your request “what does a standards based arts education classroom look like?” So, Debi Lynne Baker (newly retired art teacher) will be visiting arts classrooms in the next few months and creating 4 short videos with examples. This is just one example of resources being developed for arts teachers.

I enjoy the challenges that my work at the Maine Department of Education provides for me. I especially love the opportunity to interact with you, the readers of the meartsed blog. So please take a moment when possible and drop me an email at argy.nestor@maine.gov or make a comment at the bottom of a blog post. You can subscribe to the blog by clicking on “Sign me up!” located on the right side of the front page of the blog.

I hope your year is filled with love and laughter and that you continue to provide outstanding opportunities for your students in arts education! Best Wishes for a wonderful 2013 and THANKS so much for all the good that you do in education!

Only one photo and one quote included in today’s post. Hopefully the photo will put a smile on your face and the quote will provide you with some “food for thought” as we dive into 2013!

The purpose of arts education is not to produce more artists, though that is a byproduct. The real purpose of arts education is to create complete human beings capable of leading successful and productive lives in a free society. – Dana Gioia, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts

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Maine Association for Middle Level

October 29, 2012

MAMLE

This past Thursday and Friday I attended the MAMLE conference at Sugarloaf where arts educators were well received in the workshops they presented on a variety of topics. I have included a bit of information below on each of the sessions where the arts teachers presented.

Allied Arts in the Standards World

Sacopee Valley Middle School art teacher and Maine Arts Assessment Initiative teacher leader Danette Kerrigan and Medomak Middle School music teacher Julie Sanborn participated in a panel presentation on the work they are doing at their respective middle schools and in their classrooms. The other panel members Lisa Hogan from Mt. Ararat, Barbara Greenstone from Boothbay and Phil Brookhouse from MLTI also made connections to the arts. Friend of arts education, Jill Spencer facilitated the session.

Panel members: Lisa Hogan, Julie Sanborn, Barbara Greenstone, Phil Brookhouse, Danette Kerrigan

Steel Drum Band

Julie also presented a session with the Pantastics, the school’s steel drum band. The band performs at community events and has traveled to other schools and events in and out of Maine. The students played several pieces at the start of the conference as well as in an individual workshop. Other middle school teachers were invited to play one of the drums as well. The members of the band promised to write a blog post on their involvement playing the steel drums. Look for that in the future.

How Can I Teach for Creativity?

Danette was joined by MAAI leadership team member Bronwyn Sale from Bates College for a session on creativity. They made quite a team with Bronwyn presenting foundational information on the creative process, creativity, and creative problem solving. Danette shared the practical components of addressing the topic in a classroom setting and provided participants with hands-on exercises including SCAMPER which stands for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Magnify, Put to Other Uses, Eliminate (or Minify), and Rearrange (or Reverse).

Bronwyn Sale and Danette Kerrigan

Service Learning and Music Appreciation

Leonard Middle School music teacher Shianne Priest had students join her to share a service learning project that she her music appreciation class has undertaken for two years now. The 8th graders this past year raised $1600 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. They collaborated to write the lyrics for a song that 9th grader Lily Muscatell took a step further and wrote the music for and performed. Selling the CD was one part but hearing about their learning and how the experience affected them was amazing.

Shianne and Lily listen while the 8th graders explained the project.

Thank you to everyone for their fabulous work and sharing the opportunities that you afford Maine students!

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Day 3: Maine Arts Assessment Initiative Institute

August 8, 2012

Leadership and Creativity

On day 3 of the MAAI institute teacher leaders participated in two Leadership sessions and a session on Creativity. Brunswick High School Art teacher Jennie Driscoll facilitated the first leadership session through hands-on experiences that led to identifying the characteristics of leaders. Some of those identified were risk taker, communicator, confident, humility, trust, and compassion.

MAAI leadership team member and Executive Director of the New England Institute for Teacher Education Catherine Ring facilitated the second leadership session where participants took a close look at their role as leaders; in their schools, districts, communities and beyond. They looked at the research and explored questions including How do we work with adults to encourage change?

Leadership team member and Bates College instructor Bronwyn Sale facilitated the Creativity session.  Included in the Maine Learning Results: Parameters for Essential Instruction the Visual and Performing Arts include Standard C. Creative-Problem Solving. As arts educators this standard represents creativity, the creative process, creative thinking, and creative problem solving. All of these were examined in this session and should be taught intentionally in the arts classroom.

Teacher leaders continued working on their individual action plans putting together what they were learning during the institute. The plans include their ideas for their regional workshops that they will facilitate throughout the school year. The day ended with a celebration of the good work the teacher leaders are doing at a reception with MECA’s President Don Tuski in the college’s gallery ICA.

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