Posts Tagged ‘Camden Rockport Middle School’

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CRMS Teaching Artist and Art Teacher Unite

April 25, 2016

Where art and science meet

Completed piece

Completed piece

Not to long ago I had a delightful visit at the Camden-Rockport Middle School. Middle school art educator Kristen Andersen had invited me to learn more about a collaborative teaching unit that she had undertaken with teaching artist Tim Christensen. I met Kristen many years ago and have visited her classroom on occasion. (I love it when teachers contact me to visit and learn what they are up to. So, please contact me if you’d like to share. It gives me the opportunity to share what you are doing so others can learn from you)! I met Tim at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts five years ago where he was facilitating a clay workshop at the Maine Art Education Association conference. Tim is a full-time artist and in addition does school residency’s.

IMG_2055Tim and Kristen put their heads together to develop this unit. They are working with the Farnsworth Art Museum’s Stories of the Land and It’s People program. In Tim’s personal work as an artist, he is documenting the habitat of animals and microcosms that are living today that will become extinct, some in our lifetime. The way he explained it is we know that the wooly mammoth existed during the Pleistocene epoch. The mammoth was identified as an extinct species of elephant by Georges Cuvier in 1796. So, we know the mammoth existed but we are unsure of its habitat. In order to preserve this information of the animals and microcosms living today Tim has taken it upon himself to document their habitats on pottery. Animals live here and they have systems that support them – its about the interactions and relationships. And, we know that pottery has told stories for hundreds of years.

IMG_2056Ninety grade 7 students are participating in this undertaking along with the science teacher Patty Crawford and Language Arts teacher Katie Urey. In fact, the artwork has been created during several of Patty’s classes. (Kristen is on multiple teams so her schedule doesn’t coincide with all of Patty’s classes). The work directly relates to the grade 7 science curriculum and students are writing haiku poems in Katie’s classes.

IMG_2040Each student is responsible for 3 clay tiles about 2″x4″. They started by drawing a name out of a hat of an organism and researched it. The tiles were underglazed black on raw clay. The drawings are being carved on one tile to create various shades and textures by using a variety of marks (lines, crosshatching, stipples to name a few). The technique is called sgraffito on porcelain. A second tile has the facts that they learned about their animal and the third has their haiku poem. Each tile has two small holes at the top which will be used to hang the tiles on copper rods that will be hanging between wooden braces. It will be like an abacus. The exhibit will be an educational tool so others can read and learn and try to match up the fact tiles with the image tiles.

IMG_2039The connected unit has been supported by principal Jamie Stone who moved to Camden-Rockport Middle School from an expeditionary school in Baltimore. They’ve connected with the Coastal Mountains Land Trust who is very excited about the work. They set up locations and field trips so the students could visit a location where their organism actually exists. This study is providing an opportunity for students to become stewards of the land (in their back yard). On the field trip many of the students actually saw them. The land trust plans to exhibit the traveling show on location this summer.

IMG_2079This unit is a great example of how the expertise of both the art educator and teaching artist are critical. Tim’s expertise as an artist as well as his knowledge of the science helps elevate this unit to a higher level of teaching and learning.

When visiting classrooms and schools Tim’s role is to supplement the teacher’s knowledge in the area of pottery and all of the components of ceramics that accompany it. In addition, he supports young people who are considering being an artist and show interest in expressing themselves visually. Tim is a role model and a living example that anyone can be a full-time artist if the field is chosen. He wants students to know that “they can have a rich full life and be heard if they develop their artistic skills”, said Tim.

Kristen finds that the Camden-Rockport Middle School art curriculum is enhanced by the artists that she invites into the school. Kristen has done at least one major installation every year for several years and it is not viewed as an extra but an important part of the students’ education. The installation creates a collaborative atmosphere for the entire school.

Tim and Kristen

Tim and Kristen

The artwork will be on display for the community to view on Thursday, April 28, 5:30 to 7:30 PM for Arts Alive Night being held at the Camden-Rockport Middle School.

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Arts Alive Night

April 22, 2016

Camden Rockport Middle SchoolArt Alive Night Invite 3 (1) copy

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Focus on the Process

April 20, 2016

Teachers as learners

Thanks to dancer Erma Colvin who provided this blog post.

IMG_0318In today’s world so much focus is put on the final product as opposed to the process. Dance schools now go to dance competitions. All sports are rated by how well they do in competition. Schools are rated by the standardized tests their students take.  There seems to be a competition for almost every thing we do in life.

For the past decade, I have had the amazing opportunity to work with middle school students at the Camden-Rockport Middle School in Camden. I do not know who has learned more from this experience, the students or myself. Yet again, the final product is of utmost importance. We work tirelessly for three months to produce 3 performances of an exceptional musical. So, for me, the process has become equally as important as the final product. My partner in crime, Dan O’Connell, the most dedicated parent volunteer I have ever met, spent every Saturday putting together the materials that the tech kids would need during the following week to construct the set. Incidentally, his middle school daughter is now a freshman in college.

IMG_0319The photos included are of Ursula, the sea witch in “The Little Mermaid Jr.”. The director, Allysa Anderson came up with the concept. I developed the plan, and the schematics. Students put in their thoughts to complete the project. The Ursula character consisted of a box 30 inches square and 6 ft. high. It was on wheels. The person playing Ursula stood on a platform inside the box. The eight tentacles were attached to the box on all four sides and were operated by 8 students dressed fully in black. Three tech crew moved the box from the back.

After I gave Dan the dimensions of the box, he carefully cut out all the pieces and labelled them as a kit. It would have been much faster for him to just build the box, then and there. However, that was not the goal of our tech crew program. The following week, we met with the tech kids for our two hour sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  There is nothing more exciting than seeing a middle school student, boy or girl, with a portable drill in their hand. Every week, they eagerly awaited their assignments and put together the pieces that Dan and I had made on the previous Saturday. The process of seeing their creation come to life on stage will never be forgotten. I watched them as they created the tentacles by adding purple glitter after I had cut and sewn all eight. They were thrilled to paint the box black and fought over who were going to be the Ursula handlers.

2016 mermaid shannon

Photo taken by Ellen Curtis

The role of a middle school tech adviser is unique. The students are old enough to be creative, to design sets, costumes and props, like King Triton’s crown that I left totally to three 6th graders and it was exquisite. They are physically capable of sawing, drilling, sewing and painting. The final product is so important but I cherish the long hours we spend with the kids in the old, decrepit MET basement section of CRMS, our home. There, the magic of the process takes place.

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The Little Mermaid

March 27, 2016

April 1, Strom Auditorium, Camden

Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader Allysa Anderson is directing her middle school students in The Little Mermaid.

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Potter Visits Camden Schools

February 21, 2014

The following article is reproduced from the Courier Publications’ Village Soup on February 10,   Editor Dagney C. Ernest.

DSCN0420ROCKPORT — Potter/artist Tim Christensen is working with Carolyn Brown’s Advanced Drawing and Painting class and the after school Art Club of Camden Hills Regional High School.

Christensen is a professional potter who currently works with the sgraffito technique on porcelain. He creates thrown and handbuilt forms and uses the ancient technique of sgraffito for surface design. This technique entails coating the clay with black clay slip or underglaze, and scratching through to reveal white clay underneath.

Christensen has demonstrated his working technique and discussed his sources of inspiration. He uses the medium of clay to tell stories about the natural world and our relationship with nature. He explained that he typically starts a piece with the beginning of an idea in mind, and draws intuitively with a freehand technique directly on the clay. During the process of drawing on the clay, the full “story” of a particular piece develops. The idea from one piece may lead into another, until the entire story emerges in a series of clay forms.

Students began their projects working with sgraffito on flat, leather-hard tiles, drawing into the underglaze with a variety of tools. Christensen is meeting with students several times and will develop the project further with handbuilt and manipulated slab forms with sgraffito.

This artist residency is sponsored by Youth Arts and the CHRHS Art Club with advisor Brown. For more information about the artists, visit timchristensenpottery.net.

student tile

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Thunderbolt

November 24, 2013

The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

puzzled play 6The Camden-Rockport Middle School, under the direction of Ellen Curtis, presented “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”.  One of the characters in the play is Thunderbolt, an old but impressive horse. In pre-production talks, the tech director, Erma Colvin showed the director footage from “Warhorse” on Broadway. “Warhorse” is a play about the horses used in World War I. The horses were portrayed by life-size puppets, the creation of Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones,  founders of the Handspring Puppet Company of South Africa. Ellen Curtis suggested that the CRMS tech crew make a life-size puppet modeled after Joey from “Warhorse”. After thinking that was impossible, they both agreed, “Why not!”

thunderbolt 2The creation of Thunderbolt began with chicken wire and flexible plumbing tubing, The CRMS Tech crew made the head out of paper mache and designed the moving tail mechanism. They then became the puppeteers. One student was the horse wrangler. Having had horse experience, she taught the puppeteers to do the proper horse gait ( created with coconut shells, of course) and designed the halter for Thunderbolt to wear. The horse puppet is controlled by two people in the body, moving the front legs, back legs and the tail, and one person outside the body controlling the head.

Thunderbolt was a huge success. Besides from his appearance in “Jumping Frog”, Thunderbolt has made guest appearances at the Owl’s Head Transportation Museum, the Camden Mini-Maker Faire and this fall’s National Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration at CRMS.

thunderbolt mini maker fair

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Dance! CRMS

November 17, 2013

Camden-Rockport Middle School Dance and Social Studies

cumbia 2013National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 to October 15 in the United States. It celebrates the Latino citizens of the United States and where they came from.  The Camden-Rockport Middle School holds an assembly in mid-October for this celebration.

Under the auspices of a Bisbee Grant, Erma Colvin, a Maine-based dance educator works with all the 8th Grade Spanish students in teaching them dances from Hispanic countries. They spend three weeks in the fall preparing for a school-wide assembly. This year dances from Columbia, Mexico, Spain and Argentina were taught.

Part of the grant stipulated that the dances be taught in Spanish. This was accomplished with the help of Aaron Henderson, the 8th Grade Spanish teacher at CRMS and Nohora Estes, a native Spanish speaker who teaches Spanish at the Riley School in Glen Cove. She worked with Erma and Aaron on dance vocabulary to teach the students. Participation in the dances was part of the students grade requirement. Authentic costumes were created. The CRMS Tech Club provided technical assistance in setting up the performance space.

Thank you to Erma Colvin for providing this post.

tango 2013

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