Posts Tagged ‘innovation’



July 2, 2019

Not your traditional book club

Express-a-Book uses the Arts, to create a learner centered, collaborative environment to share ideas. Participants experience the Arts and the format highlights the accessibility and power of the creative process. When we bring people together in a collaborative and creative environment we see learners, of all ages, engage at a high level. The Express-a-Book process supports this notion.

In 2017 Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Design Team members Falmouth High School music teacher Jake Sturtevant and Sweetland School founder and director Lindsay Pinchbeck and Argy Nestor who was the Director of Arts Education at the time created Express-a-Book – an innovative and creative approach to a traditional book club.

They presented the idea, after creating a protocol and experiencing it themselves, to members of MALI. Other teacher leaders stepped up, formed groups and experienced the process themselves. The results were amazing!

“It was wonderful to have the opportunity and excuse to jump in the sandbox and find ways to play with, highlight, reflect, and communicate my learning in a unique way.”

~Jake Sturtevant

Lindsay, Jake, and Argy planned and tried the process and presented it to the MALI participants. Lindsay wanted to read about creativity in teaching and learning so she read the article A call to action: The challenges of creative teaching and learning by R. Keith Sawyer.
Jake was curious about the power of boredom. He listened to In defense of boredom on WNYC, Radio, Manoush Zomorodi’s Podcast Note to Self, and read the book Bored and Brilliant. Argy wanted to focus on leadership so she listened to Simon Sinek’s TED Talk called How Great Leaders Inspire Action.

Once they completed their review they responded by creating artworks. Lindsay made a painting and wrote a poem, Jake created a remix mp3, and Argy made a black and white illustration. They shared and responded to each image/sounds by giving feedback and asking questions. This provided the opportunity to learn about each of their topics in a collaborative environment.

What has been learned by using Express-a-Book?

  • Share ideas and resources through an active process
  • Use the arts to make information accessible and engaging for learners
  • Learn together as a community
  • Allow for individuals who do not often engage in art making processes to experience the potential of the arts to enhance learning 
  • Offer a low cost, simple, scalable and refreshing approach to a ‘book club’ 
  • The process has practical applications for a variety of classrooms and settings. Express-a-Book can be applied across disciplines or in professional learning communities, it can take place face to face or electronically, within or across schools, districts, across a region/state/country/ or even the world.
  • Individuals must be willing to stretch and be vulnerable
  • Example of teachers teaching teachers

If you’re interested in seeing the protocol please email Argy at

Express-a-Book has been used successfully at conferences and gatherings in Maine and beyond in a variety of ways. The format has been shared in workshops, videos, short articles and highlighted in Teaching Strategies That Create Assessment-Literate Learners by Jeffrey Beaudry and Anita Stewart McCafferty.



Lindsay’s Helsinki – Part 2

November 20, 2018

Lindsay’s notes

This is the second post about our travels to Helsinki for the HundrED Innovation Summit earlier in November. Yesterday’s post gives you a glimpse. Today’s post, below, was written by Lindsay Pinchbeck who is the founder and director of Sweet Tree Arts Center and Sweetland School located in Hope. Thank you for your contribution Lindsay – in her own words…. 

In 2016 I traveled to Malawi with Argy. 

We shared professional development with 12 teachers from the village of Mpamila and neighboring primary schools. We introduced arts integration ideas and used the arts to learn and build community. The experience was life changing, and pushed me to reconsider my own teaching practice and my daily actions. I continue to believe travel gives us the ability to step back and see with fresh eyes what we knew all along, it allows us to trust our intuition, see new perspectives and build new friendships and new ideas. 

On the flight home Argy and I began dreaming about other places we might travel to keep growing and learning. Finland, the antithesis of Malawi, was on the list. 

Two years after our trip to Malawi (last week), Argy and I had the great privilege to travel to Helsinki for the HundrED education summit. HundrED’s manifesto – 

The purpose of education is to help every child flourish, no matter what happens in life.

In a fast changing world focusing on traditional academic skills will remain important, but that is not enough. To thrive as global citizens, children must be equipped with a breadth of skills.

We were invited to be a part of their Ambassadors program to share our arts integration work in Malawi. 

Discussions around ideas of implementing change and many inspiring projects and innovations were shared. It was a highly positive environment, with passionate educators focused on implementing new practices to engage mind, body and soul in relevant work. A focus on sustainable practices was clear and a strong message of student centered work and listening and responding to our children was heard loud and clear. Many educators shared passionately their ideas to better the world through their efforts as educators. The invented word of the conference was ‘Humblitious” created by HundrED founder and creative director Saku Tuominen. Innovations and Educators were indeed both humble and ambitious.

In my journal I noted down these key questions and ideas swirling around the summit. Notes were gathered from discussions, presentations and panels. Many of the ideas and conversations felt so supportive of my own work in a school and community arts center that honors questions over answers, new thinking, listening deeply, and valuing each experience.

What kind of attitude is needed to make change happen? – Listen, be open, We know so little, don’t assume we know anything.

How can we support every child to flourish? – Always ask this question

What is the purpose of school?- Self discovery and Life long Learning

Honor the past, change with the children, make room for new ideas

Change with the children and listen to the children. 

Every drop of water leads to an ocean of change. 

Humbilitious – Humble and Ambitious ideas. 

I do not assume to believe any of these ideas are easy to put into practice and I do not assume to have the answers but in my own work and practice in the arts and education I know I have grown and continue to grow each day by not knowing the way, reflecting back and trusting the process. More than anything the practice of learning, then relearning and learning again how to listen to the children and valuing them as capable, active contributors to our world is the work that is the most challenging and most rewarding.

Lindsay Pinchbeck can be reached at


Can You Hear Them?

November 18, 2011

Student voices

Yesterday I attended the fall regional MLTI workshop on Digital Citizenship/Social Media. I thought it was one of the best MLTI workshops and was very glad that I decided to attend. I walked away with a broader understanding and a few tips that I could put in place today.

At the end of today (this evening to be precise) I opened my laptop to answer email and found one from Education Week and articles on Innovation. One called “Why We Need to Foster Innovation” written by Phoenix M. Wang. I have read other pieces by Ms. Wang and each time something she says catches my eye or strikes a cord. This one was no different.

Perhaps it is because I taught middle school for so many years or because of my own experiences as a young adolescent through high school that I firmly believe WE DON’T GIVE TEENAGERS ENOUGH CREDIT. Nor enough responsibility, or allow them to lead enough, put them in charge enough or value what they have to offer. I also believe that this contributes to drop out for some, disengagement in school for others, or a lazy attitude for a portion of our young people. I was reminded of this belief when I read Ms. Wang’s article.

The problems that exist in the world can be solved by young people. They have creative minds that help them to think differently about problems. I don’t think anyone would disagree that we need to think differently if the US is going to compete in this global economy successfully.

There is a great deal of talk, and action is underway to transform education in Maine. The energy is growing. I heard on the radio this morning while driving to a meeting in Bar Harbor that teenage brains that have been studied showed that young people who are involved in gaming had brains that were developing differently than those who do not game a great deal.This is an indication to me that we can not continue to do (school) “business as usual”.

The commentary touches on the value of innovation and asks “why is innovation so important?” She gives examples of young people and opportunities they have and they create to put their ideas out there. Please take a few moments and think about your classroom. Are students making decisions about their learning? Are they encouraged to answer questions, work collaboratively, and create? Is the student responsible for their learning? What does that look like in an arts classroom?

You can access the entire article by clicking here. It would be wonderful to read your feedback on the article by leaving a comment. Thanks so much!


In Today’s News

April 8, 2011


In the Bangor Daily News Business section, April 1st, an article entitled The power of IMAGINATION written by Matt Wickenheiser presents the role of creativity and imagination as vital in transforming ideas into reality. For example, Transformit is a business located in Gorham where they design, produce, and install interior tension fabric structures to the high artistic standards of their founder, Cynthia Thompson, MFA. Thompson says: “they put art into business”.  “Research and development for any company going — I don’t care what it is — needs imagination,” she said. “Everyone wants America to be powerful, the key is innovation.”

The article goes on to explain the Imagination Conversation that has been postponed until June being that will be held at USM, Portland campus. Maine and each state in the nation are having Imagination Conversations as part of work from the Lincoln Center in New York City.

I urge you to read the entire article by clicking here and consider writing a letter to the editor with your thoughts on the connections and importance of arts education to developing imagination, creativity, and the future of the Maine economy.

Thank you to Matt Wickenheiser and the Bangor Daily News for permission to link and include the photo in this post.

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