Posts Tagged ‘learning’



November 20, 2019

Learning from travel

My Dad, 1942

My father grew up in a small village called Akrata on the Peloponnese in Greece. When he was 10 years old he was sent on a boat to America with all of his worldly possessions to live with his uncle. His father had died and his step mother needed help to raise the three children so they sent “the worse one.” My father’s journey was only beginning – he went on to become a successful student, athlete, and leader in school and community.

He enlisted in the Army and fought for three years in WWII through Africa, Sicily, the beach at Normandy, through France and Germany where he was wounded and returned to the states. He was greeted by my mother (and his entire Greek community) who he had married a week before he left. Through all of the hardships my father never lost site of the opportunities afforded him because of traveling to the US. He gave to his community over and over and worked hard all his life.

My parents in 1944 not long after Dad returned from the war.

While growing up my family didn’t have money to use for travel purposes. My parents instilled in us the value of hard work and giving to our communities – their examples of that were provided daily. My sister and I worked from age 10 in our family summer businesses. We saved enough money to go to college and when the opportunity to travel to Greece and Egypt (3 weeks, $600 dollars included everything) came up, we couldn’t say no. Sitting in the hotel in 1973 in Athens a woman was introduced to us – turned out it was my father’s sister, Yiota. She was a new baby when my Dad left Greece in 1928. We traveled with her to Akrata and returned with the key to the homestead.

The Greek Orthodox church in Akrata

Returning home my parents decided not to wait until they retired to travel to Greece but went the next summer. My Dad had not seen or had any contact with his sister and his brother Nick since he had left about 40 years earlier. (Brother Nick passed away from TB when he was 21). It was an incredible homecoming for my parents.

Since my first visit I’ve returned a handful of times, one of the most memorable was going for Greek Easter in 1994 with my parents. That trip helped me realize the importance of family and of passing forward the love of family.

I returned last week from a trip to my family’s village with both of my sons. Passing forward the stories, the ideas and the understanding of our roots to them is important to me and now them.

At the Parthenon

The above provides the background for this post – it’s about stepping out of your daily routines to learn in a different way. We’re fortunate that we live in a time where we can access knowledge and information from around the world in multiple ways. We don’t have to hop on a plane and travel for 15 hours to get somewhere but we can view videos of far away places, connect through face to face communications with teachers and students on the opposite side of the globe, and collaborate on learning projects – to name a few ways. Yes, it takes time and work but it is all worth it.

My sons with Yiota

Think about these questions – what is different about education today? What might be the benefits to think differently about day to day education? Why connect with educators or help facilitate access to learning for your students with others from a different culture? Only you can consider the benefits for you and/or your students but I encourage you to do so.

I am grateful to stand on the shoulders of giants in the work I do in education and on the shoulders of family members from a tiny village 4,521 miles from my home in Maine. Every trip (in real time or electronic connections) help me to understand why I do what I do and the importance of pushing on my beliefs to continually learn.

The blue door on the pathway to the plakia not far from my father’s home. It is the one constant every time I return.


Images Lead to Questions

November 7, 2018

What are those things?

Photo by Argy Nestor

I was so fascinated with a container that had left over food in it recently that I took a photo of it. I’ve included it on the right. And, asked myself how I would explain what it is. While at the MAMLE (Maine Association for Middle Level Education) conference recently a speaker said that children at age 5 ask an average of 150 questions per day and middle school students only 3. I wondered, how can humans learn if they ask so few questions? And, how do we as educators provide learning opportunities that leads to more questions that leads to more learning – so, we can all become life-long learners? I know what some of you are thinking, not everyone learns by asking questions. Perhaps not, BUT if there aren’t questions that lead to learning, there certainly needs to be curiosity. And, how do we keep that curiosity alive as our students grow and go from one grade to the next successfully? How do we support learners to reach their potential?

Photo by Benjamin Grant/Satellite Images (c) DigitalGlobe, Inc.

The next day after exploring these ideas came a post dated December 2013 and titled: The good, the bad, and the ugly of humans’ impact on the Earth, in 13 aerial photos. It was written by Evan Porter about a man named Ben Grant who was looking at satellite images of the Earth. Turns out Ben was doing a search and Google popped up images of Earth. That would be Earth, Texas. What Grant saw and fascinated him was a strange pattern that turned out to be irrigation fields.

He was seeing the world through a different lens than what he was used to and it turned his learning upside down and gave his “looking” a different meaning. This led him to viewing other satellite images and a really different perspective. Some of the images were created by human beings and some were impacted by human beings and others were in their natural state. He made this into a project that leads people to asking questions and learning.

You can check out several more images and read the entire article in THIS PIECE from Unworthy.

Photo by Benjamin Grant/Satellite Images (c) DigitalGlobe, Inc.



Exhibits/Performances Throughout the State

May 13, 2011

‘Tis the season…

All over the state there are exhibits and performances taking place exhibiting the work of students. Many of them are a culmination of the accomplishments of students from throughout the year and a testament to the outstanding work that arts teachers do in classrooms. These exhibits and performances are evidence of the learning that has taken place.

An email from Ruth McAtee from the County yesterday included the following: Our art show opens tomorrow the 11th of May at 5pm.  Beginning with music from the 4th grade chorus.  The art gallery spaces provided by the Aroostook Centre Mall will be ready for browsing and enjoying the student work created this school year by students in grades K-12.  Students in
grades 4-12 will entertain the crowds with their musical talents…..which includes chorus and band selections.  The time is from 5pm-8pm.

Bucksport High School art work

A couple of weeks ago Catherine Ring stopped by Bucksport High School (RSU 25) to see the Visual Art Show. She said: “The work being done by the students in Holly Bertrand’s art classes is just spectacular.  Bucksport must be very proud of their students and their art teachers!” WOW!

This from Charles Hamm from Belfast yesterday: RSU20 2nd Annual Art Show, sponsored by the Senior Festival of Arts, University of Maine, Hutchinson Center, Belfast, May 1st-June 6th. Reception May 14th, 10-12.

And from Jake Sturtevant and the teachers in SAD 6: SAD 6 Spring Art Show, which will include our whole district K-12 for Visual and Performing Arts.  It will be at the Bonny Eagle Middle School on Wednesday, May 18. The Art show will open at 5pm, and the performances from 6-8pm. 

Let me know about your visual and performing arts events happening between now and the end of the year so I can include them for others to know about.


Today and the Future

April 14, 2011

Time to reflect

This winter I read a blog post called Can You Predict The Future Technologies in Your Classroom? written by Patrick Ledesma. Patrick is part of the Classroom Ambassador Fellowship program sponsored by the US Department of Education.

He had attended a national meeting where the presenter asked the participants questions that included these words: innovation, creativity, teaching, learning, creative expression, and new media. We know as arts educators that all of these words relate to the work we do each day in our classrooms. Other educators, and people who are outside of the education system, don’t necessarily see the connection with creativity and innovation to arts education.

So, this post is about two topics. One is to ask you what you’re doing in your classroom today that is different than what you were doing in the past to address or incorporate technology for the “natives”? The other question is what are you doing to connect and collaborate with other arts educators in your building or school district to strengthen your programs? In my mind these questions go hand in hand. Hopefully this blog post will give you a reason to “pause” and/or “ask yourself questions” and/or to “reach out to a colleague”.

Times are tough in education, no question about it. Will we face what is happening with anger or fear or embrace it as a challenge that will make us better teachers and provide high quality educational opportunities for our students? That’s up to each individual.

The 21st Century Skills Arts Map which was created by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills provides teachers with guidance on how arts skills provide what is needed in today’s world. Does your school administration and other teaching staff understand that when we talk about innovation and creativity that many skills are introduced and mastered in the arts classroom?

So, here is a segment from Patrick’s blog post from Education Week located on Leading from the Classroom blog, February 21st.

“Does your school have a culture of innovation or does your school have pockets of innovation?”

Expanding on the idea of a culture of innovation, we discussed the recent 2011 Horizon Report from the New Media Consortium and the Educause Learning Initiative. This report “examines emerging technologies for their potential impact on and use in teaching, learning, and creative inquiry.”

Members of the Horizon Project Advisory Board, which is made up of mostly university researchers and corporations (note to New Media and Educause: more K-12 representation next time please….), were asked the following questions:

1) Which of these key technologies will be most important to teaching, learning, or creative expression within the next five years?

2) What key technologies are missing from our list?

3) What trends do you expect to have a significant impact on the ways in which learning-focused institutions approach our core missions of teaching, research, and service?

4) What do you see as the key challenge(s) related to teaching, learning, or creative expression that learning-focused institutions will face during the next 5 years?

The Horizon Report Wiki shows the various stages and development of the report. For example, you can view the early results to see the original 43 technologies, 14 trends, and 19 challenges listed by the board members. I think this early list is as interesting as the final list since it shows the variety of ideas and opinions.

In today’s educational arena when reflecting on practices including curriculum, teaching, and assessment it is important to consider collaborating with colleagues. Some of us teach in a “connected manner” by planning with other teachers to create integrated lessons or units. Standard E of our Maine Learning Results states: Visual and Performing Arts Connections: Students understand the relationship among the arts, history and world culture; and they make connections among the arts and to other disciplines, to goal-setting, and to interpersonal interaction. Some teachers report they believe this is easier at some grade levels than others. However now more than ever it is in our best interest to link arms, so to speak, especially with arts colleagues. Each of the art forms has benefits to students overall growth and development for a variety of reasons. If we divide our commitment it will have a negative impact in the long run.

Please ask yourself: where are you today in your teaching? Where have you been and what changes have you made since your first year? And just as important, where are you headed?

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