Posts Tagged ‘service learning’


Maine Association for Middle Level

October 29, 2012


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!


Central Elementary School – South Berwick

July 19, 2012

A real happening!

Thank you to music educator Kate Smith for providing this blog post. It is a wonderful example of a powerful service learning project directed by the arts!

Summertime means comfortable sandals, marinated steak tips on the grill, a cold margarita in hand and time to reflect on the school year. In the process of reflecting, I realized I am long overdue on a blog post I promised Argy. 

In early 2010, Bill Page, a community member, approached me with a problem, “Hey Kate, do you think the students could help me convince the town that Powderhouse Hill is a really important part of our community?” (I should pause and explain: Powderhouse Hill is a town-owned ski area with a total of three trails and 175 feet of vertical elevation and is completely volunteer run. Visitors pay $5 to ski and snowboard and are pulled up the hill on a tow rope powered by a 5 cylinder engine. It’s a super place for beginners, but the town was getting concerned about rising insurance costs and was considering shutting down the hill).  I was touched that he would turn to the music teacher for help, and I was determined to follow through. I brought the concern to my arts team and a service project was born.

What we did
Week 1: We began with  a discussion about Powderhouse Hill to activate students’ prior knowledge and inform new students. In the music room, we wrote poems or lyrics to express our love for Powderhouse Hill, some students added notation. Then we asked the overarching question, “How can we convince the town that Powderhouse Hill is an important part of our community?” Students chose the art form they would prefer when answering this question, indicating their first and second choices. They could chose: music, art, movement (physical education) or writing (library).

Week 2: The students were now divided into groups according to their preferred art form. Instead of a regular special week, in which they would see each specialist for one day and have a no special day, the student went to their assigned art form group each day (music for four days, for instance). On the fifth day, we had a museum walk. Two students stayed as presenters, while the rest of the students rotated to hear how each group answered the same question. We presented our ideas/final projects to Bill and the audience at the third grade concert. It was met with a standing ovation for both Bill and the students.

The final products
The music group wrote and recorded a song with local songwriter, Sammie Haynes, using the poems and lyrics they had written as their inspiration. We then taught the song to the rest of the third grade and sang it at our third grade concert. The art group painted 7 foot high wooden skiis to be displayed at Powderhouse Hill. The movement group took photos and made posters to show safe ways to ski, snowboard and sled. They had hoped to walk to the hill and make videos, but the weather was not conducive. The library group researched the history of Powderhouse Hill and created a display for the town hall and brochures for the town businesses.

What we found
The students took ownership of the project (as a true service learning project should). Each final product was unique and reflected the students’ learning styles. Students were engaged, for many it was their favorite special all week long! The teachers were thrilled for a multitude of reasons including one we hadn’t foreseen. In a typical week, the third grade classes see us in two different time blocks. For this project, we arranged for them to all come during the same block, which meant some of our groups were pretty big (the music group had over 40 students) but it also meant the third grade team had common planning time all week (yay for them!) and we had extra planning time due to the combined classes (yay for us!). The most important part- the parents and community LOVED it and the students LOVED sharing it. What a wonderful model for sharing the amazing power of the Arts!

Kate Smith is a music teacher at Central Elementary School, a preK-3 school in South Berwick. 


Music at MAMLE: Sugarloaf

October 21, 2011

Maine Association for Middle Level Education (MAMLE) conference

Leonard Middle School music teacher Shianne Priest

I left my home before daylight yesterday to arrive at Sugarloaf Mountain for the annual MAMLE conference. One of the morning sessions I attended was called “Sevice Learning Through Music: Students Tell Their Story”. It is a great example of giving young adolescents enough space to take the lead with their learning. Leonard Middle School music educator Shianne Priest, provided the stage for the work after she took a graduate course where her learning included service learning. At first Shianne couldn’t imagine how service learning could work in the music classroom. After many questions, thinking, and soul searching she was forced to change the way she taught that provided the groundwork for the student and project success. It wasn’t a teacher centered learning experience for this music appreciation class, that is mandatory for all 7th graders who do not take another performing arts class (band or chorus). Shianne’s part was setting the stage, guiding the work, giving up power, and trusting that kids will take the lead. She is just thrilled at the outcome and wishes she had discovered service learning 14 years ago!

You might be asking or wondering what is Service Learning? In a nutshell it combines community with classroom curriculum. The key components of service learning are:

  1. Academic integrity – Project has clearly defined learning objectives that relate to state learning standards and local curricula.
  2. Apprentice Citizenship – student learn about civic engagement through  partnerships with active community members working on local needs.
  3. Student ownership – students share in decision-making with teacher, and teacher shares in learning with students. Teacher is a partner and coach, rather than an expert.

Singer/songwriter Lily and service learning project students presenting at MAMLE conference

Students in Shianne’s class brainstormed a list of over 100 ideas and narrowed down their choices to 4 causes before voting and determining that Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) would be their focus. Their mission was to raise awareness and educate others about AIDS. The challenge was how to connect music education to the idea. After much work they determined a pathway for that as well. Students researched AIDS and how to let others know about it. They found quotes by individuals with AIDS and decided to use those quotes in a song to raise awareness. They enlisted the help of singer/songwriter 8th grader Lily Muscatell to create the song. The students and Lily found the quote that moved them the greatest: “we are not dying from the disease but we are dying from being become untouchable”. And “Untouchable” became the title of the song. Students raised money for recording time and the New England School of Communications (NESCom) at Husson University donated 2 hours of studio time. The IT classes at Leonard Middle School designed the CD label and students sat for hours at local businesses to raise money for the cause. They have copywrited the song and donated the money (over $800.00) to AIDS research and relief with the Elton John AIDS Foundation. They’ve offered the copyright to the foundation and are waiting to hear from them. The CD is available for $3 and you can contact Shianne about purchasing it. WABI TV5 did a story which includes Lily performing the song on the project so you can click here to listen and learn more.

There are service learning grants available and one of them is from State Farm. Available for K-12 schools, $1000.00, the due date is November 9th, called the Good Neighbor Service – Learning Grants.

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