Posts Tagged ‘teaching artist’

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Visual Thinking Strategies

July 27, 2018

Waterfall Arts

Every so often I meet educators who are not familiar with Visual Thinking Strategies or VTS as it is commonly called. Waterfall Arts, a community arts center in Belfast, provides a program using VTS. As part of their outreach efforts of the Youth and Family Outreach (YFO) program at Waterfall Arts, program coordinator Bridget Matros offers Visual Thinking Strategies training to teachers in area schools. These strategies are activity used in the YFO after school programs and are also utilized in field trips to Waterfall Arts. Teaching Artist Bridget Matros has put together the information below (taken from the VTS site). Thank you Bridget! She is also on the Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist rosterWaterfall Arts programs are comprehensive and they provide multiple programs for learners of all ages.

Many teachers in Maine, visual arts and others, use VTS in their classrooms. Several years ago we provided an all day workshop on the topic. Once reading this blog post, if you’re interested in learning more please contact me at argy.nestor@maine.gov.

What is VTS?

Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) is a method initiated by teacher-facilitated discussions of art images and documented to have a cascading positive effect on both teachers and students. It is perhaps the simplest way in which teachers and schools can provide students with key behaviors sought by Common Core Standards: thinking skills that become habitual and transfer from lesson to lesson, oral and written language literacy, visual literacy, and collaborative interactions among peers.

VTS provides a way to jumpstart a process of learning to think deeply applicable in most subjects from poetry to math, science and social studies. Art is the essential first discussion topic because it enables students to use existing visual and cognitive skills to develop confidence and experience, learning to use what they already know to figure out what they don’t; they are then prepared to explore other complex subject matter alone and with peers.

How does it work?

In VTS discussions teachers support student growth by facilitating discussions of carefully selected works of visual art.

          Teachers are asked to use three open-ended questions:

  • What’s going on in this picture?
  • What do you see that makes you say that?
  • What more can we find?3 Facilitation Techniques:
  • Paraphrase comments neutrally
  • Point at the area being discussed
  • Linking and framing student commentsStudents are asked to:
  • Look carefully at works of art
  • Talk about what they observe
  • Back up their ideas with evidence
  • Listen to and consider the views of others
  • Discuss multiple possible interpretations
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Arts Learning Grant Recipient

July 25, 2018

Leonard Middle School – Old Town

Leonard Middle School art teacher and MALI teacher leader Adele painting student

Adele Drake became a Teacher Leader with the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative during phase 7 (2017). The work she has underway is a great example of approaching curriculum and assessment to meet the needs students in a very authentic way. She addresses their needs of today. Adele’s ongoing collaborative work is helping to prepare them for the future, all the while empowering them for the challenges of their world. Not to mention this is REALLY REALLY COOOOOOL! Read on…

In September 2012, the Leonard Middle School in Old Town art teacher Adele Drake and school counselor, Tracey O’Connell began the Leonard Middle School garden. Adele and Tracey shared a vision that small organic gardens were the optimal way of providing high quality produce to their local community and that this collaborative effort would create a nurturing environment where students would thrive. In the process students would be empowered by creating a space, the garden: a functional work of art which produced food.

Their first consultant for the project was Kate Garland from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. She agreed to meet and share her considerable expertise. She counseled them to get a soil test and helped them select a suitable location for the garden. The university has been a great resource in many ways. Kate has presented to the school’s garden club and art classes many times. They have had many volunteers from the master gardeners program and visited the university green houses.

After getting approval from the superintendent, they started digging. They soon found that digging was not an option due to debris and clay deposits in the soil. Faced with these challenges, they opted for raised beds. That first fall, they started with one 3’ X 3’ raised bed, a 50 pound bag of compost and several bulbs of garlic which they planted. Their dream of having a school garden had begun. That spring their first crop of garlic emerged from the earth.

COA volunteer Teagan and Susan preparing materials.

Adele wrote her first grant which was a service learning grant to construct an earthloom which would be the centerpiece of our garden. As the Leonard Middle School art teacher Adele has found the garden has provided a way of integrating the arts with the study of other disciplines. They have had so much support for this endeavor that they have built a garden shed, a greenhouse, several raised beds and fencing. Students designed the garden layout, help to create a gardenloom, made mosaic tile stepping stones and have most recently designed functional sculptures which collect water and beautify the garden at the same time. In a community where food insecurity is a reality the garden as a focal point for the curriculum makes sense.

Talk about trust!

This year they worked with Susan Camp to grow gourds into self-portraits. This project was funded by the Maine Arts Commission Arts Learning grant. Susan’s work is a natural fit to the already established goals of Adele Drake’s arts curriculum. The lesson concept: Harvesting Identity / you are what you eat was the focus throughout the process. Susan invited the to be co creators; they made plaster casts from their faces, made molds, and used these molds to grow gourds. The gourds are flourishing in the garden and after harvested in the fall will be used as wall hangings and made into bowls to be used at the culminating event which is a community feast.

Adele reflects: Large-scale food producers shape crops, such as watermelons, in order to make packing and shipping more efficient. Our project subverts this practice, shaping gourds to create portraits that are individual and reflect both the character of the subject and the growing fruit.

I see how engaged these students have been in the process and I know that I am getting them to think differently about food, art and the future.

I hope that students will be involved in growing food for their communities and that they will understand the importance of food and art in bringing communities together.

Trusting enough to take a selfie together – even if he can’t see.

I have learned a lot about formative assessment and the need to collect evidence which is triangulated from different modalities. I plan to evaluate students on their use of media and techniques and on their ability to analyze the process of using these materials and techniques.I will collect this evidence through observations, student reflection and teacher feedback.I will creating opportunities to analyze the process and the product with rubrics. Students will also reflect on where the process takes them through a critical response process which will help them grow as artists.

College of the Atlantic student volunteer in the program, Teagan reflects: Waiting!

I was amazed at how both students and teachers worked together and communicated throughout the process of making casts. I felt that everyone was looking out for each other. I believe that this sense of collaboration is needed for engaging in broader dialogues within food systems. I see this project as a way for people to take action creating new relationships with food and community.

Leonard Middle School Principal David Crandall reflects: Gardens grow communities, not just of plants, but of students. Students that are engaged in the school garden are focused on growing plants and also growing themselves. Being a part of fostering life and working with peers to maintain a productive garden is a motivation that encourages attendance and engagement at our school.

Our Garden Club has an active role in managing our school garden and they continue to work toward more and better resources to support their work. Under the guidance and leadership of Tracey O’Connell and Adele Drake, the students have sprouted into successful young gardeners that grow vegetables, flowers, relationships and communities. The group dreams big and we can’t wait to see what blossoms next!

I’m sure there will be a great celebration when students see their own faces on the gourds this summer. This is a unit that the students will always remember!

Imagine what you might do with funding from the Maine Arts Commission Arts Learning grant?! Grant application deadline will be in March 2019 for the 2019-1920 school year. Watch this blog and the Maine Arts Commission site for more information.

Waiting!

Waiting patiently for the paris-craft layer to dry before taking them off.

Example of the gourd about to grown into the mould.

Example of the gourds in the garden once they’ve come out of the mold.

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Arts Learning Grant Recipient

July 18, 2018

Union Elementary

Over a two month period this spring art teacher Anthony Lufkin and teaching artist Randy Fein collaborated to provide an outstanding learning opportunity for all the preK-6  students at Union Elementary School. The residency was funded by an Arts Learning grant funded by the Maine Arts Commission.

Union School has a long history of providing learning opportunities in visual art that go above and beyond the curriculum. When the school was built in 1987 George Mason provided two relief murals as part of the Percent for Art program. He followed that work with a month long residency with middle school students and created a relief tile mural based on Greek Mythology, an interdisciplinary unit. Over the years there have been several residencies with artists and large scale integrated projects that involved all of the elementary students and when the D.R. Gaul Middle School was housed upstairs, grade 7 and 8 students participated.

It was a pleasure to watch this project unfold and develop, the steps involved are too many to count, the commitment from all staff to help with the success, the student learning observed and so much more. It is easy to forget during the day to day details of “school” that these type of large projects hold meaning and learning way beyond the actual project. I suggest you consider taking on something like this, if you haven’t done so in the past.

The theme of the ceramic relief mural is “Our Town Union” and had been planned for almost 2 years before its completion in June. The mural celebrates the community of Union, including the history, environment and architecture and how students interact and connect with these components. The completed work will continue to educate future learners, young and older, about their community.

Hopefully you can get a sense of what it involved from the description and the photos embedded in the blog post. Please don’t hesitate to contact me (argy.nestor@maine.gov) about the MAC Arts Learning grants. Or contact teaching artist Randy Fein, her information is on the MAC teaching artist roster. Or contact art teacher Anthony Lufkin, who is the 2018 Knox County Teacher of the Year.

This project was funded by an Arts Learning grant from the Maine Arts Commission ($2,300), the Perloff Foundation Fund ($2,000), and from the Maine Space Grant Consortium ($1,000).

Thank you to Anthony, Randy, and the school principal, Christina Wotton for the information in this blog and for working together with other staff to make this project so successful!

Describe the overall goals/plans that you’ve carried out with this learning opportunity for Union School students.

The overall goals for this project were two-fold. First and foremost, it is an art project with instruction and experience focusing on the medium of clay, but also with emphasis on communication through the medium. Throughout the process students have had to quantify their image development, making sure they are utilizing the medium to make their message clear, whether it’s a specific icon of Union historical significance, or the recognition the unique and identifiable features of native species. As a collaborative installation, it has become an experience that will be solidified in time and place.  

The second component, was to help foster connections with other subject areas and connect students with the local ecosystems and history of the community. Classroom teachers have been very helpful introducing the topics through multiple lenses.  Students have had to research their subjects, and then use that research to educate their image development. Members from the Union Historical Society came in and presented to students in grades 4-6, giving them first-hand information about some of the past events that helped shape the town into what it is today. As students images developed through sketching and then sculpting, their understanding of the subject grew.  They also learned much more about working with clay as a medium, and some of the logistics of putting together an installation like this. 

What do you see/know are the greatest benefits to students in having an artist in residency? What does Randy bring that supports/enhances your curriculum Anthony? 

Having an artist come in through a residency like this does several important things.  First, it is a “new” experience for students, having someone different offering new perspective and something of a “revitalizing” of the art concepts being taught. It also tends to change the structure of instruction giving students a chance for more in depth work and a closer look at some of the components of creating artwork in professional practice. Students have been able to really analyze the subject of their imagery and were committed to making a clear representation. It creates more instructional opportunity as well. With two art instructors working in relatively small groups, students receive more individualized instruction.  

What do you hope that students will remember or will be saying in the near or far off future about the opportunity to learn this way?

We hope that students have created a connection to this project whether through working with Randy, working on something of this scale, or with the subject matter they helped to generate. The emphasis of the project, both to make it happen, and to create the cross-curricular connections have transformed the normal schedule and so that alone may also have had an effect on student perception. Hopefully, students will recall the information learned through this process by being a part of it and by seeing it regularly throughout their elementary experience. With the nature of being an installation piece, it will hopefully remind students of the experience, give them a sense of pride in the work they were able to accomplish, and help scaffold future learning and understanding about art and the connections to community and environment. I think that students will become more aware of the opportunity this project has been as we get back into a more routine schedule again. I think that they will begin to recognize the hard work and time it takes to create something like this. I anticipate them to say in the next few years, “I did that,…its represents…”.   

Hopefully, they will appreciate the opportunities they have had to work on something for extended periods of time with direct instruction from both Randy and myself.  Hopefully, they will appreciate and help advocate for these opportunities in the future. 

Stories

There were many interesting conversations early on with students especially around the topics of community and local development. Many students related to the community components based on where they live and how the natural and man-made resources have structured community as it is now.  hey were able to identify features in the landscape or structures and were able to contribute to the conversation based on their experiences. Some were able to describe the lasting imprints on the landscape from Native Americans, the railroad, and several of the many mills. One student described the arrow heads his family had found along the St. George River. Another talked about the dam at Morgan’s Mills. Many younger students also connected with their organisms whether from personal experience or from experiences by family members. I was surprised at how many had seen a bear! They definitely like to elaborate but there are clearly past events that could be the basis for some good folk lore.

ARTICLE from Village Soup about the residency.

 

Randy, Anthony, and Christina

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A Grandson’s Reflections

June 11, 2018

Russell Kaback

Russell Kaback is a member of the Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist roster. Russell will be providing musical reflections on his grandfather life before, during, and after the Nazi era at the PortFringe Festival. The show is a staged reading of the first act of a piece of musical theater inspired by the life story of his grandfather, a Polish Jew who spent four years in the Nazi concentration camps. There will be a talkback after the performance in which the audience is invited to discuss the work.

Russell Kaback is a songwriter, performer, and educator who lives in South Portland, Maine. He has been bringing this performance to classrooms in Maine as part of his mission to teach the history and engage the next generation.

The At MECHANICS HALL – THE LYCEUM CLASSROOM

SAT 6/16 @ 4:30pm
SUN 6/17 @ 9:45pm
THU 6/21 @ 9:45pm

PURCHASE TICKETS

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Marshwood Middle School

June 4, 2018

Performing tomorrow

Maine Arts Leadership Initiative participants, teacher leader Kris Bisson and teaching artist leader Brian Evans-Jones have collaborated on a project that will be premiered tomorrow night, June 5 at Marshwood Middle School.

The premiere performance of “The River Sings its Song”, funded by the Marshwood Education Foundation will take place on Tuesday, June 5, from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Marshwood Middle School’s seventy-six member chorus has worked the entire school year to research, discover, and collaborate to create a unique curriculum-based study of our local community through the Great Works River and Bridge in South Berwick, Maine. The students worked with artist-in-residence, Brian Evans-Jones, to create their thoughts and then with their Choral Director, Kristine Bisson, to take their words and compose an original piece of music to be sung by the Grade Seven and Eight Marshwood Middle School Chorus.
The students are donating $200.00 from their annual Middle School Talent Show to the Great Works Bridge Brigade to help support the fundraising efforts of the Brigade to build a timber-frame footbridge where the bridge once was accessible. They will be presenting the check to members of the Brigade this Tuesday evening at the concert.
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Teaching Artist Professional Development

May 28, 2018

MAC offers workshop June 22

Teaching Artists Brian Evans-Jones, Karen Brooks, Tim Christensen, and Dana Legawiec

PreK-12 Teaching Artist Professional Development Workshop

The Maine Arts Commission (MAC) invites Teaching Artists to a one day professional development opportunity on Friday, June 22, 2018, 8:45 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. The workshop will take place at Viles Mansion/Governor Samuel Cony House, 71 Stone Street, Augusta. The cost is $25.00 and the workshop is limited to 20. REGISTRATION is available.

Whether you are a veteran teaching artist looking to build on your practices and expand your reach in the PK through grade 12 environment, or a new teaching artist looking to be included on the Teaching Artist Roster and start working in the schools or community arts programs – this workshop is for you!

PURPOSE

Teaching Artists Tim Christensen, Tom Luther, Brian Evans-Jones

The workshop is focused on the role and benefits of a teaching artist. We will address how to structure and market a residency as well as tips for communicating and collaborating with educators (including teachers and administrators), and community arts representatives.

OUTCOMES

  • Information on applying your expertise as an artist to the structuring of your lessons and residencies.
  • Hands-on experience in relating the learning standards and assessments to your work.
  • Participation in sessions that are planned to fit your needs as a teaching artist.
  • Promoting yourself and your work as a teaching artist.

WORKSHOP FACILITATORS

  • Argy Nestor – Director of Arts Education, Maine Arts Commission
  • Brian Evans-Jones – Poet and Creative Writing Teacher and Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teaching Artist Leader
  • John Morris – Teaching Artist/Dance Educator, member of MALI Design Team
  • Kate Smith – Pre-K-3 Music Educator Central Elementary School, So. Berwick, member of MALI Design Team
  • Kris Bisson – Grades 6-8 Music Educator Marshwood Middle School, MALI Teacher Leader

John Morris

Learn more about the MAC Teaching Artist programand visit the Teaching Artist roster.

5.5 teacher contact hours are available for attending all day on June 22.

NOTE: In order to apply for the MAC Teaching Artist Roster, artists are required to attend the workshop on June 22. The Commission will be accepting applications for the roster in the fall of 2018.

If you have any questions please contact Argy Nestor at argy.nestor@maine.gov.

If you need a special accommodation to fully participate in this event please contact Kathy Shaw at kathy.shaw@maine.gov by June 8.

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MALI Teaching Artist Leader Story: Nicole Cardano

April 24, 2018

Teaching Artist – Theatre

This is one of several blog posts in 2018 that include stories of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Phase 7 Teacher Leaders and Teaching Artist Leaders. This series includes a set of questions so you can learn a little bit about each leader. CLICK HERE  for more information on MALI. CLICK HERE  for more information on the 93 Teacher Leaders and 8 Teaching Artist Leaders.  CLICK HERE  for Arts education resources. CLICK HERE  for the MALI Resource Bank. Search in the “search archives” box on the bottom right side of this post for past teacher leader stories.  Thank you Nicole for sharing your story!

Nicole Cardano has been teaching Drama and Improvisational Theater in the schools for eight years.  She teaches students in grades K-12 and adults. The majority of Nicole’s work has been with 5-8th graders. She has seen the most growth with this age group. Through Nicole’s studies and practice of improvisational theater she have connected to the foundational philosophies of Listening, Support, Eye Contact and Respect. The games that she teaches and her directorial mindset work from these foundations. Nicole believes in the process being more valuable than the product. Learning and developing these skills fosters a stronger community, a place of open listening and supportive fun.

What do you like best about being a teaching artist?

The thing I like best about being a teaching artist is expanding the awareness and experiences of connection through the practice of theater. As a teaching artist you are visiting many different environments and working with a large variety of people. My learning experience is constantly expanding. I have the opportunity of teaching theater as a tool for people to enhance social communication as well as deepen content connection.

What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?

Providing a variety of opportunities for the students to connect. Recognizing that our strengths and challenges are different for each person. Being patient with yourself and the process. Every experience is new.

Have you found assessment to be helpful in your classes, workshops and residencies, and if so, how?

At this stage I find assessment to be most helpful in further communicating the validity of the practice. Articulating the progress that you saw within a class or with a particular student heightens the understanding of the importance of your work. I welcome recommendations on learning more formats of assessments that others have had success with.

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the Maine Arts Leadership initiative?

Joining this supportive, creative and inspiring community has been an honor. The knowledge that we share with each other is endless due to so many different areas of expertise and experiences. I enjoy each and every conversation, and always wish I had more time with each person. I want to take everyone’s class!

What are you most proud of as an artist and/or a teaching artist?

I enjoy observing unexpected moments of pride. Such as experiencing success and true engagement from students that the teachers may not have thought would gravitate towards this work. Theater is a tool to learn with. That concept has been difficult to translate. I find that there can be a misconception that I am trying to work with the “theater kids”.  The theater kids are wonderful but that is not what fuels me to find opportunities for bringing the practice of theater into the school day. People want to play, students want to play, and at the right time teachers want to play too. We learn a great deal from each other in the act of play. In one of my first years as a Teaching Artist I went out of my way to recruit students that were not identified as being a part of any particular extracurricular interest, students that would easily have been predicted to become ‘At Risk’. Out of this selection there was one student that I quickly recognized needed to play extravagant characters. The feedback I received from a professional who had known that student for nine years was that they did not know that they could do this. Demonstrating longevity with supporting these students is something that I aspire to.

What gets in the way of doing a better job as a teaching artist?

Nicole at the Maine Arts Leadership Summer Institute

Having a set program where I am able to work with the students over their schooling years would be ideal. My work is designed to give the students Freedom through the practice and environment of Respect. This philosophy goes a long way for students that may often struggle in school, or struggle with believing in their own education.

School did not come easy to me. Teachers liked my personality, but many times did not know where to place me as a student. I had test anxiety, was a slow reader and easily lost my interest in a standard classroom setting. I could connect with people. Theater has been a life skill. This has been a way for me to study people and culture. Improvisation has allowed me to directly connect. I often think and process information with the tools of theater and improv. Relaxing a student, and providing play with the foundational rules of improv allows for a safe place to learn and interact.

What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be due to “luck” or circumstances?

Expanding the work. Reaching new schools, classrooms and age groups. The majority of my work is truly for all ages. I have learned to zone in on the philosophies and foundations of practice that speak to all, while also finding exercises that more directly fit certain ages and environments.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about becoming a teaching artist or is just starting out?

Start with one project and observe/assess that. What did you most enjoy? What was challenging? What would you do differently? Where would you like to see this work continue? Then find a home for a second project based on this information, and repeat.

Be aware of what your needs are. I recognized that as an individual artist that I needed more recognition for my work and a business format. I have since launched a non-profit entitled “Theater Today”. I continue to work at this. The mission for my non-profit is:  “Theater Today facilitates, educates, and leads the mindset of drama, improvisational theater and play as a developmental tool.  We are social education and emotional growth through the medium of play, practiced in any format and with any organization.”

If you were given a $500,000.00 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?

MALI Summer Institute – Teaching Artist actor, theater maker Dana Legawiec, Nicole, Wiscasset High School Theater teacher Jean Phillips

The truth is I would distinctly support my non-profit. Creating programming that was not as limited by funding, time constraints of finding funding, and provided more consistent support. I would be intentional on what would create longevity for Theater Today, and the goals that we aspire to reach. Allowing plans to be big, while continuing to be clearly thought out. Creating the opportunity for the practice of theater to become a normal part of learning. Give talks on the importance of play. How human connection through play can promote a more positive human existence for all.

Imagine you are 94 years old. You’re looking back. Do you have any regrets?

Wow, how fast time has gone by. I am now 94. I am proud of the differences I have been able to make.  That theater is recognized, appreciated and utilized as a tool for learning and improving communication. I am filled with joy that I have been able to travel the world and meet so many amazing people. I laugh at the moments of confusion I had as a younger person. Embrace today and now. Life is outstanding! Enjoy it, and consciously share your love of it!

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