Arts In Education
Eastern Suffolk BOCES Arts-in-Education
In cooperation with Kennedy Center and Nassau BOCES present Teaching Artist Workshops
Transforming Through Performing - Professional Development for Teaching Artists
Workshops for artists registered with the Nassau and Eastern Suffolk BOCES Arts in Education programs. Presented by John Bertles, hosted by Nassau and Eastern Suffolk BOCES Arts in Education. Teaching artists are welcome to attend one or both workshops. Please brown bag your dinner. Coffee will be available.
Transforming Through Performing – Part 1: Creating Effective Arts Assemblies
Arts organizations are constantly evolving new performances for students. In Part 1, we’ll look at creating dynamic, relevant and exciting performances - that are also fiscally sound. We’ll explore how creating with the entire educational community in mind can give your new shows a better chance of survival in a very competitive market.
November 13 – Nassau BOCES Farber Administrative Center, 4:00 pm – 7:00 p
71 Clinton Road, Garden City, NY 11530, Room LLB
Transforming Through Performing – Part 2: Strengthening Existing Arts Assemblies
Arts education performances, like cars, need regular maintenance. In Part 2 of this series we’ll consider a sequence for “tuning-up” your existing performances, as well as some of the deeper pedagogical concepts of performance for children. We’ll look at how your show’s delivery system can be adapted for different audiences; how to anticipate and prepare for technical and venue issues; and how increasing and strengthening audience interactions can help to engage and educate our students on a deeper level.
November 15 – Eastern Suffolk BOCES, 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm - Sherwood Ctr., 15 Andrea Rd, Holbrook
John Bertles is the founder and co-director of Bash the Trash Environmental Arts, which has presented performances, residencies and professional development sessions nationwide for over 20 years. He is a workshop leader with the Kennedy Center National Touring Workshops for Teachers, and a former board member of the New York City Arts-in-Education Roundtable. This workshop was created in response to a request by the Kennedy Center Any Given Child program.
I found this amazing resource last week for parents like me who are always looking for alternatives to public education. It's 10 Tips For New Unschooling Parents. Unfortunately, I am in no place as a small business owner to home school my child but I would gladly supplement the education he receives with some of these ideas and tips. My little guy is in a great daycare now and we are considering the Montessori route for first grade as well as some other local progressive schools. What really hit home with this article is addressing that most parents today did not come an unschooling background (as perhaps our grandparents or great grandparents did) and our fears in any alternative method are based on false assumptions about learning that our school experiences taught us years ago.
Maybe it's coming from a Catholic porochial school but I knew as soon as I left that building in 1992 that the learning methods I had were archaic. I was on a personal mission since the early 90s to make sure I saught challenging learning environments that taught life lessons as well as curricula. But there are some things that stick with me and whether I know it or not, I am projecting certain methods onto my son.
For example, being someone who can focus very well and stay a course sans real distractions - particularly on vision and strategy - presents a challenge when working with anyone who has trouble focusing...even my preschooler whose mind is everywhere! I'm a prime example of someone who while it may have come easy to me, was also brought up to "focus" at school and this is the very thing I need to unlearn. At least when it comes to exploring and learning (Discipling is something different)! I can be an intense person but over the last 3 years I am learning to relax and be in the moment and the boy helps me in this area.
So here I am reading up on unschooling. The crazy artist in me loves it. Some of my favorites from this list are:
- Everything is educational -- love this. As a visual artist myself and an artist manager, it speaks to how much there is to learn outside of a room. Get outside, play, hike, create.
- Rest -- As someone on the go that by nature of the beast is raising a child on the go, I've seen his exhausted face at the end of a day in NYC and knew we both needed a few days of rest and recharging. And it's amazing what my son processes during that rest time.
- Trust the built in time table -- never did I get this more than this past summer while potty training my little guy. There was progress, plateau, repeat all summer. Meanwhile his pals were racing ahead at lightening speed - some girls, some boys, some with older siblings. I was stressed especially since the center had transitioned some of his classmates for part of the day to a preschool room....meanwhile, they waited on my guy until he was further along. Dozens of friends and educators tried to talk me off the proverbial ledge. My stress over this silly thing was well, silly. And probably stressing the boy too. I finally chilled out but I will likely owe the kid an apology someday. Now he's doing great and I'm the one spewing the "trust their time table" advice to other moms, especially of oldest boys.
So while there is no home schooling in sight for us, l look forward to putting most of these methods to use now in the coming years. I look forward to finding other alternatives to traditional schooling. I cannot, with the knowledge I possess, just put my kid in a public school and tell my family and friends, "We are in a GREAT school district!" and think that justifies a decision - for me or my son. I have choices. So why wouldn't I consider them all and what is best for the boy and the family?
My dad always said, "It's education. No one can take that away from you." I bring the same mentality to the desicion making process.
Earlier this month, I wrote a blog post for Just Children's Books, a local blog that focuses on reviewing imaginative children's books, promoting literacy in children, and promoting reading and books, particularly for fundraising.
Since working with my roster artists, I've a new found appreaciation for cultural stories, particularly ones rooted in folktales and oral storytelling. My guest post highlighted the Treehouse Shakers' inspiration in worldy folk tales as the platform for their dance-plays. Their three touring dance-plays -- Animal Rhythms, Coyote's Dance, and Desert Travels - are based on ancient folklore and tie in very nicely with the Gerald McDermott "trickster" tales - whether for curricula tie-ins or a means for families to continue the dialogue started with the performance.
For Just Children's Books, I talked a bit about my favorite trickster tale - the one of Coyote - and the role of the trickster. Click through to read the entire post. Below is an excert from The Treehouse Shakers' production of Coyote's Dance.
I'm so excited to have the wonderful educators and teaching artists at Philly Young Playwrights contribute a blog post on the great work they do with Philadelphia youth. This organization illustrates daily the power of art in affecting social change.
“I would recommend Young Playwrights to another student because the experience of it is really fun and you learn new things every time.” – Grover Washington Middle School student playwright
Philadelphia Young Playwrights believes that every student has a voice worth hearing. When the average class size of a Philadelphia public school classroom is upwards of thirty students, such can be a challenge. This is the size of classes at Grover Washington Middle School, for example, where Young Playwrights (through a partnership with Arts Rising –www.myartsrising.org) recently finished a year long program with the entire sixth grade. To ensure that every student received the attention they needed, three Teaching Artists partnered with the three literacy Teachers to approach three major benchmarks of crafting a play – brainstorming, writing, and revising. Through the use of multi-layered approaches, the teaching teams ensured that students of varying learning styles had an equal opportunity to explore and understand playwriting, as well as the literacy skills it requires.
For the students at Grover Washington this year, some of the modes of exploration and brainstorming included reading and discussing excerpts of published and student plays, using music as a means to spark the imagination, and passing objects around a circle to generate lists of possible characters, conflicts and settings. While writing their plays, students participated in activities which featured an element of writing, such as character, by looking at a strong example of that element as used by one of their fellow students in the class. One such student playwright, after looking at the list of over ten details about his character Duke that his classmates had identified in his one and a half page play in progress, asked the Teaching Artist if he could take the typed up copy of his play home with him to show his mother. By the end of the year, his play was over twelve pages long and it was celebrated by all his classmates.
In April, at a point when students had completed at least the first draft of their plays, Young Playwrights brought a touring production of A Bully Problem to Grover Washington, with a cast of professional actors from the Philadelphia area. A play written by a fifth grader at William Penn Charter School, A Bully Problem provided the students with multiple layers of discovery: they explored what the play looked like on the page in their classrooms before seeing it presented on the stage, they experienced a full production of a play that was written by a student their own age, and they also had the opportunity to discuss the topic of bullying by brainstorming and sharing what they each would do should they ever be faced with a bully like the protagonist was in the play.
To connect the performance of A Bully Problem back to their own individual playwriting, each Grover Washington classroom had two visits from professional actors from the Philadelphia area, including two of the actors featured in A Bully Problem. During these workshops, the professional actors helped the Teaching Artist, Teacher and students to read every students’ play in progress. Not only did this give every student an opportunity to see how the words they had written on the page were interpreted by an actor, but after his or her work was read aloud, each student had an opportunity to hear positive feedback and questions about their first draft from the audience of their peers. Just one of the many ways Young Playwrights encourages Teaching Artists to introduce revision to the classroom, this method allows every student one of many opportunities to be the spotlight to be celebrated and treated as a true artist.
Finally, as students worked independently on their revisions, each playwright received multiple one-on-one conferencing opportunities as well as written feedback from their Teaching Artist. A student playwright was awed to receive a copy of their play back from her Teaching Artist with an entire page of written compliments and feedback, saying with awe, “You wrote all of that about my play?” In another classroom, after a Teaching Artist finished a conference with a student playwright, the Teacher articulated her amazement that he had completed a play and was working on revisions, because the student had rarely turned in writing assignments in the past.
The Grover Washington students have taken ownership of their voice and their ideas to wear both with pride – one student playwright even called finishing their play their proudest achievement. This confidence has already spread to the students’ approach to their schoolwork. One student found that, “It helped me because revising this helped me want to revise my school work, because my school work is just as important as my play.” Another student playwright indentified a similar experience, “Writing and revising my play helped me with constructed responses and essays.”
Through such partnerships with schools and Teachers, Philadelphia Young Playwrights promotes literacy, creativity, problem solving, academic skills, motivation and self-empowerment for students with varying backgrounds and abilities in grades K-12. Students care about their stories, grow excited about the playwriting process and assume ownership of their writing. When students write about their lives, they are empowered to change them.
Photos compliments of Canary Promo & Design
About Philadelphia Young Playwrights
Every young person has a voice worth hearing. Philadelphia Young Playwrights is an arts education organization that taps the potential of youth and inspires learning through playwriting. This is their 23rd year of creating intensive playwriting workshops for 1,700 students in up to 50 classrooms throughout the region. More than 1,000 student playwrights each year submit their original plays to their Annual Playwriting Festival. If you would like to learn more about Young Playwrights, about how to bring Young Playwrights to your school, or about how you can give your support, please visit the website: www.phillyyoungplaywrights.org.
This site - TAG (Teaching Artists Group) offers some great resources for teaching artists such as sample resume, curriculum plan, invoice, and evaluation. The TAG blog has useful content as well, relevent to teaching artists and the industry as a whole. I personally liked this post where TAG interviewed LA based teaching artist and entrepreneur Dennis Baker. He paints a very clear picture of critical issues facing teaching artists today. Click here to read.
TAG provides affordable arts education consulting services for cultural organizations and schools.
Here's the link to the resources:
I loved reading this blog post earlier this month. I have to share it. It's written for The New Victory Theatre's blog by their Director of Education, Joseph Giardina. What I love about the New Vic is their model of employing teaching artists to create lesson plans around their seasons' shows and go into NYC schools to teach children. We're not talking a school performance with a study guide for a 5th grade teacher here. While there may be some performance aspect, this is not your typical "expose a child to arts by entertaining them" model. We're talking about working artists that have been selected by the New Vic's staff to represent the theater and represent and teach creativity, engagement and problem solving in a school setting. It's my hope that every arts and cultural center can meet the needs that are lacking in public schools by using a model and selection process like this. It's my hope that my agency can employ teaching artists someday to create exciting curriculum plans around my roster artists' performances.
Giardina describes the application and selection process in his blog post. My favorite part though is this:
"A working artist always brings to the classroom a different way of thinking from standard curriculum methods and that is something we especially value...No matter what they are experiencing they bring that problem solving experience, that creative thinking, that sense of imagination and play to the classroom."
This is precisely why arts education must look like more than just having kids paint or watch a performance. Read the full post here:
I'm focusing on Arts Ed over the next few weeks. This is a topic that gets me up in arms for a lot of reasons. But before I get into guest posts and whatnot, I need to start by saying that to me, art is education and ergo, part of the Education Reform movement going on in this country. I don't think it's fair to post various examples or opinions of great teaching artists, curriculum, or challenges without providing the context for it. So that's what this post is -- a back-story on education as well as my back-story. I want to be clear about where I'm coming from -- what I am and what I'm not.
• I'm not in an educational position and never have been - I'm not an administrator or teacher or even an art teacher. Although I might be someday. I work in the arts and I experience daily the struggle of school teachers and Education Directors because their methods and approaches aren't valued; or they can't take a risk with a new program.
• I'm the product of parents who were extremely informed and involved and willing to consider all possibilities - and tuitions - when it came to education and my love of art.
• I'm the product of 12 years of private education and while I wasn't exposed a lot in elementary (Catholic) school to art, I was in high school and college.
• I'm educated and when it comes to choices I make for my son as well as what I come up against in my industry, I know that I can always know more.
I'm certainly a capitalist (running a small business) but I believe in providing a certain level of opportunity to help break vicious cycles. I think schools go hand in hand with community and economic development. And I believe that community and development doesn't just come from private companies getting involved and throwing money at something. I also don't believe it comes from grant after grant. It may sound idealistic, but I do believe it takes strong leaders - and perseverance - on all sides to find solutions that really work for communities and children.
Once upon a time I swore public schools rocked, they had better resources than the smaller schools I went to in my elementary years and that I'd consider public school for my child. What I realized is yes, the great ones do have the resources but it isn't always the best place for one's kid. Moreover, if you care as much as I do about the current state of public education in this country, you realize it isn't all fabulous. There is a price we're paying for No Child Left Behind. A price to pay for the tax dollars and test scores. It's a price I'm unwilling to pay. I am willing (and I think, able) to consider a few local progressive independent schools that share my values - individuality, creativity, collaboration, social change - and allow my child to grow and learn at his own pace.
I think "save the arts" and "keep arts in the schools" are extremely important but part of something bigger. Education reform has to happen in this country first. Once we get beyond measuring kids by tests alone and restructure curriculum so it embraces creativity and imagination then the arts will have value and it won't be this eternal quest to save them nor will folks have to quantify what they mean in terms of jobs or thriving local economies. Idealistic, I know.
If you don't know the back-story behind No Child Left Behind, do yourself a favor and educate yourself. Former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch was once an early advocate of No Child Left Behind, school vouchers and charter schools. I follow Ms. Ravitch on Twitter for her daily insights to public education reform. She was recently interviewed on NPR. She explains the reasons behind NCLB and how and why she went from being a supporter of NCLB to being against it. I've learned a lot in the past year about NCLB and public education...and some of my theories are correct and at other times, I stood corrected.
My personal conviction is that testing doesn't make one strive nor thrive. It may set the proverbial bar high with the idea of getting children on the same level as others. But I maintain it lowers the bar. It takes away the need to consider many other factors. Ravitch addresses those factors - like the poor and minority communities - in her interview. She also addresses my point above about how it takes real community leaders to transform a poor performing school. I also believe that when you teach to the test, you'll always have kids that outperform others by a landslide. There will always be those that struggle because they learn in other ways. You wind up seeing boredom...resentment...narrowly focused, uncreative kids that struggle to interact.
Is this as good as it gets? Children deserve better.
As I discussed Treehouse Shakers' dance-plays this afternoon to a presenter, I mentioned how I was never exposed to modern dance and how by the time I was in my mid-twenties and working in this industry, I was seeing modern dance once a month it seemed. Some I loved, some I loathed. The problem was, outside of a few adjectives, I couldn't articulate why I loved the company or the piece more or less than another. Moreover, I could absolutely love a company and their repertoire but would still leave the experience wondering, "But what was it about?"
It's clear to me now that there are stories and emotions behind the dance and choreography although it still isn't always clear to me afterward exactly what ensued on stage. In some ways I like that I must use my imagination and the piece is open to interpretation. At Performing Arts Exchange this past September, I saw a modern dance piece and it involved two men and a women and quite a bit of back and forth movement between all dancers. It was physical, powerful, and an audience member could feel a sense of raw emotion. Colleagues of mine afterward thought the aforementioned scene was that of rape. Me? Two guys fighting over the girl. There was definitely sexual tension, a need for possession and control, but for me it wasn't as literal as rape.
I'm 33 and clearly the language of modern dance is still difficult to wrap my head around. I'm also not trained as a dancer so even the technique is foreign to me as is the overall vocabulary used by dancers and choreographers.
I love theater because there is a scripted story (well, at least in good theater). There is a beginning, a middle, and an end, well rounded characters, a plot, conflict, and resolution. Often I feel empathy toward a character and having the ability and awareness to identify with a situation makes it real. I get what I need to have it make sense.
I love music, particularly contemporary compositions, because for me, it’s about feelings: Wonder, Love, Anger, Anticipation, to name a few. If there are vocals, I hear (or look up) lyrics and piece together a story. Generally, I don’t have to think – I just have to feel and I can do that pretty easily.
Dance involves expression and feeling too but of what? I have this innate sense there is a story behind the movement or perhaps even the emotion I feel but I lack the glue to piece it together. What is the glue? Where do I find it? Especially when I don't even know what I'm looking for.
There is always a disconnect with dance for me. So I imagine how toddlers, elementary aged kids, tweens and teens must feel. Each age level will digest dance differently. I imagine my two year old identifying the movement and saying, "Mommy, dance!" But I suspect as a child grows and matures, the need for some clarification necessitates itself.
I wish I had seen something similar to the performances that Treehouse Shakers offers when I was young. Having a fully scripted story AND narration AND an opening workshop to introduce dance and further, to clarify dance terminology is helpful to youth, particularly those in underserved communities or for those like myself, while well-off, still didn’t experience a ton of performance art in her early years.
Even now as I develop my own agency, I am very much in tune with what I know and what I believe I can sell, particularly as it relates to youth. I’m not completely comfortable representing a ballet or a modern dance company. I need to know more – for me, for the presenter, for the audience. I cannot get excited about, ergo, sell, what I don't know. I’m still searching for that something else in addition to the dance – that story, that glue– to which I can grab and have it all make sense. What can we do as an industry for each other and our audiences to create and/or understand a vocabulary of dance?
Here are just a few ideas in no particular order:
- Overall, we need to get away from pigeon holing our series. How can we blend the genres?
- Let's look for artists and venues investing in creative collaborations that do cross lines and genres and give them a place - in workshops, sessions, series, and conferences - wherever it makes sense to educate.
- In our series brochures, playbills and programs, let's go beyond the due diligence of listing the titles, the dancers, the founders and ADs and subsequent page after page of biography. Why not include a talk back - in print and video - about what the piece is about and what inspired it. Lift an excerpt and explain it in lamens terms. Save the tech speak for your masterclass.
- Let's get out of our own four walls or our own industry language familiarity and remember most people who need us - our product, service, artform, etc. - are not trained in our area of expertise.
- Have a face of the program. People connect with people and it's the personalities and values of people that overtime create a brand. Have your venue's brand be meaningful and identifiable. Your audience should know who on your staff they can ask an education question, an outreach question, a dance question. Teaching artists and educators are perfect resources to tap for this.
- A glossary of terms on your website, maybe in the Education section.
These are just off the top of my head. The best part is if we start today, everyone will benefit - small children, elementary and teen aged kids as well as adults like me. At my next showcase or performance, I would love to read a paragraph in the program describing that the movement in piece X was choreographed just so because it needed to convey ABC.
Piccadilly Arts is pleased to announce two year end contributions to organizations that share our mission of creating imaginative programs for youth and being a vehicle of social change. Additionally, both organizations share our desire to do more locally. Piccadilly Arts has donated to The Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia and also Tune Up Philly, a program of the Phildelphia Youth Orchestra.
My son and I have spent countless hours at Please Touch this past year enjoying their exhibits, programs and events. Every trip is a new experience for my son.
I had the joy of experiencing Tune Up Philly earlier this fall at TEDxPhilly. There wasn't a dry eye in the Kimmel Center watching this group of children perform, knowing they had never played an instrument in their lives in in 6 short weeks learned how to play, read notes, and perform in Perelman Hall. Arts education and art for social change at its best. More information on both organizations follows.
Tune Up Philly
"Tune Up Philly believes that music education is a powerful instrument in the development of children in challenging social and economic conditions. As they develop their creativity and self-expression during year-round, out-of-school-hours classical music training, the children will acquire valuable tools for cooperative learning, teamwork, academic success, and self-esteem." - Stanford Thompson, Director
Learn more about Tune Up Philly here.
Please Touch Museum
Since 1976, Please Touch Museum has been the Children’s Museum of Philadelphia. Our museum was the first in the nation whose target audience was families with children seven and younger. We have grown into one of the best children’s museums in the nation, have become experts in play and have had our programs for underserved families in the region nationally recognized. Our mission to enrich the lives of children by creating learning opportunities through play, enables us to lay the foundation for a lifetime of learning and cultural awareness.
Learn more about Please Touch Museum here.
I just discovered this organization a few weeks ago. Eary Arts is the largest professional development network for people designing creative learning with children and families. It is based in the UK. With events, resources, case studies, and an artist databank, this is one organization I am excited to join. It recently presented its Unconference - a conference event focusing on creativity and the early years but done in a nontraditional way -- much more participation by attendees, meaningful personlized activities, encouraging networking and collaborations. Here is a clip from the Unconference.