Archive for the ‘Arts Education’ Category

Kids + Cameras + Nature = Art

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Give a kid a camera, let ‘em loose in the woods or a field or along a creek and some very special things happen. Intense observation, concentration, creative problem solving: ART. Ansel Adams’ mother said that after being in nature, her ADHD son was calmer and more focused. Later, Adams took his focus and his camera into nature and photography has never been the same.

On Saturday, June 9th a very special exhibition of young Ansel Adamses opens across from Lilly Magilly’s Cupcakery at the Washingtonian Center in Gaithersburg. It’s a display of photographs and photo-collages by nearly 100 fourth graders from Gaithersburg Elementary School. Don’t miss the reception on Saturday from 1:30 to 2:30 PM at 217 Boardwalk Place (click here for directions).

The students are part of two very interesting eco-based photography programs led by AHCMC’s teaching artist Joanne Miller.  Joanne’s gotta thing for nature. She likes it. Lots. An art photographer focusing her camera lens on wildlife living at the edge of urban landscapes, Joanne is well known in the region for her hauntingly beautiful photographs. AHCMC was pleased to have her included in the inaugural exhibition, Three Visions of Nature, at the Kramer Gallery in 2010 (click here). We’re equally delighted to have Joanne bring her own special brand of ecology and art to AHCMC’s Arts Integrated Residencies. You can find Joanne here in our Teaching Artist Roster.

“Photography offers kids a creative opportunity to experience the wonder of nature through the eye of a camera,” Joanne told me. “As they master new skills and discover the simple beauty of the outdoor world, a change takes place in their art and personal expression.”

Working with the fourth grade teachers–Susan Knutson and Patricia Kennedy–Joanne led an in-school residency supported by a grant from AHCMC that integrated art, science and technology.  When Joanne works with kids, she gives them digital cameras to learn on. The students photographed the nature around their schools and made and photographed model ecosystems in the classroom. When they were done photographing the fun really began. Just because her students are in fourth grade doesn’t mean Joanne stints on learning. Nope, students learn how to upload and manipulate their photos on Macs and PCs. Using school computers, the printed photographs and created photo-collages.

“The fourth grade students thoroughly enjoyed linking nature, photography and the arts,” said Lisa Lewis, a teacher at Gaithersburg Elementary. “They truly have a new found respect for how nature plays an important part of our world.  This program was a great experience for our students and was a perfect match for our curriculum.”

What did the students think?

“I like the way we were able to look at nature inside and then go outside to take real photos,” says Raquel.  “You could compare and contrast environments.”

“Since March, I’ve noticed more changes in nature,” said Vanesa.

Gaithersburg Elementary School has a student body of almost 700 students ranging from Pre-K to Kindergarten with a large ESOL population. They’ve also got some great afterschool partners, like Linkages to Learning (LTL) and Identity. Together LTL and Identify worked with teaches and administrators to build a nature and photography after-school program. Fifteen students were selected to participate and Joanne was contracted to teach this program as well. Funding for the after-school program was community driven with a grant from the City of Gaithersburg, individual donors and some funding and in-kind help from Asbury Methodist Village.

In this 9-week after-school program, students learned about the visual language of art and photography and explored nature around the school, at a local farm and in the wildlife habitat of Asbury Methodist Village. Students created photographic hand-made books and exhibition prints, while developing positive self esteem and respect for the natural environment, and as Joanne believes, “ an understanding that they [the children] are an important part of the world around them.”

When I asked Joanne why bother with an exhibition, she said: “Building self esteem, it’s a valuable experience for children to be honored by their community for their creative vision. When a child points to their photograph in a public exhibition, immediately you see the pride in their eyes and smiles, and so valuable too, a sense of pride in their parents hearts.”

These two nature programs have done more than build knowledge and skill, they’re building awareness and pride in the students, the schools and the community. Local business The Peterson Companies stepped up to the plate and graciously offered and exhibition space for the exhibit at the Washingtonian Center. Joanne worked with GreenKids to plan the exhibition and host the reception.

It took a village to put these programs together and the village has succeeded tremendously. Kudos to you Gaithersburg!

The exhibition will be on display at the Washingtonian Center indefinitely. You can see if from the street at 217 Boardwalk 24/7.

Ruthie Prillaman: Passagio

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Congratulations to Ruthie Prillaman, the 2012 recipient of the Fran Abrams Creative Writing Award! Both she and the Haimovicz Visual Arts Award recipient, Samantha Ritchie, will be recognized at a special ceremony on June 12. Ruthie will also read a selection of her work. Join us next Tuesday for this free reception!

Passagio
by Ruthie Prillaman

It sounds like the parting of the Red Sea
As portrayed by some Italian Renaissance painter.
One would never think that it’s nothing more
Then a couple of notes humming between strings
No thicker than an eyelid.

I never know where to wave my hands
When I’m walking the tightrope.
Sway too far to the left
And a gust of wind grinds the rope to tatters.
Sway too far to the right
And the air gets too thin to breathe.

Fibers get brittle over time
If you don’t feed them;
they turn to spider webs,
sticking to your cheeks
But breaking under your touch.

I never wanted to face it,
Knowing that it would be years
Before I could weave the threads
Into anything resembling a bridge
That might support half the weight of my foot.

You can’t make your passagio go away
But if you oil it enough
And let it grow,
You can forget that it’s there
And cross.

Poetry Out Loud: Kari Barclay

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Each year over 365,000 high school students compete in Poetry Out Loud, a national recitation contest. Hear from Kari Barclay, a second-year Poetry Out Loud contestant, about his experience participating in Poetry Out Loud.

This is my second year reciting in Poetry Out Loud after last year coming in first at the state level and advancing to national finals, where I made it to the top 9 (out of 365,000). My experience with PoL has been phenomenal. Poetry Out Loud surrounds teens with students who, like them, are obsessed with poetry, and each teen has a passion for the poems he or she recites. Through Poetry Out Loud, I’ve met actors and slam poets and songwriters who all have a love for the spoken word. Each person has a message they want to get across to their audience.

Last year, I recited “Dog” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, “Death be not proud” by John Donne, and “anyone lived in a pretty how town” by e.e. cummings. Speaking the poems aloud brings many of them alive. And for many students confronted with written works in a classroom setting, what would be intimidating on the page is electrifying spoken aloud. This year, I’ve come back for Poetry Out Loud to hear great reciters like the ones I encountered last year and to experiment with some new poems, “To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell and “Under the Vulture-Tree” by David Bottoms. For me, it’s rewarding to take the words on the page and give them to the audience, in a form that does not spoon-feed meaning but rather gives the audience room to interpret. I’ve loved discovering hidden layers to the poems I’m reading and joining others for their discoveries as they recite.

– Kari Barclay

Kari will compete in the Maryland state competition this Saturday, March 3 at the Baltimore Museum of Art. He is also featured as a Top Teen in Bethesda Magazine’s March/April 2012 issue.

Link Roundup: Animated email marketing, polar bears at the Super Bowl and our local Poetry Out Loud champ

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

And here’s what we tweeted this week at @creativemoco!

#MondayMarketing

Takeaways: First, a little background. I’m signed up to receive emails from Coach, Last Call Neiman Marcus and other luxury brands, and I noticed their subtle and classy use of animated GIFs in their email marketing. (Yes, it’s possible — we’ve moved beyond the flashing GIFs of Geocities and Angelfire!) If you’re going to go this route, make sure that the first frame of your GIF stands alone and works in the context of the rest of the email. Animated GIFs work in most email clients but not all, and only the first frame of your GIF will appear in email clients that don’t support animation. Also, take care that the animation isn’t overwhelming or distracting — keep it subtle and give it a purpose.

#TuesdayTech

Takeaways: Each time the Super Bowl goes to commercial break on Sunday, Coca-Cola’s ad execs will decide on site which of their two prepared ads air depending on who is winning. There’s also an online component where the two polar bears will be shown reacting to the game in (almost) real time! This is probably one of the most ambitious and innovative Super Bowl ad campaigns I’ve seen recently, and I’m excited to see its actual implementation. I also can’t help but wonder what ways we and other businesses can become more interactive and use online media to enhance live experiences, if appropriate.

#WednesdayWinning

Takeaways: On January 18, local students participated in the Montgomery County Poetry Out Loud competition and Kari Barclay of Richard Montgomery High School emerged as our County champion! He’s advancing to the regional competition at Calvert Marine Museum on February 11. Kari also placed first in last year’s Poetry Out loud competition. Congrats to Kari and all Poetry Out Loud participants — you did Montgomery County proud!

#ThursdayTips

Takeaways: Well-rested = happier = more productive! I’m taking note of #3, #4, #8 and #9 in this blog post.

Make sure to follow us at @creativemoco for our daily article tweets! Also, join us and others in Montgomery County’s creative community at the #CreativeMoCo Tweetup at The Fillmore Silver Spring on Wednesday, February 22. Register now!

Link Roundup: Timing Facebook posts, arts education and influencing styles

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Here’s a summary of the articles we tweeted this week:

#MondayMarketing

Didn’t post an article this week due to our office being closed for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. There’ll be one next week, promise!

#TuesdayTech

Takeaways: Basically, the first paragraph of the article: “The average news feed post by a Facebook Page receives Likes and comments for 3 hours after being published. To maximize the engagement, impressions, and traffic driven by the news feed, Facebook Page owners should wait at least 3 hours between posts.” Makes sense.

#WednesdayWinning

Takeaways: This article reiterates what us arts managers, educators and advocates have known: that arts education teaches skills like collaboration, confidence, accountability and effective communication, and that these skills are essential for the 21st century workforce. Also, follow our friend Shoshana at @AudienceDevSpec; she’s always tweeting interesting and useful articles!

#ThursdayTips

Takeaways: This article identifies five influencing styles (how one impacts others’ ideas and actions) and points out that there’s an effective and ineffective way of using each one. How will you adjust your communication to make collaborating more efficient?

Be sure to follow us at @creativemoco, and comment below or tweet us if there are articles you think we should be tweeting!

Arts Education Upclose: Fantastic Voyages Through Our Imagination

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

By Tammi Gardner, Theatre

On the first day of classes, my students walked into the Creative Kids classroom and saw a big square made from blue tape in the middle of the room and exclaimed, “This room is completely empty!” And I replied, “That’s because we are going fill it up with our IMAGINATION!”

And as promised over the next three weeks, we have managed to:

  • Travel to the jungle of West Africa where we asked the Sky God for Wisdom and had to complete three impossible tasks;
  • Go Italy to visit Strega Nona (Grandmother Witch) where we made a “magic pot” of pasta – made a monster named Abiyoyo disappear by singing and playing our ukeleles;
  • Waddled our way to Antarctica to play with some wacky penguins;
  • Chased a wild “dumpling” down a hole where we met the Wicked Oni;
  • And even went to the MOON in our rocket ship for a glass of milk and a “moon pie.”

All by using our 5 Acting Tools and Skills:  Imagination, Concentration, Cooperation, our Bodies and our Voice.

As we continued the Creative Kids Program into its third week of the ELO-Care Program, each class has shined in different aspects of the program curriculum and are preparing for their final performance on Thursday, June 28.

The Green Group (2nd/3rd graders) were awesome at retelling stories and acting them out.  They were able to use their imaginations not only to create the characters but inanimate objects also came alive and became a part of our story enactment.  By cooperating and working together, they made a wonderful environmental orchestra providing the background sounds for our stories too!  They will be enacting their favorite story, “Jimmy Zangwow’s Out Of This World Moon Pie Adventure” as their final performance piece and leading the entire ELO-Care student body in a moving, yet silly warm-up!

While the Baseball Group (3rd/4th graders) excelled at writing their own extension stories and even wrote a story called “Smelly Business” – that told of the  antics of Big Anthony when he takes Strega Nona’s magic perfume and grows a heap of trouble – and made it into a book to send to children in a homeless shelter.  They will be performing their own hip extension story based off “Tacky the Penguin” called, “Wacky Tacky Meets the New Girl in Town.”

The Basketball Group (4th/5th graders) focused more of how the 6 Pillars of Characters were represented or applied in each of our stories.  As growing young people, they quickly learned the effects words and actions – even when given by friends – can affect people and hurt them.  As their final performance, two students will be hosting a live “talk show” (based off the story “Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears”) to interview animals (played by the other students)  accused of the terrible crime of killing a baby owlet, so that “…Mother Owl won’t wake the Sun so the day will come.”  The hosts will help each animal determine their part in the tragedy and what they – using the 6 Pillars – could have done differently to have prevented it.

What a trip!  If only we had a few more – just imagine where else we could go!

Arts Education Upclose: Quite the Characters

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

By Nora Achrati

At Broad Acres, the kids rotate activities every six days according to age group. They’ve been divided into three classes each of 4th & 5th-graders, 2nd & 3rd-graders, and kindergarten & 1st-graders. I started out with the 4th & 5th-graders, who are fantastic. These kids threw themselves into our stories improv games, and really impressed me with the level of respect and empathy they carried for each other.

It was bittersweet having to give them up in the middle of Week 2 – they’d done some really stellar work with the Zomo story, inventing and illustrating new paths for Zomo to take in his quest for the scales of Big Fish, the milk of Wild Cow, and the tooth of Leopard. We’re excited to be able to donate these different Zomo stories to the community.

Wednesday I was introduced to the 2nd and 3rd-graders for the first time, which meant starting again from scratch. These kids are much more rambunctious, harder to settle, so we’ve had to re-emphasize the character pillars and class rules each day. And we’ve been experimenting with compromises – setting up a “wiggle area” where kids who find it harder to sit still can be for a while (individually, and quietly), and balancing on-the-floor acting activities with hands-on, sit-down activities. I’ve had to adapt my lessons, too – my second class of the day rebelled against Strega Nona (too many of them had read it before and wanted something new), so Thursday we read and performed “Manana Iguana” together, and Friday we spent making masks to represent the different animal characters:

Emely as Conejo (Rabbit)

Sam and Hyggencio as Culebra (Snake) – It's a bit hard to tell here, but both Sam and Hyggencio came up with a clever way to use pipe cleaners for Culebra's tongue and construction paper for his fangs.

More Conejos (a popular choice). I'm particularly proud of Kelvin, left, who tends to get into trouble when we're on the floor acting but thrives when he has art materials in front of him.

My two other classes are also familiar with Strega Nona, but they’ve enjoyed adapting the story to our classroom theater, and they’re terrific at embodying the different characters – including Strega Nona’s animals, the townspeople, and the magnficent pasta pot.

Based on the success of the masks, though, I think I’ll be introducing “Manana Iguana” to the other classes before our time is up. The kids in the second class seemed to appreciate how much Spanish was incorporated into the story – for many, Spanish is a primary language at home – and enjoyed translating for me the days of the week and their own words for “party.” They’ve also been excellent at identifying the “Little Red Hen” themes of the story, and applying the character pillars.

This program is  part of the Summer ELO-CARE program offered to select students in Montgomery County Pubic Schools.  This is the ninth year that AHCMC has had the privilege to work with MCPS on this very worthy program.  ELO-CARE is made possible by a grant from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program and the Maryland State Department of Education.

Arts Education Upclose: CityDance’s Circus of the Stars

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Here’s video from CityDance’s Circus of the Stars ELO-CARE program with 2nd and 3rd graders at Wheaton Woods ES!

Arts Education Upclose: Just A Little Taste

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Over the next few weeks, 950 students in six Title 1 elementary schools here in Montgomery County will experience the magic and fun of art.

Week Two:  July 11-15Movement Recipe:  “Just a Little Taste”
By:  P. “Mama El’tsah” Broden

“What if I told you dance could tell a story?”

Hands flew up. Eyebrows furrowed.

There were a few that knew this was very possible indeed.  As a class, we decided that we would attempt the challenge of cooking up a story through dance. This task began with other questions like: “What elements make up a story? What elements make up dance? What do we exactly need in our recipe to create an unforgettable dance to serve to our audience?”

So far this is what we decided:

A dash of characters
One firm theme
3 cups of a plot
Pour slowly into a setting
Stir In music
Add spicy but simple choreography
Add lots of energy liberally

We mixed everyday this week, sometimes adding way too much or not enough of something, we haven’t got it quite ready to bake yet, but we will.

I was reminded of the beauty and importance of taking your time during the creative process. Observing the dancers patiently listen to 17 very different possible songs to use for our soundtrack was a treat. After much deliberation the classes selected three songs.

I didn’t totally agree with one of the selections, but I was outvoted!

Still Mixing……..

Eltsah Broden
Dance

This program is  part of the Summer ELO-CARE program offered to select students in Montgomery County Pubic Schools.  This is the ninth year that AHCMC has had the privilege to work with MCPS on this very worthy program.  ELO-CARE is made possible by a grant from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program and the Maryland State Department of Education.

Arts Education Upclose: Embrace the Space

Monday, July 18th, 2011

Week One: July 5- July 8
By P. “Mama El’tsah” Broden

Over the next few weeks, 950 students in six Title 1 elementary schools here in Montgomery County will experience the magic and fun of art…

It all began with the purchase of 6 rolls of vibrantly colored tape, which would play a vital role in keeping the pulse of our dance classes strong.  Red, Green Yellow, Blue, and Purple, were the colors selected to define our official “Stage,” alias “The Dance Space” or “The Dance Island.” This “Island” sits at Wheaton Woods Elementary in room #5, a very large classroom that has been cleared of all furniture except for a computer table, cleaned and the floor super shiny with promise for amazing footwork to boot.  Thank you Ms. Stephy for making space!

After measuring the space with careful footing, a semi-perfect rectangle formed, smiled and said, “Here we go again”!” another summer of ELO!”

I then placed strips of tape within the rectangle to indicate each dancer’s very own VIP dance space spot. Then the moment arrived, the meeting of the fifth grade dancers and me, their Personal Dance Space Tour Guide.  We entered the dance space to begin the process of getting to know each other, developing confidence, and becoming comfortable with different movement activities.

After quick introductions, we began moving right away with expectations, i.e. first establishing our dance spots and then getting to places in 16 counts. Next , it was time to mirror the teacher with a warm-up, Then, embrace the space by walking, moving  or grooving  on different levels, traveling in different ways and freezing in different shapes to the sounds of various styles of music.  Well, it’s official: they all love hip-hop and pop music. Lastly, we tried a keep the tempo exercise called the “rainbow dance.”  It includes a pattern of movements where dancers have to listen to the music and keep the tempo.

Many of the 5th graders were very shy and inhibited while the 4th graders seemed to be a little more comfortable with moving.  Wow! We have a lot of confidence building to do! By Friday, some dancers brought in music and shared improvised movements with the class. It was great!!

In class on Wednesday, we also began the process of creating chalk pastel self-portraits to represent who we are and to decorate our dance space with color and pride.  These dancers are true artists who really focused and took their time on this 3-step project   Wow!! I have done this art project at many schools, and I’m very impressed with Wheaton Woods 4/5th graders!

They were completed by Friday  7/8, I sprayed them all with a fixative to hold the chalk in place then mounted them on different color construction paper to make them pop, now our dance space is beautiful with our creative energy!  We are ready to create in week two!

Eltsah Broden
Dance

This program is  part of the Summer ELO-CARE program offered to select students in Montgomery County Pubic Schools.  This is the ninth year that AHCMC has had the privilege to work with MCPS on this very worthy program.  ELO-CARE is made possible by a grant from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program and the Maryland State Department of Education.