The Art of the Memoir

I recently visited Chesterfield’s Clover Hill High School, which has a PIA Award this year for a project called “Paths.” Students in the tenth through twelfth grade are working with a writer and a visual artist to interview local World War II veterans and their families to create literary and visual depictions of their stories.

The project team consists of Clover Hill creative writing teacher Barbara Bingham, history teacher James Triesler, and fine arts teacher Donna Stables. The visiting artists are painter Kendra Dawn Wadsworth and writer Erica Orloff. Kendra is a former student of Donna’s, which makes her a great role model for any young person who has a passionate interest but is not sure if it is okay to pursue that passion as an adult. Barbara has created a blog about the project and Erica has recently written a post for it. Barbara has also contributed a post to PIA’s blog, where she writes about the importance of learning from other teachers.

I sat in on a senior class that was working with Erica on the meaning, structure and making of memoir. This is a genre I feel very close to (perhaps because I like to talk about myself) and Erica laid out her information and insights in a compelling way. She asked the students to make a list of ten important events or transitional moments in their lives. Not just getting your driver’s license, for example, but what that meant to you. I joined in with the list-making and was surprised by what I came up with.

Erica then asked the students to do 15-20 minutes of free writing on one of the topics they had listed. With this approach, you try very hard not to edit yourself but to keep writing and let it take you where it will. I did this as well and once again was surprised that my pen seemed to be in charge. I appreciated that Erica and Barbara did not ask the students to share what they had written; their work was still private, something to think about and develop. Writing a little of their own memoir will help the Clover Hill students understand how personal experiences can have universal significance. And that is a lesson in itself.

Liz

Storytelling in RVA

A guest post by Jane Crouse of the National Storytelling Network

We live in story like a fish lives in water. We swim through the words and images siphoning story through our minds the way fish siphons water through its gills. We cannot think without language, we cannot process experience without story. Christina Baldwin, StoryCatcher: Making Sense of Our Lives through the Power and Practice of Story

The National Storytelling Network (NSN), based in Jonesborough, TN, brings together and supports individuals and organizations that use the power of story in all its forms. We advocate for the preservation and growth of the art of storytelling. With the theme of Story: Seed of Creativity, the 2013 National Storytelling Conference will be held in Richmond this year on August 1-4. The conference will examine and celebrate “the power of story in all its forms,” honoring our collective and diverse creativity through story. Plant a story seed, grow a dance, a film, a symphony, a video game…the possibilities are endless! Story is the foundation of all the arts, the seed of creativity. Storytelling is the root of film and theatre, dance and music, visual arts, and, of course, literature and the spoken-word tradition.

The annual conference provides opportunities for story practitioners to share and learn a myriad of ways in which the use of story can strengthen and transform communities and lives in the diverse fields of education, health care, historic and cultural preservation and business, to name a few. The Youth, Educators and Storytellers Alliance (YES!) pre-conference will be of particular interest to educators. The Alliance advocates for and offers support and resources in storytelling to mentors, educators and storytellers who work with young voices from early childhood through adolescence. Educators can integrate storytelling into reading, language arts, math, science and social studies while teaching the Virginia Standards of Learning.

Do you have a workshop or panel idea that explores the conference theme of Story: Seed of Creativity? If so, please consider submitting a proposal. The guidelines are available on the conference website, given above. The deadline for workshop proposal submission is November 15, 2012. Perhaps your interest leans more toward performance. Then you might consider applying for the NSN Conference Fringe, where you can present your most compelling, riskiest, experimental or work-in-progress storytelling.

Be part of the National Storytelling Conference this summer. Come discover that the shortest distance between two people is a story. Muriel Rukeyser said that ‘the universe is made of stories, not atoms.” A universe awaits you at the National Storytelling Conference. Come grow with us. We Grow Storyellers!

Plant the seed! Use Sandy time to submit a PIA Award LOI

Do you have any ideas for an arts integration project that you’ve always wanted to do in your classroom? Maybe there’s a little nugget or seed of a thought about bringing in your favorite artist to work with your students and colleagues in the back of your mind? The PIA Awards Letter of Intent(LOI) is a great opportunity to get that seed in the ground, and with 4-5″ of rain being dumped on us by Sandy over the next 24 hours or so, germination chances are high. The LOI deadline is December 7, 2012 and the New & Improved online application form makes it easier than ever to submit your proposal. PIA Awards range from $1500-$10,000 and support professional development, visiting artists, supplies and field trips. You can also schedule a FREE workshop for your school or interested team of teachers, and Liz or I will come out and help you turn that seed into a big ol’ tree of a transformative cross-curricular integrated project. So before you lose power and have to go back to school, check out the link above, get that seed in the ground and watch that tree grow.

Little nut coffee cup

One of my favorite coffee cups

59 Ninjas or Crouching Teacher, Hidden Art Forms

As a parent, I have never been a fan of hiding vegetables in other food to get my kids to eat healthy stuff. Yes it takes lots of work, patience and modeling, but the development of these beneficial lifelong habits is imperative and my job as a parent. The same is true of using the arts to teach core content. Dance, drawing, tableau, music, sculpture, etc., should not be pureed, diluted and sneaked into the curriculum in miniscule portions.

So here’s to the teachers that spent the first week of their summer vacation developing innovative, creative, and not-pureed curricula involving math, science, history and of course, the arts.

Congrats to the Joan Oates Institute class of 2012!
On the last day everyone struck an action pose for the group photo. Look for the movie, “59 Ninjas or Crouching Teacher, Hidden Art Forms,” soon to be posted to a online video site near you.

JOI Class of 2012 + Gerald

It was a great week of hard work, learning and fun. Our mascot became the paper giraffe made by Richmond Montessori School teachers in Noah Scalin’s Creativity workshop. The assignment: fill/use/draw/create something with the 100 circles you were given on ten sheets of 11×17 paper.

Gerald the Circle Giraffe

Wondering what to do with the integrated curriculum you have developed at the institute or on your own? Apply for a PIA Award to implement your ideas and bring in teaching artists to work with students and teachers in collaborative and transformational ways.

Rob

PIA Awards: Trophies for Everyone

We had a special event at this year’s Joan Oates Institute, held June 25-29 at the Modlin Center: a celebration of the teachers who have won 2012-13 PIA Awards for their schools as well as those who carried out award projects in 2011-12.

PIA Awards fund cross-curricular, thematic projects that use the arts to change the way core subjects such as history, math, and science are taught. We believe that teachers and other educators who are close to the classroom are the best people to develop these projects. They know what will work and what will ignite student interest. They also know which of their colleagues would be perfect to be part of the team that carries out the project along with visiting artists. Awards can be up to $10,000 each to schools that are in the PIA consortium and are designed to make lasting changes in how the curriculum is taught. They also help build students’ 21st century skills, including innovation, collaboration, and critical thinking.

The PIA Awards celebration was held on Thursday, June 28, in Camp Concert Hall, a beautiful theater in UR’s Booker Hall that was also the site of several other JOI 12 events. Rob and I wanted to do it in style so we ordered custom-designed trophies for both sets of award recipients. Who knew you could mix and match trophy elements to get just what you’re looking for? Makes you want to order trophies for your next dinner party. We were delighted to see that the options included a leaping bass, which looked pretty close to Joan Oates’s signature salmon pin, representative of her fishing exploits.

Joan handed out the trophies but had a special guest to help her do this: Holly Rice, who co-founded Partners in the Arts in the early 1990s and gave her all to make sure it was a well-established and successful program. Holly lives in Los Angeles now but was able to be part of the event to talk about her experience with PIA and the value of the arts in PreK-12 education. Joan and Holly were given trophies as well. Joan’s said “Founder Award.” Holly’s said “Superstar Award.” Below you can see Joan, left, and Holly on stage with their trophies.

Joan and Holly receive PIA Awards

 
 
Here’s a list of the seven 2012-13 PIA Award recipients with a brief description of the award projects they will carry out in the new school year. More information about each project can be found in this feature story.

Armstrong High School, Richmond, $7,500, for Not too far From Here: A Plein Air History of Richmond. Students will investigate the history of their neighborhoods and communities through guided tours, journaling, video and audio recording, and “open air” drawing and painting.

Pocahontas Elementary School, Powhatan, $7,600 for Come Tell Your Story: A Powhatan Perspective –Local History through Storytelling. Students will document family and community members’ life stories, in writing and video, as a way to increase understanding of cultural differences in Powhatan County.

Miles Jerome Jones Elementary School, Richmond, $3,000 for a project called Dance by Design, for Pre-K and Kindergarten students. The project uses creative movement related to monthly themes in the core curriculum to teach young children literacy and number skills

Clover Hill High School, Chesterfield, $6,100 for The “Paths” Project, which combines English, history and visual arts to record the experiences of the community’s World War II veterans and their families.

Laurel Meadow Elementary School, Hanover, $6,500 for Laurel Meadow’s Lion’s Den, a project that will allow students to write across the curriculum on topics such as the life processes of plants and to paint a mural in the school library.

The Steward School, independent, $5,000 for The Leonardo Project, which will allow students to create a digital database exploring photography’s relationship to the acquisition of scientific knowledge.

Mary Munford Elementary School, Richmond, $6,300 for Seasonal Gardens under the Sun, a project that integrates history, environmental science, language arts and visual arts to help students explore the natural world and humans’ relationship to it.

Last year’s PIA Award winners were:

Linwood Holton Elementary School, Richmond, for Improvise, Innovate and Imagine!

Albert Hill Middle School, Richmond, for America Steps Out

Robious Middle School, Chesterfield, for Keep Your Watershed Together: Be a Part of the Whole!

George Wythe High School, Richmond, for Historical Perspective and Storytelling Applied to Contemporary Art

Powhatan Elementary School, Powhatan, for Jack’s Garden

Franklin Military Academy, Richmond, for The Walk through History Mural

Application deadlines for 2013-14 PIA Awards are online and updated guidelines will be posted soon. Feel free to run ideas for projects by Rob and me at any point. You can email us at pia@richmond.edu or call us at 804-955-4016. PIA Awards are for you and your school. It’s your creative ideas and your know-how that make projects work. And don’t you want one of these fabulous trophies?

Liz

The very first ever Joan Oates Institute!

True, last week was Partners in the Arts’ seventeenth summer institute for teachers, but who’s counting?  It was our first Joan Oates Institute for Partners in the Arts.  More info about the week to come, but here’s a cool photo taken by Alexandra Hunter, UR Downtown’s Events and Projects Coordinator.
Liz

The talented trio who performed at JOI’s jazz and STEM workshop. From left to right, Russell Wilson, Michael Hawkins, and Abinnet Berhanu, along with vocalist (and literature professor!) Hermine Pinson seated on the right.  The workshop took place in Frederick Rehearsal Hall at UR’s Modlin Center.  Photo credit Alexandra Hunter

Phoetry and what PIA can do for you!

April is poetry month.  Can poetry survive in the 21st century?

I have pasted a paragraph, and provided the link below from a post by a former humanities teacher turned technology integration specialist.  There are many great resources in the link, but I wanted to point out the collaborative project she highlights and how it aligns with what we do at PIA.

Our mission is to integrate the arts across the curriculum.  Simply stated we do two things, provide teacher training and fund projects.

On the teacher training side, we’ll be holding our 17th annual week long, 3-credit summer institute, now the Joan Oates Institute,  June 27-July 1.  This institute is designed to give all educators the skills to use the arts in their classrooms through experiential workshops, field trips and great food.  Our Awards letter of intent deadline for the 2012-2013 school year will be in December.

The model is: Attend the Joan Oates Institute (JOI [joy]) with a team from your school, then take the knowledge you’ve gained and design a project like the one below.  Successful proposals incorporate teacher training, visiting artists and collaboration among a variety of your school’s classroom, art/music, or technology teachers.

This project stems from the vision of middle school teacher Natalie Bernasconi, who explains the steps: "Start with the support of the Central California Writing Project, then mix together a group of middle and high school teachers and students, add one very cool journalist / slam poet guest speaker and the Salinas Public Library to meet in, and you've got Teen Salinas Speaks."

Check out the whole post chock full of great resources at:

http://www.edutopia.org/technology-collaboration-poetry-month-gail-desler

We’ll be covering most of the cool stuff she discusses at this year’s JOI in our Art and New Media workshops.  Using Voicethread, Phoetry projects and many more.

Rob

Alum of Mighty VCU

Go Rams!

Tomahawk Creek Middle School-thanks and congrats!

Thanks to the team at TCMS for letting me sit in on a Bluescreen in MovieMaker training session for their teachers.  Autumn Nabors, Coordinator for Instructional Leadership, gave me a great tour and Principal Jeff Ellick also was very generous with his time.

I was able to check out the Digital Book Jam prizes which Ms. Parson had just received.  One of her students’ digital book reports, “Yellow Star”, was a finalist.  Congrats on the great use of integrating arts with literature and technology.

Rob

Cleveland Arts Integration Partnerships

I recently traveled to sunny (briefly), warm (for them at 42), downtown Cleveland to help train teachers to use the Arts for Learning Graphic Story Adventures unit.  There is an excellent collaborative effort going on there called Art is Education which is a great model of full curricular integration of the arts.  Check out the “Our Model” tab and you’ll see an overview of their arts integration plan that trains teachers, brings in artists, involves the parents and represents how education should be.  Young Audiences of North East Ohio also has an “Arts integration lesson plan contest”, which we here at Partners are just flat-out going to copy.  Here are some of the previous winners.  It was a great trip and my hosts David and Kristan were generous, patient and kind as we navigated our way to dinner through Lakers vs Cavs traffic.  By the way the Cavaliers actually won that night, even without he-who-must-not-be named.

Rob

PIA Awards: Woodville Elementary School

It’s good for the soul to spend time with creative teachers and their students. Today I visited Richmond’s Woodville Elementary, where art teacher Teresa Coleman is leading a PIA-funded project called Woodville: A Community of Promise.  Integrating visual arts, music, language arts and social studies, the teachers and visiting artists are helping fourth and fifth graders create an original musical production that will feature notable figures in Virginia’s past and present.  Rosalind C. Taylor is the principal of Woodville, a school full of positive energy and evident commitment to students’ academic and personal development.

As Mrs. Coleman wrote so beautifully in her proposal, ”Our primary goal is to use the arts to show students how they are a part of the continuum of history, how history includes the famous and the lesser known, and how history – ’his story’ — is actually their stories.” To that end, students are learning not only about well-known Virginians but also about family members and people significant to their school and the Church Hill community.  Woodville Elementary’s origins are deep, going back to the early 19th century, when classes were first held in Mount Tabor Baptist Church.

In Mrs. Coleman’s art room, I sat opposite a young girl who was clearly gifted.  She was using what I saw as sophisticated strategies to follow instructions while creating a unique piece of art.  I thought about the fact that when I went to school (talk about the early 19th century) there were no art classes.  I was very, very fortunate to have a family and family friends who valued creativity and all forms of art.

Afterward, I dropped in on Latasha Lee’s music class, where students were practicing a lively routine for “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing).”  Much more is to come as the students swing through the semester, and it will all mean a thing.

 

Draw Art from Your Beautiful Heart   Student work at Woodville Elementary: ”Draw art from your beautiful heart.”

Liz