Dwelling in Possibilities- Developing different mindsets to learning

Arts for Learning Ct., brought me into several different schools, where I taught a range of
skills and academics simultaneously. I have worked with students from Pre-K to 12 graders, and have found that
delinking the learning from any outcome, increased understanding and transformed the effort of learning into interest in learning. It is almost impossible to be depressed or negative when you are intrigued, fascinated and  engaged in performing a role that is linked to learning. Reframing education from outcome oriented to process focused is inherent in Arts inclusion in the classroom. I have seen it reshape the mindsets of children and teachers. Students not only learn about learning and generally come to enjoy it, but can make larger more substantial connections through their years of education. With standardized testing , and outcome learning, we set students up for learning in a box. Reframing the mind is superior in learning.
It can open a whole new range of possibilities for children to create and innovate.


 What we need, is more people who specialize in the impossible.                                                                                                          – Theodore Roethke

Technology in the Classroom:

As an Artist educator at Windham High School and Goodwin last year, I was able to use film and the students viewed themselves taking part in mindfulness, poetry and movement exercises. They learned much by watching themselves, and were intrigued by their own movements, how they learned so differently from others. Knowing yourself helps to bring new insight into learning and learning about others.

One of my students came into class with a severe headache. After class (at Windham High) he said it no longer was plaguing him. He ended up winning chess matches as well he told me after practicing some of the techniques and then watching himself and others do so on video.

I witnessed first hand how students filming each other and themselves can be valuable tools.


Linda Peck
M.ED now at Plymouth State University Mindfulness and Arts Integration

Is The Maker Movement a Mirror Image of Arts Integration?

In reading this article below, I substituted the term “arts integration” everywhere “maker movement” appeared to ask the same questions.  I found the last paragraph to be very interesting when I did this.  Are there parrallels?  What do you think we need to be keeping an eye on as artists and teachers interested in arts integration?  Its a lengthy, but interesting article when read in the context of our work.  Enjoy…hope to read your comments!

Published Online: November 3, 2015

Published in Print: November 4, 2015, as Moving Beyond the Hype of the 3-D Printer


Maker Education Is About More Than 3-D Printers

By Jennifer Oxman Ryan


Makers—in the broadest sense, those who make things—and the maker movement have gone mainstream. Featured in articles from the Smithsonian to The Atlantic to The New York Times, today’s makers are just as likely to be armed with traditional tools like hammers, anvils, and yarn, as they are with conductive paint, 3-D printers, and computers. They are participating in a movement marked by community norms of sharing, collaboration, and experimentation. They are gathering in libraries, garages, summer camps, and makerspaces.

Cities and towns across the United States are paying attention, responding to the buzz with maker-related growth and development: Downtowns are outfitting digital workshop spaces, also knowns as “fablabs”; municipal libraries and church spaces are designating space for making; and now schools are getting on board. It is no wonder that school ears are perked. As businesses, libraries, and organizations lobby for ways to bring making into their domains, schools across the country are building innovation labs. Makerspaces are being carved out, 3-D printers are being brought into classrooms, and hacker/tinkering/maker/tech-ed teachers are being hired—and sometimes trained. There is clear enthusiasm around the tools and the sociocultural impact of maker-related values. Attend a school board meeting where a makerspace is on the agenda and the familiar selling point rings out: Maker education boosts STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math—learning, which will ultimately generate a cohort of innovative, inventive, entrepreneurial-minded young people.


But we may be getting ahead of ourselves. The limited research around the cognitive benefits of maker-centered education is only recently emerging. Maker classes, maker curriculum, and maker teachers are being incorporated into educational settings in what appears to be a response to popular media and based, in part, on the hype.

To get a read on the media’s messaging, my research colleagues and I conducted a broad survey of nearly 200 popular press articles published between 2008 and 2013. We ultimately focused on 44 representative news stories that examined the ideas, attitudes, and potential benefits of the maker movement.

This is what we found to be mainstream media’s predominant message: The maker movement is well-poised to ignite a shift in manufacturing and to shape a future with a reconceptualized form of capitalism; a convergence of the right tools, the right people, and the right ethos will stimulate a new industrial revolution focused on a producer—rather than a consumer—mentality; and businesses will need to respond to the maker resurgence.

“All the educational buzz about the maker movement … has the potential to trivialize real discussions around how it might impact more traditional models of pedagogy.”

In 2011, Wired magazine’s Chris Anderson posted a public Google+ nod to “the continuing industrialization” of the movement. Even President Barack Obama commended the maker movement for its ability to rejuvenate U.S. manufacturing, evidenced by the recent White House Maker Faire and noted in his 2014 State of the Union address: “A once-shuttered warehouse is now a state-of-the-art lab where new workers are mastering the 3-D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything.”

The few articles that do offer an opinion on the educational implications of the maker movement cite the potential to tap into the STEM curriculum. So, too, do they tap into the current education buzzword frenzy by citing key words like creativity, innovation, invention, and entrepreneurialism. But for all the hype, very few articles actually reference empirical support or tease out the underlying capacities and competencies cultivated through the act of making. As educational researchers attuned to considerations of thinking and learning, we found these articles painted a rather superficial pedagogical picture.

Suggesting ways to reconfigure schooling to align with economic needs is not a new idea. But in doing so, without considering the long-term implications and benefits, we run the risk of making decisions to reframe education based on short-term outcomes—outcomes that may not be undergirded by our beliefs around learning and teaching or considerations about the kind of people we want our students to become. Moreover, following trends without providing evidence of their benefits could lead to the phasing-out of maker education in schools. And as the next big movement comes around, it would likely leave in its wake unused makerspaces, dusty 3-D printers, and a staff of maker-educators who will no longer be needed.


All the educational buzz about the maker movement, though no doubt exciting, has the potential to trivialize real discussions around how it might impact more traditional models of pedagogy. In our research with leading maker-educators around the country, we have learned that the key to deeper and more personal outcomes for students are building the wide range of skills that the maker movement engenders, such as STEM knowledge, innovative and entrepreneurial thinking, the development of self and a sense of agency, the building of personal character, and the care and understanding of community.

Until we can focus more deeply on the cognitive implications of engaging in maker-centered learning experiences, we can neither effectively and authentically align our educational priorities with the movement, nor consider how teaching and learning environments might best be redesigned to support maker-centered pedagogy. The maker movement is already infiltrating education in America. As more and more schools dedicate resources for maker classrooms, it is our responsibility as educators, researchers, parents, and policymakers to make sure that the thinking and learning behind maker-centered learning dictate the tools, rather than the other way around.

Jennifer Oxman Ryan is a researcher and project manager at Project Zero, an educational research organization based at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her current project, Agency by Design, explores maker-centered learning in the K-12 classroom. She is co-author of the forthcoming book Maker-Centered Learning: Empowering Young People to Shape Their Worlds, due out in 2016 from Jossey-Bass.

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Making a Commercial: Improv and Opinion Writing

“You need to read this post! It’ll change your life!” Did I get your attention? Through the use of opinion writing and drama skills, 4th graders at Rotella Magnet School had to perform a commercial using improvisation, including tag lines like the ones above. Their job? Sell their product! I used the same graphic organizer that the writing teacher had used with them to organize their opinions, reasons, and explanations. I read the book: Have I Got a Book for You! by Melanie Watt. In the book the main character tries to sell the book to you. After hearing the book, the students work in small groups picking an object to sell and filling out the organizer (called an OREO). I played numerous drama games (Scarves, Use or Become, Character in Space, and Yes,And) to teach them use of body and gesture as a means to convince a possible customer to want the product. The combination of the drama lessons and the writing of opinions with reasons and explanations worked together perfectly to create amazing commercials with some convincing tag lines. If you read this post, I guess my opening tag lines worked! I don’t know if it changed your life but I sure hope the post has inspired you in some way!

Marly Parker

Tech in the classroom Survey

Hey there. Craig Norton, Digital Storytelling Teaching Artist for Arts for Learning here…. I have a quick survey. How many of you are using any form of digital technology in the classroom? If so what are you doing with cameras, iPads, computers, etc? If not, would you be interested in a professional development session to learn more about ways to engage students in the learning process using high tech tools? Let us know!!!

Excited About The Arts Integration Cafe

I’m looking forward to grabbing a seat at the Arts Integration Cafe and hearing what is working for teachers in our Arts Partners Schools and teaching artists from Arts For Learning.  Using this site will let me stay connected to others using arts integration as a way to deliver curriculum in a meaningful and fun (learning as fun????…What a concept!!) way.  Hope to hear from many of my colleagues!