Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Time Flies

Cassie Thornton of the School of the Future reminds us that there's no time like the present! The school, which has been in the works for months, opens today. Unfortunately, they have no electricity. Luckily, they do have vision, and lots of it. See below:
Building the School is a School
So it's really happening folks, School of the Future is opening and we invite you to come to an old fashioned school raising tomorrow morning. Bring a paint brush, a drill, a hammer and some coffee and join us starting at 9:30 AM at Sgt. Dougherty Park. We will be there all day building things, playing basketball, drinking liquids and staying cool. WE HAVE MANY JOBS FOR VOLUNTEERS! So please join us!

and then later....School picnic, class registration, folk music, inauguration ceremony, food sculpture, bball, and WE HAVE NO POWER!
Thursday, 7-10pm | Sgt. Dougherty Park, Brooklyn

Join us for a celebratory opening ceremony and picnic at Sgt. Dougherty Park this Thursday. Help us salute pedagogues past and present as we raise the School of the Future flag and christen Brooklyn’s first intergenerational free school to open in a public park for one month of unschool programming. Music, food sculpture, dome building and an irrational sense of togetherness and joy in a public space.  Every week around this time, for all of July, you'll receive the week's schedule.  Please rsvp and join us! Propose a class or just come teach one! It's the only way you'll graduate to the next level.

Also: Snap - Power

Monday, June 28, 2010

Essential Questions

Teaching artists work in a variety of environments. One of my favorite ways to work is in authentic partnership with classroom teachers. As artists, we pose and try to answer essential questions all the time--it's our bread and butter. To classroom teachers, our perspective on this kind of inquiry-based approach can be incredibly useful. We are sounding boards and cheerleaders, and we have a distinct set of instructional skills that Classroom Teachers can adopt. When I am working in close partnership with a teacher, I feel like the impact of our work increases exponentially. We make each other better teachers. The students are the winners.

The essential question I am asking myself this week is "How can we as professional Teaching Artists better help Classroom Teachers use art to achieve their teaching goals?"

I think the possibilities are infinite, because art-making involves every skill and understanding under the sun, right?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Stay Strong

Teaching artists who partner with classroom teachers might want to read "Strong Arts, Strong Schools: The Promising Potential and Shortsighted Disregard of the Arts in American Schooling" by Fowler. It is our book of the day, and it comes highly recommended. Here is the link:

Also: ATA is on Facebook

I am blogging by phone. It's a small world, afterall.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


At Community Arts Network, author Tom Borrup,  says the way people consume and produce "culture" has changed. Using California's Silicon Valley area as an example, he notes recent research that found "the cultural infrastructure far more decentralized, nonhierarchical, participatory and culturally diverse than in typical U.S. cities and metropolitan areas." 

The future, it seems, will be defined by user-generated content--a Do it Yourself culture, in which individuals pick and choose their cultural markers, just as you choose your preferred content here on the internet.

I hope the future has good taste.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Other Side

As you may have noticed, blogging may be light because I am out of town co-teaching a seminar at Stanford University in the Center to Support Excellence in Teaching. Dreams do come true.

Teaching artists in New York may be shocked to learn, as I was, that secondary public School  classrooms in San Francisco may have a class size of 40 students. Still, the weather is fine here, which must be some consolation.

Also: Please visit ATA on Facebook, and join the ATA forum on Yahoo.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Music Makes the People

Songs For Our Times is a lesson plan, and online resource that teaching artists can use to help students respond to this exciting question: 

"What do songs say about the time in which they were created?"

The resource is free, and has been made available in a text-only version, and an enhanced version that uses Flash video. The multimedia version is first rate--colorful, musical and fun. More details and a link to the lesson plan are below:
Songs express what people think and feel, even as they introduce people, places and events. In this activity, you can explore the past through songs of the time. You can consider why the songs were written and what they tell you about life and beliefs during previous eras. Then, you can rewrite the songs for our times, reflecting the events, places, people, feelings and perspectives of today.
A printable version of the teaching instructions can be found here.

Also: It's Friday, and ATA is on Facebook. Go, be social.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


The World Cup is happening now, even now, and the New York Times Learning Network  has posted a set of related resources for Teaching and Learning in a variety of subject areas, including English Language Arts.

Teaching artists who with non-fiction might be interested in this Sports Journalism lesson plan, which is designed to help students learn and practice the art of descriptive writing.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Open Book

Billionaire Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s executive budget calls for millions of dollars worth of cuts from our struggling public library systems.

It's austerity for everyone, except the rich.

For instance, 14 of the  51 community branches in Queens will have to close up shop. Hours of service at the libraries that remain open may need to be cut in half, and 1/3 of the staff could be fired. The Brooklyn Public Library, and the New York Public Library, which runs branches in Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island face similarly devastating cuts.

Teaching artists can lend their voice to the debate over the wisdom of these cuts, but time is running out. On their website, the New York Public Library warns that this  is the last week to take action, and urges you to write a letter to your local officials to tell them how you feel about the impact the Mayor's budget will have.

Teenagers now have an excuse to use Wikipedia, and if they need a place to socialize after school, I suppose the thinking is there's always the street.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

At the Center

The Center for Performance Research (CPR) has more than a catchy acronym to offer--it's a space for dance in Brooklyn. More specifically,  CPR "provides affordable space for rehearsal and performance, innovative arts programming, education and pedagogical engagement with the communities of New York City and abroad." Located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the 4000 square feet center is "L.E.E.D. certified green." 

Tonight, Tuesday, June 15th @ 7pm , Caras El Puente Ensemble will be at CPR to share their "choreographic process of workshop"; something which the blurb promises is" ideal for teaching artists working with dance, diverse youth populations, or addressing socially engaged themes."

There is a reasonable $5/$10 suggested donation for all CPR events, and the glorious details are below:
Choreographing The Last Layer
Tuesday 6/15 @ 7pm
Where: CPR, 361 Manhattan Avenue (at Jackson), Williamsburg, Brooklyn,
11211. L train to Lorimer
Workshop/Demo with CARAS El Puente Dance Ensemble and Rozz Nash
Ensemble director Rozz Nash and young dancers address and demonstrate
the group's choreographic process; how culturally specific dances
and backgrounds of the troupe members inform the creation of
contemporary works such as their most recent, The Last Layer.

Rozz has an MA in Performing Arts Administration from NYU, and has been
teaching in New York City schools for 17 tears. Rozz founded CARAS in

For more information :

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Word

Community Word Project is now accepting applications for their 2010-11 Teaching Artist Training and Internship Program. The program has a tuition cost of $100.

Details are below:

Announcing Community~Word Project's Teaching Artist Training and Internship
Program (TATIP) for the 2010-2011 School Year

We are pleased to announce the 11th year of TATIP, which offers practicing
artists and MFA students the opportunity to transform their creative process
into teaching tools to integrate the arts into the public school curriculum.
Through this program, participants gain skills that enable them to reach out
to underserved youth while gaining experience in NYC classrooms.

This training gives participants the opportunity to identify and explore
their own creative and thinking processes and then to transform these
processes into effective teaching tools. These tools become the foundation
from which one can build and implement a meaningful curriculum. Throughout
the training, participants will gain real-life classroom experience through
our internship program as they assist experienced Community-Word Project
teaching artists.

*PLEASE NOTE: There is a $100.00 tuition contribution fee payable upon
acceptance to the program (for the Advanced and New & Beginning levels
only.) Scholarships will be available; details and procedure for requesting
scholarships will be forthcoming with notice of acceptance.

Application Deadline: 10am on Monday September 27th 2010

The application can be downloaded directly from our website. Early
applications are encouraged. Applications must be received in full by the
deadline in order to be considered. Late materials will not be accepted
under any circumstances.

There are three levels of training offered; one for beginning and new
teaching artists, one for undergraduate artists, and another for those
advanced artists that have at least two years experience working with
underserved youth in the public school environment. Applicants will be
notified of acceptance by Friday October 1st.

Please visit our website to download the applications and the ³Frequently
Asked Questions about TATIP² document.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Arts and Sciences

Teaching artists who have ever wanted to learn how to "Build and Surf an Origami Hang Glider on a Wave of Air"  are in luck!

Via BoingBoing, the editors at Make Magazine have published this exciting video of a classroom teacher guiding students through the construction of paper airplanes made out of phone book paper. Science teacher Slater Harrison's terrific website  is a generous work of art.

Also: It's Friday, and ATA is on Facebook, now and forever.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Graduates

Grantmakers in the Arts reports that the Joan Mitchell Foundation has announced its list of MFA recipients for 2010. Details are below:

(6-8-10) The Joan Mitchell Foundation's annual Masters in Fine Arts Grant Program was created in 1997 to help MFA painters & sculptors in furthering their artistic careers and to aid in the transition from academic to professional studio work upon graduation.
Each recipient receives a grant in the amount of $15,000. To date the Joan Mitchell Foundation has awarded 162 MFA Grants. These grants are given in recognition of artistic quality to artists chosen from a body of candidates put forth by nominators from the academic art community across the United States.
The 2010 recipients are as follows:
Molly Anderson, Tulane University
Janet Bruhn, Virginia Commonwealth University
Micah Daw, The Ohio State University
Michel Droge, Maine College of Art
Patricia Fernandez, California Institute of the Arts
Rema Ghuloum, California College of the Arts
Erik Gonzalez, Yale University
Kristin Haas, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
Eric Kniss, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Jon Lee, Syracuse University
Caitlin Lonegan, University of California, Los Angeles
Cobi Moules, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Brian Porray, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Ashley Shellhause, Miami University
Michael Sirianni, University of Illinois at Chicago
The nominated candidates' images were viewed for grant consideration through an anonymous process by a jury panel. The jury convened in April at the facilities of the Joan Mitchell Foundation.
Additional programs undertaken by the Foundation include free art classes for New York City youth, an annual grant to painters & sculptors, and grants to artists and arts communities in need of emergency support after a disaster.
To see past recipients, visit the Joan Mitchell Foundation website.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

In the Air

The School of the Future is now, or soon, and teaching artists are invited to a special dinner to learn all about it. In case you haven't heard, the School of the Future opens this July, for one month, in Brooklyn. 

Information about this weekend's special event to support the School of the Future is below:

A Romantic Sunset Dinner in
the Wake of an Ever-Nearing Future 
June 11th from 7 -10pm at Solar One (E. 23rd St. @ the East River)
Directions: Take the 6 to 23rd Street and walk to the River (Map and Directions Here
To learn more about how to support and get involved in School of the Future please visit  

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

To Live

According to our daily job search @ (don't panic!) some great teaching artist jobs are still available, even during the great depression. That's good news!

Distressingly, with fee scales of $15 - $20 per hour,  there are some other TA gigs that don't seem to actually pay enough to live on, especially if the teaching artist likes to do silly things like pay rent, purchase health insurance, or eat.

$20/hour x 40 hours per week comes to a paltry $38,400 before taxes, and since New York is one of the most expensive cities in the world, even the lucky teaching artist who somehow manages to cobble together a full 40 hours worth of work per week would still be poor at that rate. 

It seems perfectly reasonable to think that if a job requires a person to have a college degree, then the job should pay a decent wage, and take into account the realities of the marketplace. Teaching artists don't get 40 hours worth of work per week. Maybe there should be fewer of us? That way we could charge more money.

In other news: In New York state, a bill offers Nannies and other domestic workers hope for substantive workplace protections. If enacted, the new law will require employers to provide paid holidays, sick days and vacation days for domestic workers, but not teaching artists, we are not on the list.

In Health: The New York Times' Prescriptions blog says it helps readers make sense of the new health care law. My big questions are about eligibility for the new health care exchanges and subsidies. I would make a list of the critical issues, but I can't. It's all so confusing, and the start date of 2014 is so far away. What does it all add up to? Do you have to be poor to purchase insurance? If so, where are the forms, and when do we start filling them out? What changed? When does it start? 

Is this thing on?

Also: Boll Weevil - Pink Anderson

Monday, June 7, 2010


TeatroStageFest, a unique, and family friendly, festival of circus, music and dance will run June 17-30, 2010 in New York City.  

Some anticipated highlights are below:

From Argentina, Fulanos (“Everyman”) – a dazzling exploration of human nature in a tour-de-force performance by La Arena's troupe of acrobatic actors on six ladders.

From Spain, m³- A NoSpace Odissey – You think your New York apartment is too small?  Wait until you see this comical fringe masterpiece in which a city dweller must learn to live in the largest apartment he can afford: a one cubic meter size box.

From Brazil, Isadora.Orb: The Final Metaphor – What would happen if NASA decided to send to outer space a module ship with theater, music, dance and video artists? Discover it in this stunning multimedia exploration about creating art in outer space.

From Peru/NYC, Oh! Yantay – A colorful family-friendly adaptation of the classic Inca tale of Ollantay, considered the first play to be performed in the Americas.

From Brazil, Animals of Brazil – The jungle's many endearing animals come to life in this whimsical carnival of Brazilian music, choreography and awe-inspiring puppets.

From NYC, I Want You By My Side – An all-teen cast stars in Tere Martínez’s new play about a college freshman who’s on top of the world, until she is forced to face the possibility that she may be HIV positive.

Don’t miss El Museo del Barrio’s FREE outdoor Summer Night Concert presenting Chico Mann’s Electro-Freestyle-Latin-Afrobeat fusion.

The festival's website, which is available in both Spanish and English, says the box office is open!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Lips Together, Teeth Apart

Via BoingBoing, researchers put an opera singer and an MC in a MRI machine, and recorded video of them performing. It is so much fun to watch how it all happens. I urge you to do so after the jump!

Also: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the release by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers of the Common Core State Standards.

In other news: Over at MOMA, Marina Abramovic has left the building, and, if it's Friday, this must be Facebook.

And:  Love is Here, Now You're Gone - The Supremes

Thursday, June 3, 2010

News Worthy

The New York Times Learning Network is ridiculously useful. It offers "lesson plans, news quizzes, vocabulary words, and other ideas and activities for teaching and learning with The New York Times."

Today, they promise readers a round up of the past year's coverage of " language arts, literature, journalism and fine arts" issues. 

Also: It Couldn't Please Me More - Cabaret

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Great Work

Here are three upcoming theater events produced by Brooklyn-based theater companies. In each of these grassroots organizations, teaching artists play a significant role; using their professional expertise in theater arts to help educate young people, and create positive social change in our communities.
Go see.

Monday June 7, 6:30pm

Only 10 "Young Buck" Super-Discount Tickets Available
for the second annual


Join host Michael Cerveris and special guests Robert Cuccioli, Paige Davis, Roberta Maxwell, Patrick Page, Laila Robins, and more for an evening featuring fun entertainment including flamenco dancing, special guest performer Malcolm Gets, fine dining, great company, and spectacular views.  Celebrate Red Bull Theater, honor four contributors to classical theater, and be the first to hear about our 2010-2011 Season.

Limited Number of "Young Buck" Seats for Only $100
Buy Tickets Now


Use Discount Code "YB"

The Performance Project @ University Settlement Presents

Conceived & created by THE MUD/BONE COLLECTIVE


June 2-5 @ 7:30pm, and June 5th @ 4pm

When life is no longer possible in your own country, when you are forced to flee and begin again, how do memories of the past influence your present?  Inspired by the true stories of refugees living In New York City, Impossible Country explores the conflict between honoring the past and embracing the present.  

Directed by:
Mahayana Landowne**

The Performance Project @ University Settlement

184 Eldridge Street, NYC
 (corner of Rivington - 2 blks south of Houston)

Advance tickets at
 or call 800-838-3006

Join Us for an Evening of Food, Wine and Theater

Benefit Performance and Celebration
Thursday, June 3rd

Text Architecture by:
Sandi Carroll & Jordan Dann
Performed by:
Christopher Burris*, Sandi Carroll*,
Sarah Douglas*, W. Kerry Huang, &

Jennifer Kidwell*


Directed by Mark Wing-Davey

 Hailed by the New Yorker’s John Lahr as “extraordinary”, “bold”, and “inventive”, Sarah Ruhl’s PASSION PLAY takes us behind the scenes of three communities attempting to stage the death and resurrection of Christ. From Queen Elizabeth’s England to Hitler’s Germany to Reagan’s America, Ruhl’s exploration of devotion takes us on a humorous yet unsettling journey filled with lust, whimsy, and a lot of fish. (3.5 hours with 2 intermissions)

The PRESS has faith in PASSION PLAY. Read the raves from The New York Times, Time Out New York, Associated Press, and more!

Read the April 18th New York Times feature on PASSION PLAY: Sarah Ruhl’s Sunday School

PASSION PLAY is staged at the Irondale Center inside the historic Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, as the centerpiece of a community FESTIVAL highlighting the intersection of religion, art, sexuality, and politics. This festival is produced by a COALITION of artists, arts groups, academic institutions, and local community members.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Quiet

Teaching artists who have ever found themselves struggling over how to approach a young person who could not, or would not, speak aloud in class, may be interested in a recent post over at the blog Unlocking the Classroom. Lizzie Hetzer, formerly a teaching artist, now a classroom teacher, recounts a recent  experience working with a girl who was usually silent. A useful and inspiring story from the field:

"Selective Mutism is a low incidence anxiety disorder in which a child does not speak in one or more social settings. It occurs in less than 1% of the population and is more common in girls than in boys. Because children typically speak in the home setting, teachers play an important role in identifying and finding appropriate treatment for students with selective mutism. When asked to speak, they may blush, fidget, avoid eye contact and become increasingly rigid. They may even avoid asking to go to the bathroom. My student places her index finger in her mouth when she is nervous. She does this less now..."
Keep reading at Unlocking the Classroom.