New Arts Integration Resource from the Kennedy Center

As a Teaching Artist for the Kennedy Center, I’m happy to let you all know that the Center has just launched a new online resource about arts integration. It draws on more than a decade of work clarifying arts integration principles and implementing best practices.

The ArtsEdge website explores the what and why of arts integration, gives examples of arts integration practices, provides a wide range of resources, and has  info about their arts integration program in schools, called CETA (Changing Education through the Arts).

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Maine Debut of Little Beaver

Had a great time watching Scarborough 1st and 5th grades perform the Maine stage debut of Little Beaver and the Echo last night. Thanks!

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Mainers and the 100 Best Children’s Books

People are always publishing “Best” lists, and today Scholastic has announced its “100 Greatest Books for Children,” as compiled by its magazine Parent and Child. Such lists are always a little bit suspect and a lot bit controversial, and this one will be no different, I’m sure. (“Captain Underpants” at #97? Really, Scholastic? Might that have anything to do with the fact that you publish it?) By contrast, I hasten to assure you,  the lists I’m on (the N.Y. T. “10 Best” and Dillon’s  “Best of the Century”) were all exceptionally well compiled, and not at all self-serving or controversial.

But there’s something else interesting about Scholastic’s list (or anyone else’s “Best” children’s book lists): the disproportionately large number of Maine books included there. In fact, the top two places–“Charlotte’s Web” and “Good Night Moon”–are both held by authors that Maine has a strong claim to. E. B. White fled New York City as a young man to live in Brooklin. Margaret Wise Brown bought a summer house (the only house she ever owned) on Vinalhaven Island,  where she did much of her writing.

Brown is also the author of #32, Runaway Bunny.  The #25 book is “The Giver,” by Lois Lowry, who lived in Falmouth for many years. And #87 is the Newbery-honor winner”Rules” by Cynthia Lord of  Brunswick.

Thus 5 of the 100 books are by Mainers. Considering that the list draws from books published not just in the US but in the UK as well, that’s a pretty heavy percentage for our little state (population 1 million)  versus the rest of the English-writing world (population 370  million).

Even stranger, three of the five books were written by neighbors of mine (I have a house on Vinalhaven near Brown’s, and in Falmouth near Lowry’s).

Can anyone explain this? Does it have something to do with the magnetic pull of the ocean? Or of my magnetic personality?

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Write Across America: celebrate with “The Seuss-inator”

Need a new angle for Dr. Seuss’s birthday? Tired of “Cat in the Hat” parties?  This year, celebrate the good doctor’s birthday and Read Across America by writing your own Dr. Seuss-style story.

As a Seuss fan and author of a half dozen of my own  rhyming books, I’ve developed a special “Dr. Seussinator” mini-writing workshop for elementary school children in which they write their own version of a Seuss favorite.

This year, send the kids home with their very own rhyming book. Make it  “Read AND Write Across America” Day!

Here’s my birthday wish to all children for this day:

One fish

Two fish

Here’s my

YOU wish:

Small tots

(all tots)

Read lots.

Write lots.

[Workshop details here.]

 

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Maurice Sendak

Maurice Sendak

Terry Gross has done a very moving Fresh Air interview with Maurice Sendak, author of some of my favorite picture books, including Where the Wild Things Are and In The Night Kitchen. I’d always thought of Sendak as a grumpy old man (in the best way, because I have a soft spot for Grumpy Old Men–like Uncle Philbert), but Gross brought out a wholly new side of him. I found myself actually weeping as they talked. It’s a must listen.   Check it out here.

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Sneak Peek: Little Beaver and the Big Front Tooth

Poor Little Beaver is worried about losing his Big Front Tooth. Can he be a real beaver without two front teeth? Little Beaver and the Big Front Tooth is scheduled for publication in 2012. Here’s a sneak peek at the cover (it’s illustrated by the same artist who did Little Beaver and the Echo, Sara Fox-Davies). It’s scheduled for publication in June 2012 in England.

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New Workshop: Writing About Diversity

This writing workshop takes the difficult and abstract topic of diversity and tolerance and helps students to express themselves on the topic and then to create a few short, powerful quotes on the subject. These quotes can be combined with other efforts (using artwork, for example) to celebrate diversity and prevent bullying in a school system.

“Producing a short, memorable quote is basically the same thing as writing a poem,” says Amy. “It requires the writer to take a complex, abstract, idea and reduce it to a few words.”

Amy developed the workshop at the request of a Kennedy Center for the Arts partner in Sarasota, Florida, in conjunction with the international 2011 Embracing Our Differences Exhibit which is held there each year. It is available as a Professional Development or as a student Writing Workshop.

 

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Oh, Malese!

The third grade students at Northfield Elementary School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee made this book of Please, Malese! with their own illustrations. It is a thing of beauty.

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