Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I am surrounded here by a depth and breadth of knowledge and experience. Yet we are all learning and noticing things that we may have “walked by” before. The architectural detail, the story within the painting, the artist’s and architect's connection with the community, even the wallpaper!! We have spent our weekdays in class and related field trips and on the weekends we go together or alone and do more touring and learning about this part of the country. There really is not too much down time!

I’ve tried to get a chance to talk with each one of my fellow NEH'ers over the last 3 ½ weeks. About half are from New England and half from the rest of the country. They will be an inspiration and a resource to me after I leave here. We are all busy preparing final presentations for Thursday and Friday. I look forward to hearing from my new-found colleagues. This really has been an experience of a lifetime. (Although maybe that’s not the way to say it because I want to apply for another one when I’m eligible in three years!)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Wow…this week has zipped by!
This institute has been a wonderful example of scholarly rigor. The presenters/scholars share with us what they know, back it up with references and THEN we get to see the REAL THING in person! This week we talked about landscape and literature. The Hudson River school of artists and authors such as James Fennimore Cooper and Henry Thoreau were introduced to me. We traveled to the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut to experience the paintings in person. Much of the information was in greater depth than I can recall, but the connections between the literature and the art of the time are evident. I knew what I was looking at and had a sense of being in the presence of an artifact of history. There really is sooooo much more to a painting than originally meets the eye at first or quick glance!

Works of Art

A Salem State creative writing professor came to our class one day this week and presented a wonderful lesson on poetry! We were active participants in a lesson that I will some day replicate in a form for second graders. His “quotable quote” to me was … “A work of art (writing, painting, music) is a way of organizing your world and what you’ve learned.”-- JD Scrimgeour.

I think I need to do more art!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Reading for class and for my unit. Landscapes will be a topic that our week will begin with. Took in the local landscape yesterday: the northeastern seacoast. Went to two different art museums today… one contemporary and one (old) European. Vastly different … light compared to dark, large spaces compared to small spaces. Working on my assignment (a unit).

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I will never teach “President’s Day” the same way! Even at second grade the students know about Lincoln, a log cabin and the penny; Washington as the father of our country. But what do the presidential portraits reveal about the person and the office! Next February I will teach using resources from the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian Institution. Last Friday we were enriched with the knowledge of yet another expert, Ellen Miles, from the NPG. The connections between the portrait, the person and the office were enlightening and fascinating We followed the content with actual doing. We were led in an art-making (self-portrait) lesson with a member of Lesley University’s art education faculty. I REALLY liked this part. I think we should do the art-making more often in this institute, but that’s my bend. It would probably raise the affective filter for some of my colleagues here.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


I am surrounded by history! Yesterday we toured a federal period house as well as the Salem Custom House. Nathaniel Hawthorne worked there.

Also these last two days we have visited museums and have received welcomes and presentations from their education departments. Representatives of both institutions made it clear that they value working with educators and want to make their collections useful to us. Many, including these museums, have great resources in person and online both. Yesterday was the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem and today was the Worcester Art Museum in Worcester. At the PEM we completed activities related to using objects… observe, write, share. At the WAM she told us about the studio wing of their museum and how they strive to make a connection between looking at art and making art. Both are strategies that we encourage using in our Arts LINC classrooms. At the PEM I saw a “Panorama of a Whaling Voyage” (ca. 1860) --- a wooden stage with scrolling screens. It was a colonial version of Kamishibai. At the WAM I saw a Thomas Hart Benton “Corn and Winter Wheat” that will be a good landscape to show my students for during our Field to Table unit. We are seeing works of artists represented in the Picturing America poster sets that many schools across the country received from the NEH. Today we also saw the “real” Paul Reverse silver tea set too!

Connections, connections, connections.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Picturing America Institute

I am participating in a Picturing America National Endowment of the Humanities Teacher Institute this month at Salem State College in Salem, Massachusetts. I arrived on July 4 and it started on Sunday, July 5. It will be four weeks of listening, learning, sharing, observing, participating, and integrating visual art, language arts, and history! We have started off at a running pace! It is wonderful to have the opportunity to work with curricular specialists and others who have worked with integration in different settings. The faculty that has been assembled to lead us through these weeks already has my mind going in many directions. Their expertise both individually and collectively is amazing. I will need to narrow down some of my thoughts for a project, but for now I’m taking it all in and it’s comfortably spinning in my brain! This really is incredible! I’m thankful to have received this opportunity!