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Music Generation

Deadline Date: 12 noon, Thursday 6 June 2019

Kerry ETB, Kildare and Wicklow ETB, Longford and Westmeath ETB, Louth and Meath ETB and Tipperary ETB are now each inviting applications for the position of Music Generation Development Officer.

Post Reference Numbers:

A Music Generation Development Officer will be appointed by each education and training board and will be responsible for managing an extensive performance music education programme on behalf of the Local Music Education Partnership in each county.

All five counties have recently been selected for participation in Music Generation – Ireland’s National Music Education Programme, which is co-funded by U2, The Ireland Funds, the Department of Education and Skills and Local Music Education Partnerships.

Five year, fixed-term contract (€46,771 – €57,157)

Application form, job description and person specification and other details available from –

Kerry: www.kerryetb.ie
Kildare: www.kildarewicklow.etb.ie
Longford: www.lwetb.ie
Meath: www.etbjobs.ie
Tipperary: www.tipperary.etb.ie

Closing date: 12 noon, Thursday 6 June 2019

Late and/or incomplete applications will not be accepted. For more information go to https://www.musicgeneration.ie/news/article/new-opportunities-in-kerry-kildare-longford-meath-and-tipperary/

Music Generation

Kerry, Kildare, Longford, Meath and Tipperary have been announced as the next five counties to join the Music Generation programme.

As part of Music Generation, each of the five new areas will receive funding to create access to affordable performance music education for children and young people in their communities. Minister for Education and Skills Joe Mc Hugh T.D. welcomed this next big step on Music Generation’s road to nationwide expansion by 2022:

‘Giving our young people access to high quality musical education is a key element of Creative Youth, part of the Government’s Creative Ireland plan.

‘Music and the arts inspire us all and Music Generation is having enormous impacts in communities, with young people having instrument, ensemble, voice and choral experiences that simply wouldn’t be possible without this programme…’

Music Generation projects are benefitting from €3.485 million funding from the Department of Education and Skills in 2019.

Responding to the news, U2’s The Edge said: ‘Every milestone reached on this journey is a source of great pride for the band as well as everyone who has worked so hard to make it happen. With this latest announcement, the finish line is firmly in sight and our dream of an accessible music education for every young person in Ireland is getting ever closer. We are beyond excited.’

Music Generation was originally co-funded with philanthropic donations from U2 and The Ireland Funds, supported by the Bank of America Charitable Foundation and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, along with funding from local partners.

For further information go to www.musicgeneration.ie/news/article/music-generation-announces-expansion-into-five-new-areas-of-ireland/

Naomi Cahill works as a Creative Associate for Creative Schools and is founder and director of Bespoke Productions. She is an experienced and qualified drama teacher of primary, second level and adult education as well as children with special needs and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities. Naomi graduated with a degree in Drama & Theatre Studies from University College Cork. She further completed the Higher Diploma in Arts in Drama Education and was awarded‘Highest Academic Achievement’ from the Leinster School of Music & Drama. Through Bespoke Productions, Naomi leads drama courses in Ireland and abroad which are aimed at building confidence, self-esteem and developing communication skills. She most recently directed a modern version of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ at Teatro Re Grillo, Licata, Sicily. Having performed both on stage and in film, she enjoys sharing her experience with her students. She is delighted to be working as a Creative Associate for the Creative Schools programme.

 

Creative Schools: An Insight into the Creative Schools Project: Barryoe National School – Blog 4

My schools are at a very exciting stage of the Creative Schools Project. Plans are being brought to life in all schools. At this stage, I thought it would be interesting to give you an insight into the project so far in one of my schools: Barryroe National School. The school is located on the Ibane peninsula and is surrounded by beautiful beaches and countryside. It has 176 pupils enrolled and a speech and language unit. The school is very lucky to have a wealth of creative local people and staff who are open to new ideas and projects. Parents strive to give and provide the best all round education possible for their children and encourage involvement in the arts. The school was delighted to receive entry to the Creative Schools Project this year and are thrilled to be accepted again next year. Their enthusiasm for the project is evident and they are very much making the most of this fantastic opportunity. They have dedicated a lot of time to the project and I have had the opportunity to engage in meetings with all staff and students. There is a core team of staff within the school working on the project including: the Creative Schools Coordinator, two teaching members of staff and local artist: Eilbhe Donovan.

Puppetry:

All students in the school were lucky enough to attend ‘Dowtcha Puppets’ performance of ‘Listen Janey Mac’ in the school. They were given this opportunity to inspire them to create their own work.‘Dowtcha Puppets’ are a renowned puppet specialist company based in Cork. They came to the school and did three separate performances of their show for different class groups. It tells the tale of a character called ‘Janey Mac’ and her puppy ‘Pepper’. They make a wish in a magical stone circle in their aunty Megan’s back garden and find themselves transported back in time, trying to find each other and their way home. One aspect of the Creative Schools project is the importance of finding ways in which the arts/creativity can be linked with and used to enhance the teaching of other subjects. Along with giving the students an appreciation for puppetry, the show produced by ‘Dowtcha Puppets’ also provided students with a history of Cork and Ireland. All students really enjoyed the experience:

“It was great to see the puppet show before we did our own one”. (Student)

“The setting and the props were great and how they showed the puppets when they were far away –it was a very funny story”. (Student)

“It was strange working behind the puppet stage. The lighting made it exciting. The show was great the way the characters were going to another dimension”. (Student)

Voice of Young People:

As I mentioned previously there is an importance emphasis on ‘The Voice of Young People’ in the Creative Schools Project. At the beginning of the year, I was given the opportunity to do a workshop with a group of students (with representatives from each class). I also met with all class groups and teachers to gain a further understanding of student’s artistic/creative interests. We regularly consult with the ‘Creative Schools Student Advisory Group’ when making plans. Having gained inspiration from watching ‘Dowtcha Puppets’ performance, a group of students (from all classes) worked with their drama teacher Annemarie to write their own devised puppet show piece. Other classes had the opportunity to make stick puppets and perform in puppet shows linked to fairy tales for their fellow students. Students are also very lucky to have the opportunity to work with renowned artist: Eilbhe Donovan to create their own air dough puppets. It is evident from their feedback that the process is very much child led:

“It was great fun – we were in charge of what we wanted to do. It took a long time but it was worth it when you saw how it played out in the end. We would love more time to work on it!” (5th Class Student)

“We did all the work”. (3rd Class Student).

“We could make up our own story, make up our own characters”. (3rd Class Student)

“Our characters could talk or not e.g. our castle was the narrator. We used objects that don’t normally speak and gave them voices”. (3rd Class Student).

“We added jingles. We were free to decide everything ourselves e.g. I had a potion and it didn’t have to be a certain colour – I could choose”. (3rd Class Student)

“We could move around and work in small groups. There was no right or wrong information and it was exciting that we could add props”. (3rd Class Student)

“We were working together and we weren’t fighting – we were laughing”. (2nd Class Student)

“We could act out the characters – perform and add music”. (2nd Class Student)

“While making the puppets it was difficult to get everyone working together”. (2nd Class Student)

“We made puppets in afterschool together”. (2nd Class Student)

“We could make up our own story, make up our own characters”. (3rd Class Student)

“Our characters could talk or not e.g. our castle was the narrator. We used objects that don’t normally speak and gave them voices”. (3rd Class Student).

“We added jingles. We were free to decide everything ourselves e.g. I had a potion and it didn’t have to be a certain colour – I could choose”. (3rd Class Student)

“We could move around and work in small groups. There was no right or wrong information and it was exciting that we could add props”. (3rd Class Student)

“We were working together and we weren’t fighting – we were laughing”. (2nd Class Student)

“We could act out the characters – perform and add music”. (2nd Class Student)

“While making the puppets it was difficult to get everyone working together”. (2nd Class Student)

“We made puppets in afterschool together”. (2nd Class Student)

Sustainable Creative Teaching:

It is important for all arts and creative activities undertaken by the school to be as sustainable as possible. Teachers in Barryroe National School are learning about puppetry as a new art form which they can incorporate into their teaching into the future. Teachers have been enabled to develop experience and expertise in this new creative area and implement their acquired skills across the curriculum with confidence. Here is some feedback from teachers about the puppetry workshops.

“It really encouraged turn-taking and team work. Children had to change their voices to suit the characters”. (Teacher)

“We had less control over the output. Junior Classes needed more scaffolding to bring the story to life using the puppets. Senior pupils lead the classes”. (Teacher)

“One class was completely child lead – teacher only had to facilitate. Children took on the responsibility and worked on their stories at home”. (Teacher)

“Without a lot of effort, I worked on puppetry, which I was not comfortable with, and found once the idea was suggested to the pupils, they took ownership of it and followed through”. (Teacher)

Stop Motion Animation:

The sixth-class students are also learning about how to create their own stop motion animations. They created a fantastic animation piece called ‘Jack and Jill Cycled Down the Hill’ which was very exciting to see.

“We were so excited. We were looking forward to the lesson as it was so different to anything we had done before. I had never done anything like animation before”. (6th Class Student)

“Taking the pictures and when they were all moving having put it all together was so cool”. (6th Class Student)

“It wasn’t like being told what to do and how to do it. You could make up your own story and put it together whatever way you liked. Our stories were brought to life through animation”. (6th Class Student)

Creative Schools Continues:

I was delighted to hear a recent announcement from Creative Schools which indicated that the schools currently involved in the project will have the opportunity to continue next year. Furthermore, there will be a further one hundred and fifty schools added to the project. Things really are going from strength to strength for the Creative Schools Project. The project is having a ripple effect across Ireland as there is an increased recognition of the importance of the arts and creativity in the lives of young people.

Naomi Cahill works as a Creative Associate for Creative Schools and is founder and director of Bespoke Productions. She is an experienced and qualified drama teacher of primary, second level and adult education as well as children with special needs and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities. Naomi graduated with a degree in Drama & Theatre Studies from University College Cork. She further completed the Higher Diploma in Arts in Drama Education and was awarded‘Highest Academic Achievement’ from the Leinster School of Music & Drama. Through Bespoke Productions, Naomi leads drama courses in Ireland and abroad which are aimed at building confidence, self-esteem and developing communication skills. She most recently directed a modern version of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ at Teatro Re Grillo, Licata, Sicily. Having performed both on stage and in film, she enjoys sharing her experience with her students. She is delighted to be working as a Creative Associate for the Creative Schools programme.

 

Creative Schools: New Beginnings in 2019 – Blog 3

Step Two: ‘Develop’

2019 has been great so far with the continuation of the Creative Schools Project. Having completed the ‘Understand’ stage, I have moved onto the next stage: ‘Develop’. Using the planning framework, I work with schools to firstly develop a ‘Creative Schools Vision’. This is a long-term vision for placing the arts and creativity at the heart of the school. It should be aspirational but realistic. It is used to enable the school to develop aims, success criteria and activity plans. The aims state what the school ideally hopes to achieve by introducing the plan. As I previously mentioned, the voice of young people is of key importance to all stages of the project. The school must outline the role of young people in the development of their plan. The success criteria must then be detailed which states how the school will know if their plan is having the desired impact on the school and wider community.

The next step I take is to work with schools to develop a ‘Creative School Plan’. This plan is used to support the ‘Creative Schools Vision’. It includes key areas for development which should be implemented over a number of years. It is used to support the following areas for development: children and young people, teaching and learning, leadership and management & school environment, opportunities and networks. The work completed to date in the ‘Understand’ stage is used directly to the benefit of the ‘Develop’ stage.

I also work with the school to develop an activity plan. The school uses this plan to detail the exact arts and creative activities they wish to undertake this year. A series of questions must be answered which ensure schools think thoroughly about the long-term benefit of chosen activities for example: Which areas of the curriculum are involved (including the potential for collaboration/integration across subject areas)?

Linking Schools to Opportunities:
Every school is unique and they each have particular strengths and arts/creative areas which they wish to develop. I am now working to link schools to relevant opportunities according to their plans. Some activities which have come up so far include: staff undergoing CPD training in drama education to learn how process drama can be used in a cross-curricular fashion as a means to enhance learning in a practical, engaging way. Another includes: students working with a street artist over a series of weeks to create their own work. There has been a fantastic response from arts/creative organisations and artists to the project. Some of the links I have made so far include: artists (in a variety of disciplines), Arts Officers, Creative Ireland Officers, Education Officers (from arts organisations), art galleries, university drama department, music organisations and dance companies.

Student Advisory Group:
To ensure students play an active role in the implementation and evaluation of the project I work with schools to set up a ‘Student Advisory Group’. This is a cross-section of students from different class groups that I engage with on a regular basis. These students give us a valuable insight into their own artistic & creative interests. Their views must be taken on board in the development, implementation and evaluation of the project.

Arts in Education:
This project is raising the level of importance of the arts and creativity in education across the board. It is not only creating opportunities for schools but also for artists that are highly skilled and trained with vast experience. Personally speaking, my career to date has revolved around creativity. On a regular basis, I hear about the benefits creativity has to mental health and well-being. Exposure to the arts and creativity is something which needs to be made possible through the education system in order to ensure equal opportunity to young people. In a world that is constantly changing, creativity is needed more than ever.

Naomi Cahill works as a Creative Associate for Creative Schools and is founder and director of Bespoke Productions. She is an experienced and qualified drama teacher of primary, second level and adult education as well as children with special needs and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities. Naomi graduated with a degree in Drama & Theatre Studies from University College Cork. She further completed the Higher Diploma in Arts in Drama Education and was awarded‘Highest Academic Achievement’ from the Leinster School of Music & Drama. Through Bespoke Productions, Naomi leads drama courses in Ireland and abroad which are aimed at building confidence, self-esteem and developing communication skills. She most recently directed a modern version of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ at Teatro Re Grillo, Licata, Sicily. Having performed both on stage and in film, she enjoys sharing her experience with her students. She is delighted to be working as a Creative Associate for the Creative Schools programme.

Creative Schools: The Journey Continues – Blog 2

Creative Schools Coordinators:

In every Creative School there is a Creative Schools Coordinator. The coordinator is my first point of contact with each school and I liaise with them in regular meetings. I have now met all coordinators in my corresponding schools. In some schools the coordinator is a member of the teaching staff and in others it is the school principal. There has been a great response and enthusiasm from all coordinators and schools as a whole to the project and a strong belief in the positive impact it can make on putting the arts and creativity at the heart of young people’s lives.

Completion of Step One: ‘Understand’:

I am continuing to work with schools on the process of gaining an understanding of the school’sengagement with the arts and creativity. Having completed workshops and meetings with relevant parties and staff, I am liaising with Creative Schools Coordinators to complete the documentation for this section. All schools are provided with a document called ‘Understand’ complete with four sections: 1) Children & Young People 2) Teaching & Learning 3) Leadership & Management & 4) School Environment, Opportunities & Networks. In each section there are a series of statements which are rated on a scale of: 0-5 (0 means: the statement is ‘Not at all true’, 5 means: the statement is ‘Very true’). For example: “Pupils/students are involved in decision-making on existing arts opportunities and are able to shape their learning experiences in school” (Section 1: Children & Young People). Using age specific surveys designed for appropriate parties and information gathered from staff discussions I work with coordinators to rate all statements (using an average from the individual ratings). The following individuals are consulted with in this process: the school principal, deputy principal, coordinator, teachers (including resource staff & S.N.A.s), staff with a responsibility for the arts, parent’s association and board of management. These findings will support the development of the Creative Schools Plan which will be carried out in step two: ‘Develop’.

What is Creativity?

As I mentioned in my previous post the voice, opinions and views of young people is of key importance to this pilot project. Through ‘The Voice of Young People’ workshop I collected lots of useful information which I use as data for the ‘Children & Young People’ section and to influence my work with schools going forward. I go through this information, document and analyse it. I found it inspiring to read young people’s understanding of the word ‘Creativity’. From my experience, all young people have their own individual understanding of creativity. It is very interesting and uplifting read their definitions:

“I think it is about showing who you are and what you like to do”. “I think if you’re creative, you have a big imagination”.

“It’s about expressing yourself”.

“Imagination”.

“Like your dreams are what you feel & draw & do”.

“Do what your mind tells you”.

“Creativity is free! When you break rules, you are being creative”.

I believe it is important to let young people come up with their own understanding of creativity rather than provide them with a set definition. This is similar to the constructivist approach I often use in my own teaching. Using constructivism, students are actively involved in constructing their own meaning and knowledge as opposed to passively receiving information.

Through the workshop, I also gathered information on student’s individual artistic and creative interests. Students listed: the creative activities they are currently engaged with inside and outside school. They also listed the creative things they would like to do if they had the opportunity. It is very interesting to hear their responses. The answers vary greatly from school to school. The school’slocation and the cultural and artistic opportunities in close proximity of the school also have an influence on the responses given.

Meeting Teachers:

I have commenced meeting all teaching staff in my corresponding schools. It is very important that staff are fully aware of what is involved in Creative Schools and are able to contribute their ideas in order for the project to be of benefit. The staff are of key importance to ensure the sustainability and longevity of the project. In these meetings I initially provide staff with a thorough understanding of Creative Schools. I then explain the different components of the programme including the first step: ‘Understand’. I design posters listing the following questions as headings:

What are the creative strengths of the school?
What creative areas can the school develop?
What creative activities can the school implement to develop these areas?

I then facilitate a discussion with staff where they are given the opportunity to provide answers/ideas to questions listed. We pass around the posters and everyone makes a written note of their contributions. I also ask staff about their own individual areas of expertise for example: Is there a staff member that is a particularly skilled/trained musician/dancer? etc. This is very beneficial for all staff to be aware of going forward. I have found that a lot of schools are interested in working collaboratively together to share their creative skills and knowledge.

New Beginnings in 2019:

I am looking forward to a new year of opportunities for Creative Schools and excited to move on to the next stage of the project.

Naomi Cahill works as a Creative Associate for Creative Schools and is founder and director of Bespoke Productions. She is an experienced and qualified drama teacher of primary, second level and adult education as well as children with special needs and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities. Naomi graduated with a degree in Drama & Theatre Studies from University College Cork. She further completed the Higher Diploma in Arts in Drama Education and was awarded‘Highest Academic Achievement’ from the Leinster School of Music & Drama. Through Bespoke Productions, Naomi leads drama courses in Ireland and abroad which are aimed at building confidence, self-esteem and developing communication skills. She most recently directed a modern version of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ at Teatro Re Grillo, Licata, Sicily. Having performed both on stage and in film, she enjoys sharing her experience with her students. She is delighted to be working as a Creative Associate for the Creative Schools programme.

Creative Schools: The Start of the Journey – Blog 1

Creative Schools is a pilot initiative of the Creative Ireland Programme. It is led by the Arts Council in conjunction with the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The aim of this initiative is to put the arts and creativity at the heart of children and young people’s lives. My job as a Creative Associate is to enhance and shape the place of creativity in schools. I work to inspire, energise and drive schools forward in developing creative opportunities in the school and wider community. I enable schools to understand, develop and celebrate young people’s engagement with the arts and creativity.

Getting to Know Schools:

I work with a number of schools throughout Cork and Kerry. At the beginning of November, I began engaging in meetings with the Creative Schools Coordinators from my designated schools. There are a series of objectives I aim to achieve in these meetings. Initially, we go through the Creative Schools Planning Framework. We then begin to discuss the first step of the programme: ‘Understand’. This allows schools to understand their current engagement with the arts and creativity. It also enables them to assess the creative interests of students and the resources which are available in the school and wider community. We talk about the school’s current involvement with the arts and artistic areas which they wish to enhance. Through this meeting I develop a better, more thorough understanding of the school as a whole.

In each school I run a workshop with students on ‘The Voice of Young People’. All creative associates were lucky enough to have the opportunity to undergo training in Hub na nÓg. This is a national centre of excellence which supports us to give children and young people a voice in decision making. I use the Lundy Model to ensure the voice of young people is a priority. This model indicates that young people should be provided with a safe space and appropriate information to enable them to express their views. It is also important to make sure that their views are communicated with someone with the responsibility to listen, taken seriously and acted on where appropriate.

Workshop:

Giving young people the opportunity to actively participate in a workshop is a great way to hear their views. Let me give you a brief insight into ‘The Voice of Young People’ workshop. I use two different methods in this workshop called: ‘Open Space Method’ and ‘World Café Method’. The‘Open Space Method’ involves me asking student three questions as follows: 1) What is creativity? 2) What kind of creative things do you currently do? 3) What kind of creative things would you like to do? Students write their answers on post-its and stick them on three different parts of the wall. Students then divide these answers into sections according to what kind of arts activity they are e.g. music, dance etc. This leads to a very effective visual portrayal of student’s artistic interests. We then move on to ‘World Café Method’. Students are provided with a poster on which they are asked a series of questions containing blanks: 1) What is …..? 2) What kind of …… activities have you done/do you do? 3) What kind of ….. activities would you like to do? The young people use the arts activities they came up with in the previous exercise to fill in the blanks in these questions. Students then design the poster using a series of words and illustrations in order to answer these questions. I like using these methods as students take ownership of the kinds of arts activities they would like to explore and they are decision makers from the offset. I also give students surveys which are specific to their age and ability which allow them to express their opinion on their experience of the arts. These are important to give me concrete data to work from. If you want to know what young people want the best thing is to ask them. This workshop enables me to do that.

Further action I have taken in my role as Creative Associate is to create links between the school and local arts opportunities. So far, I have met people such as the local arts officer, programme manager from arts centre etc. These links are important to make to ensure the sustainability of the Creative Schools Programme.

The next step for my work as Creative Associate is to develop a Creative Schools Plan schools. Finally, schools will celebrate their experience with the arts and creativity by sharing their experience as a school, community and beyond.

Onwards & Upwards:

I firmly believe that providing young people with improved, sustainable arts opportunities will benefit them now and into the future. I am delighted to be working as part of this exciting new programme which allows us to make a positive difference in the lives of young people through the arts & creativity.

 

 

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Carmel is a 5th class teacher in Scoil Eoin, Balloonagh, Tralee, Co. Kerry, a large school with three streams of each year group and over six hundred pupils. Carmel and her class, a mixed group of boys and girls, are currently participating in the Virtually There project.

Blog No.2

We as teachers are becoming preoccupied with generating art which looks well on a display board and has no imperfections. In my experience the children aren’t engaging with this routine and are craving more freedom to make mistakes, try things more than once and use lots of different materials. It’s difficult to unearth an exciting art lesson for every week, particularly with older classes as they have made or used many of the lessons with other teachers. When my principal suggested Virtually There to me I was intrigued, yet I was also hesitant to take on such a project due to the need to have good IT experience and how limited our technology is in the classroom.

Virtually There orientation involved an enjoyable day of artist and teacher pair work. This was a fantastic way to become acquainted before we attempted to organise the project itself. Initially, I thought the project was going to be difficult to coordinate as my artist for the project, Lucy Hill, was based in Westport, Co. Mayo while I teach in Tralee, Co.Kerry. With emails and phone numbers exchanged with set about arranging when and how we would do the art with the children in my 5th Class. I needn’t have worried. Lucy was willing and excited to visit us and work around our daily schedule. We trialed Skype a few times before our start date and it worked perfectly. However, throughout the project we had many dropped calls and in particular the last day, being a particularly windy day on the west coast of Ireland,  meant we had to resort to using our phones. In spite of this I felt the project worked brilliantly and both Lucy and I continued with the art while keeping in touch using whatever technology was available.

My class loved the project, mostly exploring new textures and materials, while being given the freedom to use them in any way possible. There was movement, freedom, learning, inventing and fun. Each week there was a novel idea to inspire the children. Lucy would firstly explain the idea, next they would give their responses and suggestions before setting to work. Throughout each element of the lesson the children would approach Lucy on the laptop screen to show their progress, ask questions and get suggestions for any design concepts. This was an effective part of Virtually There which ensured the children were thoughtful in formation and it gave them a guideline as to how they would achieve the goal in the art time. The children also looked forward to hearing Lucy’s interpretation of what they had made each time and her input inspired them further or helped them to see what they had made in a new light.

The opportunity to blog about our experience throughout Virtually There was one of the most appealing aspects of the project for me. Combining some literacy skills to the project and blogging about an important topic relevant to the children was something I had envisaged they would love. However the children weren’t as excited about the blogging process as I had hoped. This may have been due to limited time we could spend doing the blogging due to other classroom subjects and constraints. I also found Word Press time consuming to use in adjusting images etc. and I often had to spend a long time myself formatting the page layout. If we were lucky enough to be involved in Virtually There or another similar project again, I would try to give more time to the blogging and allow the children more freedom to do all the adjustments, possibly with a different group in charge of each weekly blog.

I feel Virtually There has definitely inspired me to allow children to get messy through art, to give them opportunities to use all sorts of materials, to encourage them to use their own imaginations and be creative rather than make a carbon copy of an art piece.

FullSizeRender_editCarmel is a 5th Class teacher in Scoil Eoin, Balloonagh, Tralee, Co. Kerry. A large school with three streams of each year group and over six hundred pupils.  Carmel and her class a mixed group of boys and girls are currently participating in the Virtually There project.

 

Virtually There Project with Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership

Virtually There began with a gathering of artists, teachers and organisers in the Portlaoise Education Centre.  In advance, we, the teachers and artists, had to prepare a short presentation about ourselves and in this I gave the reasons why I wanted my class to become involved. I recall wanting my class to feel free to be creative, imaginative and explore materials and their uses. In particular I wanted my class to move away from producing carbon copies of whatever art I showed them.  I also wanted to diversify my own teaching habits and step away from the routine of painting a picture for art class. Based on the presentation given by all involved, teachers were then paired with an artist. This was a key component in the success of the Virtually There project in my opinion. I found my pairing with Castlebar based artist Lucy Hill allowed for the freedom and stimulating art classes I had wished for in my initial presentation.

As with all new projects I wondered if the class would respond well and engage with the process.  Lucy had come up with great ideas, we had decided on the times and schedules, however the art was going to be quite different to what the children had been used to and they would be the designers, architects and inventors of what they were to make.  Making our first day of Virtually There a full day of art, with Lucy present in person for it all, helped the children to understand that  creating whatever felt natural to them was all a part of Virtually There.

Day one introduced the children to some famous artists who work with a variety of materials. This was followed by stations of exploration with 2D, 3D and colour work as an option. There were no restrictions or limitations on what station the children could go to or what materials they could use. They were giddy with excitement and were amazed that they were allowed to use whatever they wanted. It was fantastic to see children who normally need a lot of guidance working independently and because we were not focused on what the finished product would be, there was no apprehension about producing something that looked perfect.

Our first virtual art lesson with Lucy was live on Skype for the duration of the lesson. What I loved about our second session was the variety in processes in a short amount of time. This will inform many an art lesson for me in the future. The children did some time drawing using markers, they focused on how materials could be combined together to form something new, they photographed their ideas using light and background and finished up by combining and photographing their creations in the outdoor environment. Working outdoors was a highlight for the children with ideas being formed using unforeseen weather, surroundings and visual stimuli.
The children became very comfortable working in this art environment, where problem solving and engineering were a factor in leading their designs and they now had the confidence to try new materials and methods for themselves. Virtually There involved individual, paired, small group and large group work within almost every session. There was at least five different art ideas in each session and as I had hoped Lucy and I were facilitating the children’s creativity rather than telling them what to do.

In a short space of time my class have been hugely inspired and have awakened their imaginations. I have a wealth of ideas to inform my future lessons in art and my goals for the class during Virtually There have been achieved. Lucy built a great relationship with the children and they looked forward to each week immensely. Although Lucy was on Skype during our art lessons the children never felt Lucy wasn’t a part of their art class, following any moments of art creation the children would present and explain their work to Lucy via Skype. Bringing skills to a classroom virtually is an inspired decision which helps us as teachers to provide children with a varied and current education.

lucy_hill__paint_by_alison_laredo_3Lucy Hill completed an M.F.A at Winchester School of Arts in Barcelona having previously studied painting at Crawford College of Art in Cork. She has won several awards (George Campbell Memorial Award, Thomas Dammann Award), public art commissions (Wexford & Mayo County Councils) and exhibited in solo and selected group shows (EV+A, Claremorris Open). She has been working with children through a wide variety of projects and organisations for fifteen years. She is in the second year of her practice based PhD at NCAD researching material engagement in early childhood.

Image: Artist Lucy Hill examines her Death Jars, part of her interactive Children’s art exhibition ‘paint’ at the Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar. Photo Alison Laredo

First virtual visit.

As part of our training before the project with the children began, Carmel (my project partner teacher in Scoil Eoin, Tralee) and I scheduled in a couple of technology ‘play dates’. This helped us work out any glitches, internet speed, how we related, communicated and looked. My studio space is in the Customs House Studios in Westport and at the moment I’m working on a research project so, it looks (to my own children at least) like I’m plotting the downfall of a small country…charts, maps, sticky notes, colour coding, a lot of chopped up text stuck on the walls…maybe not what the class expect an artist’s studio to look like……I needn’t have worried…..they were far too busy with the work in the classroom.

For our first virtual visit we had decided that we would use a selection of materials in the classroom that I had brought for the ‘actual’ visit. We had separated each material into a numbered pocket folder. We then had a lottery selection with me matching each child to a number/material. The question we asked was ‘What might materials do to each other?’ so in teams of two initially, the children devised visual sequences of possible interactions between their materials and set up a photo shoot. Then we got nicely complicated in teams of four, then eight. They drew with pencils and markers as they planned, and again once they had set up their material interactions.

 

I actually found the virtual aspect quite tricky. It’s entirely natural when you are physically in a room full of children with creative action unfolding, to be able to tune in, to listen, watch, play, interact and try to read and understand the atmosphere being generated…….but virtually, it’s a little disconcerting. I was trying to see around corners, onto desks, into hands….it was like wearing vision restricting goggles. The up-side was that when the children were at the screen talking to me, they really had to explain themselves clearly and I could see some of their ideas being solidified for them in that process. I found it very funny too as some children couldn’t help but fix their hair as they talked to me/themselves or try to surprise me by popping up out of nowhere.

The photo shoots were very exciting. They were expert at setting up clear uncluttered shots, some making sophisticated stop motion sequences. They happened at the back of the classroom so I had no control at all over how they were progressing and no idea what the images would look like. And then they took their materials outside to see how would they behave or change with the inclusion of the weather and the school yard. They waved me good bye and switched me off. I waited anxiously for half an hour. At last, they switched me back on and while taking off coats and fixing wind swept hair, they told me about how they had got on. The photos they took were fantastic. In our discussions, a question had come up about ‘pixel art’ so after the session was over, I played around with pixelating some of their photos, I hope they like the results.

In our next virtual session, we are going to ask ‘What might materials do to us?’

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Artist Lucy Hill examines her Death Jars, part of her interactive Children's art exhibition 'paint' at the Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar. Photo Alison Laredo

Lucy Hill completed an M.F.A at Winchester School of Arts in Barcelona having previously studied painting at Crawford College of Art in Cork. She has won several awards (George Campbell Memorial Award, Thomas Dammann Award), public art commissions (Wexford & Mayo County Councils) and exhibited in solo and selected group shows (EV+A, Claremorris Open). She has been working with children through a wide variety of projects and organisations for fifteen years. She is in the second year of her practice based PhD at NCAD researching material engagement in early childhood.

Image: Artist Lucy Hill examines her Death Jars, part of her interactive Children’s art exhibition ‘paint’ at the Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar. Photo Alison Laredo

Artist in Residence – Virtually There Project – Blog Post No.1

Our project began when we met on our first training day in Portlaoise. We were set a task to create something together using the available materials (markers, paper, tape, pencils). It was a gorgeous sunny day so we opted to take the materials outside. There was a breeze that kept catching the papers we had laid on the ground, so we weighted them with different found objects: sticks, stones, leaves. A woodlouse crawled across one of them and we followed its trail with a pencil line. There were linear cracks in the paving stones. We traced shadows from the strong sunlight. We ‘painted’ with the available moss. We found that the breeze, the light and the ‘wild life’ made us follow the materials. There was an equality to that process between artist, teacher, materials and environment that we both responded to. That idea of ‘Following Materials’ became a clear starting point for our project with the children.

I am very lucky to have a Creative Resource Centre in Castlebar, so I loaded up the car before travelling to Tralee with card, elastic, string, paper, cotton, hessian, plastic, tubing, test jars, tape, lids, bottles, cones, fabric, netting, black board, beads, ribbon, chalk, pestle and mortars, sieves, glues, stones, sticks, wool, felt. As is to be expected, the children responded really well to the explosion of different materials brought into their classroom. The freedom to physically move around the room also played an important part as did the decision to take the entire school day for the project. The materials generated an excitement and flow of possibility and so Carmel and I became very much secondary to the general activity. We were able to help with individual creative engineering problems as they arose and to watch as the materials led the children on a wide and varied series of routes sparked by their own passions and knowledge. When we had finished and were reflecting on the day, the children’s questions and comments were rooted in their own experiences and so we had a really insightful set of statements to think about, which will definitely spark the next sessions.

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Getting to know the children through their working methods with the materials gives a privileged insight into their unique personalities but also for me as a visitor, into their deep bonds as a class group. I usually work with children outside of school environments and so I was really struck by how close and knowing their working relationships are. Also, the introduction of materials that invite exciting ideas rather than particular skills generates an equality that is really interesting to watch. The children all seemed to be on an equal footing, with no-one being selected as ‘the best’ (which may put them under an expectant pressure or hold others in their shadow a little). Everyone got on with their own ideas unconcerned and unintimidated, thanks to the level field introduced by the new materials. Carmel and I were free to check in with each other regularly as to how it was all going, which is a lovely reassuring thing for us as adults that hugely benefits the children by really focusing on and protecting the creative flow. In terms of my relationship with the class, I gratefully accepted all their warm and generous words during our reflection but I’m very aware that the real positivity lies in the natural, exciting entanglements between the materials and the children themselves. I’m really interested to see how it translates or is transformed through the addition of the virtual element next week.

Tell us the story of your project – What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

Maria Svensson, Artist

It all started when Marie and I met during the Department of Education & Skills’ summer programme of Continuing Professional Development (CPD). This summer course was one element in a wider exploration of Teacher/Artist Partnership as a model of CPD for enhancing and supporting arts education in the Primary school.

When course finished we decided to apply for funding for a partnership project to facilitate us to apply the course learning in practice. An application to the Kerry County Council 1916 Commemoration Fund was considered and discussions took place with The Education Centre, Tralee, on how we might progress this. The teacher had been nominated by The Education Centre and I had been nominated by the Arts Office of Kerry County Council.

Our aim was to work with the 3rd class at Ardfert National School, focusing on the students’ enjoyment of movement and their ability to express themselves freely through movement and dance whilst exploring the history of the Easter Rising. Moreover we wanted this work to culminate in a public showing, i.e. a dance performance. Finally, our aim was to develop teacher competence and confidence around dance.

The development of children and teachers through this art form using a Partnership approach was supported by The Education Centre, Tralee and Kerry County Council. Marie and I scheduled a workshop with the school’s Principal and staff in Ardfert NS to incentive and introduce the project. We began to plan the initiative and set out the objectives for teacher, artist and student learning. We also started planning what to do with the students, where and when we would meet, where the performance could take place etc. I had 10 sessions with the students, each lasting 2 hours. For some part of that time, the students would write in their reflective journals while Marie and I would have a chance to talk about what to do next or reflect ourselves on how things were going.

Marie O’Connell, Teacher

As the teacher, I felt that this initiative presented a great opportunity for the pupils to work with a dance artist and experience the art of dance. They did not have such an opportunity previous to this. I also felt it would be a great opportunity to support my own continuous professional development, to deepen my knowledge of the art of dance and to learn how to approach a theme through the art form.

The use of reflective journaling by the children was most revealing as it provided insight into the childrens’ learning journey within the context of the initiative and captured some of the impact and response. The journals contained written and pictorial reflections on the development of the project. In this way it introduced the children to the notion of reflective practice and the sharing of those reflections developing their skill and knowledge base. 

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

Maria Svensson, Artist

After the workshop with the Principal and teachers it was decided that the school would organise a concert in the community centre, where other students could perform as well. The theme throughout would be The Easter Rising.

During the first couple of sessions with Marie’s class, I aimed at getting to know the students and exposing them to different movement exercises. Marie laid the groundwork, looking at the history around the time of The Rising and how people lived then. She introduced a folder with gathered stories about The Rising aimed at 3rd-4th class. I received a copy of this myself and knew then what the students were learning with regards to the theme. In the dance and movement classes I would look at expressing emotions related to stories and images from that time. I did not want to teach the students moves they would copy and learn off by heart. Instead, I used ways of working so the movements would come from the students themselves. They were very willing and creative and gained confidence as we went along. One of the teachers in the school recommended music for us and helped practice with the students. We decided the students would start and end the piece by singing Mise Éire and there was another song called Fionnghuala, which they would sing in the middle of the piece. Ideas were developed as the project went along, such as duration, costume, format etc. The music found its place, as did the various movement tasks we had been working on, such as phrasing, moving like statues etc. In the lead up to the performance, Marie would practice the piece with the students outside the set dance classes to give them a chance to remember where to go and what to do next. Marie would join in the exercises and tasks, when she wasn’t managing the video camera, and her presence was extremely beneficial for the students as they saw this class was to be taken seriously, just like any other class. Marie also supported the students in writing their own Proclamation, which we used in the piece.

Marie O’Connell, Teacher

As the teacher I worked through the topic of 1916 at an age appropriate level for the children. I felt it was important to focus on an area that the children could identify with to make the 1916 experience relevant for them, as they are quite young. We focused on the lives of children from 1916 and how it differed from their own lives, we then led onto the Proclamation of 1916. This in itself was a difficult piece of writing for the class to comprehend but after teasing it out we decided to write our own class proclamation. All children were involved in teasing out the ideas for this piece of writing and they were very proud of the ideas they came up with in the end. This piece of writing became part of the dance performance and worked well with the movements to change the overall mood of the dance.

What aspects of the project made you smile? What aspects of the project made you feel challenged?

Maria Svensson, Artist

The aspect of the project that made me smile were the times I could clearly see the students enjoying simply moving and overcoming any fear around performing/dancing in front of others. I enjoyed reading the students’ notes after each class, which were copied and posted to my house. This was always a treat because they were usually extremely positive. I was also very happy to hear the Proclamation which was their own and written by them.

There were many aspects of the project that challenged me. To begin with I didn’t know much about the theme we had chosen and I had to do a lot of research. This unfolded quite naturally as the whole country started to immerse itself in the history of 1916 in various ways. To start off with, I had no idea how we were to create a dance piece around the theme with thirty one 9-10 year olds. It is a delicate subject but it turned out that dance was a perfect way of looking and dealing with the history.

Marie O’Connell, Teacher

As the teacher, the most difficult part for me was creating a starting point for the project once we decided it was on the 1916 theme as the children are quite young and the topic is quite advanced and complicated. But once we got started it all seemed to fall into place. Working with Maria was great as dance seemed to fit with the topic in terms of  facilitating the children to express their feelings so well and she was able to reach their level so easily. It was lovely to see the project coming together so well and to get the opportunity to work with somebody else as this is not the norm for a teacher.

What insights from the project are worth sharing?

Maria Svensson, Artist

My insight would be that anyone can dance and express themselves even after only a few sessions (maybe some people don’t even need that, confidence and willingness goes a long way). The students embodied the tasks I gave them and managed to not only improvise in front of more than 200 people but to do it with  confidence and brilliance, which is a massive achievement.

Marie O’Connell, Teacher

As the teacher it was great to see my pupils being so enthusiastic about working on this project. They really took it on board and each one of them gave 100% to it.

Has anything changed as a result of the project?

Maria Svensson, Artist

The way this project was structured made me change my way of teaching dance in other schools. It made me require more from teachers I work with to create more of a partnership and collaboration.

Marie O’Connell, Teacher

I feel reflections are a very important part of education. It was very interesting to read the pupils’ reflections after each dance session. Many of them were the same and they were happy with the way things were going but every now and again a child might suggest something that you had never thought of. Hearing the child’s voice and responding to it is very important when teaching. Working in partnership, while challenging, affords new insights and has the potential to change perspectives for both the teacher and the artist.

Comments from the children’s reflective journals, Ardfert NS

“What surprises me most about like 100 years ago is that there were pencils. And that British army stayed in Dublin Castle.”

“It was fun exciting, emotional, slow and fast.”

“I enjoyed doing the past when you talk in dance.”

Briefly tell us the story of your project – What was it about? Who was involved? How did it get started?

Vanya:

I was asked by Kids’ Own if I would like to rejoin the Virtually There residency programme again with a new school in Tralee. I was delighted to be part of it again as it is such a unique project. The teacher, Marie O’Connell and myself settled on a starting point (the old school buildings that used to be the schools in Ardfert). It was a starting idea that would hopefully help link the curriculum, was relevant to the area and therefore would hopefully speak to the class, and that was something that had many options and something we could both get exited about as well.

Marie:

The project started when I met with Vanya in Dublin. I suggested that a good point for beginning might be local history as our village is steeped in history. It contains may old ruins. There is also an old school building in the village. This old school closed 40 years ago and our present school opened 40 years ago. We felt this was a good area to focus on as history lends itself to lots of integration with many other subjects. Vanya agreed that this might be a good place to start as it tied in with her art as well. We both agreed that even though this was our starting point the project might take other directions.

Our first session happened when Vanya, our artist, visited the school. One of the activities that day was walking down the village to visit the old school. So that’s how it started. That visit was the basis for maths work – estimation, length, geography – map work, history – researching, working as an historian, English – writing reports on many of the sessions with Vanya and lots of group work, collaboration between the children and artist and teacher. The ICT aspect was very exciting for the children. They were amazed the first day but they became so accustomed to seeing Vanya on the whiteboard that it became ‘norm’ from then on.

What aspects of the project made you smile? What aspects of the project made you feel challenged?

Vanya:

The process of the residency is one of openness and collaboration, listening and process rather than results. This makes for a great creative environment where anything can happen and where all ideas and methods of making are allowed. We used all sorts of ways to make enquiries, asked lots of questions, and tried lots of new methods of making; All to help us look at things with new eyes. The online element of the project can pose many challenges but gives such ownership to the children and the teacher, which to me is of amazing value. The virtual presence in the classroom teaches me to communicate as clearly and concisely as possible and asks me to be both very prepared but stay open simultaneously.

Marie:

Seeing the children so engrossed in the activities and being so enthusiastic made me smile. What I found challenging during the activities was making sure that I was giving the children the correct instructions given to me by Vanya. In other words that we were both on the same page.

What insights from the project are worth sharing?

Vanya:

Apart from the joy of working with this great class, full of great and curious minds the projects also reflects elements of studio work that is ongoing for the artist which makes it a uniquely integrated and allows for so much more, like more philosophical questions, scientific ideas being put to the test and other more open ended queries. In our particular project we asked for instance ‘what history is made of’ and explored notions around fact and fiction, interpretation and perception.

Marie:

It is very interesting to work with another person in the classroom as this is rare enough in teaching except for areas of learning support/resource. The teacher is usually in charge of picking content/activities to explore with the class but during a project like this it is a real collaboration between the teacher, artist and pupils. Discussion and being open to others’ suggestions is very important.

Has anything changed as a result of the project?

Vanya:

For me my skills around fine-tuning the process of ‘feeling our way through’ in other words: Not planning too far ahead to allow for all the wonderful things in between, have vastly increased. It has taught me to trust the openness and to have faith that there is great meaning, inspiration and excitement in all the little things we come across.

Marie:

I think my focus on ‘the process’ has changed. I can see the importance in it and the importance in allowing the children to have their say and direct the project. It might be a different direction than I had in mind at the beginning and as a result a different outcome but I’ve learned that that is fine as well. There may not be an end product.

Other information.

Vanya:

As part of the project/ residency an online journal, to document the process, is kept by all involved; This not only allows for the children, artists and teachers to follow each others projects, it gives parents a window into the richness of the children’s thinking during the process. It also shows additional personal insights, which might otherwise be lost.

Marie:

As a teacher I believe in helping each child to reach their full potential through exposing them to as many enriching and varied experiences as possible. I feel that the children benefit as a result of being challenged. This awakens their creativity, imagination, problem solving and critical thinking skills, which are very important for life in the 21st century. I also enjoy trying something new and watching the benefit and enjoyment that the children get from it. The Virtually There project provided a great opportunity to integrate many curriculum areas and pedagogies.

About the project
Cluas le hÉisteacht was a year long process-led engagement and partnership between the second year students of Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne, Dingle, their art teacher Brenda Ní Fhrighill and artist Maree Hensey.

The project communicated visually a process led approach, collaboration and the language of drawing. Brenda and Maree provided an environment that was safe and supportive for creative expression. Participants were given the opportunity to make their own individual response to the materials presented and given the confidence to continue that individual creative journey.

The students were introduced to ways of mark making using a range of exploratory techniques and materials working both large and small scale. Over the duration of the project they gained a confidence in experimental expressive mark making and working collaboratively.

Arriving at the concept: Artist Maree Hensey

Brenda and I have been working together since 2008. We know each other very well and understand the way we work. When we are planning a project and an approach this depth of understanding and trust allows us to take on projects that are challenging and have an element of risk.

So why sound? How did we arrive at the concept?


It took several phone calls and a few sessions over dinner to arrive at a concept that rang true to both Brenda and I. Looking at the profile of the participants they are constantly plugged in. Our impetus was to facilitate an alternative creative experience.

Concept: Listening.

Through out the process students learned to:

We began the journey by making sound recordings in the landscape e.g. lapping water, people walking, tractor engine, boat in the distance, dog barking, conversation. We listened to the layers of sound that are part of their local environment. Back in the art room we listened intently to a chosen sound and made drawing marks that expressed the rhythm, tone and quality of the sound.

The work made was sensitive, thought provoking and individual. Self-evaluation by students of their work was an integral part of the process. After each session students chose a word that best described their individual experience. These words became an integral part of the outcome where students made a collaborative experimental sound scape playfully sounding their chosen word.

Art teacher at Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne Brenda Ní Fhrighill
The project has been a really important part of the whole academic and educational process. As a teacher I really appreciate the value of using Video Conferencing Technology and see the benefits that it has brought to my students. The possibility of collaboration with professional artists is no longer limited or defined by our location. The process led work has helped students to creatively develop their own unique voice and visual language. The students learned important skills in self-evaluation, communication, technique and confidence that will be useful across all other subjects in the curriculum.

About the process and how it evolved
Maree worked with the students over 2-3 days in the school. Brenda rearranged her schedule and the students so that they were available to work for 4-5 hours per day.
 Following the experience of working in the school, Maree continued the contact and exploration over several weeks using video conferencing technology for sessions of 40 – 80 minutes. Maree is based in Dublin and the journey to Dingle was not realistic on a weekly basis.

Planning and evaluation was given a generous amount of time. We were in contact by phone at least twice a week.

The project started with field trips and mapping sounds. The recorded sounds were edited and processed. Sounds were selected and the process of visually expressing the sounds and the sentiment of the sound began through explorative mark making.

The enormous challenge was working in the abstract. The student’s experience of art was in the figurative as per the curriculum. In order for the participants to understand the process and the project each week, we compiled a list of words that described their interpretation of the process. The recording accompanying the video is a selection of these words.

The project ended beautifully where the students eliminated all sound and listened to their own internal rhythm. The images of the students with the earplugs connected to the box was their experience of listening to nothing but their own thoughts and nothingness.

The culmination was an installation in Gallararus Oratory, video projection and an external exhibit of large-scale drawings in the Gallarus visitors centre on the Dingle Peninsula. The oratory, situated in an area of natural beauty was an appropriate location in which to place work that was influenced by listening, silence and the surrounding environment. The exhibition gave a physical record and testimony to the creative processes.

Student Outcomes:


!!!! Opportunity: Music Generation Development Officer(s) Kerry, Kildare, Longford, Meath and Tipperary

Music Generation

Deadline Date: 12 noon, Thursday 6 June 2019

Kerry ETB, Kildare and Wicklow ETB, Longford and Westmeath ETB, Louth and Meath ETB and Tipperary ETB are now each inviting applications for the position of Music Generation Development Officer.

Post Reference Numbers:

A Music Generation Development Officer will be appointed by each education and training board and will be responsible for managing an extensive performance music education programme on behalf of the Local Music Education Partnership in each county.

All five counties have recently been selected for participation in Music Generation – Ireland’s National Music Education Programme, which is co-funded by U2, The Ireland Funds, the Department of Education and Skills and Local Music Education Partnerships.

Five year, fixed-term contract (€46,771 – €57,157)

Application form, job description and person specification and other details available from –

Kerry: www.kerryetb.ie
Kildare: www.kildarewicklow.etb.ie
Longford: www.lwetb.ie
Meath: www.etbjobs.ie
Tipperary: www.tipperary.etb.ie

Closing date: 12 noon, Thursday 6 June 2019

Late and/or incomplete applications will not be accepted. For more information go to https://www.musicgeneration.ie/news/article/new-opportunities-in-kerry-kildare-longford-meath-and-tipperary/

!!!! Music Generation announces expansion into five new areas of Ireland

Music Generation

Kerry, Kildare, Longford, Meath and Tipperary have been announced as the next five counties to join the Music Generation programme.

As part of Music Generation, each of the five new areas will receive funding to create access to affordable performance music education for children and young people in their communities. Minister for Education and Skills Joe Mc Hugh T.D. welcomed this next big step on Music Generation’s road to nationwide expansion by 2022:

‘Giving our young people access to high quality musical education is a key element of Creative Youth, part of the Government’s Creative Ireland plan.

‘Music and the arts inspire us all and Music Generation is having enormous impacts in communities, with young people having instrument, ensemble, voice and choral experiences that simply wouldn’t be possible without this programme…’

Music Generation projects are benefitting from €3.485 million funding from the Department of Education and Skills in 2019.

Responding to the news, U2’s The Edge said: ‘Every milestone reached on this journey is a source of great pride for the band as well as everyone who has worked so hard to make it happen. With this latest announcement, the finish line is firmly in sight and our dream of an accessible music education for every young person in Ireland is getting ever closer. We are beyond excited.’

Music Generation was originally co-funded with philanthropic donations from U2 and The Ireland Funds, supported by the Bank of America Charitable Foundation and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, along with funding from local partners.

For further information go to www.musicgeneration.ie/news/article/music-generation-announces-expansion-into-five-new-areas-of-ireland/

!!!! Guest Blogger: Naomi Cahill Creative Associate for Creative Schools & Director of Bespoke Productions – Blog No.4

Naomi Cahill works as a Creative Associate for Creative Schools and is founder and director of Bespoke Productions. She is an experienced and qualified drama teacher of primary, second level and adult education as well as children with special needs and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities. Naomi graduated with a degree in Drama & Theatre Studies from University College Cork. She further completed the Higher Diploma in Arts in Drama Education and was awarded‘Highest Academic Achievement’ from the Leinster School of Music & Drama. Through Bespoke Productions, Naomi leads drama courses in Ireland and abroad which are aimed at building confidence, self-esteem and developing communication skills. She most recently directed a modern version of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ at Teatro Re Grillo, Licata, Sicily. Having performed both on stage and in film, she enjoys sharing her experience with her students. She is delighted to be working as a Creative Associate for the Creative Schools programme.

 

Creative Schools: An Insight into the Creative Schools Project: Barryoe National School – Blog 4

My schools are at a very exciting stage of the Creative Schools Project. Plans are being brought to life in all schools. At this stage, I thought it would be interesting to give you an insight into the project so far in one of my schools: Barryroe National School. The school is located on the Ibane peninsula and is surrounded by beautiful beaches and countryside. It has 176 pupils enrolled and a speech and language unit. The school is very lucky to have a wealth of creative local people and staff who are open to new ideas and projects. Parents strive to give and provide the best all round education possible for their children and encourage involvement in the arts. The school was delighted to receive entry to the Creative Schools Project this year and are thrilled to be accepted again next year. Their enthusiasm for the project is evident and they are very much making the most of this fantastic opportunity. They have dedicated a lot of time to the project and I have had the opportunity to engage in meetings with all staff and students. There is a core team of staff within the school working on the project including: the Creative Schools Coordinator, two teaching members of staff and local artist: Eilbhe Donovan.

Puppetry:

All students in the school were lucky enough to attend ‘Dowtcha Puppets’ performance of ‘Listen Janey Mac’ in the school. They were given this opportunity to inspire them to create their own work.‘Dowtcha Puppets’ are a renowned puppet specialist company based in Cork. They came to the school and did three separate performances of their show for different class groups. It tells the tale of a character called ‘Janey Mac’ and her puppy ‘Pepper’. They make a wish in a magical stone circle in their aunty Megan’s back garden and find themselves transported back in time, trying to find each other and their way home. One aspect of the Creative Schools project is the importance of finding ways in which the arts/creativity can be linked with and used to enhance the teaching of other subjects. Along with giving the students an appreciation for puppetry, the show produced by ‘Dowtcha Puppets’ also provided students with a history of Cork and Ireland. All students really enjoyed the experience:

“It was great to see the puppet show before we did our own one”. (Student)

“The setting and the props were great and how they showed the puppets when they were far away –it was a very funny story”. (Student)

“It was strange working behind the puppet stage. The lighting made it exciting. The show was great the way the characters were going to another dimension”. (Student)

Voice of Young People:

As I mentioned previously there is an importance emphasis on ‘The Voice of Young People’ in the Creative Schools Project. At the beginning of the year, I was given the opportunity to do a workshop with a group of students (with representatives from each class). I also met with all class groups and teachers to gain a further understanding of student’s artistic/creative interests. We regularly consult with the ‘Creative Schools Student Advisory Group’ when making plans. Having gained inspiration from watching ‘Dowtcha Puppets’ performance, a group of students (from all classes) worked with their drama teacher Annemarie to write their own devised puppet show piece. Other classes had the opportunity to make stick puppets and perform in puppet shows linked to fairy tales for their fellow students. Students are also very lucky to have the opportunity to work with renowned artist: Eilbhe Donovan to create their own air dough puppets. It is evident from their feedback that the process is very much child led:

“It was great fun – we were in charge of what we wanted to do. It took a long time but it was worth it when you saw how it played out in the end. We would love more time to work on it!” (5th Class Student)

“We did all the work”. (3rd Class Student).

“We could make up our own story, make up our own characters”. (3rd Class Student)

“Our characters could talk or not e.g. our castle was the narrator. We used objects that don’t normally speak and gave them voices”. (3rd Class Student).

“We added jingles. We were free to decide everything ourselves e.g. I had a potion and it didn’t have to be a certain colour – I could choose”. (3rd Class Student)

“We could move around and work in small groups. There was no right or wrong information and it was exciting that we could add props”. (3rd Class Student)

“We were working together and we weren’t fighting – we were laughing”. (2nd Class Student)

“We could act out the characters – perform and add music”. (2nd Class Student)

“While making the puppets it was difficult to get everyone working together”. (2nd Class Student)

“We made puppets in afterschool together”. (2nd Class Student)

“We could make up our own story, make up our own characters”. (3rd Class Student)

“Our characters could talk or not e.g. our castle was the narrator. We used objects that don’t normally speak and gave them voices”. (3rd Class Student).

“We added jingles. We were free to decide everything ourselves e.g. I had a potion and it didn’t have to be a certain colour – I could choose”. (3rd Class Student)

“We could move around and work in small groups. There was no right or wrong information and it was exciting that we could add props”. (3rd Class Student)

“We were working together and we weren’t fighting – we were laughing”. (2nd Class Student)

“We could act out the characters – perform and add music”. (2nd Class Student)

“While making the puppets it was difficult to get everyone working together”. (2nd Class Student)

“We made puppets in afterschool together”. (2nd Class Student)

Sustainable Creative Teaching:

It is important for all arts and creative activities undertaken by the school to be as sustainable as possible. Teachers in Barryroe National School are learning about puppetry as a new art form which they can incorporate into their teaching into the future. Teachers have been enabled to develop experience and expertise in this new creative area and implement their acquired skills across the curriculum with confidence. Here is some feedback from teachers about the puppetry workshops.

“It really encouraged turn-taking and team work. Children had to change their voices to suit the characters”. (Teacher)

“We had less control over the output. Junior Classes needed more scaffolding to bring the story to life using the puppets. Senior pupils lead the classes”. (Teacher)

“One class was completely child lead – teacher only had to facilitate. Children took on the responsibility and worked on their stories at home”. (Teacher)

“Without a lot of effort, I worked on puppetry, which I was not comfortable with, and found once the idea was suggested to the pupils, they took ownership of it and followed through”. (Teacher)

Stop Motion Animation:

The sixth-class students are also learning about how to create their own stop motion animations. They created a fantastic animation piece called ‘Jack and Jill Cycled Down the Hill’ which was very exciting to see.

“We were so excited. We were looking forward to the lesson as it was so different to anything we had done before. I had never done anything like animation before”. (6th Class Student)

“Taking the pictures and when they were all moving having put it all together was so cool”. (6th Class Student)

“It wasn’t like being told what to do and how to do it. You could make up your own story and put it together whatever way you liked. Our stories were brought to life through animation”. (6th Class Student)

Creative Schools Continues:

I was delighted to hear a recent announcement from Creative Schools which indicated that the schools currently involved in the project will have the opportunity to continue next year. Furthermore, there will be a further one hundred and fifty schools added to the project. Things really are going from strength to strength for the Creative Schools Project. The project is having a ripple effect across Ireland as there is an increased recognition of the importance of the arts and creativity in the lives of young people.

!!!! Guest Blogger: Naomi Cahill Creative Associate for Creative Schools & Director of Bespoke Productions – Blog No.3

Naomi Cahill works as a Creative Associate for Creative Schools and is founder and director of Bespoke Productions. She is an experienced and qualified drama teacher of primary, second level and adult education as well as children with special needs and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities. Naomi graduated with a degree in Drama & Theatre Studies from University College Cork. She further completed the Higher Diploma in Arts in Drama Education and was awarded‘Highest Academic Achievement’ from the Leinster School of Music & Drama. Through Bespoke Productions, Naomi leads drama courses in Ireland and abroad which are aimed at building confidence, self-esteem and developing communication skills. She most recently directed a modern version of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ at Teatro Re Grillo, Licata, Sicily. Having performed both on stage and in film, she enjoys sharing her experience with her students. She is delighted to be working as a Creative Associate for the Creative Schools programme.

 

Creative Schools: New Beginnings in 2019 – Blog 3

Step Two: ‘Develop’

2019 has been great so far with the continuation of the Creative Schools Project. Having completed the ‘Understand’ stage, I have moved onto the next stage: ‘Develop’. Using the planning framework, I work with schools to firstly develop a ‘Creative Schools Vision’. This is a long-term vision for placing the arts and creativity at the heart of the school. It should be aspirational but realistic. It is used to enable the school to develop aims, success criteria and activity plans. The aims state what the school ideally hopes to achieve by introducing the plan. As I previously mentioned, the voice of young people is of key importance to all stages of the project. The school must outline the role of young people in the development of their plan. The success criteria must then be detailed which states how the school will know if their plan is having the desired impact on the school and wider community.

The next step I take is to work with schools to develop a ‘Creative School Plan’. This plan is used to support the ‘Creative Schools Vision’. It includes key areas for development which should be implemented over a number of years. It is used to support the following areas for development: children and young people, teaching and learning, leadership and management & school environment, opportunities and networks. The work completed to date in the ‘Understand’ stage is used directly to the benefit of the ‘Develop’ stage.

I also work with the school to develop an activity plan. The school uses this plan to detail the exact arts and creative activities they wish to undertake this year. A series of questions must be answered which ensure schools think thoroughly about the long-term benefit of chosen activities for example: Which areas of the curriculum are involved (including the potential for collaboration/integration across subject areas)?

Linking Schools to Opportunities:
Every school is unique and they each have particular strengths and arts/creative areas which they wish to develop. I am now working to link schools to relevant opportunities according to their plans. Some activities which have come up so far include: staff undergoing CPD training in drama education to learn how process drama can be used in a cross-curricular fashion as a means to enhance learning in a practical, engaging way. Another includes: students working with a street artist over a series of weeks to create their own work. There has been a fantastic response from arts/creative organisations and artists to the project. Some of the links I have made so far include: artists (in a variety of disciplines), Arts Officers, Creative Ireland Officers, Education Officers (from arts organisations), art galleries, university drama department, music organisations and dance companies.

Student Advisory Group:
To ensure students play an active role in the implementation and evaluation of the project I work with schools to set up a ‘Student Advisory Group’. This is a cross-section of students from different class groups that I engage with on a regular basis. These students give us a valuable insight into their own artistic & creative interests. Their views must be taken on board in the development, implementation and evaluation of the project.

Arts in Education:
This project is raising the level of importance of the arts and creativity in education across the board. It is not only creating opportunities for schools but also for artists that are highly skilled and trained with vast experience. Personally speaking, my career to date has revolved around creativity. On a regular basis, I hear about the benefits creativity has to mental health and well-being. Exposure to the arts and creativity is something which needs to be made possible through the education system in order to ensure equal opportunity to young people. In a world that is constantly changing, creativity is needed more than ever.

!!!! Guest Blogger: Naomi Cahill Creative Associate for Creative Schools & Director of Bespoke Productions – Blog No. 2

Naomi Cahill works as a Creative Associate for Creative Schools and is founder and director of Bespoke Productions. She is an experienced and qualified drama teacher of primary, second level and adult education as well as children with special needs and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities. Naomi graduated with a degree in Drama & Theatre Studies from University College Cork. She further completed the Higher Diploma in Arts in Drama Education and was awarded‘Highest Academic Achievement’ from the Leinster School of Music & Drama. Through Bespoke Productions, Naomi leads drama courses in Ireland and abroad which are aimed at building confidence, self-esteem and developing communication skills. She most recently directed a modern version of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ at Teatro Re Grillo, Licata, Sicily. Having performed both on stage and in film, she enjoys sharing her experience with her students. She is delighted to be working as a Creative Associate for the Creative Schools programme.

Creative Schools: The Journey Continues – Blog 2

Creative Schools Coordinators:

In every Creative School there is a Creative Schools Coordinator. The coordinator is my first point of contact with each school and I liaise with them in regular meetings. I have now met all coordinators in my corresponding schools. In some schools the coordinator is a member of the teaching staff and in others it is the school principal. There has been a great response and enthusiasm from all coordinators and schools as a whole to the project and a strong belief in the positive impact it can make on putting the arts and creativity at the heart of young people’s lives.

Completion of Step One: ‘Understand’:

I am continuing to work with schools on the process of gaining an understanding of the school’sengagement with the arts and creativity. Having completed workshops and meetings with relevant parties and staff, I am liaising with Creative Schools Coordinators to complete the documentation for this section. All schools are provided with a document called ‘Understand’ complete with four sections: 1) Children & Young People 2) Teaching & Learning 3) Leadership & Management & 4) School Environment, Opportunities & Networks. In each section there are a series of statements which are rated on a scale of: 0-5 (0 means: the statement is ‘Not at all true’, 5 means: the statement is ‘Very true’). For example: “Pupils/students are involved in decision-making on existing arts opportunities and are able to shape their learning experiences in school” (Section 1: Children & Young People). Using age specific surveys designed for appropriate parties and information gathered from staff discussions I work with coordinators to rate all statements (using an average from the individual ratings). The following individuals are consulted with in this process: the school principal, deputy principal, coordinator, teachers (including resource staff & S.N.A.s), staff with a responsibility for the arts, parent’s association and board of management. These findings will support the development of the Creative Schools Plan which will be carried out in step two: ‘Develop’.

What is Creativity?

As I mentioned in my previous post the voice, opinions and views of young people is of key importance to this pilot project. Through ‘The Voice of Young People’ workshop I collected lots of useful information which I use as data for the ‘Children & Young People’ section and to influence my work with schools going forward. I go through this information, document and analyse it. I found it inspiring to read young people’s understanding of the word ‘Creativity’. From my experience, all young people have their own individual understanding of creativity. It is very interesting and uplifting read their definitions:

“I think it is about showing who you are and what you like to do”. “I think if you’re creative, you have a big imagination”.

“It’s about expressing yourself”.

“Imagination”.

“Like your dreams are what you feel & draw & do”.

“Do what your mind tells you”.

“Creativity is free! When you break rules, you are being creative”.

I believe it is important to let young people come up with their own understanding of creativity rather than provide them with a set definition. This is similar to the constructivist approach I often use in my own teaching. Using constructivism, students are actively involved in constructing their own meaning and knowledge as opposed to passively receiving information.

Through the workshop, I also gathered information on student’s individual artistic and creative interests. Students listed: the creative activities they are currently engaged with inside and outside school. They also listed the creative things they would like to do if they had the opportunity. It is very interesting to hear their responses. The answers vary greatly from school to school. The school’slocation and the cultural and artistic opportunities in close proximity of the school also have an influence on the responses given.

Meeting Teachers:

I have commenced meeting all teaching staff in my corresponding schools. It is very important that staff are fully aware of what is involved in Creative Schools and are able to contribute their ideas in order for the project to be of benefit. The staff are of key importance to ensure the sustainability and longevity of the project. In these meetings I initially provide staff with a thorough understanding of Creative Schools. I then explain the different components of the programme including the first step: ‘Understand’. I design posters listing the following questions as headings:

What are the creative strengths of the school?
What creative areas can the school develop?
What creative activities can the school implement to develop these areas?

I then facilitate a discussion with staff where they are given the opportunity to provide answers/ideas to questions listed. We pass around the posters and everyone makes a written note of their contributions. I also ask staff about their own individual areas of expertise for example: Is there a staff member that is a particularly skilled/trained musician/dancer? etc. This is very beneficial for all staff to be aware of going forward. I have found that a lot of schools are interested in working collaboratively together to share their creative skills and knowledge.

New Beginnings in 2019:

I am looking forward to a new year of opportunities for Creative Schools and excited to move on to the next stage of the project.

!!!! Guest Blogger: Naomi Cahill Creative Associate for Creative Schools & Director of Bespoke Productions – Blog No. 1

Naomi Cahill works as a Creative Associate for Creative Schools and is founder and director of Bespoke Productions. She is an experienced and qualified drama teacher of primary, second level and adult education as well as children with special needs and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities. Naomi graduated with a degree in Drama & Theatre Studies from University College Cork. She further completed the Higher Diploma in Arts in Drama Education and was awarded‘Highest Academic Achievement’ from the Leinster School of Music & Drama. Through Bespoke Productions, Naomi leads drama courses in Ireland and abroad which are aimed at building confidence, self-esteem and developing communication skills. She most recently directed a modern version of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ at Teatro Re Grillo, Licata, Sicily. Having performed both on stage and in film, she enjoys sharing her experience with her students. She is delighted to be working as a Creative Associate for the Creative Schools programme.

Creative Schools: The Start of the Journey – Blog 1

Creative Schools is a pilot initiative of the Creative Ireland Programme. It is led by the Arts Council in conjunction with the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The aim of this initiative is to put the arts and creativity at the heart of children and young people’s lives. My job as a Creative Associate is to enhance and shape the place of creativity in schools. I work to inspire, energise and drive schools forward in developing creative opportunities in the school and wider community. I enable schools to understand, develop and celebrate young people’s engagement with the arts and creativity.

Getting to Know Schools:

I work with a number of schools throughout Cork and Kerry. At the beginning of November, I began engaging in meetings with the Creative Schools Coordinators from my designated schools. There are a series of objectives I aim to achieve in these meetings. Initially, we go through the Creative Schools Planning Framework. We then begin to discuss the first step of the programme: ‘Understand’. This allows schools to understand their current engagement with the arts and creativity. It also enables them to assess the creative interests of students and the resources which are available in the school and wider community. We talk about the school’s current involvement with the arts and artistic areas which they wish to enhance. Through this meeting I develop a better, more thorough understanding of the school as a whole.

In each school I run a workshop with students on ‘The Voice of Young People’. All creative associates were lucky enough to have the opportunity to undergo training in Hub na nÓg. This is a national centre of excellence which supports us to give children and young people a voice in decision making. I use the Lundy Model to ensure the voice of young people is a priority. This model indicates that young people should be provided with a safe space and appropriate information to enable them to express their views. It is also important to make sure that their views are communicated with someone with the responsibility to listen, taken seriously and acted on where appropriate.

Workshop:

Giving young people the opportunity to actively participate in a workshop is a great way to hear their views. Let me give you a brief insight into ‘The Voice of Young People’ workshop. I use two different methods in this workshop called: ‘Open Space Method’ and ‘World Café Method’. The‘Open Space Method’ involves me asking student three questions as follows: 1) What is creativity? 2) What kind of creative things do you currently do? 3) What kind of creative things would you like to do? Students write their answers on post-its and stick them on three different parts of the wall. Students then divide these answers into sections according to what kind of arts activity they are e.g. music, dance etc. This leads to a very effective visual portrayal of student’s artistic interests. We then move on to ‘World Café Method’. Students are provided with a poster on which they are asked a series of questions containing blanks: 1) What is …..? 2) What kind of …… activities have you done/do you do? 3) What kind of ….. activities would you like to do? The young people use the arts activities they came up with in the previous exercise to fill in the blanks in these questions. Students then design the poster using a series of words and illustrations in order to answer these questions. I like using these methods as students take ownership of the kinds of arts activities they would like to explore and they are decision makers from the offset. I also give students surveys which are specific to their age and ability which allow them to express their opinion on their experience of the arts. These are important to give me concrete data to work from. If you want to know what young people want the best thing is to ask them. This workshop enables me to do that.

Further action I have taken in my role as Creative Associate is to create links between the school and local arts opportunities. So far, I have met people such as the local arts officer, programme manager from arts centre etc. These links are important to make to ensure the sustainability of the Creative Schools Programme.

The next step for my work as Creative Associate is to develop a Creative Schools Plan schools. Finally, schools will celebrate their experience with the arts and creativity by sharing their experience as a school, community and beyond.

Onwards & Upwards:

I firmly believe that providing young people with improved, sustainable arts opportunities will benefit them now and into the future. I am delighted to be working as part of this exciting new programme which allows us to make a positive difference in the lives of young people through the arts & creativity.

 

!!!! Guest Blogger: Carmel Broderick – Teacher – Blog No.2

 

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Carmel is a 5th class teacher in Scoil Eoin, Balloonagh, Tralee, Co. Kerry, a large school with three streams of each year group and over six hundred pupils. Carmel and her class, a mixed group of boys and girls, are currently participating in the Virtually There project.

Blog No.2

We as teachers are becoming preoccupied with generating art which looks well on a display board and has no imperfections. In my experience the children aren’t engaging with this routine and are craving more freedom to make mistakes, try things more than once and use lots of different materials. It’s difficult to unearth an exciting art lesson for every week, particularly with older classes as they have made or used many of the lessons with other teachers. When my principal suggested Virtually There to me I was intrigued, yet I was also hesitant to take on such a project due to the need to have good IT experience and how limited our technology is in the classroom.

Virtually There orientation involved an enjoyable day of artist and teacher pair work. This was a fantastic way to become acquainted before we attempted to organise the project itself. Initially, I thought the project was going to be difficult to coordinate as my artist for the project, Lucy Hill, was based in Westport, Co. Mayo while I teach in Tralee, Co.Kerry. With emails and phone numbers exchanged with set about arranging when and how we would do the art with the children in my 5th Class. I needn’t have worried. Lucy was willing and excited to visit us and work around our daily schedule. We trialed Skype a few times before our start date and it worked perfectly. However, throughout the project we had many dropped calls and in particular the last day, being a particularly windy day on the west coast of Ireland,  meant we had to resort to using our phones. In spite of this I felt the project worked brilliantly and both Lucy and I continued with the art while keeping in touch using whatever technology was available.

My class loved the project, mostly exploring new textures and materials, while being given the freedom to use them in any way possible. There was movement, freedom, learning, inventing and fun. Each week there was a novel idea to inspire the children. Lucy would firstly explain the idea, next they would give their responses and suggestions before setting to work. Throughout each element of the lesson the children would approach Lucy on the laptop screen to show their progress, ask questions and get suggestions for any design concepts. This was an effective part of Virtually There which ensured the children were thoughtful in formation and it gave them a guideline as to how they would achieve the goal in the art time. The children also looked forward to hearing Lucy’s interpretation of what they had made each time and her input inspired them further or helped them to see what they had made in a new light.

The opportunity to blog about our experience throughout Virtually There was one of the most appealing aspects of the project for me. Combining some literacy skills to the project and blogging about an important topic relevant to the children was something I had envisaged they would love. However the children weren’t as excited about the blogging process as I had hoped. This may have been due to limited time we could spend doing the blogging due to other classroom subjects and constraints. I also found Word Press time consuming to use in adjusting images etc. and I often had to spend a long time myself formatting the page layout. If we were lucky enough to be involved in Virtually There or another similar project again, I would try to give more time to the blogging and allow the children more freedom to do all the adjustments, possibly with a different group in charge of each weekly blog.

I feel Virtually There has definitely inspired me to allow children to get messy through art, to give them opportunities to use all sorts of materials, to encourage them to use their own imaginations and be creative rather than make a carbon copy of an art piece.

!!!! Guest Blogger: Carmel Broderick – Teacher – Blog No.1

FullSizeRender_editCarmel is a 5th Class teacher in Scoil Eoin, Balloonagh, Tralee, Co. Kerry. A large school with three streams of each year group and over six hundred pupils.  Carmel and her class a mixed group of boys and girls are currently participating in the Virtually There project.

 

Virtually There Project with Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership

Virtually There began with a gathering of artists, teachers and organisers in the Portlaoise Education Centre.  In advance, we, the teachers and artists, had to prepare a short presentation about ourselves and in this I gave the reasons why I wanted my class to become involved. I recall wanting my class to feel free to be creative, imaginative and explore materials and their uses. In particular I wanted my class to move away from producing carbon copies of whatever art I showed them.  I also wanted to diversify my own teaching habits and step away from the routine of painting a picture for art class. Based on the presentation given by all involved, teachers were then paired with an artist. This was a key component in the success of the Virtually There project in my opinion. I found my pairing with Castlebar based artist Lucy Hill allowed for the freedom and stimulating art classes I had wished for in my initial presentation.

As with all new projects I wondered if the class would respond well and engage with the process.  Lucy had come up with great ideas, we had decided on the times and schedules, however the art was going to be quite different to what the children had been used to and they would be the designers, architects and inventors of what they were to make.  Making our first day of Virtually There a full day of art, with Lucy present in person for it all, helped the children to understand that  creating whatever felt natural to them was all a part of Virtually There.

Day one introduced the children to some famous artists who work with a variety of materials. This was followed by stations of exploration with 2D, 3D and colour work as an option. There were no restrictions or limitations on what station the children could go to or what materials they could use. They were giddy with excitement and were amazed that they were allowed to use whatever they wanted. It was fantastic to see children who normally need a lot of guidance working independently and because we were not focused on what the finished product would be, there was no apprehension about producing something that looked perfect.

Our first virtual art lesson with Lucy was live on Skype for the duration of the lesson. What I loved about our second session was the variety in processes in a short amount of time. This will inform many an art lesson for me in the future. The children did some time drawing using markers, they focused on how materials could be combined together to form something new, they photographed their ideas using light and background and finished up by combining and photographing their creations in the outdoor environment. Working outdoors was a highlight for the children with ideas being formed using unforeseen weather, surroundings and visual stimuli.
The children became very comfortable working in this art environment, where problem solving and engineering were a factor in leading their designs and they now had the confidence to try new materials and methods for themselves. Virtually There involved individual, paired, small group and large group work within almost every session. There was at least five different art ideas in each session and as I had hoped Lucy and I were facilitating the children’s creativity rather than telling them what to do.

In a short space of time my class have been hugely inspired and have awakened their imaginations. I have a wealth of ideas to inform my future lessons in art and my goals for the class during Virtually There have been achieved. Lucy built a great relationship with the children and they looked forward to each week immensely. Although Lucy was on Skype during our art lessons the children never felt Lucy wasn’t a part of their art class, following any moments of art creation the children would present and explain their work to Lucy via Skype. Bringing skills to a classroom virtually is an inspired decision which helps us as teachers to provide children with a varied and current education.

!!!! Guest Blogger: Lucy Hill – Artist in Residence – Blog No2

lucy_hill__paint_by_alison_laredo_3Lucy Hill completed an M.F.A at Winchester School of Arts in Barcelona having previously studied painting at Crawford College of Art in Cork. She has won several awards (George Campbell Memorial Award, Thomas Dammann Award), public art commissions (Wexford & Mayo County Councils) and exhibited in solo and selected group shows (EV+A, Claremorris Open). She has been working with children through a wide variety of projects and organisations for fifteen years. She is in the second year of her practice based PhD at NCAD researching material engagement in early childhood.

Image: Artist Lucy Hill examines her Death Jars, part of her interactive Children’s art exhibition ‘paint’ at the Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar. Photo Alison Laredo

First virtual visit.

As part of our training before the project with the children began, Carmel (my project partner teacher in Scoil Eoin, Tralee) and I scheduled in a couple of technology ‘play dates’. This helped us work out any glitches, internet speed, how we related, communicated and looked. My studio space is in the Customs House Studios in Westport and at the moment I’m working on a research project so, it looks (to my own children at least) like I’m plotting the downfall of a small country…charts, maps, sticky notes, colour coding, a lot of chopped up text stuck on the walls…maybe not what the class expect an artist’s studio to look like……I needn’t have worried…..they were far too busy with the work in the classroom.

For our first virtual visit we had decided that we would use a selection of materials in the classroom that I had brought for the ‘actual’ visit. We had separated each material into a numbered pocket folder. We then had a lottery selection with me matching each child to a number/material. The question we asked was ‘What might materials do to each other?’ so in teams of two initially, the children devised visual sequences of possible interactions between their materials and set up a photo shoot. Then we got nicely complicated in teams of four, then eight. They drew with pencils and markers as they planned, and again once they had set up their material interactions.

 

I actually found the virtual aspect quite tricky. It’s entirely natural when you are physically in a room full of children with creative action unfolding, to be able to tune in, to listen, watch, play, interact and try to read and understand the atmosphere being generated…….but virtually, it’s a little disconcerting. I was trying to see around corners, onto desks, into hands….it was like wearing vision restricting goggles. The up-side was that when the children were at the screen talking to me, they really had to explain themselves clearly and I could see some of their ideas being solidified for them in that process. I found it very funny too as some children couldn’t help but fix their hair as they talked to me/themselves or try to surprise me by popping up out of nowhere.

The photo shoots were very exciting. They were expert at setting up clear uncluttered shots, some making sophisticated stop motion sequences. They happened at the back of the classroom so I had no control at all over how they were progressing and no idea what the images would look like. And then they took their materials outside to see how would they behave or change with the inclusion of the weather and the school yard. They waved me good bye and switched me off. I waited anxiously for half an hour. At last, they switched me back on and while taking off coats and fixing wind swept hair, they told me about how they had got on. The photos they took were fantastic. In our discussions, a question had come up about ‘pixel art’ so after the session was over, I played around with pixelating some of their photos, I hope they like the results.

In our next virtual session, we are going to ask ‘What might materials do to us?’

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!!!! Guest Blogger: Lucy Hill – Artist in Residence – Post No1

Artist Lucy Hill examines her Death Jars, part of her interactive Children's art exhibition 'paint' at the Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar. Photo Alison Laredo

Lucy Hill completed an M.F.A at Winchester School of Arts in Barcelona having previously studied painting at Crawford College of Art in Cork. She has won several awards (George Campbell Memorial Award, Thomas Dammann Award), public art commissions (Wexford & Mayo County Councils) and exhibited in solo and selected group shows (EV+A, Claremorris Open). She has been working with children through a wide variety of projects and organisations for fifteen years. She is in the second year of her practice based PhD at NCAD researching material engagement in early childhood.

Image: Artist Lucy Hill examines her Death Jars, part of her interactive Children’s art exhibition ‘paint’ at the Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar. Photo Alison Laredo

Artist in Residence – Virtually There Project – Blog Post No.1

Our project began when we met on our first training day in Portlaoise. We were set a task to create something together using the available materials (markers, paper, tape, pencils). It was a gorgeous sunny day so we opted to take the materials outside. There was a breeze that kept catching the papers we had laid on the ground, so we weighted them with different found objects: sticks, stones, leaves. A woodlouse crawled across one of them and we followed its trail with a pencil line. There were linear cracks in the paving stones. We traced shadows from the strong sunlight. We ‘painted’ with the available moss. We found that the breeze, the light and the ‘wild life’ made us follow the materials. There was an equality to that process between artist, teacher, materials and environment that we both responded to. That idea of ‘Following Materials’ became a clear starting point for our project with the children.

I am very lucky to have a Creative Resource Centre in Castlebar, so I loaded up the car before travelling to Tralee with card, elastic, string, paper, cotton, hessian, plastic, tubing, test jars, tape, lids, bottles, cones, fabric, netting, black board, beads, ribbon, chalk, pestle and mortars, sieves, glues, stones, sticks, wool, felt. As is to be expected, the children responded really well to the explosion of different materials brought into their classroom. The freedom to physically move around the room also played an important part as did the decision to take the entire school day for the project. The materials generated an excitement and flow of possibility and so Carmel and I became very much secondary to the general activity. We were able to help with individual creative engineering problems as they arose and to watch as the materials led the children on a wide and varied series of routes sparked by their own passions and knowledge. When we had finished and were reflecting on the day, the children’s questions and comments were rooted in their own experiences and so we had a really insightful set of statements to think about, which will definitely spark the next sessions.

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Getting to know the children through their working methods with the materials gives a privileged insight into their unique personalities but also for me as a visitor, into their deep bonds as a class group. I usually work with children outside of school environments and so I was really struck by how close and knowing their working relationships are. Also, the introduction of materials that invite exciting ideas rather than particular skills generates an equality that is really interesting to watch. The children all seemed to be on an equal footing, with no-one being selected as ‘the best’ (which may put them under an expectant pressure or hold others in their shadow a little). Everyone got on with their own ideas unconcerned and unintimidated, thanks to the level field introduced by the new materials. Carmel and I were free to check in with each other regularly as to how it was all going, which is a lovely reassuring thing for us as adults that hugely benefits the children by really focusing on and protecting the creative flow. In terms of my relationship with the class, I gratefully accepted all their warm and generous words during our reflection but I’m very aware that the real positivity lies in the natural, exciting entanglements between the materials and the children themselves. I’m really interested to see how it translates or is transformed through the addition of the virtual element next week.

!!!! The Easter Rising Dance Project

Tell us the story of your project – What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

Maria Svensson, Artist

It all started when Marie and I met during the Department of Education & Skills’ summer programme of Continuing Professional Development (CPD). This summer course was one element in a wider exploration of Teacher/Artist Partnership as a model of CPD for enhancing and supporting arts education in the Primary school.

When course finished we decided to apply for funding for a partnership project to facilitate us to apply the course learning in practice. An application to the Kerry County Council 1916 Commemoration Fund was considered and discussions took place with The Education Centre, Tralee, on how we might progress this. The teacher had been nominated by The Education Centre and I had been nominated by the Arts Office of Kerry County Council.

Our aim was to work with the 3rd class at Ardfert National School, focusing on the students’ enjoyment of movement and their ability to express themselves freely through movement and dance whilst exploring the history of the Easter Rising. Moreover we wanted this work to culminate in a public showing, i.e. a dance performance. Finally, our aim was to develop teacher competence and confidence around dance.

The development of children and teachers through this art form using a Partnership approach was supported by The Education Centre, Tralee and Kerry County Council. Marie and I scheduled a workshop with the school’s Principal and staff in Ardfert NS to incentive and introduce the project. We began to plan the initiative and set out the objectives for teacher, artist and student learning. We also started planning what to do with the students, where and when we would meet, where the performance could take place etc. I had 10 sessions with the students, each lasting 2 hours. For some part of that time, the students would write in their reflective journals while Marie and I would have a chance to talk about what to do next or reflect ourselves on how things were going.

Marie O’Connell, Teacher

As the teacher, I felt that this initiative presented a great opportunity for the pupils to work with a dance artist and experience the art of dance. They did not have such an opportunity previous to this. I also felt it would be a great opportunity to support my own continuous professional development, to deepen my knowledge of the art of dance and to learn how to approach a theme through the art form.

The use of reflective journaling by the children was most revealing as it provided insight into the childrens’ learning journey within the context of the initiative and captured some of the impact and response. The journals contained written and pictorial reflections on the development of the project. In this way it introduced the children to the notion of reflective practice and the sharing of those reflections developing their skill and knowledge base. 

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

Maria Svensson, Artist

After the workshop with the Principal and teachers it was decided that the school would organise a concert in the community centre, where other students could perform as well. The theme throughout would be The Easter Rising.

During the first couple of sessions with Marie’s class, I aimed at getting to know the students and exposing them to different movement exercises. Marie laid the groundwork, looking at the history around the time of The Rising and how people lived then. She introduced a folder with gathered stories about The Rising aimed at 3rd-4th class. I received a copy of this myself and knew then what the students were learning with regards to the theme. In the dance and movement classes I would look at expressing emotions related to stories and images from that time. I did not want to teach the students moves they would copy and learn off by heart. Instead, I used ways of working so the movements would come from the students themselves. They were very willing and creative and gained confidence as we went along. One of the teachers in the school recommended music for us and helped practice with the students. We decided the students would start and end the piece by singing Mise Éire and there was another song called Fionnghuala, which they would sing in the middle of the piece. Ideas were developed as the project went along, such as duration, costume, format etc. The music found its place, as did the various movement tasks we had been working on, such as phrasing, moving like statues etc. In the lead up to the performance, Marie would practice the piece with the students outside the set dance classes to give them a chance to remember where to go and what to do next. Marie would join in the exercises and tasks, when she wasn’t managing the video camera, and her presence was extremely beneficial for the students as they saw this class was to be taken seriously, just like any other class. Marie also supported the students in writing their own Proclamation, which we used in the piece.

Marie O’Connell, Teacher

As the teacher I worked through the topic of 1916 at an age appropriate level for the children. I felt it was important to focus on an area that the children could identify with to make the 1916 experience relevant for them, as they are quite young. We focused on the lives of children from 1916 and how it differed from their own lives, we then led onto the Proclamation of 1916. This in itself was a difficult piece of writing for the class to comprehend but after teasing it out we decided to write our own class proclamation. All children were involved in teasing out the ideas for this piece of writing and they were very proud of the ideas they came up with in the end. This piece of writing became part of the dance performance and worked well with the movements to change the overall mood of the dance.

What aspects of the project made you smile? What aspects of the project made you feel challenged?

Maria Svensson, Artist

The aspect of the project that made me smile were the times I could clearly see the students enjoying simply moving and overcoming any fear around performing/dancing in front of others. I enjoyed reading the students’ notes after each class, which were copied and posted to my house. This was always a treat because they were usually extremely positive. I was also very happy to hear the Proclamation which was their own and written by them.

There were many aspects of the project that challenged me. To begin with I didn’t know much about the theme we had chosen and I had to do a lot of research. This unfolded quite naturally as the whole country started to immerse itself in the history of 1916 in various ways. To start off with, I had no idea how we were to create a dance piece around the theme with thirty one 9-10 year olds. It is a delicate subject but it turned out that dance was a perfect way of looking and dealing with the history.

Marie O’Connell, Teacher

As the teacher, the most difficult part for me was creating a starting point for the project once we decided it was on the 1916 theme as the children are quite young and the topic is quite advanced and complicated. But once we got started it all seemed to fall into place. Working with Maria was great as dance seemed to fit with the topic in terms of  facilitating the children to express their feelings so well and she was able to reach their level so easily. It was lovely to see the project coming together so well and to get the opportunity to work with somebody else as this is not the norm for a teacher.

What insights from the project are worth sharing?

Maria Svensson, Artist

My insight would be that anyone can dance and express themselves even after only a few sessions (maybe some people don’t even need that, confidence and willingness goes a long way). The students embodied the tasks I gave them and managed to not only improvise in front of more than 200 people but to do it with  confidence and brilliance, which is a massive achievement.

Marie O’Connell, Teacher

As the teacher it was great to see my pupils being so enthusiastic about working on this project. They really took it on board and each one of them gave 100% to it.

Has anything changed as a result of the project?

Maria Svensson, Artist

The way this project was structured made me change my way of teaching dance in other schools. It made me require more from teachers I work with to create more of a partnership and collaboration.

Marie O’Connell, Teacher

I feel reflections are a very important part of education. It was very interesting to read the pupils’ reflections after each dance session. Many of them were the same and they were happy with the way things were going but every now and again a child might suggest something that you had never thought of. Hearing the child’s voice and responding to it is very important when teaching. Working in partnership, while challenging, affords new insights and has the potential to change perspectives for both the teacher and the artist.

Comments from the children’s reflective journals, Ardfert NS

“What surprises me most about like 100 years ago is that there were pencils. And that British army stayed in Dublin Castle.”

“It was fun exciting, emotional, slow and fast.”

“I enjoyed doing the past when you talk in dance.”

!!!! Virtually There

Briefly tell us the story of your project – What was it about? Who was involved? How did it get started?

Vanya:

I was asked by Kids’ Own if I would like to rejoin the Virtually There residency programme again with a new school in Tralee. I was delighted to be part of it again as it is such a unique project. The teacher, Marie O’Connell and myself settled on a starting point (the old school buildings that used to be the schools in Ardfert). It was a starting idea that would hopefully help link the curriculum, was relevant to the area and therefore would hopefully speak to the class, and that was something that had many options and something we could both get exited about as well.

Marie:

The project started when I met with Vanya in Dublin. I suggested that a good point for beginning might be local history as our village is steeped in history. It contains may old ruins. There is also an old school building in the village. This old school closed 40 years ago and our present school opened 40 years ago. We felt this was a good area to focus on as history lends itself to lots of integration with many other subjects. Vanya agreed that this might be a good place to start as it tied in with her art as well. We both agreed that even though this was our starting point the project might take other directions.

Our first session happened when Vanya, our artist, visited the school. One of the activities that day was walking down the village to visit the old school. So that’s how it started. That visit was the basis for maths work – estimation, length, geography – map work, history – researching, working as an historian, English – writing reports on many of the sessions with Vanya and lots of group work, collaboration between the children and artist and teacher. The ICT aspect was very exciting for the children. They were amazed the first day but they became so accustomed to seeing Vanya on the whiteboard that it became ‘norm’ from then on.

What aspects of the project made you smile? What aspects of the project made you feel challenged?

Vanya:

The process of the residency is one of openness and collaboration, listening and process rather than results. This makes for a great creative environment where anything can happen and where all ideas and methods of making are allowed. We used all sorts of ways to make enquiries, asked lots of questions, and tried lots of new methods of making; All to help us look at things with new eyes. The online element of the project can pose many challenges but gives such ownership to the children and the teacher, which to me is of amazing value. The virtual presence in the classroom teaches me to communicate as clearly and concisely as possible and asks me to be both very prepared but stay open simultaneously.

Marie:

Seeing the children so engrossed in the activities and being so enthusiastic made me smile. What I found challenging during the activities was making sure that I was giving the children the correct instructions given to me by Vanya. In other words that we were both on the same page.

What insights from the project are worth sharing?

Vanya:

Apart from the joy of working with this great class, full of great and curious minds the projects also reflects elements of studio work that is ongoing for the artist which makes it a uniquely integrated and allows for so much more, like more philosophical questions, scientific ideas being put to the test and other more open ended queries. In our particular project we asked for instance ‘what history is made of’ and explored notions around fact and fiction, interpretation and perception.

Marie:

It is very interesting to work with another person in the classroom as this is rare enough in teaching except for areas of learning support/resource. The teacher is usually in charge of picking content/activities to explore with the class but during a project like this it is a real collaboration between the teacher, artist and pupils. Discussion and being open to others’ suggestions is very important.

Has anything changed as a result of the project?

Vanya:

For me my skills around fine-tuning the process of ‘feeling our way through’ in other words: Not planning too far ahead to allow for all the wonderful things in between, have vastly increased. It has taught me to trust the openness and to have faith that there is great meaning, inspiration and excitement in all the little things we come across.

Marie:

I think my focus on ‘the process’ has changed. I can see the importance in it and the importance in allowing the children to have their say and direct the project. It might be a different direction than I had in mind at the beginning and as a result a different outcome but I’ve learned that that is fine as well. There may not be an end product.

Other information.

Vanya:

As part of the project/ residency an online journal, to document the process, is kept by all involved; This not only allows for the children, artists and teachers to follow each others projects, it gives parents a window into the richness of the children’s thinking during the process. It also shows additional personal insights, which might otherwise be lost.

Marie:

As a teacher I believe in helping each child to reach their full potential through exposing them to as many enriching and varied experiences as possible. I feel that the children benefit as a result of being challenged. This awakens their creativity, imagination, problem solving and critical thinking skills, which are very important for life in the 21st century. I also enjoy trying something new and watching the benefit and enjoyment that the children get from it. The Virtually There project provided a great opportunity to integrate many curriculum areas and pedagogies.

!!!! Cluas le hÉisteacht

About the project
Cluas le hÉisteacht was a year long process-led engagement and partnership between the second year students of Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne, Dingle, their art teacher Brenda Ní Fhrighill and artist Maree Hensey.

The project communicated visually a process led approach, collaboration and the language of drawing. Brenda and Maree provided an environment that was safe and supportive for creative expression. Participants were given the opportunity to make their own individual response to the materials presented and given the confidence to continue that individual creative journey.

The students were introduced to ways of mark making using a range of exploratory techniques and materials working both large and small scale. Over the duration of the project they gained a confidence in experimental expressive mark making and working collaboratively.

Arriving at the concept: Artist Maree Hensey

Brenda and I have been working together since 2008. We know each other very well and understand the way we work. When we are planning a project and an approach this depth of understanding and trust allows us to take on projects that are challenging and have an element of risk.

So why sound? How did we arrive at the concept?


It took several phone calls and a few sessions over dinner to arrive at a concept that rang true to both Brenda and I. Looking at the profile of the participants they are constantly plugged in. Our impetus was to facilitate an alternative creative experience.

Concept: Listening.

Through out the process students learned to:

We began the journey by making sound recordings in the landscape e.g. lapping water, people walking, tractor engine, boat in the distance, dog barking, conversation. We listened to the layers of sound that are part of their local environment. Back in the art room we listened intently to a chosen sound and made drawing marks that expressed the rhythm, tone and quality of the sound.

The work made was sensitive, thought provoking and individual. Self-evaluation by students of their work was an integral part of the process. After each session students chose a word that best described their individual experience. These words became an integral part of the outcome where students made a collaborative experimental sound scape playfully sounding their chosen word.

Art teacher at Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne Brenda Ní Fhrighill
The project has been a really important part of the whole academic and educational process. As a teacher I really appreciate the value of using Video Conferencing Technology and see the benefits that it has brought to my students. The possibility of collaboration with professional artists is no longer limited or defined by our location. The process led work has helped students to creatively develop their own unique voice and visual language. The students learned important skills in self-evaluation, communication, technique and confidence that will be useful across all other subjects in the curriculum.

About the process and how it evolved
Maree worked with the students over 2-3 days in the school. Brenda rearranged her schedule and the students so that they were available to work for 4-5 hours per day.
 Following the experience of working in the school, Maree continued the contact and exploration over several weeks using video conferencing technology for sessions of 40 – 80 minutes. Maree is based in Dublin and the journey to Dingle was not realistic on a weekly basis.

Planning and evaluation was given a generous amount of time. We were in contact by phone at least twice a week.

The project started with field trips and mapping sounds. The recorded sounds were edited and processed. Sounds were selected and the process of visually expressing the sounds and the sentiment of the sound began through explorative mark making.

The enormous challenge was working in the abstract. The student’s experience of art was in the figurative as per the curriculum. In order for the participants to understand the process and the project each week, we compiled a list of words that described their interpretation of the process. The recording accompanying the video is a selection of these words.

The project ended beautifully where the students eliminated all sound and listened to their own internal rhythm. The images of the students with the earplugs connected to the box was their experience of listening to nothing but their own thoughts and nothingness.

The culmination was an installation in Gallararus Oratory, video projection and an external exhibit of large-scale drawings in the Gallarus visitors centre on the Dingle Peninsula. The oratory, situated in an area of natural beauty was an appropriate location in which to place work that was influenced by listening, silence and the surrounding environment. The exhibition gave a physical record and testimony to the creative processes.

Student Outcomes: