Category Archives: Blogs

interesting blogs we follow

Welcome Back!

Every year in fall we seem to write a post that goes something like… “wow fall again already…” which is partially about us being excited about a new year with you, and partially about us feeling guilty that all our big plans for the blog last year didn’t …. Ahem…. Materialize? (See how I made that objective there – took my own responsibility right out of the mix… museums can be good at that) ;)

Anyways… this year we’re going to try again.

Our aim with this virtual space is really just to share interesting things we’ve come across that we think may be of some use to your journey of your museum school year. But we know that you’re busy people, and we’re busy people, and we just don’t want to waste time putting out information that doesn’t seem useful. So… We’d love your help. Anytime you’ve got an interest in something that you think we could explore, do you mind letting us know? Perhaps an issue you’ve come across in classroom, or a topic you think we might have some knowledge about, or even just something related to arts and culture that you’ve always wanted to know? We won’t blow your cover – feel free to ask questions anonymously. Or on the flip side, maybe you want to be a guest blogger for us? This is a journey that we’re all on together. Just like in your classroom, the more voices that are here the more rich our learning together will be.

Looking forward to trying again this year & welcome back to school to you all!

Amanda

What to write…

Lately when I have been sitting down with the intention to write a blog post I write a few sentences, then I get stuck. Then I stop. Then I add “write a blog post” to the back of my to-do list and go do something else.

It’s been awhile, so I thought I should devote some energy to really thinking about why it’s been hard for me to write. After much more procrastination, three snack breaks, a walk, and two changes of scenery, I think I’m starting to make a little headway.

I think it’s the same reason I don’t like to make art, or write songs, or draft a book… (I’ve rarely/never done these things, I just have an enormous faith in my creative ability – it’s a generational thing)…  It’s because I don’t really think I have anything important to add.

There’s already a million stories, songs, paintings, sculptures, and blog posts. If I’m not confident that whatever I’m putting out there is enriching and unique, what’s the point?

I am eternally baffled with all the pictures and posts on social media, clearly people feel the need to share – and I wonder, do they think the picture of their breakfast has value? What type of value? To whom?

This new world of sharing our ideas and opinions is both fascinating and terrifying at the same time. I love that I can stay connected to friends around the world doing interesting things, or ask someone far away for advice and get feedback immediately. In the museum today I sat in on a class about Blackfoot culture, the presenter Blaire Russell, showed a picture of Deerfoot a runner or message taker – who would run from community to community to share news – my, how things have changed.

But I also think that this new medium is having complex impacts on our culture, and the ways in which we relate to each other. I work a lot with youth, and the high levels of social anxiety they are feeling astound me. At the same time, they communicate freely over the internet, saying and doing things online that they would never dream of saying or doing IRL.

I’ve also noticed that online at least, we’re all becoming quite quick to judge and slow to have sympathy. In some ways I wonder if this is a natural consequence of social justice, and if marginalized folks are finding a voice and using it with a vengeance (fantastic!) But I also notice many of the judgments serve the interests of the status quo. Seeing the internet pounce on people is a terrifying thing, and intuitively I feel that it’s less of an “anonymous” thing with careful critical thought behind it, and more like a knee jerk reaction.

The proliferation of sharing, combined with the threat of enraging the cyber community, makes me extra reluctant to put anything out into the world. Firstly, who am I to think that anything I say or think is important enough for others to read?  Secondly, given that, as well as the threat of millions of haters, why bother?

I subscribe to the idea that art is a passion that is burning to get out of you. I don’t have much of that. Mostly I have “meh.. I guess I could make that.” And I’d rather not fill the world with my mediocre ideas. But I do have some passion, and some types of expertise… as all of us do. I’m in love with the idea that we can share those things with others – maybe blog posts are useful for that, but I’m sure there’s other ways too (I’ve always got the concept of the salon floating around on the back burner in my mind as a viable modern institution).

So I’ll keep posting here – when I feel like I’ve got something to share that I’m passionate about, or that I have an inkling is useful to you, given my particular expertise.

Otherwise I’ll keep my mouth shut and my photos of my breakfast to myself.

Keep posting yours though!

They fascinate me, and I do think they have some type of value and consequence… when I figure that out, I’ll write a blog post about it.

 

 

 

Journaling Technique: Found Poetry

Hope everyone is off to a great New Year!

Every week we get tons of comments on our blog posts! Unfortunately, pretty much all of them are from spam bots.

I’ve been meaning to clean out the comments, (New Year, new me right? Cleaning and all that stuff), because they back up in system; we approve them before they’re posted so you folks don’t get bothered by them & only the real comments get shared.

But as I was going through, I started to notice a pattern, and I thought I would use the opportunity to share an example of one of the journaling techniques that I like: Found Poetry.

The Calgary Campus Open Minds journaling book (which I’ve written about before), describes found poetry as a collection of words or phrases that can be picked from other types of communication. They suggest that it’s an ideal way for adults to participate in activities, and that recalling found poetry helps students remember their experiences and explorations. When I go to a classroom to do an outreach session I often suggest that parents or adults in the room use a journal to take notes or write some found poetry.

A found poem can take any structure, the only guideline is that the text comes from your source (say, for example, the students, an advertisement, a museum info panel etc.), and the arrangement of that text comes from you (the writer)

To demonstrate, I’ve made some found poetry from our spam collection.

For some reason, the Bots seem to occasionally pick up page titles and incorporate them into their comments. For reasons unclear to me, they seem to be particularly attracted to one of our incredible Blackfoot Educators Adrian Wolfleg (also previously featured on this blog). I think Adrian is fantastic, and apparently so do some bots, so here is a poem:

 

I decided to leave a message here on your Adrian Wolfleg

They too want to know what all the hype is

and why all those people are following you

 

I discovered your Adrian Wolfleg

Is this really what you want?

Your hard work could earn you more

 

I have been browsing your Adrian Wolfleg

Fascinating stories

Improve your readership now

 

I really like your Adrian Wolfleg

It’s so easy

Please tell me what you think of mine

 

I’d appreciate some help for the title, any bots (or people, I guess… ) out there wanna take a stab at it?

 

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Student bloggers – more stuff in the crowded day?

IMG_2234Neil Gaimon in his lecture, “Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming.” argues that it isn’t so much what our children read, it is the opening up of space so they have time to read and read whatever they want.  That is the way to create readers and critical thinkers.  So, where does a blog fit into this?  I think writing has to be  part of  this discussion.  A critical thinker must also be able to illustrate their ideas and writing is where this happens.  This is the era of self publishing and thousands of blogs hit cyberspace everyday. In my own life, I reluctantly admit, I read more blogs than books now and if getting kids to read more means getting them to read anything, this might be one answer.  Blogs can be fiction, poetry,  art, music, science, current events – and they can be accessed by parents and students. In this blog post, Bill Ferriter offers some simple, straight forward methods for publishing classroom blogs.

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Art Museum Education

I took a workshop from Mike Murawski while at a Project Zero Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. It was focussed on multidisciplinary viewing of art – movement, sound, journaling, etc. We worked with a Jackson Pollock work for over an hour – and we could have doubled that! I think the blog that he moderates really addresses the style of learning we love – slow down, look deeply, form your own meaning. It is aimed at museum educators but really, we are all in the same boat.

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Art Museum Teaching
www.artmuseumteaching.com