Tag Archives: good books

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RFL 3D printer

“All the secrets in the world worth knowing are hiding in plain sight.” – from Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

AS220 and Rogers Free Library will present a 3D Printer workshop on Feb. 27, 2014 at 6:30pm.  See a 3D printer in action, learn how it works and what it can do.  This is a free event and open to all interested.  This workshop is presented as part of the “Reading Across Rhode Island” programming for the 2014 selection of “Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore” by Robin Sloan.  For more information, click here.

Listening to the Call

We all have art that calls to us.

If we listen to the call, we become performers, or makers, or active appreciators.  We spend time on our art, because all the arts require time … but when we’re spending time with the art that calls to us, when we’re in our Element, as Sir Ken Robinson calls it, the time seems to pass in an instant.

time flies when you’re having fun…

But no one’s life proceeds in a straight, unchanging line, and some of us may choose to tuck our art away.  Perhaps we are focusing on the demands of a young career, or maybe we are devoted to the priorities of raising our young children.  And there are only twenty-four hours in a day … so we tuck our art away for a while.  And we’re okay with that – well, mostly!  On our good days. ;)

Thank goodness, it doesn’t go away.  The arts are at the core of our humanity; our need for self-expression, for creativity, for connection.  And if we’re lucky or smart or brave enough, we can remember where we tucked it away and bring it out again, or maybe discover something new, when the path of our life turns and we can again spend time on our art.

Nina MurphyFor Bristol resident Nina Murphy, that art is the theatre.  A long-time supporter of public schools and an advocate for arts in education, Nina will be playing Marmee in a local production of “Little Women” running the first weekend in May.  This marks her return to the stage after a number of years, and she is buzzing with nervous excitement about her opening night this Friday.

The eldest of six children, Nina is part of an accomplished creative family.  Her family has always placed high value on the arts; growing up, she remembers her family was always an “arts family”, in the same way that some families are “hockey families” or “soccer families”.  She was an active member of her high school’s theatre company, and went on to double-major in Theatre and English at Boston College.  And like most of us, her life has not followed a straight path – she worked for the Massachusetts State Film Council for a while, then got into media sales for various magazines and news outlets; she got married, and acted in a play or two, and lived in Hawaii for a time; she became a mother and focused her time on raising her young children, and she worked alongside her husband on an entreprenurial food venture you may have heard of, Wicked Natural.

Then came a moment when she had a chance to breathe, and wonder what she’d like to do next – and a friend mentioned her acting.  It was one of those moments when you’re so grateful for the friend who can point out what’s right there in front of you, so close you didn’t see it.  She had the time to spend on her art!  And it was a serendipitous moment.  When Nina googled “community theatre rhode island” just to see what would come up, she learned there was an audition that very weekend for an upcoming production of “Little Women” – and without overthinking it, she leaped in.

It wasn’t until after Nina had landed the role of Marmee that she learned the production was the senior project of an ambitious Tiverton High School student named Carrie Monroe.  Ms. Monroe has relied on her lifelong passion for theatre, and the support of her mentor and her local community, to pull off this impressive project.  As director, she is poised to see it all come to life this weekend, May 3rd, 4th & 5th at the Little Compton Community Center.

read more about Carrie Monroe’s production in The Bay magazine.

For Nina, the fact that she can contribute her talent to the effort to bring this student’s directorial vision to life gives the experience a wonderful added layer of meaning.  She’s been moved by the support of her husband and her two children.  She’s thrilled to get to exercise her ‘theatre-muscles’ again.  And she’s glad to have worked with a mix of adults and young people, glad for the chance to learn from each other, to grow.  But mostly, she’s happy she did it, she got back to her art.

“It’s been great to revisit something that’s always given me such pleasure, and that’s creating a character.” -Nina Murphy

Break a leg, Nina!

Catch a performance of “Little Women” this weekend, on Friday, May 3rd and Saturday, May 4th at 7pm, and on Sunday, May 5th at 2pm, at the Little Compton Community Center, located at the Commons in Little Compton, RI.  Tickets are $10 and are available at the door; the production is a fundraiser for autism awarenessClick here for directions.

(make it a) Happy Thanksgiving!

Whether you’re traveling or staying close to home, hosting or visiting family & friends, The Arts Room wishes you and yours a happy Thanksgiving!  For your enjoyment, here’s a quirky little Pinterest board full of ideas to celebrate this week’s holiday…

1219898_old_books____2

Turning the Summer Reading List Upside-Down

With just one week left in the Bristol-Warren school year, summer reading lists are sprouting up everywhere, provided by educators and administrators and other helpful souls intent on making sure students don’t lose any good reading habits they may have picked up during the school year.  The truth is, if a child has internalized a love of reading, then it’s highly unlikely he or she will abandon this joy over the summer (and it’s just as unlikely that any required summer reading+writing assignments will cause a child to develop a love of reading – and that’s the true goal, right?).  So then, what’s the best way to grapple with the ‘summer reading slump’?  Sixth-grade teacher Donalyn Miller has a few good ideas:

“The summer break is a marvelous time for readers, freed from the mandates of assigned school reading, to explore topics and books of their own interest. While it is challenging to require or monitor students’ summer reading, here are some suggestions for launching a school-wide summer reading initiative that encourages more children to read during summer break…” (read more)

Donalyn Miller is the author of The Book Whisperer, a compelling book full of simple practices and common-sense wisdom, and one of the books on our own summer reading list … The Arts Room’s Upside-Down Summer Reading List, a menu of suggested books for teachers, administrators, parents and other educators to read and ponder over the summer!

 The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller.  “Donalyn Miller says she has yet to meet a child she couldn’t turn into a reader. No matter how far behind Miller’s students might be when they reach her 6th grade classroom, they end up reading an average of 40 to 50 books a year. Miller’s unconventional approach dispenses with drills and worksheets that make reading a chore. Instead, she helps students navigate the world of literature and gives them time to read books they pick out themselves. Her love of books and teaching is both infectious and inspiring. The book includes a dynamite list of recommended “kid lit” that helps parents and teachers find the books that students really like to read.”

imagine_cover Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer.  “From the bestselling author of How We Decide comes a sparkling and revelatory look at the new science of creativity.  Shattering the myth of muses, higher powers, even creative “types,”  Jonah Lehrer demonstrates that creativity is not a single “gift” possessed by the lucky few. It’s a variety of distinct thought processes that we can all learn to use more effectively. Lehrer reveals the importance of embracing the rut, thinking like a child, and daydreaming productively, then he takes us out of our own heads to show how we can make our neighborhoods more vibrant, our companies more productive, and our schools more effective.”

*bonus read – Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative by Ken Robinson

 The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson.  “From one of the world’s leading thinkers and speakers on creativity and innovation, a breakthrough book about talent, passion, and achievement. The element is the point at which natural talent meets personal passion. When people arrive at the element, they feel most themselves and most inspired and achieve at their highest levels. The Element draws on the stories of a wide range of people … With a wry sense of humor, Ken Robinson looks at the conditions that enable us to find ourselves in the element and those that stifle that possibility. He shows that age and occupation are no barrier, and that once we have found our path we can help others to do so as well. The Element shows the vital need to enhance creativity and innovation by thinking differently about human resources and imagination. It is also an essential strategy for transforming education, business, and communities to meet the challenges of living and succeeding in the twenty-first century.”

 The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing by Alfie Kohn.  “Death and taxes come later; what seems inevitable for children is the idea that, after spending the day at school, they must then complete more academic assignments at home. The predictable results: stress and conflict, frustration and exhaustion. Parents respond by reassuring themselves that at least the benefits outweigh the costs. But what if they don’t? In The Homework Myth, Alfie Kohn systematically examines the usual defenses of homework – that it promotes higher achievement, “reinforces” learning, teaches study skills and responsibility. None of these assumptions, he shows, actually passes the test of research, logic, or experience. So why do we continue to administer this modern cod liver oil – or even demand a larger dose? … Kohn shows how we can rethink what happens during and after school in order to rescue our families and our children’s love of learning.”

*bonus read – Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Dan Pink

Drive by Dan Pink

A Whole New Mind A Whole New Mind by Daniel H. Pink.  “In this insightful and entertaining book, which has been translated into 20 languages, Daniel H. Pink offers a fresh look at what it takes to excel. A Whole New Mind reveals the six essential aptitudes on which professional success and personal fulfillment now depend, and includes a series of hands-on exercises culled from experts around the world to help readers sharpen the necessary abilities. This book will change not only how we see the world but how we experience it as well.”

*bonus read – You’re Smarter Than You Think by Thomas Armstrong

You’re Smarter Than You Think

Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons by Howard Gardner.  “Howard Gardner’s brilliant conception of individual competence has changed the face of education in the two decades since the publication of his classic work, Frames of Mind. Thousands of educators, parents, and researchers all over the world have explored the practical implications and applications of his Multiple Intelligence theory—the powerful notion that there are separate human capacities, ranging from musical intelligence to the intelligence involved in self-understanding. This new edition of Multiple Intelligences covers all developments since its original publication in 1983, and stands as the most thorough and up-to-date account of the theory of multiple intelligences available anywhere.”

 Studio Thinking: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education by Lois Hetland, Ellen Winner, Shirley Veenema, and Kimberly M. Sheridan.  “You do not have to read very far into Studio Thinking to feel that, like Lewis Carroll’s Alice, you have stepped through the looking glass into a fantasy world where the colors are brighter, the scenes richer, and the adventure altogether more engaging that what you recall about school. …So, having stepped through the looking glass into this strange world of studio learning, how do we make sense of it all? Here the pathways branch. Maybe the visual arts are a special sort of undertaking, some might say. Or maybe these are very special teachers and very special students. Or maybe this is the sort of messing around we can afford when we’re not dealing with high-stakes core subject matters. But what if none of these answers leads anywhere worthwhile? What if, far from a fantasy world, studio learning turns out to be much more realistic regarding the way learning really works than most typical classroom settings? …Here at last are the results of the first in-depth research on the habits of mind that are instilled by studying visual art – habits, the authors argue, that could have positive impacts on student learning across the curriculum.”

Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change The World  Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World by Tony Wagner.  “From a prominent educator, author, and founder of Harvard’s Change Leadership Group comes a provocative look at why innovation is today’s most essential real-world skill and what young people need from parents, teachers, and employers to become the innovators of America’s future. …Wagner identifies a pattern—a childhood of creative play leads to deep-seated interests, which in adolescence and adulthood blossom into a deeper purpose for career and life goals. Play, passion, and purpose: these are the forces that drive young innovators.”