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Sparks

158. Language Learning and Conductivity

Bilingual teaching environments serve as brilliant neurolinguistics laboratories. We’ve been astounded again and again by the phenomenon of accelerated language transference and enhanced learning through the conductive media of music, song, story, dance and movement theater.

It should be no surprise. Here’s a sprinkling of language formation facts:

Language formation begins inside the womb. Imagine what it’s like in there. We form up immersed in a warm and soft, fluid, undulating, salt watery, electrically conductive amniotic environment where the sensations of sound, touch and movement are amplified and charged.

The mother’s steady heartbeat is omnipresent within this gently swooshing, pulsing ocean-like atmosphere. It is never still nor silent. The baby is being continually massaged by the movements and sounds of the mother’s internal environment. The song and cadence, tone and texture of the mother’s voice is an intrinsic presence.

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157. Blue Mind Red Brain -Part 1

“The Blue Mind way of education not only trusts in our natural intelligence, it IS our natural intelligence at work...” “Red Brain loves to explain and inform. Explaining and informing is not teaching…”

A few years ago we were teaching our “We Are Here” curriculum in a Montessori school. It dovetails nicely with the Montessori philosophy, especially exploring the solar system, the Earth’s timeline, and micro-macrocosm comparisons. In teaching the song Riddle of the Planets, we show a video of a CGI model of the helical motions of our solar system. It’s awesome. It crudely depicts the combined spiral pathways of the planets around our sun as the sun moves through the galaxy. It successfully breaks away from the single plane Newtonian atomic model of the solar system and opens the door to breathtaking new perceptions.

We show the video then demonstrate the planetary motions in “3D Blackboard” style. The children get it right away. It enters the fertile garden of their brains and stimulates wide-eyed new connections. It doesn't conflict with the fact that they observe the sun going across the sky every day from a geocentric perspective. Nimble minds have the mental agility to shift perspectives with ease.

Riddle Of The Planets

Then comes the wonderful questions: What is gravity? What causes gravity? And I say, ‘Ya know, the smartest scientists in the world puzzle over gravity. They don't really understand it. What do you think causes gravity?”

And one bright seven year old girl says, “That’s simple, scientists don’t understand gravity because everything is spinning around everything else and they don't know that's what causes gravity!”

How can you not love this answer? Everything is spinning around everything else!

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156. Ohkay Owingeh on Winter Solstice Night

We have been given a rare gift. In the Fall of 2016 we began teaching in three village schools of the Española Valley school district. To see why it is such a gift requires stepping back from the immediacy of 21st century America.

Northern New Mexico is a rare jewel on this planet. You have to see it and feel it to begin to know just how extraordinary it is. And yet, many miss it. It does not yield to hostile or opportunistic brains. It is a powerful maternal land. It has a different rhythm, long and slow...ancient...soft, yet potent. Anthropologists have called the Rio Grande "the Nile of the Southwest" because of its rich and ancient pre-Columbian living heritage. Like so many of the special places of this Earth, it defies mediocrity. If you're open to it, it provides a nourishment that originates beyond the stars.

One of the schools we've had the privilege to work in is San Juan Elementary. It's in the village of Ohkay Owingeh, previously known as San Juan Pueblo. This is the birth place of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, which is the only successful revolt of indigenous Americans against European colonization...ever! So there is something very powerful and protective about this land....like a mother for her young. In fact, Ohkay Owingeh means 'place of the strong people'.

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155. IZ Journeys Israel

This summer we were invited to teach in Israel. The invitation came from a most special village in the Northern Galilee called Ma'ale Tzvia. The following story can barely touch the feeling of appreciation, love and honor we hold after having been given such a rare and beautiful opportunity. Nevertheless, it is offered here to our known and unknown community of creative educators around the world as a signal of strength and hope.

Stories within stories within stories...

Chapter 1 ~ Insight

This story begins with our last night in Israel. We are in the ancient port city of Jaffa in a restaurant called Blackout. The waiters are blind and the chefs and staff are deaf and/or blind. We are there courtesy of Melli's amazing dance teacher and dear friend, "T". They had not seen each other since coming together to Israel from South Africa in 1976 to start a dance school. Yes, 40 years.

Our stories are threads in tapestries, made of light and sound, vibrancy, depth and dimension.

Here we were, eating the most flavorful, sensuous food in total darkness. There are many people in the room. You can hear them, feel them, smell them...but you cannot see each other. You cannot move without a blind escort. It was marvelous. So private and yet intimate; so freeing of visual inhibitions and yet helplessly dependent on the guidance of the blind, who navigate the sightless world with quiet grace. Read more

154. Beyond Equality

Here is a little story. This winter and spring we did a multiage program called Wild and Free in a Santa Fe School. It explores endangered species and their habitats, ecosystems and biomes, biodiversity and sustainability. The story involves the fourth grade class.

We were into our fourth session with the fourth graders working on a newly arriving song about Biomes and Biodiversity. It was cool. We feel incredibly honored to introduce such vital concepts through the arts.

There was a wonderful creative atmosphere in the room. It always comes with a certain look in the eyes. Something spontaneous, new and green was appearing. First there was the rhythmic rap to the words - "Biosphere, Biomes, Biodiversity". Then an accompanying line showed up - "The earth is a place of variety. Variety is the spice of life."

Everybody was into it. Here they were expressing values and concepts they cared about. Especially 'biodiversity' - the fact that bio diverse systems thrive.

Now we needed something to describe each of the earth's major biomes, and then the breakthrough moment came.

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153. Wonderful Time Zone Song & Video

A Day Around The World

A truly wonderful exercise is to imagine what is happening right now in different time zones around the world. What are people doing right now in Madagascar, or in New Zealand, or in Japan? You have to know what time of day it is there, what season it is, what climate, what the place is like and what people do there.

Here is a song that travels around the world through the international time zones.

"A Day Around the World" helps children explore concepts to do with the world clock, why we have standardized time zones, their origins and history.

Teaching compassion and diversity comes naturally when children are mindfully, heartfully introduced to world cultures through geography, story and song... May this song be a joyful companion and springboard into discovery of the extraordinary planetary theater we all play a part in.

~PAZ

152. Spring News 2016

Dear friends, family and fans,
We have exciting news from Talking Hands Talking Feet! This year we are doing our first multiage arts integrated residencies in two Santa Fe public schools; we did a professional development intensive for teachers at the MSU Riley Center in Meridian, Mississippi; we have been invited to Israel to conduct a summer camp, teacher trainings and public performances in July; and this fall we break ground on new construction for an expanded and more versatile Humming Grove Center.

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151. Art Is A Process, Not A Product

WTOK TV news report

"It is all about promoting the arts as a tool for learning. It's about teachers using the arts in their classrooms as a media of translation and full bodied expression of their curriculum content. It is a powerfully effective teaching methodology…"

Teacher Training in Action

Five o'clock, we wake up, showers, finish packing, take care of the dogs, the cats, the chickens, the boy, load the car and go! But it's been snowing for hours. We barely get out our long driveway to the road and then to I-25 where it's single lane travel at a dark, snowy, slippery 45 mph. We ain't gonna make our flight.

But then, as we descend 2000 feet into the Rio Grande Valley, the snow stops, the road clears and we hit cruise speed. Mississippi here we come!

A few hours later we land at the intergalactic airport of Meridian, with its one gate. Read more

150. New Geography Song

Genuine respect and curiosity about human life on this marvelous blue planet in all its diversity is artfully encouraged in the song New Geography for children ages 5-12.

New Geography Video

The song is written in the passionate belief that we humans can overcome prejudice and cultural bias by thoughtful and compassionate education.

"Sense of place" begins in early childhood. It is inextricably connected to our sense of belonging. How we engender sense of place in children is so important. It opens or closes minds and hearts.

The song New Geography helps to open the conversation about where we live. It helps us define "home" from local to global citizenship.

Children love to see how humans do things in different countries. The adventure into the world mosaic of human expression can begin at an early age - through language, music, story, art, dance, architecture, custom, costume, culture, history...There are so many ways to get to know the world.

Geography is about becoming intelligent caretakers of our home planet earth as bright lights in the world.

We hope you enjoy this wonderful song.

"North, South, East and West
Be a point of light upon the map
North, South, East and West
This is lesson one in Geography"

~PAZ

149. Learn To Express, Express To Learn

Arts Education and Arts Integrated Education need each other.

Arts Education is learning to express through art forms - music, dance, visual arts, poetry, drama...and more.
Arts Integrated Education is giving expression to learning through an art form (or forms) in order to assimilate, deepen and broaden one's understanding and to develop high function mental and emotional faculties.

Education, at its core, is truly one of the highest art forms.

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