Color Theory for Writing Teachers | Anna Plemons

By grace and serendipity I recently had the chance to visit the Bauhaus Archive in Berlin, Germany.  In looking through some of the color studies by Johannes Itten and Paul Klee I was shocked to discover something new to me—albeit embarrassingly elementary—about how colors work in conversation with each other.  I realize that in sharing […]

The Teacher’s Chair | Anna Plemons

In my last ALT/space post I wrote about the young musician who questioned the open-ended teaching style that I use with incarcerated writers.  I wrote the post, sent it in, felt uneasy about how my story as a teacher was tangled with the intimate witnessing of another man’s tears, argued with myself over the breach […]

The “Worst” Teacher Ever | Anna Plemons

At the prison where I am a guest TA, writing classes exist (for the moment) through two different administrative/funding streams – federally mandated mental health services and inmate self-help programs. Six months ago, Jim Carlson, the recreational therapist at CSP-Sac who is also my escort, suggested that we try to add a writing group for […]

Working in Impossible Places | Anna Plemons

This past March, I met with Spoon Jackson at the far end of the cellblock dining hall.  Jim Carlson, the artist facilitator turned recreational therapist (who established the Arts in Corrections program at CSP-Sac) had called-and-knocked his way up the chain of command to authorize the meeting.  I had been in the cellblock during a […]

Round Pegs & Square Holes | Meg Mahoney

Creating a permanent place for the arts in public education requires some adjustment between the two in order to create a fit — a whittling process that usually affects the art more than the public institution within which it’s finding a home. Given the current trends in educational reform, with emphasis on standardized testing, accountability, […]

The Power of a Hula Hoop | Meg Mahoney

Early in my first months of teaching my students with Autism, I discovered that hula hoops held a special power. One day at the end of class, we’d been working hard on structured activities with variable success: lots of cajoling of individual students, with them alternately joining and wandering away from our activities. Exhausted, I […]