Archive for the ‘Professional Development’ Category


Mega Video, MDIHS

December 10, 2014

All about the day!

Are you aware that we have a Maine Arts Education YouTube channel? If not, the name is Maine ARTSEducation and located at

I mentioned earlier on the blog and in the weekly list-serv email that Charlie Johnson, one of Mount Desert Island High School visual art teachers created a video of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative’s Mega-regional workshop at MDIHS.

It is now available for your viewing pleasure on the YouTube channel at Even among the snowflakes falling on the video you can see some of the seriousness and funny moments during the Mega MDIHS on November 25. (Who is that guy in the middle of the dance line?) THANK YOU CHARLIE for your PASSION for ARTS EDUCATION and WORK on the VIDEO!


MAAI Proficiency Q’s and A’s

December 9, 2014

You’re not alone

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This Fall has been one of the busiest in recent memory for me and for many reading this post. As Maine moves to implement its proficiency-based education requirement, virtually every arts program in Maine has been scrambling to define “proficiency” and what it looks like in their own classrooms. Invariably this has also led to the development of standards and indicators for each grade level. Our task is daunting, but the difficulty level is compounded by ours being a “local control” state; one in which the state sets policy, but local school districts have some degree of autonomy over curriculum and implementation.

Consequently, many of us in the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative leadership have been approached by arts educators all over the state and asked very leading questions. One of the quotes we received in feedback from our first state Mega-Regional Workshop on November 25th at MDI High School ( is typical: “(I need), more information about upcoming changes in policies, standards, teacher assessments, etc. My school does not keep me informed of any upcoming changes, i.e. proficiency based education…”

We have been working individually and collectively with so many districts and so many arts educators that I believe we’ve finally lost count. As school districts and arts educators continue their work through the Winter months ahead, here are some of the common questions we have received and our recommendations and suggestions moving forward.

Which standards should I be using?

MAAI has always taken the position that the only valid work is meaningful work, and that backwards design – identifying what knowledge or applied skills you believe is essential for every one of your students first – will lead you where you want to go. The North Carolina “I Can” statements by subject area located at!projects/c21kz provide a rich selection of these by standard and by grade level. Best of all they identify these by what a student knows, not what a teacher teaches.

There are many other helpful documents on the Maine Arts Assessment at!cross-curricular-documents/c2gj for you to look at and utilize as you make these determinations by grade span. The letter of the state law articulates that student proficiency is to be aligned with the Maine Learning Results. However, the work that we do in the arts can be connected to many exceptional standards documents, including those from other states, the national revised standards and even those of other countries. MAAI has found that if you connect to the indicators that resonate best with what you and your school values for proficiency in the arts, you will come up with a more meaningful, relevant and usable set of standards and indicators. These in turn will authentically move your work forward. If a crosswalk is required by your school district after the fact that ties your work directly to one specific set of standards, that will likely be a very manageable endeavor. Bottom line: make it meaningful and relevant by tying your work to essential student expectations first and then connecting to a specific standards document or set of standards later. This may all be done concurrently, but does not need to be, at least initially.

“What is the difference between a ‘standard’ and an ‘indicator’?”

There has been a lot of confusion even at the administrative level as to what each of these terms refer to. In essence, standards are the overarching, very broad umbrella statements. The Maine Learning Results have 5 of them, the first two (sections A and B) specific to each arts subject area. Indicators are the measurable statements or learning targets within each. Assessment of multiple indicators/learning targets will allow for an accurate measurement of proficiency within a specific standard. For instance, “Disciplinary Literacy” is a standard, underneath which would be measurable indicators, such as “Displays proper posture”, “Identifies correct key signatures” and so on. It is these indicators which will inform student proficiency for each standard.

“What’s the difference between ‘formative’ assessment and ‘summative’ assessment?”

In simple terms, formative assessment is the gut check. Formative assessments give you and your students the opportunity to take stock in progress made. These are utilized best when they also inform curriculum and instruction based on the results. These do not usually apply to a student’s “grade” per se, but inform everyone where students individually and/or collectively stand in the learning process. Summative assessment however is the running of the race; this is closer to what many would identify as ‘the test”. In proficiency based education models however, the difference between an assessment and a traditional test is that summative assessments may be given multiple times. The reason is because knowledge/application is measured for the purpose of demonstrating proficiency, and students are offered multiple opportunities to demonstrate.

“How can I possibly assess every student AND do all I need to do with such limited student face-time?”

Attend MAAI Regional and Mega-Regional Workshops ( which are offered throughout the entire school year. Attend an MAAI state event during the Summer or Fall. Reach out to an MAAI Teacher Leader  (!who/cqmo) who can assist you with some spot on ideas. Check out one of the MAAI videos on what standards based learning looks like in practical application (!arts-assessment-in-the-classroom/c1vvi). In the mean time, as you develop your proficiency work, keep it manageable. Not every indicator of every standard is required to be hit. But at the same time, use this authentic need for more student face time to drive conversations in your school about course scheduling and class frequency for the arts.

“How do I get started?” (alternate heading: “I’ve already had three false starts and am getting nowhere fast!”)

The Arts Assessment Resources site has a link called “Proficiency Toolbox” (!proficiency-toolbox/covj). This toolbox provides step-by-step suggestions for getting started and how to proceed once you’ve done so. Take a look at this site and see if it lends some clarity for you.

We’re in the thick of this proficiency work. But we’re in it together. Even as each individual school district goes about this journey in its own unique way, please make sure that YOU are connecting with other arts teachers as you develop your work. A collaborative process is one which will yield real, meaningful results, positive reinforcement in the process of getting there, and shared conversations which can only lead to deeper understanding for teachers and students alike. Remember: None of us is as smart as all of us! Please continue to share your work.


MAAI Mega MDIHS Review

December 8, 2014

Nancy Salmon’s review

Nancy Salmon is a member of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative’s Leadership Team. She is a dancer who has contributed enormously over the years to arts education in Maine. She attended the MAAI Mega MDIHS at Mount Desert Island High School on November 25,2014. Below you will find her review of the day. Thank you Nancy!

Nancy Salmon worked with the Teaching Artists during the Summit

Nancy Salmon

Being a relative newbie on the MAAI Leadership Team, the Mega-Regional workshop at MDI High School was my first. I arrived early and friendly teachers directed me toward the “arts wing.” I knew immediately when I found it – Art EVERYWHERE! Student work on all the hall walls, three visual art studios, a beautiful and LARGE music room and a Dance Studio!

My assignment was to help register people – actually two MDI students took that on, and I was the “elder” helper handling any monetary transactions. Registration table was the perfect place for me to put names, faces, places, and teaching roles together.

I participated in two workshops even though I’m not a public school teacher. I totally enjoyed Jane Snider and Lisa Ingraham, both visual arts teachers, workshop Studio Habits of Mind: Using the “Hidden Curriculum” to Encourage Student Autonomy (or anyone’s autonomy). A couple books they use and introduced were Studio Thinking 2 and From Ordinary to Extraordinary. Jane’s and Lisa’s workshop was a perfect introduction to some very useable concepts and exercises regardless of art discipline. Participants included teachers of all the arts.

Stevie McGary

Stevie McGary

My second workshop, Stir-Crazy: A Movement Tool Kit for the Sedentary School Day was conducted by Stevie McGary, a new teaching artist on the Maine Arts Commission roster. Lots of activities in Stevie’s “tool kit” to use students’ fidgety energy in a productive, creative way. Many of the activities could be used right in the classroom.

Back in the dance studio after lunch, Stevie took us through a short dance class, demonstrating the kinds of things she does in her visiting artist/residency work. (The video of the day that Charlie Johnson created will be posted on the Maine Arts Ed blog in the near future).

For the afternoon session we divided into 2 groups, performing arts teachers (all music teachers in this instance) and visual arts teachers. I participated in Rob Westergard’s session. The session was an opportunity to share successes, challenges and helpful ideas regarding Teacher Effectiveness and Proficiency.

All in all, a success! I’m reminded of how totally impressed I am with the smarts, the passion, the commitment to the arts and STUDENTS that arts teachers are in spite of all the challenges that exist in our public school environment. Applause for all!


Successful Mega!

December 2, 2014


The feedback is clear – the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative’s Mega – regional workshop at MDI High School last week was a success! Participants learned new information and the work that is done each day in classrooms across Maine was reinforced. Once again the highlight was the opportunity for Arts educators to come together for a professional development opportunity that was designed specifically for them.

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A HUGE THANK YOU to Charlie Johnson and his colleagues at MDI High School for hosting, to the MAAI Teacher Leaders who provided outstanding workshops: Janie Snider, Lisa Ingraham, Shannon Westphall, Frances Kellogg, Sue Barre, Charlie Johnson, to Teaching Artist Stevie McGary for the workshop and artists showcase, and to Catherine Ring, Rob Westerberg, and Nancy Salmon who provided technical assistance and leadership for the day!

I LOVE reading the feedback and how the day influenced participants thinking and teaching. Don’t take my word for it, below is what some of the participants said. I will post more in the near future along with a video that Charlie created to document the day.

  • I can’t believe how quickly this day flew by! As always, I wish that we had more time like this and opportunities to meet… I love these MAAI conferences, I always leave feeling more grounded and ready to take action
  • I like the Habits of Mind posters and the idea of the check list to keep throughout a project to assess each habit… These were really solid examples of what can be done.
  • I have already been implementing a few of these processes into my curriculum. Now, I just need to communicate this to my students in a clearer, more consistent manner.
  • Our district is focusing on Habits of Mind. I didn’t realize Studio Habits of Mind are different, but similar. Definitely a lot of useful information.
  • On the arts assessment website there is a proficiency toolbox that I will be able to revamp my assessments at my school.


  • how to authentically apply the learning results to assessment
  • how to create a simple rubric for standards is an easy way to keep track of what 1, 2, 3, 4 etc actually means
  • simple, quick class assessments concrete examples of student growth — A+
  • about how to apply assessments to the art classroom and how to make the language usable for students of all ages
  • recording with the ipad for quick assessment
  • strategies for holding myself and my students accountable for what they are learning and creating in the art room
  • engage and persist can be a way to think about behavior in a positive way
  • about some fun and creative resources to help with assessing my students
  • how students demonstrate their learning through a hands-on project (pinhole cameras)
  • even a quick 60-second movement can benefit across the school day
  • how to clearly describe different standards and allow students to have an important part in the grading process
  • some quick and effective ways to assess students on the fly in the elementary music setting, and how to score and record them.
  • all about the site:, I LOVE IT. Need to spend loads of time there.

The above list includes just some of the feedback from November 25. If this is information that you’d like to learn more about please be sure and attend another Mega-regional workshop that is planned for this school year. The dates and locations are below and the link to the registration is


TODAY on Mount Desert Island

November 25, 2014


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Perhaps you are at Mount Desert Island High School right now enjoying and soaking up ideas, food for thought, and exchanging your best practices. Today is the first Maine Arts Assessment Initiative’s (MAAI) Mega-regional workshop being held during phase 4, 2014-15 school year. There are 55 arts educators participating. A great big THANK YOU to Charlie Johnson and the MDIHS arts staff and administration for opening up their beautiful school for this professional development opportunity.

The MAAI Teacher Leaders are offering these workshops today Studio Habits, Making Evidence of Learning from a Sequence of Artworks, Efficient and Effective Assessment in the Elementary Music Classroom, Standards-Based Grading and Assessing for Proficiency, Stir-Crazy: A Movement Tool Kit for the Sedentary Classroom, It’s Elementary, My Dear, and Resources, Resources, and MORE Resources for Music Educators are all offered today.

The PM session is devoted to sharing and learning about where other schools and districts are on the pathway of Proficiency-Based Education and Teacher Effectiveness. The individual workshops will not be repeated at other Megas however, the PM session will be repeated at each one.

The MAAI Teacher Leaders have made a commitment not only to increase their knowledge but to share their learnings and current practices with others. Many of you have heard me say that “none of us is as smart as all of us” and the Megas are designed to share all that SMART!

If you aren’t at MDIHS today you will have multiple other chances for Megas. Please go to and check out the workshops being offered at the following locations.

Dates and Locations

5.5 contact hours are available for participating in the all-day workshop.

Please note
When registering there are two options for payment.
  1. PayPal
  2. By check issued to Maine Art Education Association, and mailed to Maine Arts Commission c/o Argy Nestor, 193 State Street SHS 25, Augusta, ME 04333. PLEASE DO NOT issue the check to the Maine Arts Commission.
Please email if you have any questions. 

Center for Arts in Education

November 18, 2014

Professional development opportunity

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Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 10.42.50 PMThe 2015 NATF Letter of Intent form is due November 19th!

Click Here to Apply!

The Center for Arts in Education invites arts teachers from public arts high schools and Title 1 high schools and middle schools to apply for funding for artistic development through its National Artist Teacher Fellowship program. Join us in celebrating 15 years of the NATF program, which offers arts teachers the opportunity to immerse themselves in their own creative work, interact with other professional artists, and stay current with new practices.

Click here to see our brochure.

 The NATF program provides grants of up to $5,500 to enable selected arts teachers from all disciplines to rejuvenate their own art-making. A complementary grant of $1,500 is awarded to each Fellow’s school to support post-fellowship activities in the classroom.

Eligibility for NATF:

Schools must:

  • Be a public arts high school, magnet school, or charter school with the primary mission of fostering the development of artistic talent; or a Title 1 middle or high school with a sequential arts program.
  • Offer sequential arts courses as a requirement for graduation
  • Employ artists as teachers

Arts Teachers must:

  • Be permanently assigned full or part-time faculty (teaching a minimum of 6 hrs/week in an arts discipline)
  • Be minimally in their fifth year of teaching arts at the high school or middle school level (middle school educators must be from a Title 1 schools)

Previous NATF and Surdna Fellows (Rounds 1-14) are ineligible to apply for 2015 NATF program.

Online Letters of Intent are due November 19, 2014

For complete program information, please visit our website:


For Once in My Life

November 14, 2014

Capitol Children’s Choir of London

The Capital Children’s Choir of London, England does their own version of Stevie Wonder’s “For Once In My Life,”. I love it!




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