Archive for the ‘Professional Development’ Category


Big Week for Maine Arts Ed

July 28, 2014

This is a BIG WEEK for Arts Education in Maine!!


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We have more than 90 educators attending the Summit on Arts Education at USM, Portland campus on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and almost half of those will also be attending on Friday for the Teacher Leader day. Included on the attendee list are dance, music, theatre, and visual arts PK-12 teachers, teaching artists, other educators, and representatives from arts organizations and the university. There are 13 teams participating. The Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI) Leadership team and Teacher Leaders have been crazy busy with the agenda planning that will be full of rich learning opportunities.

Included on the agenda:

  • Sessions on Assessment, Leadership, Student-centered, Standards-based, Proficiency, Advocacy, Arts Integration, Creativity, Literacy, Technology and much more provided by MAAI teacher leaders, leadership team, members, Lesley University staff, technology integrators from NC, MLTI, and MICDL, and teaching artists
  • The unveiling of the Teacher Leader Resource Bank by Julie Richard, Executive Director of the Maine Arts Commission
  • An electronic discussion with the State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education (SEADAE) who are at a conference in Washington, DC this week
  • Arts Education Program Director, Jeff Poulin from Americans for the Arts will be presenting a session on Leadership and Advocacy
  • Stories and examples from MAAI Teacher Leaders
  • Time for networking with other Maine educators
  • Arts Education organizations, higher ed representatives, and community groups will be exhibiting and sharing information
  • The opportunity to create an Individual Action Plan and/or a Team Action Plan to implement back home in teachers school districts

Teachers who are attending the Summit will receive contact hours, CEUs or graduate credit.

If you have not registered for the Summit you may still do so no later than TODAY by clicking here For more information please click here



Maine Focus Groups and Community Conversations – don’t miss this opportunity!

Are you interested in joining others interested in arts education to talk about the future of arts education in Maine? If so, please plan on attending the event on

Tuesday, July 29, 7:00-8:00pm at the Maine College of Art, 522 Congress St, Portland, ME.

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 2.27.24 PMWe have a wonderful opportunity to help influence the future of our community and the future of our state. Please join me  to participate in a discussion about the kinds of creative opportunities and activities you would like to see available for our residents, our children, and our families. Often times, plans are created for us, instead of with us they miss the mark and we miss the opportunity to see what we value included in the mix.

If you have questions about either of these opportunities taking place this week please don’t hesitate to email me at


7 More Days!

July 22, 2014

There is still time to register

MAAI Logo_Color_TxtRtThe Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI) Teacher Leaders are busy putting the last minute touches on their presentations, the food is ordered, the space is ready to go, the participant bags are being stuffed full of information, and the excitement is intense at the Maine Arts Commission. The Summit on Arts Education is only a week away!

Not a day goes by that I don’t receive an email or a phone call from someone inquiring about the Summit on Arts Education being held July 29-31, USM, Portland. Just when I think that everyone who wants to attend has registered or that there can’t possibly be someone who hasn’t registered that wants to attend. Sooooo… if you are still thinking about attending please don’t hesitate any longer. For more information please click here and to go directly to registration please click here If you have questions please email me at

And, if you are an arts organization and would like to join us for Wednesday morning only, July 30, for a Carousel. The morning is designed for organizations who wish to provide information for Summit participants to learn about what there is available for arts education opportunities for field trips, etc. Please contact me if you think this might be a match for your organization. Deadline for this is tomorrow, Wednesday, July 23.

The Summit is designed for you to attend as an individual or part of a team to receive professional development in assessment, leadership, technology, and teaching and learning for the 21st century curriculum. Topics include proficiency, standards-based teaching and learning, student-centered, arts integration and more. You will create a plan that fits your needs in your classroom, school, and district.

I hope you can join us for this first time MAAI offered learning opportunity!






ZOOM Planning

July 15, 2014

Getting ready

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 11.23.53 PMMany of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI) Teacher Leaders and Leadership Team have been working (almost) around the clock getting ready for the Arts Education Summit happening on July 29-31 at USM, Portland campus. The Summit is chock full of sessions facilitated by educators with years of experience in teaching and assessment practices. To learn more please click here.

During the last three summers the MAAI has provided a summer institute for teachers interested in being Teacher Leaders. The feedback we received from many teachers included requests to provide summer extended professional development for everyone, not just those who wish to be MAAI Teacher Leaders.

Recently several of the Teacher Leaders planning the Summit came together for a planning meeting using which provides video conferencing. MAAI has been using it for meetings recently and found it very simple and reliable! Above is an image that I took (screen shot) during the meeting attended by 16 educators. Direct registration to the Summit can be accessed by clicking here.

MAAI is continually breaking new territory to meet the needs of arts educators across the state which we know ultimately impacts arts education and all students. It is not to late to register for the Summit! Don’t miss this fabulous opportunity! Please contact me by email if you have any questions at The image below is arts educators (plus 1) jamming last year at the MAAI summer institute.

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College Students

July 11, 2014

Invitation for college students studying arts education

The Maine Arts Assessment Initiative is inviting pre-service teachers to attend the Summit on Arts Education at USM, July 29-31. Please read the details below and if you have any questions contact York Middle School Music Educator Jen Etter at or Marshwood Middle School Art Educator Melanie Crowe at

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Call for Workshops

July 6, 2014

“The Arts Inspire” Fall conference

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Happy July!

July 1, 2014

Time is flying by

I am not sure where June went but I am glad to know that visual and performing arts teachers are taking a break from their during the school year teaching responsibilities. I’ve heard from many teachers saying what a tough and busy year it has been. Well, hopefully you are enjoying the beautiful Maine weather and are preparing to celebrate the birth of our country this weekend with family and friends.

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I am busy preparing with the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI) Leadership team and Teacher Leaders for the Summit on Arts Education at USM, Portland, July 29-31. If you are interested in attending there is still room – information and registration can be accessed by clicking here. Very exciting!

The Maine Arts Commission Arts Education list-serv is up and running once again. If you’d like to subscribe please email me and I’d be glad to add your email address.

The MAAI videos that were created of standards-based arts education classrooms are almost completed and will be posted in the near future. Watch the blog for more information in the near future.

And, the Resource Bank Team has completed their tasks of created two units each. That means that there will be 12 units available in the future. They will be part of the Summit in July so if you want to take a look please join us there.

The Maine Arts Commission grant reviews will be taking place in two weeks and I am busy reviewing and arranging for the three day review. One of those days will be working with a panel that will review the 22 Arts Learning grant requests. What an exciting process it is and a fabulous learning opportunity.

In between I am finding time to enjoy the sunshine and I hope you are as well. If you have any questions about the Maine Arts Commission programs please visit our site by clicking here. Email me at if you have any questions.



Music at the Core: Making Standards Work

June 22, 2014

Online course offered

This online professional development course helps participants understand how to create lesson plans that include embedded standards in the music curriculum.

Course description
Music teachers set high standards for their students by the nature of what they do. Performances have to make audiences and performers alike happy. But just getting applause and a “good job” from an administrator doesn’t mean you can readily prove what your students know and are able to do.

No matter where you are, this class will show you how to “begin with the end in mind” and structure your teaching around State, National and/or Common Core standards. We’ll explore online tools, building authentic rubrics, and how to manage your data. More importantly, you’ll learn how to enhance what you already do while meeting your Standards requirements.

Course goals
Upon completion of this course, learners will understand how to create lesson plans that include embedded standards in music. Use of web-based technology will enhance this process and embed 21st Century skills throughout the course. This course also provides a component of each of the six Standards of the North Carolina Teacher Evaluation process.

Course objectives
Collaborate with classroom or core subject teacher.
Develop effective rubrics for both teacher and student.
Adapt a lesson plan template to incorporate standards.
Explore online collaboration and/or storage tools.
Work collaboratively with peers to develop a standards aligned lesson and/or unit.

This course is being taught by Barbara Vinal (Packales) with a start date of July 9, 2014. To register please click here.


Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Lisa Ingraham

June 17, 2014

Madison Elementary School art teacher

This is the 12th blog post for 2014 and the third phase of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI) of this series sharing arts teachers’ stories. This series contains a set of questions to provide the opportunity for you to learn from and about others. Lisa has been a teacher leader during phase 3 of the MAAI.

IMG_3439Lisa Ingraham is a Kindergarten-4th Grade Visual Arts teacher in MSAD 59. She has been teaching all 260 of the students at Madison Elementary School for the past 3 years. She has been teaching art for 9 (!) years, all at the elementary level. Her students attend 50 minute art classes once per week throughout the school year. Lisa joined the MAAI has a teacher leader during the third phase. Lisa and her program are highlighted this year in one of the 8 arts classrooms videos being created that highlight standards-based/student-centered learning. Phase 3 videos are almost complete, phase 2 videos can be viewed by clicking here.

What do you like best about being an arts educator?

My favorite part of being an arts educator has always been working with every student in my school. This is my third year as the K-4th grade art teacher at Madison Elementary School. I have gotten to know each of the students here, their strengths, their preferences, and their quirks. As I have gotten to know more about my students, I have developed an even deeper appreciation for them as uniquely creative individuals.

What do you believe are the three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?

  1. Passion for your content – I firmly believe in the power of the arts to change lives.
  2. Compassion for your learners – Each of my students approaches art in their own way. It is my job to make it meaningful for all of them.
  3. Support from your school and community – I would not be able to do what I do effectively without the support of my administrators, colleagues, and the parents of my students.

How have you found assessment to be helpful to you in your classroom?

I have found assessment to be critical in helping my students understand what they are learning and why, and how it all connects to their classroom goals and the world outside our school. As I have examined and modified the types of assessment I use the focus has shifted from discrete skills and bits of knowledge to helping students think about the bigger picture. Assessment, while helping me determine where we are going in the art room, has also kept me focused on providing depth for the students within our lesson and units.

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the arts assessment initiative?

The examples set by the incredible leaders, and teacher leaders I have met through the MAAI helped me understand that really good arts programs don’t happen by accident. Really good arts programs are driven by teachers who believe in what they are doing and are willing to work hard to create them. Thank you all for sharing your passion and knowledge! You have helped me realize that no one knows my art program better than me, and if I am going to make it the best program for my students I need to speak up and say, “this is what we are learning, and this is why it is important.”

What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?

Time is always a factor, as are resources. But I think some of the biggest hurdles I have had to get over have been the narrow expectations of others. While I am working to change this, the perception of the arts as their own isolated content area that will only truly benefit those students who become visual arts professionals limits the types of learning that others can imagine taking place through the visual arts. This affects the importance placed on the arts, their position in the school, and the resources allotted to them.

What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be due to “luck” or circumstances?

I love my job! I don’t “go to work” in the morning. I rarely think about it like that. I get to go to school and spend the whole day making art with young students. I feel incredibly lucky. However, I also know the years of work that went into switching to this – my second – career, and the work I’ve committed to in trying to bring the best visual arts education to my students.

Look into your crystal ball: what advice would you give to teachers?

When I went back to school to become an art teacher I had this idea that I was going to teach art. This was my loftiest aspiration: To Teach Art. The reality as it has turned out is that I teach kids. Side by side with art content I teach listening skills, how to be kind and responsible, how to work toward a goal and be persistent, how to appreciate the ideas and opinions of others, and how to learn from so-called mistakes.

My first professor in the very first education class I attended shared with us the old adage that “students won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” My students have confirmed this again and again, which leads me to my answer for the question…

What are you most proud of in your career?

Reaching students who appear at first glance to be unreachable. Some students take longer to trust that they are allowed to be who they are and express themselves creatively in the art room, but these are the students I am sure I will remember well after they leave me. I am thankful to the teachers who work closely with these students every day and have been very generous with their time in helping me make the connections necessary for them to have the successes they do in the art room.

If you were given a $500,000 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?

I am not really sure what I would do with all the money, but I know my school would have one absolutely incredible art program! (And I would probably still get really excited about finding the best “art supply” at a yard sale or discount store.)

Imagine you are 94 years old. You’re looking back. Do you have any regrets?

I hope not. One of my students’ favorite stories is “Pete the Cat, I Love My White Shoes.” I don’t currently have an art lesson I would like to go with it, but I love reading and singing the book with my students anyway. The best part is sharing the moral of the story, which I tend to repeat A LOT over the course of the school year: “No matter what you step in, keep walking along and singing your song… because it’s all good.”



Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Lisa Neal

June 10, 2014

Theater Arts, grades 9-12, Nokomis High School, Newport, Maine

This is the eleventh blog post for 2014 and the third phase of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI) of this series sharing arts teachers’ stories. This series contains a set of questions to provide the opportunity for you to learn from and about others. Lisa has been a teacher leader during phase 3 of the MAAI.

Screen Shot 2014-05-16 at 11.04.45 AMLisa Neal teaches Theater Arts to grades 9-12 students at Nokomis High School in Newport. She has been part of the district for 27 years where she began her educational career as an Education Technician. Lisa directed the middle school show chorus for 21 years and will begin her 19th year with the High school show chorus this fall. She also worked as a 7th grade social studies teacher for 10 years at Somerset Valley Middle School. Lisa has been at the high school teaching Theater Arts for the past two years. She  teaches two Acting classes, a Script Writing class, an Advanced Theater Class and a Comedy class. She also assists with the concert chorus and run the after school Drama Club. Her program is growing quickly; she has about 100 students in her classes and between the two after school productions, one of which was a musical, Lisa has about 50 students involved.

What do you like best about being an Arts educator?

There are so many reasons that I love teaching theater arts. It is very exciting to teach in an area where most of the students are excited to be there because they were able to choose the class. These students enjoy the content and are willing to give the effort needed to do the difficult work. I love watching students blossom into confident young men and women. So many come into the class as very shy individuals, not truly believing that they can conquer their fears around public speaking, yet they leave realizing that they have it within themselves to take those crucial risks. I love hearing them use terminology we have learned in class and be able to evaluate the craft based on true understanding of what they are viewing. I love hearing them make connections to other content areas and hearing them tell me they “felt smart” in their other classes because they applied concepts and knowledge they learned in Comedy class. In short, I love my job!

What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?

  1. Effective Educators:  Nothing in education will be successful if there are not people who are passionate about their content, but even more importantly, people who love being with students. Educators must inspire students and help them achieve their potential by encouraging and critiquing. When students know they have someone in their lives that truly care about them, they will thrive.
  2. Opportunities to DO:  The nature of the arts is to share. We need to give students the chance to share their work whether that is in front of an audience of ten peers or a public audience of 800. Remembering to consider each student as an individual while planning these opportunities is imperative, but it is giving them a chance to prove to themselves that they can do it is vital to their growth.
  3. Connections: We need to show students how the arts connect to other content areas, as well as other facets of their lives.  When they make this realization, they will continue to allow the arts to enrich their lives and become life long lovers of the arts.

How have you found assessment to be helpful to you in your classroom?

Invaluable! This year our school has put great emphasis on formative and summative assessments. I use formative assessments in many forms, every day in my classroom. Having a clear picture of your student’s understanding of the content, where their interests lie and what their ability level is, is the most important information that any educator can have. It helps to differentiate instruction for content, process and product, and it gives direction for future lessons. It allows a teacher to decide if they need to reteach certain concepts or if they can move on to the next one. It also assures that students will proficient on summative assessments that are given, which will be even more important as we move towards standards based diplomas.

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the arts assessment initiative?

I have had the chance to meet other talented, passionate educators from around the state; I have been able to share experiences.  Being a Theater Arts teacher can sometimes be lonely. I am the only one in my entire district to teach in this content area. Meeting other teachers who teach in the same content has been extremely helpful. We have developed a wonderful relationship, sharing ideas, rubrics, costumes and even did an exchange production, bringing each of our respective groups to the fall musical in each school.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I don’t know if I would say I am “proud”, but I will say what I hope that I have done is make a difference in the lives of my students. It is what I strive to do every day. I would like to think that some of them have learned something from me and they might look back and be able to say that they had a teacher who genuinely cared about their well-being and not just their education.

What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?

It never feels like there is enough time to do everything that needs to get done. I would love more time to reflect on my lessons and discuss with other educators ways to improve my practices. I think the most important thing that any educator has to do is continue to work towards “better.” I have always said that when I think I have it all figured out and that there is nothing more I can do to improve, then I better retire. I think it will take all the time I have to get to be the best teacher I can be.

What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be due to “luck” or circumstances?

I came into teaching later in life. When my daughter was in 7th grade, I quit my job and went back to school full time. I graduated when I was 35 years old and “fell” into a job during my student teaching. Although this may have looked like “luck”, I had spent 15 years in the community volunteering in my children’s school, working with a theater company that offered Shakespearean residencies to middle school students in the state of Maine, and working as the director of the middle school show chorus. After teaching for 10 years I decided I wanted to get my Masters Degree which I received last December from University of New England in Literacy Instruction. Getting the job as the Theater Arts teacher at Nokomis was lucky in that it opened at a perfect time, but the reason I was asked to be there was because of the work I had done in the district over the last 20 years.

Look into your crystal ball: what advice would you give to teachers?

Remember that teaching is not a job, it is a calling. Not everyone should be a teacher. You must be passionate about your content and know it well, but you must love being with students and imparting that knowledge even more. You must have patience, be flexible and above all, have a sense of humor. Before you become a teacher, make certain it is your calling because when you are called to be a teacher, there is no job more rewarding.

If you were given a $500,000.00 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?

Build a beautiful Performing Arts Center so my students could experience what it is like to perform on a real stage! Okay, I know this amount wouldn’t come close to doing that but I would just multiply my hypothetical money and make it a few million.

Imagine you are 94 years old. You’re looking back. Do you have any regrets?

At this point, I would say I do not have any regrets. I have a full rich life that includes a wonderful family, opportunity to perform with other talented people who love the arts on historic stages like Lakewood Theater and Waterville Opera House, and I work in a field that makes a difference in the lives of others. What could be better?


Maine Music Educators Conference

June 7, 2014

Annual event

Maine music teachers and students gathered at the University of Maine in Orono for the Maine Music Educators Association’s (MMEA) In-Service Conference last month. The conference offered performances from chorus, band, strings and jazz, and also provided professional development opportunities on proficiency and student assessment methods specific to each area of instruction. The workshops focused on the value of music education and musicianship and were presented by university and K-12 faculty, conductors, professional musicians and band directors.

Educators recognized for their outstanding service and support of school music programs were Falmouth Public Schools superintendent Barbara Powers as MMEA’s Administrator of the Year and RSU 9 based Mount Blue High School music teacher Karen Beacham as MMEA ‘s Teacher of the Year.

The conference’s universal theme was the lessons that music teach including conveying ideas adjusting techniques and collaboration through musical performance.

National Association for Music Education’s (NAfME) Christopher Woodside spoke about how music education not only impacts academic achievement, it also shapes the way students understand themselves and the world around them.

This post was contributed by Maine Department of Education Visual and Performing Arts Specialist Kevin Facer at and also appeared in the Commissioner’s Update, June 4, 2014.


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