Archive for January, 2011


Visit to South Berwick

January 31, 2011

Central Elementary School integrated team – Sally Gilbride and Kate Smith

Singing and dancing the Alabama Gal

Some of the ARRA funds that came into our state are being used for two projects that include the arts. One team of arts educators have been identifying Open Educational Resources (OERs). OERs are free, online, and high quality resources. The team of art, music, dance, and theater teachers are from each of the Maine superintendents regions and their resources are posted on the Maine Alliance for Arts Education site. This work is ongoing so visit the site often.

The second group of identified teachers are partner teams, one arts teacher matched up with another content teacher. They represent elementary, middle school, and high school. These teachers have created units that are aligned with the standards and exemplify best practices.

Kate Smith teaching about the Bones

Last week I had the opportunity to visit Central Elementary School in South Berwick where the music teacher Kate Smith and 2nd grade teacher Sally Gilbride have created an integrated unit. The unit is based on two farmers, brothers, who lived during 1860 named Beet and Turnip. The students are writing ballads based on Beet and Turnip’s lives. Of course they are learning about the music which has led them to dance and community gatherings and the underground railroad and on and on. It was a treat to watch Kate using a Smart Board to show the students “bones” being played and contra dances being called. I enjoyed my visit to South Berwick and was very impressed watching the unit unfold.


Remembering Christa McAuliffe

January 31, 2011

Twenty five years ago

While going through boxes to clear out an area of my workspace earlier this month I came upon the cover of a Life magazine I had saved on the 10 year anniversary of the Challenger disaster. I had mixed emotions as I read the articles this past week remembering the Challenger disaster from 25 years ago. I followed Christa McAuliffe’s story when she was selected to be the first teacher in space and was so proud that she was representing our profession as the first teacher in space. She was a passionate and highly dedicated teacher whose priority was students. It wasn’t about the content she taught but her focus was on the learning. In fact, I had forgotten that she was a social studies teacher and not math or science.

When I think about the impact she had made before and after the disaster I often wonder what it would have been like if the mission ended in success. Would Christa still be teaching today? Would the Challenger Learning Centers be built where 400,000 students have participated in simulated space missions?  I realize they are questions that can’t be answered. What I do know is that outstanding teachers are the key to good education. The relationship good teachers have with each student is a priority.

While I remember watching on TV in disbelief from that day I also remember her smiling face and am grateful that I continue to be inspired by someone I admired. You can read the article from Education Week, January 20, 2011 by clicking here.



Friday Again!

January 28, 2011

To realize the value of a week…

Kate Smith, Central Elementary, South Berwick, teaching the Bones

Just got what I call a “send along its way email”. I usually take a second and read them but rarely find ones I’d pass on. Sometimes they stop me and give me the opportunity to pause from the busy crazy life I live. This one helped me pause, it was sent by a dear friend and colleague, a veteran middle school educator. It’s about valuing a time period, with examples starting at 10 years and down to one second. Sometimes we say: “if I had been there 1 second earlier or later, this would have happened to me”.

Instead of passing the email on to others, I am using it to suggest that you stop and breathe and take life in to the fullest. Each moment of the day is very important to your students who come and go from your classrooms across the state of Maine. We’re all in this together, your joys and sorrows are similar to others. Successes with students are meant to be celebrated and the failures provide the chance to learn and grow.

I’m packing to leave for the Winter Retreat today and tomorrow at Point Lookout in Northport. About 100 educators will attend to share and learn and celebrate. Whenever teachers gather I think it is important to celebrate. In my opinion teaching is the most important profession in the world and we need to celebrate the good work that educators do each and every day!

So, whether you’ll be at the Winter Retreat or not please lift your glass to the most noble profession in the world! Please continue to provide learning opportunities for all students and realize the value of a moment of education!


2010 TEDxDirigo Videos Online

January 26, 2011

Maine’s first TEDx conference held 10-10-10

Zoe Weil

You might remember the blog post I did in November after spending a Sunday in November at the first TEDxDirigo that took place in Brunswick. It was an amazing day and I went away feeling like I wished that others could have attended. All of you would have walked away with something valuable from the experience. I am glad to tell you that the talks were taped and the first batch has gone online for all the world to enjoy as much as I did. Some I’d liked more than others but that is to be expected. I hope that you will find at least one that inspires you, pushes on your thinking or other wise makes you smile. Let me know what you think of them. Click on the names below and you can view them (in the comfort of your own homes or classrooms)!


The Future of Teaching

January 25, 2011

Have you heard of Will Richardson?

Will Richardson is a former librarian and journalism teacher who is presently a well known blogger on educational topics. He wrote “THE” book called Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. His blog Weblogg-ed is about using technology in teaching which he has had for 10 years.  I find the topics and the conversation interesting and rich. And, many folks comment on his posts.

I received an email yesterday with an article he wrote called Investing in Teachers as Learners”. It was published in Education Week, January 24th. Will discusses the importance of professional development and how it needs to look different since our students needs are different and the world is different. The learning environment has changed and our professional development needs to move with these changes.

Here is an excerpt from the article with hopes that you click on the link to read the entire article:

“I want my kids to be in places where they are cared for, where they are supported and encouraged by people whom they look up to, respect, and trust. There is no question that “teachers” still have a lot to offer my children. But those “teachers” now need to be experts at only one thing, and that is learning. They need to know how to help kids become those self-directed, literate learners who can ask meaningful questions, probe difficult problems, separate good information from bad, connect safely to strangers online, and interact with them on an ongoing basis. And, most importantly, our educators need to be able to do this themselves. They need to be able to model their own learning process for their students. Ask just about any student how much her teacher knows, and you’ll get a quick answer. Ask a student how her teacher learns, and you’ll likely get a confused look. This must change.

In the future, although it’s already happening in some classrooms today, the best teachers will be connected to educators and learners from around the globe, and, in turn, they will connect their students to educators and learners. They’ll share their own knowledge and thinking widely—embracing the power of transparency in thought and practice while skillfully mitigating the dangers of their and others’ visibility. Teachers should see themselves as only one node in a global network of educators with their students learning how to build networks for themselves.”

Please take time and read the entire article. Once you read it please come back and post your comments below and let us know WHAT YOU THINK!?!


AP Art Meeting

January 24, 2011

Advanced placement studio art network

This post was written by Bangor High School art teacher Kal Elmore and the photos were taken by Sheila Bohlin.

There was a meeting on Saturday, January 15th of the AP Studio Art Network. The group meets three times a year to share information, resources, and ideas that are relevant to the teaching of AP Art or other advanced art classes.

After introductions, we discussed some of the challenges we face with our current AP groups. A big issue was dealing with deadlines – many kids are trying to pass in work late. We all face kids who are less motivated and would like to find ways to push them to do more. Some of the work we are getting is not nearly as strong as we would like. There are many reasons for this but we all agreed it is becoming more and more of a problem. We discussed grading issues also, and the conversation took many turns as the group shared their experiences with finding ways to encourage higher standards.

Some fabulous lesson ideas were shared. We all had different strategies for helping students to find their own voice. Brainstorming lesson ideas was very satisfying and gave everyone something concrete to take away from the day.

The afternoon session focused on using the blog that Sheila Bohlin designed for our group. We have talked for a while about designing a site to share resources, information, ideas, etc. This is the start and it has enormous potential for us all! The blog has links to useful sites, links to school sites, and provides an opportunity to upload images for critique. We discussed many aspects related to the use of the blog and are still working things out.

We polled the group and decided to schedule our next meeting for March 26. We are not sure where the meeting will be but do put it on your calendar so you can plan to attend!

Sheila Bohlin and Kal Elmore share in coordinating this group. If you have questions or would like more information, write to Sheila ( or Kal (


MECA to Provide $12,000 Scholarships

January 23, 2011

Local high school students will benefit

This information was provided by Jessica Tomlinson,, Director of Public Relations, Maine College of Art

In 2010, Maine College of Art completed its vision to bring all academic and studio facilities under the roof of the Porteous Building. In appreciation of the local community that was instrumental in achieving this goal, MECA has created the Portland Area School Scholarship (PASS) for selected area high schools.

For any graduate of the selected schools who qualifies for admission to the undergraduate program at Maine College of Art, the College will provide a guaranteed $12,000 scholarship each year for four years or until they complete the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, provided they maintain good academic standing.

Eighteen years ago, Maine College of Art purchased the Porteous, Mitchell and Braun department store with the ambition to transform it into a vibrant campus for art and design. This past year, MECA completed their consolidation goals, bringing together all academic and studio facilities under one roof, providing students with five floors and 200,000 square feet of contiguous space in the heart of the Arts District.  With MECA as the anchor, the Arts District is filled with galleries, performance spaces, studios and creative businesses. It is a national destination for arts and culture.

This scholarship is open to any graduate of the selected high schools, regardless of when they graduated or if they are transferring from another institution. There is no limit to the number of graduates who can take advantage of this offer. With an estimated Fall 2011 tuition of $29,000 this brings the initial tuition cost to approximately $17,000. Students who are eligible can also apply for federal and state aid to further reduce their tuition costs.

“Now, more than ever, students choose a college based on a sense of place,” notes MECA President Don Tuski. “In addition to the rigorous arts education that students receive within our walls, they also have easy access to the vibrant creative community in the Portland area. We are so fortunate for this extended campus. This scholarship is an expression of our appreciation.”

Selected schools include: Cape Elizabeth High School, Casco Bay High School, Catherine McCauley High School, Cheverus High School, Deering High School, Falmouth High School, Gorham High School, Greater Portland Christian Academy, Greely High School, North Yarmouth Academy, Portland Arts & Technology High School, Portland High School, Scarborough High School, South Portland High School, Waynflete, Westbrook High School, Windham High School, and Yarmouth High School. These schools represent institutions within the Greater Portland area that are recognized by the State of Maine to award high school diplomas. Based on enrollment growth, the aim is to expand the list of selected schools. The first scholarships will be awarded for students entering the BFA program in Fall 2011.

In addition to new students, the scholarship applies to currently enrolled MECA BFA students who are graduates from the selected schools.

To qualify for the PASS, applicants need to submit an application and have a portfolio review with an admissions counselor. Contact the Admissions Office at or by calling 800.699.1509. The next Admissions Open House is scheduled for February 26.

Members of the public interested in contributing to the PASS fund should contact the Advancement Office at or call 207.775.5098.

Maine College of Art delivers a demanding and enlivening education in visual art and design within an intimate learning community. We teach each student how to transform aspirations and values into a creative practice that serves as the foundation for a lifelong pursuit of personal and professional goals. MECA offers a BFA degree in 10 studio majors, an MFA in Studio Arts, a Post-Baccalaureate in Art Education and continuing studies for youths and adults. For more information, see


Snow Day Work

January 22, 2011

Catching up

I remember what a gift snow days were… I was reminded today as the snow fall is that the best thing about the weather is we have absolutely no control over what happens! We got more than was predicted today (about 12 inches here) and that is fine by me. I left for my early morning walk at dawn as the snow was falling lightly. When I returned an hour later my foot steps were almost gone and I realized it was coming down pretty hard. WOW, was it ever beautiful!

So, what did you do today if you were home because of the snow? I hope you did something fun and exactly what you wanted. I am sure if you have young children that there is a good chance you went out and played in the snow. I hope so!

Part of my day was spent meeting with people using video ichat. Since Rob Westerberg didn’t have school today he and Catherine Ring and I met using video chat to discuss the Maine Assessment Initiative. Just to keep all of you informed here is a list of the topics that we discussed today.

  • Discussion about who will be the Teacher Leaders who will help facilitate the work
  • Spring MAEA conference and MMEA All-State conference
  • Funding resources to carry out the arts assessment initiative
  • Statewide assessment conference, October 7th, USM – what will the title be?
  • Creating a time line

To keep all of you up to date on the details you can go to the wiki we’ve created. There is also a time line available that shows the history. Feel free to email or post your comments or questions below.

You can see by the screen shot picture I took our conversation was not only serious. This was the first time Rob had videochatted so we needed to document it!


Report in Australia

January 21, 2011

Embedding the arts across the curriculum

The Australian reports that the arts should be embedded and funded in all subjects to boost learning and social skills. The author of the report, Robyn Ewing, says that it isn’t enough just to foster creativity but that the arts need to be embedded across the curriculum. Professor Ewing is from the University of Sydney’s education faculty where the report sites a study that took place in 2004. Students who were in programs promoting music or drama scored significantly higher in literacy, numeracy, communication and problem solving compared with other students.

You can read the article from The Australian, January 13, 2011 by clicking here.


Congratulations Dana and Stacy

January 20, 2011

Portland Museum of Art (PMA) staff receive award

Stacy and Dana at the museum

Two of PMA education staff members received national recognition for their outstanding work. Dana Baldwin, director of education and Stacy Rodenberger, coordinator of the school programs are being recognized for their work by the National Art Education Association (NAEA).

In March Stacy and Dana will attend the NAEA conference in Seattle to receive their awards. Dana was named the National Museum Educator of the Year and Stacy Outstanding Museum Educator of the Year for the eastern region.

Anyone who has worked with Dana and Stacy know how dedicated they both are to collaborating with teachers and to create the best programs that impact student learning.


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