Archive for August, 2011



August 31, 2011


WatchMECreate is a collaborative effort between ACTEM & the MLTI. It consists of a series of serious challenges put out to Maine’s grade 7-12 schools, asking students (and perhaps teachers) to collaboratively develop and submit video responses.  While posed as a “student challenge,” it is assumed that some students may come to it independently while others will be directed towards it by a teacher.

The Maine Alliance for Arts Education is welcomed as a WatchMECreate Partner for the first WatchMECreate challenge of the 2011-12 school year – lending their passion for both creative thinking and action to help assure wide distribution of the challenge along with encouragement for many student teams to get involved.

This challenge is called WatchMEUseTheArts. Maine’s Grade 7-12 students get much of their formal support in developing their creative skills in Arts classrooms, working with Arts teachers in studio art, choral and instrumental music, dance, theater and other areas.  This is where opportunities exist to be purposefully creative, to not simply talk about “outside the box” thinking and action, but to practice it.

We want to know what Maine students, grades 7-12, are doing with those creative capabilities after they leave those Arts classrooms.

The challenge asks students to create a 3-minute video response to, “Show us how the arts have moved, or could move, beyond the music rooms, beyond the art room, beyond the theater, beyond the darkroom, beyond the expected spaces to help students like you make their school or their community a better place for all.”

WatchMEUseTheArts is live on the WatchMECreate web site. Uploads will be accepted from now through December 15. Entries will be judged between December 15 and January 13, 2012, with winners being announced on January 17, 2012.

Rewards: The top Middle School and High School teams will each be awarded $500 to be used by them to help their school move creativity forward. In addition, each student team member will receive an iPod nano.

All information is available on the website:

Questions? Write to:

Thank you,
The MLTI Team


Interview with Commissioner Bowen on Arts Education

August 30, 2011

Questions and Answers

Commissioner of Education, Stephen Bowen

The Commissioner of Education, Stephen Bowen, graciously took the time to answer questions about Arts Education for the meartsed blog. I look forward to continuing the important work of Maine arts education with the Commissioner as we move towards transforming our schools for 21st century learning and students.

Question: As Maine’s Commissioner of Education what is your vision of the role of arts education in our schools and communities?

Commissioner: I think it is critical. If you look at what thinkers like Daniel Pink are saying, the economy of the future will be one in which creativity and innovation play a central role.  I think we have to see to it that our students are exposed to the arts and that they develop their creative capacities.

Question: Maine arts educators appreciate your commitment to the arts education assessment initiative. The Teacher Leader arts educators who are participating in the initiative have stepped forward and made a commitment to helping others in our state become better educators and to improve their curriculum, instruction and assessment of the arts.  What message do you have for them?

Commissioner: The message I have is that I thank them for taking on this important work. It is becoming increasingly clear that none of us are going to be able to make our schools better on our own. We are going to have to work more collaboratively, and one of my top priorities is to develop a state-level online clearinghouse where educators can share what works. That way, we can, all of us, work collectively to build capacity in order to meet the needs of every student.

Question: You have a daughter who has benefited from her involvement in visual and performing arts education. As a parent what do you think is important about the education your daughter receives from the arts?

Commissioner: I think both of my girls have benefited from arts education. I think they both see value in artistic expression and I think they both have developed an appreciation for the talent and dedication that artists bring to their craft. They also, I think, have come to understand the important role that the arts can play in helping us understand our world and appreciate it. All of this is critical to their educations.

Question: I know it is early, but can you share where you imagine arts education in the Department’s comprehensive state strategic plan.

Commissioner: I think it will cut across the strategic plan. As we move to a student-centered, proficiency-based model of education, students will be given more voice in how they choose to learn and more choice in how they demonstrate that learning. When given “voice and choice,” I think we’ll see students employing the arts as a way to share understanding. A true standards-based system will also require, of course, that students demonstrate mastery of the state’s art standards, so it will appear there as well.

Question: What did you see and hear on your listening tour that you think all Maine arts educators should pay attention to?

Commissioner: The parents I talked with expressed a great deal of concern about how our test-driven focus on math and language arts, combined with recent budget cuts, has led to a scaling back of art programs. They then connected that to issues around student motivation – if the programs that students enjoy are cut back, it gets tougher and tougher to motivate kids to engage at school, which creates issues for parents and teacher alike. There is a great deal of concern about a narrowing of the curriculum, and I think that is, in part, driving the backlash we’re seeing towards NCLB. We have to be aware of this sentiment, which is widespread, and take it into consideration as we think about how to move forward in this new era of NCLB waivers.

Question: Do you have any ideas on how higher education can collaborate with arts education PreK-12 to strengthen and build on programs in arts education?

Commissioner: I think students will benefit from any steps we take to break down the barriers between K-12 and higher ed, regardless of the content area. It certainly seems, though, as though the arts lend themselves to this kind of collaboration. With the technology we have today, it seems as though there are plenty of opportunities for sharing, perhaps that is something that can be a focus of our efforts to build a state-level clearinghouse for the sharing of best practices.

Question: How do you imagine we can foster creativity in communities and the Maine economy?

Commissioner: Going back to Daniel Pink again, he sees the economy moving forward as being one that places a high value on creativity. That means we need to think about arts education in the context of innovation. We need arts education to inform that creative aspect, but we also need a business climate that encourages innovation and risk-taking. We want a vibrant, entrepreneurial climate that makes it easy to take creative new ideas and get them out there into the marketplace. If we play our cards right, there is no reason why Maine can’t become a center for innovation and entrepreneurship with a strong focus on the arts.



August 29, 2011

Open Education Resources

I know many of you are aware of the Open Education Resources known as OERs. For over a year a team of visual and performing arts teachers identified hundreds of OERs specifically for the arts. Maine Alliance for Arts Education (MAAE) was awarded a grant from the Maine Department of Education. The grant was funded through Title IID Enhancing Education through Technology – American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Competitive Grant monies.

The final work is posted on the MAAE site at Camden-Rockport Middle School art teacher, Kristen Andersen, was part of the team. She is providing a unique opportunity for visual and performing arts teachers who are interested in learning more about the OERs and provides the following invitation…

I would like to invite you to an Open Educational Resource Workshop from 4-6pm on September 8 at Camden-Rockport Middle School.  This is a chance for all of us to get together and see what great work the Maine Alliance for Arts Education and 13 fellow Maine VPA teachers have done the last year to gather up quality (and free) educational websites.  During the 2 hour workshop I will explain the process we went through,  highlight a few sites,  give you time to explore the large database and hopefully have time to share and collaborate with fellow VPA teachers.

I know the start of the school is CRAZY but this could inspire you to get excited about your school year with fun, informational sites that can enhance you curriculum and maybe save you time!

If you are interested in learning more and/or attending please contact Kristen by emailing her at

Kristen has a wonderful classroom space and I see this is a great opportunity to get together to and have fun while exploring and learning. I hope you will attend!

In the near future there will be other opportunities for arts teachers to get together regionally as part of the arts assessment initiative. More informatoin will be posted about that in the very near future.


MLTI Offering a Session for High School Department Chairs

August 28, 2011

Making the Most of the MLTI

Apple is pleased to offer an opportunity for High School Department Chairs to attend a unique seminar that will help them better understand how their Department members can make the most of the opportunities provided through the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI). This session will be of direct value to High Schools that have delivered the MLTI MacBooks to students 1:1 as well as those in which MLTI MacBooks have only been distributed to teachers.

Understanding that High School Department Chairs have unique responsibilities in terms of assuring that their staffs are making best use of available resources to meet the needs of all students, this session will provide information around ways the MLTI MacBooks and the new 2011-2012 MLTI Software Image can be put to immediate use in all high school classrooms. Also featured will be information on how High Schools can access MLTI Professional Development tailored to their specific curricular needs. MLTI Professional Development is available at no additional cost to your district. It is just another opportunity for you to maximize your district’s investment and make the most of the MLTI.

  • Date: Tuesday September 13, 2011
  • Time: 3:00 – 5:00 PM
  • Location: Morse High School Library – Bath, Maine

This seminar will be of interest to all High School Department Chairs who want to make the most of the opportunities the Maine Learning Technology Initiative offers.

Space is limited to 30 participants. Snacks will be provided.

To register, please visit:

If you have questions, please contact Jim Moulton at

(NOTE: This session will be in Bath, making it most easily accessible to midcoast-region high schools.  Please be in touch if you are interested in hosting a similar session in a different region of the state, and we will work with you to schedule it.)


Bangor Symphony Orchestra

August 27, 2011

You’re invited…

… to share the Bangor Symphony Orchestra Know Your Orchestra! voucher with students in grades K-12 and their families. The BSO’s 2011-12 season opens on Saturday, September 10, 2011, at 7 p.m. with BSO & Koh. The program features works of Mozart, Bruch, and Brahms, with violin soloist Jennifer Koh. Please visit for more program details.

At the bottom of this blog post you will find a black and white version of the voucher. All you need to do is print it off and copy it for your students.

Voucher holders should reserve tickets before the concert by calling the CCA Box Office at 1.800.622.TIXX Monday thru Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


National Arts Standards Revision

August 26, 2011

SAVE THE DATE – Tuesday August 30th 9 AM – NOON EDT

National Arts Standards Revision:  Determining a Conceptual Framework
Tuesday, August 30th 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM EDT

On Tuesday August 30th,  the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards will be hosting a task force meeting  in Reston, Virginia to begin the work of determining a conceptual framework for revising the National Arts Standards.  The work will be facilitated by my colleagues Marcia McCaffrey from New Hampshire and Lynn Tuttle from Arizona, and has been opened to stakeholders from all aspects of Arts Education.

The morning meeting will be streamed live to the public, please see the National Coalition website at for instructions on accessing the live video stream. The video stream is open to the public, please share this site with your administrators.


Technology Workshop

August 25, 2011

Arts teachers creating!

I love it when arts teachers get together and immediately are engaged in learning. The environment is buzzing, learning from the facilitator, from each other, and from themselves. Playing, experimenting, going places they never thought they’d go. Learning at its best!

Rebecca Wright and Tim Hart

In response to the arts assessment institute evaluations the teacher leaders had the opportunity to learn more about technology. Technology was one of three topics that we focused on at the arts institute during the first week in August at Maine College of Art. Ten of the teacher leaders attended the all day session at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast this past Monday.

Ann Marie Hutton and Tim Hart from MLTI facilitated the professional development opportunity by  sharing tips, tricks and basics of omniGraffle, museScore, Acorn, iPhoto, and iTunes. Participants were appreciative of another opportunity to expand their knowledge, share ideas, ask questions, and learn from each other.

Laura Devin and Allysa Anderson

The 18 arts teacher leaders are busy planning their workshops for the statewide arts education conference being held on October 7th at USM, Portland. Detailed information will be available in the near future. Watch the blog for the information.


Thoughts on Arts Integration

August 24, 2011

Blogs talking about why arts integration isn’t enough

For years I’ve heard two sides to the story… from arts teachers who absolutely love to teach in a connected fashion: “if teachers are collaborating to teach the arts and other content areas, students will have a better understanding of the connections in the world and will be more integrated in their thinking and approach to solving problems”. And from others: “we have to be careful how we integrate since administrators will eliminate our jobs because they think that classroom teachers can be trained to teach all subjects”.

Arts integration is not a new concept. In fact, in 1978 I was reserching arts integration. At the foundation of my teaching practice in 1976-1980 I was connecting content with visual arts to teach in a K-8 system. I was doing this because that was the intentional design of the program. And I absolutely loved it and found little research at the time of exisiting documented programs.

When I received a link from a colleague to the blog Education Closet I was excited to read the post called What Do You Mean I Can’t Cut My Arts Teachers? August 19, by Susan Riley. The post was Susan’s response to a blog post called Why Arts Integration Isn’t Enough by Katherine Damkohler on ARTSblog.

Both blog posts reach out to me and reaffirm my beliefs and provide an opportunity to reflect on the value of arts integration. I paused remembering discussion in my middle level education graduate courses with Ed Brazee at UMaine on multi-disciplinary, interdisciplinary, integration, integrative. The conversation was taken to my school and all staff came to the importance and value to arts education. It was simply about the connections. It was the valuable conversations my colleagues had about teaching and learning and how we “drilled down” so students can be in the center of their learning. They were engaged when they could find meaning in the world that exisited when the curricula was connected. They weren’t handed the puzzle pieces separately and expected to put it together but understood the connections and made meaning of it in a creative manner.

The beauty of connected curriculum is that teachers learn from each other while planning and implementing and students have the expertise of their teachers from different content areas. It takes a certified instructor and a highly qualified individual to guide students in their learning journey. Students, teachers, administrators, and parents were learning.

I hope you will read each of the blog posts and let me know what you think!


Who’s Behind the Mask?

August 23, 2011

Arts and Activities

Stephanie Leonard teaches art at the Fairmount School in Bangor to grade 4 and 5 students. And, she had an article published in the September 2011 issue of Arts and Activities. The article called Who’s Behind the Mask? describes how she “combined a classic lesson on portraiture with the creation of a mask.” You can read this marvelous article by clicking here. When you get to that page just click on the article title for a great read. Congratulations Stephanie!

Reproduced with permission from the Sept 2011 issue of Arts & Activities magazine.


A Place at the Table

August 22, 2011

Interesting story about just graduated seniors and their success from a high school project

Below has been reprinted from a blog called A Place at the Table that is written by a teacher who has taught family and consumer science for 25 years. I went to the student site mentioned and was impressed with the site design and creations the students are making. I also read the article from the local newspaper that is linked to in the blog. You can check the blog out at Makes me wonder about how “real life” classrooms are.

The business page of Sunday’s paper featured a full page story of two young entrepreneurs. One of them was James Adams. I teach with his mom, he lives in my neighborhood and I’ve known him since he was born. I couldn’t wait to talk to him.

When I finally caught up with him today, James was on the road to Tennessee. He’s at the cusp of one of life’s big adventures—his freshman year of college. He’ll be moving into his dorm at Sewanee: The University of the South. It’s one of the highly selective Mid-Atlantic liberal arts universities affectionately known as part of the Kudzu Ivy League. The rich cultural and academically demanding climate of Sewanee’s very traditional university community will suit James.

But today was a big day for James in another way. His business, Southern Ties, is about to go retail and he and his partner are launching their new fall product line. At eighteen, James is an entrepreneur as well as a college student. When James first told me about his foray into clothing production, I admit that I was surprised. I asked about the inspiration and motivation behind his entry into the men’s accessory market and he explained that it was a school project.

James attended the Commonwealth Governor’s School, a school-within-a-school program for academically talented and gifted students, which serves about 500 students, grades 9 through 12, at five sites in three counties. His four academic core classes were taught within the Governor’s School with the other three periods in host neighborhood high school. The program overview states that the Governor’s School is designed to allow students to

…[A]chieve a deep conceptual understanding of a discipline as well as its integration with other disciplines…through opportunities to experiment, analyze information critically, make conjectures and argue their validity, and solve real world problems both individually and in groups….and develop technology skills for effective communication, investigation, and presentation.

James explained that each year there was an independent culminating project that was a major component of student performance. He told me about how, as a freshman, he was expected to create a project proposal. With a strong interest in architecture, his proposal was for a visionary eco-friendly high school. As a sophomore, the expectation was that he would design a project plan. His plan for a West Coast version of the Epcot Center began to require theory to mesh with the pragmatism of functionalism and development. By the time he was a junior, the real world problem chosen required a business plan. James began to refine big dreams into feasible realities with his plan for a bookstore/bistro. As a senior, James was expected to turn proposals, designs, and business plans into a product and the result was Southern Ties. I asked him why he chose this project he told me he had a growing interest in business. I asked him, as a businessman, what he expected as return on his investment of creativity, knowledge, effort and time. His answer—”I wanted an A.”

James had done his research, designed his product, built a business plan and created a website and half a dozen sample ties. He was surprised when a merchant in Tennessee contacted him and ask if he could deliver two dozen ties in less than a week. His project had taken on its own life. Now, three months later and his ties are available at two stores and on-line. He and his partner have contracted out production and are planning to expand the product line. His project has become a viable small business.

We talked about the sequence of these projects and how they had funneled from big ideas to achievable realities. We laughed about the fact that he didn’t learn to sew in my class because he was a band kid and only got to stay in FACS class for three weeks. His partner’s mom helped them with sewing. James told me that he had to teach himself how to create his website because he had never taken a computer technology course. He was in Governor’s School and there really wasn’t much time electives. We agreed that it was ironic that the success of his academic program project was dependent on teaching himself skills that were available in Career and Technical Education courses available in his school.

There is an enormous amount of talk about college and career readiness in public education. I look at James and see a success story of a conceptual academic learner who has grounded his abstract understandings with concrete applications. He distilled big ideas into real life solutions. But there are other students who process learning the other way around. Only after they acquire and concrete skill are they interested in exploring the academic background that increase their expertise. Maybe, for these students, success lies in using practical skills as the foundation for expanding learning.

In the discussion of college and career readiness, education stakeholders sometimes get caught up in determining which ought to come first, preparation for college or preparation for career. That’s a chicken or the egg argument. James found success by distilling his big picture knowledge into a small business action plan. Another student might expand his knowledge of physics and math to enhance his mechanical drafting skills. Both are viable paths can to college and career readiness, both are valuable and both should be offered as equally desirable options to all students.

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