Archive for February, 2012


We Did It!

February 29, 2012

My brain is swirling with ideas

Yesterday’s post was about the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI) work we tackled while together at the UMaine Museum of Art in Bangor. We took a look back to evaluate how the first phase of the work has gone and, we looked to the future to help plan phase II of the MAAI. The results of the work are being summarized and when we have a phase II plan in place we will, of course, share it with all of you in the field!

The day was filled with energy, a chance to renew connections, processing, creativity, and a passionate commitment from the Teacher Leaders and the Leadership Team. The take away comments were revealing and included how important yesterday was, and the value of the past several months to everyone. The enormous growth since the work began 9 months ago is incredible! Maine is so fortunate to have arts educators who are so focused on the importance of educating young people!

Thank you to Eva Wagner, Education Coordinator from UMaine Museum of Art and the staff there who made it possible for us to meet in such a wonderful space. I highly recommend that you stop by and see the exhibit. A great big thank you to facilitator Jill Spencer who did a fabulous job. Jill is an active blogger, she writes about exemplary and innovative teaming practices at Teaming Rocks! Collaborate in Powerful Ways and is a contributor to the Bright Futures blog. You can check her out at

Most of the pictures below were taken by Catherine Ring yesterday.


Looking Back and Ahead

February 28, 2012

Teacher Leaders and Leadership Team meet

Maine Arts Assessment Institute - August 2011

Today is another big day for the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI). The Initiative’s Teacher Leaders (TL) and the Leadership Team (LT) are meeting in Bangor at the UMaine Museum of Art. We are fortunate to be working with Education Coordinator, Eva Wagner. And are very grateful to Jill Spencer who is facilitating our work today. Jill is an active blogger, she writes about exemplary and innovative teaming practices at Teaming Rocks! Collaborate in Powerful Ways and is a contributor to the Bright Futures blog. You can check her out at

Today is a chance for us to reflect on the first nine months of the initiative. We will evaluate and look closely at the components of the process, the work, and the accomplishments of the initiative. And we will collectively look at the proposals for phase II of the initiative, brainstorm ideas, and determine the next steps. So, it is a chance to look back and to look ahead!

So what has been accomplished during the first phase of the MAAI? And have we accomplished what we set out to do? The overall goal is to create an environment in Maine where assessment in arts education is an integral part of the work all arts educators do to deepen student learning in the arts.

  • Music educator, Rob Westerberg and Visual Art educator Catherine Ring provided leadership in creating the plan for the MAAI.
  • In addition to Catherine and Rob, a leadership team was formed that brought together a remarkable group of Maine educational leaders including University of Southern Maine (USM) professor Jeff Beaudry, Bates College professor Bronwyn Sale, Wiscasset High School art teacher Shalimar Poulin, Maine Alliance for Arts Education (then) Executive Director Carol Trimble. Added since is Eastport music teacher Pamela Kinsey.
  • In May of 2011, 18 Teacher Leaders in arts education were selected to help lead the initiative. A wiki was established where the TL started to communicate about leadership, assessment, and technology. Since that time the wiki has been visited by the TL and LT (about 25 people) 1308 times.
  • Those three topics were the overarching segments during a 4-day professional development institute that the TL attended in August at Maine College of Art (MECA).
  • The statewide arts education conference Arts Teachers Lead the Way, Back to the Future: Arts Assessment for Learning was held at USM on October 7, 2011 with 225 educators attending. The TL were the workshop facilitators and shared their knowledge as classroom teachers. Conference feedback was very positive!
  • A video summarizing the conference is being created by a Massebesic High School freshman and will be released shortly.
  • A timeline documents what is happening in arts education in Maine.
  • An MAAI wiki provides information for those wishing to learn more.
  • The Department of Education arts assessment web page provides information on the MAAI.
  • Five webinars faciliated monthly by Rob and Catherine. They were attended by between 30 and 52 participations each month. Each of the webinars has been archived and a meeting plan designed to accompany the archives. These are available for teachers and/or administrators to access and be used at the local level. They are available by clicking here.
  • The TL are presenting workshops in different regions throughout the state during the 2011-12 school year. The schedule is available so educators can attend workshops in their regions.
  • There have been 12 workshops with at least 12 more that will take place before the end of the school year. A total of 130 educators have participated so far plus the 225 that attended their workshops at the statewide conference.
  • Arts assessment graduate courses are being taught by The New England Institute for Teacher Education.
  • A repository is being created for arts education resources that will be available for all educators.
  • Professional organizations who have collaborated with the MAAI on a variety of levels. They include: MLTI, ACTEM, MECA, District 3 Music Educators, MAAE, MAEA, MMEA, USM, and The New England Institute for Teacher Education.

At the meeting in Bangor today we will focus on going deeper into the work and also going wider. We want to provide more opportunities to involve more arts educators to expand on the thinking about assessment, teaching and learning in arts education. If you have feedback on phase I of the MAAI please email me so the TL can take your comments into consideration as we plan phase II. If you’d like to get involved and take on a leadership role please be sure and contact me.

We have sooooooo much to be proud of and are soooooooooo grateful for the contributions and involvement of sooooooooo many in this initiative. If you haven’t joined this journey with us, please do!


In Today’s News

February 27, 2012

Art Teacher Providing Workshops

Periodically I get emails with questions about arts education opportunities for students beyond the school day. I was glad to read about art teacher Rebekah Raye.  In the Kennebec Journal, January 27th, there is an article written by Susan McMillian, and the workshops Rebekah is teaching.

On Saturday Rebekah provided a drawing workshop for about 30 children and adults sharing information about the illustration and publication process. After becoming an art teacher Raye gave workshops and in 2004 illustrated her first story written by Passamaquoddy storyteller Allen Sockabasin. Since that time she has written and illustrated two more children’s books.

You can read the entire article and learn more at


Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge

February 27, 2012

February 3, 2012 Science

In a special issue, Colin Norman, News Editor of Science, reports on the entries for the 2011 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge.

Metabolomic Eye, Bryan W. Jones (Photography - 1st Place)

The challenge has taken place for the past 9 years and is sponsored by the National Science Foundation and The purpose is to “promote cutting-edge efforts to visualize scientific data, principles, and ideas—skills that are critical for communication among scientists and between scientists and the general public, especially students.”

Imagine, creating images for communication? Sound familiar? This is taken from

Chapter 132 Maine Learning Results: Parameters for Essential Instruction- Visual Arts B3 Making Meaning, Pre-K-2: Students create art works that communicate ideas and feelings and demonstrate skill in the use of meida, tools, and techniques.

This year there were 212 entries from 33 countries. The finalists were selected and posted and visitors were asked to select their favorite. The “People’s Choice” was selected by the 3200 votes that came in. The winners are posted on an online slide show at or at You can read the entire article at

The National Science Foundation encourages entries and the competition opens May 31, 2012. You can find information on their website (2nd link above).

Thank you to my colleague, Peter Bernard, at the Maine Department of Education, for sharing the link to this information.


Chunky Move’s Assembly

February 26, 2012

Melbourne Festival 2011

This is fascinating, a combination of dance, theatre, and singing. Moving up and down as the voices go up and down, the intensity made me want to watch it over and over. Enjoy!

Thank you to Visual Art Educator, Chris Milliken, who is on sabbatical from his teaching position at Wells Junior High School while he does graduate work at Concordia University in Montreal for sending this link.


School Arts = Higher Scores

February 25, 2012

Integration boosts standardized test results

The Developing Reading Education with Arts Methods (DREAM) was put in place for third and fourth graders in 10 school districts with a $1 million grant from the US Department of Education. Three years later the results of this integrative program has shown an “87-gain average gain on the state standardized reading test for third graders in 2010-11″.

The work is being led by the California State University San Marcos and the San Diego County Office of Education. Laurie Stowell is a professor of literacy education and said “Art is just another way to make sense of the world, and that’s what reading and writing is about …”

You can read the entire article and findings in the U~T San Diego, February 18, 2012, written by Pat Flynn at



February 24, 2012

Graduate of Old Town

Nick Noonand and Amy Heidemann are in the mid-20s and are the musical duo known as Karmin. Nick is a graduate of Old Town High School and Amy is from Nebraska. They graduated from Berklee College of Music in Boston in 2010. They became overnight successes in January 2011 when they released Chris Brown and Nicki Minaj covers on YouTube. In the first two weeks it was viewed by 7 million people (and now over 12 million).

They started getting calls from producers, managers, record labels and then by Ellen DeGeneres. Since that time they’ve been guests on many shows including The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Boston’s View, and last week on Saturday Night Live. If you google them you can learn more about Karmin (even how they decided on their name). They were inspired hip hop and learned a great deal about being on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.

The most interesting part to me is of course that Nick is from Old Town and got his foundation in the public school music education program. The Bangor Daily News Living section article about Karmin on February 7th includes information about his background. In high school Nick excelled at trombone, taught himself piano and was a leader in and outside of the music room. He was supportive and kind to other students. His music teachers at Old Town High School included Jeffrey Priest, Shianne Wheeler-Priest and David Saucier.


Solar System Set to Music

February 23, 2012

Posted on Brain Pickings

Daniel Starr-Tambor’s created Mandala by assigning each planet a note using the natural harmonic series. The composition is a palindrome, it can be played the same in either direction. In fact, it is the longest palidrome that exists.

Read more about the The Solar System Set to Music: A Near-Perpetual Homage to Bach

Thank you to Andria Chase, arts educator, from Central Middle School in Corinth, RSU 64.


Painting Via Skype

February 22, 2012

People sit for artist Sandro Kopp

Not to long ago I was asked to meet via skype with a group of teachers on a workshop day to discuss how I use skype in the work I do at the Department with teachers throughout Maine.

I have found that skype saves me time which of course translates to money. I use it at least once a week for official meetings but more times than not for conversations. For example, if I am checking on information or have questions or want to bounce ideas off of colleagues for feedback I often use skype or ichat. Skype has replaced what the phone used to do for me. If I need to check with someone on a topic I open up skype or ichat and see if the person I need to chat with is online.

So when a colleague sent a link with a story on CNN about an artist who uses skype to paint portraits I was intrigued. The artist, Sandro Kopp, lives in the north of Scotland and finding people who are available to sit for him to paint is sometimes difficult. He claims that he has always struggled to work from a photograph and prefers the real thing so skype is ideal for him. One man interviewed in the clip said that he liked that in some of the paintings the pixelation is evident. The funnest portrait was the one of his mother who has her head set on in the painting.

I googled Sandro and was intrigued by his self portrait that he created from 28 portraits. He did a portrait everyday and combined it to create a large piece of artwork. You can see the image at

And you can listen and watch the CNN clip at

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