Archive for June, 2012


Blogs on Vacation!

June 30, 2012

See you in on July 9th!

When his children were little my father-in-law used to say to them: “Go outside and get the dust blowed off ya” when his four children were getting into trouble inside their home.

Imagine that the meartsed blog or really, the blog writer, needs a break and will be on vacation and spending as much time outisde as possible during the next week (getting the dust blowed off me). Time for sun, beach, kayaking, hiking, painting, and just plain smiling at the outside world!

If you email, please don’t expect an answer for several days. My Inbox is almost empty and I am guessing it will have a few emails on my return. Yes, I am closing my computer and not checking email either. Imagine?! It is going to be difficult but I am planning on sticking to my commitment.

On February 19, 2009 I made the first blog post on meartsed and haven’t missed many days since then. Meartsed has a total of 1,233 posts and 119,781 views. Let me take this moment while I head out the door for some fun in the sun (or whatever the weather is) to THANK YOU for visiting and providing feedback that communicates the value of this blog.


Mentos and Coke Does Portland!

June 29, 2012

For several years I have wanted to see Eepybird do their “thing” with the Mentos and Coke. That is Diet Coke to be exact. Well, last night in Portland I had the chance, finally! They performed in Monument Square in front of an audience of all ages. Many of the young attendees were in the front and yes, they got wet. Eepybird kicked off the first four day Performing Arts Festival. There are almost 80 peformers during the event.

Fritz Grobe and Steven Voltz use over 100 bottles of soda and over 600 Mentos candies. It takes three hours to set up for the event which takes about 3 minutes to complete, start to finish. You can go to the article from the Bangor Daily News and watch a video that shows the performance.

The show was fun and just like I imagined!




June 28, 2012

Reading, reading, reading…

Larry Ferlazzo asked How can we help students develop their creativity? It is fascinating reading the answers he included on his blog called Classroom Q & A in a June 12th post called: Response: Several Ways We Can Help Students Develop Their Creativity.  There are several links to books on the topic and links to other sites worth checking out.

Measuring teachers in the arts is starting to take place across the country. You can read what they are doing in a community in Colorado, Florida and in South Carolina. How do you think your teaching should be measured? Read No More Ditching Gym Class written by Dana Goldstein, June 13 and posted on Slate.


Whose Going to Prague?

June 27, 2012

Massive artwork on display

July 9 – July 21 in Prague at Incheba Praha Exhibition Center, 100o stories, 26 ft. height, 216 ft. long, 48500 lb. weight – 5700 ft.,  1.5 ml. of steel cable , 4 days for installation.

“Magic tales from “one thousand and one nights” reached us from the remote past. With amazing perfection they reflect an extremely delicate understanding of the world by the peoples of orient, expressing this understanding by means of effortless wordplay.”

To learn more, click here.


Another Arts Teachers’ Story: Jennie Driscoll

June 26, 2012

Featuring one teacher’s journey as an educator

This is the 15th in a series of blog posts telling arts teachers’ stories. This series contains a set of questions to provide the opportunity for you to read educators stories and to learn from others.

Jennie Driscoll has been teaching visual arts for 24 years and is presently the chair of the Arts Department at
Brunswick High School
She has taught Photography I , Photography II, Art 3, Art 4, and Advanced Placement Studio Art for students in grades 10-12. Jennie is one of the teacher leaders with Phase 1 of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative.

What do you like best about being an art educator?

Helping students develop confidence as they express their ideas in a variety of media and utilize technical skill. I find media and tools an exciting pathway for the expression. I like seeing personal artistic growth and a seriousness of purpose develop in my students over time.

Tell me what you think are three keys to ANY successful arts ed program?

  1. What –Strong assignments that encourage students to problem solve.
  2. How – Teach technique with media so students have the right set of tools for expression.
  3. Share – Authentic assessments that allow for reflection on craft and expression.

What specific way(s) do your assessment practices tie into the success of your program?

I allow my students to be part of the assessment process and invite them to reflect and revise their art work to make it the best they can be. I invite the class to support one another with feedback. My goal is to help students express their ideas clearly in visual media.

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

Sharing and connecting with arts professionals that deal with the same issues.

What are you most proud of in your career?

Always being there to support my art students as they take risks and make mistakes. Student successes  have a big impact on letting me know I am on the right track.

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

Not having enough time and too much to do, oh also the little beep I get when an email comes in.

Apple or PC?


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

I have done my best to build and maintain a strong visual art program as well as meet the needs of individual students.

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

Although there are many days that seem like you don’t know if you are making a difference  or not, hang in there because the universe will share meaningful moments and your purpose will be validated. There will be specific art works that your brain will absorb and will always remember and thus you will in turn remember the student who did it.

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

I would purchase a kiln and supplies for ceramics in each elementary art department in Maine that does not have one. Of course I would include teacher training in curriculum, assessment, and operation along with clay, some tools and cones!

Thank you for sharing your story Jennie!


Final Arts Assessment Webinar of MAAI Phase 1

June 25, 2012

Commissioner Bowen guest on Back to the Future Webinar

On May 23rd we had the final webinar for the series as part of Phase 1 of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI). Commissioner Bowen was the guest with facilitators Catherine Ring and Rob Westerberg. The webinar was called Back to the Future: Arts Teachers Lead the Way. Catherine and Rob put together a list of questions for the Commissioner which provide a great deal of information.

If you were one of the 40 participants thanks for joining the webinar. Throughout the discussion the Commissioner shared his perspective on arts education. The webinar, along with the interview the Commissioner did for the blog post on August 30, 2011, shows his commitment to arts education.

Below are three of the questions that the Commissioner was asked on the webinar:

  1. Mass customized learning is all about shifting the paradigm in education. The Arts Assessment Initiative has been all about proficiency and assessment of proficiency. How can we use the arts in shifting the new educational paradigm, and how can this shift help the new paradigm of Arts education?
  2. It has been our experience that we have encountered many misperceptions about arts education (comprehensive understanding of what it really is); it is unique in that we are the ones who teach the creative process and we reach all children. There is a difference between creativity as a life skill which you may encounter across disciplines and the creative process grades PK through 12 which is learned only in the arts classrooms. How does the nature of the arts therefore connect to 21st century skills which are the foundation of our future work, and how are they to be assessed?
  3. What is the difference between LD 1422 and what we have now as it relates specifically to the arts?

Thank you to Catherine and Rob for facilitating the 7 webinars that happened throughout the school year. All of them have been archived and can be accessed with meeting plans on the Department’s arts assessment page at


During the webinar we looked at a crosswalk showing the connections with the MAAI and the Department’s Strategic Education Evolving.

The webinar is archived along with the other 6 MAAI webinars that have taken place during the school year since September. You can listen to the recordings located at Also at this webpage you will find meeting plans for each of the 7 webinars that you can use individually or at teacher’s meeting.

Thank you to Catherine and Rob for their work on the webinars. They are an important component of the MAAI and will continue to be useful for arts teachers across the state.

Below is the crosswalk that you can download as a .pdf or word document on the Department’s arts assessment webpage.

Strategic Plan

Maine Arts Assessment Initiative

1: Effective, Learner-Centered Instruction
  • The heart of all Professional Development IS student-centered learning
  • Presently using MLR, will transition to national standards, expected in December 2012
  • Individual teachers creating assessment tools to meet needs of their classrooms/students/PK-12 local systems
2: Great Teachers and Leaders
  • Building on what we know, providing Professional Development opportunities for teachers to move – good to great
  • Teacher leader training in assessment, technology, and leadership
  • Going deeper and wider for teacher learning
  • Collaborative opportunities
  • Development and empowerment of teacher leaders
  • Community of practice: Maine Arts Education Leaders
3: Multiple Pathways for Learner Achievement
  • Training teachers to lead in determining what tools will be used at the local level
  • Variety of arts courses available in high schools
4: Comprehensive School and Community Supports
  • Encouraging collaborative work
  • Providing successful stories, examples
  • Beyond phase 2: ideas under discussion
5: Coordinated and Effective State Support
  • Identification of teacher leaders – 36 total, training in assessment, leadership, technology – developing workshops
  • Facilitating workshops regionally
  • Webinars – archived w/meeting plans
  • Graduate courses being offered
  • Arts ed list serv/Blog – ongoing communication
  • Repository of best practices (lessons, units, assessment tools)
  • Community of Practice



Measuring the Therapeutic Benefits of the Arts

June 24, 2012

Studying the brain for the value of the arts

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is looking at the studies underway on how the arts are being used for therapeutic purposes. NEA is interested because the study could have an impact on future arts funding. Art, music, and writing is being used to heal soldiers on their return from war areas to help them with post-traumatic stress disorder. This isn’t new but the latest technology is providing a way to is measure the impact the arts are having. It can actually look at the part of the brain that is being impacted. One of the questions being asked is “it is known that art therapies can help with the psychological effects of these invisible wounds, but can they promote physical healing?”

The first study is being conducted by the National Intrepid Center of Excellence. At this link you can watch the clip and learn more.


Operation Contact!

June 23, 2012


You may be aware that VSA Maine closed its doors in 2011, leaving a large gap in services to artists with disabilities. The Maine Arts Commission would like to do everything they can to help fill the gap. To start, they need to know who the artists with disabilities are—in all disciplines—visual arts, performing arts and literary artists. They’d like to enlist your help in Operation Contact! by communicating the information below to as many people as possible. Please read and pass it forward…

Operation Contact!

The Maine Arts Commission believes the arts are for everyone and is currently conducting outreach to artists with disabilities, so we can know the community and develop appropriate programs to serve artists with disabilities. We’re interested in hearing from artists in all disciplines—visual arts, performing arts, traditional arts and literary arts. We would like to create a mailing list so that we can keep you informed of initiatives and issues related to artists with disabilities. Please contact Keith Ludden, Accessibility Coordinator, Maine Arts Commission, or 207/287-2713.



June 22, 2012

Great opportunity

The Association of Computer Technology Educators of Maine (ACTEM) is a well-established organization that crosses over all content areas with a focus on helping its’ members achieve their goals utilizing technology effectively.

The benefits are enormous and all for a $20.00 individual membership. They have several professional development opportunities during the year and are continuously improving what they offer. Every time I read their newsletter I learn something valuable.

The ACTEM conference is scheduled for October 11 and 12 this year and is held at the Augusta Civic Center. Some districts make the day a PD day so all of their teachers can hop on school buses and attend the conference together. There are three national top-notch speakers scheduled David Warlick, Steven W. Anderson, and Christopher Tully.

Member benefits include:

  • Eligible to apply in advance for up to $400 in professional development reimbursement you pay for personally
  • $20 discount on MAINEducation Conference registration for October 12
  • Eligible to participate in ACTEM-sponsored trainings
  • Quarterly newsletter and luncheon at ACTEM Business Meetings
  • Eligible to purchase some software titles where applicable
  • $50 for lifetime membership for retired ACTEM members (does not include $400 Professional Development reimbursement rights)

Call 1-866-99-ACTEM to renew with a credit card. Form and additional info at JOIN ACTEM at

The Maine Arts Assessment Initiative appreciates the support from ACTEM.


Cross Connections Literacy Network

June 21, 2012

The Arts and Literacy

The Maine Department of Education has sponsored two literacy networks during the past six years-the Literacy Leaders Network and the Maine Content Literacy Network. Both of these networks were developed as part of grant initiatives.  In an effort to consolidate the best practices from both networks and expand the network to serve educators statewide across the K-12 span, a new literacy network is being planned for the 2012-13 school year. This network will continue to serve as a professional learning network focused on literacy practices that support learning across content areas.  The purpose of the literacy network will be to provide K-12 educators with a professional learning community focused on content literacy strategies that will:

  • Build capacity for educators to engage in reflective study around literacy practices that benefit content area teaching and learning;
  • Promote ongoing literacy learning and sharing among professionals across content areas from across Maine; and
  • Increase achievement of all students through improved literacy instruction across content areas.

The network will be operated regionally across the state, utilizing both face-to-face networking sessions and online webinar sessions. Local sites will be organized to support educators from the K-5 or 6-12 grade spans. Participants will also select topics on which to focus their learning from a variety of literacy-related strands. The literacy strands will support the Common Core State Standards for ELA and Literacy Across the Disciplines, and will include both content area focused strands (e.g. science, social studies, math, etc.)  and general literacy strands (e.g. text complexity, writing instruction, and word study) that meet the needs of K-12 educators. Network participants will be able to select 2-4 literacy strands on which to focus their study throughout the year (1-2 in the first half of the year and 1-2 in the second half of the year).  Face-to-face sessions will alternate with webinar sessions, and use of an online networking platform,, is also planned.  The tentative schedule for the literacy network during 2012-13 is:

  • Oct.—Face to face Session 1—Introduction, Setting the Stage, Getting Organized
  • Early Nov—introduction to technology online session (optional)
  • Nov/Dec-Webinars—Literacy Strands Round 1—Session 1
  • January-Webinars—Literacy Strands Round 1—Session 2
  • February Face to Face Session 2—Sharing applications of Webinar Strands from Round 1
  • March Webinars—Literacy Strands Round 2—Session 1
  • April Webinars—Literacy Strands Round 2—Session 2
  • May Face to Face Session 3—Sharing applications of Webinar Strands from Round 2 and Closure

The Maine Department of Education is currently seeking educators who would be interested in serving as local site facilitators and/or as webinar developers/facilitators.  Facilitator for local level sites and webinar developers/facilitators will be provided with stipends for their work and their travel will be reimbursed. The job descriptions for these roles are listed below:

Onsite Local Facilitators

Traits of Facilitators

  • Strong facilitation skills
  • Strong organization and management skills
  • Preference for strong literacy and/or content area knowledge


  • Attendance at MDOE training sessions for facilitators
  • Communication with site participants about meetings
  • Communication with site contacts about facility set up and AV needs
  • Preparation for 90 minute face-to-face networking sessions
  • Facilitation of 90 minute on-site face-to-face sessions
  • Record keeping for onsite contact hours

Webinar Content Developers and Webinar Facilitators

Traits of Developers/Facilitators

  • Strong knowledge of content area and/or literacy topics
  • Experience developing and delivering professional learning to educators
  • Strong facilitation skills
  • Strong organization and management skills
  • Leadership abilities
  • Preferred—experience using technology as a platform for delivering professional learning


  • Attendance at MDOE training sessions for webinar developers/facilitators
  • Development of content for 60 minute literacy strand webinars (2 per webinars per strand)
  • Facilitation of 60 minute strand webinars (2 per strand)

For additional information, please contact me at

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