Archive for November, 2012


Artwork Selected for First Lady’s Baby Journal

November 30, 2012

Artists named

Grace Dimick, Grade 7, Falmouth Middle School

In early November over 800 artworks representing students in grades K-8  were submitted from all regions of the state to be considered for the First Lady’s upcoming new family friendly Love.Read.Learn!™ Baby Journal. A rubric was used by the First Lady Ann LePage, Becky Dyer from the Barbara Bush Foundation, and art teachers Lynne Shulman and Kathy Smith, to select the student artwork.

Students were asked to create original artwork that represented what living in Maine means to them. It was evident that students were inspired by their favorite places and activities. You can view all the artwork that was selected by clicking here. The following artists had artwork selected:

  • Abby Fitzhenry, Grade 2, Bay Ridge Elementary
  • Abigail Bennett, Grade 7, Brewer Community School
  • Amna Sheikh, Grade 4, Albert S. Hall School
  • Andrew Frost, Grade 6, Winthrop Middle School
  • Anna Patterson, Grade 1, Bay Ridge Elementary
  • Ariana Dyer, Grade 3, Fruit St. Elementary
  • Autumn Ditzel, Grade 3, Fruit St. Elementary
  • Cade King, Grade 6, Windsor Elementary School
  • Charlie Bischoff, Grade 4, Pond Cove School
  • Chloe Lawrence, Grade 5, George B. Weatherbee School
  • Devon Roma, Grade 8, Auburn Middle School
  • Emilee Morgan, Grade 8, Sanford Jr. High School
  • Emma Fitzhenny, Grade 4, Bay Ridge Elementary
  • Emma Lombardo, Grade 6, Westbrook Middle School
  • Eva Jacot-Descombes, Grade 7, RSU 78 Rangeley
  • Galen Gaze, Grade 7, Brunswick Jr. High School
  • Grace Dimick, Grade 7, Falmouth Middle School
  • Hannah Stauffer, Grade 8, Auburn Middle School
  • Holly Desjardins, Grade 6, Poland Community School
  • Ian Gervais, Grade 5, Stepping Stones Montessori School
  • Kaden Hannan, Grade 3, Fruit Street Elementary
  • Kaydence Lux, Grade 3, Fruit Street Elementary
  • Kelsea Fuller, Grade 8, Westbrook Middle School
  • Kevin Duplessie, Grade 8, Caribou Middle School
  • Kiara Lantiqua, Grade 5, CASS Elementary School
  • Macey Jordan, Grade 5, Hancock Grammar School
  • Mary-Hollie Whitmore, Grade 2, Viola Rand Bradley School
  • Moriah Hajduk, Grade 6, Winthrop Middle School
  • Olivia Boyle, Grade K, Peaks Island School
  • Owen Mann, Grade 4, Greater Portland Christian School
  • Samuel Lattin, Grade 6, Winthrop Middle School
  • Zoe Olson, Grade 5, Bucksport Middle School

The journal is to promote literacy and health to families of newborn babies in Maine and will be provided at no cost to parents of newborns. The First Lady, Ann LePage, has partnered with the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy with the Maine is ME book theme.

A GREAT BIG THANK YOU to all the teachers who helped guide students and submitted student artwork for consideration. THANK YOU to the over 800 students who used their artistic knowledge to create the outstanding work!

Galen Gaze, Grade 7, Brunswick Jr High School


Rhode Island Legislation on STEM to STEAM

November 29, 2012

An initiative being driven by the Rhode Island School of Design

Rhode Island School of Design is leading the conversation around STEM to STEAM.

Art and Design create opportunities for economic growth. US Representative from Rhode Island, Jim Langevin, introduced legislation to create a STEM to STEAM council bringing together artists, designers, education and business leaders to create a comprehensive approach to incorporate art + design into federal STEM programs.

John Maeda, President, of RISD believes that we need to put art + design into STEM to help the US remain competitive. He says that creativity is a “right” and that the arts need to be part of the innovation conversation. “That the studio practice model creates innovators, people that can see and solve problems differently”.

You can watch a panel presentation that includes Maeda and Langevin among others that took place in Rhode Island by clicking here.




The Recycled Orchestra

November 28, 2012

Cateura, Paraguay

This video is about a community who is making instruments out of items found in the dump and playing them. Young students playing in the orchestra using instruments made out of thrown away items.

You can see the vimeo by clicking here. Thank you to Karen Montanaro for sending the link.


Messalonskee High School Art Exhibit

November 27, 2012

Maine Department of Education

Brittany Dubuc, Gr. 12

During October, November, and December students from Leone Donovan’s art classes at Messalonskee High School have artwork on display at the Maine Department of Education. There is an outstanding collection that can be viewed by the public during business hours and enjoyed each day by the Department employees.

This week we will be recognizing the high school artists and musicians from Messalonskee High School at a reception and Celebration of Arts Education being held at the Blaine House. First Lady Ann LePage and Maine State School Board of Education Chair Steven M. Pound will be giving the students their recognition certificates.

Under the direction of music teacher Andrew Forster, two seniors will be performing a clarinet duet. And music teacher Kevin Rhein will direct the Ladies chorus accompanied by music teacher Pam Rhein.

At the conclusion of the program students and their families are invited to the Department to see the artwork on display.

The artwork is on the mearsted as well for viewing and can be accessed by clicking here.

Taylor Turcotte, Gr. 11

Kylee Knight, Gr. 11




Welcome Back!

November 26, 2012

The importance of relationships

Kevin Grover

I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful and that you had a restful break. I know you return to school this morning after your few days off to a variety of students who have had a break that may have been similar to yours or quite different. Most importantly I hope that they are glad to see you because you make a difference in their life. Perhaps this is about the learning that takes place in your classroom or maybe it is for another reason. When a teacher connects with a student whether they are in elementary, middle or high school it is often because of the relationship that has been established. This is also true for the relationship that teachers have with colleagues.

On Friday I learned of a colleague who passed away at age 40 on Thanksgiving when he returned from a morning run. Kevin Grover taught at Falmouth Elementary School and was the 2010 Maine Teacher of the Year. His family was very important to him, he was a husband and the father of two young children. He has made an enormous impact on those he has touched over the years.

When asked about teaching in 2010 Kevin said:  “I love it, two days are never the same. Kids offer so many teachable moments.” He felt strongly about working with parents so they viewed themselves as “partners” in the educational process. He called parents “the most important teacher” in a child’s life and said “parents need to be aware of what their child is doing in school and be comfortable speaking to teachers.” And about relationships Kevin said: “To help motivate them, I have to establish relationships and figure out their interests, and incorporate their interests in their school work.” He would greet students each day as they entered his classroom to “get a sense of how each child is feeling”.

Kevin loved technology and incorporated it into his classroom in a variety of ways. Kevin was the first teacher that I saw using a flip camera. I noticed how comfortable he was with it, one time using it in between his speaking responsibilities at an event at the State House. He was curious, interested, and deeply committed to learning and teaching.

Teachers don’t know where their teaching ends and I am certain that even though Kevin is gone from Earth that his impact will continue.

Kevin with his flip camera as Governor Baldacci and the First Lady prepare to speak


Veterans Day Celebration Through the Arts

November 23, 2012

Veterans Day at Lake Region High School

What a wonderful array of music, dance and voice that filled Lake Region High School in honor of our veterans on Veterans Day. Amongst our honored veterans and special guests were  Maine’s First Lady, Ms. Ann LePage, and Ms. Elizabeth Watson, Chair of the Maine Alliance for Arts Education. Parents, the entire student body and faculty cheered and applauded as music, voice and dance performances were presented. The high school choir under direction of Mr. Eugene Long, and the school band under direction of Mr. Paul Greenstone, played and sang a medley of patriotic songs to honor our veterans. Their voices and notes filled the gym with pride and energy amongst deep appreciation from the audience. The dancers, under the direction of Ms. Carmel Collins, dressed in army uniforms, took the veterans back to the 1940’s with a rendition of the popular Andrew’s Sisters song ‘Boogie, Woogie, Bugle Boy.’ This was followed by a lyrical dance to the song ‘The River Flows in You,’ by Yiruma. The dance was symbolic of how love, pride, and prayers flow like a river through each member of the U.S. armed forces wherever they are. The final dance  was performed to Toby Keith’s ‘Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue.‘ As dancers took to the floor dressed in sequined shirts sporting the initials USA, cheers filtered through the crowd. It was a wonderful day of celebration rolling in on the waves of the arts.

Thank you to Carmel Collins for providing the blog post information and the photographs.


We’ve Come a Long Way

November 22, 2012

A day to give Thanks!

Today provides the opportunity for me to be with family and celebrate the traditions of Thanksgiving. Before we eat we take turns to say what we’re thankful for. As my sons grew the thank yous, of course, have changed. And today as adults it has more to do with “being together”, something as the “mom” I can not seem to get enough of, no matter how long the visit lasts.

Today I find myself reflecting on how much education has changed since my first teaching days in 1976,  and the progress we’ve made. I remember when the philosophy was “don’t smile until Christmas”, “watch for the “bad” kids and split them up immediately”, “make an example out of what you don’t want so kids won’t do it (whatever “it” is), and in my early days some teachers slapped students and the louder teachers were the more scared kids were. I had a colleague who used to say (I think jokingly) if you could skin one kid out and hang them on the lawn you’d never have to deal with disciplining kids. Yes, I say, thank goodness, we’ve come along way!

As we recognize Thanksgiving today and I sit down to a big meal with a large extended family of which I am sooooo grateful, I reflect on the changes in my 36 years of education. I give thanks that from my view……..

  • The philosophy has changed and we approach students in a kinder, gentler way.
  • We respect and value what students say and do.
  • We look at the strengths of students and build on those, believing that all students can learn.
  • It is not only about the destination but the journey, not the product but the process.
  • We strive to put students in the center of their learning, empowering them to grow and develop to be the best individual that they can, to contribute in a positive way to society and to be happy in whatever pathway they choose!
  • Day to day we are transforming to an educational environment to be more integrative, collaborative to expand on problem solving, innovation and creation.
  • And that the culture of our communities shift along with schools to be an extension and supportive of the learning environment.

When I read this Thanksgiving humor below I wondered how it relates to education – the old way and the transformation of education….

BAD Parrot

A young man named John received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird’s mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity. John tried and tried to change the bird’s attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to ‘clean up’ the bird’s vocabulary.

Finally, John was fed up and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot and the parrot got angrier and even more rude. John, in desperation, threw up his hand, grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed.

Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute. Fearing that he’d hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the freezer. The parrot calmly stepped out onto John’s outstretched arms and said “I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I’m sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior.”

John was stunned at the change in the bird’s attitude. As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behavior, the bird spoke-up, very softly, “May I ask what the turkey did?”



Understanding How Human Beings Learn

November 20, 2012

Take a magical mystery tour

Recently I had a conversation with a music colleague who replied, when asked how things were going at school, “great!” He reminded me that teaching was his focus this year and that he had put changes into place to ensure each student’s success. I recalled a similar year while in the classroom that my goal was to reach every student. It was a transition year that moved me away from “me” and what I was doing, and to the student and their engagement in “their” learning.

So much of good teaching relies on communication and how much I understood about how students learn. While thinking about a blog post for today I went back into my blog drafts, of which I have several, and found one that I had titled Research-Based Principles of Learning: Understanding How Human Beings Learn and the Conditions under Which Human Beings Learn Best. Unfortunately, when I started this draft I saved the title and a list of points (below) and did not include the source. When I googled the title it led me to interesting links and pdfs. As I am sure you know it is easy to meander and go in different directions; I call these “magical web mystery tours”.

What I found was research, websites, and pdfs that had similar lists to what I had found in my earlier draft. The titles included communicating with children, principles of learning, constructivism, strategies for effective teaching, and others. A UNICEF website called Communicating with Children was one of my finds on my tour. It has plenty of resources and a report that focuses on communicating with children through the adolescent period. As I write this post I find myself asking a question that I’ve asked more than once; how does a teacher reach every student, and put what they learn and know best into practice?

For now, I will leave you with this list that comes under the title Research-Based Principles of Learning: Understanding How Human Beings Learn and the Conditions under Which Human Beings Learn Best. I find that it pertains to learners of all ages. And, I invite you to take a few minutes this week and go on a magical mystery tour to see where it leads, and what you might learn.

  • Learning rates vary and prior knowledge is significant to learning new knowledge.
  • Motivation spikes with learner interest.
  • Learning styles differ and intelligence is multi-dimensional.
  • Success breeds success and influences esteem, attitude, and motivation.
  • Mistakes are inherent in the learning process and specific feedback enhances learning.
  • Requisite complex reasoning skills can be taught and learned.
  • Real world contexts/problems enhance learning for the learner.
  • Learning is social.

Gold Star Teaching Day

November 19, 2012

Savor the moments


We’ve all had those teachable moments, ah-ha experiences, outstanding lessons. You know the feeling when you look across the classroom and every student is engaged, there are smiles on students faces, and the end of the period comes and no one wants to stop and leave the room.

I received an email from Dr. Peter Stickney who kindly shared a dream story and a reminder to never give up or dismiss a lesson forever. What do you have in the file or backroom that you’ve tried and didn’t work? Perhaps it is time to dust it off and give it another 21st century shot.

Thank you to Peter from Massabesic High School, RSU57, Waterboro, Chamber Singer class, for sharing giving me permission to share the following story.

Today in our chamber singer class we are preparing for our final exam for the trimester. I dedicated this particular to “Sight-read  (sol-fa) and Sight-sing  (text) Mania”—(THIS MUSIC TEACHER BELIEVES IN MUSIC LITERACY for SINGERS)-I chose  the tried and true resource of Five Century’s of Choral Music”, rather than the booklets I have created for resources. As we were going through the examples, the class requested a music history blurb about the songs (WOW)–  *****Then it happened—-we went to the “Adoramus te” by Palestrina and all of a sudden the class was sight singing in latin—PERFECTLY—-OMG—-and OH My SOUL!!! We stopped—there was silence—and then—-“Can we Please do this piece”—-I explained that I loved this piece and had tried to do it 17 years ago and everyone HATED it—did they REALLY want to do it—YESSSSSSSS—was  the answer—I wish you could have felt the energy—-
I always wonder why we have less positive days and more positive days—This morning was amazing—The class was BEGGING to sing a renaissance motet, in latin!!!! They want to WORK and do the “GOOD STUFF”—and they LOVE IT!!!! It doesn’t get much better than that!!!! It’s a teaching gold star day!


Screen Saver Challenge!

November 15, 2012

MLTI screen saver student opportunity

“Array of Colors” Emma Soucek, Mount Desert Island High School, Grade 10

Over the last four years, the MLTI device screen saver featured eighty outstanding student works of art (twenty each year) with over one thousand pieces of artwork submitted.

This opportunity is once again available for the 2013-2014 Screen Saver. Works of art submitted will be on display in a Studywiz Gallery where students and teachers may vote for and critique the artworks. The two works receiving the most votes (stars) will automatically be entered into the group of 20 finalists. An independent review committee will score the remaining pieces of artwork using a rubric (available online). The 18 artworks receiving top scores from the committee will be submitted to the finalists group as well.

Most schools have active Studywiz accounts for staff and students. Please check with your MLTI Tech Lead for more information. If you do not have a Studywiz account you will be issued an account to post the work. Your Tech Lead can create accounts – please keep in mind it takes 24 hours for a Studywiz account to become active so don’t wait!!

“Put Out the Fire” Margaret Robe, Waterville Senior High School, Grade 12

This opportunity is open to Maine students in grades K-12. MLTI asks that students submit only ONE piece of artwork to be considered for the 2013-2014 screensaver. Please take careful note of the sizing and labeling requirements. Submissions not meeting these requirements or students submitting multiple works will not have their artwork reviewed or voted on. The deadline to submit artwork for this challenge is December 17, 2012!

The students whose artwork is selected will receive free Student Conference registration (May 16, 2013) and will have their artwork on the 2013-2014 MLTI Screen Saver.

More information can be found online ( or in Studywiz ( in the 207 Screen Saver group.

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