Archive for August, 2013


Lynn Tuttle Presentation at Arts Conference

August 30, 2013

Lynn Tuttle will be traveling to Maine to present at the Opening Session at the Arts Education: Leading the Way conference on October 24, UMaine, Collins Center for the Arts. Her presentation entitled Maine and the National Core Arts Standards will provide information for Arts educators on the National Core Arts Standards (NCAS). Lynn will also be doing a follow-up session at the conference for those who wish to go deeper into the conversation about the NCAS.

To help prepare for her visit or if you can not attend the conference but wish to hear Lynn speak on the National Core Arts Standards please join this webinar that is an interview with Lynn. I realize that it is not scheduled at an ideal time for teachers but perhaps you can pass the information on to your administrators to participate in the webinar.

“An Interview with Lynn Tuttle about the Core Arts Standards: Embracing a New Paradigm in Arts Education”

Arts Education Policy Review
Volume 114, Issue 3, 2013

Thursday, August 29  at 2pm ET/ 1pm

Join us as author Jared R. Rawlings interviews Lynn Tuttle, Director of Arts Education, Arizona Department of Education, on the rationale, emergence of media arts, the writing process, impact, and future direction of new core arts standards.

Register now for the latest webinar in our Know More series.


Art Speaks

August 29, 2013

Imagine Ken Robinson, Elliot Eisner, Mike Huckabee, Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Gilbert, Steve Jobs, and Thelma Golden’s voices speaking on Arts Education in our schools. Perhaps you’ve heard them individually speak on the topic. You can hear their voices collectively in this YouTube created by Dave Heinzel, music by Radiohead, and produced by Elizabeth Marcy and the Springfield Public Schools.


Thank you to Debi Bickford, Westbrook High School art teacher, for sharing the link.


Nestor Changes Arts Ed Positions

August 28, 2013

From the MDOE to MAC

On Monday, September 9 I will be starting a new position at the Maine Arts Commission as the Director of Arts Education. It is with mixed feelings that I leave the Maine Department of Education as the Visual and Performing Arts Specialist (among other responsibilities) after 7 years. When I reflect on the work (and clean out my cubby), I am amazed at what has taken place and the accomplishments in Arts education. The biggest accomplishment has been the amazing work that teachers are doing because of the the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative. I want to assure you that the MAAI will continue. In fact, the initiative was recently awarded $54,349.00 from Title IIA SEA “State Activities” for phase 3. These are federal funds that are designated for professional development. The MAAI, along with the other Department arts education work, has been successful because of the incredible Maine Arts education community. Thank you for continually collaborating to create exemplary opportunities for kids and teachers!

My favorite part of the work has been visiting the 400 classrooms in 50 school districts across the state. If you are one of the teachers that I visited thank you so much for inviting me.  Maine is fortunate to have dedicated arts educators doing amazing work with students. The opportunity provide gave me a global perspective. The key for teachers is to connect and collaborate with others. The isolation disappears when there are connections with others who care deeply about arts education. The quality work arts educators are doing impacts student individual growth while contributing to the community. As we move towards the proficiency-based diploma with high school graduates in 2018 I trust that the community will continue to provide assistance to each other.

The Maine Arts Commission is located in Augusta just across the street from the Blaine House. Julie Richard is the Director who started last September and is committed to quality arts education for all students. Recently Julie said: “I am thrilled to have Argy as the newest member of our team.  Her work in arts education in the state fits perfectly with the vision I have for strengthening the Maine Arts Commission’s role in this area. I have said at gatherings throughout the state over the past year that without a strong and vibrant arts education presence in our schools, arts and culture will not thrive moving forward. It is essential that we do whatever we can to ensure our students have access to the arts. I am excited for this work to begin and Argy is the absolute right person to lead it for us.”

My last day at the Department is on Tuesday, September 3. My email address will remain the same and the Maine Arts Education list-serv and this blog will continue. You can continue to contact me at My new postal address will be Maine Arts Commission, State House Station 25, Augusta, ME 04333.

The Department is committed to arts education and plans to fill the position as soon as possible. Until someone is hired to fill my position at the Department, I recommend that you contact Rachelle Tome, Chief Academic Officer, at or tel. 207.624.6708 for questions and issues related to visual or performing arts.

Please note: I will be taking a short break September 4 – 9 and will be away from email during that time.


Advancing Arts Ed Report

August 27, 2013

June 5, 2013 release

In this day and age when we have the use of technology that provides learning opportunities almost all the time and from almost anywhere I am exploring ways to capitalize on that for the arts. A recently released report called Advancing Arts Education through an Expanded School Day: Lessons from Five Schools, caught my attention. The authors are David Farbman, Dennie Palmer Wolf and Diane Sherlock. You might remember Dennie’s name from Maine’s statewide arts census that Maine Arts Alliance for Arts Education and the Maine Department of Education published in 2008. Dennie was the lead consultant for the work.

I know what many of you might be thinking – “The arts after school?, How fair is that?” Before you go down that rabbit hole please check out the report. Read about the five schools who are utilizing the time to “improve the overall academic instruction”. I am certain that you are aware of the work that the Maine DOE has undertaken by identifying schools with a letter grade. This is not an easy topic or conversation for anyone. However, I don’t think that anyone would disagree that we all want students and our schools to be successful.

The report includes “Americans for the Arts believes that an expanded school day is one successful model for providing a high-quality education in the arts,” said Narric Rome, Senior Director of Federal Affairs & Arts Education at Americans for the Arts. “Through this report, education leaders can clearly see how five different schools have maintained high values for arts education, such as offering the arts to all students, offering core arts classes taught by certified teachers, and enriching the arts curriculum through partnerships in the community.” When you read about the five schools you will see that they are in urban areas of our country. What I suggest you ask yourself while reading the report is what you can learn from the work that they have undertaken?

One of the things that I miss from teaching art in the middle school is trying new ideas and discussing them with my colleagues. As you start off the school year why not consider a new approach, be pro-active around collaborative ideas so you can lead the change rather than being told what to do.

This report and others contain research that we can learn from and apply in multiple ways to our classrooms.


Skills Needed for Today’s World

August 26, 2013

ARTSblog post

I know that I have mentioned the ARTSblog before. It is one of the blogs that I subscribe to and often find the posts very informative. The post written by Lisa Phillips on August 21, 2013. I emailed Lisa and she gave me permission to re-post it below. Thanks Lisa!

Lisa Phillips is the author of the book, The Artistic Edge: 7 Skills Children Need to Succeed in an Increasingly Right Brain World. To learn more about her book visit:

There are many things I don’t know about life and how the world works, but there are two things I know for certain. The first is that young people are less prepared for the working world than they were 20 years ago. The second is that there is something we can do about it!

Don’t get me wrong, young people today are energetic, caring about the environment and passionate about social justice. However, when it comes to the skills they need to conquer the competitive nature of the working world, there is some work to be done. Success skills such as effective communication, accountability, finding solutions to challenges, and adaptability are just some of the areas that the current generation is lacking.

So where can they learn them?

In those “nice to have, but not need to have” programs that our school boards seem to be cutting like they were last year’s fashions…THE ARTS!

If parents, educators and policy makers would just LOOK and see what I see, they would recognize an untapped opportunity to catapult 21st century students toward achieving their goals in life. I would like to offer 6 reasons why the arts offer excellent opportunities to develop these vital success skills.

1.     The Arts Don’t Focus on Right & Wrong

The simple fact is, if we learn mainly in an environment in which we pump out answers that are either right or wrong, with no middle ground or room for creativity, we will begin to see the whole world as black and white. We will expect every problem to have a right answer. Participation in the arts opens up our mind to the possibility that the world is full of color and there is more than one way to achieve a goal. When the pressure of needing to find the right answer is removed, it becomes easier to take a risk and try – and trying is the only way to succeed.

2.     The Arts are Inherently Creative

The desire to employ creative people is not unique to Apple. The most successful companies assemble teams of people who are able to see the big picture, to make connections and to predict market trends. Even in a fiercely competitive job market, these skills will always be in demand. Unfortunately, our traditional systems of education are not designed to produce people with these skills. In arts education children are constantly being asked to try new things and think of alternatives. This kind of thinking goes a long way toward developing the essential success skill of creativity.

3.     The Emphasis on Practice

In the arts, it is understood that you will not be able to learn an instrument or be an incredible dancer over night. Developing these skills takes effort and hours and hours of practice. The arts environment encourages persistence through challenges towards mastery, a skill very much needed to thrive in the 21st century. When children participate in the arts, they will not shy away from learning things in their adult lives that are challenging, or take lots of time and effort. They would have already experienced the benefit of that level of practice through their arts training.

4.     The Focus on Feedback & Critique

Feedback is a constant part of the learning process in the arts. This helps children understand that feedback should not be taken personally, but that it is meant to challenge them to push beyond what they think they are capable of achieving. A good arts teacher’s critique is specific; it tells the student what works, what does not, and what they can do to improve. If we are used to seeing feedback as fuel for improvement, our natural reaction when receiving feedback will not be to make excuses, but to ask for more feedback about how we can improve our performance.

5.     The Moment of Success

Each discipline within the arts has its own method of performance or presentation – an art exhibit, a play, a dance show etc. This gives children a sense of accomplishment after all of their effort and practice. This acknowledgement translates into a strong boost of confidence and enhances their drive to continue learning and improving. They have experienced a moment of success and when that happens they are typically motivated to seek even more success.

 6.     The Coping Mechanisms for Handling Stress

Mental health is a growing concern in our society and often people can become overwhelmed with stress. It is important to find ways to calm ourselves during those moments. Dancing, painting or playing the piano can be a great stress reliever. These activities help us let out our frustrations, and express ourselves without needing to use words. If children develop these skills early, then as adults they will naturally gravitate toward these and will have a way to deal with stresses that come up in their lives.

The world is changing so rapidly and the rules in the job market are requiring a different set of skills in order to find success. Long gone are the days when a university degree was enough to guarantee a great career. We need to wake up to the realization that the arts have a critical role to play in the development of the skills young people need to not only survive, but to thrive in the 21st century.


Professional Development – Why?

August 25, 2013

National Education Association article

At the heart of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative has been professional development. The opportunity to bring arts teachers together and look closely at teaching and learning and assessment is the focus. To have discussions, to process research, to exchange ideas have been the most rewarding for the arts teachers who have taken advantage of the opportunities.

The teacher leaders who have gotten their hands dirty stepping up and taking on leadership roles have echoed the importance. On top of the hard work it has been rewarding and fun!
In an August 5, 2013 article Overhaul of Professional Development Critical to Student Success, Report Says in the NEA Today Journal Tim Walker discusses professional development and the need for overhauling it. The article supports the work of the MAAI and how it is being carried out. We are continually building on the successes and looking to the participants (about 800 to date) to determine the next steps.

If you haven’t joined any of the professional development opportunities that MAAI has offered I urge you to take a look at the 35 workshops that the teacher leaders are offering at the statewide arts ed conference on October 24 at UMaine, Collins Center for the Arts, Arts Education: Leading the Way. Registration is open and I hope to see you there!




Patterns of Innovation

August 24, 2013

Highlighting programs

On the Partnership for 21st Century Skills website you can find a page called Patterns of Innovation which is a program where the partnership “highlights best practices in schools and districts across the country that are preparing students for college, career and citizenship by embedding critical 21st century competencies into the learning environment.” You can read the stories that are posted each week by clicking here.




Grant Opportunity

August 23, 2013

National Endowment for the Arts

Dear Friends of NEA Research:

The National Endowment for the Arts’ Office of Research & Analysis announces that grant application guidelines are available for Research: Art Works. This program supports research that investigates the value of the U.S. arts ecosystem and the impact of the arts, either as individual components within the U.S. arts ecology or as they interact with each other and/or with other domains of American life.

The NEA encourages applications from diverse research fields (e.g., sociology, economics, anthropology, psychology, medicine and health, education, communications, and urban and regional planning) in addition to projects that address a diverse array of topics concerning the value and/or impact of the arts. Nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3), U.S. organizations; units of state or local government; or federally recognized tribal communities or tribes may apply. This may include, but is not limited to, colleges and universities.

The NEA anticipates awarding up to 25 grants in the range of $10,000 to $30,000. The deadline for application submission is Nov. 5, 2013 and projects can begin as early as May 1, 2014.

This year, there have been several major changes to the Research: Art Works grant program:

•     Priority is given to applications that present theory-driven research questions and methodologies that will yield important information about the value and/or impact of the arts.
•     The 2012 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts and the 2012 General Social Survey’s Arts Supplement are cited as secondary data sources of special interest to the NEA.
•     Primary data collection is now an eligible activity type. Those projects may be of three years in duration. Other projects now may be of two years in duration.
•     New sections of the guidelines address the responsible conduct of research, and data management and sharing. There is a corresponding review criterion about applicants’ data management plans.
•     Grants require a match and indirect costs are allowed.

The NEA will hold an informational webinar for potential applicants on Sept. 18, 2013.  More information is forthcoming.

For grant application information and guidelines, please go to

To see project descriptions of the grants awarded in previous years of Research: Art Works, click here.

To see examples of previously successful applications, please click here, and choose “Sample Application Narratives – Research.”

If you have any questions or concerns, please email

Thank you, and good luck.

National Endowment for the Arts
Office of Research & Analysis


Standards-Based Education

August 22, 2013

Yes, again!

For years we’ve been talking about Standards-Based Education and now due to LD1422 the conversation is taking a giant leap forward. But what does standards-based mean? And, how about proficiency-based, student-centered learning and, standards-referenced? In April of 2012 I wrote a post on this topic but recently the question came up again asking for clarity so this post is provided for that reason.

I feel like educators are continuously trying to get a better understanding of these terms and of course, the bottom line is how does this impact teaching and learning? I remember during many years of my 30 years of teaching sifting through articles, research, and communicating about what I was reading with colleagues to try and make sense of education topics. That hasn’t changed for me working at the Maine Department of Education. The only difference is that much more information “comes across my desk”.

Yesterday I was honored to be part of the interviews for the finalist for the 2014 Maine Teacher of the Year. The process for selection is almost a year long so the three finalists were thrilled to be there and the conversation about teaching and learning was wonderful. I was reminded of the passion teachers have for the important work they do. The next teacher of the year will be announced at a surprise assembly at the teachers school in September. Congratulations to all three finalists! They are grade 4 teacher Mary Graziano from Hartland Consolidated School, grades 6 and 7 ELA teacher Karen MacDonald, from King MIddle School, and kindergarten teacher Suzen Polk-Hoffses from Milbridge Elementary School.

There was a question about standards-based education and I liked the answer the teacher gave which included “It’s not about the grade, it’s about the learning.” Earlier this year I listened to Cole Castorina, a student at York High School say: ” I know that I know it and I have confidence that I understand the concept. I didn’t just learn it for the assessment.” Cole and 2 other students were interviewed for the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative’s video series. You can access the York High School video with music teachers Rob Westerberg and Dan Sovetsky and principal Bob Stevens at this link. It is one thing to look at the chart below and another to hear students, teachers, and administrators articulate what it’s all about!

If you are trying to understand the difference between standards-based and standards-referenced researcher Robert Marzano has a diagram that provides clarity that you might find helpful.

Screen shot 2013-08-22 at 8.03.27 AM


In Today’s News

August 21, 2013

A Day in the Park for the Arts

Winslow community members, business owners, and students came together in Winslow to raise funds to help support the Performing Arts programs at the high school. Read the entire article at this link.

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