Archive for February, 2015

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MAEA Art Exhibit

February 28, 2015

Student Art Exhibit Coordinated by Maine Art Education Association at Maine Education Association

Student Art Exhibit Recognizing

Youth Art Month

Invitation Art by Amber Smith, Grade 7

Sebasticook Middle School, Newport

Glenda Frati, Art Teacher

Opening Reception – Refreshments: Sunday, March 8 – 1:00-2:30 Presentations, 1:30

Maine Education Office

35 Community Drive

Augusta, ME

(near the Augusta Civic Center)

Office Hours: M-F, 8:00-5:00pm

Artwork on display until Fall 2015

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Zeppelin!

February 27, 2015

Middle School students

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A group of 7- to 12-year-old musicians in Kentucky perform a medley of Led Zeppelin on xylophones and marimbas.

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Maine DOE Seeks VPA Specialist

February 26, 2015

Get your resume ready

This article is just in from the Maine DOE Newsroom! I hope that you will consider applying for this important position and a chance to collaborate with the Arts education organizations in Maine and beyond.

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 9.10.11 PMThe Maine DOE is seeking applicants to fill the position of Visual and Performing Arts Specialist.

The position, which will be formally posted next week on the State’s Bureau of Human Resources website and also in future issues of the Commissioner’s Update, provides important supports to implement proficiency-based diplomas and guidance for effective instruction in the Arts. The Department hopes to have the specialist, who will be a member of its Standards and Instructional Supports Team, in place by spring.

Toward the goal of supporting effective arts instruction, in January the Maine DOE kicked of the Maine Arts Integration Consortium (MAIC). This consortium will continue throughout the winter and spring of 2015 and will result in resources and presentations to illustrate arts integration.

Until the position at the Maine DOE is filled, please direct all questions related to visual and performing arts education and the MAIC to Maine DOE’s Director of Standards and Instructional Supports Anita Bernhardt at 624-6835 or anita.bernhardt@maine.gov.

This information was posted yesterday in the Maine DOE newsroom at http://mainedoenews.net/2015/02/25/maine-doe-seeks-visual-and-performing-arts-specialist/#more-34127.

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Who Are They?: Bay Chamber, Part 5

February 25, 2015

Musical Explorations

This blog post is part of a series called Who Are They? where information is provided for the Maine Arts Ed blog readers to learn about community organizations and institutions that provide educational opportunities in the arts. You will learn that they are partnering with other organizations and schools to extend learning opportunities, not supplant.

Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 7.58.04 PMBay Chamber Concerts and Music School is the first organization being highlighted. Located in Rockport, they provide rich music opportunities for students of all ages in the mid-coast area. Monica Kelly is the Executive Director. You can learn more at http://www.baychamberconcerts.org/.

The following post was written by Jessica Day, instructor and can be reached at director@mdicoastmusictogether.com.

Please provide information on your background so the Maine Arts Ed blog readers can learn about you Jess.

I have been an active educator and facilitator for over 20 years. Over the years I have participated in Music, Movement and Wellness programs with my children, now 8 and 7 years old, and they are in part the inspiration behind my launching my business in 2008 as Owner, Director and Teacher of Midcoast Music Together and JAMMM (Jess’ Music, Movement, Mindfulness Programs).

I joined Bay Chamber School of Music as it opened its doors in 2011, to support the School’s development of its early childhood music and movement program which today offers a variety of programs, including Music Explorations: Hum, Strum, Drum and Play, and Music Together Family Classes to over 150 Families per year.

I am passionate about the power of music and working with children and families.

What are your major responsibilities at Bay Chamber Concerts and Music School?

I brought Music Together, an international early childhood music and movement program for children from birth through age 7—to Bay Chamber in 2011 when the school opened in Rockport. It was a wonderful synergy and now I feel that Bay Chamber is the heart/center of my business! Since I started teaching at Bay Chamber- we have served approximately 150 families a year at Bay Chamber alone – just in the early childhood program. It’s a wonderful space for our local communities near and far to gather, learn and play music together.

By 2012 we expanded the Music Together programs to “Big Kids” for 5-7 year olds as well as a Music Together “Guitar for Grownups”. Monica encouraged me to create a class for Bay Chamber – for children ages 6-9years (1-3rd graders). Passionate about the work- I was thrilled at the opportunity.

Tell us about the Musical Explorations curriculum for children ages 6-9.

Jessica Day

Jessica Day

In the fall of 2014- we created Hum, Strum, Drum & Play- Music Explorations for children ages 6-9 years old. A natural next step for children growing out of early childhood music programming into deeper and more directed musical explorations and instrument study. This class was created to compliment and prepare children for formal music instruction and school based music education, while giving them a strong foundation for a lifetime of music enjoyment. It is meant to be an enriching, fun, affordable/accessible afterschool program. Also for families whose focus might not be on music – to allow their children to learn, play and explore music and themselves in a different environment.

This group class allows children to explore the world of music by making (singing, playing & listening) music in a group setting. We introduce basic music concepts and skills through exploration with a variety of percussion instruments, ukulele and recorder. Children will learn fun and age-appropriate ways to sing and express themselves. Students sing, move, play, improvise (ensemble and solo work) and listen to a wide range of music. All students are allowed to develop at their own pace, and are encouraged to reach toward their potential. This class is a great choice for students who are considering lessons or as a companion to private instruction- and/or want more exposure to music/musical instruments. We provide a musically rich environment that welcomes participation with songs in a range of musical styles from lyrical to blues and world music and folk.

When children are young, music has a tremendous power to enhance, not only their love of music and the joy it brings, but also their overall development. In addition, they are building life skills such as leadership, decision-making, active listening and teamwork along with their music skills and understanding.

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 4.57.46 PMKEY COMPONENTS:

  • Fun – children learn through play- musical games/challenges
  • Engage all the senses- active listening, seeing, moving, and playing of instruments- addressing all learning styles
  • Introduces children to other peers outside of school
  • Gets children moving, thinking, and listening differently- trying themselves on in new ways, improvising, leading, playing together. Group dynamics.
  • Practice specific skills- tonal and rhythm patterns, singing, matching pitch and beat
  • Ukulele intro- chords, strums, instrument parts, tuning
  • Recorder Intro- holding, playing, notes, positions
  • Percussion- leading and playing in drum circle, dynamics, tempo, intro to various types of instruments

Limited to 10 students, our first class filled immediately this Fall- Wednesdays afterschool 3:45-4:45pm. We had children from St George, Waldoboro, Camden, Lincolnville, Hope, Rockland and Rockport.

Have you observed benefits to children when they begin exploring music with you?

I have noticed a greater overall confidence, risk taking, musical skill development, and overall joy and pride. They are able to engage, improvise/create, and there’s an enthusiasm to learning. They were left wanting more!

  • Music Learning and Development
  • Basic Music Literacy
  • Social and Emotional Development
  • Cognitive, Physical and Motor Development
  • New approaches to Learning

I use Carnegie Hall Educator Toolkit as one of my sources for teacher tools and assessment.

I hope to provide children with an enthusiasm, curiosity and love of music. Brain research shows us that music taps a part of the brain’s “musical memory”- if I can help in providing our children with music and positive musical memories- they will have this for the rest of their lives!

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Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Theresa Cerceo

February 24, 2015

MAAI Teacher Leaders series

This is the second blog post for 2015 on the Phase 4 Maine Arts Assessment Initiative’s (MAAI) Teacher Leaders sharing their stories. This series contains a set of questions to provide the opportunity for you to learn from and about others. You can learn more about MAAI at http://mainearts.maine.gov/Pages/Education/MAAI# and learn more about all 61 of the MAAI Teacher Leaders at http://www.maineartsassessment.com/#!teacher-leaders/c1qxk.

Theresa CerceoTheresa Cerceo is in her ninth year teacheing Visual Arts, K – 12 with MSAD 33 in Frenchville / St Agatha school district. Check on the map, it is WAY UP NORTH! She teaches full time;  I teach full time; middle / high school in the morning (four times a week) and elementary in the afternoon (each class once a week). In addition to teaching art, Theresa is a certified Gifted and Talented teacher and works with students in this capacity for Visual and Language Arts enrichment.  At the elementary level, she helps facilitate Language Arts, Science and Math Skill Seminars as part of the school-wide daily schedule. These seminars occur for 45 minute Monday – Thursday and change topics every two weeks. Also, Theresa serves on the school district’s Leadership Team for Learner – Centered Proficiency-Based Learning. Before moving to Maine in 2006, she lived in (my home town) Philadelphia.  There, she spent some time at Tyler School of Art (Temple University) before receiving a BFA from Rosemont College and an MAT (Visual Arts) from the University of the Arts.  In addition to working for the Main Line Art Center and the University of the Arts as an arts teacher in their children’s weekend and summer programs,  she taught art for 3 years within Philadelphia and the surrounding area at the elementary, middle and high school level.

What do you like best about being a visual art educator?

What I enjoy most about being an art educator is being able to provide an opportunity for students to engage in one of our basic human instincts, to create. I am humbled that I can assist in nurturing a child’s ability to express their unique identity while providing them the knowledge in skills and  techniques so that they may communicate more effectively.

What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?

In addition to administrative support, I believe love and personal commitment for one’s content, assessment supported curriculum, and teacher flexibility are the three keys to providing a successful art education.

How have you found assessment to be helpful to you in your classroom?

Good assessments offer me a tool in which I can communicate with my students regarding expectations and their growth. It allows me to plan for what students need and how they need instruction delivered. This allows me to make their time in my room as individualized as possible.  Students see constructive feedback regarding their thought processes and skills and then, they can set real goals that are meaningful to them. I am finding that this facilitates not only skill and concept development, but a deeper appreciation for their time spent in art class.

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

Becoming involved with MAAI has given me the tools and support to establish my voice in my district. By attending Mega-Regionals and then going through the Teacher Leader training I have gained the knowledge base to establish the arts as an academic subject. At the core, what I have gained through MAAI is the knowledge that I am no longer an isolated arts teacher; that I am part of  a large group of educators that believe that the Arts are essential to human development; they understand why and they are committed to strengthening arts education and advocacy for the arts in Maine. This has reinvigorated my passion for teaching as well as my commitment to building the best art program possible.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am most proud of my personal growth as an educator. Over the years, I have spent a lot of time developing, reflecting and revising my curriculum and it has gone from a basic outline of what I thought was important for students to know (based on my personal experiences as a student and my personal interests),  to a more (teacher – student) collaborative piece that allows for exploration and discovery, reflection and personal goal setting. The most important thing I have learned, and I am still developing is flexibility in terms of instruction. A concept may be important for all students to get, but the way I deliver it might change from class to class depending on their readiness level, learning styles or even time constraints. I strive to treat students as individuals and to allow the art room to be a place where they can make personal connections to the materials and techniques offered and feel safe to make mistakes and to grow. Although this was always my theory about how an art classroom should run, it took me time and a lot of reflection and revision in order to reach a place where I can feel I am closer to this goal.

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

I think we can often get in our own way through self doubt or rigidity in our thinking. I realize now, I used to act as though students should be the kind of student I was or should care about the subject matter I find important. Teaching through this paradigm produced some success but not much growth or the overall “ love for the arts” I was hoping to foster. By surveying students, hearing other teachers, reflecting, and trying new ideas, I feel I learned a lot about myself and how to be a better teacher.

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

I am not sure. I guess I believe luck can only get you so far. For real success to happen, hard work and determination has to be part of it.

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

My advice is; do what you know is right, honor your natural instincts and let your classroom be a reflection of who you are and how you want the world to be.

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

If the money went to my classrooms, I would build a ceramics studio at both schools.  If it was for me to use personally,  I’d get an RV and travel around all the parts of the US I have never seen and/or start an arts center.

Imagine you are 94 years old. You’re looking back. Do you have any regrets? 

No, I believe all the parts of our journey offer learning experiences to help us evolve.  And, as we go through the various ins and outs of our life, we influence and are influenced by those around us.   As long as we keep learning from our mistakes, working positively and honestly toward our goals, there is nothing to regret.

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How Playing Music Benefits Your Brain More than Any Other Activity

February 23, 2015

Brain Pickings

Every Sunday morning I receive an email from Brain Pickings. It is filled with information that I find very useful. It is like my Sunday newspaper, there is always something that I refer to in the future in some way. I don’t recall which edition this article was in called How Playing Music Benefits Your Brain More than Any Other Activity by Maria Popova but I popped the link into a blog post draft and found it today while thinking about what to post.

Just an aside, I have been putting many links onto the MEArtsEducation facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MEArtsEducation?ref=aymt_homepage_panel but I know that many of the blog readers on not on the facebook page. I invite you to visit soon so you don’t miss any of the content going there.

Anyway, the benefits of music article is located at http://www.brainpickings.org/2015/01/29/music-brain-ted-ed/. The start of the piece is located below. With Music in Our Schools Month just around the corner, you may want to share this with your students, parents, and colleagues.

“Playing music is the brain’s equivalent of a full-body workout.”

“Each note rubs the others just right, and the instrument shivers with delight. The feeling is unmistakable, intoxicating,” musician Glenn Kurtz wrote in his sublime meditation on the pleasures of practicing, adding: “My attention warms and sharpens… Making music changes my body.” Kurtz’s experience, it turns out, is more than mere lyricism — music does change the body’s most important organ, and changes it more profoundly than any other intellectual, creative, or physical endeavor.

If interested you can check out all that Brain Pickings has to offer at http://www.brainpickings.org/. If you like what you see, you can join me in receiving the email on Sunday mornings.

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We Are Teachers

February 22, 2015

Teacher Tip of the Week

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 7.13.47 PMWe Are Teachers is one of those websites that has a ton of resources! It includes links to grants, lesson plans, special reports, several links to the arts and much more. You can sign up for their newsletter and automatically receive information by email.

The last email I received includes a blog post called A Report Card for the Teacher: 5 Tips for Getting Feedback From Students. The post was written by Chase Mielke, an English teacher at Plainwell High School in Plainwell, Michigan. He writes a blog called AFFECTIVELIVING  at https://affectiveliving.wordpress.com/.

Thanks to Chase and the editor of weareteachers.com for granting permission to re-post the entire entry below. I found this post very useful. The tips can be put into place immediately, tweaked to meet your classroom situation, and/or ideas to discuss with your colleagues and of course, your students!

I don’t know where I would be as a teacher—as a person—without having honest, specific (often painfully brutal) feedback from great mentors. Yet, perhaps even more powerful than feedback from my mentors has been the feedback I’ve received over the years from my students.

I’ll be honest—I am still nervous every time I ask for feedback from the very people I hope to motivate, challenge, and inspire. Maybe it’s because my most common nightmares involve realizing that I’m teaching a terrible lesson—and that I’m suddenly naked (please tell me I’m not the only one who has those nightmares . . .).

But, no matter how badly I want to pee my pants every time I ask students for feedback, it has been worth the fear every time. And, through a lot of trial-and-error requesting feedback, I’ve learned a few mentalities and strategies that have made a critical difference.

Mentalities Worth Adopting

1. It’s not personal.

Adolescents aren’t the most tactful social group. Blame it on their still-developing prefrontal cortices or their cocktail of hormones. So, sometimes their feedback is a bit more biting than an adult’s would be.

In those moments when students write high-level feedback like, “You suck,” I have to remind myself not to take the abysmal ad hominem to heart—even when my inner-immaturity wants to kick in and say, “No! You suck . . . suck face!”  Growth is not made through grudges.

This isn’t to say I should ignore it. Harsh comments like those are possibly a greater signal than any that I have some work to do in building a relationship with the student. If I don’t make an effort to seek to understand the why behind the comment, well then, the student was right; I do “suck.”

2. Humility is a pre-requisite for good teaching.

Teaching is our identity. We wear our profession with pride, often finding ways to bring it up whenever we can (especially for discounts). Sometimes, though, pride can be our downfall as any suggestion for improvement becomes a personal hit. I have to give myself permission to know that when I fail—which I will—it as an extension of what I did, not who I am.

I dropped my pride when I realized that the best teachers I know—whether they had been teaching for three years or thirty—were the ones asking for feedback from everyone and accepting it without a flinch.

3. Cut the “but.”

I found myself sabotaging my own willingness to adopt feedback by qualifying (or “disqualifying”) my responses with a “but” or “however.”

For example:

“I agree that I need to work more on organization and having a clear flow to our lesson. But, you’ll need to learn to be flexible in life, so it’s really not that big of a deal.”

“I can see where this student is coming from with that feedback, but they don’t have a Master’s degree in education. I do.”

“You’re right: That joke I made may have crossed the line. However, we’ve joked a lot in the past and it hasn’t been an issue.”

“I know many of you think learning about pronoun-antecedent agreement is boring. But, I have to teach it because it’ll be on the state test.”

Ultimately, these “disqualifiers” model an external locus of control. They are corrosive habits of:

Justification – Saying the behavior is “okay” or excusable because . . .;

Blame – Passing the root behavior onto some other person or thing;

Denial – Discrediting that something is an important issue (or assuming it’s not there).

If I’m not going to take internal locus of control of my teaching, I might as well quit and let the robots do the teaching.

Strategies Worth Trying

1. Give students time and direction to prepare their feedback.

We sometimes assume that students spend their time in our classrooms critiquing our pedagogical finesse—that they dream about educational instruction (more likely, they are having nightmares of failing our lessons . . . and being naked in the process).

Sure, they are subtweeting about us or talking with their peers about what we do to annoy them, but this isn’t the same as pointed, detailed feedback. That’s why it’s so important to give them time for a genuine reflection.

When:

Before a teacher-student conference: Tell students ahead of time that you will be asking them for honest feedback when you meet with them. Ask for it at the end of a writing or grade-check conference in which you are providing feedback. Asking for your own feedback beforehand may make students hesitant that sharing will influence your evaluation of their work.

After class: At the beginning of a class, hand students slips of paper with prompts for specific feedback. Inform them that they can write you feedback at any point during class. Have students drop off their feedback in a box before leaving class.

And remember to use specific prompts. I’ve benefitted from asking specific questions like:

What’s one thing I should keep doing [during instruction, when giving directions, etc.]?

What’s one thing I should stop doing [. . .]?

What’s one thing I should do differently [. . .]?

What’s the most annoying thing I do [when lecturing, when assigning homework, etc.]?

What’s the best thing I do to help you learn [. . .]?

What could I do to give you better feedback [on your writing, on your quizzes, etc.]?

What did you like about the assignment I gave last night?

What did you dislike about the assignment I gave last night?

“When you ________________________, I usually stop paying attention.”

“I’ve heard other students express frustration about ____________________ with your teaching.”

2. Establish a “How am I doing?” habit.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 8.50.05 PMIn-the-moment feedback can also be extremely valuable. Try pausing a lesson and asking students, “How am I doing?” Tell them they can give you feedback on specifics (e.g., presenting information more clearly, talking less, explaining more, giving examples). Make this a habit so it doesn’t feel awkward. The stronger your trust and relationships are with students, the more likely you will get frequent (and authentic) feedback.

Create a classroom chart that lists common feedback responses so students have options when you ask.

Also, be ready to adapt based on the feedback. If they want more examples, be prepared with examples ahead of time.

3. Set up an accountability committee.

Put together a group of students that can give you feedback directly. Meet with them periodically after class to discuss feedback they have (bribing with food is always a great way to get kids to stay after class). Better yet, empower them to gather feedback from their classmates. Be cautious that the committee doesn’t have the impression of being a “favorites club,” or that it is exclusive. Gather an eclectic group of students and rotate the contributors often.

4. Try Feedback Fridays.

Build traditions for feedback in order to normalize the process (and not allow for excuses to “put it on the back burner”) Set aside a specific time each week for quick feedback. For me, Fridays have been a nice way to end off the week and have the weekend to mull over student feedback.

We often give students feedback with weekly grade-posting. Why not get feedback during these times as well?

5. Model your path to improvement.

Be open about what you are working to improve – and how it’s going. Consider posting one thing that you are working on for the week. Admit when things aren’t going well and what you are learning from the mistake. One of the biggest frustrations students have is the feeling of a “double-standard”: We expect them to grow and change daily, yet we often don’t model growth and change ourselves. When we own our own growth we move from assuming we are masters to ascending into models.

 

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