Archive for April, 2020


MLTI Student Conference

April 30, 2020

Online – Maine Learning Technology Initiative


Open Art Teachers Studio

April 29, 2020

Create, talk and share

The Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) is sponsoring Open Art Teachers Studio: Quarantine Edition. Five sessions are being offered on Wednesday’s May 6 – June 3, Zoom, 3:30 – 4:30. An opportunity to create, talk & share for K-12 visual arts educators. Contact hours available. You may attend one or more and receive contact hours for the sessions in which you participate.





  • Open Art Teachers Studio is a time (1 hour) and place (Zoom) where K-12 Visual Arts Educators can come together and create! Each session begins with a unique & creative teacher-led hands-on experience followed by discussion.
  • We believe that having a time to create and share as adult artists is vital to our continued success as Visual Arts Educators.
  • First half of the hour is creating & the second half is for sharing current activities, successes, trading resources, troubleshooting, networking, and to support one another.
  • Join us for the 5 session series:
    Wednesdays, 5/6 – 6/3, 3:30 – 4:30 pm
    Come to one or Come to All!
    First session: Portraits! Come prepared with materials you feel most comfortable with
    to create a portrait in any style! Questions – reach out via email:
    Martha Piscuskas, Director or Arts Education, Maine Arts Commission
    Melanie Crowe, Hampden Academy Art Teacher, MALI Teacher Leader –
    Iva Damon, Leavitt Area High School Art Teacher, MALI Teacher Leader –
    Bronwyn Sale, Bates College Instructor –
  • Contact hours available: Sponsored by Maine Arts Leadership Initiative


Transmission Times Project

April 28, 2020

Record your stories

It’s a crazy time we’re living in with COVID-19 changing all our lives. Not only is it emotionally challenging, but it’s history in the making.

So let’s capture this moment by recording it!

You’re invited by creator Katie Semro (bio below) to participate in an audio diaries project called Transmission Times. Let your voice and your story become part of history. The process is simple, record audio diaries, send them in, and your voice becomes part of the Transmission Times Archive. It also may become part of The Transmission Times podcast.


I’ve started an archive of audio dairies from people all over the world during this pandemic so that we can document this time for future generations. I’m also using some of the entires to make a weekly podcast so we can connect with each other over our shared, though separate, experiences.

“I’m collecting audio diaries from people around the world during the pandemic so that we can document this time for future generations. My hope is that we can not only create an archive to record this moment for future generations, but also that by taking time to reflect on our experiences we can help ourselves get through this time.”
The details including a sign up can be found on the TRANSMISSION TIMES WEBSITE. Consider occasionally recording your thoughts on your smartphone or another way and submit your audio files.
The recordings will all go into an ARCHIVE, and some of the entries will go into a weekly PODCAST so we can connect with each other over our shared, though separate, experiences.
      “My hope is that by taking this time to reflect, we each can better handle the impact of      this time. And I also hope that by sharing our stories we can encourage and inspire each other, as well as leave a record of this moment — that is more than just the news reports.”
Please share and invite friends, family, etc, whether in Maine or elsewhere—the project is international.
Katie’s bio
I’m Katie Semro, independent audio producer and health coach, living in Southern Maine with my husband and 2 kids. I was trying to figure out what would help me get through this time and I thought that maybe recording an audio diary would help. And then I though that it would be really amazing to do it on a bigger scale, a kind of collective audio diary. So the idea for an archive was born. (By the way Katie is the wife of writer, poet, and Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teaching Artist Leader Brian Evans Jones).

Janie’s COVID Teaching Story

April 27, 2020

How the pandemic impacted Janie’s teaching

Janie Snider teaches has been teaching for 27 years in Washington and Hancock counties. Presently she teaches  Visual Art and is the Technology Integrator at Hancock Grammar School. Ms. Snider’s art curriculum provides art experiences for students in Kindergarten through eighth grade. The art classroom is designed as a  student-centered, standards-based curriculum. Ms. Snider has been involved with (MALI) Maine Arts Leadership Initiative since 2012, focusing on best practices that will provide all students with a successful art education.

 In this blog post Janie shares how she’s adjusted to ‘schooling away from school’ or “Art from Home” as she calls it! Janie has her lessons posted on the school website from her art classroom webpage. She is changing up her website to be more interactive.

In the early days of the closure I was in “survival” mode. I had to quickly develop some packets to go home physically with my students. I created “Art from Home” packets for grades K-4 and 5-8 considering their needs.


  • What are their needs?
  • Do they have supplies?
  • What can they use?
  • Do they have internet?

My goal was to try to meet these needs for at least the next two-three weeks! How can I reach them all?

I was overwhelmed by the amount of resources being offered via the web. Museum virtual openings, various websites for arts & crafts, teachers pay teachers, colleges and educational sites all available. I was busily sharing this info with colleagues, parents, friends and family until I couldn’t think straight. I spent about two weeks in my non-working clothes on the couch with three devices going and the news in the background. It was not working, my frame of mind was jumping from frantic planning to complacent non-belief thoughts.

Luckily, I woke one day with the ah-ha moment, “I AM THEIR RESOURCE!!!” What my students need is me and I need them! I need the one-to-one, class-to-class connection! So I settled in and redesigned my art studio/toy room. It has a whole new component, an art classroom! Google classrooms are evolving and with the addition of Google meets I’m feeling so much better. I can see their faces, can answer questions, make jokes and see their smiles! I must say I miss my daily hugs, so it’s (((Air Hugs)))! My 2nd grade class was amazing, they were all engaged, listening when needed, drawing with me, asking questions, muting and unmuting, giving thumbs up and showing me their work!! We were sharing an ART EXPERIENCE and my heart was filled with JOY!!

I have always known that the arts are vital to the growth of our inner spirit and our overall well-being. We see it everyday now in how people are choosing their time and self-care. They are creating artworks, listening and performing music, dancing and creating videos and performances to share with the world! However, what I have come to realize is the inequality of the playing field for my students. Not all of my students have the technology and supplies to create nor the guidance to support and nurture their creativity! As the teacher, how can I do my part to change this now and in the future? I am working on the answer to this question so that it will inform my teaching and learning.

How to raise student engagement in a digital setting is a priority! Creating best practices and strategies to enhance their art experience is essential to me! Contemplating the standards and skills are part of this new process. Personally for me, continuing to explore and use the studio habits in this digital planning and instruction is a good framework. I believe these habits/skills contribute to resiliency and that is something positive!

I am taking good care of myself! Im in a routine, daily yoga, a walk, dance three times a week, eating healthy, working in my yard and gardens. Being out in nature is really important for me, it enables great reflection and moments of insight! I find my mental state shifts between GRIEF and GRATITUDE and I allow both of these to exist as a daily part of my experience!

I think many positives will come out of this dark time, such as, light! A light that shines on many social and environmental issues. I’m thinking many people will emerge with a deeper appreciation for family, nature, arts, science, healthcare, education and the quality of how we use our time!!! I think we will look back and see how much inspiration and creativity flourished in during this time!


Casco Bay Estuary Partnership

April 26, 2020

Digital & Distance Learning Grants 

In an effort to provide our community of school educators, non-profit environmental educators, science communicators & others more tools for carrying out their work from home through these challenging times, Caso Bay Estuary Partnership is offering this pilot small grant program for creative tools for K-12 Digital and distance learning. The final products will be transferable lessons or materials that focus on estuary or related topics, such as found in the CASCO BAY PLAN.

Fundable projects include, but are not limited to:

  • Creation or modification of a virtual K-12 Casco Bay/estuary lesson plan that adheres to state standards
  • Place based field lessons for parents and educators
  • Creation or modification of a virtual estuary “toolkit” or other transferable package for educators
  • Creation of a fact sheet, infographics, or other digital resources that could be shared

Funded projects will be shared through all CBEP partners, as well as through the new Community Learning for ME site

Application deadline: Friday, May 8, 2020

Final Project deadline: Friday, June 5, 2020 at the latest (earlier is better)

Questions: Email Victoria Boundy

Digital and Distance Learning Grants Links


Got Worried Parents?

April 25, 2020

Share this

If you have parents that are worried, concerned and/or questioning their “teaching” at home during the pandemic please share this with them.


Assessment in the COVID-19 Environment

April 24, 2020


I’m sure many of you are at the point of reflecting and questioning what you’re doing in the ‘schooling away from school’ environment that we’ve all been thrown into. Recently during a conversation with a colleague he shared how frustrated he was with how few students were actually engaging and fulfilling the assignments. “When we took away the grading of student work they lost their sense of purpose.” I keep reflecting on the conversation. I wonder about how many high school students do the work (when we’re in the school building) only or primarily for the grade? This wondering has lead me to many questions. For one, didn’t we go to Proficiency Based Education to ensure that students fulfill the learning requirements? So we could actually know that students had learned and more importantly so students could articulate what they were learning? This was the part that shifted education from what teachers teach being the most important part of the equation to what students learn.

I understand why many schools have gone to no grades during the pandemic – I’m not questioning or debating if that is right or wrong. Let’s face it teaching ‘online’ isn’t new and students are held responsible to document and fulfill their school work. I do think that as this continues it is important for teachers at the local level to have the conversation about how to assess student work. Let’s remember that assessment has two purposes – one to determine if students are learning AND for teachers to determine if their teaching is effective.

The critical question is how to assess in our ‘schooling away from school’? Not so the grade can raise the students GPA but to determine if students are learning and teachers are teaching.

Andrew Miller, Director of Personalized Learning at the Singapore American School has authored an article for Edutopia called Formative Assessment in Distance Learning. I’m hoping you’ll find it as informative as I have and perhaps you’ll take something from it that you can put into practice during the rest of this school year or in the future. If nothing else please share it with your colleagues so it can plants seeds for a staff conversation.


Webinar Today

April 23, 2020

Global Oneness Project

I’ve blogged about Earthrise before – it is such a moving film. In recognition of 50 years of Earth day I suggest that you pause and view the film for the first time or once again. It is so appropriate at this time in history.

In recognition of Earth Day the Global Oneness Project is providing a student photography contest for teenagers. Learn the details TODAY at 11:00AM Pacific Time, 2:00PM Eastern Time. Photo contest: Document Your Place on the Planet. 

Inspired by our Emmy-nominated film Earthrise, by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee, this contest challenges students to turn their cameras on themselves and their place on the planet, documenting their perspectives of the living world.

Watch the film Earthrise for inspiration and access our in-depth Earthrise Discussion/Curriculum guide which includes background information depicting the year 1968 environmentally and historically. Also included is an Earthrise image analysis activity to introduce students to the Earthrise photograph and the concept of perspective. Our Earthrise conversation cards are also a good source of inspiration; they include quotes from thought leaders, conservationists, authors, and poets such as Wendell Berry, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, Joseph Campbell, and Gary Snyder.


In the webinar we will discuss the Global Oneness Project’s new student photography contest, Document Your Place on the Planet. Inspired by our film Earthrise, we challenge and encourage teens to enter a student photography contest to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of Earth Day. The Earthrise photograph was an impetus behind the environmental movement and the founding of Earth Day, which was created 50 years ago on April 22, 1970.

We are all sheltering in place as we experience the coronavirus pandemic taking place around the world. How might we consider this moment in time and history? How might we reimagine and redefine the meaning of home?

Joining us is Executive Director of the Global Oneness Project Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Mary Ellen Newport, high school ecology teacher at Interlochen Center for the Arts, and Shelly Grandell, middle school science teacher and Space Foundation Teacher Liaison from Colorado. The inspiration behind the project and the project details will be shared along with how the contest is being implemented in the classroom. Student work will be shared throughout this hour and an in-depth Q&A will also take place.



One Outcome

April 22, 2020


I’ve been thinking about the future and what impact the pandemic will have on education and learners and my past normal life. I put a call out to teachers representing PreK-higher ed to learn what they’re thinking. And, ‘poof’ this came across my desk from multiple people. Could this be an unintentional consequence??? And, if this happens in every school in the US, wouldn’t it be great??? This is an open letter from a second grade teacher.

Dear Specialist Teachers,

Yes, you. The PE teachers and creative writing teachers and art teachers and music teachers and drama teachers.

From a general classroom teacher to you. I am sorry.

As I’m sitting here on my couch. In my comfy clothes. Non-washed hair. Laptop on my lap trying to do this online learning thing. I had a serious moment of clarity and reflection.

I started thinking to myself: What have I turned to most during this time of need? When I’ve been stuck in isolation, what has most helped my body, mind & spirit? What’s kept me uplifted?

For myself and for so many of us: It’s the music we’re listening to while we’re “working from home” or the serenity of our yoga practice. It’s the paintings we’re creating or strength we’re finding in home workout videos. It’s the books we’re reading and the music we’re making with friends via Zoom. It’s the poems we’re writing or the TikTok dances we’re learning to stay “hip” with our kiddos.

So what does all this mean?

ARTS matter. SPECIALIST TEACHERS matter. YOU matter.

As a non-specialist teacher, I’m shouting this to everyone: If the arts are what we’re turning to when nothing else seems right, then not valuing (& not funding) them as such is wrong.

It’s what helps keep us happy and whole.

So to all my specialist teachers out there, to my musician friends and my writing friends. To my photography friends and drama friends: WE APPRECIATE YOU. Your work is what keeps us going. We, general classroom teachers, are sometimes entitled, thinking our subjects outweigh yours. That our jobs are “harder” or “more work.” That we are more important because we teach the “core” subjects. But what I’m learning is that YOU are what’s important to our innermost self. You are the “core.”

We need you & we love you. You hold us together. I’m sorry for not always showing it 💕

Jenni, an apologetic 2nd grade teacher


Family Lockdown Boogie

April 21, 2020

Dancing and Singing

I hope this video lightens your load!

Family Lockdown Boogie

%d bloggers like this: