Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category


Creativity is All the Rage

May 29, 2016

OH my my! – You’ve got to read this!


Happy Dance

May 26, 2016

Project in dance

IMG_2326Lubec teachers and Washington Academy (WA) collaborated to dance for a surprise school wide assembly. The surprise was complete with gleeful clapping, hoots and wows  from the student population. Their performance was followed by Gaetani leading the entire PK-8 school in 4 line dances. Connie Bagley is Lubec’s Art Teacher and gifted and talented Coordinator. She led Lubec’s staff in learning a line dance to “Happy Song” by Pharrell Williams. WA Dance “Guru” Gina Gaetani helped Bagley with choreography and had come to Lubec with her WA dance students to help teach the Lubec staff and then again to dance with them.

Bagley says the point of the Dance Project was to model creativity, arts integration and open mindset. Her idea to create Professional Development for teachers was for “Brains on Fire”  a graduate class she is taking with Catherine Ring and the New England Institute for Teacher Education. Here is the public link  to a Prezi she presented to teachers under her name Connie Harter-Bagley and is titled “Gifted and Talented Lubec”.  Connie has a dozen Art related Prezis to share.

Thank you Connie for providing this blog post that provides food for thought for other educators.


Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Mandi Mitchell

May 25, 2016

Teacher Leader series


This is the eleventh blog post of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Phase 5  Teacher Leader stories. This series contains a set of questions so you can learn a little bit about the work they are doing as Maine arts educators. CLICK HERE for more information on MALI. CLICK HERE for more information on the 73 of the MALI Teacher Leaders. CLICK HERE for Arts education resources. Search in the “search archives” box on the bottom right side of this post for past stories. There have been 70 posted to date.

IMG_4336Mandi Mitchell has been teaching Visual Art for the past three years at Hermon High School (HHS), grades 9-12. Mandi teaches 120 students of the 500 students attending the school. This year she restructured her curriculum and course offerings to better suit the needs and wants of students. The first course that a student takes in Visual Art is Art Foundations, which runs for the entire year. After they take that course, they can choose to take any of the following four semester courses: Advanced Painting & Drawing, Ceramics & Sculpture, Graphic Design & Printmaking, and Photography. Mandi created the first Art Club for HHS a year ago and serves as the Advisor for the Class of 2018. Before Hermon, she did a lot of substitute teaching for various subject areas (mainly art) in Hampden at Reeds Brook Middle School and Hampden Academy. As many know, finding a teaching job in the arts can be somewhat challenging, so she took as many substitute jobs as she could! Mandi also substituted at John Bapst Memorial HS (my alma mater), Brewer HS, and schools in Orono.

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

It is hard to think of just one thing that I like best about being an art educator because there are so many reasons! Usually at the end of the year, my students express how I have encouraged and helped them to be persistent and persevere through creative challenges. I like seeing them grow more confident in themselves and their skills, enjoy creating art, and embracing their individuality.

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

  1. Expose student work. Whether it be a theatrical performance, jazz concert, or art show, it is important for you to share and celebrate these talents with their family, friends, and community.
  2. Vary options to explore creative expression. Arts education is not one-size-fits-all. Perform, dance, or draw your ideas, thoughts and feelings.
  3. Provide a nurturing atmosphere. Students should be provided with an opportunity to be creative, expressive, and unique!

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

Assessment is so important in my classroom. The way in which I create my rubrics is highly successful. Both expectations and criteria for my assignments are clear and it is a great tool for student success. I have found that my rubrics can help students to further develop their work. They are able to set their own bar high and push themselves.

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

  •  Camaraderie
  • Networking
  • Support
  • Professional Development
  • Confidence
  • Leadership Opportunities

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am most proud of myself for expanding the visual arts program at my school, making it appealing to many students. Restructuring my curriculum this year made a huge impact on enrollment.

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

 One word. TIME. Oh, and money.

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

Honestly, getting the teaching job that I have at Hermon. I am very lucky and fortunate to be surrounded by a very supportive staff, administration, and community. So, some would say that it is luck. I am a firm believer in that everything happens for a reason, and I was patient and determined for three years after graduating college to land this “perfect” teaching job!

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

  • Stay organized. It makes life easier.
  • Get involved in your student’s extra-curricular activities. They appreciate (and notice) when you go to their sporting and academic events.
  • Never bring student work home to grade. I have learned that the hard way and wanted to laugh when I was told this, but I have now adapted this mentality.
  • Have an “agenda” displayed for what the class schedule looks like for that day. You’ll repeat yourself less and students will have an expectation of what to do and what’s to come.

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

First, I would want to travel around the world to experience the art and culture of different countries. Additionally, it would be great to bring a group of students with me to share those experiences and see some amazing art and culture!

Second, I’d use a good chunk of that money to build an amazing art room at my school with some top-notch technology and materials!

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

At this point in my life, there isn’t much that I have been regretful of…so I probably wouldn’t have anything to regret at the age of 94.



Summer Arts Conference

May 23, 2016

MALI provides PD on June 28

Summer Conference – June 28th, 9:00 – 3:30

University of Southern Maine – Portland



The Maine Arts Leadership Initiative is offering a one-day summer conference with a variety of outstanding workshops. We’ve listened to the field requesting more professional development opportunities! This is a great way to kick off your summer that will provide you with ideas and materials on developing standards and assessment tools as well as other relevant hot topics. Join your colleagues from across the state and around New England in a collaborative learning environment.




OTHER CONFERENCE INFORMATION:!mali-summer-conference-2016/qxjo8


  • The conference is being held at USM in Portland, Wishcamper Center
  • $50 registration – teams of 3 or more, $40 per person – check or paypal – no POs
  • Lunch is on your own – coffee/tea and snacks will be provided
  • 6 contact hours or .6 CEUs provided
  • Select from 14 workshops – (descriptions below)
  • Wishcamper Center, 34 Bedford Street, Portland (link to directions here)
  • Free parking is located in the garage attached to the Abromson Center located right next to Wishcamper on this map

  • Overnight lodging in the vicinity of USM* In addition, 10 minute drive away:

    • Fireside Inn 81 Riverside St, Portland

    • Portland Travelodge 1200 Brighton Ave, Portland

    • Super 8 208 Larrabee Rd, Westbrook

            *Please note: These are not endorsements, simply suggestions.


IMG_1942Theresa Cerceo

Studio Habits of Mind, Planting Seeds toward Growth and Proficiency in the Arts K-12 Visual Art

This workshop will offer give a brief overview of the work done by Lois Hetland as outlined in her book, Studio Thinking.  It will offer various strategies one can implement in the arts classroom in order to track and guide students through proficiency toward MLR standards for the Arts  and Guiding Principles.


Jake Sturtevant and Jan Gill

Student’s Choice: Engaging Students in Task Design Make the Concert Theirs

K-12 Music

Jan and Jake are mother and son, both music teachers; Jan in RSU 73 (elementary) and Jake (high school) in MSAD 6. Examples of strategies that allow students to choose, arrange, and perform songs. From a 3rd grade class choosing a name for their band and songs to perform on guitar, bass, keys, drums and vocals to a high school band of 60 students transcribing and arranging Uptown Funk, this session will include strategies for how to negotiate and empower student choice to promote positive interdependence, in a variety of ensembles and general music settings.


Danette Kerrigan

National Board Certification

K-12 All Educators

This session will focus on the benefits, process and incentives available to educators in the state of Maine interested in National Board certification. National Board Certification is the most respected professional certification available in education and provides numerous benefits to teachers, students and schools. It was designed to develop, retain and recognize accomplished teachers and to generate ongoing improvement in schools nationwide. Standards for each content area and developmental level are created by teachers, for teachers.


Susan Beaulier

Critical Thinking in the Art Room; It’s the Thought that Counts

K-12 Art

Expand your existing art lessons by incorporating critical thinking strategies that drive your students to think more deeply about their own art and that of others. We’ll discuss how to pose questions, frame class critiques, lead thoughtful discussions about the  aesthetic qualities of visual art,  incorporate writing into the studio art lesson, and provide avenues for student reflection on their art making process.


Jen Etter & Rob Westerberg

Developing Your Music Standards and Assessment Strategies

K-12 Music

This extended workshop will allow participants either on their own or in teams to look at desired curricular outcomes for their program, develop standards and indicators that are customized to their specific courses and school, and set up assessment strategies to bring authentic proficiency to life.


Iva Damon

Google Classroom

PK-12 All Educators

Who has time to orchestrate all of the current technologies of Google Drive, digital portfolios, videos, digital imagery, and getting 21 Century skills into the classroom? YOU do with Google Classroom. Make your life easier and find the Holy Grail to simple, easy to use technology that can be utilized in all classrooms.



Summer 2015 2nd groupElise Bothel

Death to the Cookie Cutter Project

K-5 Visual Art

Do you cringe when you walk by visual art displays featuring identical pieces of art done by a classroom of diverse students? Would you like to offer more choice, but are worried that the academic content will be lost in the chaos? Are you looking for a balance of creativity and content in your visual arts classroom? This workshop is designed to offer insight and solutions about how to foster creativity while still providing a rigorous and educational art curriculum. Along with group discussion, participants will have the opportunity to work on improving their own lessons through the use of backwards design, student interest, and choice.


Patti Gordan

Hatching a Songbird: Teaching and Assessing Singing Skills at the Primary Level K-4 Music

When the wee folk walk through our door how do we make sure we’re helping them develop singing skills, not just singing songs with them? This workshop will help you plan methodical, proficiency based lessons and assessments, including formative self assessments, that are easily delivered during our limited general music class time. Help your smallest singers reach their highest singing potential and develop a love of singing!


Holly Leighton & Nancy Kinkade

Next Steps Rubrics Makes Learning More Progressive

PK-12 Art and Music

How do you motivate students to move beyond a score of 3 or 4? How do we get students to look at learning as sequential as opposed to”end result” learning?  What tool can I use to make assessment more accessible to teacher and students with greater impact? Educators will leave with strategies to put students on a continuum of learning that is teacher and student friendly.



IMG_0019Rob Westerberg


PK-12 All Educators

This session will present strategies for continued implementation of PBL in your own classroom, and highlight the powerful corollary advocacy points that go along with each. If our advocacy efforts have been so useful for the past 20 years, why are we still so much in need of more? Come find out how our most recent PBL work has the potential to finally push arts education to the forefront of our school’s academic agenda while providing the richest, most relevant curriculum possible for our students.


Mandi Mitchell

Strategies to Deepen Student Engagement and Learning in the Arts Classroom, 7-12 VIsual Art

Are you struggling to demonstrate techniques, assess student learning, and still find time within your class to teach criticism and aesthetics? Get the most out of your class, every time that you meet.  Learn how to develop a successful, fully implemented classroom model that offers more “bang for your buck.” You will deepen student learning and motivation, increase student engagement and interest, and encourage self-regulation and reflection while integrating three simple daily steps that structure your classroom without limiting creativity. Adaptable for all levels and all arts disciplines!


Samantha Armstrong

What are the Benefits of Student Self-reflection? (What do I still need to do? What have I learned?)

K-6 Visual Art

In this workshop we will explore the benefits of student self reflection as a means of achieving greater understanding and academic success. We will look at evidence that shows the impact self assessment has on student success and a sampling of self assessment and reflection tools and methods. You will also have an opportunity to discuss and brainstorm how you see these concepts working in your classroom.


Jen Etter & Rob Westerberg

Further Developing Your Music Standards

K-12 Music

Continue to develop your work from the Second Session or join us for the first time to dive into your own work!


IMG_1897John Morris

Creativity: A Group Inquiry

PK-12 All Educators

This discussion group model will help participants make connections with creativity research, while promoting inquiry and dialogue about the nature of creativity, as well as the role of creativity in K-12 teaching, learning and assessment.

If you have questions about the conference please email Argy Nestor, Maine Arts Commission Director of Arts Education at


Art Makes Kids Better Thinkers

May 21, 2016

Recent study

A team of social scientists at the University of Arkansas is trying to scientifically prove the benefits of exposure to art. Better thinkers and nicer people. Read about it at



Congressional Art Awards

May 19, 2016

Congrats high school artists

It was so wonderful to see high school artists being recognized at a ceremony at the Blaine House earlier this week. Each year two pieces of high school student artwork are selected to be displayed in the Cannon Tunnel of the U.S. Capitol for a year beginning in June as part of the Congressional Art Awards. One piece is selected from each of Maine’s Congressional districts. CONGRATULATIONS to the students listed below for their recognition.

JoJo Zeitlin, Cape Elizabeth High School

JoJo Zeitlin, Cape Elizabeth High School

District 1 represented by Congresswoman Chellie Pingree

  • Selected Artist: JoJo Zeitlin, Cape Elizabeth High School, grade 11. Art Teacher: Richard Rothlisberger
  • 1st Runner up: Anna Callahan, Brunswick High School, grade 10. Art Teacher: Allison Price
  • 2nd Runner up: Abigail Stevens-Roberts, Thornton Academy, grade 12. Art Teacher: Dana Altman
  • Honorable Mention: Caitlyn Duffy, Gorham High School, grade 12. Art Teacher: Chris Crosby
  • Honorable Mention: Gabriel Rosen, Portland High School, grade 12. Art Teacher: Barbara Loring
  • Honorable Mention: Katie Sprague, Kents Hill School, grade 11. Art Teacher: Babs Wheelden
Michaela Shorey, Rangeley Lakes Regional School

Michaela Shorey, Rangeley Lakes Regional School

District 2 represented by Congressman Bruce Poliquin

  • Selected Artist: Michaela Shorey, Rangeley Lakes Regional School, grade 12. Art Teacher: Sonja Johnson
  • 1st Runner up: Rachel Flannery, Lewiston High School, grade 12. Art Teacher: Nathaniel Meyer
  • 2nd Runner up: Chandler Clothier, Lewiston High School, grade 12. Art Teacher: Sarah Stocker
  • Honorable Mention: Olivia Berger, Hebron Academy, grade 12. Art Teacher: Jeanine Eschenbach
  • Honorable Mention: Alanna Fellows, Lewiston High School, grade 12. Art Teacher: Nathaniel Meyer
  • Honorable Mention:Shin Hye Hwang, Hebron Academy, grade 12. Art Teacher: Jeanine Eschenbach

A great big thank you to the teachers, parents and other adults who support these students and their artistic endeavors. Each student received a certificate of award and a scholarship to the Maine College of Art. The two students representing Maine’s Congressional Districts and one guest will be flown to Washington, D.C. for the official opening of the show in June.

The Maine Arts Commission partners with the Maine College of Art and the National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards to select the artwork. Gold and silver winners from the Maine Regional Scholastic Art Awards are automatically submitted to be juried in February for the Congressional Art Competition.


Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Lynda Leonas

May 17, 2016

Teacher Leader series


This is the tenth blog post of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Phase 5  Teacher Leader stories. This series contains a set of questions so you can learn a little bit about the work they are doing as Maine arts educators. CLICK HERE for more information on MALI. CLICK HERE for more information on the 73 of the MALI Teacher Leaders. CLICK HERE for Arts education resources. Search in the “search archives” box on the bottom right side of this post for past stories. There have been 69 posted to date.

Lynda Leonas has been a K-6 Visual Arts Educator  working with approximately 700-800111 - Copy students per year for the past 4 years at two of Lewiston’s elementary schools; Governor James B. Longley Elementary and Farwell Elementary.  Prior to her work in Lewiston, she spent 3.75 years in Auburn’s Public Elementary School system across the river and 3 years teaching all forms of fine art to youth and adults at her private art studio in Lewiston.

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

I love the opportunity to work with every student at the elementary level of education. Seeing all students, even those without confidence in their artistic abilities, allows me to encourage them to overcome any “fears” and to always trust themselves. Working with every student also allows me to champion the arts as an important tool for cross-curricular development in literacy, mathematics, and the sciences; as well as the ever-important motor skill development and hand-eye coordination skills necessary to become a successful athlete.

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

  1. Listen to your students!
  2. Keep it fresh! Promote the student work locally!
  3. Plan ahead as much as you possibly can.

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

I have created assessments inspired by students and credit the new assessments as having been inspired by the students whenever I can.  The sense of accomplishment the students feel as having been listened to produces a total buy-in from their peers and increases productivity and participation tremendously.  The students have fun while using the assessment tools along their learning path in the art room.

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

The motivation resulting from working with educators across our state has produced an exciting energy to keep learning and discussing arts education lessons, assessments, and common goals!

Charlie Hewitt MAEA Spring conference

Charlie Hewitt MAEA Spring conference

What are you most proud of in your career?

Due to my involvement in MALI, I was encouraged to create a workshop and to present to other arts educators. In doing so, the opportunity to showcase this year’s 5th grade collaborative artwork  to the artist we had studied actually came up! The student work was displayed at the entry of our MAEA Spring Conference and Charlie Hewitt, sculptor of “Lewiston Rattle”, was our keynote speaker. The students were so excited to hear he would be viewing their fabulous pieces! It was so thrilling to present Charlie with student art inspired by him!

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

Increased class sizes and reduced class times within the arts education field has hurried along some aspects of the visual art class room. This aspect is truly a challenge for me; and, I have had to search for outside opportunities to increase the amount of one-on-one time I spend with students. During a regular school week, there can be less than two minutes to connect with each student in a class on an individual level.

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

In working with one principal, I had the opportunity to showcase the importance of the visual arts within the elementary general education system. After 17 individual open houses in one year, I was able to connect with families across cultures and provide opportunities for my students to teach their family members how the visual arts embrace techniques that truly develop the “whole” student. After hosting these events, the students themselves truly became more motivated during art classes!  This was a bonus!

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

Advice? Even after planning ahead as much as you possibly can, be prepared to “fly by the seat of your pants” at times!  The art education world can be a hectic environment where everything works out in the end…be flexible!

If you were given $500,000 dollars to do whatever you please, what would it be?

$500,000.00 would start up a terrific college scholarship for those pursuing the arts as arts-for-arts’ sake and arts-related studies that lead toward medical and engineering degrees!  It also might buy me a new car to shuttle between the couple of schools I see each day…I am thinking of a Jeep Renegade…just not certain it would be easy to load student supplies and work along with my Great Dane…any recommendations?

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

I believe I may still be teaching at the age of 94…depends upon retirement funds!  I hope I won’t have regrets.  As new opportunities arise, I will be certain to do my best in accomplishing them so that I can avoid regrets down the road.



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