Archive for the ‘Research’ Category


Call for MALI Teacher Leaders

May 29, 2020

Deadline – June 1

Interested in taking on a leadership role in education – the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) might be the right match for you. Click on the images below to make them larger! Don’t hesitate, apply today. Deadline: June 1!



Call for MALI Teacher Leaders

May 21, 2020

You’re invited!

Visual, Performing and Literary Arts Teacher/

Teaching Artist Leader SEARCH: MALI – Phase 20-21

APPLICATION DEADLINE: MONDAY, JUNE 1Join us for a GREAT opportunity! The Maine Arts Leadership Initiative invites YOU, with other selected Maine teachers and teaching artists, to be part of a year-long exploration in leading your school communities and the profession in effective teaching and learning in the arts.  If you are selected, you will be expected to attend the 2020 Summer Institute, taking place virtually June 15, July 24, and in-person August 5, pending state policy.   

This year’s Institute will explore Leading with Resilience; Embedding Social and Emotional Learning in our Teaching, Ourselves, and Our Communities; and Arts Advocacy.  

If you are selected, there is no cost to attend the Institute; however the expectation is that you integrate your learnings in your classroom, your school community, and share with other educators in your region of Maine and beyond.  Full participants will receive documentation of up to 35 contact hours.   

If interested, please complete the online application form, linked here and below, by June 1.

Questions? Contact Martha Piscuskas, Director of Arts Education at the Maine Arts Commission,  207-287-2750

Year-long Expectations for Teaching Artist/Teacher leaders (TA/TAL):

  • Attend New Teacher/TA introduction cohort zoom on Monday June 15
  • Complete pre-reading/viewing and participate in online discussion (on google classroom) 
  • Attend and participate in 2 virtual discussion meetings on Wednesdays – June 24 & July 15 – (w/mixed cohorts and breakout rooms)
  • Attend August 5, Wednesday in-person day in Waterville (tbd) if possible
  • Commit to two reflection sessions as a MALI TA/TAL one with cohort, one with “thought partner”
  • Develop a personalized Growth Plan for the coming year, and practice/learn ways to share it with others
  • Engage in Fall “thought partner” one-on-one check in 
  • Attend winter retreat – tentatively February 28, 2021.  Will include update on personal goal and/or action plan 
  • Author a guest blog post on the Maine Arts Ed daily blog

JOIN US!  Become a Teacher Leader and Change Lives 


Questions on the Application:

Name/contact information

Administrator Name/contact information (if classroom teacher)

Paragraph of Interest — Selected individuals will be expected to be active leaders in helping to develop and support excellence in teaching and learning in Maine. A full commitment to the Institute timeline is expected as seen in the online information sheet.  Please attach a brief overview of your interest and current/past experience (if any) in Leadership. Include your experience collaborating with other arts educators and experiences relevant to the initiative.  (Please no more than ~ 500 words, about 1 page.) 

Resume/CV —  If you are a Teaching Artist, please also include websites or documentation of your teaching work.  

Letter of Reference – CLASSROOM TEACHERS: This should be from your administrator.  TEACHING ARTISTS: This should be from a school or community  organization with whom you have worked.   Please attach a Letter of Recommendation in which the person includes comments and/or examples reflecting your leadership potential and your ability to work collaboratively.  Selected individuals will be responsible for sharing their newly developed expertise and related classroom experiences with other arts educators.

Maine Arts Leadership Initiative 

Background Information



  • Create and implement a statewide plan for teacher leadership in arts education. This includes professional development opportunities, locally, regionally and statewide, which will expand on the knowledge and skills of teachers to better prepare them to teach in a student-centered and proficiency-based learning environment.
  • Develop and implement standards-based high quality teaching and learning statewide for Visual and Performing Arts 
  • Continue to build on expanding the team of arts educators and teaching artists representing all regions of Maine
  • Provide workshops and other professional development opportunities for educators 
  • Founded in 2011
  • 108 teacher leaders and teaching artists leaders have attended summer institutes on assessment, leadership, technology, creativity, proficiency-based standards-based and student-centered teaching and learning
  • Teacher leaders have presented workshops at three statewide arts education conferences, with over 600 educators attending
  • Teacher leaders facilitated regional workshops across Maine and 15 mega-regional sites across Maine
  • Maine Arts Ed Blog — 78 teachers profiled in Another Arts Teacher’s Story series 
  • Arts assessment graduate courses offered by New England Institute for
    Teacher Education
  • Nine arts education assessment webinars for Maine educators facilitated by Rob Westerberg and Catherine Ring – archived
  • Video stories of seven teacher leaders that demonstrate a standards-based arts education classroom located on Maine ARTSEducation YouTube channel
  • Teacher Leader Resource Team development of items for resource bank
  • Maine Arts Assessment Resources website
  • Partners have included MDOE, USM, MAEA, MMEA, University of Maine Performing Arts, and New England Institute for Teacher Education, Bates College

For More Information



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.


Shooting Star

January 7, 2020

AftA post

This is reprinted from the ARTS Blog, November 12, 2019, Americans for the Arts written by Narric Rome.

Yesterday, an Education Commission of the States staff member with the memorable name of Claus von Zastrow published a blog reporting the findings of an arteducation question included in the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in Math. It’s a substantial discovery—akin to when new stars are detected in a constellation, or a new species of insect is identified. His blog post and the accompanying data tables are a must-read. My blog here is about the context that must be considered in his discovery.

Since 2001, the “arts,” comprising the disciplines of dance, music, theatre, and visual arts, have been named as one of ten Core Academic Subjects (No Child Left Behind Act) and currently are one of the 18 subjects listed in the definition of a Well-Rounded Education (Every Student Succeeds Act). In theory, this should mean that the U.S. Department of Education and its research arm, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), should provide ongoing and detailed data into how arts education is resourced in the country—right?

No. Longtime Department of Education watchers know that since 1995, there have been just two kinds of arts education research by the federal government. A few federal research “access” reports (1995, 2002, 2012) asked principals and teachers in just 1,800 schools about who is receiving, or being offered, arts education in their schools. Relatedly, there have been three NAEPs in the Arts (1997, 2008, 2016) which measure knowledge and skills in the subject, but is severely limited in its scope. How and why is it limited? That’s a story for another time, but not one of these tests over 25 years has ever captured arts education data on a state-by-state basis.

As Claus mentions, the federal agency tasked with administering the “Nation’s Report Card” (the National Assessment Governing Board or NAGB) decided to terminate one of these two federal studies this past July, which immediately alarmed arts education advocates and education staff in the U.S. Senate who were frustrated by this unexpected development. It appears that federal arts education research has been cut by 50%.

So when eagle-eyed Claus spotted in the Math NAEP released in October 2019, among the 40 multi-part questions asked of the eighth grade test takers, that Question #21 was about art education—he must have been floored. As I am.

This question, put to the 147,000 students that were a part of the 2019 Math NAEP sample, must be the single largest arts education data point in the history of federal education research.

Now, the question only refers to one discipline, (visual) art education—I’m sure my friends at the National Art Education Association and the Arts Education Partnership will be excitedly digesting this data for quite some time—so it’s in no way capturing the full arts education picture. But here are three simple highlights I’ve spotted from this single question, with thanks again to Claus for assembling the data.

For the first time ever in history, there is a state by state breakdown of participation in art education.

In the graphic below, the darker the state, the greater the participation in art education. Vermont has the highest at 68%; some states, like Montana, South Dakota, Utah, Colorado, and Alaska, didn’t get enough students in the sample to count; and Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana provided the least art education, between 16% to 18% of eighth graders.

As conventional wisdom holds, students from wealthier families have greater participation in art classes.

In Indiana, 40% of students eligible for the National Free & Reduced Lunch program (an indicator of household income) were in an art education course, compared to 50% of (wealthier) students not eligible for the lunch program. There’s a similar 10 point gap in Rhode Island, an 11 point gap in New York, a 12 point gap in Pennsylvania, and a whopping 21 point difference in Connecticut! On the other hand, Iowa, Nebraska, West Virginia, and Wisconsin by this measure present very little wealth disparities in who receives art education in their states.

Art education can be provided in any location—city, suburb, town, or rural community.

Arkansas is among a handful of states that provides significantly more art education in its rural areas, surpassing city, suburb, and town categories. The largest state, California, demonstrates equal particpation in art education among these location categories. This set of data, comparing provision of art education in varying population densities, is also the first time federal data of this kind has ever been shared nationally.

Like a singular and brief shooting star, the “von Zastrow discovery” leaves us with so many more questions, some about the data and some about the federal research efforts.

  • Who put this question into the Math NAEP?
  • Was anyone at NAGB going to tell the arts education field this question was there?
  • Are any federal researchers reviewing this data—and will they include questions like this in future studies for the other arts disciplines?
  • Is the arts education field expected to survive on data breadcrumbs that some enlightened soul at the National Center for Education Statistics stuck into a NAEP survey?

Arts education advocates, and Congress, have begun to respond to the proposed demise of the Arts NAEP, and innovations and advances in collecting arts education access and participation data may result from this effort. In fact, significant progress continues to be made in several states that have tapped into their state longitudinal data systems for annual state-level data on arts education—see California, New Jersey, Ohio, and Arizona. But if the U.S. Department of Education’s purpose is anything, it’s to report on education access on a national level—not just passively leave this task to states and nonprofits to cobble it together.

So, while we can celebrate this beautiful shooting star of a data point tucked away in the Math NAEP, we need more. We need the arts to be treated as a full constellation in the sky.


The Art of Education

December 9, 2019

Photo booth in the classroom

Informative blog post put out by The Art of Education. Seven Reasons You Need a Photo Booth in the Art Room. A Lightbox is one and a studio photo setup is another. The ARTICLE expands on these two topics providing you with useful information.

The Art of Ed University provides resources in a variety of ways. Check out the WEBSITE to learn more.


Harvard Study on Music

December 4, 2019

Songs across societies

Scientists at Harvard published a study on music as a cultural product, which examines what features of song tend to be shared across societies.

We sometimes talk about cultures and communities in terms of the music that represent them. I have been moved to tears more than once while listening to a song while visiting another country. One time while visiting a Japanese elementary school I looked down the row of American guests in an outdoor setting and there wasn’t a dry eye in the group.

The Harvard scientists set out to address big questions: Is music a cultural universal? If that’s a given, which musical qualities overlap across disparate societies? If it isn’t, why does it seem so ubiquitous? But they needed a data set of unprecedented breadth and depth. Over a five-year period, the team hunted down hundreds of recordings in libraries and private collections of scientists half a world away.

“We are so used to being able to find any piece of music that we like on the internet,” said Mehr, who is now a principal investigator at Harvard’s Music Lab. “But there are thousands and thousands of recordings buried in archives.

The entire article is at THIS LINK.


Brain Power and Music

November 9, 2019


“If children are not introduced to music at an early age, I believe something fundamental is actually being taken from them.” ~ Luciano Pavarotti

Teaching Artists Allison and Hunt Smith

Studies, research, papers, surveys, and much more all focused on the developing brain – there’s so many that support the ideas around the importance and impact that music education can make. Now more ever there is research that links the benefits of music as medicine and music therapy is always highlighting using music as a treatment that impacts mental health issues.

I especially like what this article includes – read for yourself. Available at THIS LINK. I suggest adding this to your advocacy resources to pull out at a moments notice to share with school leaders, colleagues, and community members.


Bye Bye Birdie

November 7, 2019

Medomak Valley High School




National Art Ed Conference

October 30, 2019

Registration open

National Art Education Association conference, March 26-28, 21020, Minneapolis. REGISTRATION IS OPEN!


Off to Helsinki

October 29, 2019


In one week Lindsay Pinchbeck, founder, director and teacher at the Sweetland School in Hope and I will be landing in Helsinki, Finland for the HundrED Innovation Summit. We are thrilled to be invited and looking forward to meeting educators from around the world and visiting with those we met last year who are returning. I’ve blogged about HundrED before but for those of you who are unfamiliar hopefully this post will inspire you to take a look at the HundrED website and tap into their amazing resources.

I plan on blogging from Helsinki next week so keep your fingers crossed that my connectivity works from Finland!

WHAT IS HUNDRED? is a not-for-profit organization that discovers inspiring innovations in K12 education. HundrED’s goal is to help improve education and inspire a grassroots movement through encouraging pedagogically sound, ambitious innovations to spread across the world.

The purpose of education is to help every child flourish, no matter what happens in life. In a fast-changing world, education must adapt to keep up. The world is full of inspiring innovations, but they can struggle to spread beyond their immediate environments. That’s why HundrED discovers, researches and shares impactful and scalable K12 innovations with the world, for free.

This (under 2 minute) video says it well.


You can become a HundrED Innovator as well and learn more about the many many innovations included in the site. There are amazing educators doing amazing work around the world and many have been recognized by HundrEd and have profiles on the website. You can learn how to become a HundrED innovator and see the many profiles of Innovators by CLICKING HERE.

OUR WORK (and play!)

The invitation to attend HundrED during November 2018 was based on the work that Lindsay and I have been participating in since 2016 with the Go Malawi program. We offered arts integration workshops when we traveled to Malawi for almost three weeks that summer. We were recognized by HundrED as Ambassadors – you can read about our work on the Go Malawi site at THIS LINK. Check out Lindsay’s profile on the HundrED site or Argy’s profile.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

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