Posts Tagged ‘education’


Calling Everyone with a Voice

October 28, 2014

That must be YOU!

DSCN3929Don’t get left out in the rain! This is your chance to let your voice be heard! The Maine Arts Commission is seeking feedback from you and your colleagues throughout the State to help guide the agency’s work and priorities.

Please lend your voice to a project important to the future of Maine and also encourage your circle of coworkers, friends and family to take part.


Click the link below to complete the Teacher Survey to contribute your ideas on what you think the future of Maine Arts Education should be.


We also want to hear from students, since they are the future of Maine. Please take a few minutes with your  classes or pass on the link to students and ask them to contribute their ideas. Student survey link:

General Survey

And, one more opportunity to complete the general survey which will take only five minutes and you will have the chance of winning a $50 gift card. Click the link below

If you have questions about the survey, please contact the Maine Arts Commission at or 207-287-2724.



Sir Ken Robinson: Educating the Heart

July 29, 2014

The heart and mind

I think this is an appropriate post to provide today as we begin the 3-day Summit on Arts Education at USM. I have posted the work of Ken Robinson in the past. He has thought-provoking videos on YouTube and TED talks and travels around the world talking about creativity. And, on top of that he is funny. He has written several books that I have enjoyed reading and highly recommend them. Anyway, this video called Educating the Heart and Mind and I hope that you enjoy it!


Happy Teaching, Happy Learning

July 9, 2014

Finland education system

I’ve been excused by my brothers (yes the ones who were dressed up in their evzone costumes in a recent post) that I am in “LaLa” land. When asked what that means the response was that I am out of touch. I’ve been known to make lemonade when handed lemons and the norm for me is looking at the glass half full and not half empty. As parents, my husband and I learned when our sons were very young, that we needed to look at each situation and ask “is this a dance or a wrestle?” and yes, most of the time, it was a dance. Few things in this short life, in my opinion, are worth battling over.

Recently, an article reached out to me that made me ponder what makes some of us approach situations (easy or difficult) so differently. I wonder if our learning environments as children have something to do with it? And, I wonder how our young learners will be impacted over the long haul with the “testing environment” our schools are in at the present time?

I have been curious about the Finish education system and what makes theirs so world-class. The article provided some incite from one writers view. It is called “Happy Teaching, Happy Learning: 13 Secrets to Finland’s Success” written by Sophia Faridi and published June 24, 2014 in Education Week TEACHER. Ms. Faridi had been to Finland with seven teachers from the U.S. to learn more about the Finnish system and the lessons it “might offer”.

Ms. Faridi found 13 factors that she identified to be key.

  1. A heavy emphasis on play.
  2. No high-stakes standardized testing.
  3. Trust.
  4. Schools don’t compete with one another.
  5. Out-of-this-world teacher prep programs.
  6. Personal time is highly valued.
  7. Less is more.
  8. Emphasis on quality of life.
  9. Semi-tracked learning.
  10. National standards are valued.
  11. Grades are not given until 4th grade.
  12. Ethics is taught in primary grades.
  13. Collaboration and collaborative environments are strongly emphasized.

Sophia Faridi said: ” Students in Finland appear happy, engaged, and invested in their work.” If you’d like to read more about her findings please click here.

By the way, no one in my professional world has ever said (to my face anyway) that I am in “LaLa” land. Hmmmm!


In Today’s News

April 10, 2013

Congratulations Marisa!

In today’s Morning Sentinel Marisa Weinstein is highlighted for the surprise award she was presented at the Warsaw Middle School where she teaches music, Music Educator of the Year! YAHOOOO! You can read about Marisa and view the marvelous photos that were taken at the school assembly by clicking here.




LD 1422

February 14, 2013


This Administrative Letter from the Commissioner of Education might help clarify LD 1422 for you – Proficiency-Based Diploma
Implementing LD 1422:  Proficiency-Based Diplomas

The change to a learner-centered, proficiency-based system of education is one of the most significant changes in education in the last 100 years.  It holds great promise for helping all students graduate career- and college-ready for the 21st century.  The Maine Department of Education has built its strategic plan, Education Evolving, around this principle and we are restructuring our service delivery model to improve our ability to assist districts in accomplishing this shift.

While we at Maine DOE are re-tooling to help local districts, many of you have been working to implement these changes and provide leadership and direction for the rest of the state.  As a result of local implementation efforts, the Department has fielded questions recently regarding the implementation of learner-centered, proficiency-based education and the proficiency-based graduation requirement of LD 1422.  The purpose of this letter is to answer these questions, which include the following:

Are students required to achieve proficiency in all standards in all content areas?

Will the Department require local districts to adopt specific curricula or instructional approaches as part of the Common Core and the proficiency-based diploma requirement?

How does the proficiency-based graduation requirement apply to students with Individual Education Plans under IDEA?

Has the required implementation date for proficiency-based graduation changed?

All standards in all content areas

Maine law, Title 20-A, section 4722-A requires a student graduating after January 1, 2017* to “demonstrate proficiency in meeting state standards in all content areas of the system of learning results established under section 6209.”  The Department of Education interprets this language to mean that students must demonstrate proficiency in all standards in all content areas as set forth in Department Rule Chapter 131 and 132.  For the most part, the manner in which these standards are taught and the method by which proficiency is assessed is a local decision, as described below.

State or local curricula and instructional practices

School districts are required to offer students instruction and educational experiences that provide them the opportunity to achieve and demonstrate proficiency in all content areas of the Maine Learning Results standards.  (see Title 20-A, sections 4711 and 4721).  The role of the Maine Department of Education is to provide resources and technical assistance to support districts in creating curricula and instructional practices to meet the needs of their students.  Decisions regarding curricula and instructional practices are local decisions. The Department will disseminate materials and training on practices that, in the experience and expertise of our staff, constitute “best practices,” though they are not binding on districts.

With regard to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics, for example, the strength of these standards is their unique, integrated structure, and we believe that it is important for districts to implement them in a way that is consistent with their integrated design, and the Department stands ready to provide assistance and support to districts as they undertake this work..

Proficiency-based graduation requirement, students with IEPs

The law regarding proficiency-based graduation provides that a diploma may be awarded to “a child with a disability, as defined in section 7001” if that child achieves proficiency in the same standards as required of other children, “…as specified by the goals and objectives of the child’s individualized education plan…”

The Department interprets this language to mean that an IEP may modify the means by which a student with a disability demonstrates proficiency in the standards, but the IEP does not modify the standards themselves.  The standards and established proficiency levels will be held constant for all students in the awarding of a diploma.

*Implementation date

The law requiring proficiency-based diplomas included a provision requiring the state to provide implementation grants to local school districts, or else to delay the implementation date for such diplomas.  Section 4722-A, subsection 4 requires the implementation grant to equal 1/10th of 1% of a school administrative unit’s total cost of education under Title 20-A, section 15688.

Because the state did not provide implementation grants in the 2012-13 school year, the deadline for implementing the proficiency-based diploma requirement is January 1, 2018.  This means that diplomas awarded on or after January 1, 2018 must be awarded on the basis of the requirements set forth in section 4722-A.

While the deadline is extended, please keep in mind that, in order for students to graduate with proficiency-based diplomas in 2018, they should be provided an opportunity to work in a proficiency-based education system as soon as practicable, so we encourage you not to delay laying the groundwork for proficiency-based diplomas.  Also keep in mind that the commissioner may authorize a school district to award proficiency-based diplomas sooner than the deadline.

For more information on the Department’s work to support teaching and learning in Maine’s schools, please visit our website .   Beginning July 1, 2013, the Department expects to launch a comprehensive online resource bank for schools transitioning to learner-centered, standards-based education.


Welcome Back!

November 26, 2012

The importance of relationships

Kevin Grover

I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful and that you had a restful break. I know you return to school this morning after your few days off to a variety of students who have had a break that may have been similar to yours or quite different. Most importantly I hope that they are glad to see you because you make a difference in their life. Perhaps this is about the learning that takes place in your classroom or maybe it is for another reason. When a teacher connects with a student whether they are in elementary, middle or high school it is often because of the relationship that has been established. This is also true for the relationship that teachers have with colleagues.

On Friday I learned of a colleague who passed away at age 40 on Thanksgiving when he returned from a morning run. Kevin Grover taught at Falmouth Elementary School and was the 2010 Maine Teacher of the Year. His family was very important to him, he was a husband and the father of two young children. He has made an enormous impact on those he has touched over the years.

When asked about teaching in 2010 Kevin said:  “I love it, two days are never the same. Kids offer so many teachable moments.” He felt strongly about working with parents so they viewed themselves as “partners” in the educational process. He called parents “the most important teacher” in a child’s life and said “parents need to be aware of what their child is doing in school and be comfortable speaking to teachers.” And about relationships Kevin said: “To help motivate them, I have to establish relationships and figure out their interests, and incorporate their interests in their school work.” He would greet students each day as they entered his classroom to “get a sense of how each child is feeling”.

Kevin loved technology and incorporated it into his classroom in a variety of ways. Kevin was the first teacher that I saw using a flip camera. I noticed how comfortable he was with it, one time using it in between his speaking responsibilities at an event at the State House. He was curious, interested, and deeply committed to learning and teaching.

Teachers don’t know where their teaching ends and I am certain that even though Kevin is gone from Earth that his impact will continue.

Kevin with his flip camera as Governor Baldacci and the First Lady prepare to speak


Final Arts Assessment Webinar of MAAI Phase 1

June 25, 2012

Commissioner Bowen guest on Back to the Future Webinar

On May 23rd we had the final webinar for the series as part of Phase 1 of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI). Commissioner Bowen was the guest with facilitators Catherine Ring and Rob Westerberg. The webinar was called Back to the Future: Arts Teachers Lead the Way. Catherine and Rob put together a list of questions for the Commissioner which provide a great deal of information.

If you were one of the 40 participants thanks for joining the webinar. Throughout the discussion the Commissioner shared his perspective on arts education. The webinar, along with the interview the Commissioner did for the blog post on August 30, 2011, shows his commitment to arts education.

Below are three of the questions that the Commissioner was asked on the webinar:

  1. Mass customized learning is all about shifting the paradigm in education. The Arts Assessment Initiative has been all about proficiency and assessment of proficiency. How can we use the arts in shifting the new educational paradigm, and how can this shift help the new paradigm of Arts education?
  2. It has been our experience that we have encountered many misperceptions about arts education (comprehensive understanding of what it really is); it is unique in that we are the ones who teach the creative process and we reach all children. There is a difference between creativity as a life skill which you may encounter across disciplines and the creative process grades PK through 12 which is learned only in the arts classrooms. How does the nature of the arts therefore connect to 21st century skills which are the foundation of our future work, and how are they to be assessed?
  3. What is the difference between LD 1422 and what we have now as it relates specifically to the arts?

Thank you to Catherine and Rob for facilitating the 7 webinars that happened throughout the school year. All of them have been archived and can be accessed with meeting plans on the Department’s arts assessment page at


During the webinar we looked at a crosswalk showing the connections with the MAAI and the Department’s Strategic Education Evolving.

The webinar is archived along with the other 6 MAAI webinars that have taken place during the school year since September. You can listen to the recordings located at Also at this webpage you will find meeting plans for each of the 7 webinars that you can use individually or at teacher’s meeting.

Thank you to Catherine and Rob for their work on the webinars. They are an important component of the MAAI and will continue to be useful for arts teachers across the state.

Below is the crosswalk that you can download as a .pdf or word document on the Department’s arts assessment webpage.

Strategic Plan

Maine Arts Assessment Initiative

1: Effective, Learner-Centered Instruction
  • The heart of all Professional Development IS student-centered learning
  • Presently using MLR, will transition to national standards, expected in December 2012
  • Individual teachers creating assessment tools to meet needs of their classrooms/students/PK-12 local systems
2: Great Teachers and Leaders
  • Building on what we know, providing Professional Development opportunities for teachers to move – good to great
  • Teacher leader training in assessment, technology, and leadership
  • Going deeper and wider for teacher learning
  • Collaborative opportunities
  • Development and empowerment of teacher leaders
  • Community of practice: Maine Arts Education Leaders
3: Multiple Pathways for Learner Achievement
  • Training teachers to lead in determining what tools will be used at the local level
  • Variety of arts courses available in high schools
4: Comprehensive School and Community Supports
  • Encouraging collaborative work
  • Providing successful stories, examples
  • Beyond phase 2: ideas under discussion
5: Coordinated and Effective State Support
  • Identification of teacher leaders – 36 total, training in assessment, leadership, technology – developing workshops
  • Facilitating workshops regionally
  • Webinars – archived w/meeting plans
  • Graduate courses being offered
  • Arts ed list serv/Blog – ongoing communication
  • Repository of best practices (lessons, units, assessment tools)
  • Community of Practice


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