Posts Tagged ‘visual arts’


AP Studio Teachers Gathering

January 16, 2013

You’re Invited!

ALL AP Studio Art teachers or high school art teachers who are interested in teaching AP Studio Art should consider attending the upcoming meeting in Rockland. Meeting at the Gamble Center, Farnsworth Art Museum on Saturday, January 26 from 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM. The Gamble Center is right next to the Wyeth Center, at the corner of Grace and Union Streets. Park behind the Wyeth Center. The classroom space is heated, has wifi, and a screen. There are several restaurants nearby for ordering lunch. Snow date is on February 2.

Mark your calendars – dig out an interesting lesson plan or two to share, and get ready for another great opportunity to learn and share!

Bring computer, flash drive, resources to share, lesson plans to share (with examples), student work for critique, ideas, questions, and a few snacks to share.

Those who have attended in the past always benefit from the experience. And, as an added plus, if you have not been to the Farnsworth recently, it is really worth a visit! There will be time after our meeting to check out the current exhibits.

Please email Kal Elmore @ if you have any questions and/or plan on attending!


Another Student’s Story: Natasha Shacklett

December 11, 2012

Featuring one student’s journey

This is the first in a series of blog posts telling story’s of students who are passionate about the arts. This series contains a set of questions to provide the opportunity to about the importance of the arts through another voice. You might want to share them with others. If you have questions or comments please post them at the bottom. These student’s might be middle or high school students or perhaps adults. If you have a story to tell please be sure to request the questions by sending me an email at

Natasha Shacklett, Oceanside High School, grade 12

Natasha Shacklett, Oceanside High School, grade 12

“As a child, I grew up around art and I’ve always loved to draw. My design for the cover of our yearbook wasn’t very premeditated; I sat down during the class and just did it. For future plans I’m applying to both art and culinary schools and I hope to do something with both in my future.”

Natasha Shacklett is a grade 12 student at Oceanside High School in Rockland. She is presently enrolled in AP 2D Studio Art with veteran art educator Holly Smith.

What value do you see in taking a dance, music, theatre, and/or visual arts course?

I think that there is great value in taking any kind of arts class. Art allows people to express themselves through creativity. Dance, music, theatre, and visual arts classes provide a place for people to be themselves.

Name three skills, ideas, or life-long tools that you have learned in your art courses?

I’m not sure that I can put what I’ve learned into a list. Sure, I’ve learned techniques and how to matte photos and paintings, but my art classes have helped me grow as a person. Saying what you learned in an art class isn’t as simple as saying you learned 2 + 2 = 4 in a math class. I learned that art is something I can always come back to, and it’s place where I can express how I feel about a subject. I’ve realized art is a lot more than just putting paint onto canvas, art is personal.

What is your favorite part of the art course you are taking? What are you most proud of?

My favorite part of my art class I’m taking is the free reign I’m allowed to take. If I have an idea of how to do the assigned project, and it’s a little changed from the original project, I can do it.
I’m pretty sure that the question, “What are you most proud of?” is referring to a specific painting, or maybe a concentration of mine. Truthfully though, I’m most proud of the work that my classmates and I did to save our art teacher, Mrs. J. It was hard work and at times became very emotional at the school board meetings. All of us were under 18, so we couldn’t vote at the meetings, so being able to influence people’s decisions and ultimately save her position makes me very proud of what we did.

Did anyone encourage you to take an art course? Who provides the greatest support for the work you now do and how do they support you?

When I started high school taking an art class was all my choice. As I’ve continued taking art classes throughout high school my friends and most of my family have been behind me in my choice. I’m not sure who provides the greatest support, everyone has their own way of showing it. My mother, father, and my brother, Brian, all have shown it through buying me endless art supplies. That’s probably the best way of showing support since I rarely have the money to buy them myself and I can’t turn down a new sketchbook or pencils.

How does your work in the arts support and develop creativity for you?

I find that when I’m making art I become more creative and start making more art and come up with ideas for more art. So I guess my work in the arts makes me want to make more art and become more creative.

If you could change any part of your arts education, what would it be?

I’d really like the arts program at my school to get more recognition. Even though we did hold a contest for yearbook cover, I feel like we are still judged very hard. As a member of one of the AP Art classes at my school it seems like the administration is pushing very hard to have us score higher and higher. Of course, getting high scores on our portfolios is what we aim for, putting us under pressure isn’t going to produce creativity, and certainly not the high scores they are looking for.

What are you plans as far as continuing your study of the arts?

I’m applying to a few schools this year, my top choice is an art school. I’d really love to get in and be able to submerge myself with all the creativity there. If I don’t attend an art school I’m going to keep working on art either outside of school, or perhaps major in something related to it. I’m not really sure what I’d like to do after college, but I’ll probably figure that out as I go along. As far as I can see, I have no plans of stopping my study of the arts anytime soon.


An Email from Dan!

September 19, 2012

I received the following email yesterday morning from Mount Desert Island High School Art Educator Dan Stillman. Dan and his two visual art colleagues, Charlie Johnson and Elizabeth Keenan all enjoyed the opportunity of attending the visual art education conference.

Dear Argy,

Once again our MAEA (Maine Art Education Association) Haystack weekend rejuvenated the student-artist in me and inspired the teacher within me too!

Please indulge an inspired rant:

During my reflective return trip home on Sunday, I mulled over a few stories from art teachers who had a challenging time convincing their administration of the importance of attending yearly Haystack workshops.

I lamented “Why can’t some administrators understand how important it is for an artist to expand his portfolio and broaden her range of media? Why would they even hesitate to support the feeding of our souls? Don’t they want happy, inspired art teachers?!

It later occurred to me that perhaps our MAEA Haystack weekend might be experiencing the same perception challenges that many of our art classes do in our schools back home…

My experience is that most art students, parents, guidance counselors, administrators, and teachers-of-the-three-R’s naively measure the merits of an art class by the tangible art works and the apparent “fun” students have making them. “Specials” are often perceived as a reward for the students– a pleasant break from the rigors of an academic day. Is Haystack just a resort? Just an artist’s retreat? A pleasant break from the rigors of teaching?

While those perceptions are appreciative in nature, we art educators KNOW there are valuable skills and practical benefits to practicing one’s art. Do our principals and superintendents understand the rigor and discipline of an exhausting right-brained workout? Do they understand the degree to which our Haystack workshops put the ARTS STANDARDS into practice?

They should…and it’s up to us to teach ‘em.

  • WE are the teachers and preachers of the CREATIVE PROCESS for crying out loud!
  • WE offer an entirely different vocabulary and language to communicate and demonstrate understanding in all the academic disciplines!
  • AND we work and play at the tippy top of Bloom’s Taxonomy!

For sooo long the arts have been peripheral enrichment to core-subject learning in public education…

Now we have representation at the State level, our own Essential Standards and evolving, technologically-advanced assessments that give us voice and a level of pedagogical understanding no other generation of art teachers (or Haystack participants) have had before…

We should write thank you letters to our learning communities, show them samples of our work and spell out the rigor and reflection we enjoyed… and endured.

Those rushed samples of our weekend art-making can’t capture the intensity of our humbling experience as a student of art and the learning process. We need to share teacher-artists statements too.

Haystack where is not just a break from school… it IS SCHOOL that humbles us right back into students!


2012 Haystack – Maine Art Educators conference

Photos in this post were taken by Charlie Johnson. You can view other photos from the conference by clicking here.


Another Arts Teachers’ Story: Charlie Johnson

July 24, 2012

This is the 18th in a series of blog posts telling arts teachers’ stories. This series contains a set of questions to provide the opportunity for you to read educators stories and to learn from others.

Charlie Johnson started teaching at Mount Desert Island High School in 2004. He started his career as the first visual art teacher at the Jay School Department in 1973. He is the National Honor Society advisor for 20 students. His courses include Photography, Video, and New Media Arts. Charlie is a teacher leader with the first phase of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative.

What do you like best about being a art educator?

I discovered my love for art at an early age, while my love for teaching did not develop until I was in college, so there is one interest overlapping another, and they make each day different and exciting for me. Teaching something I love and that I can “do” as well as teach makes my connections with students real and meaningful, not only to them, but to me as well. The “best” part is that I can learn from them and their solutions to problems in art every day, and it’s something I love to experience.

Tell me what you think are three keys to ANY successful arts ed program?

  1. Teachers with passion for teaching and the ability to transfer that passion to students.
  2. Teachers with a strong knowledge of pedagogy and the content they teach and who can share this effectively with students.
  3. Teachers who constantly make the value of ARTS education obvious to everyone in their school from students all the way down to administrators.

Express yourself in many forms and let others see you do that!

What specific way(s) do your assessment practices tie into the success of your program?

Students who are given the opportunities to be successful at many levels through understanding completely how they will be assessed and have had input into that assessment are usually on one hand very satisfied with their work and the processes involved in achievement or, on the other hand, understand why their work was not proficient and understand what they need to do to alter their processes to accomplish proficient work.

The vast majority of my students enjoy the task of making their work mean something and seeing purpose and content applied in their work as expression of their own ideals and thoughts and feelings. It is through the process of discussion, critique and revision that draws them into their work and lends to it an enhanced sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

The “Learning Results” are an excellent structure to have students work within, and as soon as they begin to understand what the structures of the ARTS discipline are, their work begins to improve.

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

For me personally, it has been similar to earning my Master’s Degree; as intense, but a shorter period of time. Being involved in the ARTS assessment initiative has really helped me to open my mind around education in general and to understand the need for a shift in the way education works. I think ARTS teachers have had it all together as a package for a while, but need to be more reflective and accountable for the important work they do with young people. It has caused me to “read” more concerning the specifics of my profession in general and myself as a teaching artist through books, professional papers, literature and articles/online content concerning the “how to” of methods and software around what I teach. I have “grown” connections to a small, but dedicated group of teachers within my geographical area of Maine, and feel a closer collaboration to teachers from other schools.

What are you most proud of in your career?

Making a difference to my students and what they accomplish in their lives, by far.

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

Nothing, any other answer to that question would simply be an excuse for not being the best you can be. If we are to expect the best from our students, then we need to be able to overcome all kinds of obstacles in our classrooms, from money to obnoxious administrators.

Apple or PC?

There’s a difference? Really, I own an iPhone, iPad and several PCs. The important understanding is around software, not platform. Apple seems to still be a bit more user friendly overall, but more controlling as well.

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 fortunate to be working in one of the best ARTS supported schools in Maine, but the pathway to this school required a lot of dedication, hard work, love of craft, and yes, luck!

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

Stand up for yourselves, promote our profession as a profession by acting professionally and setting good examples for students at all times.

Do things for your students/school without expecting extra pay, it is much louder than words and will more often be appreciated rather than expected. This also ties into the concept of being professional and of teaching being respected as a profession. Encourage or help colleagues to step up every chance you get.

Technology is about to change the face of education, get on board or get ready for a long cold swim. Don’t succumb to technology, but embrace it, always leaving time for a walk in the woods or along a beach!

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

I would fund a subsidized living complex for people with mental illness, making it as comfortable and spacious as the money would allow.

Charlie invites you to visit his blog at

Thanks Charlie for telling your story!


Update on National Standards

July 16, 2012

Writing teams met

The National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS) writing teams met (in person for the first time) in Reston, Virginia, June 19-22. The teams include dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts. They gathered along with the leadership team of the NCCAS and had an intense productive four days.

The website to learn more is at where you will find video clips of team members providing information on the work. The meeting featured a live video broadcast session entitled Embedding Enduring Understandings, Essential Questions and Cornerstone Assessments into the new Core Arts Standards. You can view the recording of the session and learn more about the details of the development of the standards document.


Summer Opportunity in the County

June 7, 2012

Arts Assessment course

The New England Institute for Teacher Education will be bringing graduate level courses to Aroostook County this summer, including Arts Assessment courses in Music and Visual Art.

Bill Buzza will be teaching the music course and Catherine Ring will be teaching the visual art course. Both are on the Leadership Team with the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative.

Please register with the New England Institute if you are interested in taking your assessment practices to a deeper level.

Working with a cohort of colleagues who share best practices and resources is stimulating and fun. Deep discussions around how to assess, benchmark, and align to standards are helping to improve learning in the arts classroom.  Graduate courses made available in other parts of the state have met with great success.  Join Bill and Catherine in Presque Isle this summer!


Bangor High School Art Show

June 1, 2012

Bangor Art Exhibit

June 4-28 the artwork will be on display at the Bangor Public Library. Reception will be June 5, 5:30-6:30.


Arts Night at Bonny Eagle

May 29, 2012


Many art exhibits and musical performances are happening all over Maine at this time of year. I am grateful to be invited to attend many of them and very happy that my schedule makes it possible. Recently, I traveled to MSAD#6, Bonny Eagle School District which is made up of Buxton, Hollis, LImington, Standish, and Frye Island. It is one of the largest school districts in the state.

I arrived at Bonny Eagle Middle School in the late afternoon where the K-12 Arts Night was being held. The school was filling up in the many rooms/locations where the performances were scheduled and artwork displayed. High School music teacher (and teacher leader from the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative) Jake Sturtevant met me at the door to the cafeteria where I had a chance to listen to a choral group sing and the jazz band play.

Jazz band in the cafeteria

The best of the best artwork was in one of the gyms. Wall to wall exhibits of the highest caliber and students proudly showed their work to their family and friends. I ran into retired art teacher Sheila Clough who was there with her husband, their daughter and grandchildren. Both had artwork displayed. It was delightful to meet and visit with them.

Sheila and her grandaughter

I stopped in the music room to listen to individuals and small ensembles performing from the band and chorus. The room was packed with people of all ages, many standing since all the seats were taken.

One of the many student groups in the music room performing

My mouth dropped open when middle school Physical Education/Dance (and Maine Arts Assessment team leader) MaryEllen Schaper escorted me into a larger gym where the bleachers were packed. The 5th grade chorus and high school theater groups performed followed by the 5th grade all-district band made up of 350 students. WOW! I couldn’t imagine how difficult it is to bring that many students together from the different schools to perform. Music teacher Karina Babcock did an outstanding job conducting them. I was impressed with how she interwove what students were doing as they warmed up and the layers and complexity of learning the standards that takes place for the individual learner in order to contribute to the overall performance.

All-district 5th grade band

Congratulations to the entire Bonny Eagle visual and performing arts staff for a job well done! The students and entire community are fortunate to have a dedicated teaching staff of visual and performing arts teachers and an evening to celebrate and recognize the work of students!


Another Arts Teachers’ Story: Lisa Marin

May 22, 2012

Featuring one teacher’s journey as an educator

This is the tenth in a series of blog posts telling arts teachers’ stories. This series contains a set of questions to provide the opportunity for you to read educators stories and to learn from others.

Lisa Marin is a K-12 Visual Art teacher who has taught for 16+ years at Jonesport-Beals High School and Jonesport Elementary School. She teaches approximately 140 students per year, between elementary classes and high school art 1, 2, 3 and some years art 4. All levels of high school art are taught together in each of the three periods. Lisa is a Teacher Leader with the first phase of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative.

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

Getting a chance to work with young people to, hopefully, make a positive impact on their future, where ever life takes them. Offering a safe place where they can express themselves.

Tell me what you think are three keys to ANY successful arts ed program?

  • Focusing on what you find most valuable to teach
  • Creating a positive environment that nurtures students to take risks
  • Making connections within your school and wider community

What specific way(s) do your assessment practices tie into the success of your program?

They give me a sense of an underlying direction, framework, and goals for my curriculum and teaching. I am able to have a more meaningful dialog with my colleagues, making connections across content areas for assessment and student learning. Additionally, students have greater, and deeper understanding of what represents quality work and can then set personal goals to achieve those results.

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

Coming from a district where I am one of two arts teachers, and the only visual art teacher, can feel isolating. This initiative has given me the opportunity to work intensively with colleagues to think about challenging issues in arts education, both inside as well as outside the classroom. I really enjoy being part of something bigger than my own small corner of Maine. I feel energized to boost the quality of my teaching. This is not an easy task for anyone who has been teaching for many years. There’s a tendency to fall into the ‘rut in the road’!

What are you most proud of in your career?

Early in my career at JBHS I established the Jonesport-Beals High School Fine Arts Scholarship Fund awarded to any senior who wanted to pursue higher education in the arts. I have received a lot of community support in fundraising efforts and have been able to substantially increase the dollar amount awarded in recent years.

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

Time, not enough of it! Especially lack of planning time with fellow teachers.

Apple or PC?

Ten years ago never would have said this but….. Apple all the way! Laptop initiative changed my life!

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

Level of quality in my students’ work. Having to be a cheerleader to challenge my students to give their best effort. Quality comes with a determination to work hard. Talent is an amazing thing to have, but I’ve seen many students who weren’t the most talented produce really creative, self-revealing work, because they were willing to hang in there with me and go the extra mile to do their best.

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

Keep a sense of humor. Try not to take anything negative too personally. Find ways to keep your teaching fresh and forward thinking.

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

Travel! To exotic and not so exotic places.

I invite all who care to, to check out my wiki. There are a lot of links to lesson plans and assessment ideas. I love feedback, and suggestions for new postings.

Thank you Lisa for taking the time to tell your story!


Falmouth High School Spring Concert and Art Show

May 20, 2012

May 23, 2012, 7:30

The Falmouth High School Band and Choral groups will be performing their Spring Concert on Wednesday night at 7:30 PM in the Falmouth High School Theater.

Simultaneously the Falmouth High School Art Show with a reception in the school library will start at 6PM. There will be live demonstrations, food, and music.

An art class collaborated to create posters for the concert. The concert will have music from “The Wizard of Oz,”  “The Wiz,” and “Wicked.”  Some of the posters are included in this post. And artwork from the art department can be enjoyed at by clicking here.

Thank you to Falmouth High School music teacher, Jim Horwich for sending information for this post.

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