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Holly Olzsewski: Who’s teaching whom? Using assessment to build relationships in the classroom

Holly Olszewski    Leave a Comment   

I hear many complaints about assessment from my colleagues, those in my subject area and others. When I am in a good mood, I try to counter their complaints with “Assessment is great!”, “Assessment helps...

I hear many complaints about assessment from my colleagues, those in my subject area and others. When I am in a good mood, I try to counter their complaints with “Assessment is great!”, “Assessment helps us know our students!” This is usually met with a groan, an eye roll, or worse. I am serious when I say that assessment does help me get to know my students. It not only informs my instruction and helps me pick activities, but it helps me get to know that student as an individual.

Because I film my assessments, whether it’s singing, steady beat, movement or playing, it allows me to watch the student during the assessment for other behavior. It frees me to really focus on the student instead of the outcome of the assessment. I can see if their hands are shaking, if they are biting their lower lip, clenching their teeth or other signs of distress. It allows me to focus on that student and watching their comfort level with the assessment. I can address issues by just quietly saying something to the student, or I can use the opportunity to re-teach on the spot.

I find that the more assessments I do, the more comfortable the students get with them. Occasionally they even request the assessment! For them it is a measuring stick as well, particularly with my younger students who frequently repeat an assessment. M.E101, Singing a Song and M.E104, Performing a Steady Beat Accompaniment on instruments work really well for these frequent check-ins. This year’s favorite version of M.E104 included a special ‘Frog guiro’ or “ribbit”. While the class sang the short folk song “Frog in the Meadow”, one student accompanied the class on the ribbit, keeping a steady beat. At the conclusion of the short song, the ribbit was passed and the next student had a turn. During this assessment the camera was watching the beat, and I was watching the students. As the activity was fun, most students were very confident in their playing. A couple students were hesitant and that allowed me to then spend an extra few minutes with students at a different time.

This assessment was repeated several times over the course of the year. By the end of the year, everyone had shown growth in singing and in keeping the steady beat. I changed the song and tried to find interesting instruments that would captivate young learners. We all had fun, we grew, and assessment was not a bad word! Your students will teach you what they need to know, you will get to know them and build relationships with them by repeating assessments frequently. Look for ways to make it fun! If it is fun for you, it will be fun for them. Building those relationships, getting to know them and their strengths through assessment will help you help them overcome their deficiencies. Keep Playing, Keep Making Music, Keep Assessing!

Holly Olszewski teaches for Grand Traverse Area Public Schools and serves as a MAEIA Leadership Fellow, offering professional learning on the MAEIA tools and resources.

A downloadable pdf of this article is available here: Holly Olzsewski- Who’s Teaching Whom

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Carrie Jeruzal: “Making it Work” for Students with Learning Differences

Carrie Jeruzal    Leave a Comment   

Educational modifications and accommodations are every teacher’s responsibility.  They are required as outlined in federal and state law (Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 1997, Reauthorization of IDEA 2004 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973-Section 504). If...

Educational modifications and accommodations are every teacher’s responsibility.  They are required as outlined in federal and state law (Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 1997, Reauthorization of IDEA 2004 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973-Section 504).

If you teach students with special needs or learning differences and want to administer a MAEIA assessment, then you will need to apply required modifications and accommodations.  Accommodations are changes in how a student accesses information and demonstrates learning. Modifications are changes in what a student is expected to learn. Sometimes however, in the arts, it is difficult to know exactly what accommodations or modifications should be applied.  This blog post is intended to give arts educators ideas and options of how to best meet the needs of these students by accommodating or modifying MAEIA assessments.

One of the best things about MAEIA assessments is that they were designed and published in a way that teachers can modify or alter them to best fit teachers’ and students’ needs in widely differing arts classrooms around the state.  This kind of flexibility naturally lends itself to alterations and changes that need to be made to assessments to comply with Individualized Educational Plans, or IEPs.

The attached document is an example of a MAEIA Visual Arts Assessment called: Analyze and Describe, meant for 6th grade students.  The accommodations and modifications that I made are described and highlighted in yellow.  Some of the changes I made benefit all students and simply make the booklet more accessible, such as the images and color coding that I implemented on the Graphic Organizer, and the option to type the answers rather than hand write them.  Other accommodations were only for students with IEPs, such as the option to dictate or “tell” the answers to questions within the space of our school’s resource room with the aid of a Special Education teacher.

Here is a list of additional accommodations and modifications that you may want to consider when administering the MAEIA assessments:

  • – Download the Student Booklet into Word and rework it to print with fewer items per page or line
  • – Print the Student Booklet with larger text
  • – Read and re-read the assessment instructions aloud to the student as needed
  • – Provide an outline or checklist of the assessment tasks on a separate sheet of paper
  • – Allow students to give responses in a form (spoken or written) that’s easier for them.  For example, they  can tell you the answer instead of writing it down           or typing. Some computers have a dictate option.  The student can dictate answers to a device instead of writing it down.
  • – Allow the use of a spelling dictionary or digital spell-checker
  • – Allow students to use notes or handouts from class
  • – Offer the assessment in a different controlled and quiet setting, such as a Resource Room or library.
  • – Allow the students to sit where they can perform best (for example, up front near the teacher)
  • – Use special lighting or acoustics
  • – Take the assessment in a small group setting
  •  – Use sensory tools such as an exercise band, wiggle seat, yoga ball, stress squeeze ball, etc.
  • – Give extra time to complete a task or all of the assessment
  • – Have extra time to process spoken information and directions
  • – Allow the student to take frequent breaks
  • – Administer the assessment in several sessions or over several days
  • – Take sections of the assessment in a different order
  • – Administer the assessment at a specific time of day
  • – Use a gentle alarm or chimes to help with time management
  • – Mark text with a highlighter for organization
  • – Allow students to answer fewer or different assessment questions
  • – Select a different standard to assess than other students
  • – Students may be excused from particular parts of the assessment
  • – Provide pencil grips and wide-lined paper for writing
  • – Provide adapted scissors
  • – Accommodate students with sensory issues by removing art media that triggers them
  • – Allow the use of earplugs or headphones (without input/hookups) to block out background noise
  • – Reduce actual clutter in the room and visual clutter on the Student Booklets
  • – Insert meanings of vocabulary words continuously throughout the assessment and/or on a separate help sheet
  • – Repeat and rephrase directions
  • – Reduce multiple choice answer options using white-out tape
  • – Keep student from distractions by special seating, study corrals, etc.
  • – Give clear directions and repeat and rephrase them
  • – Write the assessment workflow schedule on board

 

Arts teachers are masters at being flexible, finding substitutions, differentiating instruction and in general, “Making it Work!”  However you choose to provide accommodations and modifications to students with learning differences, it is important to check-in with your building’s special education educator and review mandates outlined in IEPs.

In any case, documentation and reporting of accommodations and modifications are required by law.  Check with your special education teacher to understand the preferred documentation process for your school.

Additional Resources:

https://www.understood.org/en

http://www.shaker.org/Downloads/Accommodations_and_Modifications_Guide.pdf

Carrie Jeruzal is a MAEIA Leadership Fellow and Visual Arts Educator in Pentwater, MI. She was recently honored by the National Art Education Association as the 2017 Western Region Middle Level Art Teacher of the Year.

A downloadable PDF of this article is available here:Carrie Jeruzal: “Making it Work” for Students with Learni

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Zach Vandergraaff – 5 Ways MAEIA Assessments Can Improve Your Teaching

Heather Vaughan-Southard    Leave a Comment   

“Assessment.”  It doesn’t have to be such a dirty word. As ARTs teachers, we’re often scared off by the idea of assessments. We think they’re just...

“Assessment.”

 It doesn’t have to be such a dirty word. As ARTs teachers, we’re often scared off by the idea of assessments. We think they’re just hoops to jump through and impossible work for us to do.

However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Effective and applicable assessments make a huge difference in teaching. According to 10 Research And Proven Practices of Dr. John Hattie, assessment has a potential combined 0.80 effect size.

This means we can improve student learning by almost 2 years over the course of one year!

While this is important, improving your own teaching is important too, and the MAEIA assessments are a big part of what I’ve been doing to improve myself.

Here are 5 ways I use MAEIA assessments to improve my own teaching.

#1 Accurate Picture of Students

If you’re teaching elementary music as I do, you likely have more than hundreds of students (I’m at 650+). I’ve always thought ,as we did small assessment activities, that I had a decent idea of how the whole class and individual students were doing.

When I started doing more intentional assessments with MAEIA, I found something quite different. There were some students I had been assuming could do my tasks easily, but they were faking it with confidence. The assessments showed me that I was leaving them behind.

There’s no way you can accurately just “eye-ball” success in your classroom. These tools from MAEIA now help me ensure I’m getting an accurate picture of all my kids.

#2 Pushes Students to Improve

There are times over the years I’ve gotten stuck in ruts with my students. They learn the things I’m teaching them, but they have a harder time seeing the end-result they’re working towards.

This is more of a failure on my part than on theirs. Introducing some MAEIA assessments has actually helped me to push them harder.

It also gives them an idea of where they’re heading. My students talk to each other across grade level and share their pride at mastering certain assessment activities (although they don’t always realize that “tests” are what they’re doing).

They come to me later and ask when they can do what the older kids are doing. I always plan curriculum long-term, but MAEIA helps me to help them see the grand scheme of what they’re working on.

#3 Self-reflection

The MAEIA tools also help me to reflect on my plans overall. There are dozens on dozens of examples of assessments to pull from; they show me areas I’m neglecting too.

You could pick assessments you feel your kids will be successful at, or you can look at ones you’re not sure about and teach with more of those ideas in mind.

#4 Checks My Assessment Practices

Each assessment also has very specific details on how you may want to teach and administer the assessment. As I went through some of these, I learned something:

I am accidentally doing things which give students the answers!

For example, I’ve often assessed my Kindergarten students on their ability to keep a steady beat to recorded music. I also knew I shouldn’t pat the beat with them, or they would just copy me.

Going through MAEIA’s version of the assessment, it mentioned specifically how they need to do the check with their eyes closed.

This may seem obvious to everyone else, but it was something my kids needed. They were subconsciously looking to others to come up with a group answer for the steady beat.

This is just one example of the high-level assessment practices MAEIA can help you with to get the best picture of your students’ ability.

They also include various rubrics to help you see where students could be.

#5 Informs My Teaching

Finally, the act of collecting data with MAEIA assessments informs my own teaching. I can see more specifically where the gaps in my students’ knowledge are.

For example:

The rhythm reading assessment for third, fourth, and fifth grades uses different types of rhythms over 10 questions for each grade level. I used this with my fourth graders as a pretest just a few months ago.

In the assessment, I was able to see which types of rhythms in which meters the students struggled with. Then I adapted my pacing to specifically fill those gaps.

Conclusion

Assessments are important and make a big difference in how I reach my students better. It can be hard to know all the assessment best practices, but using the MAEIA assessments streamlines the process and helps me keep up with the current teaching practices.

I strongly encourage all music and ARTs teachers to check out this program for their own classroom and find what works for them. You won’t regret it!

 

Zach VanderGraaff is a K-5 music teacher at Bay City Public Schools and writer for Dynamic Music Room. He also serves as Past-President of Michigan Kodaly Educators and current Executive Secretary of the Midwest Kodaly Music Educators Association. A downloadable pdf of this post is available here, 5 Ways MAEIA Assessments Can Improve Your Teaching.

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2019 MAEIA Institute

Heather Vaughan-Southard    Leave a Comment   

The Michigan Arts Education Instruction and Assessment project offers the MAEIA Institute, a concise professional learning offering which trains administrators-arts educator pairs how to support and measure growth in the arts disciplines.

The Michigan Arts Education Instruction and Assessment project offers the MAEIA Institute, a concise professional learning offering which trains administrators-arts educator pairs how to support and measure growth in the arts disciplines.

Click here for more information: MAEIAInstitute2019_flyer-final

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Martin Argyroglo, “Adrian Villar Rojas -Where the slaves live © Fondation Louis Vuitton,” photograph, Forgemind Archimedia, Licensed for noncommercial use under Creative Commons.

Debra Henning: What’s In A Word? Cross-Curricular Instruction and Assessment in the Arts

Debra Henning    Leave a Comment   

The following post offers an example of the manner in which MAEIA’s “Cross-Curricular Connections Assessment,” V.T 312 for Grade 8, can encourage students to think deeply about connections between the visual...

The following post offers an example of the manner in which MAEIA’s “Cross-Curricular Connections Assessment,” V.T 312 for Grade 8, can encourage students to think deeply about connections between the visual arts and language. In the assessment, students are asked to create an artwork that connects the principles and subject matter of another academic subject of their choice to the visual arts. The assessment item assesses several visual arts standards, including students’ ability to “effectively analyze and describe ways in which the principles and subject matter of other disciplines taught in school are interrelated with the visual arts, as well as their ability to “relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding.”

Martin Argyroglo, “Adrian Villar Rojas -Where the slaves live © Fondation Louis Vuitton,” photograph, Forgemind Archimedia, Licensed for noncommercial use under Creative Commons.

A picture, we know, is worth a thousands words. But what’s the worth of a word?  That depends, of course, on the word. Does it refer to a specific object, such as the tallest building in the world, or to something more general, as the word buildings does?  In the vast hierarchy of words – call them concepts, if you like – few words encompass more meaning than vernacular. Commonly defined as “the language or dialect spoken by the ordinary people in a particular country or region,” the word, vernacular stands in contrast to literary or cultured language, most frequently to Latin. Carried throughout the Great Roman Empire, the Latin language served as a unifying force in law and religion, yet less so in the everyday lives of the people, who continued to find linguistic expression in their own mother-tongue.  In a slow give-and-take process, aided by the translation of the Bible into English and by patriotic stirrings, the vernacular would emerge supreme as the mother-tongue in England, France, and Germany grew from spoken dialects into full-fledged languages, “adequate for the expression of any and every kind of thought.”

In the centuries-long evolution of language, however, the meaning of vernacular, itself, became something quite different from its origins. Which is why Adrian Villar Rojas’ sculpture, “Where the Slaves Live” makes such an intriguing subject for cross-curricular instruction in the arts.  The title of the massive “living sculpture,” composed of multiple layers of earth and manufactured materials, recalls the Latin root of the word vernacular, i.e., verna, meaning a home-born slave, and, hence, language of the home-born slave.

Like the sculpture commissioned by France’s Fondation Louis Vuitton, Roja’s concept for the sculpture layers multiple meanings. “Where the Slaves Lives” confronts visitors with a silent reminder of France’s vacillating opposition to slavery, which the French abolished, re-established, and in 1848 again re-abolished in her colonies. On the terrace of  Frank Gehry’s magnificent glass ship, Rojas’s sculpture recalls the ships that carried slaves and the fate of many at sea.

Set in a building that is synonymous with wealth, privilege, and luxury goods, Rojas’ work has the potential to stir the kind of debate and reflection intended by the mission of Fondation Louis Vuitton. By using the word as Rojas does – as a reminder that in verna  and vernacular, slavery is at the core of  the French language and the mission of   L’ Academie Francaise – the artist ramps up the potential for debate and reflection.  Today, one of the aims of the Academie is to “protect the French language from foreign, notably ‘Anglo-Saxon’ invasions,” but that goal has not always been central to its mission. Since its founding in 1635, the Academie has been tasked with a much more fundamental aim: to guide the French language from “from the vulgar (or vernacular) state of language to that of language equal in dignity to Latin.”  As used by the Academie, the words vulgar and vernacular become synonymous, both meaning “the common or usual language of a country; both obscuring the meaning of verna – a home-born slave. In “Where the Slaves Live,” Roja recovers the origins of vernacular, while delivering a powerful message about the hidden history of language and the importance of cross-curricular instruction. 

The Fondation Louis Vuitton,
Designed by the Canadian-American Architect, Frank Gehry and Located in Paris, France
Iwan Baan, Frank Gehry – Fondation Louis Vuitton, 2014, Photo 12, Forgemind Archmedia

Debra Henning is a MAEIA key communicator, specializing in visual arts and arts integration. A downloadable pdf of this post is available here Debra Henning: What’s In a Word? Cross-Curricular Instruction and Assessment in the Arts.

 

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Rebecca Arndt: Why I Teach

Rebecca Arndt    Leave a Comment   

Today, MAEIA launches the Michigan Collaborative Scoring System field test (MI-CSS powered by Oscar Classroom ™) for 2019. The following article was written by MAEIA Leadership Fellow, Rebecca Arndt, based on her participation in the...

Today, MAEIA launches the Michigan Collaborative Scoring System field test (MI-CSS powered by Oscar Classroom ™) for 2019. The following article was written by MAEIA Leadership Fellow, Rebecca Arndt, based on her participation in the MAEIA CSS pilot in 2017-2018. 

It’s a cold and windy day in the downriver area. I am sitting at my computer and working on all the things that teachers work on during the day, I find myself asking why? 

Why is it such a  struggle to pick good music for my students? 

Why can’t this child just follow directions? 

Why is it so hard to reach all my students?

Why do I need to give another test? 

Or better yet, how do I give assessments that will give me accurate and authentic information for each of my students? 

How can these assessments drive my teaching? 

I may not be able to answer all these questions everyday but I can answer how I can use authentic testing and scoring to drive my teaching. 

Being part of the MAIEA 2017-18 Collaborative Scoring System team has truly helped me understand my students and has given me authentic feedback to what they are understanding and implementing. I am using three different MAEIA assessments with grades five, two, and one. 

I just gave my fifth graders a listening and create assessment. The students needed to write and answer five questions then they were asked to create a piece of artwork or write a poem or short story to depict what the composer was trying to convey.

WOW what an amazing moment for me as I was grading their written answers to the listening. Many of these students are below grade level and struggle with writing. I was so very proud of these answers. I could honestly tell that they were listening, using the tools in the classroom to explain their reasoning. This is one of the many “aha” moments that I had while being part of this team. 

Although I am part of the CSS team, there are still days that I have found myself teaching to the next test (the ones I have to use for report card purposes) and not teaching for those “aha” moments. But it is those “aha” moments are the reason I and many others got into teaching. 

As I navigate through our curriculum each year and highlight in my calendar when I need to give each assessment and what are the outcome goals for those assessments, I need to remind myself I am in the arts. The arts are a performance-based curriculum. 

I believe that if we use the mindset of “Think, Create, Perform”, we will be able to better understand what are students are truly learning and our assessments can be truly authentic and meaningful.  Using authentic testing and scoring will give me a better understanding of where our students are and it will create more and more “aha” moments versus let’s take the next test. Testing is important but so it the journey of learning. 

Rebecca Arndt is a music educator and a MAEIA Leadership Fellow. A downloadable version of this post is available here: Rebecca Arndt: Why I Teach.

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Carrie Jeruzal: Storing the Data  (i.e. Keeping Digital Photos of Student Artwork)

Carrie Jeruzal    Leave a Comment   

Arts educators who are interested in using MAEIA assessments to assist in tracking student growth often ask the question, “What do you use for storing all the artwork?”  Being that the...

Arts educators who are interested in using MAEIA assessments to assist in tracking student growth often ask the question, “What do you use for storing all the artwork?”  Being that the photos of student artwork become the digital data of learning, this isn’t always an easy question to answer.  Modern technology offers a plethora of digital image data storage and sharing resource choices that each have their own strengths and weaknesses, their own quirks, limitations, special features and user learning curves.  Also, as in the nature of all technology, each choice I present here has a “shelf life”, that may or may not be easily predicted.    

To help arts teachers with the research needed to make this decision, I have first compiled a list of relevant questions that are important to ask when selecting a method and a vehicle for visual arts data storage and second, a list of what seem to be the top contenders. 

10 Questions to Determine your Arts Data Storage Needs:

  1. 1. How long do you need to store the data (a year, two years, a student’s entire K-12 career)?  Some methods of storage have time limits, some newer apps or clouds may not have the “staying power” you need to rely on, and not every school will support all kinds of tech.  For example, my school stopped offering MS Office this year and now I have to pay for it on my own!

  2. 2. How are you going to collect the data?  Will you be taking and uploading all the photos?  Do you intend for students to collect and submit the data?

  3. 3. What device(s) do  you plan to use to take and transfer the photos?  Are you going to use digital cameras, tablets, iPads and or Smart phones?  Is your storage method compatible with your selected device? 

  4. 4. Do you plan to share the artwork with administration, other art teachers, parents, the world?  Do students need open access to the files?  Check out the sharing capabilities and limitations of each choice.

  5. 5. Does your data include video art or other time based media?  Do you plan to include written documents, any recorded audio or visual artist statements?  Some storage methods are strictly for photos.

  6. 6. What are the security and privacy features?  Who can access the data and who is restricted?  If open to an online gallery, who can comment and are comments filtered?

  7. 7. Is the storage method free or require a fee?  This may depend on the amount of storage you need and the fee may be a subscription that requires yearly renewal. 

  8. 8. Do you need back-up?  Check with your tech support to see how your school handles file back-ups in the case of media failure.  Does the program allow old data to be archived?

  9. 9. Once stored, who owns the data?  Fair Use and Intellectual Property Rights may matter.

  10. 10. What are other art teachers in your district already using?  It may be be beneficial to keep data storage streamline between teachers in your school. Does your school or district already have a policy on data storage?    

Data Storage Choices:

Popular Online Learning Platforms For Your Virtual or “Flipped” Classroom:

Google Classroom 

Schoology

  • Edmodo 

  • Moodle

Cloud Storage:

Google Drive

  • Dropbox

  • Box

  • Microsoft OneDrive

  • Amazon Drive

  • Flickr 

  • Great for Sharing on Social Media, Offers Online Gallery, Some Offer Product Sales:
  • Artsonia

  • Creatubbles

  • KidBlog 

  • ArtKive

  • Keepy 

  • Canvasly

Online Portfolio Sites (Easy Website Builders):

Digication E-Portfolio 

  • Adobe Spark

  • Weebly

  • Wix

Developed Specifically for Educator Data Collection:

Sesame 

  • Seesaw

  • Remini

 Other blog posts that may be helpful:

http://artfcity.com/2016/06/06/6-recommendations-for-storing-file-based-artworks/

https://www.theartofed.com/2017/05/01/create-exciting-digital-portfolio-adobe-spark/

https://www.bookwidgets.com/blog/2016/12/top-8-online-learning-platforms

http://www.mamanetworker.com/canvsly-vs-artkive-vs-keepy-review/

Carrie Jeruzal is a MAEIA Leadership Fellow and Visual Arts Educator in Pentwater, MI. She was recently honored by the National Art Education Association as the 2017 Western Region Middle Level Art Teacher of the Year.

A downloadable version of this article is available here: Carrie Jeruzal_Storing the Data

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Cathy DePentu: Career-long Learning

Cathy DePentu    Leave a Comment   

I have been in school for 58 of my 63 years. Granted, I’ve switched roles a few times and moved back and forth from the front of the room to behind a desk (...

I have been in school for 58 of my 63 years. Granted, I’ve switched roles a few times and moved back and forth from the front of the room to behind a desk (or music stand), but still, the end of August is a turning point of each year.   Even after all these years, I still toss and turn the night before school starts wondering what the year will bring. Much of my excitement is the same as when I was in elementary school: Who will I see the first day? What adventures we will share about summer?  Will the people I work with be kind? Will they like me?

Every year, I am privileged to share my passion for music and music-making with a new group of students. We work together and learn from each other. Even though only a few of these students will choose the Arts as a career, I know that the thought processes and learning strategies involved in the performing arts classroom will benefit them all throughout their life.

We learn patience, collaboration, cooperation and persistence. When we fail, we try again. We value each others contributions and celebrate our differences. We are accepting and welcoming; our classrooms are safe spaces. Of course we will encounter obstacles to success–perhaps budget, administrative or legislative. While we may not be able to control the situation, we CAN control of how we choose to respond to it.

I say “we learn” because after all of these years, I truly feel once the unique process of teaching and learning through the Arts is shared, we are all both students and teachers.

Being willing to adapt and continue to learn while I teach keeps me from teaching the same year, over and over again…and so every year can be exciting and fresh.

Have a great year everyone, and remember that MAEIA is just a click away!

From MAEIA:

On that note, we’d like to invite MAEIA-informed community members to join the Facebook closed group: MAEIA PLC. Look for us under “groups”. Request to join and share in professional dialogue with like-minds about MAEIA and arts education. 

Cathy DePentu is a MAEIA Leadership Fellow and serves as Director of Orchestras for Plymouth Canton Community Schools.

A downloadable pdf of this article is available here: CathyDePentu_Career-long Learning.

 

 

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Amy Lynne Pobanz: The Perfect Place to Teach and Learn

Heather Vaughan-Southard    Leave a Comment   

I dream about it. The perfect place to teach and learn. A district that celebrates the arts. I fantasize about amazing arts facilities and resources for my students. I long to feel valued and supported...

I dream about it. The perfect place to teach and learn. A district that celebrates the arts. I fantasize about amazing arts facilities and resources for my students. I long to feel valued and supported as a teacher. I am a bit jealous when I visit a school district that has an amazing gallery space, a well outfitted recording studio, an orchestra, a black box theatre, or a dance studio.   If you are an arts educator, chances are you can relate. Too many of us teach in underfunded programs with meager facilities and resources. It’s easy to complain about all of the challenges that face us as arts educators. Believe me, I am guilty of my fair share of complaining. I am sure you won’t be surprised to learn that venting my frustrations did not help to improve the arts in my district or community.  

I found myself with a choice. I could either complain or I could be an agent for change. I asked myself this question, “What actions could I take that would positively change the landscape of arts education in my school district and community?” At first it felt like a loaded question and a daunting task. I wasn’t even sure where to begin. Could I even articulate my vision for a perfect place to teach and learn in the arts? 

Don’t feel overwhelmed. I began by using MAEIA (Michigan Arts Education Instruction and Assessment Project) tools. MAEIA resources are free for your use and have been designed to support your work advancing arts education in your schools and communities. You can always reach out to MAEIA personnel and request additional support.     

I have come to value the word- “place.” It is a powerful word. “Cultural geographers, anthropologists, sociologists and urban planners study why certain places hold special meaning to particular people or animals. Places said to have a strong “sense of place” have a strong identity that is deeply felt by inhabitants and visitors.”  Consider the impact of place as you envision your perfect place to teach and learn. Here are some steps that may guide your journey.

Step 1. Assemble 

Assemble a team of people who are passionate about the arts in your school and community. Be inclusive; invite all arts teachers, invite students, invite parents, invite administrators, invite community organizations, invite community leaders. I believe collaboration is an essential component to any great endeavor. 

Step 2.  Envision 

Read and reflect on the Michigan Blueprint of a Quality Arts Education Program tool (see link below). Have dialog as a group about your greatest dreams and vision for your district arts program. Imagine what could be.

https://maeia-artsednetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/MAC-Blueprint-Document-2016-May112016.pdf

Michigan Blueprint of a Quality Arts Education Program—a goal-setting document for arts education program and school improvement purposes. The Blueprint describes the highest standards of successful arts education programs in dance, music, theatre and visual arts along seven criteria that are aligned with the Michigan School Improvement Framework.

Step 3.  Reflect 

Complete the program review tool (see link below). This tool collects data that can be used to determine the strengths and weaknesses of your current arts program. This is a wonderful process that provides insight into your program and promotes healthy dialog about program improvement. I cannot stress the importance of this tool. This process empowers arts educators to have conversations with administrators and school boards about the quality of their arts program. Arts educators can make statements that are supported by data from a State funded arts assessment tool. Share your findings with colleagues, administrators, and the school board. 

Note:  The PRT tool is moving from paper and pencil to a web-based assessment tool.  Please contact the MAEIA administrative team before beginning the PRT process to see if your team is able to use the web-based version.  

 https://maeia-artsednetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/MI-Arts-Education-Program-Review-Tool_Paper-Version-for-Reference-Only.pdf

Step 4.  Develop

Develop a District Arts Plan. Communicate the vision of your arts team with all stakeholders. Ask to meet several times a year with your school board members and present annually to the school board. Here is a link to my favorite reference resource for developing an arts plan. http://www.artsed411.org/files/Complete_Insiders_Guide_2017_Updated_Cover.pdf

Step 5.  Connect 

Connect with other arts educators and be involved in arts education and advocacy in Michigan. Meet artists, take classes, go to performances, create.  

Amy Lynne Pobanz is a visual arts educator and MAEIA Leadership Fellow with over 20 years of experience teaching in traditional, virtual, and blended learning environments.

A downloadable pdf of this article is available here: Pobanz_ThePerfectPlacetoTeachandLearn.

 

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Cathy DePentu: Developing Whole, Productive, Creative Humans

Cathy DePentu    Leave a Comment   

Simon Sinek’s “Golden Circle” resonates with many arts educators. The concept “Start with...

Simon Sinek’s “Golden Circle” resonates with many arts educators. The concept “Start with Why?” is how we approach every project, every rehearsal and every performance. Starting with the reason, or goal for the performance is an “art-centric” learning and teaching process. Surprisingly, when I returned to school last fall, my district had shifted their focus to the “Why” from our previous data-driven, test-focused, “show me the numbers” improvement plan. We were directed to look for unique, creative ways to engage our classes—to “Start with Why?” Wow.

My first thought was that the district should go to the people who have been teaching this way for years…the arts educators. Perhaps WE could be a resource to assist all teachers as they begin to think about a new approach to how they work in their classroom. Our ability to keep classes of 60-80 (or more) students engaged, collaborative, focused and learning every day could be a valuable addition to those endless professional development days…

Recently, I went to the interactive Pixar exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum. I went with a friend who teaches science, and it was fascinating to see things from her perspective. Obviously, Pixar films are made using the most advanced computer technology, and the programmers are experts in math and science. As we walked through the exhibit, I was struck by how our subject areas were linked in virtually every step of the creation of the movies! The exhibit featured videos of many of the programmers and technicians responsible for creating the characters and the storylines. I was very surprised (and pleased) at what I heard from many of the videos.

Virtually all of the programmers saw their work as using their math and science as a way to honor the artist’s vision of the characters. One of the programmers had played the cello as a student, and cited using the process of practicing—doing things over and over again, using self-analysis and a willingness to fail and continue to try, as being characteristics that are exceedingly valuable to him now in his work.

The collaboration between the technicians, programmers and artists was so inspiring. I was impressed by the collective desire to use technology to honor an artist’s vision. I hope that my fellow teachers will unite to value every subject and its importance in the development of whole, productive, creative humans.

Cathy Depentu is a MAEIA Leadership Fellow and serves as Director of Orchestras for Plymouth Canton Community Schools.

A downloadable pdf of this post is available here: Cathy DePentu_Developing Whole, Productive, Creative Humans.

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