An Art Teacher’s Perspective on Remote Learning
“Can we do clay…….Pleeeeease?” This was a question from one of my 4th grade art students during our first Zoom meeting for Remote Learning-Art. “Uhhhh, no?” was my response. Unfortunately, when our school district...
“Can we do clay…….Pleeeeease?” This was a question from one of my 4th grade art students during our first Zoom meeting for Remote Learning-Art. “Uhhhh, no?” was my response.
Unfortunately, when our school district learned on Friday, March 13th that we were to shut down due to the COVID19 pandemic, some of my classes were in the middle of a ceramics unit. We thought then that we could continue when we returned to school in two weeks. That wasn’t to happen. With the closing of schools through the end of the year the district scrambled to put a plan in place to provide online remote learning. In our rural district many families do not have reliable internet (myself included) and they may not have devices to use at home, let alone the know how for online learning (again, myself included!). Families and staff were surveyed to assess the needs to accomplish online equity. Many devices were made available and hot spots were set up in school parking lots for downloading material to work offline.
I teach visual art to grades 3-5, about 470 students. For me, the idea of remote learning is daunting. I teach in 2-3 week rotations, 5-6 class sections each. Art, gym, technology and music teachers are using Google Classroom for remote learning to keep it manageable. Our administrator cautioned us to “keep it simple.” As I set out to create art lessons for distance learning, I built upon skills and content delivered. I had to create lessons for students who may not have any art supplies at home. Lessons include live Zoom sessions, recorded video, and digital lessons that can be accessed from home or downloaded from the parking lot. Although “keeping it simple” is important, I want the art learning to be meaningful as well.
I started remote learning with a chaotic zoom “live lesson.” More than sixty students tried to connect. I had them all muted on entry and when the class started, I asked them to turn off video so that the sound was not so distorted. However, there were audio issues for some, and video issues for others, depending on their internet quality. It was difficult to admit participants, answer chats, and go over the two art lessons for the week all at once. I have attended several zoom meetings recently, but hosting one is another story. Yikes! I plan to record my demonstrations from here on out so that I can better monitor and manage the meeting. As bad as the live lesson seemed, the students are completing and turning in their projects. I have had some email conversations with parents, and some projects emailed to me instead of turning them in via Google Classroom. It truly is a learning curve for all of us!
This surreal and challenging situation in which we find ourselves does have its moments of positivity. I posted several drawing prompts before our remote learning officially started, encouraging students to be creative. I find that students are eager to connect. Students have requested art ideas and have emailed sketches to me. I’ve even had one student ask me to be her “pen pal.” We have exchanged letters and drawings, and she even put forth a “needle felting challenge.” All of this renews my faith in the creativity of children; in the strength of our school community; in the teamwork of our staff; and in the resourcefulness of my art students. And it makes me miss them even more. Stay home. Stay safe. Stay creative. We will get through this.
Colleen Shoup is the art teacher at the Eaton Rapids Greyhound Intermediate School.
A PDF version of this blog is available here: An Art Teacher’s Perspective on Remote Learning
The Practice of Adaptation – A Series in Four Disciplines, Part 2 Using MAEIA Performance Assessments for Online Teaching
As stated before, we find ourselves in unprecedented times and with the possibility of adapting your teaching to online platforms, we at MAEIA are here for you. In a previous posting we asked educators to...
As stated before, we find ourselves in unprecedented times and with the possibility of adapting your teaching to online platforms, we at MAEIA are here for you.
In a previous posting we asked educators to review the MAEIA performance assessments and share those that might work as reverse engineering for lesson planning. Now, we have gone one step further and suggested some lesson ideas.
These lesson ideas were designed specifically for adaptation to learning outside of the classroom. There are suggestions for online learning, learning by mail, and learning by phone. The Fine Arts disciplines of Dance, Music, Theatre and Visual Art are included with a lesson idea for lower and upper grade levels.
In the very least, we hope these lesson ideas help spark your thinking about how teaching Dance, Music, Theatre and Visual Art can exist within a digital environment.
We truly hope to provide resources and support to arts teachers at this unique time of learning. To that end, we also invite you to share what you are doing to adapt to this differentiated learning in the time of COVID 19. Find us on Facebook and Twitter, comment with your favorite links or anecdotes. We are all in this together!
Contributing authors: Heather Vaughan Southard, Joni Starr, Amy Pobanz, and Cathy DePentu
A PDF version of this blog post is availble here: The Practice of Adaptation – A Series in Four Disciplines, Part 2 – Using MAEIA Performance Assessments for Online Teaching
Arts Education Resources during COVID-19
In light of COVID-19 and our commitment to support arts educators and families, the MAEIA social media pages will be ramping up our posts sharing tools and resources to keep kids creating. Find us on
In light of COVID-19 and our commitment to support arts educators and families, the MAEIA social media pages will be ramping up our posts sharing tools and resources to keep kids creating. Find us on Facebook and Twitter, share our posts, and comment with your favorite links or anecdotes. We are all in this together!
Here are a few of our favorite resources to get you started:
- Arts Education Partnership
- Lincoln Center Pop Up Classrooms
- Kennedy Center Arts Education Resources
- Special Education and the Arts
- Resources for Caregivers at Home
- Ailey All Access
- Dance Performances Online compiled by Dance Magazine
- Mark Morris Dance Center classes online for children and teens with and without disability
- Lansing Symphony Orchestra at Home Series
- Omaha Symphony virtual classroom
- Music Resources for Kids at Home compiled by USA Today
- National Theatre at Home to release streams of Frankenstein, Starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller
- Lin-Manual Miranda Announces Virtual School Program, #EduHam at Home
- The Globe Theatre at Home
A PDF version of this blog post can be found here: Arts Education Resources during COVID-19
The Practice of Adaptation – A Series in Four Disciplines Using MAEIA Performance Assessments for Online Teaching
As we find ourselves in unprecedented times, with the possibility of adapting your teaching to online platforms, we at MAEIA are here for you. Though our assessment catalog is not a bank of lesson plans,...
As we find ourselves in unprecedented times, with the possibility of adapting your teaching to online platforms, we at MAEIA are here for you.
Though our assessment catalog is not a bank of lesson plans, the following assessment items might provide a start from which you can reverse engineer the content you would first teach. With a vast number of video resources now being shared online, we as educators have an even greater opportunity to focus on the standards related to Create and Respond.
Using compositional and reflective units can be effective in helping students process what they are experiencing and they allow us to reinforce for our students why the arts matter and the function they can serve us personally as well as pre-professionally. As such, changes to item prompts could lead students into themselves using dance as a means to convey all they are currently holding.
We, at MAEIA, also recognize that online instruction will not be an effective strategy for all of our students in Michigan. We do, however, feel the following items might be helpful given the current state of education.
Below you’ll find select performance assessments in Dance, Visual Art, Theatre and Music that can speak directly to the Create and Respond elements. These items are also easily adapted for grade spans other than those listed, which can be useful for differentiation and meeting the needs of more students.
We made these selections with the belief that they could transition more easily to virtual contexts. Many include tasks that students can do by themselves, including making a video to send to their teacher. Also, students can use found objects, include siblings/parents in group work, and use available online resources for reference and research.
In the very least, we hope these assessment items help spark your thinking about how teaching Dance, Visual Art, Theatre and Music can exist within a digital environment.
A PDF version of this blog post can be found here: The Practice of Adaptation – A Series in Four Disciplines
Contributing authors: Heather Vaughan Southard, Joni Starr, Amy Pobanz, Cathy DePentu and Holly Olszweski
Joni Starr: Courageous Creativity – Everything is Waiting for You
This is an unprecedented time. Our regular routine has been disrupted, human interactions are minimized and our relationship to the future has been compromised. The question is: Who do you choose to be in response?...
This is an unprecedented time. Our regular routine has been disrupted, human interactions are minimized and our relationship to the future has been compromised. The question is: Who do you choose to be in response?
In times of conflict and uncertainty artists have captured the moment and reflected life through their art forms:
– Kathie Kollwitz depicted German peasant revolutions in her paintings.
– Athol Fugard wrote plays denouncing apartheid in South Africa.
– Joan Baez demonstrated against the Vietnam War as a singer/songwriter.
– Kurt Jooss made dances depicting the futility of peach negotiations.
These individuals moved beyond preservation and survival and expressed a strong courageous creativity. They embraced their artistic imagination and found artistry as a way of living. I believe this is something we can do today for our students and for ourselves. We can examine what it means to deepen and broaden our idea of creativity and artistry.
For me the first step is inspiration. What keeps knocking at the door of my consciousness? Is it big and important, something existential? Is it small and mundane, something repetitious? Is it deep and thoughtful, something familial? Is it broad and expansive, something unreachable?
I listen to this knocking and invite it into my thought. I allow it to motivate me. I let it grow into something more tangible, then I can move it around in my own hands – next, I find I am making something. Something that connects to the world around me and reflects how I feel about it. Something unprecedented.
This is the creative process. Sometimes it is as quick as lightning, often it moves through us slowly like sap down the tree. Always it is unpredictable, like our currently unpredictable times.
One of my favorite poets, David Whyte, writes a poem titled, Everything Is Waiting For You. It prompts us to think about our place and how it is ripe with possibility. I find it comforting as I sequester in my home, listening for the starting point of inspiration, and beginning my courageous creative journey. I hope you, too, begin your journey.
Everything Is Waiting For You
Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice. You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.
Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the
conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.
From Everything is Waiting for You
2003 Many Rivers Press
Joni Starr serves as Administrative Coordinator of Arts Integrated Learning for Ingham ISD and as a Teaching Artist for the Wharton Center in Theatre and Dance.
A downloadable PDF of this article is available here: Joni Starr: Courageous Creativity – Everything is Waiting for You
Cathy DePentu: “No Music Without Fun, No Fun Without Music” as the theme for a concert….
What does that even mean? Does it mean we just have fun all the time? No. Does it mean that we don’t work at what we do? Absolutely not. Does it mean that I...
What does that even mean? Does it mean we just have fun all the time? No. Does it mean that we don’t work at what we do? Absolutely not. Does it mean that I couldn’t figure out a way to link all these great pieces for our upcoming concert with a theme? …well, maybe.
But beyond that, this is a phrase that has meant a lot to me since I discovered it more than ten years ago…
Ask most of my students- I can be pretty intense about what we do together. I can be loud (but mostly harmless) and can often jump from one musical concept to another, with a strange analogy thrown in for good measure. I can be serious one moment, and march with a violin (or a stuffed horse) one moment later. We paint musical pictures. We talk about the story behind the notes, the color or shape we want to convey as we play. We start with the end product in mind, and decide together how to get there. We use the MAEIA Assessments as some of our tools for problem solving…a favorite is “Performance Critique” which gives us a common vocabulary and standard for evaluating what we hear as musicians.
After we have this color, or picture in mind, we figure out how to create it with our instruments. Bow Placement, Bow Weight and Bow Speed are the tools we have to work with, but somehow, talking about lanes of traffic on the string, sending the sound to Toledo and scrubbing the silver off the string seems to be equally effective and a bit less clinical as we work…it can even be “FUN”.
Our Chamber Music Project, also a MAEIA Assessment Task, is an activity that promotes independent musicianship, collaborative skills and the ability to use all of the skills we learn and practice in class. It is a pretty hefty playing test, culminating in a class recital, but the kids look forward to it. Once you teach students what they are listening for, help them discover the specific tools to use and instill a willingness to be vulnerable and explore without fear of failure, they truly begin to embrace this challenge and have “FUN”. And isn’t that what learning is about?
I am in love with teaching music. I am more in love with teaching the “art-centric” process of thinking and learning. Through the art of performing we use: persistence, collaboration, creative thought, self-analysis, critical thinking and problem solving. We learn to fail and try again, to fall and get back up. We learn that doing less than your best is not an option. In short, we learn all of the skills and strategies necessary to be a productive, resourceful human being. All of these characteristics easily transfer to any profession or subject.
Whew, that was a heavy paragraph…it all comes down to one thing. We GET to make music together. We GET to have fun while we do it. We GET to be better versions of ourselves because of it. “No music without fun, no fun without music.”
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: Cathy DePentu: “No Music Without Fun, No Fun Without Music” as the theme for a concert….
Holly Olzsewski: Who’s teaching whom? Using assessment to build relationships in the classroom
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
Carrie Jeruzal: “Making it Work” for Students with Learning Differences
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.
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
Zach Vandergraaff – 5 Ways MAEIA Assessments Can Improve Your Teaching
“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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
2019 MAEIA Institute
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.