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Recent Blogs & Online Sources by Carrie Jeruzal

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

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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:

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

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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 


  • 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:


  • Seesaw

  • Remini

 Other blog posts that may be helpful:

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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Carrie Jeruzal: Redesign- Make it Bad, Then Make it Better

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Just like great art, great art education is often inspired by personal experiences. But, not always in the way one might expect…. A couple of years ago my oldest daughter’s class was holding a...

Just like great art, great art education is often inspired by personal experiences. But, not always in the way one might expect….

A couple of years ago my oldest daughter’s class was holding a bake sale during a community event as a fundraiser for a field trip. I don’t have much confidence or experience in baking so I thought this one “treat recipe” that I found online would be cute, easy and perfect for a busy mom like me. Well, it wasn’t so easy and I messed it up terribly. Turns out candy kisses look the same slightly melted as they do burnt and one should not let them stay in the oven, “just a little bit longer!”

So I took a deep breath, ate some burnt chocolate, regained my strength and senses and decided to persist by getting creative with my odd sense of humor. So, tongue-in-cheek, I created a new recipe embracing the struggle. I called it “Mommy Can’t Bake Mix”.

Mommy Can’t Bake Mix
Step 1: Wait till the last minute to make baked goods for your daughter’s bake sale. Go to the store at night when most of the other crazies and overworked moms are out.

Step 2: Look up easy recipe on phone that literally requires two minutes of baking time. Step 3: Screw up baking and throw tantrum / blame husband for no reason.

Step 4: Pout for a minimum of 5 minutes.

Step 5: Think to self, “Failure is Impossible,”- Susan B Anthony.

Step 6: Throw failed ingredients into a bag anyway along with random treats found in cupboard like pretzels, m&ms, crackers, marshmallows, croutons, cough drops, glitter, etc.

Step 7: Get computer genius husband to make cute labels.

Step 8: Put it on social media like a legit baking mom would.

The end.

If these treats were going to be bad, I was going to make them really bad. It became fun and funny. They became a novelty. I hoped people would buy them, not for the “treat” that was inside, but for the clever concept behind them. I ended up selling 5 bags! Turns out homemade brownies taste and sell better than clever concepts, however, I still counted success points in creativity!

So, what did I learn from this “lemons to lemonade” moment, and how did I apply it to art education? I learned that when the objective of a problem becomes to make something really bad, the doors of humor and creativity become wide open. That’s where I got the idea for my middle school “Redesign” learning unit which leads to the MAEAI V.T209 Performance Task: Redesign- Make it Bad, Then Make it Better. 

“Redesign” Learning Unit

Introduction: I start by introducing my students to the concept of object/product design, design thinking and the design process. We look at examples of everyday objects and talk about the differences between good design and bad design depending on factors such as the object’s intended use, intended customer, cost of materials, durability, demand, etc. All students share a story of a time when a product broke or failed. We also look at and describe the evolution of a product’s design such as a car, the telephone and the vacuum cleaner. Students get concrete examples as to how visual arts have inherent relationships to everyday life through these product designs. Then it’s time for students to engage in a 2-4 day performance task.

Performance Task V.T209: I start the task by asking students to all select a different everyday-manmade-designed-object by having them cut one out of a magazine ad. I have also modified the task by asking all students to start with the same object, such as a shoe. I have instructed students both ways and by settling on one object for everyone to focus on I do sacrifice the variety of outcomes, but I also save on time and the need for cutting and pasting materials. Either way, once the object is selected students are asked to reflect upon and explain the current relationship of the object to everyday life.

Then begins the fun part. Instruct students to make it bad. Invite them to redesign the product so that it is truly terrible by transforming it into something impractical, unappealing, and/or harder to use.

In order to do this, the student must recognize the object’s intended use and successful design attributes and design against them. I tell my students that as long as their ideas are school appropriate, (no potty humor, nothing mean spirited or overly violent), that there are no limits to their creativity! At first some of my more regimented students don’t quite understand me, they don’t believe that I’m actually telling them to make something bad. I have to clarify that they are exercising their creativity in a new way by thinking about a design problem from a fresh perspective.

By exploring what makes something really bad, you in turn are also open to exploring its opposite design, what might make it really good. Then lightbulbs. Then students sketch truly creative results that they can’t wait to share with the class.

“Shark Shoes”

One of my favorites created by a 6th grade girl was a design that we quickly knick-named, “Shark Shoes.” What would make a pair of shoes the most uncomfortable shoes ever? Well, the answer is tiny sharks swimming in the bottom of your shoes that would bite your toes all day, of course! Pair that with slippery seaweed soles and fish hook laces for added discomfort and you have a terribly creative design!

Students overwhelmingly enjoy this part of the process. They will fly around the room to share their ideas with everyone and anyone, each trying to one-up the others. It’s like I’m giving them permission to be silly and a little naughty and they love it! They reflect on their design through this verbal exchange and then in writing.

Then the next day the instructions flip. Students are asked to reimagine the design of their object to be even better than the current design. They must solve the problem of how to improve it. Again, there are no restraints to their creativity and they must reflect upon their design once it is complete. The first image above is a “good design” for a shoe that can not only adjust the temperature of your feet cooler or warmer depending on comfort zone required, but can emit four different pleasant fragrances including lavender and grape fizz from a secret compartment in the heel.

In conclusion, instructing to develop student creativity doesn’t always take a safe and expected path. Just like in real life, approaching a problem from a fresh point of view can open our minds and force us to think in new and interesting ways. Design problems can be fun and silly. Our best ideas sometimes arise from our failures when we give ourselves and our students the opportunity to flip the measure of success.


This task is one that I wrote for the Michigan Arts Education and Instruction and Assessment (MAEIA) project. Here are links to the complete task booklets available for V.T209.

Teacher Booklet
Student Booklet

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Chunk and Bundle: The Bundled Assessment Approach for Demonstrating Teacher Effectiveness by Carrie Jeruzal

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Navigating the world of assessment can be daunting, especially assessment in the arts.  Arts assessments come in a variety of forms, all dependent upon a variety of factors:  resources available, specific arts discipline, grade level,...

Navigating the world of assessment can be daunting, especially assessment in the arts.  Arts assessments come in a variety of forms, all dependent upon a variety of factors:  resources available, specific arts discipline, grade level, etc.  While information and research regarding assessment in the arts begins to mount, and the importance and pressure of reporting data from assessments becomes critical for demonstrating teacher effectiveness, I would like to offer up a “take a deep breath,” “let’s get organized and take it one step at a time,” practical approach to Visual Arts Assessment in the secondary classroom.  Chunk it and Bundle it.

I teach K-12 Art in a small rural public school that serves just under 300 students in the entire district.  I teach 2 hours of High School Art, 2 hours of Junior High Art, and 2 hours of Elementary Art each day.  Just writing that makes me tired!  Providing data on all these students at all of these different grade levels is too much and would literally become a full-time job on its own.  So to keep data management realistic, I have selected a small portion of my population from which to pull my data.  Since my High School students have a summative exam already worked into their semester schedule, the practical choice for me was to start with a selection of 16-25 high school students from which to pull data.

That’s right, instead of trying to pull data from all 200+ of my students, I focus in on a manageable set.

The data that I collect from these students is a bundle of 4 chunks:

  • MAEIA High School Level 1 Visual Art Performance Assessment Data
  • Digital Portfolio Performance Data using Google Classroom
  • Pre and Post Knowledge Data using Google Forms and Flubaroo add-on
  • Pre and Post Perception Data using Google Forms and Flubaroo add-on


This style of data collection requires forethought and organization at the very beginning of the school year.  I often incorporate my assessment plans right into my curriculum maps and I store the data digitally.  I also use an Student Learning Objective (SLO) document to serve as a kind of roadmap for my bundled approach.  Although this type of document may not be necessary in every district, I do find getting organized in the very beginning very helpful.

Also I feel using a bundled approach gives my students many options and chances for demonstrating their growth as opposed to relying upon a single assessment that may not be holistic.  It’s comforting to know that my students have multiple opportunities to demonstrate their growth by using 4 different assessment methods.

MAEIA Performance Task

This year my High School year long curriculum consists of three-dimensional art and design.  The MAEIA assessment that I selected was the V.T409 3-D Wire Sculpture.  After administering the task to my students, I collected performance assessment data by way of digital photos submitted to students’ Google Classroom Accounts.  I also collected numeric data (point scores or grades), based on the rubric included in the MAEIA assessment.  This process lasted approximately 5 class hours.  

Digital Portfolio

The second chunk of data that I collect is actually collected by my students.  Students post all of their work into a digital file organized and housed in their Google Classroom accounts.  When reporting my data I often have students select, print and document their own pre-proficient work and also proficient work.  This method allows students to visually self-assess their own learning and report that learning in a visual manner.  I use the 5 C’s strategy (Content, Craftsmanship, Creativity, Communication, Composition) to guide students through this evaluation process midway through the year and then again at the end of the year.  

20 Questions Pre and Post

This set of data regards Knowledge Data.  Think of a traditional multiple choice exam.  I select 20 questions mainly focused on knowledge of key terms, concepts and image recognition.  It is given within the first two weeks of school and then again during the final exam.  I use Google Forms to administer the test and the Flubaroo add-on to grade the assessment and then chart and report the data.  This chunk of data is collected fast; It only takes the students 15-20 minutes to complete.  Technology is a huge timesaver and the forms can be reused again when I re-teach the same curriculum.   

Perception of Growth Survey

The final set of data I collect and report is Pre- and Post-Perception Data.  

This answers the questions:

  • Does the student know and realize when he or she is meeting a standard?
  • Is he or she trying to meet a standard?
  • How does the learner perceive his or her own growth?  

This is where a student offers up a short narrative of his or her perceived growth.  

There is power not only in the numbers and visuals of student growth data, but also in the student’s own story.  Confidence, knowledge, experience, goals and learning in the arts are addressed in the student’s own voice.

Bundle up all these chunks of data in a cohesive digital dossier and present them to your administrator during your final evaluation to demonstrate your effectiveness in not one, but in four different ways.  This kind of data bundling presents visual, numerical and reflective narrative that all highlight the growth and learning of your students through cohesive methods.

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