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Joni Starr: Courageous Creativity – Everything is Waiting for You

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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:

  • – Kathe 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 peace 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.

David Whyte

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

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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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Cathy DePentu: Career-long Learning

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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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Cheryl L. Poole: Co-Creation as a Process

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Cheryl L. Poole is an educator with more than 40 years of experience in visual arts, museum administration and facilitating professional learning. She has had the honor of working with educators in the MAEIA project...

Cheryl L. Poole is an educator with more than 40 years of experience in visual arts, museum administration and facilitating professional learning. She has had the honor of working with educators in the MAEIA project over the last 5 years.

Hundreds of Educators Contributing to an Exceptional Outcome

I believe that no one of us is the ultimate expert in our field. While it makes the process slow and somewhat cumbersome, I hold firmly to the idea that the more individuals with the rights of revision that are involved in a project, the more authentic the results. The MAEIA assessments are a prime example of hundreds of educators contributing to the co-creation of a body of exceptional work.

Observing the Process

For four years (2013-2016), I was involved as support in the creation of all of the MAEIA assessments. I confess I wasn’t one of the great minds that created them but I had the privilege of observing the collaborative process from which the assessments sprung. What I observed was some of the very best work I’ve seen in nearly 40 years of working with adults.

First Steps of Co-Creation

Beginning the process required a clear sense of aspiration, a lot of inspiration, and more than a little faith.

The creation of the assessments began in the spring of 2013. Volunteers representing the disciplines of dance, music, theatre and visual arts convened to first understand the mission of MAEIA. Then work was divided among teams of 6-8 educators spanning the continuum of K-12, higher education, educational administration, and teaching artists.

Together, they:
-pondered the scope of the MAEIA project,
-learned the expectations of their roles as creators of assessments,
-received their targeted standards, and
-departed with tight timelines for finalizing assessments in each of their fields of expertise.

I recall the teams leaving that first day with more than a little apprehension about the tasks at hand. It was unclear at that point in time how many would come through with enough draft assessments needed to realize MAEIA’s mission.

Working Together Separately

Connected only through online channels, the creators of the assessments drew on the breadth of their experiences to imagine arts performances that could be measured and how that measurement could happen. They identified criteria to measure and determined what degrees would meet and surpass expectations. Every assessment was one of group effort and iterative refinement.

Through this process, practitioners became writers. Writers became reviewers. Both waded into the demands of revising, field-testing and revising again. Dozens rose to the demands of creating performance assessments where none existed previously. And as nearly always happens, leaders stepped up to drive the project forward.

Growth Through the Process of Co-creation

When I look back on the organic nature of the process of these adults learning new skills and challenging each other, I watched how most of them gradually developed new skills beyond their “day jobs”. Practitioners diving deeply into unfamiliar processes joined forces to encourage and support one another; living up to the expectations they held for themselves and one another.

The Co-creation Continues

The results of their work, 360 performance assessments in the arts, are available free.

These creations continue to be works in progress. Submitting your opinions and suggestions for improvement give them more visibility and often a greater level of relevancy. When YOU use them and revise them to fit your instructional plan, you bring your expertise to the process, and the work continues to develop.

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Delivering Quality Feedback to Students and Educators

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Quality feedback is key to progress for students and educators. Developing a method which inspires the recipient to get back to work can be difficult, especially in the age of standardization and fast-paced school and...

Quality feedback is key to progress for students and educators. Developing a method which inspires the recipient to get back to work can be difficult, especially in the age of standardization and fast-paced school and office dynamics.

Choreographer Liz Lerman, founder of what is now called Dance Exchange, created a process which I have found beneficial in-part and in-whole within many educational and social contexts.

Functional for all disciplines, the goal of this process is to improve the dialogue about the things we make. I have found that by placing critical conversations into objective scenarios, or by using the product of work to lead into discussions of habits of mind and patterns of behavior or artistry, we can use the tools of art-making to develop self-actualization. This isn’t new to the art educator, but perhaps a structured process for delivering feedback may be.

From Clara Martinez, a Teaching Artist working in Dance:
“As an educator I enjoy and look forward to using Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process with K-12 students in schools, in the community, and in private studios. It allows the students who may not identify purely as athletes or technicians to have a sense of involvement beyond their bodies within physical work. This process presents an opportunity for them to delve into their observational skills and sense of inquiry, and participate in an informative discussion about how to create art and express themselves in an embodied way, and not simply criticize one’s training or physical skillsets.  After experiencing this process a few times, students are more intrigued and excited to make dances that come from a place of questioning as opposed to demonstrating competence to one another. “

The Critical Response Process (CRP) by Liz Lerman is available via The Dance Exchange or Amazon.

Roles and Process
In short, the CRP includes three roles (artist, audience, facilitator) and four stages.

The process includes:

1. Statements of Meaning; 2. Artist as Questioner; 3. Neutral Questions; and 4. Opinion Time.

For the purpose of educator effectiveness, the teacher and administrator could focus on the four stages and attempt to hold each other accountable for facilitating the conversation in the order the stages work best.

The intent of the questions within the four stages reframes the participants into roles of inquiry rather than mastery with declarations of what should or should not change. The hierarchy of audience (responder/administrator) determining the value of what is made shifts to bring awareness and discussion of to the intentions of the work (teaching) and whether the process produced an effective outcome.

An Overview of CRP within Teacher Observation and Evaluation
Within the process of teacher observation, a follow-up meeting would begin with the administrator stating what they witnessed to be valuable and could be followed by the teacher’s explanation of what was happening in relation to content, management, and standards. This stage of the CRP alone highlights what the administrator sees, perhaps revealing how the teacher could further explain their discipline and provide more information thus moving toward a deeper shared understanding.

Next, teachers could inquire about evidence of specific goals they were aiming for within their lesson or practice. Having the opportunity to drive the conversation places the teacher within a more active role within this process. In my experience, this illuminates the rigor of the preparation and depth of planning within their teaching while also creating a more dynamic relationship with the administrator.

For me, this created a more professional and harmonious balance to the experience deepening the sense that the evaluation process really is for me and not being done to me.

Neutral questions posed by the administrator continue the conversation, again highlighting the values of the administrator in a way that they are at-play-with and in consideration of the values of the teacher.

Lastly, opinions are welcomed if permitted by the artist (maker/educator). Agency continues to be one of the keys which unlocks the potential for quality feedback. If we aren’t open to hearing it, we aren’t able to apply it, making the delivery and content of quality feedback important.

In our Demonstrating Educator Effectiveness pilot meeting on May 24th, we’ll be moving through this process as a means for reconstructing Administrator-Educator Dialogue and as a tool for the arts classroom.

Interested in MAEIA Assessment Items related to Response processes?

Dance
D.T413 Critical Response Process

Critical Response Process

Music
M.T207 Music Listening Response

Music Listening Response

Theatre
M.E416 Theme Response- On Musicals

Theme Response—On Musicals

Visual Arts
M.E438 What’s the Big Idea

What’s the Big Idea?

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Introducing the MAEIA Leadership Fellows

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The MAEIA project, with generous support from the Michigan Council on Arts and Cultural Affairs and the Michigan Department of Education, assists school districts, buildings, educators,...

The MAEIA project, with generous support from the Michigan Council on Arts and Cultural Affairs and the Michigan Department of Education, assists school districts, buildings, educators, and the public in implementing a high quality arts education program in dance, music, theatre, and visual arts for all K-12 students.

We would like to introduce the MAEIA Leadership Fellows, a cadre of arts educators prepared with general and specialized professional development presentations and personalized coaching strategies to elevate the arts education programs offered in Michigan schools and beyond using the MAEIA resources.

The MAEIA Leadership Fellows work collaboratively and individually to offer presentations in virtual, face-to-face, general and specialized formats.

We proudly present the following educators with a sampling of their presentation and consulting topics:

Elizabeth Andrews: MAEIA Overview for Dance and Theatre, Moving to Learn: Kinesthetic Intelligence in the Classroom, Engaging with Community Organizations and Teaching Artists, Artful Thinking in All Classrooms, Philanthropy In and Through the Arts

Rebecca Arndt:  MAEIA Overview for Music, Using PBIS in a Music Setting, Music Curriculum

Hedy Blatt: Public Relations for Arts Educators, Organizational and Classroom Management Strategies for Arts Educators, Arts Events Planning, Arts Advocacy Strategies

Tammi Browning: MAEIA Overview for Visual Arts, Demonstrating Educator Effectiveness with MAEIA Resources, How MAEIA Tools can be used by Community Partners and Teaching Artists

Cynthia Clingman: MAEIA Overview, Literacy, Demonstrating Educator Effectiveness

Cathy DePentu: MAEIA Overview for Music, Educator Effectiveness using MAEIA Resources

Cecilia Gollan: MAEIA Overview for Visual Arts, Using SLOs, MAEIA Resrouces, Student Portfolio and Electronic Data Systems to Demonstrate Educator Effectiveness

Debra Henning: MAEIA Overview for Interdisciplinary Studies, STEAM, Collaborating with Community Partners

Carrie Jeruzal: Demonstrating Educator Effectiveness with SLO writing and Bundled Assessments, Feminist Art-Based Visual Arts Curriculum, East Asian Art-Based Visual Arts Curriculum, Empty Bowls Community Outreach Programming, Fiber Arts Education for Middle School Students

James Mobley: Demonstrating Growth of Students and Educators in Music, Getting the Most Jazz Out of your Rock Drummer, Maximizing Technology in your Music Classroom Using One Device

Holly Olszewski: MAEIA Overview for Music, Music Curriculum

Beth Post: MAEIA Overview in Dance, K-12 Dance Education, K-12 Arts Integration, Collaborating with Community Partners and Teaching Artists

Cindy Swan-Eagan: Music Education, MAEIA Resources

Margaret Theile: MAEIA Program Review Tool and Resources, Music Development and Cognition, Rhythm Instruction for Assisting Elementary At-Risk Readers, Demonstrating Educator Effectiveness using the MAEIA Resources, Public Policy and Music Education

Soon, you’ll be able to read more about each of the Fellows as well as their direct contact information on a dedicated Fellows page on the MAEIA website. For now, please contact us to schedule professional development presentations and more at the Contact Us link at the top of the page.

Thanks, again, to the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs for providing the support needed to develop the MAEIA Leadership Fellows program.

 

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For Your Listening Pleasure: Arts/Education Podcasts

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Podcasts are taking the world by storm and since spring break is here or near, try out the following podcasts to keep your creative embers burning.

Podcasts are taking the world by storm and since spring break is here or near, try out the following podcasts to keep your creative embers burning.

Artfully Speaking: Lectures and Workshops on the Arts and Education by ARTSEDGE: The Kennedy Center’s Arts Education Network on itunes.

ArtEd Radio by the Art of Ed

Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

The Edupreneur Podcast

Hyperallergic’s list of Art and Culture podcast episodes

Movers and Shapers by the Moving Architects

Playbill’s list of Theatre podcasts to be listening to

Tim Topham’s list of Music education podcasts creating modern musicians

What are YOU listening to? Share your favorite podcasts in the comments.

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Michigan Dance Council: Elevate Dance!

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This past Sunday, dancers leaders from around Michigan gathered at the Happendance School to address new initiatives and to gather input about what Michigan Dance Professionals need, including in the K-12 sector. The MAEIA tools...

This past Sunday, dancers leaders from around Michigan gathered at the Happendance School to address new initiatives and to gather input about what Michigan Dance Professionals need, including in the K-12 sector.

The MAEIA tools will play a role in MDC’s advancement of program supports and education for all dance students. We were excited to share these resources to a room of professionals ranging from higher education, private studios, K-12, dance in healthcare, and commercial dance sectors.

Photographed: Greg Patterson, Chair of the Department of Dance, Oakland University and President of Michigan Dance Council.

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