Blogs & Online Sources: performance events
Cheryl L. Poole: A Value of a Rubric to the Teaching Artist……and Where to Find One
If someone wants something from me—a product or a performance—I’ve always been someone to do my best to deliver whatever is expected. The one caveat is that I need to be clear...
If someone wants something from me—a product or a performance—I’ve always been someone to do my best to deliver whatever is expected. The one caveat is that I need to be clear about what’s expected before I have a shot at delivering. Sometimes I’m shy about asking for an example or a very detailed description, but that’s the best way to ensure that I get it right. That is the purpose of a rubric, i.e. to be clear about what is expected and to ensure the best chance of delivering. However, a rubric goes a couple steps further. It provides some insights to a performance or product if it isn’t quite perfect. It helps to identify the characteristics of a performance that falls short of exemplary.
Rubrics have most recently been used by teachers in traditional classroom settings. How often is it used by teachers in nontraditional settings? For example, how often do teaching artists or instructors in community organizations use the tool that will make their expectations as transparent as possible for students? What gets in the way of their using them even if the benefit is quite clear?
The teaching artist might find the creation of rubrics a bit overwhelming especially if teaching is only a small part of their overall professional role. To create a rubric an artist/instructor must reflect first on exactly how he/she will recognize a high quality performance. That reflection then has to be articulated in descriptive words that a student will understand. While obviously beneficial to determine and articulate the description ahead of time, the visiting artist might well find creating a rubric from scratch to be a large expense of time.
Michigan Arts Education Instruction and Assessment (MAEIA) provides already-created rubrics with each and every one of its 360+ assessments. They are free and easily accessible through maeia-artsednetwork.org. It’s important to recognize that the MAEIA rubrics are created to specifically align with the assessment with which it is listed. While all 360+ rubrics are well written by Michigan educators, they are not generic in nature. However, they do provide a starting point for the visiting artist who may not have the time or inclination to learn the skill of creating a rubric.
To locate an appropriate MAEIA rubric, a teaching artist or instructor would first search the assessment catalogue on maeia-artsednetwork.org in the major discipline about which they are teaching; dance, music, theater and visual arts. The list can be filtered down further by grade level. A long list of assessments appear on the screen. The teaching artist can click on and review each assessment that peaks their interest or relates to the skills on which the artist/instructor and the student(s) are working. After finding and clicking on an appropriate assessment, a rubric is visible that was created for that particular assessment. It is an easy and free access to a large range of already-created rubrics.
An easily-accessible rubric does not guarantee that is will fit exactly with the performance or product expectations of the teaching artist. It is only a carefully created articulation of outcomes in a table form. The indicators on the left may need to change or be eliminated altogether. The descriptions of each quality level may also need to be tweaked. Both indicators and quality descriptors will need to reflect the expectations of the teaching artist who is doing the teaching.
In summary, even a non-traditional teacher like a teaching artist or studio instructor can clarify the expectations that they have for their students by using a rubric. They can help the student understand what they are seeking and what it looks like to do well. A teacher serving in a non-traditional role doesn’t need to feel overwhelmed at the prospect of starting from scratch to create a rubric. Hundreds of rubrics are posted with associated assessments on maeia-artsednetwork.org. The critical issue is to find one that most closely aligns with your instruction and expected performance or outcomes. That may take a bit of work using the search feature in the assessment catalogue but, once one is found, it is totally permissible to download it and revise it in ways that fit your expectations of your students.
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 pleasure of working with educators in the MAEIA project over the last 6 years.
A downloadable pdf of this article is available here: Cheryl L. Poole A Value of a Rubric.
Michael Letts: Art as Energy!
One integral aspect of many MAEIA assessment items is time limits. Sometimes this may seem unnatural, high pressure, or “test-oriented.” But in the arts, limiting time can often...
One integral aspect of many MAEIA assessment items is time limits. Sometimes this may seem unnatural, high pressure, or “test-oriented.” But in the arts, limiting time can often be good, can even be liberating, and can spur creativity.
Creativity is not just coming up with new ideas. In fact, there are few if any truly new ideas. Usually creative concepts are changes to existing ideas. We can invert an idea, or synthesize it with another idea, or magnify it, apply it to a different purpose. Creativity is change.
Time limits are part of many art forms. Music, drama, and dance are all time based. In visual arts, time limits may seem less appropriate. But, a common question from new art teachers is “what do I do with students who finish early?” That can be a real concern, until we learn to structure visual arts lessons in terms of process, to consider that time is of the essence.
Creative Process as Time and Energy
It is often said the first idea is the worst idea. It is the first thing that comes to mind. It may even be a cliché. It is first because it is the idea we already know. But, it does have some value: it is a start.
So, we change it, we modify, combine, repurpose, transform, extend, or oppose (flip) it. Creative ideas don’t come to us like magic, fully formed. Creativity is what we do with ideas, how we edit, transcend, and develop them. Creativity is really about process. Great works of art come from artists so committed to process that they cannot stop processing ideas until something fresh emerges.
Therefore, we need be sure to teach process, not just product. A product goal is a goal already conceived. Creativity is also finding a new goal. We don’t always just want to get to a product, we want to create a process that leaves artifacts as evidence of a unique trail of thought. Then we arrive at creativity that can flow without a beginning or end.
The great artist/educator Thomas Hirschorn took the idea of a monument and redefined it. Traditional monuments are permanent structures that create and honor memories. Hirschorn flipped the “permanent” part of monuments and came up with the idea of a temporary monument. And he didn’t design it himself. He designed a process and let the people of the community create their monument. The idea was “monument”, but also was “temporary”; it had a time limit. A time limit can be a very empowering idea: we know when it is over. It eliminates the pressure of judgement of the “final product”. It is done when it fills the time, when the energy has been applied and sustained, and the artifact or outcome is the experience: the power of process, the real memory, not the object.
Hirschorn also came up with a great concept to define art: “Quality no, Energy yes!” He says quality is a characteristic of a product, but art is about energy. This is true when we consider that art is communication of ideas and emotion, empathy and expression; the true completion of art lies in also presenting (one of the process categories of the National Arts Standards), not only creating. The impact art makes in experience and ideas is the ultimate value. We make art to communicate and express.
Energy can take the form of time spent. The real goal of most artists is to spend their time making their art. When one piece is done, they don’t quit with relief, they start another. The value for the artist is in the creative thought, the time spent. The goal is to be creative, not to be done being creative. And more and more, for contemporary artists, the real creation is of a process which produces an artifact.
Oliver Herring, in his Art 21 episodes, says he doesn’t care about “the medium or the object…I really care about the process.” His “Task Party” process is one of play; “Play- it’s a thing we put on hold because we get distracted by so many things.” As educators, we know play is a primary learning process. Daniel Pink has identified play as one of the “Six Senses” of right brain creative thought. Picasso famously said “Every child is an artist…”. Herring says “everyone is a creative agent.” Children love play time. Tell a child to go play for an hour, and give them something to play with, and they will fill the hour with energy. Herring simply provides time and materials in his Task Parties and people bring the energy and infectious play.
Time is a major component of systems to structure energy. Ask any musician. Time in the art studio also is identified in Harvard Project Zero as a key benefit of visual arts education, one of the “studio habits of mind”: “engage and persist”. Inspire to play, to explore ideas, we engage and persist. The process of art is often playful search and research, an exploration. Exploring is grounded in play. It doesn’t end when you have a product, it ends when you run out of time.
How can we structure a visual arts lesson to target systems of time and energy as an objective?
Some of my most successful visual arts lessons use structured systems of time and energy as objectives. I think of them as creative systems and as “art problems”: play with a purpose, a structured exploration rather than an “assignment.” Assignment sounds like something you do for work, not play. I like the word “problem.” In math, a problem is about learning a process as much as finding a solution. The successful math answer is evidence that the student knows the process. Why not think of an art project of the evidence of engaging and persisting in a process? Energy, yes! Many less than successful art pieces look like they just lack real engagement or involvement by the artist, for whatever reason.
Time limits can force us to be more creative. If we have all the time in the world, we will search our mind for that next decision, that next best move, the right answer. But the answer is not there. In our mind is only what we already know. With a time limit, we must go back to our play state, make a random decision, go with it, play with it, and then decide what it means and see how it works: the process of discovery. Limits of time and of materials will force new analogies.
As my young son once told me when I asked him what he would do if he wasn’t so lucky to have all his cool toys- he didn’t miss a beat: “It’s okay dad, I’d just go outside and play with sticks.” Play was the experience, not the object, the process not the toy or artifact.
Time limits also give your students freedom and deniability. They do what they can with the time given, the goal is to make it through the process and have something to show for it, and to describe the decision-making process. The art from each student can be unique and surprising, not a replica of something that some other artist already did better than they can. It will be their voice.
In one of my recent MAEIA presentations, I had a group of teachers do a timed collage, based on a MAEIA visual arts performance event. At the end, much of the group discussion was around the feelings and outcomes we encountered because of the time limit. The teachers were interested and surprised by the effect of a timed project. The project was loosely based on the collage-based Performance Event “Communicating an Idea”. If art is about communicating, then this item gets right to the core of our purpose! Don’t be afraid of timed projects and assessments, and take a look at the MAIEA assessments to inspire your own use of time systems to inspire your teaching and students.
Michael Letts is an Associate Professor of Art Education at Northern Michigan University as well as a MAEIA Leadership Fellow.
A downloadable pdf of this post is here: Michael Letts: Art as Energy!
Cecilia Gollan: How MAEIA has Made Me a Better Teacher (Part 1)
If you were to stand outside my classroom or talk to kids that take my classes, you would get the impression that I know what I am doing. Kids would make comments about how they...
If you were to stand outside my classroom or talk to kids that take my classes, you would get the impression that I know what I am doing. Kids would make comments about how they like my class and want to take more art. Well, that is all true. Personally, however, I feel that I am not a master teacher and can always do better.
An Invitation to Elevate
Back in 2011, there was this survey about arts education came out and I told my principal I was filling it out. Little did I know, I would become a part of this project called MAEIA. I am not sure how it came about, but I applied to become a part a meeting with other art teachers from across the state.
I remember sitting in my first meeting as a blueprint writer. I was in awe and a little intimidated by the brain power in the room. I had heard of some of these names, but had never met them. It was pretty amazing. As the day went on, our task unfolded. We were going to create a gold standard plan for four arts disciplines in Michigan. All I could think about was how exciting this MAEIA thing was going to be for the arts programs in our state and I was going to be a part of it.
I started as a blueprint writer. During this process, I learned how to better express myself in order to have a greater impact on arts classrooms, including my own. I researched to see what was happening in our state and across the country to support our recommendations.
Next, a program review tool was created to help districts and schools take a deeper look at their arts programs. I tested this on my own visual arts teachers. The results were similar to what I expected. I was able to share my results with my superintendent and he then was able to look deeper at our programing.
Around the same time an assessment specifications document was created which looked at state curriculum and national standards to suggest ways to assess students. This process helped me to look at what I was doing in my own classroom and reevaluate my assessment processes.
As these documents were written I don’t think is was until we started writing the high school assessments that I was able to reflect on my teaching and see the benefits of this project. The process of connecting the standards with a way to assess students that let me see my practices needed a 2.0 version.
At that point, I had been teaching middle school for 19 years. I had always strived to change things up and be innovative in my classroom. It is amazing what diving into state and national standards does for your classroom practices. As I worked through the writing of first high school, and then K-8 assessments, I also switched from teaching middle school to high school. I was a veteran teacher, but really felt like it was my first year. As I made this switch and needed to familiarize myself with the state standards I was relieved that I had these assessments as my finger tips.
The best part of this project and MAEIA assessments is that they are adaptable to our current practices and projects. I found that it was easy to slip in an assessment when I could search for one that was related to what was already planned.
Fast forward to October 2017, I am still a part of MAEIA. I am a Leadership Fellow- sharing these resources with teachers, administrators, districts, and cultural organizations who want to advance creativity in education. I am also a Team Lead for the Collaborative Scoring System pilot. Along the journey of MAEIA there has been many parts to make it what it is today. I have been fortunate to have been involved in many of them.
Margaret Thiele: Go Get Lost!
I recently relocated to a new city. Except for the heat, which made for a very long two days in loading and unloading everything, this move has gone smoothly. Relocating to a new city not...
I recently relocated to a new city. Except for the heat, which made for a very long two days in loading and unloading everything, this move has gone smoothly. Relocating to a new city not only requires moving all my earthly possessions, but it also means finding new doctors, dentists, stores and more. While the internet is great, and I do have navigation systems on my phone and in my car that will lead me directly to where I want to go, I have found that if I just get in my car and take the risk of getting lost, I learn so much more about the area.
For one thing, I find new ways to get home, which is definitely helpful with summer construction and detours that seem to pop up all over. But even more helpful, I find new sites worthy of investigation such an amazing park, an interesting boutique, intriguing eateries, or other helpful businesses to keep in mind for future needs—such as a shop where I can get my bicycle repaired. It does require more time than if I used my GPS and travel the direct route, however, I never really realized how helpful it could be to get lost.
The MAEIA Connection
When it comes to exploring the MAEIA website, it helps to just go get lost. The MAEIA website provides an excellent search engine for locating exactly what you need for an assessment, such as: the specific concept, discipline, grade level, or Content Standard. In addition, you can do a keyword search if you are only vaguely sure of what you want in an assessment. But, to become really familiar with the assessments I recommend getting lost.
Just dive in and start reading through the assessments. You will always be able to find your way back to the home page, no problem. You certainly will become more familiar with assessments in order to answer questions and guide participants when conducting a face-to-face.
You will likely find many other helpful items along the way, such as: ideas for teaching that you might want to modify for a different grade or discipline, ideas for integrating other topics/disciplines into your own teaching or for assisting classroom teachers, or maybe an assessment to keep in mind for future reference—when you try out that new unit you have been thinking about.
It will take a time commitment, and if you don’t have the time at the moment you can always take the direct route with the easy navigation tools at the top of the Browse MAEIA Model Assessments page. However, if you take the time to explore, you will find it to be time well spent. So go ahead, just get lost!
A downloadable pdf of this article is available here MThiele_GoGetLost.
Thinking about Demonstrating Educator Effectiveness?
It is that time of year again! With the beginning of the school year, comes the development of Individual Development Plans for teachers. Last year, we recorded multiple webinars related to Demonstrating Educator Effectiveness. Topics...
It is that time of year again! With the beginning of the school year, comes the development of Individual Development Plans for teachers.
Last year, we recorded multiple webinars related to Demonstrating Educator Effectiveness. Topics covered included: How to create a sample of students for data collection, how to collect data, writing SLOs, documenting instruction, and how to prepare to present data in a final meeting with an administrator.
You can find those webinar presentations here. Look for the Demonstrating Educator Effectiveness series preceded by numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 for the order in which they were offered.
Best of luck on a smooth entry to the 2017-18 academic year!
Cheryl Poole: Watching as They Assembled the MAEIA Tools
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 pleasure of working with educators in the MAEIA...
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 pleasure of working with educators in the MAEIA project over the last 5 years.
Watching as They Assembled the MAEIA Tools
Sometimes you don’t what tools you need until you start the work.
In 2012, I had recently retired from an ISD position when a friend enticed me to give just a ‘bit of time’ to a new project being directed by the Michigan Assessment Consortium. It was the very beginning of the Michigan Arts Education, Instruction, and Assessment project. Ultimately, working for MAEIA became the most satisfying experience of my 40+ year career in arts and education.
I met with the early leadership team in late fall to acquire a description of the project I was thinking about joining. Over the subsequent five years, I’ve reflected on that initial description of the project…and the evolving dialogue. Although that early leadership team was describing for me the goal of the MAEIA project, they were also clarifying and elaborating on it for themselves. What I heard that day anchored my understanding of the project and has been the context of my work with MAEIA since then.
It started with a rumor. While, personally, I was in the meaning-making stage of joining this project, I was also watching four great minds with diverse areas of expertise (three of whom I knew by reputation and admired a great deal), grappling with important ideas. They had come together over a concern about a rumor circulating among Michigan educators and legislators.
The rumor was that legislation might come to pass that would force teacher evaluation to be based on student achievement data. These leaders were passionate about arts education and they were aware of the absence of formal, quality assessments that would provide the achievement data for educators in dance, music, theatre and visual arts.
If the rumor came true and law required educators to be evaluated on student assessment data, what would that mean for educators in the arts?
The worry around the table was that arts teachers would be evaluated on reading or math test data.
They all held that that would be wholly unfair. There was clearly a need for legitimate data of student performance in the arts.
As the conversation evolved that day, I observed what I interpreted as their growing realization that the project would have to be a great deal more comprehensive than appropriate assessments in the arts:
-Evaluating a student would also need to be understood in the context of the dance, music, theatre and visual arts program to which they had access.
-Arts assessments would have to be created with the assumption of a quality, articulated K-12 arts education program.
-What about the many configurations of arts programs within districts?
The questions that needed to be answered were:
-What was a quality program?
-What did it look like?
-What criteria defined a quality arts education program?
-Who decided that?
-Based on what research?
Aha! The plot thickened because then the conversation came around to how to measure quality for each a dance education program. A music education program. Theatre education program. Visual arts education program.
The research had to be compiled first for each discipline and a tool for measuring programs had to be developed. Only then could performance assessments in the arts exist within an understandable context. And an understandable context was necessary before a teacher could select appropriate assessments and subsequently be evaluated on the resulting data.
So as I sat at the table that first day, making meaning of the MAEIA project, I heard the project expanding in real time.
Starting with the environmental need and the goal, the importance of developing tools became clear. To get to quality performance assessments, MAEIA would first have to define a quality program and have an ability to quantify and measure that quality.
Yet to unfold was the realization that, as we stepped forward and backwards toward the goal, MAEIA-involved educators would also need a compilation of research, to identify specifications for creating assessments, and guidelines for administering them.
We recognized, as a group, that collectively we didn’t have that expertise to achieve the task. Hundreds of educators, artists and researchers representing all four arts disciplines would need to bring forward what they knew to assemble the tools of MAEIA. And they did.
Five years later, measuring educator effectiveness with student data was realized under PA 173 of 2015, over a thousand educators have contributed to what has become the MAEIA tools and resources: a Blueprint, Assessment Specifications Document, Research and Recommendations, a Program Review Tool, and 360 Assessment Items in Dance, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts.
With support from the MCACA, fifteen MAEIA Leadership Fellows are prepared to deliver professional learning to districts, buildings, and community partners with an invitation for additional Associates to be extended soon.
The MAEIA Project Management Team along with dedicated participants, have just wrapped a Demonstrating Educator Effectiveness pilot with plans to continue the work into a second year while we also launch a Collaborative Scoring System pilot.
Liz Andrews: “Jump in- take a chance- try something new.”
The MAEIA Leadership Fellows work individually and collaboratively to create and present professional learning on the use of MAEIA resources in face-to-face and webinar formats. For some presenters, virtual sessions are new formats which lead...
The MAEIA Leadership Fellows work individually and collaboratively to create and present professional learning on the use of MAEIA resources in face-to-face and webinar formats. For some presenters, virtual sessions are new formats which lead to new understandings of how to create dynamic engagement.
We have invited the Leadership Fellows to write about their experiences as they engage the creative process in developing this work. Liz Andrews and Cynthia Clingman recently collaborated to present a virtual session. Here, Liz shares her thoughts on the process and the product of making her first MAEIA Leadership Fellows virtual presentation.
“Jump in – take a chance – try something new.”
These are encouraging words we give to our students and last month we got a chance to model this behavior. In creating and presenting our first webinar, my colleague Cindy Clingman and I did just that: jumped in, took a chance and tried something quite new. The result? Great experience for us and groundwork laid for future presentations.
Thanks to Cindy’s outstanding preparations, the technical aspects of the presentation including set-up and delivery were spot-on and easy for us to facilitate.
What I learned from the general lack of participant interaction is that we as presenters can improve our methods of instruction to adjust to the technical, online format. Basically, webinar participants can hit the mute button, walk away from the screen and tune out all together without the presenters ever knowing they left the room. Is this a high-quality arts professional development presentation? Without any engagement is any learning happening?
We need to adjust our planning leading to a webinar that brings the MAEIA project to life.
The challenge is how to make webinars: Engaging, Relevant, Interactive in ways that lead the participant to pursue the MAEIA resources further and want more .
After doing a bit of google research, here are some tips I’ve gleaned to pursue a more collaborative, inspiring webinar:
1. Make it personal.
Make some time at the very beginning of the webinar to find out some interesting facts about each attendee.
Begin with some type of question that requires an investigative answer. This can be anything from how much they currently know and/or use the MAEIA resources to other types of arts assessments they are familiar with.
2. Involve them with the content.
This can be like a guessing game – instead of presenting information on a slide and then moving on, show a photograph of a student in action and ask them to guess or make a prediction about the outcome relevant to the content.
3. Check in.
At several points within the webinar, stop and ask for specific feedback to check for comprehension. Present a thoughtful question that requires more than a “yes” or “no” answer.
I am looking forward to putting these ideas into action, making my next MAEIA webinar an engaging, inspiring presentation that arts educators will want to share!
Do you remember what it is like to try new things? Tell us about it!
Interested in becoming a MAEIA Leadership Fellow? We’ll soon be inviting applications to the program. Think it over! We are particularly interested in Administrators, Teaching Artists, Community Artists, and K-12 Educators.