Arts teachers attend institute, focus on assessment, creativity

Music teachers learn to teach students about the dance concepts of space, time and energy at the MAAI institute.
Music teachers Alice Sullivan (left, Woodland/Princeton) and Andrea Wollstadt (John F. Kennedy Memorial School) dance away the morning at a MAAI institute session that highlights the dance concepts of space, time and energy.

Forty arts educators met at Maine College of Art in Portland for a four-day summer institute in early August during phase two of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI).

During the institute, teacher leaders – representing dance, music, theater and visual arts educators from the elementary, middle and high school levels and all regions of Maine – developed workshops that they will provide throughout the state during the upcoming school year. The institute focused on assessment, technology, leadership and creativity.

During phase one of MAAI, which launched in spring 2011, about 600 arts educators participated in professional development opportunities such as regional workshops, a statewide arts education conference and a webinar series. Educators can access the archived webinars with meeting plans here. The New England Institute for Teacher Education also made four graduate courses in arts assessment available to educators in the field. Phase one teacher leaders are now working to populate the educational resource page of the Maine Learning Network.

Two art teachers share materials at the four-day Maine Arts Assessment Initiative institute in August.
Art teachers Gloria Hewett (left) of Mount View Middle School and Janie Snider of Hancock Grammar School and Lamoine Consolidated School share education materials at the MAAI institute.

MAAI’s overall goal is to create an environment in Maine in which assessment in arts education is an integral part of the work all arts educators do to deepen student learning in the arts.

To learn more about MAAI, including the resources that were used during the summer institute, please go to the MAAI wiki, visit the Maine arts education blog or contact Argy Nestor, Maine Department of Education Visual and Performing Arts Specialist.

3 thoughts on “Arts teachers attend institute, focus on assessment, creativity

  1. Thanks Rob, great response and initial example with “deep thoughts” reference, and it brought me to an example of the sort of formative assessment we ARTS teachers engage learners with almost every day in classes all over Maine.

    (D): Aesthetics and Criticism: Students describe analyze, interpret, and evaluate art (dance, music, theater, and visual art). (Maine P.E.I.s)

    The above is the standard we were working on today (Digital Fundamentals of Art) in a “whole class” critique, during which the language being used by learners dealt with visual arts vocabulary; very different from any other discipline and very abstract, especially when looking at a variety of “optical” art works. It occurred to me that the class, when their words were taken out of the context of the visual art which was the focus of their examination, were speaking completely abstract “gibberish” because their discussion could not really be effectively separated from its source. Yet each of them knew what others were analyzing and evaluating through the discussion and were able to offer creative directions and improvements that had been or could be taken by each learner/artist. This “verbal processing” of any sort of ARTS form is not new, it has been used by ARTS educators for many decades, and it is refreshing to see students assessing one another’s work and understand that the reason for it is simple: growth and improvement. It’s much wider than just practice in the ARTS now, it’s about understanding and transfer in order to appreciate the values of the ARTS for a lifetime!

  2. Schools have shortchanged Arts education so egregiously over the last 20-30 years that as they stand now in our educational culture, I suspect you’re not alone in asking that question Lisa. In the 1980’s there was a fun little snippet on Saturday Night Live called “Deep Thoughts with Jack Handey”… really outrageous ‘deep thoughts’. I remember one of them being, “Instead of having ‘answers’ on a math test, they should just call them ‘impressions’, and if you got a different ‘impression’, so what, can’t we all be brothers?” Despite the humor of the statement, we all know that in any academic setting this would never actually fly for Math. But it also doesn’t fly for any of the other core subject areas in NCLB and the state of Maine either. The Arts are one of those 8 core subjects. The Arts have well articulated standards with serious and progressive levels of academic rigor attached to each. It’s never been about getting kids to “create art” any more than it’s been about getting kids to “do math”. It’s about comprehension, application and creativity CONNECTED to content & standards. Assessment is at the center of ensuring and fostering that connection. It could be argued that this is MOST essentially needed – especially in today’s educational culture – in the Arts.

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