Maine Educators use French Music Competition to Increase Student Engagement, Cultural Knowledge, and French Skills

In its 6th year, “Manie Musicale” has spread nationally and internationally with 950 schools from 47 states and six countries (and counting) participating to select the best French song and music video of the year.

“Manie Musicale” is a yearly competition of songs modeled after the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament in the U.S. Students fill out brackets to try to predict which of sixteen songs will win the “championship.” Once the tournament starts, students vote for their favorite songs in daily matchups to see who wins. Songs include a variety of contemporary Francophone artists from around the world. “Manie Musicale” was inspired by a Spanish version that came first – Señor Ashby’s “Locura de Marzo.”

Stephanie Carbonneau, a middle school French teacher in York and Michelle Fournier, a middle school teacher in Falmouth, started with just their two schools in 2017. Once they realized there was not a national-level competition like this for French, they collaborated to bring one to life, at least on the state level. Carbonneau and Fournier presented at FLAME the following year and opened it up to other schools.

“Manie Musicale” has really exploded in the last 2-3 years especially with the help of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. A website was also created by Carbonneau and Fournier to assist the voting process as well as to house resources to bring “Manie Musicale” to life in their classrooms. Teachers from around the country now collaborate in the Facebook group with over 1000 members and online to create activities to support using the songs in class as a linguistic and cultural teaching tool.

Students in Carbonneau and Fournier’s classes are encouraged to submit song nominations, but they also consult colleagues in the American Association for Teachers of French (AATF) and social media groups for input. Carbonneau and Fournier carefully screen song lyrics and videos for age- and school-appropriateness, with a focus on promote diversity, inclusion, and tolerance. Last year they partnered with FluentKey, an educational media company out of California, who created interactive quizzes and games based on the “Manie Musicale” video playlist to add even more fun and competition to the event. This year they added a logo designed by a fan and fellow French teacher who uses “Manie Musicale” in her own classes.

There are many teachers who do “Manie Musicale” on their own, but the impact made by this duo and the collaborative following is music to many students’ and teachers’ ears.




Join the Maine Audubon Junior Duck Stamp Challenge: A Scientific and Artistic Opportunity for K-12 Students

Maine Audubon is collaborating with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the 27th annual Federal Junior Duck Stamp Program, and they are looking for Maine students to submit creative, innovative, beautiful waterfowl art!

Educators can download a free dynamic, multidisciplinary curriculum that teaches wetland and waterfowl conservation to students in kindergarten through high school. The program encourages students to explore their natural world, invites them to investigate biology and wildlife management principles and challenges them to express and share what they have learned with others. This program and curriculum lend themselves to learning in a variety of forms, remote, hybrid teaching and in-classroom instruction.

Click here to see the winners of the 2019-2020 Maine Junior Duck Stamp Challenge!

Join Maine Audubon on Zoom on Jan 14 for information on the curriculum and background information on waterfowl and Jan 28 on drawing tips and techniques. Click here for For more information, to register for the free training and to download the curriculum.

For more information, contact Linda Woodard at

RSU 22 Arts Educators Transform Curriculum to Provide Safe and Meaningful Music Education

Music is alive and well in RSU22. Let me start by saying that from the very beginning, the teachers of the arts and the administration never thought of cutting the arts during the pandemic. The question was, “How do we deliver these subjects to our students with quality?”

Before COVID-19, our music program included general music K-5, choruses and bands 5-12, with before or after school jazz ensembles and show choirs 6-12, and Tri-M Music Honor Society at the high school.

During the pandemic, our offerings are the same with the addition of remote classes. However, they look a bit different. Our system is operating under a hybrid system. Half of the students attend in-person Monday and Thursday with asynchronous assignments on Tuesday and Friday. The other half attends in-person Tuesday and Friday with asynchronous assignments on Monday and Thursday. AP classes also meet on Wednesdays remotely and chorus and band students have 1 to 1 sectionals/lessons on a rotating basis on Wednesdays via google meet. The high school ordinarily has 4 blocks per day every other day for 8 total blocks on an A/B day system. This year we are running 4 blocks (A day) every day for 1st and 3rd quarters and the other 4 blocks every day for 2nd and 4th quarter. This is not ideal for skills based classes, but it is better than splitting it by semester and makes things easier to keep track of for both teachers and students.

Elementary music classes are meeting every other week and posting activity choice boards reinforcing musical concepts on the opposite weeks. All music teachers who teach elementary classes have divided up our districtwide remote classes, each of us having 1 or 2. Each elementary student has their own white board, marker, and eraser. Some classes have been given rhythm sticks. Older students are playing melodic instruments such as boomwhackers, tone bells, and glockenspiels that must be wiped down after each class.

Chorus classes are singing outside 14 feet apart unmasked as long as the weather is 40 degrees or higher and not raining. When it is raining or too cold to be outside, we are learning basic piano skills, ear training, humming softly distanced with masks, music theory, listening examples, discussions about song texts, artistry, etc. Their asynchronous lessons include sight singing with ““, learning tracks with practice log, recording themselves for teacher critique, music theory, listening examples, etc. We are also working with our technology department to allow our high school students to work in small ensembles virtually through the Jacktrip foundation.  We have rhythm sections rehearsing in person after school.  We have been working with composer Kris Berg.  He has written several high school arrangements for small jazz ensembles which include interchangeable parts for various instruments.  Students can also play along with the mp3 files of each song Kris has arranged.  Horn players and vocalists have been assigned to each group and are practicing their songs at home.  We are hoping for adjustments to be made to allow our students to play in person using the required PPE.

Bands are learning similar concepts. Some of our bands are playing outside 14 feet apart unmasked. Those not going outside are studying music as it relates to social issues, music history, music theory, rhythm using sticks and drums, ear training, listening to musical examples, recording themselves for critique by teachers, etc.

In the music department, we start on Wednesday mornings together discussing our successes and struggles for the week in order to pass on any things we have learned or to get help with our hurdles. Our K-2 classes all use Seesaw and our 3-12 students all use Google classroom for their work and our district has decided that we will all use google meet for our virtual classes and meetings. We regularly use Google slides, Screencastify, Padlet, Quicktime Player, YouTube, VideoLink, Soundtrap, and now we are exploring Jacktrip to use for virtual teaching with very little time lag.

For our subject area, this is anything but ideal. However, our focus continues to be on how we can foster musical growth in our students and supporting their musical goals.

This story was submitted by Heidi Corliss, Choral Music Teacher at RSU 22 Hampden Academy Visual and Performing Arts Team Leader, with support from Jason Anderson, Maine DOE Visual and Performing Arts Specialist as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. So submit a story or an idea email it to Rachel at

An Innovative Approach to School Drama: Filming Begins on the MDI High School’s Fall Musical

BAR HARBOR – MDI Drama began principal photography on its 2020 fall musical, “Ruddigore; or The Witch’s Curse,” this weekend in Acadia National Park. Determined to provide an authentic and safe drama experience for students and the community, the staff and senior student representatives of the Mount Desert Island High School’s drama program decided that filming the show would create opportunities for innovation and new learning while adhering, not only to the school’s COVID-19 protocols, but to the state’s regulations on live performances and the MPA’s guidance on co-curricular activities.

The Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, which is in the public domain, has been adapted by director Frank Bachman and music director Anne Leonardi and trimmed to approximately forty minutes. Jeff Zaman, who teaches filmmaking and design thinking classes at the high school, is the director of photography.

MDI Drama staff members were aware throughout the spring and summer that flexibility might be required in order to produce MDIHS’s annual fall musical, particularly after the cancellation of the Maine Drama Festival and the school’s annual two spring plays. They did not want to cancel a fall production if they did not have to. Casey Rush, the director of MDI Drama, began online discussions with the adult staff and senior representatives of student actors and tech crew members in late summer to brainstorm possibilities when it became evident that they would not be able to proceed with the fall season in the usual way. On the basis of the experiences of livestreaming the drama department’s annual Bravo Awards and the high school’s successful drive-in graduation in the spring, and with the support of the school’s administration, the team decided that the most interesting and safest option would be to film the production and present it as a drive-in movie at the high school. 

Filming the musical outdoors on location has enabled the actors to abide by safety protocols while experiencing a different kind of acting. A closed set limits the number of people present, and actors only unmask when they are about to film their scene and are appropriately physically distanced from the crew and other actors. The tech crew is learning about the different creative considerations for sound, lights, and set design in filmmaking while incorporating Covid-19 mitigation protocols as well as the intricacies of creating safe sound recording situations for the singers and “MacGyvering” sound booths in cars, as well as how to use new equipment and computer programs.

Some scenes will be shot indoors on the stage of the MDIHS Higgins-Demas theater, where physical distancing and sanitizing protocols are in place. Group numbers will be created in post-production using footage of individual actors and dancers. Rehearsals are primarily online, with some in-person rehearsals held outdoors, weather permitting. The tech crew meets once a week for physical builds, following the school’s protocols on mask wearing, hand sanitizing and physical distancing, and has online sessions to learn the principles of designing for theatre and the computer-based programs they will have to use.

This story was submitted by Chris Dougherty, Learning Center, Mount Desert Island High School in partnership with Jason Anderson, Maine DOE VPA Specialist as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. To submit a story or an idea email it to Rachel at

Maine Career Development Association Hosts Art & Poetry Contest for Maine Students

In celebration of National Career Development Month in November, the Maine Career Development Association is sponsoring a statewide Poetry & Art contest, that is open to students and adults state-wide.

The Contest is held annually on a national level in celebration of the importance of life-long career development and the personal empowerment of all people. Events and activities in celebration of National Career Month help examine lives, careers, and the alternatives available to increase everyone’s personal success and happiness.

Contest Eligibility

Adults and students enrolled in public, private schools in Maine, and students who are homeschooled in Maine are eligible to participate.

Contest division areas include:

  • Primary Grades: K – 2
  • Intermediate Grades 3 – 5
  • Middle Grades 6 – 8
  • Senior Grades 9 – 12
  • Adult Student 18 and older enrolled in school
  • Open Adult 18 and older (teachers, parents, professionals, etc.)

Each entry should celebrate and inspire career development with a positive tone while emphasizing the national theme.

For further information on how to participate in the contest including eligibility requirements for both poetry and art submissions and how make submissions, please view the Maine Career Development Association’s Art & Poetry Contest Flyer and Entry Form.

Winners in each category will be posted to the MCDA website ( as well as included in the MCDA newsletter! Winners will then be sent on to the NCDA to be judged nationally. National winning entries will be recognized on the NCDA website, as well as on display at the annual conference in Atlanta in 2021. The school coordinator of each state winner will receive a free year’s membership to the Maine Career Development Association!

DEADLINE: All submissions must include the official entry form, be postmarked by November 23rd, and mailed to Tara Kierstead, MCDA K-12 Representative, at the address on the entry form.

Please email Tara Kierstead at with any questions.