Accomplished Bangor High School Alum Provides Interdiciplinary Art Lesson to Students

Submitted by Kathy Harris-Smedberg, Assistant Superintendent of Schools at Bangor School Department.

Bangor High School Teachers Emilie Throckmorton and Eva Wagner recently collaborated on a unit to connect students with nature. Both visual art and creative writing share a long history of artists being inspired by nature.  Wagner and Throckmorton are nature enthusiasts and have a connection with artist eco-artist Mariah Reading, a Bangor High School and Bowdoin College graduate. Their unit culminated with an adventure to Schoodic Point where Reading is the Artist in Residence. Wagner brought her Sculpture class and Throckmorton brought her Creative Writing class.

When Wagner and Throckmorton realized that Reading was chosen to be an artist in residence in Maine, they both thought about what a wonderful opportunity it would be for their students to learn from her.  Mariah is positive and energetic and her mere presence would be good for students to absorb. With help from grant writer, Cathleen Neslusan and the Friends of Acadia, the trip became possible.

Students looking at rocks on the beach

The day started with a talk with the artist who discussed the reason behind her eco-centered art making. Reading finds trash found in national parks and other protected places and paints bold, colorful realistic landscapes onto them.  She then photographs them in front of the landscape so they blend in seamlessly with the environment. Reading has always been inspired by nature but she realized when she was in college that her work was often creating more waste which led to more degradation of the environment.  She decided to do something about it and then collected trash and used it as a substrate for her work. Her artwork was so striking and unique that it commanded more and more attention as she shared it on social media. Eventually with 7000 plus followers the art world started paying attention and Mariah got sponsorships.

After Reading’s inspiring and informative talk, the students headed out with their paints, and writing prompts in hand and found a beach to create on.  Some students painted, some wrote and others collaborated on an Andy Goldsworthy inspired sculpture. The students seemed awestruck by the thunderous waves and rocky shores.  Many had never been to Schoodic Point and some students had never visited the ocean before.

The students responded to the environment, worked together and learned from a contemporary artist that art can make a difference. What was especially important for these students was that Reading had also been a student at Bangor High School, it made her successes seem that much more attainable.  A great day was had by all and Throckmorton and Wagner are convinced that students will remember this day for a long time.

paintings on the rocks at the beach

PRIORITY NOTICE: Seeking Public Comment on Health Education and Physical Education, Visual and Performing Arts, and World Languages Standards

As part of the scheduled periodic review of the Maine Learning Results, the Maine Department of Education is seeking public comments regarding the current health education and physical education, visual and performing arts, and world languages standards. Find links to each of the current standards below along with details for submitting comments.

Current Standards:

The standards review process opens with a public comment period and a public hearing, prior to the convening of steering committees who are charged with reviewing all submitted comments and with developing blueprints for the revision of the state standards in their assigned content area. Once the blueprints are created, writing teams, consisting of pk-12 teachers who represent Maine’s cultural and geographical diversity, will assemble to draft the standards revisions.

Anyone may speak at the public hearings, which will be live-streamed. People wishing to speak will be asked to sign in, and it will be helpful, but not mandatory, to provide a written copy of comments.

Public hearings will occur on October 23rd in room 103 at the Cross Building, 111 Sewell Street, Augusta, from 1-4pm. A link to the live-streamed hearings will be available prior to the public hearing.

Anyone unable to attend the public hearing may send written comments by 5 pm on November 8th, 2019. Written comments may be sent to Standards Review at sis.doe@maine.gov, or mailed to Beth Lambert, 23 SHS Station, Augusta, ME 04333.

Professional Development Opportunity: Creative Assessment- Teacher as Curator

Description:

For Visual and Performing Arts teachers, or those looking to more robustly intertwine the arts into their curriculum:  The Maine Department of Education invites you to be part of its upcoming professional development opportunity, Creative Assessment: Teacher as Curator. This session will explore the use of the arts as creative assessment strategies where participants explore artistic approaches to demonstrate academic learning and devise ways of gathering and presenting evidence of learning through documentation. Renowned facilitator and arts specialist, Dr. Lisa Donovan will provide an in-depth view of how the processes and products of the creative process can fuel a feedback loop for teaching and learning. We will wrestle with the question of “How do you tell the story of learning?” Participants will leave with a wide range of strategies for authentic, performance-based formative and summative processes for assessing learning in arts integrated work.

Participants will:

  • Explore their role as a curator, intentionally selecting, organizing and presenting information, strategies for teaching and learning as well as presenting evidence of student understanding.
  • Demonstrate how documentation and creative assessment strategies and processes utilizing the visual and performing arts to provide a holistic view of teaching and learning.
  • Explore a variety of models that can be adapted and used by educators across content areas and grade levels.
  • Engage in an experiential exploration of an arts integrated progression
  • Learn and apply several creative assessment strategies to their own work
  • Design documentation of their learning as models that can be used in their classrooms.

Participant Responsibilities:

  • Attend two day-long professional development training, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Senator Inn, 284 Western Ave., Augusta, ME 04330.
  • Dates for training are: Thursday, July 18th and Friday, July 19th.
  • Arrive at the first workshop with an arts lesson, in writing, in order to apply the concepts addressed throughout the sessions practically.

Compensation:

Each participant will receive a stipend of $150.00 (maximum: 20 participants).

To Register:

Interested parties should register HERE by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, July 10th. Please forward all questions to Visual and Performing Arts Specialist, Nate Menifield, at: nathaniel.j.menifield@maine.gov.

Classroom Highlight: Vinalhaven School Art Students Cannot Make Mistakes

Heather White started teaching at the Vinalhaven School in 2002. For the first nine years, she was the third-grade teacher, bringing art into the curriculum as much as possible. In 2011, she made the big leap to teaching k-12 visual arts and hasn’t looked back. It was exciting for her to go back to school to finish up her remaining classes to become a certified art teacher, she absolutely loves what she does, and it shows.

 

Art Teacher Heather White
Art Teacher Heather White at May, 7 K-12 Art Show, Vinalhaven School

Maine Department of Education’s Katherine Warren visited the May, 7th K-12 art show and spoke to Heather about her successful teaching strategies. Heather focuses on process over product and mistakes just come with the territory. As a matter of fact, that’s exactly where she believes the learning is. A sign in the art room reads, “Fail a lot! Failing is really just practice.”

This is the message that Heather works to convey to her students each day. She told Katherine, “I know the message is getting through when a project comes out of the kiln broken, which happens once in a while, and a student simply says something like, ‘that’s OK . . .I bet I know what happened, I bet there was still some moisture in the clay, I’ll just make another one.”

K-12 Art Show Poster
K-12 Art Show Poster

Another one of Heather’s recipes for success in the art room is “do the work.” She conveys to students, on a daily basis, the importance of showing up and doing the work. It’s the only way to move forward no matter what the task. Students from kindergarten all the way up to twelfth grade know that when they come to the art room, they’re there to work. No matter what the outcome, they always feel knowing they did their best; this philosophy results in more learning opportunities, and more artistic growth.

These teaching strategies really work for Heather and the proof is in the painting. This past winter Heather displayed second and third grade artwork on the Story Trail at Vinalhaven Land Trust’s Granite Island Preserve. It was an art show in the woods and families were encouraged to plan a winter hike to take in the scenery and the stunning artwork. These art pieces were juxtaposed against Vinalhaven’s real winter forest. It is difficult to say which trees were more beautiful, those imagined by Heather’s students, or the real things. Either way, she has done an exceptional job connecting her students and their artistic work to the environment from which it was inspired.

Student Artwork
Student Artwork, at Vinalhaven School’s “Winter Branches” 2nd-3rd Grade Art Show.

As with the “Winter Birches,” Heather is always looking for opportunities to try something new or unexpected. Another successful collaboration she worked on this year was with the k-12 music teacher Bill Trevaskis. Together they worked with students to produce stop. Motion short films. Heather said, “I was already doing stop motion films, and Bill was already doing a sound design unit. It was the perfect integrated unit, so why not just go for it!”

The results were thoughtful, beautiful, and downright funny ranging from a peeling out sports car to the sinking of The Titanic. Students were certainly proud of their work, as was their teacher.

K-12 students at Vinalhaven are fortunate to have such dedicated teachers. These alternative and collaborative methods for art and music instruction are exciting examples of the many amazing things Maine teachers and students do on a daily basis to improve education across the State.

This story was written by Maine DOE Intern Simon Handleman in collaboration with Vinalhaven Art Teacher Heather White and Maine DOE Staff Katherine Warren. If you have a story idea or would like to submit a written story for the Maine DOE Newsroom, email Rachel Paling at rachel.paling@maine.gov.

Interdisciplinary, Exciting and Cost Effective Professional Development for Educators: Learning for the 21st Century

Join the Maine Department of Education as we explore knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary for 21st century careers as well as the intentional actions of educators that support students’ skill and will to fuel their learning. During these day-long workshops, participants will delve into the principles of formative assessment as they examine strategies for building units of instruction that integrate multiple content areas. Sessions will be led by teams of the Department’s content specialists. Units will integrate combinations of world language, social studies, visual and performing arts, science, English language arts, health education and physical education, and mathematics. Units will also incorporate strategies for technology integration and family engagement.

Structure of the Day:

School districts are strongly encouraged to attend as teams of three or more people. Teams will gather at the beginning of the day for a panel presentation and discussion. Then, team members will attend breakout sessions where they will experience integrated lessons and units incorporating the principles of formative assessment drawn from Hattie, Fisher and Frey’s (2018) Developing Assessment Capable Learners text. Finally, at the end of the day, teams will reconvene to share, process, and apply what they experienced in the breakout sessions, as well as have opportunity to connect with other teams to gather additional ideas.

Team Configuration:

Teams may include PK-12 educators, administrators, instructional coaches, and special education instructors.  Schools are encouraged to include representation from multiple grade levels and all content areas when forming teams, and to divide up team members across breakout sessions.  The time at the end of the day will be more productive if participants attend as part of a team, but if an educator attends without a team, accommodations will be made to group single participants for sharing and planning. When registering participants, be sure to gather information about which breakout session each will attend.  Session descriptions are included below.

Registration Dates/Locations/Links:

Elementary (Pk-5):

July 9th at the Ramada in Lewiston, 8:30-3:30

July 24th at Jeff’s Catering in Brewer, 8:30-3:30

Secondary (6-12):

July 10th at the Ramada in Lewiston, 8:30-3:30

July 25th at Jeff’s Catering in Brewer, 8:30-3:30

Registration Cost:

$75/team of 3 or $30/ person.  Individual registrations are accepted, but teams are strongly encouraged.  Register by June 28, 2019.  Credit or debit cards are necessary for registration.  Cancellations must be made at least a week prior to the event to be eligible for a refund.  A morning snack and lunch will be provided. Participants will earn 6 contact hours.

For more information please contact Lee Anne Larsen, leeann.larsen@maine.gov or Beth Lambert, beth.lambert@maine.gov.

PK-5 Breakout Session Selections

Session 1: Laying a Foundation for Future Learning

Wendy L. Ostroff describes curiosity as being aware and open, checking things out, experimenting and interacting within one’s surroundings. Come explore with us ways to create the conditions for curiosity in the PK-5 classrooms. Together, specialists in Career and Education Development, Early Childhood Learning, Physical Education, and World Languages have designed learning experiences to pique curiosity about inventors, inventions and innovations and how they change daily life.  Presented by Maine DOE Specialists Jean Zimmerman (Physical Education), Lavinia Rogers (World Languages), Nicole Madore (Early Childhood), and Diana Doiron (Career and Education Development).

Session 2: Mimicking Animals

Humans have imitated and mimicked animal characteristics for as long as man has walked the earth. In this strand we will explore how humans use strategies inspired by nature to solve health and safety problems, then to communicate those out while embracing strategies that are proven to advance student learning and develop assessment capable learners.  Presented by Maine DOE Specialists Danielle Saucier (English Language Arts), Susan Berry (Health Education), and Shari Templeton (Science).

Session 3: Putting the You in Comm_nity

It takes a community to raise a child and this includes making sure that students understand that they are part of a bigger world. Take a look at what it means to be part of a community through the eyes of early childhood, visual and performing arts, and social studies as we explore an integrated approach to instruction that focuses on helping students take ownership in their own learning. Presented by Maine DOE Specialists Joe Schmidt (Social Studies), Nate Menifield (Visual and Performing Arts), and Sue Reed (Early Childhood).

6-12 Breakout Session Selections

Session 1:  To Tell the Truth: Using Decision-Making to Your Advantage

As the rate of change in the world increases faster than ever imagined, students need to be able to think on their feet, process new information, and make good decisions. Come explore with us ways to support students to think critically about the world around them by examining how Career and Education Development, Health Education, and Social Studies could use problem solving to develop decision-making skills that are necessary for success both in and out of the classroom.  Presented by Maine DOE Specialists Susan Berry (Health Education), Joe Schmidt (Social Studies), and Diana Doiron (Career and Education Development).

Session 2:  Graphical Literacy, S’il Vous Plait

World Languages, Mathematics and Science all build upon knowing how to read and interpret data found in a variety of graphical formats. We will utilize graphs to tell a story and to explore the intersections between content areas while practicing proven strategies that move the needle on student learning. Presented by Maine DOE Specialists Lavinia Rogers (World Languages), Michele Mailhot (Math), and Shari Templeton (Science).

 Session 3:  Strength And Stamina: Supporting Assessment Capable Students In Visual & Performing Arts, Health & Physical Education, and English Language Arts

 Building learning strength requires a growth mindset to set goals that are challenging and reachable. Building leaning stamina involves persistence, problem solving, planning, and practice. VPA, HPE, and ELA specialists will provide support for evaluating learning to set growth goals and model strategies for building stamina while focusing on the student’s overall experience throughout the school day, the school year, or the education pathway. Presented by Maine DOE Specialists Jean Zimmerman (Physical Education), Morgan Dunton (English Language Arts), and Nate Menifield (Visual and Performing Arts).