Friday, February 17, 2017

February 17th Pre-break WRAP UP

 Durfee Music Department receives a $3000.00 donation from the Michael Troy Foundation

Heather Pereira's 3D work sits (finished and in progress) on her windowsill at Doran- super cool lesson ideas for younger grades that tap into art history!

Erin Erban's Guitar students at Durfee getting "schooled" on how to play the Uke!

So much to share this week...  💗

From Mary Zema:  Mary shared this Ted Talk with me and even though I had seen this one before, I forgot how hard I laughed when I saw it, but more importantly, how TRUE this rings for educators of the arts..  Please check it out (it ties into our last year's text, A Whole New Mind, by Daniel Pink)!

Sir Ken Robinson talks about how schools can be "programmed" to kill creativity..  He reflects on how children are NOT AFRAID TO BE WRONG, but how in school, we may be asking students to shy away from this..  He states, "If you're not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original."  

Let's reflect on how we plan tasks for students in the arts...  

  • Do we plan for that cycle of creativity, where students can grow from Knowledge, to Application, to Synthesis and Evaluation?  
  • How do we plan the task to allow for creative opportunity?  
  • How do we ensure that students feel comfortable to take these creative risks?
From Marcia Picard....

Know any creative elementary or middle school students? We're looking for someone to design our next yard sign.
This contest is a way for students to feel engaged by using their creativity to help promote safe roads for pedestrians and cyclists in their communities.
Winning students will have their designs turned into yard signs that will be distributed to our partner schools around Massachusetts. 
Click here for submission guidelines and entry forms. All entries are due by March 20, 2017
Contest Submission Guidelines and Eligibility Requirements:
• Participating schools must be a Massachusetts Safe Routes to School partner school.
• The contest is open to grades 2-8.
• Students must be enrolled in a Massachusetts Public School.
• Students may submit an 8 ½ x 11 version of the sign and/or a digital version.
• Yard signs may not include any copyrighted photos or slogans.
• Yard signs may not include the Safe Routes to School or MassDOT logos.
• Students may submit individual entries or work in a group.

School Arts Link!  Want to use School Arts magazine to drive really cool lesson planning?  Check this arts magazine out!  You can either use it to access ideas to fuel planning, or use it projected on your white board to engage all students in reading!  The link is here:

Password: ourkids!

Evaluation Nuts and Bolts, and Observations:
  • At this point, we have met for all formative evaluations, and we will be moving forward with the process..  It has been awesome meeting with all of you to discuss your goal progress and ways to support you in your work.  I thank you for being so open with me in your sharing, and acceptance of new ideas.
  • I will be "Learning Walking" back in classrooms across the district when we return from break, observing the great tasks you plan and sharing these out in the blog for your colleagues to learn from.
  • The next learning walk will be Tuesday February 28th and Wednesday, March 1st- I will be in K-5 schools Tuesday and 6-12 on Wednesday.  I will share notes and feedback on how we are doing as a team within a few days after the learning walk.  
  • Where we left off... In the last learning walk, for 6-12:
    • Commendations:
      • Most teachers at these grade levels are integrating other disciplines into the learning- whether cultural, historical, mathematical, or scientific.  This grounding of the task in a context that is beyond the art making or music performing will enrich and deepen the experience for students and can also cause them to use tiered vocabulary in more than one realm or content.
      • In almost all classrooms, consistent routines are in place and the environment is a safe place in which students can challenge themselves to learn new things.
      • Most teachers are using content vocabulary in the delivery of the lesson, and some teachers are preparing tasks that have the student using the vocabulary when asked.

      Focus Moving Forward:
      • Continue to establish that consistent practice of “talking like an artist/musician or performer.”  : This is grounded in a Key Instructional Shift: Regular practice with complex text and its academic vocabulary.  Students need to hear this academic talk consistently throughout the period to reinforce their own ability to think and communicate within your content.  While I see teachers using the lesson specific vocabulary in the delivery of the lesson, we are not yet consistently reinforcing that academic language throughout the work period. 
        • This reinforcement of use of academic vocabulary can happen during check-ins, feedback to students, and tasks that we plan involving student to student talk.
        • Also, consider… challenging students through more accountable talk, probing questions, debate and synthesis of content specific information.
      And for K-5: 

    • Commendations:

      • In a few classes, teachers planned tasks that engaged students at the “Create” level according to Bloom’s Taxonomy (see diagram).
      • In most classrooms, routines continue to be consistent and the environment is a safe place for students to challenge themselves in.
      • Most teachers are using content vocabulary in the delivery of the lesson, and in a few classes, students are using content vocabulary.

      Focus Moving Forward:
      • Continue to plan time for students to talk using art vocabulary! The Key Instructional Shift: Regular practice with complex text and its academic vocabulary. 
        • Plan for: gallery walks, stop, drop and critique, defend your art making, artist’s statements, turn and talks, or other strategies to transfer the ownership of the content vocabulary to the learner!
Collaboration and Growth:
  • Thank you for being learners- you model this consistent growth mindset for our kids!  Seeing a few of you implement new ideas into your practice this week and last from the PD day we had at the end of January was amazing, and I am so proud of my team.  Thank you again to Matt MacMullen, Victoria Arons, Jay Treloar, Dr. Ron Sherwin of UMD and Carolyn Jane from Dick Blick for teaching us new things!  Stay fresh, FRPS!
  • Check out this Blendspace shared by Heather from the above sculptures:
  • Our next and final PD day together will be held during the release time day on Thursday, March 9th.  This afternoon's plan will involve us coming together as an entire fine and performing arts family here at Durfee- expect some collegiality, fun, learning, laughing and planning time that should last us to the end of the year!  I will share the Blendspace for the day here:  This is only a taste of the tasks I have planned..  :)
  • Monthly Department Meeting- Thursday, March 2nd from 2:30 to 3:30PM.
  • I would like to ask that the remainder of all monthly departmental meeting times be allocated for time to prep student work for the K-12 Arts Expo and the Spring Concerts at your schools.
Arts Around Us:
Have a wonderful break, and see you on Monday, February 27th!


Friday, February 3, 2017

Post PD BlogBlast! 2/3/17

Thank you all for being active learners at this past Monday's professional development session..  I would like to share some really great pictures that speak louder than any quote, inspirational phrase or words!

Continue to build lessons from what you learned and discussed with colleagues as this type of collaboration is what sets us apart from other districts...  💗 my team.


  • Monday: Kuss CPT- 7:30
  • Tuesday: CPT Morton 8AM, HLCS 8:30 AM
  • Wednesday: Formative Evaluations, CPT Durfee team- in individual departments at 10:45 AM ALSO: Durfee has PT Conferences from 5 to 7PM
  • Thursday: CPT Talbot 1:20,  Career Fair at Durfee
  • Friday: CPT Doran, Itinerant CPT
  • Durfee Team plan ahead- 14th of Feb is the next Faculty Meeting and the 15th is the Department Meeting!
Thank you everyone, and I am keeping it short this week because I want to just celebrate the greatness I saw this week during our professional learning time on Monday!

Now, let's DO OUR JOB Patriots!


Friday, January 27, 2017

Weekly Arts Wrap Up 1/27/17

Durfee Artists and Writers Win Scholastics Awards!  

Congratulations to the following five Durfee students who earned recognition in the 2017 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards:  


​            Macklin Coronel '17, honorable mention in photography for 'Fall River City Highway

                                    Nichel Nhem '18, honorable mention in ​illustration for 'Sweet'


Cade Scott '17, honorable mention for his memoir 'Cosmogony'
Florentino Correa-Garcia '18, silver key for his memoir 'The Boy'
Lisa Houston '18, gold key for her memoir 'Tinkerbell' 

This week, I am inspired by the Massachusetts Cultural Council!  Great news...  

Governor Charlie Baker today released a state budget proposal that would invest $14.3 million in the arts, humanities, and sciences through the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) in the coming fiscal year. The Governor's budget plan for Fiscal Year 2018 would represent a 2.5 percent increase above this year’s state appropriation for MCC.

The MCC seeks a $16 million state appropriation, a $2 million increase, for FY18. MCC Executive Director Anita Walker said the agency will continue to make the case for that increase in concert with MASSCreativeMass Humanities, and its network of advocates across the state. As part of that effort, MCC has released new data on the benefits of arts and cultural funding to the state’s economy, communities, and the education of our young people – and what long-term reinvestment in its work can accomplish.

“We thank Governor Baker for his support for the arts, humanities, and sciences,” said Anita Walker, MCC Executive Director. “The Governor’s budget proposal recognizes the creative sector as a vital force for economic prosperity and community vitality across Massachusetts. It represents a solid start to the budget process.”

Collaboration and Growth:

Last week, I shared with you the Professional Development plan.  Simply scroll down to last week's Blog entry to see it!  In addition, Becky Csizmesia will be leading a morning session here at Durfee to bring K-5 music faculty together to continue their work together.  Here is a list of what she will facilitate: 
I am excited to get to work!

The PM Sessions are listed in last week's Blog.

IN CPT's This Week:

It has been a pleasure meeting with teachers this week, discussing ideas at each of your schools..  This week, we discussed:
  • Kuss CPT discussed the start of a new semester, tech for music class, and theater production.
  • Morton CPT discussed the planning around the upcoming event, International Night, to be held on March 23rd!
  • HLCS CPT was spent discussing goals for the eval process.
  • Talbot CPT continued discussion into what constitutes a higher order thinking "question" and what possible outcomes of these may look like.
  • Durfee CPT continued the collective planning of a department wide norm for cell phone use in classrooms, and how to message this to students at the start of semester 2.  We reviewed the code of conduct, agreed upon responses, rules and expectations for cell phone use that will be a common practice across the department.  New year, new Us!  Check out our set up!  It fits 30 cell phones, and the first 6 students can even plug in and charge up..  

A Shout Out!

FRPS Helps "Save the Day" with the help of UMD and other schools when MMEA Southeastern Districts was canceled due to snow!  Check out this article in today's Southcosat Today!

Here's a snippet from the article: "Hosting a festival like this requires a great deal of planning and can be a logistical nightmare. The district has a full orchestra, a full concert band, a large full choir, a jazz band and a percussion ensemble. Because all of the groups need to rehearse at the same time, extra equipment, percussion instruments and staging materials must be brought in to supplement what is already at the university. With the help of many directors and music departments notably from UMass Dartmouth, Dartmouth Public Schools, Fall River Public Schools and Sharon Public Schools, these gifted and hardworking young musicians will be able to present their concert.
"Adjunct professors Tobias and Charlene Monte contacted Dr. Ronald Sherwin, chair of the Music Department, who contacted College of Visual and Performing Arts dean David Klamen, and the plan was approved within hours. Dartmouth High School Music teachers and parents along with UMD music students have volunteered to assist at the event."
And so, it's a Go! On Sunday!

On the Agenda:

  • Monday: PD Day..  See the agenda attached to email or in last week's Blog!  K-8 Dept Meetings after PD.
  • Tuesday: CPT Morton, HLCS, Durfee Black Day- 1st day of Semester 2, last day of January!  Also, this is the 2nd Visioning Meeting night for the new Durfee- 3 to 7PM.
  • Wednesday: Formative Evaluations
  • Thursday: CPT Durfee Arts Team 10:45, CPT Talbot 1:20, Durfee PTO Meeting 6:30 PM
  • Friday: CPT Doran, Itinerant CPT, and Term 2 grades due at 3PM for Durfee Faculty!
Can you believe we will be into February next week?  Yikes!
 Thank you for all you do, and see you Monday!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Weekly Arts Wrap Up- 1/20/17

This week, I am inspired by our students' ability to communicate the "what they are doing and learning" in your classes.  In so many schools, our kids just love talking about what they do with you!  They are great advocates for your programs- I spoke to a student named Lauren last night at the Durfee New Building Visioning Meeting, and she was very open about her answer to my question..  I asked her "What memories will you take from this building?"  Being a true renaissance girl involved in a plethora of school activities and classes, she said, "I feel at home in the music wing.  It makes me feel comfortable- like I want to be there all the time.  I'm going to miss that."  This is a tribute to the "work" that we do, not only with Lauren, but all of the other "Laurens" we serve.  You are making memories and teaching skills that go far beyond their formative years.  
I know January can be one of the most trying months in terms of behaviors, no matter the grades you teach, so I want to say STAY THE COURSE..  Do not stray from your rituals and routines because students are testing the waters and pushing the buttons.  Don't give up, don't get rattled, take a deep breath and stay the course.  Isn't that what we would say to them when they face adversity and have to persevere?  

Here are some pics from my visits throughout the week...

And here is the Professional Development Agenda for next Monday...
Monday, January 30, 2017
Fine and Performing Arts Professional Development Agenda
Our day will be a combination of learning, sharing and planning, as we collaborate and adopt new strategies (and supplies!)  to design rigorous arts lessons.  Teachers will take part in classes held at Durfee from 12:30 to 2:30 within their content areas.  Monthly department time will also be planned from 2:30 to 3:30 for teachers who participate in our content specific monthly department meetings (K-8).  Our goal is to learn new skills and strategies within our content areas, as well as how to create grade leveled lessons that synthesize this learning with new supplies and ideas.


Afternoon Session: 12:30 to 2:30 PM
Location and Task
Orchestra and Band
Jay Treloar will provide professional development on Orf Instruments- Held in Orchestra Room.  In addition, teachers will continue to plan for the District Solo Fest and All City Performances throughout the day in room 77.  
Art K-8
Art 9-12

Art K-8

2:30-3:30 (dept. meet)
Carolyn Jane from Dick Blick Art Company will be here to teach art faculty how to use a few new supplies..  I have ordered sets for you to take back to school with you.  The goal will be to experiment with the media, as she will lead this, and then decide what grades this works with.  Lessons can later be planned from there and shared in the map on the Drive.  This will be held in room 84.

In addition, K-8 teachers will be getting the measurements of all art bifolds for the April 27th Expo and planning their work ahead of prepping student work on Kraft paper for the show.  Mapping for each school and bifold allotment per school should be completed by the end of the day. Held in room 84 and Auditorium Foyer.
Music K-8

Matt MacMullen will be providing a lesson on using alternative Percussion Instruments with students.  You will walk away with the lesson and the supplies to implement this in your classrooms.  Teams should discuss which grade this is most appropriate with.  Becky Chez will lead that discussion.  Held in the Band Room.

In addition, teams will check in with Link Up program- student learning goals, field trip planning and other details for the 5th grade trip on May 24th at 9:45.  Room 33.

K-5 teachers will also collaborate on the planning for the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra trip to the Z for 3rd grade on March 7th at 9:30 for select schools.  Room 33.

Itinerants will have part of the morning session at UMass Dartmouth (after superintendent’s address) with Dr. Ron Sherwin and students in the music program there.  They will be discussing assessments in instrumental programs and have time to discuss best practices for sight reading assessment.

Post PD:

Feedback for my learning: Please use the feedback sheet to give me feedback for my learning and growth.  My areas of focus for this PLC session are:

Standard I: Instructional Leadership. The education leader promotes the learning and growth of all students and the success of all staff by cultivating a shared vision that makes powerful teaching and learning the central focus of schooling.
Indicator I-A. Curriculum: Ensures that all teachers design effective and rigorous standards-based units of instruction consisting of well-structured lessons with measurable outcomes.
I A 1: Standards Based Unit Design
I A 2: Lesson Development Support

From today’s PD, I will use:
  1. ____________________________________________________________________________________
  2. ____________________________________________________________________________________
For the next PD, I would like to learn:
Other feedback?
PS: I would like to advocate for K-8 Art teachers to be in your buildings for the next two release time days so that you can arrange student work on kraft paper for the District Art Expo.  This way, you have time to arrange the work and prep it on pre-cut paper and bring that to Durfee for the set up in April.

News, Nuts and Bolts:

  • End of term 2: January 27th.
  • PD Day: January 30th. As you have probably heard, we are happy to invite you to begin the day at Durfee for an 8AM start with the Superintendent, Dr. Matthew Malone.  You should be back in buildings by 9:30..  I have PD starting at Durfee at 12:30.  See the plans below!
  • Formative Meetings: Teachers on one year plans and have Formative Meetings scheduled, and some are complete at this point. Please reach out to me if you need support around any of this process.  Upload or bring to the meeting any artifacts that you would like to discuss as rationale for the midway point in terms of SLG and PPG, as well as for the 4 Standards.  We will discuss, check in as to where you are in your action steps and then plan for the remainder of the cycle.  Based on this meeting's discussion, I will write the formative report and share it with you.  Included in this document will be commendations and recommendations for growth.
Durfee Stuff:
  • The Visioning Meeting with the architect team proved to be a great start to a very important proecss. Gary Bigelow, Ana Arsenio and I will be working through two additonal meetings with the team to advocate for our fine and performing arts spaces. We will keep you posted!
  • At the last full group CPT, we discussed a cell phone policy for all fine and performing arts classrooms, and I would like to continue this conversation with you on Wednesday at CPT- I want to walk away with a plan that we all believe in and will stick to.  I have copies of the code of conduct, and want to outline the cell phone policy, the "behavioral responses" we and administration need to follow, and how this will look and sound in our rooms!  
  • Semester 2 Starts- Tuesday, January 31st
  • Grading window closes on 2/6
  • PT Conferences- 2/8- 5 t0 7PM
Sharing Cool Blogs!

Our own Lara Beth Terry has a blog!  She has established a professional goal for herself of communicating with families and students via an online platform..  Check it out!

And check out this Orchestra Blog!  -A great resource for string teachers..

On the Calendar:
Monday: Kuss CPT- 7:30, Greene visit- 8:30, Formatives
Tuesday: Morton CPT- 8AM, HLCS CPT- 8:30o, Co-teaching with Ana Arsenio- Design Class, Meet with Superintendent to discuss programs, Formatives
Wednesday: Walk through DHS with Maria Pontes- Per 5, Formatives
Thursday: Talbot CPT 1:15, Formatives
Friday: RPA Opening Celebration, Itinerant CPT 12:30, Formatives

Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Weekly Arts Wrap Up- 1/13/17

Welcome to another weekend!

Let's start this weekend off with a celebration!!!  I am excited to share with you the district WINNERS of the annual BCC Martin Luther King Jr. Art Contest.  We have 9 students this year who have been chosen as winners in the 17th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Art Contest. At the BCC breakfast, they will announce which place each poster won. The keynote speaker this year is Cape Verdean American filmmaker/historian Claire Andrade-Watkins, a professor of Africana and Postcolonial Media Studies at the Institute for Liberal Arts & Interdisciplinary Studies at Emerson College as well as a 2016 Visiting Scholar, Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, and a Fellow, Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown University. Mrs. Andrade Watkins was a 1995-1996 Fulbright Scholar in Cape Verde and a recipient of an American Philosophical Society grant in l997.  Congrats to the following Fall River Artists!

  • Morton: Eden McCausland   
  • Talbot: Alexia Springer, Nalah Jovan, and Savannah Pimental, and the 4th student remains anonymous
  • Kuss:  Julie Norverca, Alannah Young, Emily Vaillancourt, and Emily Noversa
Check out these young designers at Durfee!
This new course, entitled "Design" asks students to work through the design process via fashion design, interior design, graphic novel design..  It's an amazing group of trail blazers, led by the fabulous Ms. Ana Arsenio!

And check out the Letourneau 3rd grade with Terry Walkowicz and her New Bedford Symphony Orchestra musicians as they help students connect aspects of space and planetary movement through musical composition..  Common vocabulary was evident in this interdisciplinary learning experience for students, and it was fascinating to see and hear the connections between orchestral pieces and the way the planets move around the sun.  She continued to discuss graphing movement (as she did with us last year) in sound as it moves upward and downward, but made connections to science and the planets.

Planning Ahead:

  • MLK Day- Monday
  • End of term 2: January 27th.
  • PD Day: January 30th. Plans for the district to come together for a half-time chat are in the works! 
  • Monday, Monday...  You will have two more "missing Mondays" in the month of January- plan accordingly!
  • Formative Meetings: I have reached out to all teachers on one year plans and we have our Formative Meetings scheduled! Please reach out to me if you need support around any of this process.  Upload or bring to the meeting any artifacts that you would like to discuss as rationale for the midway point in terms of SLG and PPG, as well as for the 4 Standards.  We will discuss, check in as to where you are in your action steps and then plan for the remainder of the cycle.  Based on this meeting's discussion, I will write the formative report and share it with you.  Included in this document will be commendations and recommendations for growth.
Durfee Stuff:
  • The newly designed Durfee High School needs YOU! Next steps involve a "Visioning Meeting" with the architect team. Maria has emailed the staff with more information because WE (would love and) NEED YOU (of course it's not mandatory, but would be a great way to be a part of the plan) to be part of this process by attending two four-hour planning meetings on January 19th and 31st from 3 to 7PM.
  • Department Meeting- Wednesday, January 18th at 2:45- PD reflection
  • Semester 2 Starts- Tuesday, January 31st
  • Grading window closes on 2/6
  • PT Conferences- 2/8- 5 t 7PM
PD Day "Trailer"

Never Work Harder Than Your Students!
I had discussed this last week as a possibility, but the day will start with the superintendent message, so I will hold on this one..  Can't wait to see you all together on Monday!

We are also going to work on the plan for our annual K-12 ARTS EXPO during the PD day.  Mapping out the locations for each school, and attributing a number of bi-folds will help us to be organized and ready for our families!  Save the date- Thursday, April 27th from 5 to 7PM!

Solo Fest Planning!
Itinerant Band and Orchestra directors will continue to flesh out the plan for this huge district wide event.

Orf Methods!
Our own Jay Treloar will be working with music teachers sharing strategies for Orf instruments in the classroom.

Using Tech and Text in the Art Room!
Our own Victoria Arons (with a possible surprise co-presenter) will be walking teachers through the use of engaging text and technology in the art room.  You will also leave with a little surprise at the end of this PD!

Dick Blick comes to Fall River!
A teacher rep from Dick Blick Providence will be with us for two hours to show us some great new art supplies and ways to plan engaging lessons for your students with these.  You will leave with a work sample and supplies!

Common Mapping Time!
We will continue to work on our scope and sequencing for grades K-8.

In closing, keep sharing/sending in those lesson plans weekly with me!  I DO read them and it helps this busy lady keep a pulse on all of the great work that you plan for OUR KIDS.

Thank you and let's go, PATS!!!