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My Visit to Jonesport

May 18, 2015

Navigating the Storm

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Lisa Marin

Earlier this month I traveled to Washington county to visit art teacher and Maine Arts Assessment Initiative Teacher Leader Lisa Marin. I had the chance to visit one of Lisa’s schools, Jonesport Elementary School and learn about Lisa’s ideas for her involvement in Phase 5 of the MAAI.

In addition, I had a chance to meet Lisa’s principal at Jonesport Elementary School, Dr. Debra Lay and several of the teachers. Island Readers & Writers, under the executive director Jan Coates, have been working with the staffs at Jonesport and Beals Elementary Schools to create an excellent learning opportunity for students.

All the students, PK-8 spent time this school year engaged in the reading of  The Wanderer by Sharon Creech. In addition to reading the book, all classes took the story to a different level with some type of interdisciplinary learning unit. The theme was “navigating the storm”. For those of you familiar with the book you know that the characters experience many storms; personal storms in addition to the weather traveling by sail boat. I had never read the book but as soon as I got home I downloaded it to read on my ipad.

When I arrived at the school Mrs. Creech was meeting with the students in an assembly showing slides and photo 22telling stories. Afterwards she went to each classroom to learn about what work they did in connection with the book and to answer questions. Sharon has written several novels and picture books, mostly about and for very young people but also for adults. Walk Two Moons received the Newberry Medal. Mrs. Creech was an excellent presenter and interacted with the students in the students on multiple levels. Sharon lives in Camden.

I was so impressed with the lessons that teachers and students selected to connect with the theme. The older students really “owned” their learning, truly student-centered learning. The very young children planted beans, made plant food from seaweed and tracked the amount that was given to each plant to determine what happened to the plant in relationship to the amount of food it was given. Grade 3 discussed how to work through issues, wrote scripts on one of the topics, and video taped them to share numerous times. The older students researched obesity, bullying, and a winter storm that did some major damage.

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Sharon Creech meeting with the 8th graders

I was very impressed  with the staff and especially the students. The entire was a success due to the following:

  1. Each student could relate/connect to the story. It was “real life”.
  2. There were connections for every content.
  3. Common Core and State Maine Learning Results standards were included.
  4. The lessons were sustained over a long period of time.
  5. The learning unit could take place for PK-8, spiraling learning.
  6. It was a school-wide collaborative idea.
Venn diagram that the 8th graders created on their selected topic Obesity

Venn diagram that the 8th graders created on their selected topic Obesity

Thank you Lisa Marin and your students and colleagues.

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