Posts Tagged ‘Maine education’

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Arts Learning Grant Recipient

May 25, 2018

The Telling Room

The Telling Room is a recipient of an Arts Learning grant this year from the Maine Arts Commission. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to visit their site in Portland not long ago. It was charged with creativity and excitement for learning. While visiting a group of students from the Biddeford Schools Gifted and Talented program were participating in a lesson. I had the opportunity to observe, participate, and speak to the participants. I also had the chance to meet with the staff and they kindly followed up with information that is included in this blog post. Thank you all for your contributions!
Suzanne Tighe, Biddeford teacher, has worked with the Telling Room staff for three years.
IN SUZANNE’S OWN WORDS
Thank you for helping to support the Telling Room. This is my 3rd year bringing students to the Telling Room or having them come to my school. My students always look forward to the visits.  My 5th graders this year did not get to visit with Marjo and they were so disappointed. She has been my contact person for the past three years. She has always made it a point to get to know the students and they feel that connection. One of my boys, a reluctant writer, was so looking forward to working with Marjo this part Monday. He wanted her to be the one to help him develop his writing.
I feel that the greatest benefit for the students is the level of investment they have in their writing after working with them. This interest and excitement about writing is then transferred to their every day writing. The students never know who they will be able to work with; a writer, photographer, a musician, artist or poet. This allows my students to work with adults who have a range of interests. Many of my students play musician interments or are gifted in the visual arts.  The opportunity to work with these artists is a wonderful experience.
For myself, its a great way to see some new ideas or see some old techniques reinvented. This allows me to use these techniques with other students. Its also an opportunity to talk about writing with a colleague and share ideas.

Marjolaine Whittlesey is a Teaching Artist Associate

Marjolaine Whittlesey is a Teaching Artist Associate at the Telling Room and worked with Suzanne’s students at the school and again on the day I visited at the Telling Room.

IN MARJOLAINE’S OWN WORDS
During a field trip to the Telling Room students get to experience the art of writing in a greater context than what they see in the classroom. They get to work alongside adult writers and see the plethora of publishing done by peers their age and other students from around the state. When they walk into our space they often comment on how it feels comfortable and creative, “like my home.”

Our space and our programing serves to create a safe space for each student to explore their own unique voice, which opens them up to their creative selves. Our programs often start with generative work that allows each student to find a way into the writing process. Our activities and warm ups strive to reach various learning types so that any student can feel inspired and successful. Our focus on writing as mostly rewriting is a skill that will serve any student throughout their whole life. We present revision as focused play rather than tedious work. Hopefully that sticks!

My hope is that each student remembers the excitement and pride they felt around writing and sharing. I hope that they can remember specific details about what they wrote or heard in others’ stories. Even if they can’t remember an exact writing exercise, my goal is that each student leaves a TR program being more curious about the world and their experience in it.

Students come to The Telling Room on a Field Trip with their class as a three hour experience. I love to hear when they return to school and continue to work on the pieces they started during the Field Trip and it becomes a bigger part of their classroom experience back at school. We had one student enjoy the writing they did with us in their Field Trip so much that they asked to return to The Telling Room for a Summer Camp — and then they followed that up with a semester-long afterschool program! They discovered that they loved to write and found a space to continue developing that love at The Telling Room.
Nick Schuller is the Program Director at The Telling Room.
IN NICK’S OWN WORDS
Sometimes we hear that “today’s young people” have difficulty receiving feedback or being told “no,” and that constant exposure to screens impedes their natural curiosity. Our work in field trips like this one counteracts those concerns: rather than shutting down because of constructive criticism, our young writers are encouraged to see an opportunity for new creative expression. We hope they’ll see that inviting diverse voices into the feedback process can foster collaboration and ultimately the product will be stronger as a result.

I always hope that we light a spark, and that field trip attendees will go back to school with a new energy for writing. I also hope that all of the students received a confidence boost from knowing that they can engage in the revision process and come out feeling encouraged.

Sarah Schneider is the Development Director at the Telling Room.
IN SARAH’S OWN WORDS
The opportunity to encounter writing in a new way—either through games and activities, other art forms like theater and performance, or simply being in a new space with time to write—can free up students to think in new ways and engage their imagination. Even reluctant writers often begin to open up in a field trip as they learn and practice writing a story they want to tell and that people will be eager to hear.

One of the key things students get to do with us, even on field trips, is share their writing—a whole piece, or even just a word or a sentence—with their peers. Getting a chance to share the story or poem they’ve been working on with an audience is a big part of building confidence. I hope that students remember that they can be bold and take a leap out of their comfort zone—in both writing and sharing their work—to discover things they didn’t know were inside them and to share their stories and voices with all of us.

Celine Kuhn is the Executive Director at the Telling Room.
IN CELINE’S OWN WORDS
I hope that students will remember that we offered them a safe and creative space to write for fun, tell their stories and find their voice. What we do every day is equip kids to succeed in and out of school.
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Maine’s High School Diploma Standards

April 7, 2018

Contribute your opinion

On Monday, April 9 at 1:30 p.m., Cross Building, room 202, State House complex in August there will be public hearings on two bills that impact Maine education.
  • L.D. 1898 An Act To Amend Maine’s High School Diploma Standards and Ensure Maine Students Meet State Standards upon Graduation Presented by Representative Ginzler of Bridgton
  • L.D. 1900 An Act to Repeal Proficiency-based Diplomas
The Education and Cultural Affairs Committee of the Maine Legislature will hear both written and in-person testimony for bills, either for, against or neither for nor against. If you are interested in providing testimony you may do so in the following ways:
  • Send an email to Jayne Deneen at Jayne.Deneen@legislature.maine.gov with L.D. 1898 or L.D. 1900 in the subject line and she will distribute your testimony to the committee members.
  • Snail mail your testimony to
    Jayne Deneen, Committee Clerk
    Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs
    100 State House Station
    Augusta, ME 04333-0100

    She will distribute your communication to members of the committee.

Read each LD at:

Committee information and the link to listen online is located at:

http://legislature.maine.gov/committee/#Committees/EDU

 

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In Today’s News

March 30, 2018

Karen MacDonald on Proficiency Based Education

“I recently retired from the classroom after 37 years of teaching. At the middle school where I taught, we transitioned to a proficiency-based model during the last few years of my career. That change was a consequence of our decision to separate the reporting of academic learning from the reporting of work habits and share this more honest information with parents and students. The change was also about being very explicit about the important learning at each grade level and how we would effectively teach and assess that learning. Finally, we made the shift to provide students and parents with clear guidelines for demonstrating proficiency in a specific area”.

The article was published in the Maine Press Herald, March 29. Read the entire article HERE. Be sure and read the comments as well.

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In Today’s News

March 4, 2018

Maine rethinks giving diplomas only to students who demonstrate proficiency in key subjects

Portland Press Herald written by Noel K. Gallagher, March 4, 2018.

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Tally-ho!

September 7, 2017

Opening day

My best teaching colleague always called the teacher first day of administration speeches the “Tally-ho” speech. Depending on the topic, it was more times than not, predictable. The first day for teachers in Charlottesville this year was 2 days after the events that took place. Needless to say this unpredictable event turned the day’s plan upside down and the superintendent asked herself: “How could we possibly help our teachers process these events, so that they in turn could help our students?

The superintendent, Rosa Atkins, had worked with her leadership team during the summer on a plan to roll out the district’s strategic plan. She knew that they had to completely re-think the plan to acknowledge and and address the immediate needs.

“We needed to take time to acknowledge the trauma that we and our students had experienced. In addition to grieving, could we possibly hope for a little healing and inspiration to guide us into the new year?”

When I read this in the article that Rosa wrote and was published in Education Week Teacher, August 23, called Charlottesville Schools Superintendent: ‘We Will Need to Lean on One Another’In Charlotteville, led by Superintendent Atkins, included a clear message reflecting on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. words: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.” It was the teachers and schools that “shine the illuminating light of learning, the warm light of relationships, the beautiful light of creativity and the arts, the clarifying light of truth and fact, and the reflective light of introspection.” Every member of the staff member, 800 of them, was given a glow stick and formed three hearts out of the glow sticks and sang “Lean on Me”. The three hearts represented the three who lost their lives due to the rally.

One music teacher wrote on Facebook, “Today our whole city schools’ faculty came together to kick off the year. And do you know what we did? We sang. We need each other’s voices. All of them. This is why I do what I do.”

Of course, I thought about the power of the arts and how they often bring people together. And, I found myself wondering which school districts in Maine were addressing this topic head on? I wondered how many of the first teacher days agendas included or acknowledged the topic? I wondered how many ‘welcome back to school letters’ sent from superintendents and principals acknowledged the issue? I wondered how many educators see our role and responsibility?

I learned about the letter that the superintendent in Portland Public Schools sent to the staff and the resources that were put together to help guide the role and responsibility we all have as educators. No, it wasn’t the predictable letter or message but it was the right one. I applaud superintendent Xavier Botana and the Portland school district for taking a stand and providing support for the district staff. Perhaps Superintendent Botana’s background influences his lens. He came to the United States as a Cuban refugee who didn’t speak English. His experiences are similar to those of many children in the district. Inspired by his work in Portland’s changing community, he says, “Education can transform lives in this land of opportunity.”

Tomorrow I will post the resources that will be useful to educational staffs – in and out of schools – across the state and beyond. If you have resources please share them with me at argy.nestor@maine.gov so I can pass them on to others. We can all use a little guidance on the topic.

Tally-ho!

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ECET2 Conference

August 11, 2017

Teacher leaders from across the state

Yesterday and today educators from across the state are convening on Colby College campus for the summer ECET2 conference. What does ECET stand for? I’m glad you were wondering. Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teachers and Teaching in Maine. This is the third summer that the convening has taken place. The sessions are provided by teachers and by all reports all outstanding. I am reminded of the great work going on in classrooms across Maine and how fortunate learners are. Since most of my contact is with visual and performing arts teachers, it is great to be with teachers of all subjects and grade levels. And, you betcha, I am taking time to talk about arts education and the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI). Leadership is woven throughout the conference. It is great to be here with one of MALI’s new Teacher Leaders and the Piscataquis County Teacher of the Year from SeDoMoCha Elementary School, Kaitlin Young.

Yesterday started with a “Cultivating the Calling” session presented by Matt Drewette-Card from AOS #94. Followed by speed dating where participants had the chance to meet with 4 different people representing educational organizations. It was great fun to share! We headed to colleague circles over lunch where we got to the dreams and concerns in small groups. After lunch we had the opportunity to select from the following breakout sessions.

  • Teach to Lead – watch for an opportunity coming in the near future to attend an event in Maine
  • Time for Change: A 3-Step Process to Becoming a Better Teacher-Leader
  • Safe Environments and Honest Conversations
  • Unlocking Never-Before-Seen Doors for Kids
  • Professional Development BY the teachers and FOR the teachers
  • Creating Opportunities for All Students
  • Today’s Literacy Community: Reaching Beyond Classroom Walls

Today we will hear two more “Cultivating the Calling” provided by Tracie Travers and Brittany Ray. I’m really looking forward to them and the line up of sessions promises to be just as interesting and filled with learning as yesterday’s. If you are interested in learning more please CLICK HERE to see not only the sessions and resources but to read about ECET2 and the organizations that support and are partner.

Congratulations to the planning committee for a great job in planning the learning opportunity!

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MALI Summer Institute: Day 2

August 4, 2017

Wowzer!

Kate Cook Whitt

Day 2 kicked off with an amazing STEAM presentation from Kate Cook-Whitt. The opening was titled This is your Brain on Art: Neuroscience and the Arts  – “Examining the World Through Different Lenses: Art and Science”. Kate is an Assistant Professor of Education at the Center for Innovation in Education (CIE) at Thomas College. Participants agreed that Kate’s presentation was outstanding!

Teacher Leaders participated in several great mini-sessions, some led by teacher leaders and teaching artists leaders themselves including:

  • Nancy Frolich, Social Justice mini-lesson

    Social Justice and the Power of the Arts with Nancy Frohlich from Leaps of Imagination

  • 7 Strategies of Assessment with Jeff Beaudry from USM and visual art teacher leaders Holly Leighton and Samantha Armstrong

  • National Board Certification with visual art teacher leader Danette Kerrigan

  • Connecting the STUDIO HABITS of MIND to the NATIONAL STANDARDS in the Visual Arts classroom with visual art teacher leader Jane Snider

  • Things Into Poetry session with Brian Evans-Jones

    Things Into Poetry with poet teaching artist leader Brian Evans-Jones

In addition Bronwyn Sale and John Morris provided a session called Teaching for Creativity. The afternoon brought all three strands together (teaching artist leaders, new PK-12 teacher leaders and returning PK-12 teacher leaders) for a session with teaching artist leader and potter Tim Christensen. We engaged with a small medallion of clay using the process Tim is so in tune with: sgraffito.

The rest of the afternoon was spent on leadership, advocacy, and putting it into action on the follow up plans for the next year. Strand 1, the Teaching Artist Leaders met with Jeff Poulin, electronically, from the Americans for the Arts.

Day turned into night and educators gathered around the Thomas College fire pit for drumming and a chance for Tim to fire the clay pieces created earlier in the day in the propane fire pit. This provided a wonderful opportunity to connect with colleagues from across the state. What a great way to end an outstanding day!

Strand 1 with Jeff Poulin, Americans for the Arts. Kate Smith, Design Team member, holds the computer during the question and answer period

Jennie Driscoll, Elise Bothel visual art teacher leaders

Jen Etter, music teacher leader

New teacher leaders David Coffey – music and Amy Donovan-Nucci – visual art

Tim Christensen firing the clay pieces

Fun around the fire pit!

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