Posts Tagged ‘Maine education’

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Teaching and Learning Outside

November 17, 2020

You in or out or ?

During the last few months we’ve been hearing about moving the classroom outside since it is safer than being inside during the pandemic. Many teachers patched together how to teach online in the spring, the summer studying how to teach online and simultaneously with students in person. Many are holding their breath that the pandemic doesn’t worsen so they are forced to go full time online once again and I see in the news this morning that is happening in some schools across the state of Maine.

In the Maine Sunday Telegram this past weekend an article was included written by Rachel Ohm about what many Maine school districts and teachers are doing to move learning outdoors. The benefit to students learning visual arts outside are numerous. Close observation for drawing, painting, sculpting and actual experiences with a variety of textures are just two examples that make the curriculum more authentic and engage learners at a deeper level.

PORTLAND, ME – NOVEMBER 13: Katie West teaches an outdoor art class to third graders in the woods at Lyseth Elementary School in Portland on Friday, November 13, 2020. (Staff Photo by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer)

LYSETH ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

The article includes how art teacher Katie West is using an outdoor classroom at Lyseth Elementary School in Portland. As long as her students are safe she plans to continue teaching outside. Her classroom includes a tarp with waterproof cushions and stumps for students to stay appropriately space. I’m sure some of you are wondering about the winter elements and learners being prepared with the clothing to keep them warm. Fortunately the school district is using some of their relief funds to purchase clothing for students; 500 hats and 1,000 pairs of gloves have been distributed to students. Six-hundred pairs of snow pants are expected to arrive after Thanksgiving. An order of fleece will be cut up into blankets and neck warmers. Katie has received a $1,000 grant to start a gear exchange for the students at Lyseth.

MORE PROGRAMS

South Portland Schools have created over 90 outdoor learning spaces across eight schools for outdoor instruction to take place. The grades K-5 students in Freeport have the option for remote learning with the Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment. In Alna the the PK-grade 5 Juniper Hill School has been teaching and learning outside since it was established in 2011 with the school’s focus on nature. At Sweetland School in Hope (where I teach) over the summer a gazebo was built so teaching and learning can take place in a location protected from the elements. Along with the gazebo they have a greenhouse complete with a wood stove that is used for another outdoor learning space.

PORTLAND, ME – NOVEMBER 13: Third grader Gianna Meas works on her painting of a tree during an outdoor art class in the woods at Lyseth Elementary School in Portland on Friday, November 13, 2020. (Staff Photo by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer)

KATE EHRENFELD GARDOQUI

About a year ago Kate Ehrenfeld Gardoqui wrote an article that was published in Education Week called The Irrefutable Case for Taking Class Outside. She told a story about being at a Teacher of the Year event when someone made this comment to her: “Oh, you do the nature stuff, right? That sounds so fun!” As visual and performing arts educators we can relate to that type of comment, right? Kate works with the Great Schools Partnership and is the cofounder of White Pine Programs, a nature-connection organization in southern Maine. She was a finalist for the 2011 Maine State Teacher of the Year. Needless to say Kate is no slouch when it comes to teaching and learning. She included in her article that teachers who simply don’t know what is taught and learned in outdoor education can’t possibly understand the potential of the curriculum. Her story drives the point home about how we not only have to education children but adults as well.

I heard from Kate yesterday and she said how inspiring the work that Maine schools are doing opening the door to incorporating outdoor learning throughout the school day. She shared information about three schools.

  • Kingfield Elementary, where teacher Selina Green Warren has spearheaded a vibrant gardening program, and principal Johanna Prince has supported many teachers in exploring the possibilities of outdoor learning. LEARN MORE. Selina’s work was started before the pandemic; when teachers at her school started searching for ways to bring learning outside, they realized what an amazing asset Selina’s garden was.
  • Great Works School in South Berwick has also been doing some amazing work on building year-round environments for outdoor learning. Here is an article about LEARN MORE.
  • Kate recently published a blog on the Great Schools Partnership page about some other programs that have been inspiring her. LEARN MORE.

KATE’S WISH

” On the whole, my deepest wish is that one legacy of this pandemic is that more teachers will recognize the incredible value of learning experiences that don’t happen inside classrooms. There’s been so much loss, but I’m hoping that this might be one silver lining.

There’s plenty of resources available for those considering ‘taking your classroom outside’ I certainly agree with Kate and in addition I know that quality education programs in the Arts are not only providing deep meaningful learning but holding the hope in our hearts and minds that we will get through this pandemic and be better people for it!

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Student Artwork Opportunity

January 10, 2020

2020 Inclusion Awards

The Maine Developmental Disabilities Council (MDDC) recently put out a call for submissions for its 2020 Inclusion Awards, which celebrate extraordinary high school students who think deeply about issues of inclusion for people living with developmental disabilities. Open to all Maine high school juniors and seniors, the awards have two components: an Essay Contest and a Visual Arts Contest, which allow students to express these ideas as artwork.

Changing the Way We See by Sophia DeSchiffart, Creative Expression 1st Place Winner 2018

This year, students are asked to write essays or create two-dimensional artworks responding to the following prompt: “What does the full inclusion of individuals with developmental disabilities mean to you?”

The experience of participating in these contests has been a rewarding one for both teachers and students. “The contest allowed me to have the ability to express myself while standing up for others and hopefully having an impact within the community on how people interact with someone with developmental disabilities,” writes Madison Landry, a participant in 2019. Linda Garcia, an educator at Hodgdon High School says, “By participating in the Maine Developmental Disabilities Council’s Inclusion Awards, my students become advocates for a special segment of communities across Maine and beyond. Through their participation, my students share stories about inspiring individuals who make our world a more beautiful place.?

The deadline for entries is Monday, February 3, 2020, and educational awards range from $250 to $1,000 for individual entries. Teachers and schools will also have an opportunity to win educational grants to support their commitment to educating their students on the value of inclusion.

The MDDC is a partnership of people with disabilities, their families, and agencies that identifies barriers to community inclusion, self-determination, and independence. MDDC is committed to creating a Maine in which all people are valued and respected because the council believes communities are stronger when everyone is included.

For more information, contest rules and entry guidelines, visit maineddc.org/inclusion, email maineddcom@gmail.com. or call Jessica Gorton at 287.4215.

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MLTI Student Conference

February 6, 2019

Call for Student and Educator Team Proposals

The MLTI Student Conference Committee is issuing the call for student and educator team proposals for the 16th Annual MLTI Student Conference, to be held on Thursday, May 23, 2019 at the University of Maine in Orono.

Two important notes:

  1. Proposals are due much earlier this year! This will allow us to have a session list finalized by the time conference registration opens.
  2. Ideally, all proposals will have some form of student leadership incorporated. This could mean students will lead the whole session (with some adult support), students will serve as guides/coaches during the activity portion, or something in between. Students can co-present with teachers or other educators (including from community or business organizations).

Sessions will be one-hour long, must involve some form of creating, making, and doing, and should leave participants excited about what they learned and eager to share their experiences with others.

Here’s the information you need to submit a proposal:

Conference Theme: Create for ME

Possible Topics:  Proposals are not limited to the conference theme, and might include topics such as music, spoken word recording, coding, video production, graphic design, or writing and publishing your collection of short stories.

Device Requirements:  The student conference supports all MLTI devices, regardless of platform and encourages “platform-agnostic” sessions.

A Proposal Submission must include:

  1. The name of your school
  2. The title of your session
  3. List of all presenters ($15 registration cost will be waived for up to two presenters per session)
  4. A description of your session:
    • What skill will participants learn? How will you teach this?
    • What activity will participants engage in – what will they create?
    • What can participants expect to walk away knowing and being able to do?
  5. Materials to share in the conference registration form:
    • Short video advertisement of the session (less than a minute)
    • Short description of the session (less than 200 words)
  6. Student leadership information:
    • How will student leaders be incorporated into the session?
    • How will they be empowered to succeed during preparation and during the day of the conference?
  7. Session requirements:
    • Level of expertise needed to participate fully (beginner, intermediate, expert)
    • The maximum number of participants you can accommodate (room sizes vary from 30-100)
    • Space set up requests (auditorium, tables/chairs, projector, speakers, etc.)
  8. Technology requirements:
    • A list of which platforms can be used in the session: (MacBook, iPad, ProBook, ElitePad, Chromebook, other)
    • Software and materials participants must have to participate (be specific)
  9. The name of the educator to be contacted about this proposal, and their email and phone number

Submit Proposals by 5 pm, Friday, February 22nd, 2019 to this online form or copy and paste this URL into your browser: http://bit.ly/MLTI-student-conference-proposals-2019. It is recommended that you type your answers in a separate document and then copy them into the form, so you can be sure to save your work.

General Timeline:

  • Proposals due: 2/22
  • Proposals selected: 3/1
  • Registration open: 3/13
  • Last day to register: 4/23

Spread the word – if you know of someone doing fantastic work involving technology with making, doing, or storytelling please encourage them to submit a proposal or send an email with suggestions to Amanda.Nguyen@maine.gov!

For more information or answers to questions, please visit the MLTI Student Conferencepage or contact Amanda Nguyen, Digital Learning Specialist at Amanda.Nguyen@maine.gov.

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Maine Teacher of the Year

January 18, 2019

Looking to 2020

2018 Maine State Teacher of the Year, Kaitlin Young, Music Educator

Every outstanding teacher knows someone who would make a great representative for education. The person who teaches down the hall or at another grade level or perhaps someone you’ve watched from a distance at district workshops. Whoever it is, do they inspire students, plant seeds for their colleagues, and/or take on leadership roles with a clear voice? Here is your chance to honor them and communicate how important they are to the profession. Consider nominating them for the 2019 County Teacher of the Year. If they are selected they will be considered for the honor of 2020 Maine Teacher of the Year.

NOMINATION

Teachers may be nominated by students, parents, teaching colleagues, principals, superintendents or anyone from the community who wants to honor an outstanding educator. 

Publicly recognizing outstanding teachers encourages students to think about teaching as a career, and provides the community a sense of pride and investment in their teachers who are making a positive impact on student’s lives every day.

To nominate an outstanding teacher as a 2019 County Teacher of the Year CLICK HERE!

Deadline: MONDAY, 4 FEBRUARY 2019, 5:00 p.m.

About the Teacher of the Year Program

The Maine Teacher of the Year program starts with your nomination!
To be considered, the teacher must:

  • Hold the appropriate professional certification for their teaching position;
  • Be employed by a Maine public school, including a Career and Technical Education center, public charter school; or be employed by a publicly supported secondary school (a private school that enrolls 60 percent or more publicly funded students, sometimes referred to as “town academies” and
  • Have been teaching for a minimum of 5 years – 3 of which are in Maine.
  • Be actively teaching students at least fifty percent of full-time employment at the time of nomination and during the year of recognition.
  • Not have been a County Teacher of the Year within the past 5 years.  

From those nominees, one exemplary teacher from each of the 16 Maine counties will be selected as a 2019 Maine County Teacher of the Year. From the 16 County Teachers of the Year, 8 semi-finalists are selected. The field is narrowed to 3 state finalists, one of whom will be announced as the 2020 Maine State Teacherof the Year at a surprise school assembly in the fall of 2019.

The Maine Teacher of the Year program is administered by Educate Maine in partnership with the Maine Department of Education. The Maine State Teacher of the Year represents Maine at the national level and becomes eligible for the National Teacher of the Year award.

Please contact Dolly Sullivan at Educate Maine if you have questions or want more information on the process.

Please don’t miss this opportunity to honor and recognize a great Maine Teacher!

DEADLINE: 4 FEBRUARY 2019

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ECET2 Spot On!

August 14, 2018

Gathering at Colby College

The ECET2 – Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teachers – conference held last week at Colby College was outstanding. ECET2 Maine is an educator community and two-day event and based on the ECET2 national model offering a unique opportunity for teachers from across Maine to connect with other practitioners to gain leadership skills, share innovative classroom practices, and be “celebrated” for their work on behalf of Maine’s students.

Allan Monga speaking with Sydney Chaffee

There were three Cultivating the Calling speeches that provided seeds of inspiration. Hearing educators stories is motivating and validating. One was provided by the 2017 National Teacher of the Year, Sydney Chaffee. She has been moved by her own students stories and by Maine’s Poetry Out Loud champ Allan Monga.

The breakout sessions were terrific, presented by thoughtful educators sharing their ideas and practices. The Colleague Circles provided time to discuss challenges and successes and it was made clear that we share so much across our state in schools/districts.

Colleague Circle presentations during Gallery Walk

Participants could add their “Why I Teach” to a wall and I’ve included some of them in this blog post. You can see that the arts were well represented.

The conference closed out with a Shark Tank where three teams pitched their ideas. Five hundred dollars was given to the most convincing idea which was decided by participants votes on Twitter. And, of course, the door prizes were super!

A great big thank you to the planners – once again they did an outstanding job providing an opportunity that was “spot on” for educators!

There were at least 5 participants who said they will be working on having an ECET2 event in their communities. Watch for the information as it becomes available on their website or Facebook.

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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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