Messalonskee Middle School Makes National List of Middle Schools to Visit!

December 7, 2013 by

Congratulations to Messalonskee Middle School for being identified as one of the top 38 elementary and middle schools to visit in the nation. According to Tom Vander Ark’s Education Week blog, On Innovation, Messalonskee Middle School is among the top schools in the nation that achieve extraordinary results, create powerful learning experiences, and/or have created innovative technology blends.

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/on_innovation/2013/11/38_elementary_middle_schools_worth_visiting.html?cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS2

Messalonskee Middle School in Maine, students have Learning Goal Time (LGT) every day, with a full two hours once a week to work on assignments and get the extra help they need. Chris Sturgis has featured the school on CompetencyWorks and in this brief.

Why Join MAMLE?

September 26, 2013 by

MAMLE, The Maine Association for Middle Level Education, is Maine’s only professional association of teachers, administrators, and parents who have joined together to specifically support the development of quality programs serving the needs of young adolescents. For over a quarter of a century MAMLE and its partners have consistently advocated for and promoted a better understanding of middle grades education across the state. It is a source of ideas, information, and support for everyone working with and on behalf of young adolescents.

Of course MAMLE can only do this work with the active support, involvement and contributions of dedicated Mainers, like you! So, if you, or your school or organization don’t already belong to MAMLE this is the perfect time to join with nearly 100 Maine schools and thousands of educators that work with young adolescents in grades 5-9. Check out this short 3 minute video from the MAMLE Board of Directors as they share why they belong, and why you should too. We look forward to working with you on behalf of all middle grades students, and hope you’ll join MAMLE!

For more information, and to join MAMLE please visit our website http://mainemamle.org/

10 Reasons to “Like” MAMLE on Facebook

September 22, 2013 by

MAMLE’s Facebook page is undergoing a facelift to make it more useful to middle level educators.  By “liking” us on Facebook you will receive notification of new postings.  Check out our page at https://www.facebook.com/Maine.MAMLE

10 Reasons to Click on the Like Button on the MAMLE Facebook Page

1. Keep up-to-date on MAMLE news

We’re psyched about the 2013 annual conference (2 fantastic keynoters + 40 + concurrent sessions)–check out the conference page on our new website: http://mainemamle.org/conference/

2. Find out what cool projects other school have going on

Students at Georgetown Central School are going to monitoring the health of their community’s forests in Project Canopy! Read all about it! http://www.timesrecord.com/news/2013-09-17/Front_Page/Students_an_integral_part_of_Project_Canopy.html

3. Locate a provocative article to stimulate conversations about school goals in staff meetings

Something to think about–compliance vs engagement: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/09/17/getting-students-to-engage-not-just-comply/

4. Share resources for specific curriculum areas

Here’s a site for Health, Family Consumer Science, and Home Ec teachers–Larry Ferlazzo’s best sites on food and nutrition–lots of info-graphics: http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2010/01/19/the-best-sites-for-learning-about-nutrition-food-safety/

5. Share instructional strategies that stretch across the curriculum

Here’s a strategy to help students reflect on what they have learned and apply it in a new situation, Remember– John Dewey said, “We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.” Be Sure To…strategy from The Teaching Channel: https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/student-goal-setting

6. Find an interesting website or article to share with parents in your school/team newsletter

Larry Ferlazzo reports on a study that shows students do not respond well to threats: http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2013/09/11/study-young-people-respond-better-to-the-positive-than-they-do-to-threats/

7. Suggest new titles for your students to read

Mary Morton Cowan author of the award-winning biography, Captain Mac: The Life of Donald Baxter MacMillan, Arctic Explorer will be presenting at the MAMLE Conference on Friday, October 18. http://tinyurl.com/ktdnzyg

8. Keep up-to-date with new ideas in technology integration

Just tried out MindMup–a free, in the cloud, open resource webbing site. It interfaces with Google Drive and Drop Box. Worth a visit! http://www.mindmup.com/

9. Get some different perspectives on instructional dilemmas such as “Do-Overs”

As you think about do-overs, take time to listen to Dave Puckett talk about the inspiration for his book Mr. DeVore’s Do-Over: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27x4v9i5zoo

10. Find PD opportunities focused just on teaching 10-14 year olds

The MAMLE Conference has a strong literacy strand with featured presenter, Kevin Perks. Check it all out at http://mainemamle.org/conference/

BONUS: Share stories with your students that inspire them to become concerned and responsible citizens

Middle level students believe in fairness and compassion in the world. Just look at what Meghan accomplished in 24 hours. http://www.timesrecord.com/news/2013-09-03/Front_Page/Maine_girl_12_rescues_horses_from_slaughter.html

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New MAMLE Website

September 16, 2013 by

The new MAMLE website is up and running. It has all of the conference information on the Conference page–Check it out!

Here are the URLs:

Website: http://mainemamle.org/

Conference page: http://mainemamle.org/conference/

webpage

Karen MacDonald – King Middle School

September 11, 2013 by

2014 Maine Teacher of the Year

Screen shot 2013-09-10 at 9.22.07 PMPortland’s Karen MacDonald named 2014 Maine Teacher of the Year
Maine Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen announced the King Middle School sixth-and seventh-grade teacher as Maine’s top educator in a surprise all-school assembly Tuesday

PORTLAND – A 24-year veteran teacher at the state’s most diverse middle school is the 2014 Maine Teacher of the Year.

In a surprise assembly at King Middle School (KMS) in Portland Tuesday morning, Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen announced Karen MacDonald, who has served students in Portland Public Schools since 1979 and been at KMS since 1989, as Maine’s top teacher.

The sixth-and seventh-grade English language arts teacher is described by students as a “gift,” by colleagues as a teacher leader who is “the most consistently innovative” and by her principal as “relentlessly committed to the success of all of her students.”

In a letter to MacDonald shared by Commissioner Bowen Tuesday, Governor Paul R. LePage thanked her on behalf of a grateful state for devoting her life to serving the students who are Maine’s future.

“In the 33 years you have taught in Portland schools, you have exemplified what it means to put students first, constantly improving your teaching practices to best meet the changing needs of your students in innovative, imaginative ways,” Governor LePage wrote. “The ‘you can do this’ message you always give your students  – many of them new to this country and our English language – instills them with the confidence that they can do anything, including realizing the American dream. Thanks to you, education truly is the great equalizer for students from all walks of life who come through your classroom door.”

KMS serves the most racially, ethnically and economically diverse neighborhoods in Maine and its 550 students represent 22 countries and 29 native first languages.

Those students were joined in celebrating MacDonald by Commissioner Bowen, Portland School District Superintendent Manny Caulk, KMS Principal Mike McCarthy, past Maine Teacher of the Years including 2013 winner Shannon Shanning, Educate Maine Director Tanna Clews, Bangor Savings Bank Regional Market Manager Stephan Woods, Hannaford Director of Corporate Communications Michael Norton and State Board of Education Chair Nancy Perkins and Vice-Chair Peter Geiger.

Thinking it was an assembly about the state’s technology program, MacDonald stood attentively next to her students, taking notes until Commissioner Bowen announced he was actually there because of the great teachers at KMS, and one in particular. Students erupted with excitement, giving a standing ovation as MacDonald made her way to the stage where her family joined her.

MacDonald quickly turned her award into a teachable moment, addressing her class privately after the assembly was dismissed to tell students she never dreamed she’d actually win Maine Teacher of the Year and that it was a lesson in the value of taking risks. She promised to share her journey with them, including her upcoming visit to the White House and NASA space camp.

“I am so proud to be a teacher. It’s an amazing career,” she said.

In addition to MacDonald, the other 2014 finalists were Mary Graziano, a fourth-grade teacher at Hartland Consolidated School, and Suzen Polk-Hoffses, a kindergarten teacher at Milbridge Elementary School.

“It’s certainly a great day in the teaching career of Karen MacDonald and it is also a great day for King Middle School,” said Principal McCarthy. “But every day that Karen MacDonald is here it is a great day. She is simply the best teacher we have ever known.”

As Teacher of the Year, MacDonald will serve as an ambassador for her profession and Maine’s students, and she will be available to travel across the state speaking to colleagues and business and community groups. Starting last year, Bangor Savings Bank began reimbursing the Teacher of the Year’s school district for the cost of substitutes while the Teacher of the Year was out of the classroom on official duties.

Maine Teacher of the Year is a program of the Maine Department of Education, administered by Educate Maine. Educate Maine is a business-led organization whose mission is to champion college, career readiness and increased education attainment with a goal of Maine’s students and workers being the best educated and most highly skilled in the world. For more information, visit http://www.educatemaine.org. Funding for the program is generously provided by Hannaford, Geiger and Bangor Savings Bank with support from the State Board of Education and the Maine State Teacher of the Year Association.

The nomination process for the 2015 Maine Teacher of the Year begins this November. Those interested in nominating a teacher should contact their school principal or visit the Maine Department of Education website at www.maine.gov/doe/toy.

Empowering Students: MAMLE Annual Conference

September 5, 2013 by

MAMLE’s annual conference is coming right up!  A flyer and registration materials were sent to all schools this week.  Mark your calendars!

Dates:  October 17 & 18

Location: Point Lookout Resort and Conference Center, Northport

Flyer 3

Highlights of the conference:

  • Two inspiring keynoters: Al Miller & Jack Berckemeyer

Al Miller

Al Miller will be speaking Thursday: “Theater in the Classroom: Creative Energy”

Jack Berckemeyer will be speaking Friday: “Middle Level Education:

Living It, Loving It, Laughing About It”

BerckemeyerJack

  • 35 + concurrent sessions
  • Featured presentations related to literacy with Dr. Kevin Perks
  • HP & Apple are both presenting and will have Help Desks for individual questions
  • Annual Thursday evening social, Meet Me in the Middle networking get-together, and exhibitors

Highlights of Point Lookout

  • Overlooks Penobscot Bay
  • Trails, ocean beach, kayaking & fitness center
  • Cabins on site for those staying overnight
  • Internet everywhere
  • Delectable meals
  • Great breakout rooms
  • Easily accessible via Rt. 1 or Rts. 95 & 3

For current information about the specifics of the conference check out the conference page at MAMLE’s new website: http://mainemamle.org/conference/   You can download registration and housing materials as well as read a preview of some of the sessions!

MiddleWeb Smartbriefs – Tips for the New School Year and More

August 10, 2013 by

Do you know about Middleweb.com? If not you should!
MiddleWeb is all about the middle grades with a sharp focus on teaching and learning in grades 4-8. Here’s a description from their website.

• Resource Roundups: short, link-laden essays built around a theme. Browse here or search for keywords.

• Guest Posts: Just what you might expect…first-person articles.  The voices of middle grades education stars and many lesser known teachers and school leaders up on the front lines who have stories to tell and good practice to share.

• Book Reviews: Reviews of professional books of interest to educators working in the middle. If you’re interested in becoming a MiddleWeb reviewer, let us know. We’ll share a list of what’s available and some basic guidelines for review writing. You pick what you’d like to read, write the review, keep the book. We publish your reviews, make you famous.

• Interviews: We’re talking with interesting people who have expertise around middle grades education — or just do great things for middle grades kids and schools. Peruse our Five Q Interviews for ideas, insights, and plain good chat.

Middleweb SmartBrief

As part of the new MiddleWeb experience, we’ve formed a partnership with the SmartBrief Education news team to produce the twice-weekly MiddleWeb SmartBrief e-newsletter. You may be familiar with the nation’s premier professional newsletter organization, which also publishes ASCD SmartBrief, Accomplished Teacher SmartBrief, SmartBrief on Ed Tech and other education reports.

MiddleWeb SmartBrief specializes in Grades 4-8 news and resources. We work with SmartBrief editors to shape the content and also contribute our own news and resources to every issue. Subscriptions are free, your address is kept confidential, and you can unsubscribe anytime with a single click.

Here’s some of the latest items from the MiddleWeb Smartbriefs.

Tips on preparing for a good school year
Educator and author Julia Thompson in this blog post offers a laundry list of ideas to prepare for the first day of school and set the tone for the rest of the school year such as planning lessons to engage students’ readiness and planning an icebreaker to help students get to know each other. “Teach your first lesson as if it is the most important one you will teach all year. In many ways, it is,” she writes. Education Week Teacher/Classroom Q&A blog

How teachers can avoid decision-making fatigue and remain productive
Teachers can make as many as 5,000 decisions in a school day, leading to what award-winning educator Brian Page calls “decision fatigue.” In this blog post, Page offers five tips to help connected teachers and administrators remain productive, including doing creative work first, setting an automated e-mail response that lists a later time when a response can be expected, along with scheduling time for social media. He also suggests making the most of downtime and completing one task at a time. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Education

“A gift to preservice and practicing teachers that will be hard to keep on the shelf” (Teachers College Record). 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know is a comprehensive guide to teaching any genre or form in grades 3-9. You’ll get a rich collection of mentor texts, tips, and launching points. Preview Chapter 1: Getting and Keeping Writers Motivated.

So check out Middleweb.com

Schoodic Education and Research Center

July 28, 2013 by

Science teachers

During the first week in July 70 Maine middle school science teachers met at the Schoodic Education and Research Center for professional development. The faculty was from UMaine and the teachers attended as part of the Maine Physical Sciences Partnership. The partnership is supported by a National Science Foundation grant and includes 18 school districts, the Maine Center for Research in STEM Education (RiSE Center) at UMaine, several nonprofit organizations and the Maine Department of Education. You can learn more and see photos at this link.

Screen shot 2013-07-19 at 9.41.50 PM

Summer off? Yeah, right! I’m already excited for next year!

July 1, 2013 by

So what does a middle school teacher do with his/her extra time now that school is over and he/she is getting antsy?  I don’t know about you, but I’m already thinking about how I can rearrange my classroom for next year.  I’ve checked out ideas on Pinterest, checked in with other teacher-friends, and have pretty much figured out how I’m going to do it.

So, what’s next, you ask?  Hmm, professional development!  I love to learn new things, which is good, since I will be teaching two different subjects next year than I taught this year, and I’ve never taught of them before.  Though I have a bit of anxiety about the switch, I’m really looking forward to it.  I’m also really lucky to have two other math/science teachers at my grade level who are willing to share their knowledge and materials with me.

Participants at the STEM Camp learn about plant life.

Participants at the STEM Camp learn about plant life.

Besides the TON of reading I’ll be doing during the next two months (and the school year), I’ve also chosen to immerse myself in STEM activities.  And here’s the coolest part…there’s a week-long STEM Collaborative Educators’ Camp that is absolutely FREE to Maine residents (and they provide housing too)!  There are varied classes being offered focused on teachers of grades 6-12.  I’ve looked through the brochure of courses (ranging from origami to and am torn about what I will attend, but having heard feedback from some who attended last year’s camp, I know I’m going to walk away with a toolbox full of new techniques, strategies, and knowledge for me to apply to my teaching.  Also, beyond classroom (both inside and out) learning, there are fun, experiential activities for those who want to participate, ranging from ziplining to swimming.  I just know that is something I should attend because of this quote from their website:

“Our hope is to encourage Maine STEM educators to share their passions and talents with one another to form a                   community vested in improving student learning in STEM topics across Maine.”

Doesn’t that tie into the Bright Futures Report beautifully?  A focus on collaboration and learning sounds perfect!

You can register right at the website I’ve linked above.  Hopefully I’ll meet some of you there!

Thank you to Lisa Smith for her permission to write about the camp.  She’s the Outreach/Camp Director and is happy to answer any questions you may have!

P.S. Bring your insect repellant and sun screen for those outdoor options!

York Middle School Works to Counter Negative Self-Talk

June 25, 2013 by

Did you see this article online?

“Beautiful’ messages in girls school bathroom counter negative ‘self-talk

http://www.seacoastonline.com/articles/20130612-NEWS-306120374

Beautiful message

Fifth and eighth grade girls at York Middle School worked together to paint yellow boxes resembling Post-it Notes® on the girls’ bathroom walls and filled them with positive comments to offset the negative self-talk that so often occurs when young adolescents see themselves in a mirror. Inspired by a Post-it Note campaign started in North Carolina, school counselor Wendy Porelle shared the ideas with fifth grade girls.  The ideas resonated with them, and soon they teamed with eighth graders to bring the project to fruition at their school.  Some of the comments include:

  • I (heart) your smile!
  • Make today ridiculously amazing
  • Nothing’s impossible

I love the fact that fifth  and eighth graders worked together on the project!  This type of collaboration builds a sense of community across the school and builds a positive school culture.  I am also impressed that the school recognizes the detrimental effect negative self-talk has on adolescent development and is taking action to promote social-emotional learning as well as academics.  Visit the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning to learn more about the connections between achievement and social-emotional learning: http://casel.org/.

Well done York Middle School!


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