I had a wonderful day yesterday at Sugarloaf at the annual Maine Association for Middle Level Education (MAMLE) conference. It doesn’t seem to matter what the weather is there, driving up the road to the lodge makes me feel cozy. I arrived just in time for Jill Spencer and Chris Toy’s collaborative keynote So You Think You Know the Keys to Educating Young Adolescents?
Jill started us off with a little brain gym and yoga. Jill and Chris modeled good teaching by engaging us in our learning. They utilized technology, reminded us all of the key components of middle level education, and pushed on our thinking. They were creative in their delivery, differentiated their instrution for a variety of learners, and provided some time to work collaboratively at our tables. It was a fun way to start the day (and conference) after a long drive to the mountain. Jill and Chris brought friends with them to help deliver the keynote so you won’t want to miss it when it appears on the MAMLE site.
Later in the morning I had the pleasure of attending Old Town’s Leonard Middle School workshop that was led by four 8th graders and one 9th grader who were engaged in a service learning project last year. Music teacher, Shianne Priest, said that she wishes she had learned about service learning 14 years ago because she will never go back to teaching her Music Appreciation class the way she did. Students were committed to raise awareness and educate others about
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). You can learn about the fantastic project by reading and watching the segment on WABI TV5 by clicking here. You can see and listen to singer/songwriter Lily Muscatell there as well. The $3 CD is available and can be purchased by emailing Shianne at firstname.lastname@example.org.
During the afternoon session I attended Integrating Language Arts, Visual Arts and Technology to Enhance Learning presented by Sacopee Valley Middle School art teacher Danette Kerrigan and ELA teacher Kathy Rice. The unit is a great example of collaboration. This isn’t about one content dominating the other but the two, ELA and visual art coming together to provide a deeper learning experience for all students. The writing process and art making were the vehicles and student choice created engagement for every student. The unit started by reading The Call of the Wild by Jack London and the process had a huge focus on the layering of learning. Students used “Is There Really a Human Race?” written by Jamie Lee Curtis and illustrated by Laura Cornell to understand the concepts and artistic elements to creating an illustrated book. Workshop participants had the opportunity to learn techniques that the students used to create their illustrations. Some of those were were water color lifting, wash, salt, and resist.
I suggest you think about how you can collaborate with colleagues from different content to enrich the learning opportunity for all students. Danette and Kathy shared a wonderful opporunity for students!