Author Archive

10 Reasons to “Like” MAMLE on Facebook

September 22, 2013

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

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

Empowering Students: MAMLE Annual Conference

September 5, 2013

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!

York Middle School Works to Counter Negative Self-Talk

June 25, 2013

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!

Spring Middle Link Digital Newsletter

May 21, 2013

MAMLE publishes a digital newsletter for its membership three times a year.  The spring Middle Link has just been sent to member schools and individual members.  Please encourage your administration to forward it to all staff members!

Here is a preview of what is in the current Middle Link:

Scholar-Leader Dinner

Effective Practices Around the State

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Commentary by Bill Zima on Competency-Based LearningScreen Shot 2013-05-21 at 12.06.52 PM Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 12.06.58 PM

Who Are These People?

Read Middle Link to Find Out!

Al Miller  Kevin Perks

BerckemeyerJack

If your school is a member of MAMLE, your principal received a digital copy–remind them to forward it to staff!  If your school is not a member, ask why not?

Ready to Stretch Your Thinking?

May 17, 2013

Summer is made for days at the beach, hiking spectacular trails, and reading a good book in a hammock.  It is also the one time during the year when educators have the leisure to pause, reflect, and review their beliefs about teaching and learning. New learning in courses and institutes help stretch, clarify, and reshape the way we think about our classrooms.  For over 25 years the Middle Level Education Institute (MLEI) has provided Maine educators and those from away with ideas that are innovative and effective.  This year will be no different.

I have learned many important aspects of instructional strategies.  Of most importance is the fact that it is not about the teacher, but rather it is about the student learning that takes place.

2012 MLEI Attendee

Join us July 29-August 1 on Bowdoin College’s beautiful campus in Brunswick, Maine to continue the journey toward more powerful learning for our students. We invite you to join the quest to re-envision schooling in a bold way that systematically models as well as promotes the essential capacities students need to successfully confront the challenges of their futures and the future of our world.

In many ways it is indeed a hero or heroine’s journey to pursue powerful teaching in today’s social, political, and economic climate. We believe, however, that spirited middle level educators want to explore…

  • Empowerment and engagement
  • Community and collaboration
  • Content with meaningful context
  • Assessment for reflection and growth

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Are you ready to pursue this bold vision that…

  • Cultivates learning that is engaging, challenging and meaningful?
  • Shifts the classroom environment from teacher-centered to learner-centered?
  • Incorporates student voice and choice in a substantive way?
  • May rock your vision of teaching and learning?

This Institute has given me hope and the courage to take the full journey.

2012 MLEI Attendee

The journey continues July 29 – August 1 at MLEI on the Bowdoin campus.  All of the details and registration information can be found at http://mleimaine.net/home

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Middle Level Education–21st Century Style! Empowering Students to Take Charge of Their Learning

April 21, 2013

Jack Berckemeyer

The Young Adolescent Learner

Al Miller

Creativity in the Classroom

Dr. Kevin Perks

Literacy in the Content Areas

Bea McGarvey

Customized Learning

Where Can You Meet All of These Experts in ONE Place?

Plus over 30 concurrent sessions

MAMLE Annual Conference

Point Lookout, Northport Maine

October 17 & 18, 2013

For more information email or call Dr. Wally Alexander, Executive Director of MAMLE

wallace.alexander@umit.maine.edu
207-649-1576

Another Service Project! Maine Based PuppyRescueMission

March 17, 2013

My last post focused on the Tacugama Chimp Sanctuary in Sierra Leone. Just today I read about another project that would definitely appeal to middle grades students because it is about bringing to the U.S. dogs and cats that our soldiers in combat overseas have adopted. What makes is really cool is that its chief organizer is a Mainer, Anna Cannan from Ft. Kent!

Anna began PuppyRescueMission because her boyfriend, stationed in Afghanistan, wanted to find a way to bring home a puppy of a stray dog who had alerted soldiers that a stranger was nearby.  The man turned out to be a suicide bomber, and the U.S. soldiers were determined to take care of the dogs who saved their lives. Long story short, Anna began the PuppyRescueMission to raise money to bring this dog and others to the US so they could be with the soldiers when they too came home.

It’s very expensive to transport these animals to their new homes so the organization is continuously in fund raising mode.  Students looking for a service project would find this a worthwhile endeavor.

Anna first started a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/puppyrescuemission?fref=ts

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The organization now also has a store and a blog:

After investigating these sites, individuals, homerooms, advisory groups, teams, or an entire school might be inspired to get involved or create some other type of service project using this one as a model. Anna Cannan has certainly demonstrated that one person can make a difference with hard work and ingenuity–she sounds like a good role model to me!  It is also an opportunity to help students become savvy consumers of the Internet by having them research the reliability of the site and the percentage of funds raised going to the actual cause–two habits students need to develop in order to make good decisions about getting involved with organizations/charities they read about online.

Reference:

Fitzpatrick, K. (2013) “This is my way to say ‘Thank you’ to our heroes!” Woman’s World. 3/18/13. p. 26.

Looking for a Service Learning Project? Tacugama May Be the Answer!

March 2, 2013

Watching us

  • Orphaned or abused chimpanzees,
  • A sanctuary that has survived 10 years of civil war.
  • A desperate need for money.

These are the ingredients of a service learning project that will intrigue and inspire middle school students.  On a recent trip to Sierra Leone in West Africa I visited Tacugama, a sanctuary for chimpanzees.  Their goal is to reintroduce the chimps back into the wild, a long and expensive process.

Over 20,000 chimpanzees roamed the forests of Sierra Leone in the 1970’s, but now there are only 3,000.  There are a variety of reasons why the numbers have dropped drastically:

  • Their habitat has shrunk.
  • They are captured for medical research or to be sold as pets.
  • They are considered ‘bush meat” and when times are tough they are hunted for food.
  • They are highly susceptible to human diseases like HIV.

All most ready for release!

The Sanctuary rescues chimps that are often in dire circumstances.  Baby chimps are adorable and so human-like that people often want them as pets.  However, a full grown chimp has 5 times the physical strength of a man, so the cuddly baby grows into a unruly adolescent that can wreck a home in minutes and into an adult that is dangerous.  Hence they are often chained and caged under deplorable conditions.  The Tacugama staff works hard to rehabilitate these chimps so they can live free. Click on this link to read about the history of the Sanctuary: http://www.tacugama.com/history.html.

 What faces mean

It takes about $1000 to support one chimpanzee for a year. However, smaller donations are welcomed.   Schools, teams and/or advisory groups might find supporting this haven for battered and endangered chimpanzees a worthwhile project.  More information about supporting Tacugama can be found at this link: http://www.tacugama.com/support.html

Finally, there is a blog that students may find interesting (http://tacugama.wildlifedirect.org/).  The posts explain what is happening with individual chimps; the photos are wonderful!  Readers will learn a lot about chimps as well as the Sanctuary.  We often never know what inspires our students to make specific career and life choices — reading about the chimps of Tacugama may just be a catalyst for future decisions related to international travel, non-profit work, or veterinary work!

Watching

Numbers Do Not Tell The Whole Story!

December 24, 2012

We are obsessed with numbers as they relate to learning–data points, standardized tests, and grades.  We miss other aspects of what it means to learn–passion, depth of understanding, creative expression, emotional response, and a life changed forever by an experience.  Even the best rubric would be hard pressed to quantify these things.

This video provides an alternative lens to view how we “do” school.

Food for thought over the holiday break.

Enjoy!


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