Archive for the ‘Food for Thought’ Category

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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MiddleWeb Smartbriefs – Tips for the New School Year and More

August 10, 2013

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

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

July 1, 2013

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

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!

June 15th Deadline For MLEI

May 31, 2013

NOW is the time to register for the Middle Level Education Institute at Bowdoin College on July 29-August 1. The June 15th deadline is fast approaching and we don’t want you to miss out! No matter what challenges or opportunities your school, team, or classrooms are facing, MLEI is the perfect venue to bring a team together and work intensively and extensively over a period of three days on one or more key projects for September. In addition to large blocks of team time, and the company of enthusiastic MLEI participants, you’ll have access to internationally recognized middle level experts Nancy Doda, Mark Springer, Jill Spencer, and Chris Toy throughout the institute. We are also in touch with the folks providing training and resources for MLTI who will be on campus to support you with preparing for the fall. Teachers and principals who have attended past institutes consistently report that time together at MLEI has paid huge dividends throughout the school year and beyond. So head on over to the Middle Level Institute website and register NOW! We look forward to seeing you in July. Oh, and be sure to spread the word by sharing this information with your middle level colleagues. Thanks!

Lessons learned at the 2013 MLTI Student Conference

May 28, 2013

LessonsLearnedIn2009The annual MLTI Student Conference is an incredible learning opportunity for students and their teachers, Maine teacher educators, and the dedicated MLTI team. Every year I marvel at the enthusiasm, passion, interest, and knowledge of the middle and high school students attending. As the conference director, Jim Moulton, likes to remind us, “This will be a day dedicated to fun—to hard fun!” I certainly had fun again this year and I learned some “hard” lessons as well. Here are three of them.

#1—The best lesson: MLTI promotes amazing student learning in many ways that aren’t reflected in student test scores. Excellent workshops, outstanding mass learning, scholarship awards, but the highlights each year for me are the student speakers,  middle and high school students from Maine schools, who use technology for learning and for doing good. Their stories are powerful. In past years, Hannah Potter, Chris Jones, and others have spoken about their personal journeys through learning with technology.

This year’s speakers were outstanding as well. Izzy Labbe and Julia Bluhm, 9th graders in central Maine, spoke of their work as bloggers and activists for SPARK. Julie and Izzy led a successful campaign to encourage Seventeen Magazine to stop using Photoshopped images of young girls. Both young women are now active bloggers and speak widely about their work. Watch their excellent presentation at TEDx Women 2012 to hear their full story.

The second student speaker was Yuval Boss, Orono High School senior, a web designer who also got his start with his 7th grade MLTI laptop. Yuval took advantage of many opportunities—”play around” with Sketch-Up and other software that caught his interest, join his high school’s student technology team, attend MLTI Student Conferences, teach himself HTML and other programming languages, and perhaps most importantly of all, “…find out that kids like me are doing all of this.” It wasn’t long before Yuval interned at a local web-design firm, free-lanced for other businesses, and ultimately used his skills to give back to organizations like CISV. Watch Yuval’s presentation here.

These students are amazing. Now I would like someone to deconstruct the skills these Maine students have developed largely because they had the tools (their own MLTI computer and Internet access) and the support of parents and teachers. These young people are self-learners, they are go-getters, and they make significant contributions to their communities and society. The learning they are so passionate about has little to do with learning measured by standardized test scores. (And it certainly has nothing to do with learning to use a computer that businesses currently use or having a computer to take tests on.)

#2—The hardest lesson: The elephant in the room is sitting on my computer.  What will happen to MLTI and technology and learning in Maine? The recent decision about the next MLTI phase has caused consternation everywhere as schools struggle to determine the impact in their communities. Is this really about “choice”? Will the “level playing field”, a key component of MLTI since the beginning, endure without continuity across the state given different devices, networks, professional development opportunities, and aspirations arising from the selection made in each district? And what about everything we’ve learned about technology and learning in the last 11 years? Are we throwing that out to start over? Ultimately, the decision must be about what choice(s) provide the best opportunities for student learning and not the least expensive cost.

#3—The most baffling lesson: Did you see the news coverage of this year’s MLTI Student Conference? Neither did I, nor did anyone else. Outside of one short paragraph I found in an online newspaper, I saw no TV or major newspaper coverage of this event. Evidently, 1200 students and 200 teachers in one place learning from each other is not news. (Sarcasm intended!) I’m convinced that at its core, this paucity of media coverage for such a significant event has more to do with a fundamental lack of understanding about the role of technology in learning than from obvious disinterest. This story is much more complex than students using computers to do interesting things in the classroom…and that may be the problem. But that is a story for another day! Fortunately, MLTI schools and students made and recorded their own news. See this short YouTube video from Gorham Middle School about the experiences of the 19 students and 5 teachers they sent to the conference.

Three lessons…do any of them resonate with your experience?

Photo by Brian Snelson, http://www.flickr.com/photos/exfordy/

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

Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 12.05.08 PM Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 12.06.07 PM Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 12.06.31 PM

Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 12.18.59 PMScreen Shot 2013-05-21 at 12.19.46 PM

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?

Recognize a Colleague

April 13, 2013
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Barbara Greenstone received the Janet Nesin Reynolds Outstanding Middle Level Educator award at the MAMLE conference, 2011. Barbara is joined by colleagues Jill Spencer and Sandy Nevens.

Recently I’ve had the opportunity to attend several events where teachers have been recognized for their contributions to their students education. I’ve been thinking about how important recognition programs are and the impact it has on individual teachers. The pride in teachers faces, the excitement in their students voices, and the tears in their closest family members eyes all contribute to the story. In fact, in many cases not only is it a wonderful feeling for the teacher but it has potential to positively impact the school and community. Anyone that has been a member of a nominating committee or perhaps the recipient of an award knows and understand the impact being recognized can have.

In many cases we wait until someone retires and celebrate their lifetime commitment. But it certainly isn’t necessary to wait until that time in a teachers life.

The Maine Association for Middle Level Education (MAML) recognizes individual teachers and teams of teachers each year at the annual fall conference in October. For many years the conference has been held at Sugarloaf and this year it will be at Point Lookout in Northport.

If you’ve been thinking about how you can thank a colleague for the work they do each day in a middle school classroom in your school please consider nominating them for a MAMLE award. The application won’t take long to complete and what fun it could be to attend the conference with your colleagues to celebrate the commitment.

Please contact MAMLEs Executive Director Wally Alexander at wallace_alexander@umit.maine.edu for an application. Now is the time, please don’t delay. Thank a colleague!

THERE’S STILL TIME . . . to attend the NELMS Annual Conference

March 25, 2013

It’s a sure sign that Spring is right around the corner.  “Meeting the Multi-Faceted Needs of the Middle Level Learner” convenes next week, April 4 & 5, in Providence, Rhode Island, where there will be green grass and blooming flowers(I hope!).  Don’t miss two days of inspiring, invigorating, relevant professional development.  If you need help or ideas on how to fund this incredible opportunity, contact the NELMS office, and check out the full Annual Conference program.

Inspiring Keynote speakers:

Tom Burton on “Magic, Motivation & Our ‘Sparkling’ Middle Level Students”

Carol Ann Tomlinson on “The Demographics, Research & Ethics Of Differentiation”.

Engaging ticketed luncheons and targeted full and half day sessions (a sampling includes):

“It’s More Than A Name” – Tom Burton

“Listen To What The Students Say: Student Profiles That Invite Differentiation”  – Carol Ann Tomlinson

Student Success Plans + “Cutting Edge, New” Advisory = Student Success – Earle Bidwell

Digital Tools for Project Based Learning – Jill Spencer

How Can We Use Strategies and Assessments to Prepare for the Transition to Common Core State Standards? – Deb Scarpelli

Exploring and Applying Web 2.0 Tools and Resources in the Middle – Chris Toy

Courageous and Collaborative Leadership in the Middle – Lyn Ward Healy

Differentiation and the Brain: How Neuroscience Supports the Learner Friendly Classroom – Carol Ann Tomlinson

Timely and relevant concurrent workshop sessions based on the concepts contained in Turning Points 2000 and This We Believe

“I Pity The Fool!” Leadership Advice From Mr. T

March 2, 2013

Mr. T An opening workshop conversation I often have with school leaders around the world is to share three words of wisdom from a well-known figure—Mr. T. Even people outside the United States recognize the scowling muscular character from “The A Team,” and his signature commentary about his adversaries, “I pity the fool!” delivered in a menacing, rumbling growl. Of course, it’s not this four-word phrase I’m referring to. “Mr. T” is an acronym I use to remind us how to effectively advocate for, support, and sustain the integration of technology and learning in our schools (or any aspect of school effectiveness for that matter).

The “M” in Mr. T represents the need for school leaders to model what they want faculty, staff, and students to be doing in their classrooms. The importance of modeling is echoed in the famous quote “We must become the change we want to see in the world” by Mahatma Gandhi. Leadership must be seen as leading by example. Albert Einstein stated that “Modeling isn’t another way to teach, it is the only way.” As the lead teachers in a school, administrators must use and integrate today’s tools and resources in their work with colleagues, staff, and students on a regular basis if they want this to happen in their schools. School leaders should learn about and use both online and offline digital tools and resources in daily work and routines. Using hardware such as laptops, interactive whiteboards, smartphones, and document projectors to share and communicate ideas should be business as usual. Principals who use software tools for presenting ideas, facilitating and archiving conversations, and collaborating are modeling what teachers and students should be doing in their classrooms. “Walking the talk” matters!

The “R” in Mr. T represents the importance of taking time in our busy schedules to pause and reflect. Our days, and often nights, are filled with meetings, deadlines, data, and emergencies. We seldom take the time to stop and reflect on the meaning and significance of our activities. Yet, we regularly pay lip service to the importance of being reflective learners and practitioners as we rush from one agenda item to the next. Or we admonish students to stop and think about the consequences of their decisions. We fall into bed each night then get up in a handful of hours and begin again.

Here again, if we want to implement learning technology in meaningful ways we must periodically stop, or at least slow down, and make time to consider what we are doing, why we are doing it, and its significance in light of our overall vision. The great Chinese philosopher, Confucius, advised us to keep in mind that “Learning without reflection is to become lost.” As educational leaders we must model reflection, and we must create space and the expectation that reflection will be a key aspect of the learning process. This can be accomplished as simply as pausing after an activity and doing a simple “think, pair, share” around the question, “What implications does this activity have for our vision as a school?” This can be accomplished in under five minutes, and can be extended using online tools such as a wiki.

Finally, the “T” in Mr. T represents the critical process of transfer. Transfer happens when we take an experience in one setting and actually apply it in a meaningful way in another situation. If we do not figure out a way to transfer and apply an experience in our own lives or work, that experience is soon forgotten. We can all complete the oft quoted aphorism, “If you don’t use it, you…” It is the responsibility to the leader, whether it’s the school leader or the leader of the classroom, to plan for, build in, and facilitate this transfer. Transfer is critical when it comes to integrating learning and technology where the interest is often focused on the novelty of the latest application or tool. The leader must take advantage of the interest and move the work forward by asking and requiring the staff to grapple with and answer the question, “How can we use this in our own work?”

So, take 30 seconds and ask yourself, “Am I like Mr. T when it comes to modeling, reflecting, and transferring what I want to see in my school?” If not, you know what Mr. T would have to say!

This entry is reposted from NASSP at http://tinyurl.com/NASSP-Mr-T


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