Archive for the ‘Opportunities’ 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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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!

Love.Read.Learn Baby Journal

June 8, 2013

Great opportunity!

IMG_3402On September 6 First Lady Ann LePage put a call out for student artwork to be considered for a book called “Love.Read.Learn!™ ” Baby Journal. The book will be presented to new parents at all the hospitals in Maine during the next year. Over 800 pieces of artwork were submitted. It was a difficult decision to determine which ones would be included in the book. However, the First Lady and a representative from the Barbara Bush Foundation worked side by side with three art teachers to select the pieces.

Earlier this week several people attended a celebration of the newly published book! Invited to the reception were two Westbrook Middle School students whose drawings were included in the book. Emma Lombardo, grade 6 and Kelsea Fuller, grade 8, their parents, principal Matt Nelson, art teachers Nancy Goan and Abby Jacobs, and Art Director Carol Connor were in also attendance.

The other special guests included former First Lady Barbara Bush, First Lady Ann LePage, and Doro Bush Koch. The first Lady’s presented books to three new mom’s. The books sponsors were Maine Families and Harold Alfond College Challenge. The journal will be distributed as a gift to new parents at hospitals statewide during the next year.

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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!

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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Give my regards to Broadway

April 29, 2013

Pemetic School Show Choir I love to watch Maine’s middle (and high school) show choirs perform. This year’s state competition was held at Ellsworth High School several weeks ago and as always, all schools brought their best work to the stage. As a sports guy whose musical career ended badly in third grade, I’ve learned to admire and appreciate the singing and dancing talents of middle school students. In fact, show choir may be the perfect activity for young adolescents in middle level schools.

Here’s why: It gives large numbers of students—many show choirs have 20 or more students—opportunities to participate. And these students have a wide range of abilities and interests; some like to be out front as soloists as singers or dancers while others like being part of the ensemble. Still others bring their unique skills as musicians, floor managers, costume and  set designers, and assistant directors. In show choir there is a place for everyone. I also like that these young adolescents take a chance by putting themselves out front. Bravo for them and their hard-working mentors and teachers.

Show choirs absolutely require collaboration, very, very strict attention to detail, with everyone striving for excellence. There are few stars here as everyone recognizes the importance of working as a team. But it isn’t all about winning. You can readily see the joy and excitement on the faces of 11-year-olds or 14-year-olds as they begin a routine scared to death and two minutes later realize they are having the time of their lives.

Middle level schools believe in exploration, giving every 10-t0-15-year-old opportunities to try out different experiences. From volleyball to foreign language, drawing and painting to creative writing. Show choir offers young adolescents outstanding chances to find potentially life-long interests,  a place to be a part of a team,  and the satisfaction of doing something well and receiving instant feedback about it.

Isn’t this what life is all about?

If you haven’t seen any of Maine’s middle school show choirs in action take a look here and here. Or go online to see if your favorite middle level school has posted its routine for you to enjoy.

(Full disclosure: My daughter is the director of the Hermon High School Show Choir. I am also an avid Glee and Smash fan!)

Photo permission by PKHomer and Pemetic School, ME.

Techno Wizards: Students Model Good Digital Citizenship

April 3, 2013

2013-01-159507.54.52Recently Warsaw Middle School’s Techno Wizards presented to elementary and middle school students and their parents on various aspects of digital citizenship. Eight students from Warsaw’s (WMS) new student technology team shared research, insights, advice, and tips on several critical topics—digital natives and immigrants, private and personal information online, password security, digital footprints, cyberbullying, and intellectual property. The students were professional, cool, and knowledgeable while presenting information and answering questions posed to them. But this was not their first public presentation.

The Techno Wizards have been busy since last September under the able direction of advisor and mentor, Ms. Lori Stevens, Warsaw’s technology integrator. Key functions of the Warsaw student technology team are to provide technology and learning assistance to teachers and fellow students, to assist with needed technical repairs and set-up, and perhaps most importantly of all, to serve as positive digital citizenship role models for both their school and their community. Digital citizenship refers to understanding and knowing how to navigate the digital world responsibly, safely, and ethically, obviously a set of skills that are becoming more important everyday.

Fourteen students applied for and eventually joined the Techno Wizards because they enjoy learning about and using technology; they also take seriously “giving back” to their school. It shouldn’t be a surprise that they are emerging student leaders at WMS. The Techno Wizards don’t get paid and they don’t receive academic credit for their work. Those types of external awards aren’t what motivate them! They do meet with Ms. Stevens every Tuesday morning at 7:20 a.m. to prepare for their next presentation, learn about applications of software to learning,  or how to assist their own teachers in using an app or software more effectively.

What else do the Techno Wizards do? Early in the school year they learned about Google Sites, a tool that every student at WMS will use to build his/her own digital portfolio. (A digital portfolio is a “purposeful collection” of a student’s best work in an electronic format, required by more colleges and workplaces.) Techno Wizards learned how to operate Google Sites first so that they could assist their teachers and eventually fellow students. I attended one of the professional development sessions and loved seeing the interesting role reversal as teachers learned from students!

Each week several students assist Ms. Stevens as she instructs fourth  grade students at the elementary school across the street. Every Techno Wizard also offers daily assistance to teachers and students in their classes. This ranges from trouble-shooting computer problems, to showing how to save, find, or send information to others, how to print, or how to use new tools as they are introduced. In short, the 14 Techno Wizards become 14 additional teachers for WMS.

But make no mistake…this is not simply a modern-day “AV Club” focused on computers, tablets, and projectors. Today’s student technology teams, like the Techno Wizards at Warsaw Middle School, use student expertise, leadership, enthusiasm, and an uncanny ability to work with a variety of people to strengthen the learning missions of their schools.

How do students assist with technology and learning in your school?

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.

500 Middle School Students

March 16, 2013

March 14 – 26th Expanding your horizons conference

Looks like today, Friday, will be an exciting day at the UMaine campus when 500 middle school girls converge from all over the state for an opportunity to attend a conference learning more about science and math.

The event is cosponsored by UMaine Women’s Resource Center, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Maine EPSCoR at the University of Maine, College of Engineering, University Bookstore, the Provost’s Office and Maine Girls Collaborative Project.

The day begins at 9:00 AM with a keynote provided by a representative from Hardy Girls Healthy Women in Waterville. Students will select hands-on workshops being held throughout the Orono campus.

Among the selections are:

  • Experimenting with the Natural Flora of Bacteria on Our Hands, led byundergraduate student Jordan Myerowitz, 10 AM, noon and 1 PM, 180 Hitchner Hall.
  • Critter Clues: Studying Marine Animals, led by graduate student Skylar Bayer, 11 AM, noon and 1 PM, 201 Shibles Hall.
  • Colorful, Cold Chemistry, led by professor Alice Bruce, 10 AM and 11 AM , 227 and 228 Aubert Hall.
  • Tidal Energy, led by graduate student Colleen Swanger, noon and 1PM, Aquaculture Research Center.
  • Sustainability Solutions — Working Together, led by staff member Elizabeth England, noon and 1 PM, Mitchell Center, Smith Hall.

Teachers will have the opportunity to attend sessions as well including a Maine Girls Collaborative Project panel discussion about working with girls with disabilities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. During the afternoon they will attend a workshop to explore strategies for encouraging Native American girls to pursue STEM subjects in school.

Sounds like a great opportunity for all participants. If you attend, please share your experience with Bright Futures blog readers!

Rice Bowl Challenge

January 25, 2013

Have your students join the fun!

Maine is participating – a note from MLTI

This is just a quick note to let you that the 2013 RiceBowl Challenge is underway! Already we have some schools that are playing – is yours? If not, why not? All Maine schools should be pre-registered, so all you need to do is visit http://thericebowl.org/sign-up/ for directions on how your students (or teachers can do this for kids if they are younger) can set up an account at FreeRice.com. At the bottom of that page, you’ll find PDFs you can download that have step-by-step directions that you can share with kids to help them.

You will also find the list of Maine school team prefixes. These are 6 character unique prefixes that your students need to use when establishing their login accounts. This will allow us to associate their rice donations with your school so we can track your school’s overall total. The prefix is simply your MEDMS school code preceded by ME….so it would look something like ME1234. That means kids’ accounts should be something like ME1234john. They don’t have to use their name at all in the account…just something they will remember. So, ME1234PatsFan would work too.

Every student needs an individual account because FreeRice is adaptive, so it needs to individually track your answers so it knows what question to ask next based on your last response.

Also, teachers — please sign up and register for Digital Learning Day at http://www.digitallearningday.org/registration/  It’s quick and painless, but it will put you on a mailing list to receive curriculum ideas and links to resources about how you can use technology in the classroom. The State with the most teachers registered (as a percentage) will be called out on the national Town Hall Meeting on Digital Learning Day which will be streamed live over the internet. Go Maine Go!


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