Kindergarten through 3rd grade teachers from across the state gathered this month for a final event that served as the culmination of two and a half years of work by 1500 students, 100 teachers, 9 schools, and 6 literacy coaches. Momentum, a K-3 literacy pilot program designed to improve the literacy achievement of students, came to a close with a professional learning event and an opportunity to reflect on the knowledge and growth experienced by its participants.
Deployed in January 2018, the MoMEntum pilot program provided 9 schools with iPad devices from Apple, Inc. and research-based curriculum resources along with targeted professional learning and coaching to help them improve not only the reading levels of their young students, but also to engage them in a meaningful integration of literacy across other content areas using technology. Additionally, and somewhat uniquely, the pilot also provided schools with the tools to measure how well students were responding to the new learning style.
Teachers received intensive professional learning on specific software applications that individualized student learning, and provided a platform to share student progress with their parents or guardians. Trained literacy coaches worked within each school along with locally grown professional learning communities (PLC) that met monthly (or more) to share practices, evaluate their work and progress, and seek ways to improve.
At the closing event were an array of teacher-lead professional learning sessions about classroom management and curriculum practice. For example, Lindsey Davis, a 1st Grade Teacher from Leroy H. Smith School in RSU 22, lead a session about how to engage students in Close Reading lessons that utilize integrated and relevant content. Heather Gray and Danielle Afari, teachers from Dirigo Elementary School in RSU 56, lead an informative and entertaining session about ways to glean student progress based on data and assessment in the classroom.
Teachers and administrators also had the opportunity to work on sustainability plans to keep their work from the MoMEntum pilot going in their schools by establishing school level and individual goals to help continue their integrated literacy work.
Kathy Jacobs, a 1st grade teacher who is moving into a special education role at China Primary School, a participating school from the pilot, said that she has definitely, “seen growth in the students” during the pilot program and that no matter what happens now that the program has come to a close, she will apply some of the things she has learned into her teaching practices going forward.
There was also an opportunity for teachers and administrators to share their “Wonders & Wows” as a way to evaluate the work and progress and highlight areas for future collaborative work.
“I learned as much from the teachers as I hope they learned from me,” said Literacy Coach Heidi Goodwin, a Distinguished Educator on loan from MSAD 54 who worked directly with the Maine DOE on the pilot program. “They [teachers] were great thinking partners,” she reflected. There were 6 educators total that served as coaches for the program. Along with Heidi were, Kayanne Nadeau, on loan from MSAD 27; Liz Wakem, on loan from RSU 71; Lisa Sleight, a retired Maine educator; Li Gowell, a retired Maine educator; and Dee Saucier, a Maine DOE staff member.
“This was not just a great learning opportunity for the schools involved but for the Department as well,” said Lee Anne Larsen, Maine DOE Early Learning Team Coordinator who has been involved in the administration of the MoMEntum pilot from its inception. Reflecting on the valuable lessons learned during the pilot, Lee Anne remarked that the most notable were about ways to effectively use technology in the classroom, and methods of meaningfully integrating literacy into other content areas. “It will definitely inform our future work at the Department,” she added.
While the full pilot program and everything that came along with it was only deployed in 9 schools initially, the professional learning resources are available, completely free, to all schools on the Maine DOE Website, along with help and support from Maine DOE staff members Lee Anne Larson and Dee Saucier who both helped administer the pilot program. For further information please reach out to them at Leeann.Larsen@maine.gov and/or Danielle.M.Saucier@maine.gov.