Learning Through Technology Team Announces Expanding Access to Computer Science in Maine Classrooms at the 35TH Annual ACTEM Fall Conference!


(Pictured: Maine DOE’s MLTI 2.0 Team.)

On Thursday October 13th at the 35th annual Fall ACTEM (Association of Computer Technology Educators of Maine) Conference, the Maine Department of Education’s Learning Through Technology Team – along with Commissioner Pender Makin and Governor Janet T. Mills – announced a statewide plan for expanding access to computer science in Maine classrooms. This initiative is funded through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund and is a part of the Governor’s plan to expand access and support Computer Science in Maine.

The #MaineTeachesCS initiative centers around the provision and use of mobile computer science labs along with ongoing professional learning opportunities for each school as well as a computer science integration cohort for a full calendar year (Dec. 2022 – Dec. 2023). Schools will be provided with a mobile lab that focuses on one of three computer science topic areas: Robotics and Programing, Coding and Circuitry, and Augmented and Virtual Reality. Each mobile lab will have equipment and supplies that teachers can use to integrate the topic area into their classrooms.

In addition to these mobile labs, the Maine Department of Education will also assemble cohorts of educators who will engage in comprehensive Computer Science Integration (CSI) professional learning. CSI cohorts will engage in hands on opportunities to explore best practices for computer science integration and will serve as the computer science integration “champions” for their schools, helping other educators to integrate computer science into their classrooms.

This initiative centers around the principles of Maine’s 7 Keys to Computer Science Education Success. These mobile labs, paired with targeted professional learning, and an ongoing CSI cohort, will help our schools to continue the important work of integrating computer science into their classrooms, to ensure that all Maine students have access to high quality computer science learning opportunities.

For more information on this initiative Contact the Computer Science Specialist, Emma-Marie Banks, emma-marie.banks@maine.gov

This announcement was targeted to those at the ACTEM Conference because many of the nearly four hundred and fifty people in attendance are the involved with computer science in Maine’s schools.  The two-day conference includes over a hundred sessions that focus on technology integration in the classroom, use of digital tools and other topics that cater to PreK-12 educators as well as school technology staff. This event traces its roots back to the Maine Department of Education’s “Maine Computes” conferences in the mid-1980s up through the MAINEducation Technology Conferences and is one of the state’s largest, ongoing educational conferences. While illnesses, substitute teacher shortages and even a severe storm might have limited attendance, those present fully embraced this year’s theme of “Connect and Reconnect.”

In addition to the computer science announcement the Learning Through Technology Team was present at the ACTEM Fall Conference in the exhibitor hall and presenting sessions throughout both days of the conference. The Learning Through Technology Team and the MLTI Ambassadors presented a number of sessions for educators such as “Learn about the MLTI SLAM Program from the students”, “Digital Tools and Math”, “Left to Their Own Devices”, “Getting Started with Blended Learning”, and a session to “Meet the MLTI Ambassadors” featuring the MLTI Ambassador team led by MLTI Digital Learning Specialists.

MLTI 2.0 Ambassadors

“Meet the MLTI Ambassadors” provided educators with the opportunity to meet the ambassadors and hear firsthand about MLTI’s continued focus on professional learning. The MLTI Ambassadors shared professional learning focus topics such as Digital Citizenship, Technology Integrations, and Digital Instructional Design. The MLTI Ambassadors also shared information on asynchronous learning opportunities, book studies, PLC’s. and Podcasts coming up in the 2022-2023 school year! For more information on MLTI Professional Learning contact the MLTI Digital Learning Specialist, Jonathan Graham,Jonathan.Graham@Maine.Gov

MLTI’s Student Leadership Ambassadors of Maine or SLAM were also present at the ACTEM conference with a teacher and student led session. Kern Kelley from RSU 19 presented along with his SLAM students to highlight and share the work of the SLAM program directly from the student leaders themselves. The session provided the SLAM students an opportunity to share the work they have created and highlight their weekly live SLAM show! The session also covered equipment, content, and how schools can involve their students to start their own SLAM clubs! For more information on SLAM contact the MLTI Student Leadership Development Coordinator, Kern Kelley,Kern.Kelley@Maine.Gov.

Student Leadership Ambassadors of Maine
Student Leadership Ambassadors of Maine (SLAM)

For more information on the MLTI program contact the MLTI Project Manager, Brandi Cota, brandi.m.cota@maine.gov.

The conference also included the return of their ACHIEVE Award and John Lunt Award after not being awarded in-person since 2019. ACTEM’s ACHIEVE Award was given to teacher Cathy Morse from the Lubec Consolidated School, who was introduced by Maine DOE Digital Learning Specialist Jon Graham.  This Award is ACTEM’s version of ISTE’s “Making IT Happen” Award, which “honors outstanding educators and leaders who demonstrate extraordinary commitment, leadership, courage and persistence in improving digital learning opportunities for students.”  In addition to winning $1000 for her school to spend on educational technology, Cathy won a $2000 cash award.

ACHIEVE Award being given to teacher Cathy Morse from the Lubec Consolidated School

The John Lunt Friend of Technology Award, which had not been given out since 2019, is ACTEM’s Lifetime Achievement Award.  This year, it was given to three retired educators who have had a significant impact not only on ACTEM, but educational technology in Maine as well as nationally.  Cheryl Oakes, who worked at Wells High School, was introduced by Alice Barr and Michael Richards.  Then, Alice was surprised as the next winner by ACTEM President Mike Arsenault and colleague at Yarmouth Schools Cathy Wolinsky.  Dennis Crowe, Technology Director in Gorham and Bonny Eagle and past ACTEM president, was introduced by ACTEM Executive Director Gary Lanoie

ACTEM will be hosting their Spring Leadership Conference, will be held at Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland on May 1st, 2023.  For more information about their events or membership, please see their website at ACTEM.org.