Update on Maine Department of Education’s MLTI Plan- Post June 2020

The Maine Department of Education, through the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI), has been providing 7th and 8th grade students and teachers access to, and support for, educational technology since 2002. While the goal has remained constant – provide State support for access to technology-enhanced education experiences for all students – the program has changed in many ways, and will continue to grow and evolve in the future. The Department remains committed to this goal.

As many school administrative units (SAUs) are aware, the final contracts for the MLTI program are set to expire on June 30, 2020. Included in the Department’s biennium budget package, which is currently being considered by the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, are funds to support a “bridge year” for the 2020-2021 school year.

The Department is actively working with current vendors to secure agreements for this “bridge year,” which will enable SAUs to maintain existing levels of technology support. The details of these agreements are still being developed, so the following information is very preliminary:

  • SAUs in cohort 4 (lease begun in 2016) for 7th & 8th grade and staff devices will keep their current devices for SY 2020-2021. They will continue to receive the software, wireless networks, technical support, and professional development they have been receiving. After SY 2020-2021, these SAUs will have the option to buy out their devices at the 2015 rates, $28/ iPad and $48/ laptop.
  • SAUs who are currently leasing additional devices (elementary or high school student and staff devices) from the Department will continue to lease those devices from the Department at a reduced cost of $73/ iPad; $118/ laptop. They will continue to receive the software, wireless networks, technical support, and professional development they have been receiving. After SY 2020-2021, these SAUs will have the option to buy out their devices at the 2015 rates, $28/ iPad and $48/ laptop.
  • SAUs who are currently receiving MLTI grants from the Department that are set to expire in June of 2020 will be granted an additional year of the same grant award as the previous 4 years.

The Department would use the additional time afforded by the “bridge year” to meet with stakeholders throughout the state, collecting feedback on what has worked well in the past, as well as innovative ideas about the future of MLTI. Discussions would include topics such as portable computer devices, device management and deployment, software, wireless networking, technical support, and professional development, as well as financial models to support these efforts. The Department would also convene a workgroup to synthesize this information and help to create a plan for the State.

Below is the estimated timeline for MLTI through 2021.

  • May 2019 – August 2020: The Department holds meetings with stakeholders regarding the future of MLTI (post SY 2020-2021) and convenes a workgroup to develop a State plan
  • July 2020 – June 30, 2021: Bridge Year
  • October 2020: The Department announces plan for MLTI post SY 2020-2021 (including the release of any necessary RFPs)
  • July 2021: SAUs have the option to buy out devices; launch of the future MLTI

For more information about the Maine Learning Technology Initiative, contact Beth Lambert, beth.lambert@maine.gov, 207-624-6642.

Professional Learning Opportunity: Learning Design Lab at Bucksport Middle School

Bucksport Middle School is proud to host a Maine Department of Education Learning Design Lab on Wednesday, June 5th, 2019. The Learning Design Lab will focus on technologies used for project-based learning. Participants will learn from students and teachers in four different classes, spanning grades 5-8.

  • The school’s Digital Media Club will share how they have created a digital newspaper, video announcements, and event recordings;
  • The Gifted and Talented Art program will model ways iPhoto can be used for photo manipulation;
  • 7th grade social studies students will show how they are using several technologies for their Greek mythology project; and
  • Several 5th & 6th graders will introduce participants to their TinkerCAD projects that were used to create bubble wands and boats with 3D printers.

After visiting classrooms, educators will have time to debrief the experience with lead teachers and to be supported as they plan ways to bring what they’ve learned back to their schools. Bucksport Middle School students and teachers are looking forward to leading a day of learning, as well as an afternoon work session where they and participants can develop new ideas together!

  • Date: Wednesday, June 5th, 2019
  • Time: 8:30am – 2pm (arrival begins at 8:00am with light refreshments)
  • Location: 100 Miles Lane, Bucksport, ME 04416
  • Open to all Maine educators who have completed the fingerprinting and background check process through the Maine DOE as part of your employment in your local district.
  • Free to attend
  • Contact Hours: Educators can earn 5.5 contact hours
  • Registration (please complete by Thursday, May 30th at 5pm):

Agenda

8:00am: Arrival (light refreshments will be provided)
8:30am: Welcome and Introductions
9:00am:  Student-led presentations
Digital Media Club (Grades 5-8)
Digital Photo Manipulation (Grades 7-8)
10:00am: Break
10:15am:  Student-led presentations
Greek Mythology Project (Grade 7)
-3D Printing (Grades 5-6)
11:15am: Lunch (will be provided)
11:45am: Conversations with lead educators
12:45pm: Supported planning time
1:45pm: Closing and Reflections
2:00pm: End

For answers to questions or more information, please contact: Amanda Nguyen, Digital Learning Specialist at Amanda.Nguyen@maine.gov

Tips for Supporting Muslim Students During Ramadan and Eid-al-Fitr

Maine is home to many Muslim families, and the Maine Department of Education would like to provide some general information about Ramadan and Eid-al-Fitr to schools, so they can support their schools’ Muslim community members as they enjoy this very special time of year.

Ramadan is a month-long fast observed by Muslims around the world. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. To wish someone a happy Ramadan, you can say “Ramadan Kareem” or “Ramadan Mubarak.”

This year, in the United States Ramadan will start around May 5th and end around June 4th. The official beginning and end of the month of Ramadan will not be announced until the sighting of the new moon. Since the Islamic lunar calendar year is about 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, Ramadan happens about 11 days earlier each year.

During Ramadan, most Muslims fast (i.e., consume no food or water) from dawn to dusk. Many Muslims also pray more frequently and make special efforts to be kind, generous, and compassionate. This is a joyous time of year, and each Iftar (post-sunset meal to break the fast) is a celebrated opportunity to gather with friends and family. Muslims may also wake before dawn to eat Suhoor (a pre-dawn meal), which helps give them energy to endure the day’s fast. (Iftar and Suhoor timings can be found here.) For some Muslims, the typical patterns of sleep are shifted so that more waking hours occur during the night, which can make it difficult to wake up early and stay alert during the day.

Typically, very young children do not fast or may fast only part of the day. Some Muslims may not fast when they are travelling, ill, pregnant, breastfeeding, or menstruating. In these cases, fasting days can be made up for at a later time. Elderly and chronically ill people who are not well enough to fast may give charitably instead.

After Ramadan, Eid-al-Fitr (the festival of breaking the fast) is a three-day celebration with feasts and gatherings of families. This is an extremely important and cheerful time of year for Muslims, and students will likely be absent for all or part of the three days. Children often receive a new outfit or a small amount of money as a gift from their family for the holiday. To wish someone a happy Eid, you can say, “Eid Saeed” or “Eid Mubarak.”

Here are a few tips for supporting students during Ramadan and Eid-al-Fitr.

  1. Learn about Ramadan and Eid-al-Fitr.

There are many resources available online that can help you understand how and why Ramadan is observed. Keep in mind that practices may vary depending on culture, so your students and their families are the best sources of information about their Ramadan traditions. Here are a couple of articles that give a general overview.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/religion/what-ramadan-six-things-know-about-muslim-holy-month-n586426

https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/ramadan

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Eid-al-Fitr

  1. Encourage cultural sensitivity for all school community members.

Fasting can have many physical and mental effects, such as fatigue, lack of concentration, and irritability. For your students, your understanding and support can help ensure that they continue to learn and make the most out of their time at school while fasting. Teachers, school nurses, sports coaches, bus drivers, cafeteria staff, and all other staff who interact with students will need to know how fasting can affect students.

Talking with staff and students about Ramadan and Eid-al-Fitr helps encourage an atmosphere of cultural awareness and sensitivity for the whole school community. Sensitivity towards fasting students includes avoiding consuming food and beverages in front of them whenever possible. Consider holding any celebrations that include food, such as awards banquets, after Iftar (sunset).

  1. Ask students and their families how you can best support them.

Some schools may choose to offer a place for students to go during lunchtime, alternative options for physical education, or dedicated prayer spaces. Schools may also avoid scheduling assessments or other required activities during Eid-al-Fitr, when students are likely to be absent. The best way to ensure that your school is a supportive, culturally-aware learning environment is to involve students, families, and other community members in planning and policy creation. Check out these two articles for some practical ideas that may benefit fasting students.

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/education/column-teachers-can-support-students-ramadan

http://www.isre.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Schools-Guide-to-Ramadan-2.pdf

  1. Have a clear, well-communicated policy on tardies and absences.

Maine’s statute on excused absences is Title 20-A, Section §3272. It states that an absence is excused when it is for “observance of a recognized religious holiday when the observance is required during the regular school day and the absence has prior approval.” Fasting during Ramadan is a required religious observance, and the physical and mental demands of fasting may cause students’ tardies and absences to increase. Eid-al-Fitr celebrations are also religious observances. Districts will need to share clear expectations for attendance with students and families. It is highly recommended to develop these expectations in collaboration with your community members, recognizing that interpretation and translation may be necessary to ensure meaningful communication.

 

Social Studies Standards Revision- LD 283

On April 19, 2019  Governor Mills signed LD 283, which contained the revised Maine Learning Results for Social Studies. While personal finance has always been included in the standards, this bill and the subsequent revision of the standards were designed to make explicit the importance of this content area.

The signed bill is currently going through the Maine Administrative Procedure Act to officially become law through the Secretary of State’s office. It is anticipated that the law will go into effect near the end of this school year. This timeline allows schools to begin planning for implementation during the summer of 2019. Planning is underway for a series of professional development opportunities around the state in 2019 and 2020, as well as online resources, to help support schools as they transition to use of the revised standards.

In the meantime, a new Social Studies: Standards & Instruction website has been created, along with links to related pages and resources, to help educators and districts begin planning for any curricular changes that are deemed necessary in light of the revised standards.

Input Sought for Teacher Shortage Areas

As part of a federal requirement, the Maine Department of Education submits to the U.S. Department of Education teacher shortage areas for designation, based on collected data and public input.  The U.S. DOE annually designates teacher shortage areas for purposes of deferment of loan repayments or reductions of teaching obligation.

The Department intends to propose the following as K-12 teacher shortage areas during the 2019-2020 school year:

  • Early Childhood (0-5)
  • Early Elementary (K-3)
  • English as a Second Language
  • Gifted/Talented
  • World Languages (French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, German)
  • Special Education (Teacher of Students with Disabilities, Teacher of Severely Impaired Students)
  • Science (Grades 5-8, Physical Sciences 7-12)
  • Theater
  • CTE (Automotive Mechanic, Carpentry, Computer Information Services, Machine Tool Operator, Weld Braze Solder, Plumbing, Law Enforcement, Co-Op Industrial Training, Agricultural Production, Forestry Products and Processing, Food Production Management, Business Administration, Child Care-Guidance)

The Maine Department of Education is committed to working with our schools to most accurately represent the needs and shortage areas across our state. We recognize the diverse geographic regions and varying conditions that comprise our public education system, and strive for equitable and accurate representation.

To provide input regarding a specific shortage area, or to propose additional shortage areas, please contact Emily Gribben with supporting materials by May 10, 2019.