Growth Celebrated and Knowledge Shared as MoMEntum Literacy Pilot Wraps Up

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.

room of educators sitting at tables listening to speakerAt 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.

Wonders & wows posterThere 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.

 

 

 

 

Maine DOE Summer Literacy Conference Provides Professional Learning on Small Group Strategies

Maine DOE’s Elementary Literacy Specialist Dee Saucier and School Turnaround Literacy Coach Darlene Bassett led a two-day summer professional learning event earlier this week in Augusta for Maine educators.

Conference Participants had the opportunity to learn how to implement the Assess-Decide-Guide framework in balanced literacylearn the elements of text complexity and how it impacts instructional decisions, understand the foundations of guided reading as a small group, learn the components and purposes for today’s guided reading, and learn how to take elements of the Assess-Decide-Guide framework and apply them to other forms of small group instruction.

The conference enabled educators to walk away with a plan of action to begin implementing small groups. 

Lincoln Elementary School Goes Above and Beyond to Keep Students Engaged in Reading During the Summer

This spring, Augusta School Department’s Lincoln Elementary School recorded videos of each of their teachers and staff members reading a book out loud and then posted it to their school Facebook page for students, parents, and families to enjoy. This effort was part of a read-a-thon initiative to keep kids engaged with reading and literacy activities over their week-long vacation in April.

With 25 videos posted over April break and hundreds of views by students and their families, they decided to expand the effort into the summer months and include community members as guest readers. “We have made an effort to post at least one video every day this summer,” said Lincoln Elementary School Principal Heather Gauthier. “Between June 14th and August 28th when school is back in session, we will have done over 75 videos, many of them with 200+ views on Facebook and YouTube, and positive engagement from parents and community members.”

Their guest readers include everyone from teachers, school administrators, staff, and education technicians to police officers, school board members, local authors, former students, local government officials, and even Maine DOE’s very own Lee Anne Larson, Early Learning Team Coordinator.

“We have received a lot of great feedback from community members who have been engaged and parents who have benefited from the videos,” said Heather. “One parent told us that she puts the videos on while she cooks dinner so that the kids can watch and listen to books while she is busy cooking.”

What started as an effort to keep students reading over the summer months has turned into a summer reading activity that has been successful in engaging students, parents, and community members alike.

Heather says that they plan to keep the guest reading videos going for as long as they can and hopes that people keep enjoying and watching them. Check out the Lincoln Elementary School Department’s videos on YouTube. Find Lincoln Elementary School Department on Facebook.

This article was written by Rachel Paling, Maine DOE Communications and Outreach Manager in collaboration with Lincoln Elementary School Principal, Heather Gauthier. If you have story ideas for the Maine DOE’s Maine Schools Sharing Success campaign, contact Rachel at rachel.paling@maine.gov.

Downeast School Teachers and Staff Distribute Books to Children via Bicycle Library

Submitted by Kathy Harris-Smedberg, Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Bangor School Department.
Summer Reading Brought directly to you! The Downeast School Book Bike will be delivering summer reading books in our community on Wednesday mornings between 10:00 - 11:00 am from July 3rd - August 21st.

Downeast School teachers and staff are volunteering their summer time to distribute books to the children of Downeast School via the bicycle library.

Pictured: Stephanie Seccareccia, kindergarten teacher; Kim McNutt, librarian; Tina Hinkley, secretary; Ashely Enright, grade 2 teacher; and Melissa Metivier, speech pathologist alongside community members.

These dedicated faculty and staff make four stops in the neighborhood, passing out books, helpful reading strategies parents/guardians can do at home with their children, and information about school and learning. The Bangor School Department strongly believes in the value of reading and strives to find a variety of ways to ensure that children are never without a book.

Successes Shared by Districts at Closing Event of 4-Year Preschool Expansion Grant

(Pictured: Kindergarten teacher Heidi Sturgeon, pre-k teacher Olesia Pazdro, and Curriculum Director Suzanne Day from MSAD 55- Sacopee Valley, talk to the audience about their goals for their Birth – Third Grade Action Plan.)

The Maine Department of Education hosted a closing event of the 4-year Preschool Expansion Grant (PEG) that was awarded to Maine DOE in December 2014 by the US Department of Education.  Eighteen states were awarded grants to support local school districts in the development of new preschool classrooms, and to expand access to high-quality, full-day pre-k programs for children whose families were at or below 200%  Federal Poverty Level.

Maine used the grant to launch and expand pre-k programs for 13 districts in Maine, 8 of which used the opportunity to partner with local Head Start programs. The districts included RSU 12, RSU 13, MSAD 17, RSU 23, SAD 37, SAD 44, RSU 55, RSU 74, Cornville Regional Charter School, Cherryfield, Lewiston (Longley Elementary), Millinocket, Vassalboro. The 13 districts were chosen for their percentage of students with an economic disadvantage and willingness and availability to embark on the effort.

The grant allowed these districts to add or expand their pre-k classroom spaces and resources, hire and train needed teachers in using evidence based curricula and instructional practices, align appropriate assessment of pre-k students with kindergarten assessments, develop a plan for kindergarten transition, and form a community literacy team, all as part of a long-term “Birth to Third Grade plan” that aligns with the districts’ strategic goals. The grant implementation was supported by grant coordinators at each of the participating districts, and trained coaches, all of whom were former Maine educators.

A cross-section of state employees from Maine DOE, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Child Development Services (CDS) worked collaboratively on this project,  with facilitation provided by the Education Development Center (EDC).

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(Left to right) Sarah Adkins, Kathryn Zwicker, Nena Cunningham, Karen Bergeron, Nicole Madore, Lee Anne Larsen, Dee Saucier, Sue Reed, Crystal Arbour, Jessica Nixon, Rich Meserve, David Jacobson.

Three years into the 4-year grant, tremendous improvements in child outcomes were celebrated, including:

  • 76%-86% of children moved out of the high-risk identification in all developmental domains
  • 76%-96% of children moved out of high-risk identification in literacy skills (predictive of kindergarten success)
  • 53% of children moved out of high-risk identification in the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, which assesses receptive language and is a predictor of later reading success

The end of the year event was an opportunity for each of the participating districts to present their Birth to Third plans to their peers and to reflect on their successes, lessons learned, and plans moving forward.

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RSU 12 Curriculum Coordinator, Deb Taylor (right) and Southern Kennebec Child Development Center Head Start Director Cristina Salois (left) shared details of their  action plan with the full audience which included a “ghost walk” to each pre-k classroom across the district’s 4 elementary schools. This was an opportunity for pre-k teachers to share and collaborate on environmental design and instructional practices and learn from one another.

The gathering included presentations by each participating district, who all began by sharing varied and often-times unique community challenges. For example, while some experienced a lack of licensed child care providers to connect with and engage families early on, another had migrant families with students in and out of school frequently. There were many other unique community characteristics shared, yet all of the districts had the common challenge of a high percentage of families facing economic disadvantage.

The common areas of focus for each Birth to Third Grade action plan included a focus on quality, shared teaching and learning practices, family engagement starting before children enter pre-k, a focus on positive transitions from pre-k to kindergarten, social emotional learning and trauma informed teaching.

The closing event was a successful day of presenting, idea sharing, and collaboration by early childhood educators from across the state who will now be able to continue their research based, and collaborative birth to third grade plans for district-wide success and beyond.