Get to Know the DOE Team: Meet Jen Robitaille

Maine DOE team member Jen Robitaille is being highlighted this week as part of the Get to Know the DOE Team Campaign. Learn a little more about Jen in the question and answer below.

What are your roles with DOE? 

I am the Elementary Mathematics Specialist and Cumberland County Regional Rep and I am part of the Early Learning Team.  I work to design and deliver professional learning to the field in the area of mathematics as well as support assessment, standards, and best practices in elementary mathematics.  Most recently I have been working on delivering a virtual professional learning math series specific for ed techs and managing a group of grade 2 teachers working on the CL4ME module project.

What do you like best about your job? 

The aspect of my job that I like best is being able to share new learning opportunities with educators around the state.  Educators in different parts of the state have had a variety of different opportunities to engage in mathematics professional learning, so being able to offer some consistency in best practices and math resources is a highlight of my work.

How or why did you decide on this career? 

After working in the local elementary school for 16 years (classroom teacher, title 1 math specialist, and math coach) and continuing to push into more leadership roles, this seemed like the natural progression of my work in the area of mathematics.  I feel that I have a lot to offer to mathematics teaching and learning and I enjoy being able to share with others.

What do you like to do outside of work for fun? 

Outside of work I enjoy spending time with my family; I have a young niece and nephew that I am very close with.  I also enjoy camping, taking the time to relax, and making personalized crafts with my Cricut machine.

Maine Researchers, Teacher Begin Scientific Cruise

Submitted by Barbara Powers, Superintendent of Long Island School.

A unique educational opportunity launches on January 24, when a Maine teacher sets sail for the Southern Ocean as part of a Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences team. This partnership with the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance’s “WeatherBlur” education project will bring the experience of an ocean research cruise to students in Maine and beyond.

“Research cruises are tremendously exciting, and sharing that excitement is a great way to interest students in science,” said Senior Research Scientist Barney Balch. “The ocean is endlessly fascinating, and learning about its vital role is essential to understanding life on Earth.”

Marci Train, a teacher at the two-room Long Island School in Casco Bay, will join Balch and several other Bigelow Laboratory scientists in order to engage students throughout the National Science Foundation-funded cruise. The research team aims to investigate how algae in the Southern Ocean may be affecting the future of sea life as far away as the Northern Hemisphere.

Marci Train with students

Throughout the cruise, Train will connect frequently with students in Maine and beyond. She will conduct video tours of the ship to show what a day at sea looks like, post learning materials on the WeatherBlur website, and share photos on social media. She will also assist with scientific operations and help conduct experiments.

“I can’t wait to have a first-hand experience with a scientific research project, and I think it is important for teachers to show their students that you are never too old to learn new information,” Train said. “It is important to get out of your comfort zone and share your own learning experiences with your students.”

Coccolithophores are a common type of algae that help form the base of ocean food webs, and they play a significant role in global chemical and carbon cycles. Balch recently found that they are remarkably scarce in the fertile waters near the equator, and his team aims to learn why during this cruise.

The Southern Ocean and equator are connected by an important ocean layer called “Sub-Antarctic mode water,” which forms at the surface of the Southern Ocean, sinks, and flows to the equator over a 40-year journey. Balch suspects that booming coccolithophore populations in the Southern Ocean are depleting its supply of essential nutrients before Sub-Antarctic mode water flows north, making the water layer sub-optimal for coccolithophore growth by the time it reaches the equator.

While at sea, the team will use satellite imagery to locate eddies rich in coccolithophores, whose chalk shells are so reflective that they can be seen from space. By measuring water properties in these eddies and collecting water to conduct onboard experiments, the researchers hope to uncover how coccolithophores in the Southern Ocean are altering this important source of nutrients before its long journey towards the equator.

“Sub-Antarctic mode water travels far north from where it forms, and it exerts a staggering level of control on much of the global ocean,” Balch said. “If coccolithophores are changing its essential properties, then they could be influencing which species grow in food webs as far away as the equator or even in the Northern Hemisphere.”

The team will use a creative approach to calculate how fast this water layer changes. The ship will follow Sub-Antarctic mode water for more than 1,000 miles on its journey to the Indian Ocean. As they measure the water’s basic properties, they will also collect samples at depth to measure freons, manufactured refrigerants that can be found throughout the environment.

Freons have constantly changed since their invention in the 1950s – a fact that today allows scientists to detect when water was last at the surface and exposed to freons in the atmosphere. Back on shore, a team from the University of Miami will determine which types of freons are present in different parcels of Sub-Antarctic mode water along the ship’s transect.

“Freons are a great timekeeper for the age of water,” Balch said. “We’ll use their time signatures to figure out how long it took a sample of Sub-Antarctic mode water to arrive where we found it, and to understand how quickly the water is changing as it’s moving north.”

The researchers will investigate these questions over 38 days aboard the RV Thomas Thompson. The team will depart from South Africa and return to the island of Mauritius in early March. The Bigelow Laboratory InstagramFacebook, and Twitter accounts will post updates during the cruise, as will the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.

This cruise is the latest research topic to be explored by WeatherBlur, an online citizen science community funded by National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The project brings together students, teachers, community members, and scientists, who collaborate to ask questions, design scientific investigations, and bring back data and findings to discuss with each other.

Currently, WeatherBlur engages six Maine schools, as well as two schools from Mississippi and one school from Alabama. Train’s outreach from the cruise will be followed by more than 1,300 students and 26 teachers.

“I think this will be a wonderful opportunity for students to see all the different career options onboard a research vessel, including positions in research and on the crew,” Train said. “It’s important that students are exposed to STEM in action, and I can’t wait for them to be immersed in this experience and see how big scientific questions get answered.”

Professional Learning Opportunity: Early Mathematics Diagnostic Interview (EMDI), A Diagnostic Interview Tool

Registration: 8:00 am, Session 8:30 am – 3:15 pm

Who is invited?

This professional learning opportunity is specifically designed for Pre-K-5 mathematics educators, including classroom teachers, special education teachers, Title 1 teachers, math or instructional coaches, and math support staff.

Why participate?

  • Learn about and practice using a diagnostic interview tool for mathematics and how to plan for instruction based on results
  • Recognize the developmental progression of and misconceptions in mathematics learning
  • Strengthen your own pedagogical and content knowledge in mathematics
  • Compare assessment practices and ways to use assessment to improve student learning
  • Take away the EMDI tool, ideas, resources, and materials to use in your school and classrooms

What are our key goals?

The key goals are to provide you with experiences, information, and resources to guide you in the areas of diagnostic assessment, identifying students’ mathematical needs, and developing knowledge of instructional strategies that have an impact on students’ mathematical learning.

What is our approach to professional development?

  • Do the math: Using video and hands-on explorations, delve into key elementary mathematics concepts using multiple approaches, including identifying types of questions and responses and varying types of mathematical
  • Connect to research: Discuss readings that connect each topic to research and take away powerful research-based approaches, tools, and resources to use in your school and
  • Collaborate: Work together and share ideas with other Pre-K-5
  • Leading change: Set goals and generate a plan for ongoing mathematics improvement for your school and

Cost: $90.00 per person for the 3-day series (includes continental breakfast, lunch, and materials)

Contact hours: 24 hours

 When?

Locations: Dates (Must attend all dates): Registration Links:
Big Cat’s Events Center, Ellsworth 2/4/20; 2/5/20; 4/9/20

Storm Date: 2/25/20

Register for Ellsworth Event
Northeastland Hotel, Presque Isle 2/6/20; 2/7/20; 4/10/20

Storm Date: 2/11/20

Register for Presque Isle Event
The Green Ladle, Lewiston 3/10/20; 3/11/20; 4/29/20

Storm Date: 3/19/20

Register for Lewiston Event
Hampton Inn, Saco 3/12/20; 3/13/20; 4/30/20

Storm Date: 3/25/20

Register for Saco Event

Space is Limited! Register by January 10, 2020

Questions?  Please contact: Jen Robitaille, Elementary Mathematics Specialist: 624-6673, jennifer.r.robitaille@maine.gov

PRIORITY NOTICE: Live Broadcast Link Available for Public Hearing on Proposed Revisions to Rule Chapter 132 (Career and Education Development, English Language Arts, and Mathematics Standards) on November 13, 2019

As a reminder, the Maine Department of Education has scheduled a public hearing on November 13th, 2019 as part of the scheduled periodic review of the Maine Learning Results. The Department is seeking public comments regarding the proposed revisions to Rule Chapter 132, revised career and education development, English language arts, and mathematics standards until 5 pm on November 27th, 2019.

The public hearing will take place in room 103A of the Burton Cross Building in Augusta from 1-4 pm. Anyone present may speak at the public hearing. People that wish to speak will be asked to sign in and, preferably, provide two written copies of comments, as well as an electronic copy. The live broadcast is for viewing the hearing only. You will not be able to provide public comment via the live broadcast.

Anyone unable to attend the public hearing may send written comments by 5 pm on November 27th, 2019. Written comments may be emailed to sis.doe@maine.gov with the subject “Career and Education Development Standards Review,” or “English Language Arts Standards Review,” or “Mathematics Standards Review” or mailed to Maine Department of Education, attn: Beth Lambert, 23 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333.

Below is a list of relevant links, as well as the hearing information including a link for the live broadcast:

For further information about the standards review process contact Beth Lambert at Beth.Lambert@maine.gov.

PRIORITY NOTICE: Proposed Revisions to Rule Ch. 132 (Career & Education Development, ELA, and Mathematics Standards); Public Hearing on Nov. 13, 2019

As part of the scheduled periodic review of the Maine Learning Results, the Maine Department of Education is seeking public comments regarding proposed revisions to the Career and Education Development, English Language Arts, and Mathematics Standards found in Rule Chapter 132 Learning Results: Parameters for Essential Instruction. Please note that the Department of Education is only seeking comments on the Career and Education Development, English Language Arts, and Mathematics Standards sections of Rule Chapter 132 at this time.

The standards review process for the Career and Education Development, English Language Arts, and Mathematics Standards began in 2018 with a public comment period and a public hearing on the current Career and Education Development, English Language Arts, and Mathematics Standards. After the public comment period, steering committees were convened who were charged with reviewing all submitted comments and with developing blueprints for the revision of the state standards in their assigned content area. Once the blueprints were created, writing teams, consisting of pk-12 teachers who represent Maine’s cultural and geographical diversity, assembled to draft the standards revisions. Now, as part of this review process, the Maine Department of Education has submitted the revisions as part of a proposed rule change to Chapter 132.
Find the details for proposed changes for Rule Chapter 132 on the Maine DOE Proposed Rule & Rule Changes webpage (proposed rules are listed in order by rule number).

Public Hearing Information for Rule Chapter 132:
November 13th from 1-4pm, room 103 at the Cross Building, 111 Sewell Street, Augusta.
Anyone may speak at the public hearing which will be live-streamed via Zoom. People wishing to speak will be the asked to sign in and, preferably, provide two written copies of comments, as well as an electronic copy. Anyone unable to attend the public hearing may send written comments.

Comment Period Deadline: 5 pm on November 27th, 2019
Written comments may be sent to Standards Review at sis.doe@maine.gov, or mailed to Beth Lambert, 23 SHS Station, Augusta, ME 04333.