Oxford Elementary Showcases STEM Skills with a Little Help from the Local Fire Department

The Oxford Fire Department made a special visit to Oxford Elementary School with a ladder truck recently to support the culminating activity of a new instructional sequence the school designed and implemented this year. As part of an effort to improve mathematics achievement, the school has started a new tradition of supporting the transition into academics with a “First Ten Days of Math” program for all students in Grades 1 through Grade 6.

The program supports students in thinking of themselves as mathematicians who enjoy and actively participate in problem solving through establishing consistent classroom roles, routines, and procedures that support teaching and learning, and increase rigor by having students explore, express, and better understand mathematics content through problem-solving.

The Grade 4 to 6 teams participated in the STEM Egg Drop challenge to support older students in applying the academic and social-emotional routines and procedures that will set them up for success as they transition into the curriculum.

Fire truck with latter up. students gathered outdoors watching

The challenge is a project-based lesson that helps students learn to:

  • embrace mistakes that make your brain grow and, in turn, help you to learn
  • communicate and compromise with partners and groups
  • assess strategies
  • get unstuck and ask questions
  • share their thinking and communicate in the math classroom
  • make sense of problems and create a plan to solve them
  • use feedback and revise work

“All of this work is a way to support students in better understanding productive academic behaviors, so they know how to use them throughout the school year,” said Caitlin Dailey, Oxford Elementary Math Coach and MSAD #17 K-6 Math Coordinator.

Originally an extension of a school-wide book study of Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler, the project has become “so much more,” added Dailey, with students now implementing these behaviors throughout their school day.

Fifth-grader Jackson Lessard reflected, “This was the first time we got to know each other. I think this is going to make our communication better. Communication is so important. Even if your group isn’t a group of friends you can find ways to work together to solve problems.” The practical lessons learned informed norms or agreements for many classrooms. A classmate, Juliette Szantyr added, “Making agreements about how we would work together in our classroom is really helpful.”

“We’re really excited about what we’ve built with our students–beyond egg containers–and that our whole school has embraced the importance of cultivating a community for math learning,” said Melissa Guerrette, 5th Grade Oxford Elementary School Teacher and 2021 Oxford County Teacher of the Year.

Teachers and other school staff have been reflecting on the success of the project and look forward to designing future opportunities to practice and reinforce these skills widely across the learning setting.

This article is part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. To submit a story or an idea, email Rachel at rachel.paling@maine.gov.

The Math Pact: Achieving Instructional Coherence Within and Across Grades Virtual Training

Join the Maine Department of Education mathematics specialists, Jen Robitaille and Michele Mailhot, in this 5-part virtual professional learning opportunity specifically designed for a team/sub-team of a school leadership team. Teams consist of 4 – 6 members, which may include:

  • Administrator (required member)
  • Math coach
  • Curriculum coordinator
  • Classroom teacher
  • Special Education teacher

Why participate?

  • Strengthen your understanding of a Mathematics Whole School Agreement
  • Explore what it means to develop a Mathematics Whole School Agreement
  • Develop a shared school vision of rigorous, accessible, and equitable mathematics teaching and learning
  • Collaboration with your school coach
  • Take away ideas and materials to use in developing and implementing your Mathematics Whole School Agreement
  • Improve student learning and understanding of mathematics

What is our key goal? To provide you with experiences, information, and resources to guide you in key areas of school practice, leadership, and instructional strategies that have an impact on students’ mathematical learning.

What is our approach to professional learning?

  • Dig into math: Delve into key mathematics concepts such as language, notation, representations, rules and generalizations.
  • 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 classrooms.
  • Collaborate: Work together and share ideas with other teams.
  • Lead change: Set goals and generate a plan for ongoing mathematics improvement for your school and classrooms.

Registration Cost: Free team registration – some materials will be provided digitally. The required texts will be provided to your team at no cost.

Contact hours: 10 hours
Please select ONE SERIES. Plan to participate in ALL dates for that series.
Series A


Register Here

Sept. 22, 2021

3:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Oct. 6, 2021

3:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Oct. 20, 2021

3:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Nov. 3, 2021

3:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Nov. 17, 2021

3:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Series B


Register Here

Sept. 23, 2021

3:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Oct. 7, 2021

3:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Oct. 21, 2021

3:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Nov. 4, 2021

3:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Nov. 18, 2021

3:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Space is Limited! Register by September 8, 2021

Questions? Contact: Michele Mailhot, Mathematics Specialist: 624-6829, michele.mailhot@maine.gov  or Teri Peaslee, School Turnaround Team PL Coordinator: 624-6706, teri.peaslee@maine.gov

Nominations and Applications are Now Open for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST)

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is currently accepting nominations and applications for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). PAEMST is the highest recognition that a Kindergarten through 12th grade science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science educator may receive for outstanding teaching in the United States. Since 1983, more than 5,100 teachers have been recognized for their contributions to mathematics and science education. Up to 108 awardees may be recognized each year.

This current cycle will recognize K-6 educators. Anyone—principals, teachers, parents, students, or members of the general public—may nominate a teacher by completing the nomination form. To submit a nomination, you’ll need the teacher’s name, email address, and school contact information. Teachers may also initiate the application process themselves at www.paemst.org.

For ELEMENTARY K-6, the nomination deadline is January 7, 2022, and the application deadline is February 6, 2022. ELEMENTARY K-6 educators will be eligible to apply during the current cycle.

Please consider nominating outstanding STEM teachers today!

Questions? Contact:

Michele Mailhot, PAEMST Mathematics Coordinator, michele.r.mailhot@maine.gov

Shari Templeton, PAEMST Science Coordinator, shari.templeton@maine.gov

Nokomis Educator Wins 2021 Jacqueline Mitchell Mathematics Educator Award

Join the Maine Department of Education in extending congratulations to Ellen Payne, from Nokomis Regional High School, as the 2021 Recipient of The Jaqueline Mitchell Mathematics Educator Award! The award was presented by The Association of Teachers of Mathematics in Maine (ATOMIM) on June 16, 2021.

Read more about Ellen and the award on the ATOMIM website.

Contact information: Michele Mailhot, Secondary Mathematics Specialist, michele.r.mailhot@maine.gov

Virtual Workshop for Teachers: Middle School Science & Engineering Fair

The below opportunity is being hosted by the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance.

When: Wednesday, June 23, 2021
Where: Online (Interactive)
Benefits: Participation stipend, Subscription to Science News
Registration Deadline: May 28, 2021
FMI, ContactStefany Burrell

Did you know that Maine has a science fair for grades 6-8? The Maine State Middle School Science & Engineering Fair (MSSEF) provides youth with a chance to share their independent STEM projects with judges and their peers. The event encourages students to explore their own area of interest, engage in authentic science and engineering practices, and hone their science communication skills.

Late each spring, the MSSEF welcomes middle schoolers from around the state to present their work in a supportive environment. Students can work alone or in teams of 2-3. There is practically no limit to the topics a student can pursue. If it falls somewhere in the realm of science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM), it fits within the mission of the MSSEF!

As a middle school teacher, you may love the idea of giving your students this opportunity. But how do you start? Join us on Wednesday, June 23 to learn how. We will convene an interactive Zoom session where you’ll learn some tips for getting your students started on their projects and take away some activities to help them make the most of their independent work.

The top 10% of our state’s projects are invited to participate in the national Broadcom MASTERS competition. Although the prestige of winning is reserved for a handful of projects, all students who participate learn invaluable STEM and 21st century skills. Because the MSSEF is affiliated with the MASTERS competition, the Broadcom Foundation has provided MMSA with a grant to pay stipends to teachers who attend this training.

Learn more and register here: https://mmsa.org/2021/05/middle-school-science-fair-teacher-workshop/