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.

Innovative New “Experiential” Educator Training Takes Center Stage

Course Instructor Keith Kelley and EMMC President Lisa Larson looking through a STEAMRoller cart included with the course.
Course Instructor Keith Kelley and EMMC President Lisa Larson looking through a STEAMRoller cart that is included with the course.

In a four-day educator training that took place last month at the United Technology Center (UTC) in Bangor, 14 educators from across Maine gathered for a unique professional development opportunity offered through a partnership between two educators from RSU 19, Eastern Maine Community College (EMCC), and UTC that aims to help educators integrate advanced technology and experiential learning into every lesson plan, and to help fill the workforce gap in Maine.

Utilizing a $50,000 grant that EMCC President Lisa Larson obtained through the Maine Community College System, the 3 credit Introduction to Experiential Teaching through Technology course was offered as an opportunity for educators to “learn practical learning experiences to integrate traditional and newly advanced technologies into project biased lesions,” similar to the teaching methods found in career and technical education (CTE) settings throughout the state. The idea is to bring the experiential teaching philosophy to classrooms long before the high school CTE experience. The earlier integration of experiential learning gives students a taste for possible career paths but just as importantly, learning experiences that allow them to utilize and understand the advanced technological tools of their future and to utilize and exercise their own problem-solving and management skills.

The course was led by RSU 19 educators, Keith Kelley and Kern Kelley who are brothers, partners, and advocates for integrated experiential student learning. It provides classroom teachers, at any grade level and of any subject matter expertise, with not only the tools but also the mindset and methods to teach project based and integrated lessons to their students. This type of learning environment provides students with real-world, problem solving experiences with technology, bringing full circle the content areas that make up the very well-known acronym STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math).

The STEAMRoller Cart includes: Seville Classics UltraHD 2-Door Rolling Cabinet and a 6-drawer Rolling Storage Cabinet, Vise, Portable Vise Table, Power Strips, Cordless Orbital Hand Sander, Corded Orbital Hand Sander, Power Drill, Impact Power Drill, Rotary Dremel Tool, Irwin Clamps, Kobalt 100-Piece Household Tool Set with Hard Case, Hand Tool Bag, Hammer, Locking Pliers, Tape Measure, Speed Square, Spade Bits, Flash Forge 3D Printer, 3D Printer Tool Set, Frog Tape, Duct Tape, Rocketbook, FriXion Pens, iPod Touch & Case, Tripod, Raspberry Pi, Soldering Iron, Scrappy Circuits, Safety Goggles, Disposable Gloves, Breakout of the Box DRAWER, and a Breakout EDU Kit.
The STEAMRoller Cart includes: Seville Classics UltraHD 2-Door Rolling Cabinet and a 6-drawer Rolling Storage Cabinet, Vise, Portable Vise Table, Power Strips, Cordless Orbital Hand Sander, Corded Orbital Hand Sander, Power Drill, Impact Power Drill, Rotary Dremel Tool, Irwin Clamps, Kobalt 100-Piece Household Tool Set with Hard Case, Hand Tool Bag, Hammer, Locking Pliers, Tape Measure, Speed Square, Spade Bits, Flash Forge 3D Printer, 3D Printer Tool Set, Frog Tape, Duct Tape, Rocketbook, FriXion Pens, iPod Touch & Case, Tripod, Raspberry Pi, Soldering Iron, Scrappy Circuits, Safety Goggles, Disposable Gloves, Breakout of the Box DRAWER, and a Breakout EDU Kit.

Each educator’s school paid $381 total for the four-day hybrid course that includes the four in-person sessions, bi-weekly reading and reflection assignments and online discussions and provides educators with contact hours plus 3 college credits, in addition to a “STEAMRoller” cart of hardware and equipment valued at over $2,000 each. They will also each have the opportunity to host a STEAMRoller bus for a day at their school, which includes an experiential student conference provided by course instructors and their partners. At the student conference, educators and students will be able to participate in a day filled with breakout sessions on various topics such as 3D printing, drones, and virtual reality to name a few.

Hermon High School Principal Brian Walsh is excited that one of his 9th grade science teachers is attending the course this summer so that he can share his knowledge and the tool kit with the other 9th grade science teacher so that they can integrate hands-on project-biased learning experiences, not just to 9th graders but throughout the high school as well. Walsh has felt a void where they were unable to fill an industrial arts position in prior years and hopes this will help bring new STEAM learning experiences, career pathways, and experiential opportunities to the students at Hermon High School.

educators looking at a computer screen togetherTonya Therrien, Benton Elementary 5th Grade teacher decided to take the course with the hopes of bringing back to her classroom, “a way to utilize technology more with the kiddos, beyond just using it for research.” She wants her students to know how to use technology as a tool. When asked what she thought of the training so far, she said, “this is probably the most worthwhile class I’ve ever taken, and I’ve taken a lot of classes.” She then added that she has two master’s degrees which both required a fair amount of coursework.

Aaron Pody, a high school Life Sciences teacher from RSU 18 came to the class to learn about ways to teach the content with more relevance to his students. He has been pleased to find that there are ways to bring technology into the classroom that are not cost prohibitive.

educator wearing VR gogglesRSU 26 educator Karen Frye from Orono was excited to bring back what she has learned at the course to provide her gifted and talented students with the rare opportunity to do some hands-on problem solving, which will further enrich their learning experience and give them some problem-solving skills.

The 3-credit course and the STEAMRoller bus events are intended to give participating educators and schools a taste of experiential learning methods, along with emerging technologies, tools and resources. The course is expected to be followed up by an Experiential Education certificate program that EMCC is expected to launch in January of 2020. The new program aims to provide the state with educators that can help fill the growing workforce gap in technologically skilled workers.

The launch of the experiential training was deemed a success by organizers and participants alike. The innovative approach to an obvious need has the potential to further help Maine schools lead their students toward successful career choices, experience with problem-solving, and the ability to successfully navigate the technology of our future.

Educators standing with STEAMRoller Carts

This article was written by Rachel Paling in collaboration with course instructors Keith and Kern Kelley, and staff at both UTC and EMMC. If you have story ideas for Maine DOE’s Maine School’s Sharing Success campaign, please contact Rachel Paling at rachel.paling@maine.gov.

Conference: Collaborating to Address the Complex Mental and Behavioral Health Needs of Maine Youth

The Maine American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Maine Department of Education (DOE) and Maine Association of School Nurses (MASN) are collaborating to bring you best practices and current research on a variety of critical mental and physical health related topics facing adolescents. Recognizing that we are all supporting the needs of Maine children in different locations and ways we are bringing experts together to receive collaborative professional learning.

Hosted by: The Maine AAP, Department of Education and Maine Association of School Nurses

Intended audience: Those interested in the mental health of students (school nurses, medical providers, school counselors, social workers, and administrators)

Some topics covered: 

  • Identification and treatment of anxiety and depression in children and adults: How can we do better?
  • Addressing the Complex Mental and Behavioral Health Needs of Maine Youth: The Key Role of Adverse Childhood Experiences and Trauma Informed Care
  • Creating an Inclusive Environment for LGBTQ Youth
  • Tools for Screening and Safety for Youth at Risk of Suicide
  • Substance Use Disorder:  Impact on Youth and Families

Date: August 16, 2019

Time: 8:00 AM – 3:15 PM

Location: The program is being held in the Talbot Hall/Bonney Auditorium at the University of Southern Maine, located at 92 Bedford Street in Portland.

Cost: $50.00

Register here.

For questions or additional information, please contact Emily Poland at emily.poland@maine.gov.

Students Engaged in STEM Challenges at Blue Hill Consolidated School’s Summer Program

Submitted by Dawn McLaughlin, ESEA Coordinator & Curriculum Coordinator at School Union 93.

For two weeks, twenty students of Blue Hill Consolidated School have been participating in a Title 1A Summer School, taught by Ms. Bradford and Ms. Longley. Summer School is being held at George Stevens Academy, with students ranging from grades K-8. Morning early sessions focus on Reading and ELA, and later morning is focusing on Math and STEM. Much of the student work is hands-on, and students are highly engaged.

Much of the read aloud fiction is tied in with the STEM challenges. Last week’s theme was Water Week. Students read boat themed books like Who Sank the Boat? by Pamela Allen and Toy Boat by Randall de Seve. Students created their own boats out of reusable materials and pieces of wood. Younger students added plastic animals one at a time to see how many animals their boat could hold. Older students used keels and sails to balance their boats thinking about ideas like center of gravity and weight.

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.