iCivics STUDENT Webinar to Discuss the 2020 Election (For Students/Classrooms Grades 3-12)

On Friday, October 2 at 10am join Joe Schmidt (Social Studies Specialist MDOE) as he hosts an iCivics panel to discuss Getting from “Can’t Vote. Don’t Care” to “Count Me In”: Youth Engagement in a Presidential Election.

This 30-minute session is intended for your students to watch on YouTube live and submit questions as iCivics will talk about the importance of voting (even for students who are not old enough to vote) and how students can be involved. The iCivics panel will then answer questions submitted by your students. You and your students can join in and watch here – https://youtu.be/Kx-85ZlJqPg. The comments section will be turned off so questions will be collected ahead of the webinar.

This form can be shared with your students or collect your student questions and submit on their behalf. This session will be recorded and available for asynchronous viewing at a later time.

Contact Joe Schmidt (joe.schmidt@maine.gov) with any of your questions.

Applications Open for United State Senate Youth Program

The United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) is pleased to announce that the state departments of education nationwide have begun their annual selection processes. Two Maine students will be selected to attend the online Washington Week program March 14-18, 2021 and each will receive a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship. This year the application process will be completely online with each high school principal able to nominate one student from their high school to be considered.

Students must submit their application and signed nomination via email no later than 11:59pm on December 4, 2020. All form, requirements, and additional information can be found at on the Maine Social Studies DOE Website. More about the program can be found on the National USSYP website.

The USSYP was created by Senate Resolution 324 in 1962 as stated in supporting Senate testimony from that year, “to increase young Americans’ understanding of the interrelationship of the three branches of government, the caliber and responsibilities of federally elected and appointed officials, and the vital importance of democratic decision making not only for America but for people around the world.”

Each year, this extremely competitive merit-based program brings 104 of America’s brightest high school juniors and seniors from every state, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity, to Washington, D.C. for an intensive week-long study of the federal government and its leaders. The state departments of education throughout the country select the students through a rigorous nomination and selection process. Each of the 104 student delegates will also receive a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship, with encouragement to continue coursework in history, government and public affairs. The Hearst Foundations have fully funded and administered the program since inception; as stipulated in S. Res. 324, no government funds are utilized.

MEDIA RELEASE: Maine Educators Win $400 Each in First Drawings of Bicentennial Curriculum Sharing Initiative

Narragansett Elementary School 2nd grade teacher Stephanie Nichols and Brooksville Elementary School PK-8 art teacher Nick Patterson are the first two to win prizes. 

Stephanie Nichols, a 2nd grade teacher at Narragansett Elementary School in Gorham School District is the first to win a $400 cash prize as the February drawing winner. There will be drawings held every month until December 2020 as part of Maine’s Bicentennial Curriculum Sharing Initiative.

The Maine Department of Education (DOE), in collaboration with the Maine Bicentennial Commission (maine200.org) and the Maine Historical Society launched the online resource in February as a way to help Maine teachers integrate Maine’s Bicentennial into their lessons.

Stephanie is one of several educators who have shared their lesson plans through the curriculum sharing initiative by uploading it into the curriculum tool since its launch. Stephanie’s lesson plan is called “How Communities Represent Themselves” and helps students learn to identify the historical and current flags of Maine, and understand the concept of “community” representation through the symbols on the flags. The lesson includes an activity where students work in small groups to create flags to represent their classroom/school communities.

Nick Patterson
Nick Patterson

Nick Patterson is the drawing winner for the month of March. A PK-8 art teacher for Brooksville Elementary School, he says his lesson plan first started as an interest in silhouettes and blob painting which prompted him to start having his middle school art students work with images from the internet including sea creatures, an interest of theirs.

“This lesson plan will give students an overview of the creatures in the Gulf of Maine,” said Patterson describing the lesson plan he uploaded for other educators to use. “Students will be able to describe the creatures they learn about, first learning simple art skills, and then combining these simple skills to make an Oceanscape picture that is complex.”
The Initiative enables educators to share their own lesson plans, download lesson plans created by other Maine teachers, and access new curriculum resources and primary documents related to Maine, its history, and culture.

“Now more than ever is it imperative that we embrace the online resources we have in place to share ideas and lesson plans, and that we continue to celebrate the 200th anniversary of our amazing state,” said Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin. “I encourage all Maine educators to use this tool to share their curriculum resources related to Maine with other educators around the state so that we can encapsulate and celebrate our land, culture, history, and community for generations to come.”

To submit a lesson plan, educators can visit mainememory.net/lessons/submit to complete a simple submission template, and then upload additional resources. Once uploaded, lesson submissions will be reviewed for completeness and then placed on the, where other educators from across the state can access them.

Educators who participate by sharing resources will have their names entered into a random monthly drawing (February 2020 – December 2020) for $400 in cash for use for lesson planning and teaching. Participants for this program are intended to be public and private school educators for grades pre-k to 12, Career and Technical Educators, Adult Education Instructors, and Post-Secondary Instructors.

By participating in this unique collaboration, not only are you are setting the stage for present and future Mainers to learn more about our great state, you can also share and learn from the collective brain of educators around Maine.

For more information or to ask questions about the process, please contact Kathleen Neumann kneumann@mainehistory.org.

Maine Educators Jenn Heidrich and Erin Towns to Embark on Polar Research Experiences

Two Maine high school teachers have received the opportunity of a lifetime. Jenn Heidrich and Erin Towns, both high school social studies teachers at Edward Little High School in Auburn, Maine, work across the hall from each other. Both entered separately into a competitive application process that resulted in them receiving the opportunity of a lifetime: Traveling to the Yukon’s Boreal Forest and the Greenland Ice Sheet to study with internationally-renowned climate scientists.

This opportunity will allow them to travel to the Arctic region in order to help create classroom experiences and resources which will combine social studies and environmental science in Maine classrooms.

Jenn Heidrich will be traveling to the Yukon for five weeks to study carbon sequestration in the alpine region of the Yukon, as well as biodiversity in various arctic ecosystems. She will be doing this with Dr. Jennie McLaren of University of Texas El Paso. Jennifer has a background in archaeology, geography, and science and as such, is thrilled to be working with a biologist who is examining trophic cascades in the sub-arctic. She hopes to bridge the gap between social studies and science in Maine classrooms, with a specific focus on how changes in remote ecosystems will impact cultures around the world.

Erin Towns is traveling to Ilulissat Greenland for two weeks to study how increases in surface runoff influences ice flow and subsequent loss of water mass from the Greenland ice sheet to the oceans . She will be working with Dr. Sarah Das, a glaciologist and climate scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Erin’s background includes extensive work in the areas of global education, geography, and teacher professional development and she will use the experience to build social studies and science inquiry based strategies and classroom activities related to the Gulf of Maine and climate change adaptation efforts.

Beginning in June for Jenn and August for Erin, each teacher will participate as a full research team member in an authentic scientific expedition in the Arctic, joining the ranks of educators who will be working in research locations from the Arctic Ocean to Antarctica, as part of a program that allows educators to experience first-hand what it is like to conduct scientific research in some of the most remote locations on earth.
Erin and Jenn are two of eleven educators selected through a nationwide search to participate in PolarTREC, an educational research experience in which classroom teachers and informal educators participate in polar research, working closely with scientists as a pathway to improving science education. Through PolarTREC, selected educators will have the rare opportunity to spend several weeks working with a research team in the Arctic or Antarctic.

While on field expeditions, educators and researchers will share their experiences with scientists, educators, communities, and students of all ages through the use of Internet tools such as online teacher and researcher journals, message boards, photo albums, podcasts, PolarConnect real-time presentations from the field, and online learning resources. After the field experience, teachers and researchers will continue to share their experiences with the public and create instructional activities to transfer scientific data, methodologies, and technology to classrooms.

The first expedition departs in spring 2020 with an educator deploying to the Arctic community of Utqiaġvik (Barrow) Alaska. Additional expeditions will take place throughout the Arctic field season in the summer of 2020. The Antarctic field season will be in full swing by November and continue through the winter of 2020-21. This year’s expeditions will range from the Arctic Circle to the South Pole and study a large scope of topics from marine biology to landscape ecology.

PolarTREC is managed by the Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. (ARCUS) and funded by the National Science Foundation and additional partnerships. For more information and to participate, see the PolarTREC website at: http://www.polartrec.com or contact the ARCUS Project Managers, Janet Warburton and Judy Fahnestock at info@polartrec.com or call 907-474-1600.

Follow Erin Towns on Instagram @Esctowns and Jenn Heidrich @MrsJHikes to keep up with their travels, stories, and scientific work.

The Arctic Research Consortium of the United States (ARCUS) is based in Fairbanks, Alaska and was formed in 1988 to provide leadership in advancing knowledge and understanding of the Arctic. ARCUS is a member consortium of educational and scientific institutions. Further information is available at: http://www.arcus.org.

This story was submitted by Shelly Mogul, Curriculum Director for Auburn School Department as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. To submit a story or an idea email it to Rachel at rachel.paling@maine.gov.

Calling All Teachers of Social Studies Content PK-12!

With the emphasis on teaching about Maine Native Americans as part of the revised Maine Learning Results for Social Studies, Joe Schmidt, Social Studies Specialist at Maine Department of Education, continues to gather data from educators in the field in order to best support their efforts.

If you are a teacher of social studies content in grades pk-12, please complete this brief, anonymous survey no later than the end of the day on Thursday, February 20. Please share with others in your school as necessary.

Take Survey!