Health and Physical Education, Visual and Performing Arts, and World Language Standards Updated

The revised Chapter 132: Learning Results: Parameters for Essential Instruction was signed into law March 31, 2022. This revision cycle updated the Health and Physical Education, Visual and Performing Arts, and World Language standards.

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) will be providing guidance and resources to School Administrative Units (SAUs) in making the transition to the revised standards throughout the 2022-2023 school year. There is no pre-determined date when SAUs must make the transition to the revised standards. It is the Maine DOE’s belief that SAUs will use their own professional judgment and phase in the revised standards at a pace that makes sense for their students and for their educational practice.

The proposed health and physical education standards have been revised to identify health education as a strand and physical education as a strand to better delineate the unique standards and performance expectations in each. For the health education strand, the proposed draft is closely aligned to the National Health Education Standards and includes minor adjustments to wording for clarification and the combining or elimination of some language in order to be more clear, concise, and appropriate (for the age level or age span). In addition, content topics and examples were removed from the performance expectations as the committee felt they were limiting the content by implying those were the only topics to be addressed. For the physical education strand, several standards were renamed and/or restructured and the performance expectations reworded to better meet the needs of Maine educators.

The proposed visual and performing arts standards have been adapted from the National Core Arts Standards while still including those items that Maine arts educators felt are specific to their work with Maine students.

The two biggest changes to the document include the addition of media arts standards, a rapidly developing field of the creative economy that includes audio, video, digital design, and mixed media creations, and the realignment of strands that separate each arts discipline into its own collection of unique standards and performance expectations (previously, three of the five arts standards were universal across all arts disciplines; now, they are individualized for each discipline.)  Although some disciplines share the same standards, their performance expectations are unique.

The proposed world languages standards are in alignment to national standards (ACTFL World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages), which were published in 2012, and are designed to meet the needs of Maine educators. Whereas the current standards include four strands, in the proposed draft, they have been reorganized into five strands, consistent with the five goal areas represented in the national standards. To make this shift, concepts included in the four original strands were retained but categorized differently in order to align with the five goal areas. For example, language comparisons appears in the communication strand in the current standards, while in the proposed draft it appears in the comparisons strand.

Another substantial shift is the inclusion of proficiency levels in addition to grade spans. The current standards represent a full pre-K to grade 12 progression of language learning. The proposed draft also offers this full progression, while at the same time providing multiple entry points by directing educators to begin at the current level of proficiency of their students. For example, if a program begins in kindergarten, the educator will start by addressing the kindergarten/novice low performance expectations. If the program begins in 7th grade, the educator will start with the performance expectations in the same kindergarten/novice low level, in order to appropriately target instruction to students’ current proficiency level.

Finally, a third shift is within the performance expectations themselves. In the current standards, performance expectations direct educators to focus on specific topics and skills within the standard. However, the proposed draft mirrors the national standards in its intention to provide general, universally applicable performance expectations that can be tailored to all languages, whether modern, classical, or signed. Supplemental resources will provide greater guidance on how to tailor them to specific languages, particularly classical and signed languages, which differ from modern languages in terms of uses, communities of speakers/users, and cultures.

It is also important to note that the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements, which include general communication and intercultural communication, provided the basis for the performance expectations in the proposed standards. The performance expectations in the communication strand are based on the can-do statements for interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational communication. For the four remaining strands, performance expectations were established based primarily on the intercultural communication can-co statements.

This revised document is the result of a thorough review process that began in the fall 2019 with multiple opportunities for stakeholder voice, and is the result of expertise from Department staff, representatives from higher education, district and building administration, as well as dozens of Maine educators.

For more information, please visit our standards review process website, or contact Beth Lambert, Director of Innovative Teaching and Learning, at beth.lambert@maine.gov.

Foreign Language Association of Maine Announces Recognition Awards

As part of its work to promote and improve the teaching and study of languages and cultures of the world, the Foreign Language Association of Maine (FLAME) recognizes Maine educators and students annually for their outstanding work in a number of areas including student recognition, leadership, lifetime achievement, and their two teacher of the year awards, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Teacher of the Year and FLAME Teacher of the Year. They recently announced their 2022 award recipients.

FLAME Student Recognition Award

Sam Conner Self is a talented senior at Bangor High School, currently enrolled in AP Spanish: Language & Culture. However, they also study ASL at Bangor High School and German at the University of Maine at Orono. Their academic pursuits after school include Spanish Honor Society, Spanish Club, Math Team, Theater, Civil Rights Club and Young Democrats. Beyond these extracurricular activities, Sam has shown leadership in their roles as: Social Media Director of Students for Gender Equality, Co-president of Q+ Club, and co-organizer of the Maine Youth Power Voter Education Campaign at BHS.

They intend to study psychology with a minor in at least one language in college and envision creating a community center that provides counseling and other services from multilingual psychologists rather than solely relying on interpreters.

Richard Williamson Leadership Award

This award is given to a teacher, administrator, student, or community member for outstanding results in promoting the study of modern and classical languages in their community or region.

Skip Crosby has been a dedicated Spanish teacher in Maine for 29 years at the high school level, with nine years at the college level. His excellence in teaching has been recognized over the years, but especially in 2014 and 2015, as Androscoggin County Teacher of the Year and FLAME World Language Teacher of the Year.

Skip is well known for his dedication to supporting his teaching peers in a variety of ways. He is a true leader by welcoming other teachers and graduate students into his classroom without hesitation. Most significantly, he has coordinated the TCI Maine Conference since 2006. This “Teaching with Comprehensible Input” conference provides meaningful and accessible professional development to teachers across New England by inviting nationally and internationally recognized experts on TPRS and CI.

Sister Solange Bernier Lifetime Achievement Award

This award was named after a well-loved and well respected French teacher, whose career spanned more than six decades. It recognizes the career-long accomplishments of those who are approaching retirement and who have demonstrated excellence in teaching and leadership throughout their careers as modern and classical language teachers.

Susan Dana of Cape Elizabeth Middle School is this year’s recipient. She is a National Board Certified Spanish Teacher who has been a language educator for 39 years, 30 of which have been in Cape Elizabeth. In the late 1990s she started the Foreign Language in Elementary School (FLES) program in Cape Elizabeth. In 1996 she was the FLAME teacher of the year, and she has been the recipient of numerous grants and scholarships, including a Fulbright Teacher Exchange to Uruguay in 2013. Susan has led service trips through Safe Passage in Guatemala with Cape Elizabeth High School students, and has engaged her students in many social justice projects and endeavors. Her students have participated in events such as Global Collaboration week, Journey North, and connecting with Peace Corps Volunteers. She also helped her students develop community and global connections with projects such as bookmarks for the public library, decorated grocery bags for the supermarket, valentines for hospital patients, pen pals, the Peace Corps’ World Wise School Program, video exchanges with Spanish speaking students, and a “New Mainers: Hear our Story” Program.

English Speakers for Other Languages (ESOL) Teacher of the Year

Farrah Giroux of Westbrook School Department was selected based on her demonstration of leadership in the field of ESOL, both on the board of Northern New England TESOL, serving terms as treasurer, vice president, and president, and locally in her community at Westbrook Middle School where she holds the position of Instructional Leader for the ELL Team. Farrah is a champion for educational equity, promoting an asset-based orientation, high expectations, and equitable opportunities for students learning English. Farrah skillfully leverages the WIDA English Language Development standards to bring principles of equity into practice for herself and the colleagues she supports.

FLAME Teacher of the Year

Each year at its annual conference, the Foreign Language Association of Maine (FLAME) recognizes those who have achieved outstanding results in teaching modern or classical languages.

This year’s recipient is Deb Backman from Cony High School. Deb is not only a fantastic language teacher, but an asset to her school community. Deb has served on the League of Innovative Schools Leadership Team, her District Curriculum Mapping Leadership Team, and was a class advisor for many years. At the state level, Deb has served multiple times as President of the Maine Chapter of American Association of Teachers of German (AATG), Webmaster and Treasurer. Since 2015 she has organized the annual Maine AATG Awards Tea at the Blaine House which recognizes German language students’ achievements, including on the National German Exam. Deb also helps organize an annual student immersion day (Sprachfest), in conjunction with German faculty at Colby College and co-organized several annual week-long K-16 Deutsche Woche in Bar Harbor immersion seminars for educators from the entire US.

She has served on the most recent Steering Committee for the review of the Maine State Learning Results for World Languages and currently serves on the Maine DOE World Language Advisory Council. As a result of Deb’s hard work, Cony High School is one of 13 German Government-designated US PASCH partner schools and serves as a beacon for other German programs. Her students have studied food waste with German entrepreneurs who started a zero packaging store in Berlin, worked with a German technology company who taught students to program mini-computers, and with a German singer/songwriter to write and produce an original song.

To learn more about FLAME’s awards visit their website. For further information, reach out to FLAME.

Seeking Education Stakeholders for Multilingual Education Task Force

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is preparing to launch the Multilingual Education Task Force (METF), an initiative to support the development of bilingual programs in Maine schools.

Bilingual programs have benefits for all students, including, but not limited to:

  • Superior academic performance;
  • Greater inclusion and improved socioemotional and learning outcomes for multilingual learners;
  • Intercultural communicative competence; and
  • Future opportunities for employment in the global economy.

If you are interested in participating as a member of the METF, you are welcome to submit an application. All educators and community members who would like to learn more about bilingual education and begin advocating for, and taking steps toward developing a program in a Maine school are encouraged to join.

Apply to Join the Multilingual Education Task Force.

Co-facilitated by the Multistate Association for Bilingual Education, Northeast, the METF will convene on the following dates from 3-5pm via Zoom:

  • May 5, 2022: Examination of opportunities to implement dual language education programs
  • May 12, 2022: Identifying the challenges and solutions to implement dual language education programs
  • May 23, 2022: Begin a strategic plan to build the foundation to implement dual language education programs

To learn more about bilingual education, its benefits, various program models, and how to begin the implementation process, check out the Multistate Association for Bilingual Education website. Contact April Perkins, ESOL/Bilingual Programs Specialist, at april.perkins@maine.gov with any questions.

Visiting Teachers from Spain Program

Is your school anticipating difficulty in securing a licensed Spanish teacher for the 2022-2023 school year or beyond? Do you want to expose your students to a proficient Spanish speaker and cultural expert? Are you trying to figure out how to staff a Spanish immersion program? Then the Visiting Teachers from Spain Program may help.

Maine’s Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Education of Spain was created to promote strong cross-cultural ties between the citizens of Maine and the people of Spain, and to help address the uneven distribution of qualified instructors of Spanish in our state. Under this agreement, educators from Spain can be brought to teach in Maine schools for a period of up to three years (a two-year extension may be possible after the third year), depending on the availability of each individual teacher, his or her willingness to stay for an extended period, and the School Administrative Unit’s (SAU) interest in extending their visiting teachers’ contracts beyond the initial year.

Visiting International Teachers are licensed to teach in Maine while holding the cultural exchange status described above.

The process of securing a Visiting Teacher from Spain is comprised of a few simple steps. An interested school or SAU must first determine that they have a guaranteed position. Teachers on J-1 visas cannot be procured for openings that are uncertain or subject to elimination. Next, a detailed application must be completed and signed. New schools or districts also must sign a program contract, indicating a commitment to abide by all of the program’s requirements.

Both documents must be submitted together to the Embassy of Spain by April 15, 2022. Maine DOE representatives will conduct remote interviews with Spanish teachers and select a pool of highly qualified candidates whose skills and backgrounds may fit the needs of Maine schools. The next step is to put their visiting teachers under contract in accordance with any local bargaining unit agreements. Visiting teachers must receive the same salary and benefits that any other teacher would receive, based on their educational attainment and years of experience. Visiting teachers arrive in Maine in mid-August and undergo an intensive pre-service orientation provided by the Spanish Ministry of Education prior to their arrival in their Maine communities.

Participation by the visiting educator in a strong, year-long novice teacher mentoring program in his or her school or district is a requirement for securing a teacher through this program. The school or district also should be willing to assist the teacher with all aspects of getting settled. Again, the application deadline is April 15, 2022. Please secure the approval of your local board of education/sponsor to hire a teacher from Spain before the April 15th deadline. Hiring after this date might be possible but we cannot guarantee availability of candidates.

See the program brochure for more details.

If you have any questions, please contact Manuel Collazo, Education Advisor at the Embassy of Spain, at manuel.collazo@educacion.gob.es or 617-678-5920.

Educator Spotlight: Aspiring World Languages Educator Attends 2022 NECTFL Conference on National Scholarship

The Maine Department of Education congratulates Nadine Bravo, an aspiring world languages teacher, for being selected as this year’s recipient of the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (NECTFL) Future Language Educator Scholarship. The scholarship provided funding for Bravo to attend the 2022 NECTFL Conference which took place in New York. Nadine was selected to receive this scholarship among a pool of applicants nation-wide due to her promise as an aspiring world languages educator.

As a multicultural and multilingual individual born and raised in Halle, East Germany, Bravo has spent time in Lithuania, Russia, the United States, and Chile, even surviving the Chilean earthquake of 2010 while she lived here. With much world experience, plus a BA in FLL (Russian, German, Spanish, English), some master’s-level coursework, and 20 years of experience tutoring German and English under her belt, Bravo dreamed about pursuing a graduate degree as a world languages teacher with a certificate to teach English as another language.

“It has always been rewarding watching students learn and grow with the languages,” said Bravo. “However, I had never obtained proper teacher certification, which limited my employment opportunities. The onset of the pandemic and an injury on the job were the catalyst to get the process of graduate school rolling.”

Bravo is now in her first year of graduate school and has had opportunities to tutor German in the linguistics department at the University of Southern Maine, which has helped confirm that she made the right decision about returning to graduate school.

Bravo attributes the opportunity to fill out an application for the NECTFL Future Language Educator Scholarship to her mentor teacher, Sarah Collins at Gorham Middle School, who pointed her toward a Language Educators newsletter put together by Maine Department of Education’s Interdisciplinary Instruction & ESOL/Bilingual Programs Specialist April Perkins. A link to the upcoming conference was available in a newsletter and Bravo took the opportunity to apply.

“When I came across the conference program, I felt so inspired and wanted to attend all the workshops and lectures offered regarding my target languages,” said Bravo. “I am currently in a tight financial situation and try to take advantage of any sort of financial support while furthering my education,” she added.

With three different types of scholarships available for the conference, the application process was demanding and complex but not impossible, says Bravo. Her application package included various elements such as letters of recommendation, a list of relevant organization affiliations, testing scores, a statement, methods assignments, and transcripts, among other things.

“I decided to go overboard and shared everything that could have been relevant,” said Bravo. “One of the most rewarding items I received after my first observation in my internship placement was a stack of student notes with feedback. It does not get any better than receiving genuine feedback from your students and learning about your strengths and weaknesses,” she added.

The conference took place earlier this month, bringing opportunities and experience for Bravo to pursue her dream of working as a world languages teacher in Maine.

“It is important not only to learn the language and grammar, but also to be exposed to different cultures, customs, and traditions, said Bravo, who has a goal of teaching students in Spanish and German. “Learning a world language is the gate to other cultures. I want to be that gate, facilitating my students’ access to an additional way of life,” she added.

Bravo expresses her gratitude to all the people who have paved the road for her return to graduate school, including graduate advisor, Mike Katz, and other supportive faculty at USM including her two professors, Dr. Mindy Butler and Dr. Alec Lapidus, who employ her as their graduate research assistant.

Currently, Bravo has accepted a long-term substitute teacher position in the Gray-New Gloucester Middle School. She is hopeful about her future career as a world languages teacher.

To sign up for the Language Educators Newsletter, click here or reach out to April Perkins at april.perkins@maine.gov.