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!

State Collaboration Helps Improve Early Childhood Programs in Maine

Through an ongoing partnership between the Maine Department of Education (DOE) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS), a subset of DHHS has been working to proactively plan for an anticipated $550 million increase in federal funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program.

Through knowledge gleaned from the needs assessment and strategic plan of the Preschool Development Grant (PDG), a grant program administered by the Maine DOE in 2019. OCFS has been able to do advanced planning and implementation work to best meet the specific needs of Maine children and families. In addition to using information from the PDG program, OCFS also worked with other state level partners such as the Children’s Cabinet, and the Bipartisan Policy Center.

“I want to extend a well-deserved congratulations to our partners at DHHS for the amazing work they do,” said Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin. “This is a testament to how vital our partnerships are with other state agencies and with our schools as we work to improve and expand Maine’s early childhood education programs.”

For more information about the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program, including information about the implementation plan, visit the OCFS website.

Staff at the Burchard A. Dunn School in MSAD 15 Team Up to Improve Student Inclusion in Pre-K

Beginning last September, a team of twelve dedicated staff members from MSAD 15 in Gray – New Gloucester and Child Development Services in Cumberland County joined forces with the Maine Department of Education, Child Development Services (CDS), The University of Maine Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies (CCIDS) and Maine Roads to Quality Professional Development Network (MRTQ PDN) to learn ways to improve their current inclusion practices within their three public Pre-K classrooms. “We’re doing this for the kids, everything we do is with their best interest in mind,” one preschool teacher noted when asked why they originally signed up for this professional learning opportunity.

Team members included district administration, special education staff, classroom teachers and their education technicians as well as an itinerant special education teacher from Child Development Services (CDS) Reach. The initiative included a continuum of professional development strategies from knowledge and skill building through individual and group training to guided reflective practice and application opportunities. School district team members started by completing a self-paced on-line training entitled Inclusive Environments in Public Pre-K. Next, the whole team participated in a one-day kick-off event hosted at Educare Central Maine in Waterville. This orientation session provided participants with a chance to meet the trainer and consultants, learn more about the education and support components and discuss the key indicators of high- quality indoor and outdoor classroom environments covered during the on-line training. After the orientation session, team members participated in the MRTQ PDN 30-hour Creating Inclusive Early Childhood Settings on-line training while also receiving onsite consultation visits and participating in a Professional Learning Community (PLC) lead by two CCIDS consultants.

In January, all partners convened at the school to discuss the process, tour the classrooms and present their learning. External evaluators from Early Childhood Associates in Massachusetts conducted focus groups to gain more specific feedback about the professional learning and its impact. Participants noted:

Working together with a specific early childhood focus strengthened our team and our work.”

“Having administrators involved was REALLY valuable!”

The teams were awarded $1,500 mini-grants for each pre-k classroom to enhance inclusivity. The funding came from a federally awarded Pre-K grant Maine received in 2019. The mini-grants were used to purchase sensory materials, equipment, furniture and other enhancements such as lighting, flooring and sinks!  Comments from participants demonstrate the impact of the professional learning:

“I am internally motivated to attend IEP meetings and say, yes, Dunn School has everything we need to service your child.”

My students seem happier, they’re excited, I feel comfortable meeting them where they’re at.”

“We didn’t know what we didn’t know!”

The Maine Department of Education in partnership with CDS, CCIDS and MRTQ PDN is considering ways to continue this project with other interested districts throughout Maine. As opportunities become available, notification will be provided to the field!

Read to ME Challenge to Kick-off February 3rd at Lincoln School in Augusta

Year five of the Read to ME Challenge is scheduled to begin on February 3, 2020.  Maine Department of Education Commissioner Pender Makin will launch the campaign by reading to children at the Lincoln School in Augusta.  She will follow up her reading by issuing a challenge to participate in the 2020 campaign.  The Department will be live streaming this event, and will provide those details soon. This simple but powerful campaign challenges adults to read to children for 15 minutes, to capture that reading episode via a photo or short video and then post it on social media to challenge others to do the same.  The Read to ME Challenge will run for the month leading up to Read Across America Day on Monday, March 2, 2020.

Schools and organizations are invited to join the challenge and to encourage community members to do the same. The collective voice of many key partners, leaders and those in respected positions will send a clear message about the vital importance reading to children plays in the social and economic well-being of Maine. Maine DOE also encourages partners to be creative and to use this opportunity to enhance ongoing literacy education outreach efforts.

If your organization is willing and able to promote the Read to ME Challenge, please follow this link to provide us with your contact information. Read to ME Challenge resources, including a guidance document, public service announcements in a variety of languages, fliers and a list of engaging ways to incorporate the challenge are available on the Read to ME webpage.

Reading aloud to children is one of the most cost effective and highly beneficial methods of building children’s literate abilities. The simple act of reading aloud to a child 15 minutes a day for five years results in 27,375 minutes of language exposure which can put children on the path to high literacy achievement.  Reading aloud exposes children to the world around them, helps them see reading as an enjoyable and valuable activity and often strengthens bonds with trusted adults.

Thanks for your consideration of this opportunity, and don’t hesitate to contact danielle.m.saucier@maine.gov (624-6734) with any questions.

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