Regional Conversations Regarding Serving Children with Disabilities from Birth to 5 Years of Age

As most of you are aware, L.D. 1715, “An Act to Reorganize the Provision of Services for Children with Disabilities from Birth to 5 Years of Age” has been carried over to the next Legislative session. This bill proposes the transition of responsibility for special education services for preschool-age children from Child Development Services to the public schools.

The Department recognizes that there are many questions and issues involved with the proposed transition, and that they may vary significantly by region. Because of this, and in preparation for the Committee for Education and Cultural Affairs’ continued consideration of L.D. 1715, the Department of Education feels that it is critical to receive input from regional stakeholders. We have established regional stakeholder meetings, based on the established Superintendent Regions.

Each of these regional stakeholder meetings will include all Superintendents and Directors of Special Education who are available to attend, and the department will be inviting representatives who meet the following criteria:

  • A designee of the Commissioner of Education
  • A representative of a Special Purpose Preschool who is contracted with CDS to provide services
  • An individual who, as a sole proprietor, is contacted with CDS to provide services
  • A representative of a Head Start agency or program
  • An early childhood teacher from a public 4-year old program that includes eligible children
  • A principal of a public elementary school that includes eligible children in its public 4-year-old program
  • A representative of a statewide association of speech, language and hearing therapists
  • A representative of a statewide association of occupational therapists
  • A representative of a statewide association of physical therapists
  • A parent of a child with a disability between 3 and 5 years of age who is currently receiving services from CDS
  • A representative of a childcare program

Due to the limited space available, additional representatives from the above list may be accommodated depending on the response received from Superintendents and Directors of Special Education.

Regional Stakeholder meetings are scheduled for the following dates and locations. All meetings will be from 10:00 to 3:00:

Midcoast
September 16th at the Senator Inn, Augusta

Western
September 16th at the Senator Inn, Augusta

Kennebec
September 17th at the Senator Inn, Augusta

Washington and Hancock
September 17th at the Black Bear Lodge, Orono

Penquis
September 18th at Jeff’s Catering, Brewer

Aroostook
September 18th at Caribou Inn and Convention Center, Caribou

Cumberland and York
September 19th at the Westbrook Armory, Westbrook

Please respond to Jonathan.Madden@maine.gov with your availability to attend as soon as possible.

Thank you and we look forward to hearing your valuable input.

Growth Celebrated and Knowledge Shared as MoMEntum Literacy Pilot Wraps Up

Kindergarten through 3rd grade teachers from across the state gathered this month for a final event that served as the culmination of two and a half years of work by 1500 students, 100 teachers, 9 schools, and 6 literacy coaches. Momentum, a K-3 literacy pilot program designed to improve the literacy achievement of students, came to a close with a professional learning event and an opportunity to reflect on the knowledge and growth experienced by its participants.

Deployed in January 2018, the MoMEntum pilot program provided 9 schools with iPad devices from Apple, Inc. and research-based curriculum resources along with targeted professional learning and coaching to help them improve not only the reading levels of their young students, but also to engage them in a meaningful integration of literacy across other content areas using technology. Additionally, and somewhat uniquely, the pilot also provided schools with the tools to measure how well students were responding to the new learning style.

Teachers received intensive professional learning on specific software applications that individualized student learning, and provided a platform to share student progress with their parents or guardians. Trained literacy coaches worked within each school along with locally grown professional learning communities (PLC) that met monthly (or more) to share practices, evaluate their work and progress, and seek ways to improve.

room of educators sitting at tables listening to speakerAt the closing event were an array of teacher-lead professional learning sessions about classroom management and curriculum practice. For example, Lindsey Davis, a 1st Grade Teacher from Leroy H. Smith School in RSU 22, lead a session about how to engage students in Close Reading lessons that utilize integrated and relevant content. Heather Gray and Danielle Afari, teachers from Dirigo Elementary School in RSU 56, lead an informative and entertaining session about ways to glean student progress based on data and assessment in the classroom.

Teachers and administrators also had the opportunity to work on sustainability plans to keep their work from the MoMEntum pilot going in their schools by establishing school level and individual goals to help continue their integrated literacy work.

Kathy Jacobs, a 1st grade teacher who is moving into a special education role at China Primary School, a participating school from the pilot, said that she has definitely, “seen growth in the students” during the pilot program and that no matter what happens now that the program has come to a close, she will apply some of the things she has learned into her teaching practices going forward.

Wonders & wows posterThere was also an opportunity for teachers and administrators to share their “Wonders & Wows” as a way to evaluate the work and progress and highlight areas for future collaborative work.

“I learned as much from the teachers as I hope they learned from me,” said Literacy Coach Heidi Goodwin, a Distinguished Educator on loan from MSAD 54 who worked directly with the Maine DOE on the pilot program. “They [teachers] were great thinking partners,” she reflected. There were 6 educators total that served as coaches for the program. Along with Heidi were, Kayanne Nadeau, on loan from MSAD 27; Liz Wakem, on loan from RSU 71; Lisa Sleight, a retired Maine educator; Li Gowell, a retired Maine educator; and Dee Saucier, a Maine DOE staff member.

“This was not just a great learning opportunity for the schools involved but for the Department as well,” said Lee Anne Larsen, Maine DOE Early Learning Team Coordinator who has been involved in the administration of the MoMEntum pilot from its inception.  Reflecting on the valuable lessons learned during the pilot, Lee Anne remarked that the most notable were about ways to effectively use technology in the classroom, and methods of meaningfully integrating literacy into other content areas. “It will definitely inform our future work at the Department,” she added.

While the full pilot program and everything that came along with it was only deployed in 9 schools initially, the professional learning resources are available, completely free, to all schools on the Maine DOE Website, along with help and support from Maine DOE staff members Lee Anne Larson and Dee Saucier who both helped administer the pilot program. For further information please reach out to them at Leeann.Larsen@maine.gov and/or Danielle.M.Saucier@maine.gov.

 

 

 

 

Maine Teachers Engage in “K for ME” Curriculum Pilot Training

In Augusta, kindergarten teachers and their administrators from five Maine school districts participated in three days of training for the K for ME pilot, a research-based, discipline integrated, whole child curriculum for kindergarten.

Principals and teachers volunteered to implement this curriculum, based on the Boston Public Schools kindergarten program, to help tailor it for Maine’s children and school communities. Melissa Luc, consultant from the Boston Public Schools, facilitated the training and is working with participants from schools and Department to oversee the revisions.

During the 2018-19 school year, the Maine DOE piloted the PreK for ME curriculum in 14 preschool classrooms – the curriculum will soon be posted as an open source on the DOE website. K for ME expands upon this work by creating a vertical alignment for students building on concepts and content they learned in prek. K for ME will also be an open-source curriculum available on the Maine DOE website as a resource for districts after the pilot year.

For more information ,contact Lee Anne Larsen at leeann.larsen@maine.gov or 624-6628.

Maine Teachers Learn About the Benefits of Technology in Elementary School Classrooms

This article was written by Simon Handelman, a Maine DOE Intern from the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Institute.

Imagine how surprising it was seeing my own mother sitting in a classroom at Casco Bay High School, on a Friday morning in August. Allow me to clarify, I was not surprised to see her attending the professional learning class there; she is an extremely dedicated teacher. All I mean is it was serendipitous to see her on a day I might have otherwise stayed in Augusta at the Department of Education. My mother, Ellen Handelman, is the art teacher at Harrison Lyseth Elementary School in Portland. She, like so many other enthusiastic Maine teachers, is spending her last weeks of  summer vacation attending professional learning classes, one after another. I do not believe she has had so much homework since college. 

We were at Casco Bay High School that day for the same reasons. A session was being taught by former Cushing Community School teacher Beth Heidemann, and philanthropist David Perloff. They were underscoring the benefits of technology in elementary school classrooms. For my mother, the highlight of that day was a winning a 3D printer for her very own classroom. When I asked her to express her excitement about the printer, she said “my students can witness (in real time) how science, technology, engineering, and math combine with art to create usable objects which pair form and function.” 

Casco Bay PL Session1
Teachers at Casco Bay PL Session use downtime to network and catch up with friends.

My mother is constantly developing methods to display for her students the foundational importance of art education. She firmly believes “everyone is an artist,” and I agree. In fact, that same mantra of was repeated again and again at Casco Bay that day. Heidemann’s company Go2Science, which she founded with scientist Curtis Bentley, allows kindergarten through second grade students to travel virtually around the world, investigating hypotheses for a representative group of scientists. Heidemann’s message: “everyone is a scientist.”  

Casco Bay PL Session2
Teachers at Casco Bay PL Session Listening to a Presenter

Perloff’s Perloff Family Foundation, which donated the printer my mother won, believes all young students are equipped to learn about complicated technology, if given the chance. His foundation provided three hundred fifty 3D printers to Maine public schools, and the Maine Medical Center Children’s Hospital. Perloff believes “everyone is an engineer.” 

Other elementary school teachers in attendance raved about occasions in their own classrooms when young students expressed high level critical thinking. In one case a teacher told the group that her kindergarten class was able to fix the internet for a substitute teacher, using only verbal directions (for safety reasons).  

As the summer months come to a close, teachers across the state are eager to return to their students. There are many fantastic professional learning opportunities available in Maine, and many more dedicated teachers prepared to become the best they can possibly be.   

RSU 57 Prek Teachers Train Fellow Educators on Research-based Prek Practice

Prek teachers Melissa Brown, Jessie Carlson, Morgan Gallagher and Sarah Smith from RSU 57 provided training recently for new teachers ready to implement the PreK for ME program in the coming school year.

Prek for ME is a curriculum program based on the Boston Public School’s open source curriculum. Last year, 14 prek classroom teachers, including the 4 from RSU 57, were part of the pilot program that was successfully conducted last year assisting participants in improving their prek classroom instruction. RSU 57 saw great results in this research-based, whole child/multi-domain program.

Excited and eager to help bring their experience and expertise to others, the four RSU 57 teachers co-trained with some assistance from Sue Reed, Early Childhood Specialist from Maine DOE who is leading the efforts to adapt the Prek for ME curriculum for Maine.

The evaluations from the program help to illustrate its success:

“This was a super training!  I appreciated the balance between presentation and hands on with the teachers.” 

“Teachers who have used the program are very helpful!” 

The prek teachers from RSU 57 invited participants to visit their classrooms and to contact them with any questions.  The Prek for ME program will be available on the Maine DOE website by the end of August.