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.
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 classroomat 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.”
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.”
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 levelcritical 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.
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.
The Maine Department of Education (DOE) has finalized a contract with Teaching Strategies to support the use of their Gold® assessment tool in elementary grade (Pk-3) classrooms.
Teaching Strategies Gold® is an authentic formative assessment tool that aligns to Maine’s Early Learning and Development Standards for PreK and Maine’s College and Career Ready Standards for kindergarten through 3rd grade. Teachers observe and document evidence of student skills as part of authentic instruction. Data collected through this assessment is captured in an online platform.
Public schools will be able to access a reduced per student rate of $15.95 for the 2019-20 school year. Schools may apply for this reduced rate here. Use of Teaching Strategies Gold® is an option for use as part of a school or district’s local assessment system. It is not a state required assessment.
In addition to the reduced rate, the Maine DOE is hosting a two-day training on August 19th and 20th for teachers and administrators who are new to using this assessment. The training will be held at the Maine State Library located at 230 State St. Augusta, Maine. Training will cover the research behind Gold® and how to access the online platform. Educators will also have time to navigate the tool and practice observation skills of individual student development. Administrators new to the tool are encouraged to attend day one (8/19/2019). Training is limited to 30 participants and will be offered on a first come, first served basis. Registration will automatically close once it has reached 30 participants.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.