Lincoln Elementary School Goes Above and Beyond to Keep Students Engaged in Reading During the Summer

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.

Heather says that they plan to keep the guest reading videos going for as long as they can and hopes that people keep enjoying and watching them. Check out the Lincoln Elementary School Department’s videos on YouTube. Find Lincoln Elementary School Department on Facebook.

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 rachel.paling@maine.gov.

Public Preschool Annual Report due July 31, 2019

In the event that you missed the announcement of the Public Preschool Annual Report, this is a friendly reminder that the report is now available  and due to the Department of Education no later than close of business on July 31, 2019.  All public preschool programs are required to complete the Public Preschool Annual Report.

If you accidentally submit the report before finalizing, please email Nicole Madore for a link to access and continue your work.

A preview of the report can be found here.

Before you start the survey, the following information will be useful to have available:

  • Information related to staff turnover
  • Program operation:
    • Hours/day
    • Days/week
    • Any major changes to the program including but not limited to:
      • partners
      • curriculum
      • location
  • Successes/challenges experienced over the course of the year
  • Student attendance-
    • percentages for Free & Reduced Lunch
    • chronic absenteeism
    • transient students
  • Student’s identified for additional support:
    • English Learners- screening process
    • Individualized Education Plan (IEP) information including but not limited to:
      • referrals
      • active identifications
      • no longer qualify
  • Student growth in all learning domains

Any questions should be directed to Nicole Madore at Nicole.madore@maine.gov  or 624-6677.

 

Public Preschool Annual Report Due July 31, 2019

We are grateful to our school districts who are addressing the need for public preschool programming in their communities, and we are committed to fostering partnerships and increasing early intervention and educational opportunities for our youngest learners. As you are likely aware, all public preschool programs are required to complete the Public Preschool Annual Report. We have shortened the report for ease of use, and the Department of Education will refer to the data collected throughout the year to help inform policy, determine professional development needs, and provide follow up information or support.

The Public Preschool Annual report is now available  and is due to the Department no later than close of business on July 31, 2019.

Before you start the survey, it will be useful to have the following information readily available:

  • Information related to staff turnover
  • Program operation:
    • Number of hours per day
    • Number of days per week
    • Any major changes to the program, including, but not limited to:
      • partners
      • curriculum
      • location
    • Successes/challenges experienced over the course of the year
    • Student attendance-
      • number economically disadvantaged
      • number chronic absenteeism
      • transient students
    • Students identified for additional support:
      • English Learners- screening process
      • Individualized Education Plan (IEP) information including but not limited to:
        • referrals
        • IDEA eligibility identification
        • no longer qualify
      • Student growth in all learning domains

For further information or questions, please contact Nicole Madore at Nicole.madore@maine.gov  or 624-6677.

Successes Shared by Districts at Closing Event of 4-Year Preschool Expansion Grant

(Pictured: Kindergarten teacher Heidi Sturgeon, pre-k teacher Olesia Pazdro, and Curriculum Director Suzanne Day from MSAD 55- Sacopee Valley, talk to the audience about their goals for their Birth – Third Grade Action Plan.)

The Maine Department of Education hosted a closing event of the 4-year Preschool Expansion Grant (PEG) that was awarded to Maine DOE in December 2014 by the US Department of Education.  Eighteen states were awarded grants to support local school districts in the development of new preschool classrooms, and to expand access to high-quality, full-day pre-k programs for children whose families were at or below 200%  Federal Poverty Level.

Maine used the grant to launch and expand pre-k programs for 13 districts in Maine, 8 of which used the opportunity to partner with local Head Start programs. The districts included RSU 12, RSU 13, MSAD 17, RSU 23, SAD 37, SAD 44, RSU 55, RSU 74, Cornville Regional Charter School, Cherryfield, Lewiston (Longley Elementary), Millinocket, Vassalboro. The 13 districts were chosen for their percentage of students with an economic disadvantage and willingness and availability to embark on the effort.

The grant allowed these districts to add or expand their pre-k classroom spaces and resources, hire and train needed teachers in using evidence based curricula and instructional practices, align appropriate assessment of pre-k students with kindergarten assessments, develop a plan for kindergarten transition, and form a community literacy team, all as part of a long-term “Birth to Third Grade plan” that aligns with the districts’ strategic goals. The grant implementation was supported by grant coordinators at each of the participating districts, and trained coaches, all of whom were former Maine educators.

A cross-section of state employees from Maine DOE, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Child Development Services (CDS) worked collaboratively on this project,  with facilitation provided by the Education Development Center (EDC).

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(Left to right) Sarah Adkins, Kathryn Zwicker, Nena Cunningham, Karen Bergeron, Nicole Madore, Lee Anne Larsen, Dee Saucier, Sue Reed, Crystal Arbour, Jessica Nixon, Rich Meserve, David Jacobson.

Three years into the 4-year grant, tremendous improvements in child outcomes were celebrated, including:

  • 76%-86% of children moved out of the high-risk identification in all developmental domains
  • 76%-96% of children moved out of high-risk identification in literacy skills (predictive of kindergarten success)
  • 53% of children moved out of high-risk identification in the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, which assesses receptive language and is a predictor of later reading success

The end of the year event was an opportunity for each of the participating districts to present their Birth to Third plans to their peers and to reflect on their successes, lessons learned, and plans moving forward.

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RSU 12 Curriculum Coordinator, Deb Taylor (right) and Southern Kennebec Child Development Center Head Start Director Cristina Salois (left) shared details of their  action plan with the full audience which included a “ghost walk” to each pre-k classroom across the district’s 4 elementary schools. This was an opportunity for pre-k teachers to share and collaborate on environmental design and instructional practices and learn from one another.

The gathering included presentations by each participating district, who all began by sharing varied and often-times unique community challenges. For example, while some experienced a lack of licensed child care providers to connect with and engage families early on, another had migrant families with students in and out of school frequently. There were many other unique community characteristics shared, yet all of the districts had the common challenge of a high percentage of families facing economic disadvantage.

The common areas of focus for each Birth to Third Grade action plan included a focus on quality, shared teaching and learning practices, family engagement starting before children enter pre-k, a focus on positive transitions from pre-k to kindergarten, social emotional learning and trauma informed teaching.

The closing event was a successful day of presenting, idea sharing, and collaboration by early childhood educators from across the state who will now be able to continue their research based, and collaborative birth to third grade plans for district-wide success and beyond.

 

Still Time to Register for 4th Annual Read to Ride Summer Reading Challenge

(Pictured: Display from Turner Primary for Read to Ride)

Summer vacation is a welcome break from the daily school routine for children and parents alike, but the summer months can be detrimental to students’ learning if young minds do not remain active. Summer learning loss is a well-documented phenomenon, particularly with respect to reading achievement.  Students can lose up to three months of reading progress during the summer if they don’t keep reading.  When combined across a child’s PK-8 school career, this can result in 1-2 years of lost reading progress.

Fortunately, the summer slide can be prevented or greatly reduced when students continue to read on a regular basis. By encouraging children to read for enjoyment from a variety of resources and to explore topics of interest, they continue to practice applying the skills they have learned, build their vocabulary, and widen their knowledge of the world.  For students who are not yet reading independently, or just beginning to read, reading to and with parents is equally beneficial.

Once again this year, the Maine Department of Education is collaborating with the Freemasons of Maine to sponsor the Read to Ride Summer Reading Challenge for students in grades PK-8.  The Maine Freemasons have generously donated 48 bikes with helmets as prizes for the Read to Ride Summer Reading Challenge.  During the first three years of this initiative, thousands of Maine children completed the challenge of reading 500 minutes during the summer vacation.  Maine DOE hopes to see this number grow even higher during the summer of 2019.

Any school with students in the PK-8 grade span may register to participate. Participating schools will collect documentation from students who have completed the challenge. They will hold school level drawings to select two students (one boy and one girl) whose names will be entered into the state level drawing to be held on September 25, 2019.   Schools are encouraged to participate in this challenge, to coordinate it with any other summer reading challenges/programs they offer, and to consider soliciting their own local level prizes for students who complete the challenge.  Find details and the link to register your school at the Read to Ride Challenge website.

Questions may be directed to Maine DOE’s Elementary Literacy Specialist, Danielle Saucier at danielle.m.saucier@maine.gov.