Maine DOE Engages Stakeholder Input Through Regional Think Tank Series

Drawing its largest gathering of stakeholders, the Maine Department of Education (DOE) hosted its 5th event in a series of Think Tanks held at various locations throughout the state this spring and summer. The Think Tanks are a way for the Department to discuss various topics and gain feedback from stakeholders about ongoing initiatives, long term programming, and to inform future decision-making.

In this first round of Think Tanks, the following topics were discussed: redefining school success, the Maine Learning Through Technology Initiative (MLTI), educator readiness, educator excellence, and special education.

The July 8th event held in Augusta started off with a warm introduction from Deputy Commissioner Daniel Chuhta thanking participants for making the trek to Augusta, in some cases from as far away as Washington County. Shortly after, attendees split off into three large groups to discuss specific topics for the day.

The discussion about MLTI, hosted by Beth Lambert, Maine DOE Coordinator of Secondary Education and Integrated Instruction, was introduced with an explanation of the 20 year history of MTLI, an acknowledgement that information will be forthcoming in regards to the recent passage of the budget and the coming school year, and that the day’s feedback will aid in the planning of the future of MLTI beyond 2021 when all of the current contracts have come to an end.

“Before we begin, I want to mention that there is only one thing that is off the table for today’s discussion,” said Lambert in her opening remarks. “We will not be talking about whether or not to end the MLTI Program,” she noted. “MLTI has been around for 20 years, and we would like it to be around for many, many more years to come.”

Stakeholder presenting feedback

Over the course of the next few hours the group was split off into four smaller groups, each tasked with identifying values, concerns, and suggestions on large sheets of chart paper. A summary of those lists was then shared out with the entire group before the session ended prior to lunch.

Meanwhile in another session, a group was discussing the answers to a specific set of questions posed by Maine DOE Deputy Director of the Office of Special Services, Ann Belanger:

  • What is the most challenging aspect of the special education process?
  • Do you find the Maine Unified Special Education Regulations (MUSER) user friendly? What would make them more user friendly?
  • How can the Maine Department of Education support districts and parents in providing services to students with disabilities?
  • Are there topics/issues about which you feel that more information and/or training is needed? What are they?
  • Are there practices and/or policies that create barriers for students with disabilities?

Stakeholders engaged in worksessionParticipants then shared their collaborative responses with the entire group, working together to carefully record all the responses in notes. The group then worked together to create the ideal special education program, detailing the processes that would need to be involved to create this type of ideal setting.

For the session about redefining school success, Mary Paine, the Director of a new Office of School Success, introduced an initiative that engages educators, students, parents, and communities in conversations about what they think makes a school successful. Her session worked to further engage with stakeholders on this topic. The framework that results from the Maine Defines School Success statewide dialog will eventually complement Maine’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan by providing a broader set of indicators of success in Maine’s schools. In addition to being part of the Think Tanks series, the school success discussion will continue in school communities throughout the state over the course of the next school year.

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Led by Maine DOE’s Office of Higher Education and Educator Support Services, the educator readiness session prompted participants to discuss talent needs that are ideal for teacher candidates including pre-service and in-service, as well as what is needed to ensure teachers are prepared for equity and diversity in the classroom.

Each session resulted in walls of chart paper filled with written notes detailing suggestions, ideas, concerns, values, and much more. “We are pleased with the participation and appreciate that folks were willing to join us in these discussions across the State,” said Deputy Commissioner Chuhta.

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Following the July 8th event there will be an additional Think Tank held in Winter Harbor this fall to discuss the same topics and the Department is also planning to release a survey for those unable to participate in discussion topics at the Think Tanks already held.

“In the works is a new section of the Maine DOE website dedicated to the Think Tanks where the transcribed notes from each of the sessions will be available along with other information,” said Chuhta. “In the coming months, the notes will be synthesized to help us determine next steps and guide decision making on the topics discussed,” he added.

In a continuation of the Think Tank Series, the Department is expecting to launch another round of Think Tanks on a different set of topics over the course of the coming school year.

Regional Think Tanks – Maine Department of Education Wants to Brainstorm With YOU!

Ready for the end of the year? Can’t wait for summer? Before you shift to the summer season, help us to reflect on the 2018/2019 School Year and keep the momentum of discussion for education in Maine.

The Department of Education is hosting several opportunities to collaborate and share experiences in different regions during the 2019 Summer Think Tank series. Join us for half a day to discuss your preferred topic or stay for the day and participate in two sessions.  Lunch will be provided in between the morning and afternoon sessions.

All interested members of your school community are invited to attend, however, an RSVP is required in advance. Please be sure to select the activity/activities (including lunch) so we can be best prepared to host you.

TOPICS INCLUDE:

ME Defines School Success: As part of a statewide conversation, this session will focus on how we define the success of our public schools. Participants will contribute to the identification of common values across the state, tell us what makes your schools successful, and propose ideas as to how we can expand the conversation and how we can use the outcomes of the conversation to promote our public schools.

MLTI: Come and join a conversation about the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI). Participants will engage in facilitated activities where they will share experiences, ideas, and feedback on the past 18 years of MLTI and discuss hopes for the future of the MLTI program.  Considerations may include devices, device distribution and management, infrastructure, professional development, and funding.

Special Education: Join us for a discussion of what’s working well with special education and what we can improve upon. Share your input on how we can better serve our students with disabilities and provide supports for schools and school administrative units.

Educator Excellence: To ensure that all students receive an excellent education that prepares them to succeed in today’s world, we must systematically increase the quantity and quality of our teaching workforce. This session is looking for feedback on issues related to increasing the recruitment and retention of talented classroom teachers. Topics include high retention pathways into the teaching profession, teacher professional development, and teacher leadership (career lattices that allow teachers to assume leadership roles without leaving the classroom). We are looking for school and district administrators as well as educators to participate in small group discussions to explore these topics. These conversations will assist the Department in enhancing policies and programs to attract and retain outstanding educators for Maine students.

Educator Readiness (7/8 PM Only): This session is an opportunity to provide feedback on a number of areas that impact educator readiness including diversity and equity, talent needs, professional development for educators, student teaching, the changing candidate profile, among others. We are looking for school and district administrators as well as educators to participate in small group discussions with representatives from Maine’s educator preparation programs to explore these topics. This conversation will assist the Department in enhancing policies and programs to support the changing needs of our schools, educators, and students.

JOIN US AT ONE OF THE FOLLOWING EVENTS:

June 11th – Lewiston

Ramada Lewiston and Conference Center
490 Pleasant Street
Lewiston, ME

AM/PM Topics will include:

  • Redefining School Success
  • MLTI
  • ME Special Education
  • Educator Excellence

To Register: http://events.egov.com/eventreg/ME/event.htm?name=doespringthinktanklewiston


June 12th – Saco

Ferry Beach Retreat & Conference Center
5 Morris Ave
Saco, ME

AM/PM Topics will include:

  • Redefining School Success
  • MLTI
  • ME Special Education
  • Educator Excellence

To Register: http://events.egov.com/eventreg/ME/event.htm?name=doesummerthinktanksaco


June 13thBangor

Bangor Banquet & Conference Center
701 Hogan Rd.
Bangor, ME

AM/PM Topics will include:

  • Redefining School Success
  • MLTI
  • ME Special Education
  • Educator Excellence

To Register: http://events.egov.com/eventreg/ME/event.htm?name=doesummerthinktankbangor


June 19th – Winter Harbor

Schoodic Institute
9 Atterbury Circle
Winter Harbor, ME

AM/PM Topics will include:

  • Redefining School Success
  • MLTI
  • ME Special Education
  • Educator Excellence

To Registerhttp://events.egov.com/eventreg/ME/event.htm?name=doesummerthinktankwinterharbor


June 20th – Presque Isle

Presque Isle Inn & Convention Center
116 Main Street
Presque Isle, ME

AM/PM Topics will include:

  • Redefining School Success
  • MLTI
  • ME Special Education
  • Educator Excellence

To Register: http://events.egov.com/eventreg/ME/event.htm
?name=doesummerthinktankpresqueisle


July 8th – Augusta

Senator Inn & Spa
284 Western Ave
Augusta, ME

AM/PM Topics will include:

  • Redefining School Success
  • MLTI
  • ME Special Education

PM Only:

  • Educator Readiness

To Register: http://events.egov.com/eventreg/ME/event.htm?name=doesummerthinktankaugustawrapup

MEDIA RELEASE: 1200+ Students Attend Annual MLTI Student Conference at UMaine Hosted by Maine DOE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Kelli Deveaux (207) 624-6747 or kelli.deveaux@maine.gov

Orono – More than 1200 middle and high school students from schools across Maine gathered today at the University of Maine at Orono for the Maine Department of Education’s Annual Maine Learning Through Technology Initiative (MLTI) Student Conference. The event is held each year to engage students in technology related learning.

The opening of the event featured Abby Sanborn from Sacopee Valley Middle School, in addition to student-led sessions where participants can learn a skill from their peers, and then create something using technology to take back to their schools. This year, in a special surprise for students, mascots from Maine’s public universities were on hand as part of a fun technology challenge and to highlight how a young learner can “apply yourself,” through the university system’s youth development and early college programs.

“Maine’s public universities provide a tremendous and growing number of youth development opportunities on our campuses, at our 4-H camps, and in partnership with local schools,” said Dr. Carol Kim, Associate Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs for the University of Maine System.  “This year 3,500 Maine high school students earned low and no cost college credit through our early college programs and we will provide enrichment and learning programs for 20,000 Maine youth through our 4-H camps and community programs.”

In a fun and interactive story line, UMaine’s mascot, Bananas, got himself trapped in a virtual world, and needed help!  His friends Augustus, Chompers, Benny, Hootie, Champ- the mascots from University of Maine Augusta, University of Maine Farmington, University of Maine Fort Kent, University of Maine Presque Isle, and University of Southern Maine, respectively- arrived on the scene, but needed the students to assist. Divided into teams, the students all worked collaboratively to solve puzzles and gather keys in order to free Bananas.

In addition to a great experience and new learning, 10 students left with $1,000 scholarships, should they choose to attend University of Maine in the future, and each campus raffled off their own swag bags. Educate Maine got into the mix when 5 more students got cool electronics, and all left with their eyes on future opportunities in Maine.

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Update on Maine Department of Education’s MLTI Plan- Post June 2020

The Maine Department of Education, through the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI), has been providing 7th and 8th grade students and teachers access to, and support for, educational technology since 2002. While the goal has remained constant – provide State support for access to technology-enhanced education experiences for all students – the program has changed in many ways, and will continue to grow and evolve in the future. The Department remains committed to this goal.

As many school administrative units (SAUs) are aware, the final contracts for the MLTI program are set to expire on June 30, 2020. Included in the Department’s biennium budget package, which is currently being considered by the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, are funds to support a “bridge year” for the 2020-2021 school year.

The Department is actively working with current vendors to secure agreements for this “bridge year,” which will enable SAUs to maintain existing levels of technology support. The details of these agreements are still being developed, so the following information is very preliminary:

  • SAUs in cohort 4 (lease begun in 2016) for 7th & 8th grade and staff devices will keep their current devices for SY 2020-2021. They will continue to receive the software, wireless networks, technical support, and professional development they have been receiving. After SY 2020-2021, these SAUs will have the option to buy out their devices at the 2015 rates, $28/ iPad and $48/ laptop.
  • SAUs who are currently leasing additional devices (elementary or high school student and staff devices) from the Department will continue to lease those devices from the Department at a reduced cost of $73/ iPad; $118/ laptop. They will continue to receive the software, wireless networks, technical support, and professional development they have been receiving. After SY 2020-2021, these SAUs will have the option to buy out their devices at the 2015 rates, $28/ iPad and $48/ laptop.
  • SAUs who are currently receiving MLTI grants from the Department that are set to expire in June of 2020 will be granted an additional year of the same grant award as the previous 4 years.

The Department would use the additional time afforded by the “bridge year” to meet with stakeholders throughout the state, collecting feedback on what has worked well in the past, as well as innovative ideas about the future of MLTI. Discussions would include topics such as portable computer devices, device management and deployment, software, wireless networking, technical support, and professional development, as well as financial models to support these efforts. The Department would also convene a workgroup to synthesize this information and help to create a plan for the State.

Below is the estimated timeline for MLTI through 2021.

  • May 2019 – August 2020: The Department holds meetings with stakeholders regarding the future of MLTI (post SY 2020-2021) and convenes a workgroup to develop a State plan
  • July 2020 – June 30, 2021: Bridge Year
  • October 2020: The Department announces plan for MLTI post SY 2020-2021 (including the release of any necessary RFPs)
  • July 2021: SAUs have the option to buy out devices; launch of the future MLTI

For more information about the Maine Learning Technology Initiative, contact Beth Lambert, beth.lambert@maine.gov, 207-624-6642.

#DigCit4ME Challenge Highlights Top-finishers and Concludes with Webinar Opportunity on May 9th, 2019.

Since January 2019, educators across the state of Maine have been participating in a blended learning experience designed to support schools as they integrate Digital Citizenship concepts into various student learning opportunities. In particular, participants learned how the Health Education and Physical Education Standards intersected with the Common Sense Media Framework, as well as opportunities to explore these concepts within other content areas.

The #DigCit4ME Challenge featured in-person workshops (agenda and resources)  and an online game designed collaboratively between the Maine Department of Education and Alludo Learning.

Several educators asked questions about the process of designing a blended learning opportunity, so the Department will co-host a webinar where the team from Alludo Learning will discuss the pedagogy behind their design (including gamified learning, evidence-based learning, choice-based learning, and digital badging) and the Department will talk more about our process of designing this blended learning opportunity. Educators will have the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the presentation.

Webinar Details:

Additionally, the Department would like to celebrate the participation and success of educators who joined the #DigCit4ME Challenge. Educators and districts competed in the online game, and the results are in:

Districts:

  • First Place: RSU18
  • Second Place: MSAD 17
  • Third Place: Boothbay Region Schools
  • Fourth Place: Falmouth Schools
  • Fifth Place (tie): RSU 10 and Yarmouth School System

Educators: *There were some educators who would have placed with high scores, but we didn’t have permission to print their names!

  • First place: Tim Hebda (Wayneflete School)
  • Second place: Matthew Drewette-Card (MSAD 46)
  • Third place: Maria Reinstein (RSU 10)
  • Fourth place (tie): Kelly Fraser (MSAD 44) and Carisa Hammer (MSAD 17),
  • Fifth place (tie): Allison Braley (RSU 25), Chris Kierstead (RSU 18), Ryan Palmer (MSAD 75), and Nick Shuman (York School Department)

Congratulations and thank you for everything you did to provide evidence of your learning!

Overall participation:

Credit: https://www.alludolearning.com/maine-doe-pilot?rq=digcit

For answers to questions or more information, please contact:

Amanda Nguyen
Digital Learning Specialist
Maine Department of Education
Amanda.Nguyen@maine.gov
Office: 207-624-6656
Cell: 207-441-5757