Category Archives: Dispatches

Join the Read to Ride Summer Reading Challenge

If you are like many teachers and parents at this time of year, you are celebrating the growth students have made as learners but wondering if that growth will be maintained over the summer months. Keeping young minds stimulated during summer vacation is so important to maintaining learning gains and one of the best ways for students to keep their minds active is through regular reading.

The Read to Ride Summer Reading Challenge provides any opportunity to motivate students to read this summer. The Maine Department of Education is collaborating with the Freemasons of Maine to sponsor this contest 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.

Any school serving students in grades PK-8 may register by June 16, 2017 to participate. Students who read (or are read to if they are not yet reading) at least 500 minutes during summer vacation will be eligible for their school level drawing. Participating schools will document which students have completed the challenge and hold a drawing to select two students (one boy and one girl) to enter into the state level drawing to be held on September 22, 2017. Schools are encouraged participate and to coordinate this opportunity with any other summer reading challenges/programs they offer. Details about the Read to Ride Summer Reading Challenge and about how to register your school can be found at:

Questions may be directed to Maine DOE’s Literacy Specialist Lee Anne Larsen at

Report of Adult Education (EF-M-39A) – opens June 1st, due by July 15, 2017

Starting June 1, the EF-M-39 Report of Adult Education will be submitted online through the NEO Student Data Module. The report is a resident-based aggregate count of students aged 16 to 20 who live within the boundaries of a school administrative unit (SAU), are no longer enrolled in regular education classes, and are taking academic courses through a Maine Adult Education program, but not necessarily through the SAU in which they reside.

New this year, the Department is requesting that units report the number of students, the number of courses and credits taken; student names are no longer required.

Who Needs to Report:

All public SAUs, excluding public charter schools, must complete the report, even if there are no pupils to report. Please note that the individual SAU member entities of AOSs and school unions must report separately. SAUs whose students attend a regional Adult Education programs must report the number of resident students who attend the regional Adult Education programs.

  • EF-M-39A: Opens on June 1, 2017
  • Due by July 15, 2017
  • Data reporting period: January 1 – June 30, 2017

To Complete the Form: Go to

Once logged in to the NEO system navigate to Student Data, if you do not have NEO credentials please have your Superintendent submit a NEO Access Request Form to the Maine DOE Data HelpDesk.

  1. Enter the total number of students (between the ages of 16-20) enrolled in adult education
  2. Enter the total number of courses
  3. Enter the total number of credits

The Data Collection and Reporting (DC&R) Calendar lists all reports due to Maine DOE.

The accuracy, completeness, and timeliness of the data sent for this report has a direct correlation to the subsidy that your SAU may receive.

Questions: Call the MEDMS Helpdesk at (207) 624-6896 or email

Webinar on ESEA equitable share participation of Maine’s SAUs and non-public schools

The Maine DOE will offer a WebEx session June 8, 2017 from 10 – 11 a.m. providing guidance to school administrative units (SAUs) and non-public schools in the delivery and agreement of equitable services under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

The ESSA includes separate provisions governing equitable services for eligible private school students, teachers and other educational personnel, and families under Title I and programs covered under Title VIII, Part F, Subpart 1; as well as the Uniform Provisions Subpart 1—Private Schools: Equitable Services for Private School Students, Teachers, and Other Educational Personnel. Many of those requirements remain unchanged from requirements under the ESEA as amended by No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The ESSA, however, made a number of significant changes. Some of those changes are common to the equitable services requirements under both Title I and Title VIII; others are different.

The webinar will be conducted by Maine DOE’s Title I Consultant and Title II Coordinator, Jackie Godbout and Charles Lomonte, respectively. If you have questions prior to the event, please contact Charles Lomonte at 624-6723 or or Jackie Godbout at 624-6712 or

Topics covered during the webinar include:

  • Consultation requirements between SAU and non-public schools
  • Deriving the proportionate share calculation
  • Allocation of funds
  • Eligibility
  • Types of equitable services
  • Evaluation of assessments

To participate in the webinar, please click here.  The conference phone number is 1-877-455-0244, followed by conference code: 8223978943.

The Maine DOE offers ESEA equitable services training for those Maine SAUs and non-public school leaders who must consult about participating in non-public school equitable share resources.

Maine DOE issues reminder to complete survey on the identification and exit criteria for English learners

This notice is a reminder asking everyone in the education community to take a few minutes to complete a survey on how to identify English learners and when to exit English learners from service. Take the Survey Now

Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, states are required to establish a uniform method of identifying and reclassifying English learners. Although Maine currently has these uniform procedures, it has been more than a decade since Maine has made any amendments to its Home Language Survey, and it was in 2013 that Maine underwent its latest data study to review English learners’ performance on academic assessments and their correlating WIDA ACCESS for ELLs scores. With the administration of the new ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 and changes in academic assessments, the Maine Department of Education is taking this opportunity to elicit public input, along with data, to determine the best methods to ensure a valid and reliable identification procedure as well as fair and appropriate exit criteria. To begin the process, here is a brief survey to help guide the Department. Take the Survey Now

In addition, please feel free to reach out directly to Maine DOE’s ESL Consultant April Perkins at or 441-9043 to share additional thoughts, comments and suggestions not captured by the survey.  

For more information about educational or English language acquisition services for English learners to ESL/Bilingual Programs, contact Maine DOE’s Director of ESL/Bilingual Programs Nancy Mullins at or 624-6788.

Virtual Reality Immersive Expo

Virtual Reality Immersive Expo
6/19/17 from 10:00am – 4:00pm
Maine State Library

Register for the Expo (free) »

There have been many advances in technology that can provide educators with the tools to facilitate deeper learning of complex concepts, and provide students with a more immersive learning experience.

To help facilitate a better understanding of these tools and to bring Maine educators to the forefront of innovative education delivery, the Maine Department of Education and the Maine Sate Library have invited organizations that are using virtual reality in education to come and demonstrate their education tools on June 19th from 10:00am to 4:00pm at the Maine State Library.

There will be booths located in the atrium of the Maine State Library, and 30 minute presentations throughout the day by organizations, higher education partners, and local schools that have already begun to integrate virtual reality into their classrooms.

The intent of the day is to provide Maine educators with an awareness of these tools and to start encouraging innovative ideas about how virtual reality can be integrated into more Maine classrooms.

Register for the Expo (free) »
We are encouraging folks who attend to use # ImmerseME on social media during the event!

(Check back for a schedule of 30 minutes presentations.)


List of Participants:
(this list will continue to be updated)


  • Presenting: zSpace Learning Lab – zSpace combines AR and VR to create the ultimate learning experience. The zSpace Learning Lab includes a suite of educational software, hundreds of learning activities ready for integration into your curriculum, and zSpace all-in-one PCs.
  • Enhanced learning: Students racing to get to class? That was the scenario when Plainview-Old Bethpage Central School District in New York introduced zSpace, a virtual reality technology that allows students to create, test and experiment in an interactive, 3D world. For the 2014-15 school year, students learned science concepts using the zSpace STEM Lab, which consists of a set of virtual reality stations, each outfitted with an interactive stylus as well as a wide variety of educational software ranging from life science to physics and engineering. Now, at the tail end of their first year using the technology, teachers and administrators recognize that the excitement has led to more in-depth and engaged learning in STEM subjects than they have seen in the past.
  • Website:


  • Presenting: Luccia is a total software solution for creating, sharing, and exploring VR education content and experiences. They are currently working with higher education institutions to help develop their VR strategy for their stakeholders through an easy-to-use desktop-driven VR creation process (similar to SquareSpace, but for VR) that can then be directly delivered to various VR devices. The result is a live and networked VR social experience that is directly managed by the institution.
  • Enhanced learning: They are working with Hult International Business School to deliver virtual campus tours to their global audience of prospective and current students. The school is preparing to send out low-cost Google Cardboard headsets along with admission documents so students can visit the various global Hult campuses in New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Hong Kong without leaving their home countries. This is driven by the Luccia platform and allows admissions staff from Hult to host live virtual reality campus tours that are immersive and comprehensive experiences to facilitate the sharing of the beautiful Hult campuses.
  • Website:
  • Video:

York School Department

  • Presenting: Google Expeditions – Bring Your Lessons To Life. Imagine exploring coral reefs or the surface of Mars in an afternoon. With Expeditions, teachers can take students on immersive, virtual journeys. From Machu Picchu to Antarctica to the International Space Station – where will you take your class?
  • Enhanced learning: York School Department has run over 50 Expeditions through the 16-17 school year. Every time one is run, students rave about how they gain a new perspective of what is being displayed. Expeditions not only engage students to learn more thoroughly, but is also teacher led to ensure they stay on task.
  • Website:

Bates College

  • Presenting: Oculus Rift setup and their current easy workflow for creating VR tours of historically reconstructed buildings designed by students in SketchUp.
  • Enhanced learning: In the last year several faculty in the humanities have become interested in having students work with the 3D modeling tool SketchUp Pro to create digital reconstructions of ancient cities and buildings. These projects require students to explore ancient structures through primary and secondary sources, and to use that knowledge to bring them to life in 3D with modern software tools, like SketchUp. Virtual reality improves upon this by allowing students to tour their 3D reconstructions in a much more immersive way, experiencing them as though they were really there.
  • Website:

University of New England (UNE) -The Alfred Lab

  • Presenting: NN/LM Technology Grant for Embodied Labs Virtual Reality Experience: “Empathy Learned Through an Extended Medical Education Virtual Reality Project”
  • Enhanced learning: Descriptive data from the post-assessments showed:
    92% agreed or strongly agreed that this experience helped them learn about empathy, 88% agreed or strongly agreed that the experience helped them learn about macular degeneration from the patient’s perspective, 89% agreed or strongly agreed that the experience helped them learn about hearing loss from the patient’s perspective, 93% agreed or strongly agreed that curriculum that includes empathy training is important for their future career.
  • Website:
    Embodied Labs:
  • NN/LM NER Funding:


  • Presenting: Imagine taking your students to the Taj Majal, The Pyramids of Giza, the Washington Monument or the Great Wall of China. All from the comfort of your classroom.  Whether you have iPads, Chromebooks, Macs or PCs in your classroom – Nearpod VR works on any device. And by using our VR headsets, you can make the experience more immersive.
  • Website:

HP Inc.

  • Presenting: Regardless of whether it’s in a classroom, lab or library, Sprout Pro prepares students for next-gen careers and elevates instructional techniques by engaging with immersive blended reality and STEAM experiences. With its dual touch interfaces, 2D and 3D scanning and digital inking, Sprout Pro enhances and improves the way educators and students interact with technology.
  • Enhanced learning: Sprout is not a VR solution, but it incorporates 3D imaging and there are many apps that work on the Windows 10 operating system, which Sprout runs on, that incorporate VR.  The following video showcases a school using Sprout, talking about how it has enhanced their learning experience:
  • Website:

UMaine IMRE Lab

  • Presenting: HandWaver is a gesture-based virtual mathematical making environment where learners at all levels can use their hands to act on mathematical structures directly, without mediating their intuitions through equations, keyboards, or mouse movements. HandWaver allows learners to make, modify, measure, and explore mathematical objects in a virtual three dimensional space.  We developed HandWaver to increase access to meaningful mathematical experiences for all learners.
  • Enhanced Learning: HandWaver was developed by the Immersive Mathematics in Rendered Environments (IMRE) Research Lab at the University of Maine. HandWaver combines aspects of dynamic geometry in virtual reality with new modes of building mathematical objects, such as the ability to use one’s hands to stretch objects between dimensions or revolve objects to create surfaces and solids. Our mission is to explore how new modes of interacting with virtual objects can transform mathematics education.
  • Website:
  • Youtube:

Thomas College

  • Presenting: The Center for Innovation in Education at Thomas College is working to design AR/VR learning experiences that involve the vibrant immersion and engagement factor found in educational game design. Two educational game design courses teaching these ideas and skills to future teachers have been added to the education major curriculum in the new School of Education at Thomas College.
  • Enhanced learning: How do great scientists, technologists, engineers, artists, and mathematicians often see the world? Through metaphor. One of the pieces that Ted Prawat, Assistant Professor of Education and Design Center Director at the CIE, has been experimenting with in this direction is using metaphor to look at the big ideas found in science and art by creating an idea card library for classroom teachers that utilizes AR.
  • Website:

Maine Math and Science Alliance

  • Presenting: MMSA will be showcasing a variety of augmented reality tools including ARIS and EcoMobile examples and discussing how these innovative tools are a magnificent fit for Maine’s rural schools, specifically pairing place-based pedagogy with student-led and designed AR and VR.
  • Enhanced Learning: When one thinks about rural schools, they may not necessarily think about innovative technology use in the classroom.  But throughout Maine, some of the most remote classrooms are forced to take a risk and build on the technology available to them to create fun, interactive, and meaningful learning experiences.   AR and VR are still finding their way into Maine’s classrooms, but in some classes and afterschool learning environments students are on the cutting edge of science communication as they use and design AR environments to share place-based knowledge about their community.

Mount Desert Island High School

  • Presenting: HTC Vive – Integrating the use of VR in high school. See how Mount Desert Island High School has been aligning and exploring the use of the Vive to enhance learning opportunities. We will cover existing applications in science, math, language arts, social studies, visual arts, and how coding and 3D design intersect with VR to inspire student design. We will also cover the costs and set up considerations for room-scale VR in the school setting.
  • Enhanced learning: MDI High School’s primary use of the Vive system has been to serve as a prototyping medium for their Intro. to Design Thinking course. Students in Computer Science courses are learning to use Unity to design custom VR environments which will provide a means for adapting the use of VR to align with specific learning objectives.
  • Website


  • Presenting: Thinglink is a cross-platform tool that allows teachers and students to create interactive virtual reality lessons, field trips and student projects for teaching and learning. Users easily add tags with text, images, audio, video and Google Docs on top of any 360 image to add an interactive layer of learning that engages students like never before. ThingLink is a game-changer in education because it moves students from passive consumption to active engagement, allowing them to achieve the highest levels of deep learning.

Big Room Studios

  • More info coming soon!

Maine School of Science and Mathematics 

  • More info coming soon!

Notice of proposed rule changes to Chapter 81: Uniform School Bus Standards for Pupil Transportation in Maine

The Maine Department of Education is proposing to repeal and replace Chapter 81: Uniform School Bus Standards for Pupil Transportation in Maine in order to modernize the rule.

The proposal involves four major changes:

  1. Change the format of the rule to separate the rule into shorter and cleaner regulations.
  2. Remove forms from the rule making it easier to adapt to national changes and align with the federal medical examination regulations.
  3. Update the bus specifications to meet current bus technology, standards, and specifications.
  4. Clarify safety, training, and program language to make the rule easier to interpret.

Proposed language of rule Chapters 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, and 86 can be found on the Department’s website. Written comments should be mailed to: Maine Department of Education, Attn: Pat Hinckley, 23 State House Station, Augusta, ME  04333-0023, or emailed to The comment deadline is Friday, Jun. 16, 2017 at 5:00 p.m.

Delay in implementation of new grant management system

The State of Maine is in the process of implementing a new grant management system for all state agencies, including the Department of Education. In prior communications, we have noted that the system was expected to be available starting this spring.

However, as we approach the FY 18 grant cycle, please note that there will be a delay in the implementation of the new system which means that you should continue to use the current GEM system for application and management of education grant opportunities. For grant opportunities that are not available in GEM, management will be manual as it has been in the past.

The Department of Education is working closely with the Office of the State Controller and as we move closer to implementation of the new Grant Management System, communication will be forthcoming.

Thank you for your patience. If you have questions, please contact or 624-6863.

Changes to School and District IDs for 2017-18 school year

Since 2004, the Maine Department of Education has issued school and school administrative unit (SAU) IDs generated by the Maine Education Data Management System (MEDMS). The MEDMS system is being decommissioned and will no longer be used to generate or maintain these codes. School and SAU information is now maintained in the NEO Maine Schools module, which has its own set of IDs known as Organization (Org) IDs. Starting with the 2017-18 school year, schools and SAUs will need to use the NEO Org IDs for their schools and districts when communicating data to the Maine DOE. This includes uploading data to the new student information system (Synergy).

The Department will be communicating these ID changes to all student information systems (SIS) vendors that are on file as operating in Maine. Please ensure that your SIS vendor information is up to date in the NEO Maine Schools module so we will communicate with your vendor.

Crosswalks from the old MEDMS codes to the new NEO Org IDs are located on the Department’s Infrastructure website.

If you have any questions about these code changes, please contact Maine DOE’s Education Data Manager Charlotte Ellis at or 624-6696.

Yarmouth takes grand prize in Farm to School Cook-off

Whole grain crepes, a wild blueberry kelp smoothie, granola encrusted French toast and fish tacos were featured on the menu as the top two teams of school food service staff faced off at Freeport High School on April 26. This was the final round of the 2nd Annual Maine Farm to School Cook-off, sponsored by the Maine Department of Education, Child Nutrition department. The cook-off aims to promote local products in school meals while showcasing the skills of school food service staff.

Pictured L to R: Stephanie Stambach (Maine DOE), Nikki Dovoren, Blaire Currier (Yarmouth School Department Food Service)

Each team prepared a breakfast and lunch meal that was presented to a panel of judges including a culinary arts student, chef and school nutrition director. The judges scored the dishes based on presentation, taste, creativity and food cost, as well as food safety and time management.

For breakfast, Yarmouth whipped up whole grain crepes with a strawberry topping and Maine maple syrup. This was paired with a wild blueberry kelp smoothie. The judges were impressed by the flavor and texture of the smoothie and commended the team for introducing a less common food to students in an appealing way. RSU 52 created a granola encrusted French toast and wild blueberry compote paired with a strawberry smoothie. Each team was tasked to incorporate wild Maine blueberries as a challenge ingredient in their breakfast dishes.

For lunch, Mexican fare was featured by both teams. RSU 52 cooked up chicken quesadillas with a fresh fruit salsa and grilled potatozana. Yarmouth prepared fish tacos using Gulf of Maine fish with a side of roasted potatoes and apple salsa. The judges commended the teams for a creative twist on a traditional salsa. Maine potatoes were used as the challenge ingredient for lunch.

Congratulations to Yarmouth who took the grand prize and was named the 2017 Maine Farm to School Cook-off Champion! All recipes from the cook-off will be shared in a Maine farm to school cook-off recipe book to be compiled this summer.

For information on how you can be part of next year’s Farm to School cook-off, contact Maine DOE’s  Child Nutrition Consultant Stephanie Stambach at

Improving the Success of Career and Educational Development (CED)

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is looking at the Career and Educational Development (CED) standards within the Maine Learning Results system to understand how schools are meeting the requirements of this content area. In examining this we are asking all school *principals, or a designated staff member focused in this content area to take a few moments to fill out this brief survey:

CED Survey:
(All surveys should be completed by Friday, June 9, 2017.)

Our goal is to get a snap shot of current implementation trends, discover challenge areas, and determine what supports may be useful for schools to best ensure the successful application of this content area within their curriculum.

College and career readiness development begins in elementary school and is reinforced and expanded as students move toward the attainment of their high school diploma. As such, we want to ensure that all schools at every level have the resources necessary as they work to meet the CED standards.

For questions contact Danielle Despins at or 207-624-6608.

*Administrators, please forward this message to the principals in your district.