Mock Crime Scene Unit Gives Windham High Students Hands-on Learning and Career Exploration

Back with a bang, quite literally, Windham High School along with the Windham Police Department have expanded an exciting, hands-on learning unit giving juniors and seniors the chance to write police reports, interview witnesses, and collect evidence as part of a mock crime scene project.

The Mock Crime Scene Unit began in 2017 and has expanded into an inclusive community event that now includes many members of the school community and the Windham community. With a few years off after the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, there has been a lot of planning and coordinating going on behind the scenes to offer the Unit again this year as a much more robust experience for all involved – and it was a huge success!

This year, approximately 110 students got to take part in the Crime Scene Unit by playing one of the various roles of professionals who handle a crime scene in real life, depending on which class they were enrolled in this year. The Unit began this spring and led up to a “Crime Scene Day” which was held on the Windham High School campus on May 5th where the students got the opportunity to apply skills they have been learning in class at a mock crime scene staged by the Windham Police Department.

As part of the Unit, Windham Police Department’s Detective Sergeant Andrews came into WHS earlier this spring to do lessons with the English classes. Meanwhile the math and science classes were visited by the State Mobile Crime Lab, and Detective Gallant and Sergeant Burke from the Windham Police Department visited school as well to work with the math students in preparation of the May 5th Crime Scene Day.

When the big day finally arrived, students from math and science classes got the chance to work as evidence technicians to collect and analyze data. They collaborated with students from English classes who served as detectives to interview the witnesses and suspect and develop a theory of the crime, and students from the journalism class played the role of journalists who were on hand to write press releases and articles to inform the public.

“The purpose [of the Mock Crime Scene] is to have the students learn about forensic investigation and give them a real-life application for the skills that they’re learning in school,” said math teacher John Ziegler. Ziegler and colleague Adrianne Shetenhelm, an English teacher at WSH, originally came up with the idea and now work with a team of teachers plus WHS Director of Community Connections/ELO Coordinator Lorraine Glowczak to plan and coordinate the Crime Scene Unit. “We’re giving them a great example of when they’re going to have to use math [for example] in real life…with a real career-based application to it.”

In addition to learning about blood typing and lab work, students also got to study evidence types and how they are handled from crime scene to trial, they also learned about illegal drugs and evidence testing, as well as about the rights of people who are being accused of a crime. Students in the English and journalism classes focused on nuances of writing about crime, they studied unbiased writing, and learned about ethical writing as well. Students also got the chance to apply mathematical formulas they learned in class to collect additional evidence about the crime scene.

WHS Junior Victoria Lin said she learned many things due to the hands-on and experiential learning aspects of the Unit, including how to communicate between big groups of people and relying on the information from other student detectives through meetings and an organized digital log. “We had to work together to figure out what information was missing, what information was relevant, and what kinds of questions needed to be asked.”

“I enjoy solving the how, what, when, where and why,” said Lake Peterson, a WHS Junior. “We weren’t told anything about the crime scene, so we had to interview the witnesses and process all the information given to us the day of the event.”

Both Lin and Peterson agreed that the mock crime scene curriculum was a fun way to learn by working outside of the classroom and with friends. Other students who participated also agreed resoundingly that being outside the classroom and doing hands-on learning was so much more meaningful for them. They  were also thankful to learn about how important being a good witness can be, and showed an immense amount respect and empathy for the Windham Police Department and to law enforcement as a profession.

“This collaboration provides students with the opportunity to develop teamwork, problem-solving, and communication skills and real-world applications to the content skills they are learning in their courses,” said WHS Assistant Principal Vanessa Michaud. “I am so proud of the hard work and dedication our staff put into making this experience possible for our students. It is truly a great thing to see our students building relationships with each other, our staff, and our community partners.”

During the remainder of the Unit this spring, student detectives will be pulling together a presentation for the District Attorney with their theory of the crime.

“My biggest takeaway from this event is just how well-integrated into the school culture it has become over the years,” said Ziegler. “It started out five years ago as Adrianne and I came up with a crazy lesson idea over lunch at Panera Bread, and it has since grown into one of the fundamental parts of the Windham High School curriculum. Thanks to the collaboration of [follow educators] Nicole Densmore, Dan Wirtz, Chelsea Scott, Tammy Lorenzatti, Lorraine Glowczak, and the officers of the Windham Police Department, this is now a project that has a life of its own.”

WEBINAR: Understanding the Role of Teachers in Supporting School Safety Before, During, and After an Emergency

The Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Technical Assistance (TA) Center (a partner of the U.S. Department of Education) will host a Webinar on Thursday, May 26, 2022, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET. This Webinar will highlight the role of teachers in supporting school safety at the local level.

Find objectives for the 60-minute Webinar below:

  • Highlight the role of teachers in supporting school safety efforts within their school communities.
  • Demonstrate the importance of developing a collaborative planning team to support emergency operations plan (EOP) development, as outlined in Step 1 of the six-step planning process detailed in the Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans.
  • Discuss the role that teachers play in supporting the National Preparedness System mission areas — prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery — as well as their role in the before, during, and after phases of a potential emergency.
  • Share resources to assist teachers’ efforts around climate assessment, behavioral threat assessment, continuity of teaching and learning, and overall plan development.

Presenters:

Los Angeles Unified School District, Office of Emergency Management and Division of School Culture, Climate, and Safety

  • Jill Barnes, Administrator

REMS TA Center

  • Janelle Hughes, Project Director

Questions About the Event?

Contact the REMS TA Center Help Desk at 1-855-781-REMS [7367] or info@remstacenter.org from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday.

Get more information and register here.

University of Maine System Early College Program Partners with “Let’s Get Ready” to Assist Students with College Application Process

The University of Maine System (UMS) Early College (EC) Program has partnered with Let’s Get Ready to provide rising seniors (students graduating in 2023) with assistance with the college application process. Let’s Get Ready (LGR) is a non-profit organization that shares values with the UMS EC Program including providing college preparation experiences to Maine’s high school students. Current college students who are trained by LGR serve as mentors and will guide high school students through finding potential colleges, application essays, scholarships, financial aid, and provide deadline reminders. This text-based mentorship is being provided to students for FREE.

UMS EC has graciously provided this opportunity for all seniors that are enrolled in EC courses in 2022-2023 school year, although we encourage students who are first generation to attend college, rural, and/or low-income to apply. Students who are interested must complete a separate application with LGR. Parent permission is required. Permission requests are sent after students apply. While we encourage students to consider Maine’s Public Universities, students are not required to apply to a UMS institution to participate in this program.

For more information about the program and services, contact Katie Flood, Director of Rural Programs, Let’s Get Ready. Katie is a Maine-based educator and former Maine school counselor committed to promoting college access for Maine’s high school students.

Professional Development Opportunities for all Educators from Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

Whether you are a classroom teacher, scout leader, nature center educator, or just looking to gain new skills, these workshops from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife can help you learn how to engage youth in environmental and experiential learning. You’ll learn a variety of teaching techniques to help build your confidence when taking youth outdoors to learn about fish, wildlife, habitats, natural science, conservation, and outdoor skills. We believe learning should be hands-on and fun for you as well as the students!

In these workshops you will:

  • Gain skills and confidence in talking about Maine fish and wildlife
  • Try new skills and activities to help engage youth in place-based learning
  • Be introduced to activities focused on Maine-specific fish and wildlife
  • Spend time outside learning and having fun
  • Network with other educators and outdoor enthusiasts
  • Receive free resources for instruction

Bring your class outdoors or the outdoors in!

Project Wild is a series of wildlife and natural science-based activity guides. This program is part of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is the Maine partner and host. This international program is designed to be easily used in the classrooms, in the field, and as part of summer camps and events. Each activity easily aligns with learning standards and is designed to help guide students to a better understanding of the natural world and how to be better stewards for the future. These workshops are designed for all types of educators to learn how to use the activity guide firsthand. Each participant will receive professional development hours for attending.

For questions, call Laura Rogers at 207-592-0750.

Upcoming workshops:

Help youth fish for their future!

Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs (HOFNOD) is a youth and family-based fishing program to promote healthy habits, and teach youth about fish and how to fish. This program is a partnership between the Future Fisherman Foundation and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. It is designed to train interested adults in the HOFNOD materials and methods. This program uses angling skill development as a gateway to teach youth about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and how to deal with the chal­­­lenges youth face. Whether you are new to fishing or a seasoned angler this program will have something for anyone interested. Training can be done online or in-person. For questions, call Chelsea Lathrop 207-446-8692.

Upcoming Workshop:

Register for the HOFNOD Instructor In-person Workshop Monday, July 25, 2022 9am- 2pm at the Maine Wildlife Park to get some hands-on practice teaching HOFNOD activities and learn about Maine’s fisheries.

*All who attend must first take the online course (takes about 1 hour).

Seeking a Math4ME Coach for the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 School Years

Math4ME is designed to implement evidence-based professional development to improve math proficiency of students with disabilities by supporting their teachers’ instructional practices.  Math4ME training is grounded in the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Mathematics Teaching Practices.  This training includes hands-on activities and interactive professional learning experiences that allow participants to gain a deeper understanding of core mathematics concepts and strategies.

The Office of Special Services is seeking a Math4ME Coach for the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 school years.  The Math4ME Coach will be part of the Math4ME team creating training materials and facilitating small group and large group professional learning experiences around computational fluency, diagnostic assessment, and formative feedback.  This is a hybrid position with some in-person professional learning sessions, coaching events, and meetings.  To check out more about the Math4ME Project and the coach position, click here.

Interested in applying? Click here to fill out an application. The application window closes June 3, 2022.

Have questions? Reach out to the Math4ME Project coordinator, Anne-Marie Adamson at anne-marie.adamson@maine.gov.