RSU 57 Prek Teachers Train Fellow Educators on Research-based Prek Practice

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.

Innovative New “Experiential” Educator Training Takes Center Stage

Course Instructor Keith Kelley and EMMC President Lisa Larson looking through a STEAMRoller cart included with the course.
Course Instructor Keith Kelley and EMMC President Lisa Larson looking through a STEAMRoller cart that is included with the course.

In a four-day educator training that took place last month at the United Technology Center (UTC) in Bangor, 14 educators from across Maine gathered for a unique professional development opportunity offered through a partnership between two educators from RSU 19, Eastern Maine Community College (EMCC), and UTC that aims to help educators integrate advanced technology and experiential learning into every lesson plan, and to help fill the workforce gap in Maine.

Utilizing a $50,000 grant that EMCC President Lisa Larson obtained through the Maine Community College System, the 3 credit Introduction to Experiential Teaching through Technology course was offered as an opportunity for educators to “learn practical learning experiences to integrate traditional and newly advanced technologies into project biased lesions,” similar to the teaching methods found in career and technical education (CTE) settings throughout the state. The idea is to bring the experiential teaching philosophy to classrooms long before the high school CTE experience. The earlier integration of experiential learning gives students a taste for possible career paths but just as importantly, learning experiences that allow them to utilize and understand the advanced technological tools of their future and to utilize and exercise their own problem-solving and management skills.

The course was led by RSU 19 educators, Keith Kelley and Kern Kelley who are brothers, partners, and advocates for integrated experiential student learning. It provides classroom teachers, at any grade level and of any subject matter expertise, with not only the tools but also the mindset and methods to teach project based and integrated lessons to their students. This type of learning environment provides students with real-world, problem solving experiences with technology, bringing full circle the content areas that make up the very well-known acronym STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math).

The STEAMRoller Cart includes: Seville Classics UltraHD 2-Door Rolling Cabinet and a 6-drawer Rolling Storage Cabinet, Vise, Portable Vise Table, Power Strips, Cordless Orbital Hand Sander, Corded Orbital Hand Sander, Power Drill, Impact Power Drill, Rotary Dremel Tool, Irwin Clamps, Kobalt 100-Piece Household Tool Set with Hard Case, Hand Tool Bag, Hammer, Locking Pliers, Tape Measure, Speed Square, Spade Bits, Flash Forge 3D Printer, 3D Printer Tool Set, Frog Tape, Duct Tape, Rocketbook, FriXion Pens, iPod Touch & Case, Tripod, Raspberry Pi, Soldering Iron, Scrappy Circuits, Safety Goggles, Disposable Gloves, Breakout of the Box DRAWER, and a Breakout EDU Kit.
The STEAMRoller Cart includes: Seville Classics UltraHD 2-Door Rolling Cabinet and a 6-drawer Rolling Storage Cabinet, Vise, Portable Vise Table, Power Strips, Cordless Orbital Hand Sander, Corded Orbital Hand Sander, Power Drill, Impact Power Drill, Rotary Dremel Tool, Irwin Clamps, Kobalt 100-Piece Household Tool Set with Hard Case, Hand Tool Bag, Hammer, Locking Pliers, Tape Measure, Speed Square, Spade Bits, Flash Forge 3D Printer, 3D Printer Tool Set, Frog Tape, Duct Tape, Rocketbook, FriXion Pens, iPod Touch & Case, Tripod, Raspberry Pi, Soldering Iron, Scrappy Circuits, Safety Goggles, Disposable Gloves, Breakout of the Box DRAWER, and a Breakout EDU Kit.

Each educator’s school paid $381 total for the four-day hybrid course that includes the four in-person sessions, bi-weekly reading and reflection assignments and online discussions and provides educators with contact hours plus 3 college credits, in addition to a “STEAMRoller” cart of hardware and equipment valued at over $2,000 each. They will also each have the opportunity to host a STEAMRoller bus for a day at their school, which includes an experiential student conference provided by course instructors and their partners. At the student conference, educators and students will be able to participate in a day filled with breakout sessions on various topics such as 3D printing, drones, and virtual reality to name a few.

Hermon High School Principal Brian Walsh is excited that one of his 9th grade science teachers is attending the course this summer so that he can share his knowledge and the tool kit with the other 9th grade science teacher so that they can integrate hands-on project-biased learning experiences, not just to 9th graders but throughout the high school as well. Walsh has felt a void where they were unable to fill an industrial arts position in prior years and hopes this will help bring new STEAM learning experiences, career pathways, and experiential opportunities to the students at Hermon High School.

educators looking at a computer screen togetherTonya Therrien, Benton Elementary 5th Grade teacher decided to take the course with the hopes of bringing back to her classroom, “a way to utilize technology more with the kiddos, beyond just using it for research.” She wants her students to know how to use technology as a tool. When asked what she thought of the training so far, she said, “this is probably the most worthwhile class I’ve ever taken, and I’ve taken a lot of classes.” She then added that she has two master’s degrees which both required a fair amount of coursework.

Aaron Pody, a high school Life Sciences teacher from RSU 18 came to the class to learn about ways to teach the content with more relevance to his students. He has been pleased to find that there are ways to bring technology into the classroom that are not cost prohibitive.

educator wearing VR gogglesRSU 26 educator Karen Frye from Orono was excited to bring back what she has learned at the course to provide her gifted and talented students with the rare opportunity to do some hands-on problem solving, which will further enrich their learning experience and give them some problem-solving skills.

The 3-credit course and the STEAMRoller bus events are intended to give participating educators and schools a taste of experiential learning methods, along with emerging technologies, tools and resources. The course is expected to be followed up by an Experiential Education certificate program that EMCC is expected to launch in January of 2020. The new program aims to provide the state with educators that can help fill the growing workforce gap in technologically skilled workers.

The launch of the experiential training was deemed a success by organizers and participants alike. The innovative approach to an obvious need has the potential to further help Maine schools lead their students toward successful career choices, experience with problem-solving, and the ability to successfully navigate the technology of our future.

Educators standing with STEAMRoller Carts

This article was written by Rachel Paling in collaboration with course instructors Keith and Kern Kelley, and staff at both UTC and EMMC. If you have story ideas for Maine DOE’s Maine School’s Sharing Success campaign, please contact Rachel Paling at rachel.paling@maine.gov.

Conference: Collaborating to Address the Complex Mental and Behavioral Health Needs of Maine Youth

The Maine American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Maine Department of Education (DOE) and Maine Association of School Nurses (MASN) are collaborating to bring you best practices and current research on a variety of critical mental and physical health related topics facing adolescents. Recognizing that we are all supporting the needs of Maine children in different locations and ways we are bringing experts together to receive collaborative professional learning.

Hosted by: The Maine AAP, Department of Education and Maine Association of School Nurses

Intended audience: Those interested in the mental health of students (school nurses, medical providers, school counselors, social workers, and administrators)

Some topics covered: 

  • Identification and treatment of anxiety and depression in children and adults: How can we do better?
  • Addressing the Complex Mental and Behavioral Health Needs of Maine Youth: The Key Role of Adverse Childhood Experiences and Trauma Informed Care
  • Creating an Inclusive Environment for LGBTQ Youth
  • Tools for Screening and Safety for Youth at Risk of Suicide
  • Substance Use Disorder:  Impact on Youth and Families

Date: August 16, 2019

Time: 8:00 AM – 3:15 PM

Location: The program is being held in the Talbot Hall/Bonney Auditorium at the University of Southern Maine, located at 92 Bedford Street in Portland.

Cost: $50.00

Register here.

For questions or additional information, please contact Emily Poland at emily.poland@maine.gov.

Next Think Tank Scheduled for September 30!

In the ongoing effort to engage with all stakeholders, the Department of Education will hold its next Think Tank at the Schoodic Institute in Winter Harbor on September 30.  Participants can choose  from four topics, and can attend morning or afternoon sessions only on one topic, or attend both sessions and discuss two topics! Topics include special education, defining school success, educator excellence (recruiting and retaining) and MLTI.  Lunch will be provided, and the think tank is FREE, however we do ask for participants to register, for planning purposes.  Please see the Registration Link for more information and to register. We look forward to hearing from you!

Seeking Innovative Educational Leaders to Join Maine’s Leadership Development Program

The Maine Department of Education is thrilled to announce that the facilitator candidates for Maine’s Leadership Development Program (Maine LDP) have been selected. The selected facilitator candidates represent the following regions of the state: Washington, Kennebec, Penobscot, Cumberland, Androscoggin, and York counties.  The Department is looking forward to highlighting the selected facilitator candidates in August.  Maine’s LDP is an initiative designed to build and strengthen instructional leadership skills among Maine’s educational leaders at the school, district, and state levels. In our ongoing efforts to support and foster the educational expertise in Maine, educators who aspire to do the same are invited to take advantage of this high impact opportunity!

In recent weeks, the Department has been contacted by educational leaders interested in participating in the Maine LDP, but not able to commit to serving as future facilitators. In response to this feedback, the Department has made available  a limited number of seats for Maine leaders join the cohort. If you are interested in participating in Maine’s LDP and are able to make the one-year commitment, this is your chance to join this exciting professional learning opportunity. Maine’s LDP brings together the Maine DOE’s successful Transformational Leaders’ Network with NISL’s nationally recognized Executive Development Program (EDP).

Maine’s LDP is delivered through a blended learning model and includes study, inquiry, and hands-on activities with practical applications that meet the rigorous expectations for today’s educational leaders. Completion of the program can contribute to credit hours for participants pursuing an advanced degree, or contact hours for re-certification purposes.

Benefits for Maine Schools

  • Prepares educational leaders to lead for excellence and equity
  • Increases student achievement, fosters a culture of high expectations
  • Enhances teacher recruitment, retention, and quality

Program Curriculum

  • Nationally researched, evidenced-based, and locally delivered in a cohort model
  • Improves the practice of leadership, transforms instruction and student achievement in schools
  • Consists of 12 two-day units, delivered in 12 to 15 months
  • Bridged with online coursework, readings and job-embedded application of key concepts

Characteristics of Ideal Candidates

  • A belief in and commitment to improving instruction and increasing student achievement
  • Experience (five years) in a leadership role at the school, district, and/or state level and background as a classroom teacher. Ideal candidates include, but are not limited to, principals, assistant principals, instructional coaches, deans, Title I directors, department leaders, ESEA coordinators, special education directors, English Learner directors, assistant superintendents, instruction and curriculum directors, and superintendents.
  • Excellent communications skills; able to effectively facilitate professional development for peers
  • Demonstrated skills in mentoring and coaching
  • Experience as a successful practitioner—able to translate concepts to actions, theory to practice, and programs to craft
  • Able to participate in the entire NISL program and attend all required sessions
  • Likely to live and work in Maine for the next five years

The Department encourages experienced educational leaders to consider applying to join the initial cohort of participants for Maine’s LDP. The deadline for participant candidates is August 5, 2019. Please visit http://www.maine.gov/doe/educators/maineldp for more information and email nisledp.doe@maine.gov  with any questions. Interviews will be scheduled upon review of submitted applications.