Professional Learning Opportunity: Leveraging Free Technology to Create More Inclusive Classrooms

The Maine Department of Education and Microsoft are collaborating to offer educators the opportunity to participate in a program from March 2019 to June 2019. The program will focus on leveraging free technology tools available to Maine educators to create more inclusive classrooms. A Microsoft Learning Consultant will lead these sessions.

Technology can create opportunities for students to have more independence and agency over their learning.  Leveraging technology to remove barriers to learning can result in and also lead to improved student achievement. During these sessions, educators will learn to integrate several free technology tools to better serve students. These sessions are free for Maine educators.

Program Details:

Educators will receive on-going professional learning support related to the following tools that are designed to support the development of inclusive classrooms: Learning Tools, Accessibility Tools, Sway, Office Lens, One Note, Microsoft Teams, Translator, and Microsoft Inking. They will:

  • Attend two in-person workshops
  • Participate in a facilitated online Professional Learning Community in Microsoft Teams
  • Participate in two webinars (in April and early May) – dates to be determined.

Educators who participate in all parts of the program can earn up to 16 Contact Hours.

Workshop Agendas

Note that registration for each location will be limited to 50 participants. 

Inclusive Classrooms Part 1

March 27th, 2019 – Augusta

March 28th, 2019 – Gorham

March 29th, 2019 – Bangor


8:30am Light Refreshments
9:00am Welcome and Introductions
9:15am Microsoft Teams
10:15am Break
10:30am Supporting English Language Learners
11:30am Lunch
12:15pm Accessibility Tools
2:45pm Closing
3:00pm End



Inclusive Classrooms Part 2

May 29th, 2019 – Augusta

May 30th, 2019 – Bangor

May 31st, 2019 – Gorham


8:30am Light Refreshments
9:00am Welcome and Introductions
9:15am Connections: Sharing what you’ve done with the tools
10:15am Break
10:30am Authoring Accessible Content
11:30am Lunch
12:15pm More tools to create inclusive classrooms
2:00pm Planning for greater impact in your school/district
2:45pm Closing
3:00pm End

Who should register?

All educators are invited to register, though space is limited in each session. If districts want to focus their participation on certain educators, the tools can be very helpful the work of: Special Education Directors and Teachers, Teachers of English Language Learners, School Leaders, Curriculum Coordinators, Technology Integrators, and Library Media Specialists.


Inclusive Classrooms Part 1

Register by 3/8 if you want Microsoft to bring a device for you to use, otherwise, register by 3/20 and plan to bring a device with Microsoft OneNote, Word, Powerpoint, etc.

March 27th, 2019 – Augusta (Registration Form)

March 28th, 2019 – Gorham (Registration Form)

March 29th, 2019 – Bangor (Registration Form)

Inclusive Classrooms Part 2

Register by 5/10 if you want Microsoft to bring a device for you to use, otherwise, register by 5/20 and plan to bring a device with Microsoft OneNote, Word, Powerpoint, etc.

May 29th, 2019 – Augusta (Registration Form)

May 30th, 2019 – Bangor (Registration Form)

May 31st, 2019 – Gorham (Registration Form)


Note: Please communicate with your technology director to be sure that you and your students will be able to access Office 365 tools (free to schools) on your devices and network.


For additional information or answers to questions, please contact:


Amanda Nguyen

Digital Learning Specialist

Maine Department of Education

Thomaston Grammar School Shares their School and Community Success

DSC_0266Submitted by Ainslee Riley, Principal of Thomaston Grammar School

Thomaston Grammar School, located in the Mid-Coast town of Thomaston, is a great place to be. Our K-5 school has approximately one hundred and eighty-five students, with two classes at each grade level.  In addition to having a daily focus on mathematics, literacy, science, social studies, and health instruction, students also have weekly art, music, technology, SEL (social emotion learning), and physical education classes.  Our focus centers around our district goals of proficiency based learning and social emotional learning, which go hand in hand. Teachers have worked together to create appropriate grade level performance indicators that align with our state standards.  The school has also adopted Restorative Practices and Second Step to help us work toward meeting our goals in the area of social emotional learning.

IMG_8524We have a wonderful parent group that works to provide opportunities for our families to come together to have fun in the school community. They sponsor and run big events like our annual Fall Fest and Cookies with Santa weekend events, movie nights, family dances, Trunk-or Treat for Halloween, and more.  They have also brought in organizations like Mad Science of Maine for school wide learning opportunities.  In addition to these events that our parent group provides for our school community, we: have two concerts a year, host a Family Fun Night, hold a Talent Show, celebrate Read Across America week with a week filled with theme days, collect food for our local food pantry and hold a Passing of the Food event, and more.

IMG_9238We partner with a variety of organizations that enable our students to have further educational enrichment during and outside the school day. We have partnered with Leaps of Imagination, allowing for art enrichment during the school day for all students in second and fourth grade.  We work with the Strand Theatre, which offers a variety of learning opportunities where we travel to the theatre or they bring in artists to do workshops inside our school.  Our older students have the opportunity to participate in after school art enrichment, after school programming through Youthlinks, and a Big Trek/Little Trek mentoring program.  Through funding from the Georges River Education Foundation, our second grade students and teachers, along with our PE teacher, have been working with an area gym, Hybrid Fitness, to complete an integrated unit on fitness and nutrition.  Our students in third grade have the opportunity to learn to ice skate at the MidCoast Recreation Center, and our students in fourth grade have the opportunity to learn to ski at the Camden Snow Bowl.  Fifth grade students are able to enrich their learning through our school’s fifth grade TGS Common Ground Garden and Outdoor Classroom.  Students in various grades have the opportunity to visit Herring Gut Learning Center, the Botanical Gardens, the Owl’s Head Lighthouse, Tanglewood, Old Fort Western and more, depending on the year, as part of integrated units they are studying.  This year the Georges River Education Foundation also helped to fund a birding unit for our fifth grade students that has involved bringing in a variety of experts to talk and work with our students.

IMG_9325We recognize students at monthly theme-based assemblies. Our assemblies focus on a variety of attributes including, but not limited to, respect, compassion, and perseverance.  There is also a monthly Principal’s Award given to a student who exemplifies all these attributes on a daily basis. Students who are recognized have a special lunch with Principal Riley. Students who receive TGS tickets are recognized at this assembly as well. These are students who go above and beyond our school rules: Be Safe, Be Kind, and Try Your Best. Students who get tickets are also announced daily and earn prizes for receiving multiple tickets. Students are very excited to receive these tickets.

Teachers at Thomaston Grammar School work hard to make learning meaningful and fun for all of the students in our community.

Happenings in Afterschool Programs for RSU#13

RSU 13 Afterschool Programs

Submitted by Sarah Chadwick Rogers, Associate Director of After School Programming, Youthlinks at Broadreach Family & Community Services in RSU 13

At Broadreach’s 21st Century Learning Center, providing afterschool programming for the towns of RSU#13, we are proud to announce that students from grades K-12 participated in their town’s local “Pies on Parade!” event. This annual event raises funds to help hungry Midcoast Maine families through the local Area Outreach Food Pantry.

Pies that the youth baked were enjoyed at our YMCA’s Community Building, which also featured a pie obstacle course, art projects and pie games – designed by students in the afterschool program.

Mountain Valley Middle School (RSU 10) – A Safe Place To Learn

Submitted by Cheryl Gurney, Teacher/Assistant Principal at Mountain Valley Middle School

Mountain Valley Middle School in Mexico, is part of Regional School Unit #10, in the picturesque foothills of western Maine. At Mountain Valley Middle School, we strive to provide all students with a safe place to learn where all staff and students follow a code to be respectful, act responsibly, and do what is right, even when no one is watching. We pride ourselves on knowing where we need to grow and we all work toward becoming better students, teachers and learners. In particular, we have worked hard to provide our students with the opportunities to grow in the areas of academics and behavior. By using a Multi-Tiered Response to Intervention Approach we have been able to help our students to develop scholastically, behaviorally, socially, and emotionally.

To promote academic growth, Mountain Valley Middle School staff and students participate in a wide variety of activities and instructional opportunities that are designed to allow learners to fill in gaps and build on foundational skills. Within the first tier of supports, all students participate in an intervention period that is built into the daily schedule four days per week. We call this our Hawks SOAR period which stands for Student Opportunities to Aim for Results. Students receive focused instruction on topics and concepts in mathematics and literacy that have been determined to be weaknesses through disaggregation of EmpowerMe and NWEA data. Students are grouped and re-grouped according to their needs.When they have mastered specific concepts and they move onto new topics to begin the process again. Comparisons of recent NWEA data have shown very promising growth in both reading and mathematics.

Over the last five years, Mountain Valley Middle School has implemented Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) and in particular we have introduced a Bully Prevention program called Stop, Walk and Talk. When a student has a conflict with another student they are encouraged to tell that person to STOP. This warns the other person they are bothering someone and gives them the opportunity to change their behavior. If the behavior does not
change the offended student is asked to WALK away and TALK to the nearest adult to attain help in navigating the situation. The adult then steps into the situation and helps the students to work through the conflict. This program has helped Mountain Valley Middle School students to have a voice and office discipline rates have dropped significantly.

The staff and students at Mountain Valley Middle School are proud to be members of this community! We strive to have a growth mindset and continue to set goals and move toward their attainment. Go Hawks!


School Safety and Security Bulletin: Planning for those with Access and Functional Needs

Throughout the 2018- 2019 school year, the Maine Department of Education, State Fire Marshal’s Office, Department of Health and Human Services, Maine State Police, Maine Sheriffs Association, Maine Chiefs of Police Association, and the Maine Emergency Management Agency will provide tips and resource information to Maine schools to help provide some guidance for identifying signs and preventing school violence.

School Safety and Security Bulletin  – February 2019

Further questions and inquiries can be send to Pat Hinckley, Maine DOE Transportation and Facilities Administrator at