Middle School Students Explore Biodiversity in Costa Rica

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This post is from Paula Vigue, a computer science/literacy teacher from Winslow

Costa RicaStudents from Winslow Junior High School, led by Winslow teacher Mrs. Paula Vigue, spent a week in Costa Rica during the 2014 summer. Their job was to research the biodiversity of the area, the flora and animals, specifically bats, amphibians, and reptiles. In addition, students were able to see a volcano close and personal, see the black-sands beach, and spend time in the hot springs. That was only the beginning!

Costa Rica Study Group Led by Paula Vigue

Costa Rica Study Group Led by Paula Vigue

Students and parents alike, zip-lined through the trees of a tropical rainforest and worked together to conquer the rapids (and their fears) before performing a biological survey and water tests on that same river. Learning the local food and dance were other experiences shared by all. It was an amazing science adventure!

“I really liked learning about the poisonous dart frogs. The Blue-jean dart frog was everywhere.” ~Ryan

“The beach had black sand! It was funny that they had beans and rice at every meal, even breakfast!” ~ Ely

Costa Rica“The food was delicious. There were so many interesting tropical fruits and juices. I’ve never tasted such fresh, yummy pineapple. The cows were strange looking- skinny with baggy skin. Our guide was great. He made it fun and interesting; he was very knowledgeable.” ~Lassandra

“Zip-lining was awesome! I’m glad you made me do it.” ~Stephanie

bat copy“The spider monkey fight was the highlight of the trip. I also like learning about the bats and seeing what they consumed.”

Next science trip is to Iceland the summer of 2016!

 

 

CostaRica2

Samantha Smith Challenge

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Do you remember when a group of Freeport elementary students took on fast food giant McDonalds and won? Concerned about the environmental impact of styrofoam packaging,  the students convinced Freeport’s town council to ban its use. McDonalds had to come up with another way to serve their hamburgers.   How about Katie Brown who at age 11 raised money to purchase protective vests for police dogs? And… did you know there are students all over the state participating in research projects related to the invasive European green crab?   Given the opportunity, our students will amaze us!

Samantha Smith-Used with permission from Americans Who Tell the Truth

Samantha Smith-Used with permission from Americans Who Tell the Truth

After the December break is a long stretch of instructional time in which to do something extraordinary. Join other middle grades teachers and students across Maine as they accept MAMLE’s and Americans Who Tell the Truth’s  Samantha Smith Challenge. Invite your students to amaze you and their school community by taking on a real life problem—local, state, national, or international—and work to come up with a viable solution or plan of action. Here is an excerpt from a recent news release:

The purpose of the Samantha Smith Engaged Student Challenge is to build a bridge between the classroom and the world and to show students that no matter what age, they can be part of solving the challenges and problems they see around them in the world. Samantha’s journey began with her concern about nuclear war. A year later she was an eleven year old teaching adults and children about making peace. Her progress from concern to courageous engagement was a series of small steps and decisions—the kind of thing any of us can do!

Here is the link to the teacher’s page for the Challenge: http://www.americanswhotellthetruth.org/the-samantha-smith-challenge

Working to save clams from European green crab--Woolwich Central School

Working to save clams from European green crab–Woolwich Central School

Should you wonder how you could possibly fit in this type of project with all you have to do, consider Maine’s Guiding Principles:

Guiding Principles

Part of The Maine Learning Results: Parameters for Essential Instruction

The knowledge and skills described in the Maine Department of Education Regulation 132 support Maine students in achieving the goals established in Maine’s Guiding Principles. The Guiding Principles state that each Maine student must leave school as:

A. A clear and effective communicator who:

  • Demonstrates organized and purposeful communication in English and at least one other language
  • Uses evidence and logic appropriately in communication
  • Adjusts communication based on the audience
  • Uses a variety of modes of expression (spoken, written and visual and performing including the use of technology to create and share the expressions)

B. A self-directed and lifelong learner who: 

  • Freeport MS students share research projects with visitors from Sweden.

    Freeport MS students share research projects with visitors from Sweden.

    Recognizes the need for information and locates and evaluates resources

  • Applies knowledge to set goals and make informed decisions
  • Applies knowledge in new contexts
  • Demonstrates initiative and independence
  • Demonstrates flexibility including the ability to learn, unlearn and relearn
  • Demonstrates reliability and concern for quality
  • Uses interpersonal skills to learn and work with individuals from diverse backgrounds

C. A creative and practical problem solver who:

  • Observes and evaluates situations to define problems
  • Frames questions, makes predictions and designs data/information collection and analysis strategies
  • Identifies patterns, trends and relationships that apply to solutions
  • Generates a variety of solutions, builds a case for a best response and critically evaluates the effectiveness of the response
  • Sees opportunities, finds resources and seeks results
  • Uses information and technology to solve problems
  • Perseveres in challenging situations

D. A responsible and involved citizen who:

  • Students from Phippsburg keep their community informed about their local history.

    Students from Phippsburg keep their community informed about their local history.

    Participates positively in the community and designs creative solutions to meet human needs and wants

  • Accepts responsibility for personal decisions and actions
  • Demonstrates ethical behavior and the moral courage to sustain it
  • Understands and respects diversity
  • Displays global awareness and economic and civic literacy
  • Demonstrates awareness of personal and community health and wellness

E. An integrative and informed thinker who:

  • Gains and applies knowledge across disciplines and learning contexts and to real-life situations with and without technology
  • Evaluates and synthesizes information from multiple sources
  • Applies ideas across disciplines
  • Applies systems thinking to understand the interaction and influence of related parts on each other and on outcomes

The Samantha Smith Challenge fits the bill as a way for your students to work toward proficiency and meet the high standards of Maine’s Guiding Principles.

The Power of Choice

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Nancy & NickNancy Doda wowed the audience with her keynote at our Annual Conference this past October.  One of the reasons her address was so powerful is that she shared the microphone with Nick, a student from Hampden. He explained why having a choice in how he demonstrates his learning is so important to him.  In case you missed Nick, here is a video of what he had to say.

 

 

Here is a video of of his composition.

Nick’s 8th grade teacher was Karen Lewis (Reeds Brook MS), and she also  is the Teacher Representative on the NELMS Board.

Nick will be our featured speaker at the Scholar-Leader Dinner in May.

Phil Brookhouse Honored at Annual Conference

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At the Annual Conference at Point Lookout earlier this fall, Phil Brookhouse was honored as the 2014 Janet Nesin Reynolds Outstanding Educator.  Because the award is always a surprise to the honoree, Barbara Greenstone kept everyone in suspense as she slowly revealed details of Phil’s career as a exemplary middle level educator. Below are her comments:
It’s my honor to announce the latest recipient of the Janet Nesin Reynolds Outstanding Middle Level Educator Award. If you’ve been to past conferences where this award has been presented, you know that it’s a surprise to the recipient, and we try to introduce that person in a way that gives out little clues to the identity and builds suspense. I don’t know how I can do that today, because this person is so well-known across the state of Maine that many of you will know immediately who I’m talking about, and so will he. That’s clue number one. It’s a he.
Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 2.07.28 PMThis teacher has more than three decades of experience as a middle level science teacher. In the classroom his practice demonstrated his passion for his content as well as his deep commitment to the young adolescents he inspired every day. Science pedagogy for him had to be hands-on and inquiry-based; he couldn’t do it any other way. I never had the pleasure of visiting his classroom, but knowing him, I’m sure his classes included many aha moments as well as ha-ha moments.
Then, in 2005, he left all of that to be a full time teacher of teachers and my partner in crime. We were Statewide Integration Mentors (SWIMs) for MLTI and we traveled the state together, providing professional development for middle level teachers. (If you don’t who I’m talking about now, you haven’t been paying attention). As we prepared for our first workshop together, I remember thinking, “This will be good. This guy’s smart, hard-working, and likable. He has good ideas, It will be okay.” I had no idea what I was in for. He showed up for that first workshop with Jolly Roger flags pbrookhouse_1352732796_140and a Jack Sparrow hat because it was September 19, Talk Like a Pirate Day. That may have seemed like a risky thing to do when you’re starting out with a new partner whom you don’t know very well yet. But he soon found out that I love that kind of thing. So it turned out to be a great teaching partnership, although some people mistook us for a comedy act. In fact, we were doing a workshop together one day, and we must have been in rare form because one of the participating teachers said, “You guys are so funny. You have this Sesame Street thing going on. You’re adorable.” That may have been the first and last time the word adorable was used to describe me.
But seriously, this teacher has demonstrated a deep commitment to helping middle level educators develop their practice. He understood from the beginning that MLTI was not just a technology initiative, but was a catalyst for changing teacher practice, making it more relevant for the 21st century. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Just go to maine121.org and read his posts, listen to his webinar recordings, or go to iTunesU and listen to his podcasts. You’ll hear about his work with EcoScienceWorks, developing games and simulations specifically for Maine teachers and students that were installed on every MLTI laptop. (And some components of EcoBeaker Maine Explorer are still in use today by teachers in my school.) You’ll read about visual literacy and how to use visual representations for making meaning of complex information and concepts. If you dig deeply enough into the MLTI archives, you may even find evidence of his starring roles in epic films like “Be a 21st Century Teacher with Studywiz” in which we played good teacher/bad teacher (He was the good teacher.) Or “Will it Blend: Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge” in which he played Perry Pedagogy the pirate puppet.
In a career that has spanned 4 decades, his work has directly or indirectly affected thousands of students across the state. And in our work together we learned so much from each other (and not just the location of every Dunkin Donuts and every gas station with a clean restroom in the state.) He stretched my thinking and reminded me that we teach kids not subjects and one of the most important things we do with kids is make memories. He also showed me how one can face life’s challenges with courage and grace. But maybe the best and truest thing I can say is that he’s the middle school teacher I wish my son had had.
philandbarbaraIt’s my great pleasure and honor to announce that this year’s Janet Nesin Reynolds Outstanding Middle Level Educator Award goes to my friend and colleague, Phil Brookhouse.

Annual Conference: Powerful Learning for Young Adolescents

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 Powerful Learning for Young Adolescents

October 23-24, 2014

Point Lookout Resort and Conference Center

Northport

One of the many spectacular views from Point Lookout.

One of the many spectacular views from Point Lookout.

 

2014 Conference Program (PDF)

 

What makes an outstanding school for 10-14 year olds? The well – research position paper from the Association for Middle Level Education, This We Believe: Keys to Educating Young Adolescents lists four essential attributes:
  • Developmentally Responsive: using the nature of young adolescents as the foundation on which all decisions are made.
  • Challenging: recognizing that every student can learn and everyone is held to high expectations.
  • Empowering: providing all students with the knowledge and skills they need to take control of their lives.
  • Equitable: advocating for every student’s right to learn and providing challenging and relevant learning opportunities.
The MAMLE Annual Conference is the perfect time for staff to reflect on the vision for their school and how it is being implemented. It is the only event in Maine that explores the current issues facing schools through the lens of effective teaching and learning for 10-14 year olds as exemplified by the essential attributes outlined in This We Believe: Keys to Educating Young Adolescents.
Just look at the opportunities at the conference:
For everyone:
  1. Two outstanding keynote speakers: Matt Nelson, MPA Middle Level Principal of the Year and Nancy Doda, international expert on educating young adolescents.
  2. 35 + concurrent sessions on a wide range of topics
For folks interested in STEM:
  1. A STEM Model For Problem Solving – Sara Nason, Sanford Middle School
  2. Make ‘Space Day’ Everyday- Sharon Eggleston, Aerospace Educator
  3. Getting Students to Beg for More Math Time! – Alison Veilleux, Lyman Moore Middle School
  4. Gaming in the Classroom – Suzanne Simmons, Bonny Eagle Middle School
  5. Working to save clams from European green crab--Woolwich Central School

    Working to save clams from European green crab–Woolwich Central School

    Soft Shelled Clam Connections – Denise Friant, Hesper Reith, Edward Striewski, Leanne Fisher Woolwich Central School

  6. STEM Programs Roundtable – Jeff Rodman, Middle School of the Kennebunks
  7. Start Developing iOS and OS X Apps Today! (Double Session D & E) - Maine-based Apple PD Specialists
  8. Moon Unit – Alison England, Adam Bullard, Sonja Schmanska, & Josh McPhail, St. George School
  9. K-12 Outreach – Interactive Civil Engineering – Lauren Swett
STEM projects

STEM projects

  1. The Auburn Land Lab – An Opportunity To Learn Differently – Phil Brookhouse, Auburn School Department
  2. FROM CURIOSITY TO CAREER: Transforming Student Engagement into Career Pathways – Jay Collier, Educate Maine
  3. An Interdisciplinary Approach to Field Marine Science – David Williams, York Middle School
For folks focusing on culture and climate:
  1. Middle Level Theory into Practice – The Troy Howard Middle School Story – Kimberly Buckheit & Students, Troy Howard Middle School; Kelley Littlefield, Ecology Academy Teacher; Chris LaValle, Innovation Academy Teacher; Sarah Wyman, International Academy Teacher
  2. The Power (and Struggles) of Shared Leadership Teams – Mike Muir, Auburn School District
  3. Legacy: Making Education Meaningful Through Service Learning – Shianne Priest & Students, Leonard Middle School
  4. Meeting the Standards in a Restorative Classroom – Celeste Libby, Travis Taylor, Lisa Hall, Ansley Newton and 6th Grade Guidance Counselor, Saco Middle School
  5. Enthusiastic and engaged students at Space Day-Auburn MS

    Enthusiastic and engaged students at Space Day-Auburn MS

    It’s All About Choice… And a Lot of Planning! – Carl Bucciantini, Auburn Middle School

  6. The Fourth “R”-The Power of Relationships in Middle School – Jerry Kiesman, Hermon Middle School
  7. Building Community Through Challenge - Gert Nesin & Todd McKinley, Leonard Middle School
  8. Positive Adults + Positive Interventions = Positive Students – Sheila Underhill; Reuben Fowlow; & Tracy McKay, Central Middle School
  9. The Anatomy of a Successful Parent Night – Ward Willis, Middle School of the Kennebunks
  10. Student Reflecting and Conferencing – Melissa Fenelon, York Middle School
  11. “Ignite the S.P.A.R.K!”~Students Promoting Acts of Random Kindness – Jodie Bennett & Molly Brewer, Medomak Middle School
  12. Brain Breaks for Students – Susan Callahan, Auburn Middle School
For those who literacy throughout the curriculum remains an important topic:
  1. Talking About the Text: Engaging Ways to Boost Comprehension and Understanding — Nancy Doda
  2. Read 180: Increase Student Engagement, Ownership, and Achievement – Tammy Ranger, Skowhegan Area Middle School
  3. A Culture of Collaboration in Writing – Kym Granger, Mt. Ararat Middle School
  4. Allagash Tails and Tales – Tim Caverly, Allagash Tails
  5. Mark Twain

    Mark Twain

    Dual Purposes that Serve the Needs of Both Curriculums… Take a Risk!! – Abby Jacobs & Mike Burke, Westbrook Middle School

  6. Classroom Blogging with Google Apps for Education – Suzanne Simmons, Bonny Eagle Middle School
  7. Creating Visual Notes with Apple MLTI Tools (Apple MLTI Primary Solution) (Double Session D & E) – Maine-based Apple PD Specialists
  8. Writing Power: Creating Authentic Audiences for Student Voices – Joyce Bucciantini, Auburn Middle School
  9. Meeting Literacy Standards in Health and the Other Allied Arts – Strategies to Help Students Excel in Your Class – Doreen Swanholm & Courtney Belolan, Mt. Ararat Middle School
bandFor participants who believe the Allied Arts are an integral part of any outstanding middle grades program:
  1. Recreating Radio Dramas – Barbara Greenstone, Boothbay Region Schools
  2. Empowering Students Through Assessment Techniques and Strategies – Jane Snider, Hancock Grammar School
  3. Tricks and Tips to Help Students Take Really Good Pictures – Jill Spencer, BoomerTECH Adventures
  4. Legacy: Making Education Meaningful Through Service Learning – Shianne Priest & Students, Leonard Middle School
  5. Dual Purposes that Serve the Needs of Both Curriculums… Take a Risk!! – Abby Jacobs & Mike Burke, Westbrook Middle School
  6. Proficiency-Based Education in an Art Class – Gloria Hewett, Mount View Middle School
  7. Dual Purposes that Serve the Needs of Both Curriculums… Take a Risk!! – Abby Jacobs & Mike Burke, Westbrook Middle School
  8. Meeting Literacy Standards in Health and the Other Allied Arts – Strategies to Help Students Excel in Your Class – Doreen Swanholm & Courtney Belolan, Mt. Ararat Middle School
  9. A STEM Model For Problem Solving – Sara Nason, Sanford Middle School
  10. K-12 Outreach – Interactive Civil Engineering – Lauren Swett
  11. Start Developing iOS and OS X Apps Today! (Double Session D & E) - Maine-based Apple PD Specialists
  12. World Language Market – Tad Williams & Ellen Jardine, Middle School of the Kennebunks
For attendees whose interest is personalizing learning and MCL:
  1. Teaching MCL: Beyond the Theory - Erin Hoffses, Presque Isle Middle School
  2. Proficiency-Based Education in an Art Class – Gloria Hewett, Mount View Middle School
  3. Assessment with iPads - Barbara Greenstone, Boothbay Region Schools
  4. May the Force Be With You: Planning for the Unique Needs of Young Adolescents – Lindsay Mahoney & Hope Herrick, Messalonskee Middle School
  5. Metacognition and the Middle Schooler – Andrea Logan, Lake Region Middle School
  6. Back to Basics: How to Create Learning Targets and “I CAN” Statements – Jennifer Etter, York Middle Schools
  7. Motivating Students With Engaging Tasks – Mike Muir, Auburn School District
  8. Customize the Brain – Bill Zima, Mt. Ararat Middle School
Americans who Tell the TruthFor folks who help their students develop a world view:
  1. Hands-On History: The Bangor Community Heritage Project – Ron Bilancia & Pricilla Soucie, William S. Cohen School; Larissa Vigue Picard, Maine Historical Society; Bill Cook, Bangor Public Library
  2. World Language Market – Tad Williams & Ellen Jardine, Middle School of the Kennebunks
  3. TOP’s Turning Points and Timelines! Kids Get Chronology! – Jacqueline Littlefield, Goethe-Institute Washington -Transatlantic Outreach Program
  4. From History to Action, Using the Lessons of the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Movement to Empower Students – Elizabeth Helitzer, Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine
  5. Models of Courageous Citizenship: Connecting students to themes in social studies, language arts, science and other curriculum areas - Connie Carter
Especially for leadership teams and administrators:
Jeff Rodman, President of MAMLE and,John Keane, President Elect

Jeff Rodman, President of MAMLE and John Keane, President Elect

  1. Developing Teacher Expertise – Ben Harris & Mick Roy, Bonny Eagle Middle School and Stacy Penna with Learning Sciences
  2. Apple’s Five Best Practices of Excellent Schools! – (Double Session A & B) - Maine-based Apple PD Specialists
  3. Middle Level Theory into Practice – The Troy Howard Middle School Story – Kimberly Buckheit & Students, Troy Howard Middle School; Kelley Littlefield, Ecology Academy Teacher; Chris LaValle, Innovation Academy Teacher; Sarah Wyman, International Academy Teacher
  4. The Power (and Struggles) of Shared Leadership Teams – Mike Muir, Auburn School District
  5. Making Sense of Chapter 180: Implementing the New Teacher Evaluation System in Two Districts – Bill Zima, Mt. Ararat Middle School & John Keane, Leonard Middle School
  6. The Anatomy of a Successful Parent Night – Ward Willis, Middle School of the Kennebunks
  7. Administrators Roundtable – Jeff Rodman, Middle School of the Kennebunks
  8. Meeting the Standards in a Restorative Classroom – Celeste Libby, Travis Taylor, Lisa Hall, Ansley Newton and 6th Grade Guidance Counselor, Saco Middle School

All of these sessions plus more form the backbone of our conference.  What school wouldn’t benefit from having teachers and administrators participate in such a rich experience?

Registration: http://mainemamle.org/conference/registration/

Full program: http://mainemamle.org/conference/conference-schedule/

Yapp app for mobile devices: http://my.yapp.us/MAMLE

Or contact Wally Alexander:

Phone: (207) 859-1362
Fax: (207) 859-1114
E-mail: Wallace_Alexander@umit.maine.edu

 

 

Messalonskee Middle School Gets Iced

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Just in from Lindsay Mahoney….

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 6.03.04 PMThe Messalonskee Middle School staff and Olympian Julia Clukey recently accepted the ALS ice bucket challenge! After hearing Clukey speak about overcoming obstacles and persevering to accomplish personal goals, 42 lucky MMS students had the privilege to dump water over the heads of their teachers and Ms. Clukey. Students were able to purchase tickets for the chance to dump buckets of ice water over their teacher’s heads while teacher’s paid $10/each to participate. After spending time reading, watching videos, and discussing this cause and craze that has gone viral, students and staff collectively raised over $600. After all the excitement, we forgot to challenge other schools so maybe yours will be next!

Check out all of the great pictures of the ice bucket challenge at
https://www.flickr.com/photos/125274966@N08/sets/72157647671378372/