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

A Letter of Invitation

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September 15, 2014

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome back! We hope that you had a great break and had time to get away from school and enjoy this summer’s outstanding weather. As the leadership of Maine Association for Middle Level Education (MAMLE), we would like to take this opportunity to share with you exciting news about your statewide middle level association.

Did you know that MAMLE is the only educational association in Maine designed to meet the specific needs for the students and staff within our grade levels? MAMLE provides outstanding professional development and support focusing on the educational, academic, social, and emotional needs of our emerging adolescents as well as those topics trending in the field of the middle level education.


View of Penobscot Bay from Conference Center

View of Penobscot Bay from Conference Center

Once again, MAMLE’s annual conference will be held on October 23 and 24 at the Point Lookout Resort and Conference Center in beautiful Northport, Maine. Point Lookout, located on Route One just north of Camden, is an easy ride from all areas of the state.


We are very excited about this year’s conference program. We have two-days jam packed with exceptional presenters, sessions, and keynote speakers who are committed to the improvement of middle level education. Highlighting this year’s program are our keynoters, nationally recognized teacher-leader, Nancy Doda and Maine’s Middle Level Principal of the Year, Matt Nelson.


You will find no conference more affordable yet more valuable than MAMLE’s fall conference. The cost to attend for both days is only $195. A one-day registration is just $135. Complete information regarding registration, housing, and this year’s program can be found on the MAMLE website (

Please take time to take a look at the conference program and consider sending a team of educators to the conference. There is a special rate for teams of six or more. Contact Wally Alexander at for more details on a group discount.

There is no middle level conference at the state, regional, or national level that delivers a more comprehensive middle level program at an affordable cost than our own fall conference. It is a solid investment for your students, staff, and school.

We hope to see you at Point Lookout on October 23 and 24. For more information regarding MAMLE and this year’s conference go to And remember to like us on Facebook.



Jeff Rodman

Principal, Middle School of the Kennebunks

President, Maine Association for Middle Level Education


John Keane


Piscataquis Community Secondary School

President Elect, Maine Association for Middle Level Education


Jeff Rodman & John Keane

Jeff Rodman & John Keane

Helping Students Manage Their Screen Time

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The start of the school year is a perfect time to talk to students about managing their screen time. Although many students have personal smart phones and tablets, for some 7th graders, receiving an MLTI device will be their first experience with 1:1 computing. Suddenly they will have in their possession a wonderful tool for reading, writing, viewing, creating, and gaming. It will be available at school and at home, 24/7, and while it’s a necessity for schoolwork, it can also become a bone of contention in the classroom and with the family.

student with laptop and iPad

Photo Credit: ransomtech via Compfight cc

Excessive screen time has been linked to obesity, insufficient sleep, and social issues for children and teens. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than two hours of screen time per day. This includes TV viewing time as well as interactions with computers and mobile devices. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, however, only 27% of young adolescents meet that limit. Given that they are expected to use laptops or tablets for schoolwork, it’s unlikely our students in 1:1 computing classes will meet that goal, but we can help them monitor their screen time and become self-regulating. Here are some strategies that may help.

Make classroom expectations clear. 

Give kids clear guidelines for using their MLTI laptops or iPads and their personal devices in the classroom. There are times when students should not be looking at a screen but should be giving their full attention to you or to other students in the room. Come up with a verbal cue to let students know to put their devices away. For years MLTI teachers used “close and focus” (or some variation) to let kids know when to put the lid down on their laptops. A similar cue can work for tablets too. Many teachers have students put their iPads and phones face down on their desks when they enter the room and leave them there when they are not needed for classwork. Your school should also establish guidelines for using devices in the library, cafeteria, hallways, and other common areas.

Allow some personal use, with limits.

Electronic devices are a part of students’ lives and we can’t realistically expect them to unplug when they come to school. Work with your team and your administrators to establish a time in the day when students are allowed to check their email, communicate with family and friends, listen to music, or play an approved game. This is also an opportunity to introduce some digital citizenship goals. Common Sense Media provides an excellent curriculum with plenty of free resources to help students learn how to behave safely, ethically, and responsibly in online environments.

Talk to parents.

While our students have grown up with this technology, their parents have not, and many of them will need help managing screen time with their children at home. Most middle schools in Maine have a parent night in the fall when they discuss the MLTI devices. This is a good time to make parents aware of some of the challenges and help them develop strategies and guidelines that work for their families. Parents are excellent resources for each other too, especially those who have older children and who may already have some family practices in place. A few years ago I met a parent up in Aroostook County who knew how to deal with the problem of late-night screen time. She had a shelf in her house where all members of the family (adults too) placed all their electronic devices at 9:00 P.M. each night and plugged them in to charge. They didn’t pick up the devices again until after breakfast the next morning. It was simple but effective, and it made a lot of sense. Parents can also take advantage of Common Sense Media‘s resources for setting screen-time limits.

Model appropriate use.

One of the most effective ways we teachers can help students is by moderating our own digital lives and modeling appropriate behavior. If you expect students to have their phones turned off and put away in class, you should not be using yours. We have a rule in my school that students may not have their iPads out of the carry cases in the hallway. I make a point of using my carry case whenever I’m in the hallway too, even if I’m just stepping into the next room to show a teacher something on my iPad.

If we set clear expectations while allowing students some freedom, and if we partner with parents and model appropriate behavior, our students are more likely to develop healthier habits and learn to moderate their own screen time.

from the President’s desk…

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Jeff Rodman, President of MAMLE

Jeff Rodman, President of MAMLE

It’s late August and once again it’s butterfly season in Maine. No, not the season for any of the more than 55 species of butterflies that inhabit our great state, but the ones that we feel in our stomach as another school year approaches. These are the butterflies that keep us up at night wondering about those first days of school. Will I have a good class? Will the students like me? Am I prepared? Did I remember to zip up my fly?


Teaching middle school is a great challenge as each fall enthusiastic, energetic, eager, and well-rested budding adolescents arrive to begin a new school year. The students come to us in all shapes and sizes with a myriad of abilities and needs. They are simple, yet complex. Just when we think we know our students, we find out there is so much more to learn about them. Middle school students are truly a wonderful enigma. As middle school educators, we need to understand what it means to be simple, yet complex. We are lucky to work with them but we have an incredible task that takes great skill, great patience, and great humor.


We should expect to bring to our students a firm and professional commitment to their educational, intellectual, and social-emotional well being that will ensure their growth and development toward becoming positive members of our schools and our communities. Teaching is an obligation we have all made. We have all dedicated ourselves to being the best teachers we can be. I am confident we will all succeed in this endeavor. There is so much to be accomplished in all of our schools but there is no better place where it can happen than in our middle schools.


As my mother-in-law, who was a great teacher herself, always said, “If you don’t feel a little nervous before the school year starts, it’s time to retire.” This year, I begin my 38th year in education, and thankfully, I guess I’m ready as I’m still feeling the butterflies.


I wish you all a successful school year. May it be filled with great learning, great patience, and great laughter.


Jeff Rodman

Principal, Middle School of the Kennebunks

President, Maine Association for Middle Level Education

Seven Middle Level Teachers Finalists for Teacher of the Year!

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MAMLE congratulates the following middle level teachers who have been named finalists for Maine Teacher of the Year!


Kara Beal, 8th grade language arts teacher at Valley Rivers Middle School in Fort Kent

Sara Brokofsky, 5th grade teacher at Westbrook Middle School in Westbrook

Cory Chase,  a language arts teacher from the Boothbay Region Elementary School

Dan Crocker, math teacher from Hall-Dale Middle School in Farmingdale

Dyan McCarthy-Clark, a social studies teacher from SeDoMoCha in Dover-Foxcroft

Jenn Dorman, a language arts teacher from Skowhegan Region Middle School

Ann Luginbuhl, a 6-8 teacher at Charlotte Elementary School

Auburn Principal Search

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Mike Muir writes to tell us that Auburn is in the midst of a principal search for their middle school:

“Frankly, we’d love to find another team member, who is enthusiastic about driving and leading meaningful school change through shared leadership, might have some experience in one or more of our three innovation areas and could come up to speed on the others quickly (they aren’t trivial initiatives!), and is just plain fun to work with!

Did I mention that you’d get to work with an innovative district, making exciting progress on implementing innovative programs to help all children learn at their peak, a district that actively supports and empowers its educators in their professional learning, leadership, and educational entrepreneurship?”

Read the entire post:

The job is posted online at School Spring.

Woolwich 7th Graders Take On the Invasive European Green Crab

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This post is from Denise Friant, seventh and eighth grade science teacher at Woolwich Central School

We look at this as an authentic community effort to help educate our students about the effects of invasive European Green Crabs on our local soft shell clam population. Denise Friant, Woolwich Central School’s seventh grade science teacher.”


Saving the clam flats on Montsweag Bay

Saving the clam flats on Montsweag Bay


The entire 7th Grade at Woolwich Central School conducted a population study on soft-shell clams on May 23rd in the clam flats of Montsweag Bay, Woolwich.  This was in collaboration with Marine Biologist, Dr. Brian Beal, University of Maine at Machias, The Woolwich Shellfish CommitteeTim La Rochelle and Dan Harrington and the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, Ruth Indrick and Becky Kolak.  We look at this as an authentic community effort to help educate our students about the effects of invasive European Green Crabs on our local soft shell clam population.

The population study methods are developed by Dr. Beal who has worked with many schools throughout Maine to engage students in understanding about the soft-shelled clam. We will  plant clam seed in plant pots, cover them with screening of two types to protect them from predators and compare clam seed mortality to plant pots without screening.  
Seeding clams

Seeding clams

This study will give us more information about the decimating populations of clams and the effect the European Green Crab is having on them.  Thank you to Dr. Beal and members of the Downeast Institute for Applied Research and Education for assisting our students with the scientific methods and education in the mud flats.
image of Euopean Green Crab

Invasive European Green Crab

 Many thanks to Ruth Indrick  of the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, who helped facilitate a grant to furnish our students with 25 pairs of clam boots for the project.  Ruth and Becky Kolak spent time previously with our students, dissecting clams and teaching about water quality. Ruth was a great asset in the flats assisting and encouraging students through the muddy conditions.

Woolwich Central's seventh graders hard at work with Dr. Beal from the University of Maine-Machias

Woolwich Central’s seventh graders hard at work with Dr. Beal from the University of Maine-Machias

Another highlight of our day was the Maine Campus Compact who joined us in the field to observe our project.  They represent  higher education institutes throughout New England looking to incorporate similar models into their instruction.

In late October, Woolwich students will visit the site again and collect data from the study.  We will present a community showcase to inform the public of our findings.