MAMLE Exemplary Practice Award

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Honor colleagues by nominating them to receive MAMLE’s Exemplary Practice Award. Presented at our annual conference in October, this award recognizes middle level educators in Maine who have designed and implemented powerful programs that engage and challenge their students.  Recent honorees include:

  • A team of educators, community members, and university faculty led by Denise Friant from Woolwich Central School who tackled the invasive European green crab problem threatening the livelihood of local clammers.
Working to save clams from European green crab--Woolwich Central School

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

  • Central Middle School’s PBIS Intervention Team that developed an approach that overwhelmingly improved the climate and culture in their school.

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  • Carl Bucciantini’s program at Auburn Middle School that teaches students the power and responsible use of social media by exploring Twitter.
Carl Bucciantini--Exemplary Practice Award Winner-We're  All A'Twitter at Auburn MS

Carl Bucciantini–Exemplary Practice Award Winner-We’re
All A’Twitter at Auburn MS

The deadline for nominations is June 1, 2015 so there is still plenty of time to fill out the nomination form.  You can download it here: exemppractice1.

Who in your school is touching students lives in unique and powerful ways?  Honor them by nominating their program or practice for an Exemplary Practice Award.


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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!




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:

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.