MAMLE Exemplary Practice Award

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.

 

Conference Sponsor
Conference Sponsor

Samantha Smith Challenge

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

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.

Woolwich 7th Graders Take On the Invasive European Green Crab

 

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.”

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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.
 

Poetry Cafe-Durham Community School

Autumn Hunter, Windy City Blues, & Eric the Great and other poems captivated the audience at the 6th Grade Poetry Cafe last week at the Durham Community School. Sixth grade teachers Devon Koenig and Jacky Arellano and their students shared original and favorite poems with friends and family.

Students invited friends and family to the 6th Grade Poetry Cafe!
Students invited friends and family to the 6th Grade Poetry Cafe!

Keonig and Arellano are a two person sixth grade team. Jacky Arellano who teaches the math and science enthusiastically joined forces with LA/SS teacher Devon Keonig to stage the Cafe.  In fact, the Cafe was her suggestion when the two were exploring different ways to end the poetry unit. Tablecloths and votive candles helped transfer the cafeteria into a cafe for the event.

Becca reads her onomatopoeia poem "Autumn Hunter"
Becca reads her onomatopoeia poem “Autumn Hunter”

 

 

 

Devon reports,   “We wanted give the students an opportunity or not only celebration of the incredible writing they accomplished, but also to give them an authentic audience with whom to share their hearts.”

 

 

 

 

 

 Students and friends gather around tables to listen to the shared poems.

tablegroupgirls copy

boystable1 copy

Many students shared their original writings, others read favorite poems from the famous,

and some…

Devon and Eric read a poem written by his grandmother for his birthday, "Eric the Great"
Devon and Eric read a poem written by his grandmother for his birthday, “Eric the Great”

recited meaningful verses written by a family member.  The teachers also shared their writing.

Jacky Arellano shares her original poem "Windy City Blues"
Jacky Arellano shares her original poem “Windy City Blues”
Caleb  reading his poem "Where I'm From" inspired by George Ella Lyons' "Where I'm From" poem
Caleb reading his poem “Where I’m From” inspired by George Ella Lyons’ “Where I’m From” poem

Zero Waste Challenge at Gorham MS

 

Visiting Ecomaine
Visiting Ecomaine

Sarah Rubin and Sherry Coyne and their students from the seventh grade Little River Team at Gorham Middle School participated in the Chewonki Foundation’s Zero Waste Challenge.  According to the Chewonki website, middle school classrooms (grades 6,7,8) are invited and encouraged to take the challenge to help their schools save money and resources by evaluating their waste stream and creating a plan to reduce waste. 

 

 

 

Gorham2Sarah reports that the team visited Ecomaine earlier in the year.  Ecomaine is the waste to energy plant and single stream recycling facility where all of their waste goes.  Sarah reports, “Our kids got to see first hand where their trash and recycling goes from their homes and our school.”

“Our project has focused on analyzing our school’s waste, improving the recycling program, introducing composting, and trying to ‘buy smart’ which means buying reuseable and sustainably made products rather than disposable or unsustainable products.”
 

 

 

GorhamThe team did well this year!  They have not decided what they will do with the prize money yet, but the team is looking to improve composting at their school and to improve sustainability education for the other students.

 

Space Day at Auburn Middle School

Students filing into gym for the assembly
Space Day is about to begin!

The energy in the gym was palpable.  Auburn Middle School students were so excited to meet and hear Maine’s own astronaut, Chris Cassidy!  Space Day was off to a grand start.  The anticipation had been building over the past few weeks.  Students had gone online and identified 5 mini sessions  they would like to attend from 19 possibilities. Each student would be able to go to 3 of their picks.

 

 

 

Chris Cassidy, graduate of York High School. the US Naval Academy and MIT, spent 6 months aboard the International Space Station.
Chris Cassidy, graduate of York High School. the US Naval Academy and MIT, spent 6 months aboard the International Space Station.

The choices of mini-sessions included:

  • EarthKAM presented by students from Brunswick Junior High School
  • What’s Out There? Exploring the outer solar system
  • Mars as described by Ron Dyer from the Mars Desert Research Station
  • Living and Working in Space–No Shower, No Shoes, No Problem
  • Engineering–Your Ticket to Space and Beyond allowed students to simulate the work of an engineer
  • Robots Are Everywhere–even here in Maine!
  • Come Fly Away with paper airplanes to explore the forces that make flight possible
  • If You Build It demonstrates what civil engineering is all about
Principal Jim Hand
Why did the sun come to Auburn Middle School? To get brighter, of course!

The assembly opened with Principal Jim Hand welcoming students and guests. Representatives from Senators Susan Collins & Angus King, Representative Mike Michaud, and the Maine Department of Education followed with greetings and wishes for an extraordinary day.

Of course, Astronaut Chris Cassidy was the main attraction of the whole school assembly.  A former Navy Seal who served in Afghanistan and the Mediterranean, Chris was selected by NASA in 2004 for astronaut training.  While on the International Space Station, he completed 6 spacewalks.

From the video depicting life on the Space Station
From the video depicting life on the Space Station

During his talk he shared with students a video which vividly showed what life is like in space.  Afterwards he invited students to ask questions.  Hands shot up immediately.  One perceptive question related to how the astronauts handled altercations in space.  Chris replied that the training and work required collaboration at the highest level and that personal disagreements really were not an issue.

After the assembly students and teachers went off to their various mini-sessions.

 

 

SpaceDayMarshmallowengineering SpaceDayMarshmallow2

 

 

At the Engineering–Your Ticket to Space and Beyond session presented by Shelia Pendse from the University of Maine’s School of Engineering, students learned about creating prototypes and testing them by trying to build the tallest free-standing marshmallow tower.

SpaceDay Civil Air Patrol

 

 

Students watch the flight of a paper airplane as Art  Philbrick from the Civil Air Patrol explains how a fold here and a tuck there will make it fly straighter and longer.

 

SpaceDayBuilding2

SpaceDaybuilding3

SpaceDay-building in spaceLauren Swett from Woodard & Curran helped students understand what it must be like to construct an object in space as they wrestled balloons into large three dimensional structures.

Students presenting to other students is always a powerful experience.  Here students from Brunswick SpaceDay-Bunswick kidsJunior High school explain the EarthKam program and their participation in it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sailors from the USS Zumwalt  came up from Bath Iron Works to lead students in hands-on activities:   launching your own rocket, making UV bracelets, and examining space rocks.

SpaceDay Navy

Sharon Eggleston is the Northeast Regional Coordinator  for Space Day.  She shared that 7000 students across Maine participated in some sort of Space Day activity this year.  If you are interested in learning more about Space Day and how your school might participate you can contact her at bseggs@gwi.net.

SpaceDayCarl2At the end of the day, Carl Bucciantini, Auburn Middle School coordinator for Space Day rolls his cart of supplies back to his office knowing the staff and students alike enjoyed a day of learning and exploration!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hospitality Team & Guides for honored guests
Hospitality Team & Guides for honored guests
Space Goodies--Who knew you could have an ice cream sandwich in space?
Space Goodies–Who knew you could have an ice cream sandwich in space?
Sue Myers, Space Camp graduate and AMS science teacher.
Sue Myers, Space Camp graduate and AMS science teacher.