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.




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.

The Halifax Explosion-A Webquest

This post is from Carol Duffy who teaches in Lamoine

Richmond neighbor in Halifax after the explosion: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Halifax_Explosion_-_harbour_view_-_restored.jpg
Richmond neighborhood in Halifax after the explosion: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Halifax_Explosion_-_harbour_view_-_restored.jpg

On December 6, 1917, Halifax, Nova Scotia experienced the largest man-made explosion the world had ever seen when the Mont Blanc, filled with explosives, collided with another ship.  “The Halifax Explosion” webquest (http://connect.umpi.maine.edu/~terry.chalou/Webquests/10-11/The%20Halifax%20Explsoion/t-index.htm )provides links to the CBC site ( http://www.cbc.ca/halifaxexplosion/ ) containing many primary resources.  Students can read about a fireman who was blown from his vehicle, caught in a tidal wave, and survived both to live another 54 years.  In addition to the CBC resources, YouTube has several good videos about this event.  My favorite is an interview with Peggy Gregoire who was a young student at the time.

After exploring these resources, the webquest task is to assume the persona of a person affected by the explosion and to write a letter about the day.   To help students use the correct tone for their letters, there’s a link to war letters written in 1917.  If your students want to make their letters look old, there are links to sites with directions for aging paper.

I used this webquest with a mixed grade level grouping of middle level students.  Many of them told me that this was one of their favorite writing activities for the year because of the interesting resources.

CyberDay at Auburn Middle School

Student works on iPad keyboard
iPad Keyboard

High school students, central office administrators, community members, and teachers led workshops for Auburn Middle School students on CyberDay. Each student was able to choose 3 workshops to attend.

Like many middle schools in Maine, students and staff switched from laptops to iPads this year.  CyberDay was a time to share what had been learned and explore new possibilities.

Some students opted to learn how to make commercials in a session entitled “Welcome to Hollywood” led by Jake Bazinet, a high school junior.  The best student commercials were showcased on the Lewiston-Auburn local access channel.



Everyone got involved!

Music and movie making sessions were popular:

Makiing Movies
Making Movies
Making Music
Making Music


Sharing and collaboration characterized the event.

Collaboration CyberDay


Classmates collaborate and share ideas and products.
Classmates collaborate and share ideas and products.

The Day was featured in the Lewiston Sun Journal.

At the end of the day, it was obvious that CyberDay was a grand success!

BigShare CyberDay

Share with MAMLE members what’s happening in your school.  Write a comment below and we’ll be in touch!

Madison Junior High’s Community Blood Drive

This post was written by Kathy Bertini, an eighth grade teacher at Madison Junior High School

The annual Madison Blood Drive takes place each February at the junior high to replenish critically low blood supplies for the American Red Cross during the winter months. This particular interdisciplinary unit was created after a colleague attended the annual MAMLE conference and participated in a session put on by the Frank Harrison Middle School of Yarmouth that blended academics with community service.

The sixth grade was assigned the tasks of letter writing to encourage people to donate blood as well as learning what constitutes the parts of blood. The eighth grade completed detailed presentations about the cardiovascular system, showcased activities that keep your heart healthy and made 3-D versions of human blood based on a liquid’s density. In Art classes students created clay models of the human heart that were then painted and labeled with correct names.

Image of the Tree of Donors
Tree of Donors

This year a new idea was added to the blood drive called the Tree of Donors. The Tree of Donors idea began with a visual of a caricature of a tree without any leaves. Then the sixth grade students cut out blood drops to represent leaves for the tree. After donors gave blood at the drive, their names were placed on each leaf and hung on the tree. The tree symbolized the importance of each blood donor as they became part of the donor tree. Sixth and eighth grade students were vital in assembling the initial tree and adding names to leaves as volunteers gave blood that day.

On the day of the blood drive, students were responsible for greeting people at the door, registering blood donors, escorting those who have given blood to the snack table, running the snack station, as well as the final break down and clean up. The Madison Junior High Blood Drive was showcased this year on WLBZ Schools That Shine segment for the academic connection to community service. This learning experience was made possible because of the MAMLE experience and resources available.