The Game is Afoot at Mt. Ararat MS!

ConferenceCoolage2

 

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Sherlock Holmes uttered the famous line, “The game is afoot.” in The Adventure of the Abbey Grange. “Games” is a concept everyone understands, and Team Androscoggin students from Mt. Ararat Middle School used it as a way to demonstrate their learning this spring.

Here’s a report on their Celebration of Learning from Nicole Karod, science teacher on Team Androscoggin:

On June 3rd, Androscoggin Team Students and Parents held a celebration of learning.  Our students have been working hard writing and publishing companion books to go with the book “The Other Side of the Sky” as well as creating and engineering board games around the topic of disease and the human body.  The work that these students have put in and the outcome they’ve accomplished is amazing.  In the afternoon students shared with their parents their hard work through an I-Spy challenge and playing board games.

The books were a reflection of a large unit on informational writing.  Social Studies themes were incorporated through the study of the book and students’ final product included many inserts about Afghanistan and the theme of the book.

Each game that was created was based around a disease that the students chose.  The games had to incorporate not only information about the disease but also be structured to relate to the disease and how it affects the human body.

Below is just a sample of our games and books from the event.

Students Hard at Work!
Students Hard at Work!
The Plague
The Plague
Rabies!
Rabies!
A Race to the Doctors! A game about strep throat
A Race to the Doctors!
A game about strep throat
Heart Attack!
Heart Attack!

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Conference Sponsor
Conference Sponsor

Samantha Smith Challenge Celebration

The first Monday in June is designated Samantha Smith Day in Maine. This year the first annual Samantha Smith Challenge celebration was held in the Hall of Flags at the Maine State House on Samantha Smith Day. Over 500 students from across Maine accepted the challenge put forth by American Who Tell the Truth and the Maine Association for Middle Level Education to choose a problem in their community, state, country or the world that they would like to address and help solve.

King Middle School sets up their project.
King Middle School sets up their project.

The Hall of Flags began to pulse with energy as students poured into the room to set up their projects. Posterboards, trifolds, iPads, laptops, and oil paintings appeared and transformed the Hall into a showcase of student curiosity, hard work, research skills, and commitment to addressing troublesome issues. These students tackled a myriad of topics: underage drinking, animal abuse, poverty, homelessness, mental illness, cyberbullying, suicide, and harmful bacteria lurking right under our noses.

 

an image of student projects
Examples of projects
Students who accepted the Samantha Smith Challenge
Students who accepted the Samantha Smith Challenge

 

image of students talking to visiitors
Students explain what they learned and how they hope to address the issues.

A variety of distinguished visitors shared with students their stories related to becoming an active participant in addressing the problems of our communities–near and far.

image of Nancy Doda
MC Dr. Nancy Doda

Dr. Nancy Doda, 2014 MAMLE Annual Conference keynoter and Brazee Award honoree, guided the festivities and introduced the honored guests.

Jane Smith, the mother of Samantha, congratulated students and reflected upon her daughter’s legacy to the world.

image of jane Smith
Jane Smith, Samantha’s mother.

Former Maine legislator Elizabeth McTaggert introduced Senator Angus King who addressed the students via a video message.

Elizabeth McTaggert
Elizabeth McTaggert
image of Senator Angus King
Senator Angus King, Senator (I) from Maine

Maine’s First Lady Ann LePage chatted with students and helped put into context the world in which Samantha Smith lived–the Cold War era.

image of Ann Lepage and students
Ann Lepage chats with students from Lyman Moore Middle School.
image of Ann LePage
Ann LePage addresses the students who participated in the Samantha Smith Challenge.

Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap shared why his family moved to Maine during the Cold War and congratulated students for becoming involved with important issues in their community.

image of Maine's Secretary of State
Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap
image of the audience
The Hall of Flags was packed!

Florence Reed, the founder of Sustainable Harvest International, shared how she was on a similar journey to the students to address real issues that affect communities and possibly the world at large.

image of Florence Reed
Florence Reed

The morning ended with each school receiving from Robert Shetterly of Americans Who Tell the Truth a poster of his painting of Samantha Smith.

image of King Middle School Students
King Middle School, Portland
image of Leonard Middle School Students
Leonard Middle School, Old Town/RSU 34
images of Lyman Moore students
Lyman Moore Middle School, Portland
image of Messalonskee students
Messalonskee Middle School, Oakland/RSU 18
image of Mt. Ararat students
Mt. Ararat Middle School, Topsham/SAD 75
image of students from Whittier MS
Poland Community School

The teachers were also honored and received a thundering round of applause from their students.

images of teachers involved
The Teachers

 

Lessons learned by participating in this type of project—quotes from the students. 

“I always have room to grow. I had thought about poverty as something very other than myself, something that didn’t really affect me. Turns out it’s not, and the kind of thinking I used to have was actually part of the problem because it prevented us from finding solutions.”  Leonard Middle School student

Doing suicide has been a tough challenge.  It’s been devastating reading each story and finding a solution.  Through the past couple of weeks on working on this, it’s been rough.” Lyman Moore Middle School student

“It was fun because it wasn’t “school work”; we got to go out in the community and change an issue that is affecting our area.”   Messalonskee Middle School student

“I learned that I didn’t give up after we had our first setback and two more after that.” York Middle School student

“Working on this project has made us come back to reality and realize that this is a bigger problem than we thought. It’s hard to believe that we have found over 110 cases of cyberbullying that end in suicide.  We were shocked by the large amount of teens (especially females) that have admitted to cyberbullying and/or being cyberbullied.  Cyberbullying is a huge epidemic of the modern day world. It has to stop now before we lose all sense of morality.”

Poland Community School students

One Student Can Make a Difference!

Lindsay Mahoney from Messalonskee reports how one student took on the Samantha Smith Challenge:
“How can we work together with the Maine Government to reduce homelessness, hunger, and poverty in our state?” That was the essential question for our Samantha Smith challenge. Throughout the research process, we discussed existing programs in Maine such as food stamp assistance, WIC, and SNAP. The “SNAP-Ed” challenge not only fit perfectly with what we were doing, it gave learners another opportunity to take action and make a difference in our community through authentic voice and choice!
Molly
Molly is a young lady who is no stranger to volunteering and providing food to those less fortunate than herself. She also enjoys cooking and experimenting with vegetarian meals for her and her family.
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The SNAP-Ed challenge was open to anyone in the state of Maine, and I could not be more proud that a middle school student accepted and won this challenge! Read more about the challenge and her recipe.
Maine State House
Maine State House
Participants in the Samantha Smith Challenge will be honored June 1, 2015 in the Hall of Flags at the State House in Augusta. First Lady Ann LePage, Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, and Sustainable Harvest International founder Florence Reed will join in honoring the students. Over 600 middle grades students from across the state accepted the challenge. Kudos to all of them and their teachers!
Conference Sponsor
Conference Sponsor

Annual Conference: Powerful Learning for Young Adolescents

 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: https://mainemamle.org/conference/registration/

Full program: https://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

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/

As the Year Winds Down…

The end of May and the entire month of June are tough…

  • Teachers are stressed when they compare their curriculum guides to the remaining days left on the school calendar.
  • Principals are trying to figure out how to complete the necessary observations and write up the resulting evals.
  • The students see, feel, and taste the warm weather and want to do anything but school work.
  • Parents juggle one end of the year event after another with work and family obligations.

It can be crazy out there.

Sometimes we all just need to slow down and take a deep breath. Take some think time.

Tom Burton, director of administrative services for Cuyahoga Heights Schools in Ohio, writes a regular column for the AMLE Magazine.  His May article entitled “Polishing Our Sea Glass” reminds us that “reflecting on the year’s successes and failures is not only a good practice, but a necessity if we are to be the best middle level educators we can be.”

Image of a jar full of sea glass
Maine Sea Glass

He also make the point that that “…middle level students are like pieces of sea glass. Sometimes students feel discarded, tossed around during the day with hectic schedules, slammed against the floors, and wondering when they will finally wash ashore.”

Building on the metaphor, Tom continues…”Great teachers and leaders who support true middle level education understand that even the most hardened glass can be polished into a beautiful piece of sea glass.”

So as the year winds down, may we all pause and reflect on shining moments, the humdrum, and the frustrations of the year and begin the cycle of renewal–thinking about next year and how we will continue to serve our students to the best of our abilities.

Educators never stand still; we are always moving forward to the next week, the next semester and the next year. Keep Tom’s closing words in mind, “And moving forward, take the time to recognize the beauty in all your middle level students and to create programs that will allow them to shine like polished pieces of sea glass.”

 

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