Happy August! Think October!

IMG_0883We MAMLEs hope you are enjoying this lovely summer we’re having.  The many, many bright sunny days have allowed us to bask in the warmth of  the sun this year. However we know the mornings will soon grow a little chillier, and that’s the signal to switch our brains from play mode to planning our best school year ever.

Add zing to your year by attending the MAMLE Annual Conference on October 20-21st at Point Lookout in Northport. You will…

  • Explore major issues facing every middle grades school.
  • Network with colleagues from across the state to exchange ideas.
  • Experience interactive sessions that provide specific strategies for making learning authentic.
  • Hear two inspirational keynote speakers who, just like us, are in the classroom everyday.

Below is a preview of  Success at the Summit: Moving Middle Level Learners Forward! Register now!

JennThursday keynote: Jennifer Dorman, Maine’s 2015 Teacher of the Year and special education teacher at Skowhegan Region Middle School: “Teacher Leadership: Moving from Good to Influential”



Penny KittleFriday keynote: Penny Kittle, Author of Book Love: Developing Depth, Stamina, and Passion in Adolescent Readers and teacher at Kennett High School in North Conway, New Hampshire: “You Can’t Hurry Love”


Here’s just  a taste of some of the sessions you will have to choose from including sessions on middle level basics, digital learning, literacy, problem solving, STEAM and much more!

  • So You Think You Know Middle Level?
  • Creating Engaged and Courageous Citizens: The Samantha Smith Challenge
  • SPARK Year Two – An Advisory Program with Career Prep Focus
  • Classroom Management Strategies that WORK
  • Classcraft: Turn Your Class into an Epic Adventure
  • Using a Data Protocol to Make Informed Goals/Decisions
  • Book Clubs: Connecting Kids to Books and Each Other
  • Increasing Student Engagement with Text through Close Reading and Text-Dependent Questions
  • Designing Innovative Professional Development
  • What is the Cloud, and How Do I Ride?
  • Designing Innovative Professional Development
  • Engage Students and Enhance Problem-Based Learning with Free Microsoft Tools
  • Using Productive Talk to Build a Culture of Public Reasoning
  • Using STEAM and Proficiency-Based Learning to Engage MS Students in Inquiry-Driven Projects
  • Innovations in Personalized Learning: Fully Knowing, Connecting, and Engaging Young Adolescents
  • Getting Started with ArcGIS Online

Click here to register!




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Book Love: Developing Depth, Stamina, and Passion in Adolescent Readers by Penny Kittle

This review was originally published on July 18, 2016 at A Virtual Summer Book Club and is cross-posted here. Penny Kittle will be one of the keynote speakers at the MAMLE Conference, October 20 and 21.

We’ve all seen it. We give students a reading assignment and they pretend to read it. They get by in class because we feed them what we want them to know, and they give it back on the test (often with a little help from SparkNotes). If you ask, many middle and high school students will admit that they haven’t read a book from cover to cover since elementary school (and some not even then).

Book with pages forming a heart

flickr photo by Pradyumna Prabhu shared under a Creative Commons (BY-ND) license

This is the issue Penny Kittle openly and honestly addresses in Book Love: Developing Depth, Stamina, and Passion in Adolescent ReadersMost students are not reading much and therefore are not building the stamina they need to keep up with the reading that college courses require, around 200-600 pages a week according to Kittle. This may in part account for the low percentage of college students who actually graduate, but success in college is only one of the consequences of increasing reading volume. People who read often and a lot are lifelong learners who make wiser decisions and are more likely to pass the reading habit and love of books on to their children.

A large portion of this book is devoted to the idea that students will read more when they are given choice and allowed to find and read the books that interest them. They also need time to read in class and guidance (mostly through conferencing) in setting goals, choosing books, overcoming challenges, and responding to what they’re reading through writing. Kittle provides advice gleaned from years of experience as an English teacher whose classes are workshops where students read independently, reflect on their growth as readers, and share their love of books with each other. While she understands the curricular and assessment requirements imposed on ELA teachers, she advocates for a balance of individual choice and required  whole-class text study, but suggests a greater percentage of time for the former.

In the last chapter of the book, Kittle addresses the challenge of creating a school-wide reading culture, a community of readers. In my mind, this is the greater challenge, but one that must be met if our goal is to inspire lifelong readers. We’ve all seen attempts at school-wide sustained silent reading time, and most of them fail, generally through a lack of commitment and shared intent. Kittle describes her success in creating a school-wide reading break, as well as other ideas for creating a reading community.

A few years ago, Kittle created a video where she asked students about their reading habits and whether they read assigned books. I’ve asked this question in my school with similar results.

Our students’ lack of reading stamina is something most of us will acknowledge, but how do we turn it around? Is allowing more choice the answer? Is this something we can do while focusing on standards-based instruction and proficiency-based assessment? How important is it that all students read the classics? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

Heinemann logo image

Conference Sponsor

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Calling all Presenters!

Have you applied to present at this year’s annual conference? This year’s theme is “Success at the Summit: Moving Learners Forward”.  Share with other middle level educators how you engage, excite, and meet the needs of each and every learner in your classroom!

Intent to Present Form

Why present?

  • Presenting makes you reflect on your teaching
  • It validates your work
  • Professional Development
  • You receive feedback to help you grow
  • Looks good on your resume
  • It’s fun!


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PCSS in Guilford Hosts a Special Student Led Conference Evening

Pirate Led Conferences

The entire school of PCSS, Home of the Pirates,  had an evening of celebration as a school community. Our “pirates” led their parents or a friend through their portfolio of learning for the year. After this student led conference, parents and advisors assisted their children in signing up for classes the following year. A pirate feast of Spaghetti and all the fixins’ was shared with all,Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 8.17.26 PM followed by a battle of the Pirate Ships in our Battle Balls. To cap off the night, the school board all got in the Battle Balls and solved some of the more important issues….like who has the best stamina!
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Plan Your Fall Schedule Now! MAMLE Annual Conference


Comments from 2015 conference!

Fabulous – I haven’t been in years and loved it.

Best ever!

This could be 3 or 4 days.

I REALLY got energized around MCL!

More Details


Register Now

Registration 2016

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Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead

Here is a fabulous opportunity this summer! 

Gather a team to explore ways to integrate your curriculum via a S.T.E.A.M. approach.

This Institute incorporates S.T.E.A.M., proficiency-based learning, and creative technology integration.

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 12.12.39 PM


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Looking for a new challenge?


Just saw this post on the ACTEM Listserve!  Wanted to share with our membership in case anyone is interested.

Reposted from ACTEM Listserve 2/19/16–posted to ACTEM by Mike Muir, Policy Director—Learning Through Technology Team

Mike MuirThe Learning Through Technology Team and MLTI are looking for a high energy, entrepreneurial-thinking, collaborative educator who would like to work with us.

Are you making great things happen in your classroom or school? Consider joining us and make great things happen statewide!

We currently have one opening for a Regional Education Representative: Digital Learning Specialist (and anticipate 2 more in the coming months).

The Digital Learning Specialists will work closely as a team with Sherry Wyman, our Coordinator for Education Technology, and me, to design and implement our efforts to support schools leveraging technology for learning, including strategic efforts (think MLTI, the Move the Needle Summit, iLearnMaine Educator Micro-credentials, etc.) and existing programs, including LTTT Professional Learning, School Libraries, District Technology Plans, AP4ALL, the STEM OER Project, MSLN, and others.

Ok. Ok. The vacation time stinks and the pay is just “ok”! (At least, experienced educators would likely come in closer to the top of the salary range…)


FreeportMS*   If you know you want to be part of where we’re going, and you want to have a role in making it happen, then apply.
*   If you are someone who smiles and nods when you hear, “If it were easy, it wouldn’t be any fun at all!” then apply.
*   If you want to support teachers and help make them feel capable of making terrific learning experiences happen for every student, in every classroom, then apply.
*   If you want to be the tech geek who helps makes great learning happen with each school’s devices, then apply.
*   If you want to be the pedagogy and instruction specialist that helps schools get the most from their devices, then apply.

Applications accepted until March 18.

More information and how to apply can be found here: http://www.maine.gov/fps/opportunities/ (scroll down and click on “Regional Education Representative – Digital Learning Specialist”)

Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions.


(Mike Muir)

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