Saturday, February 2, 2008

What Is Your Dream for Public Education?

Ernie Easter left a link at the Seedlings Ning to Deborah White's column in the Bangor Daily News title "Same Product, But Less Packaging."

Ernie's Question:
What will the future of education bring under Maine's School Rationalization Law?
Deborah's Questions:
. . . what would a new model of public education look like? We all have ideas. What are your ideas for a new model of public education?

New Special Education Forms - Feeling a bit Frustrated

by Harold Shaw, Jr.

I just got caught up on my Special Education Paperwork this week - what a great feeling. The Special Education Director had nice things to say about the IEP, that I submitted, but I feel we are still running a bit blind when preparing the new State DOE Special Education forms.

Maine DOE has mandated the use of certain forms, formats and language to be used on the forms. But it seems as though what is expected is still actually a bit of a moving target? They have provided sample IEPs, but these seem very basic to me?? and don't seem to give enough information regarding the criteria to create a quality IEP that is actually useable by others. Maybe I am just a bit anal about this, but...I am the one held accountable if they are not done correctly (legally and professionally).

My Special Education Director is an outstanding administrator and yet sometimes she too, has many questions. But I guess that I have to be patient (not something I am good at) the first year of any new system there are bound to be modifications and changes as people actually use and discuss the issues with those forms. But it still is frustrating to try to create a quality product (IEP) that actually is useful to the classroom teacher (for those that will read them) without trying to play "pin the tale on the donkey". I just hope DOE is understanding when they come in for a Special Education Records site review regarding these first year IEPs or what happens if the IEP becomes one of those being reviewed at hearing.

Has anyone else had similar questions or concerns about the new Special Education Forms and Formats. I guess I am just feeling a little cynical and frustrated today.

Thanks Harold

Information Literacy: Guiding Student Research

"Education should begin in research and end in research….An education which does not begin by evoking initiative and end by encouraging it must be wrong. For its whole aim is the production of active wisdom."

~ Alfred North Whitehead

Barbara Greenstone presented at FETC 2008 last week. She has kindly shared with the rest of us here in Maine the materials of that session on the research process . . . in multiple formats at MLTI Maine Learns.

Related Resources:


Essential Questions
Bloom's Taxonomy
MLR Guiding Principles

DropBox to upload and download files on this topic. Password: learning

Friday, February 1, 2008

"Teacher Workload" at Wicked Decent Learning

Propaganda Study in Maine

"The first information survival skill we will all need is the ability to decode propaganda and demythologize the highly commercialized and entertainment-based U.S. culture. Psychologists politely call it 'resistance to enculturation.' Writer Ernest Hemingway had a less elegant term: 'crap detecting.'"
~ Karl Albrecht

Helping students to evaluate information should be high on the list of what schools need to impart. Sarah Sutter of Wiscasset High School has designed a resource and process-rich Propaganda Webquest to help address this need as part of her Media Literacy course.

Related Resources
Logical Fallacies

Free Reading

Just came across an incredible online resource for teachers of early readers.

It is an open source wiki that is developing a wealth of information and resources on methods for teaching reading. You really owe it to yourself to see it. You may also sign up to be an editor . . . to help develop it.

Literacy for the 21st Century in Canada

Want some great resources for teaching media literacy? Check out the Center for Media Literacy.

The CML MediaLit Kit has a wealth of suggestions.

Regional Forums: Commissioner Gendron's Introduction

Video: Commissioner Gendron's Introduction for the Regional Forums

Note that it was produced by Nokomis Warrior Broadcasting and located on Google Pages.

Find it here as well.

Informational Letter #74
Twenty-first Century Skills Website

Maine Local History Handbook

Interested in doing local/oral history with your students? Need a model to get you started? Check out Laura Richter's notebook for rich suggestions, templates and examples. This is a gem created in the MLTI Noteshare application and saved as web files. Laura is an expert in working with children in investigating local history as demonstrated at Our Town Skowhegan Maine.

Related Resources:

Oral History
Video Interviewing
iMovie Workshop
Maine Studies

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Feeling Good!

What a great day this has been! First Ed Latham, Olga LaPlante, Ron Smith and Martha Thibodeau quickly came to the rescue to cover for my procrastination in completing some pre-training requirements that I need to do in preparation for training sessions next week at Augusta. Just ask . . . and these Maine eMINTS Mentors, including Becky Ranks and Anne Ireland, are there for support when you find yourself in a quandary. I've been blessed to be part of this statewide PLC.

Add to that the delightful educators of my eMINTS One group at Telstar, who in my absence at our scheduled Monday session, will be taking over all my responsibilities . . . without complaint. They will be reporting back to this blog about their discoveries come Monday evening. Again, a great example of the best in PLCs. I am very fortunate.

LD 2174

LD 2174 An Act Regarding Curriculum Requirements and Standards for Awarding a High School Diploma


Does this bill encourage or hinder innovation and out-of-the-box thinking for schools?

Will this bill make it easier or more difficult to lower administrative cost?

Regional Forums - Information Letter #74

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Bat, the Birds, and the Beasts

A great conflict was about to come off between the Birds and the Beasts. When the two armies were collected together the Bat hesitated which to join. The Birds that passed his perch said: "Come with us"; but he said: "I am a Beast." Later on, some Beasts who were passing underneath him looked up and said: "Come with us"; but he said: "I am a Bird." Luckily at the last moment peace was made, and no battle took place, so the Bat came to the Birds and wished to join in the rejoicings, but they all turned against him and he had to fly away. He then went to the Beasts, but soon had to beat a retreat, or else they would have torn him to pieces. "Ah," said the Bat, "I see now."

"He that is neither one thing nor the other has no friends."

One of my side jobs is to work with adult education teachers through the MARTI grant in investigating ways of making use of computer technology in their work with adult learners. Little did I know how much I would be learning by working in this area that focuses on life-long learning. It certainly has been an eye-opening experience.

This evening I spent several hours at the "Little Yellow Schoolhouse" with Ramsey Ludlow and her students. The topic was one of my favorites: Aesop's Fables. Such simple yet powerful stories always seem to strike a chord with students, no matter what the age. The above quoted story led to heart-felt personal stories from the students about the reasons they dropped out of high school. Ultimately it was because they felt like the bat.

Sometimes I wonder why we put so much attention on standards and testing in order to encourage student growth when the real issues are much more personal and connected with our culture.

Fables are a great take-off point for critical thinking for all ages . . . and are readily available on the web.

One of my all-time favorite teaching tools in my years as an elementary teacher was Albert Cullum's Aesop in the Afternoon, which is as timely now as when it was first published. Highly recommended. The other "modern" fable that generates great interest for all ages in George Orwell's Animal Farm, which never failed to get my fifth graders thinking.

Know any bats?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Curiosity . . . Learning: A Risky Business

From Jeff Bailey's Maine Ideas in Education:

"I was in a great discussion the other day with a colleague about the idea of curiosity. We were doing our usual toiling with the question of why students aren't motivated to learn; they don't seem to pick up skills from the classroom or the world around them. We came to the point wishing we could have students who were more curious. We, both of us being high school teachers, wondered what happens to students between that time in elementary school where curiosity is abound, and the time they enroll in our classes." Continued . . .

Microorganisms & Noteshare

Amanda Leavitt of Gray New Gloucester Middle School shares her experiences using Noteshare in the study of microorganisms in her class. She starts . . . .

"I had a brainstorm! An epic moment, an epiphany, if you will. I was going to create a Note Share lab report notebook. In this notebook, kids would follow the basic format of the lab report, until the results section. There, they would narrate movies I had created using the digital microscope. Students would use the movies to describe what they saw, what they knew about microorganisms, and so on. It seemed like pure genius." Continued . . .

Understanding the Big Ideas

Conference at Samoset on April 14-15, 2008: Unifying Themes in the New Maine Learning Results - Understanding the Big Ideas! A few spots left. Register.

Noteshare . . . Handing-In Assignment

Ann Bell of Oxford Hills Middle School came back enthusiastic about using Noteshare after attending a workshop in Auburn with Barbara Greenstone. She has successfully created and shared over the local network her notebook on matter. Anne sees great possibilities with this tool in her daily classroom work. But she had a question that has me stumped:

Is there a drop-box function in the Noteshare book that allows only the teacher to see the completed assignment that has been completed and dragged (using folio) or copy/pasted by the student? She would prefer not to use the email route because of the distraction it might cause. Of course, the old "sneaker net" using a thumb drive could be a solution . . . but is there a simpler way? I vaguely remember hearing that there was a way during trainings, but after going through the help menus, couldn't seem to find the answer. Barbara? :) Anyone?

Middle School Noteshare Workshop Dates
Earlier Posts Relating to Noteshare
Noteshare Links at Learning in Maine Resources Wiki