Sunday, February 28, 2010

Innovative Schools vs. Charter Schools

This bill enables school administrative units to establish innovative schools that meet the requirements of the federal Race to the Top Assessment Program application. The bill also requires that all applicable state statutory and regulatory requirements be met by school administrative units that establish innovative schools.

Public hearings and work sessions for LD 1801, 124th Legislature.
Education and Cultural Affairs
Public Hearings
SP 706, LD 1801An Act To Promote the Establishment of Innovative Schools

Mar 4, 2010, 0100PM Room 202 Cross Building
Full Bill Text

Clip Art Credit

Tying Standardized Test Scores to Teacher Evaluation

In order to qualify for the RttT federal funds (4.35 billion dollars), Maine, like every other State, is quickly passing legislation to make us eligible. One of the bills concerns educator job evaluation.

What do you think? Is this selling our souls for money or a reasonable response to hard times?

See cartoon here. . .

Education and Cultural Affairs
Public Hearings

An Act To Encourage the Use of Models in the Collection and Use of Student Achievement Data

SP 704, LD 1799
Mar 4, 2010, 0100PMRoom 202 Cross Building


This bill eliminates the prohibition on the use of student assessment data in the establishment of models for evaluation of the professional performance of teachers. It also extends the models for evaluation developed by the Department of Education to principals and requires that the models include multiple within the State shall have has the option to incorporate the models developed pursuant to subsection 1 for the evaluation of the professional performance of any teacher or principal employed by that school administrative unit.

Download Complete Bill: Download RTF, PDF

Teacher Evaluation at LIM Resources

Clip Art Credit

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Girls or Boys: Who is worse off?

by Bob Keteyian
Elias & Keteyian, Counselors to Families and Businesses, Ellsworth, Maine

Like many, I’m drawn to reading research and opinions about the state of boys and girls in today’s world and which sex is struggling more. It’s a question I’m not going to answer both because I don’t think it’s a particularly helpful question and because I don’t think it can be answered.

To see the differences clearly, we could make a chart showing the good and bad elements for both girls and boys. For example: More boys have ADHD, more girls have low self-esteem. Boys have higher SAT scores in math, girls have better verbal communication skills. Let’s not take our foot off the feminist accelerator or girls will get marginalized. Let’s not forget the high school drop out rate for boys. . . . To do this thoroughly, we’d need to weight the elements to find out which sex has it worse, but doing that, I’m sure, would devolve into some kind of political warfare. How could it not?

Answering the question doesn’t help us focus on the real issue: What is it that all kids need to thrive in today’s world? Is it really so different, what boys and girls need? I don’t think it is. Should we pay more attention to our girls’ evolving self-esteem than our boys’? Should we work harder to keep boys in school than girls? Of course not. What we do need to do is pay careful attention to the individual needs of each child.

I recognize that there are differences between males and females, but we are more similar than we are different. I’ve seen numerous charts that list the characteristics of men and women that focus on opposite needs. For example, in the male column it might say “autonomy,” and in the female side “connection.” But don’t we all need connection and autonomy? The only difference is the amount and the type—and those are individual differences, not gender ones. Putting all men and all women in classes by themselves discounts the commonalities and sets up an us/them mentality, . . and don’t get me started there.

Girls and boys: they need the same basic things when it comes to their home and school lives. The kind of care and education they need is not the rocket science part of it. The really hard part has to do with the negative forces in society that interfere with meeting those needs.

We know a lot about child development, good parenting and good teaching, but we haven’t found a way to systematically implement these best practices. Politically and economically we have not found the will to do what’s right. If improving the lives of our children was important enough in our society, we would not be competing for resources on behalf of boys or girls. There would be no need because we would indentify the individual needs of kids and help them in whatever way is necessary—male or female.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Internet Safety with PLC North

When: Tuesday, February 23, 3:00
Where: Dirigo High School

Sunday, February 21, 2010

George Orwell, Big Brother & Digital Cameras

Some schools have disabled student laptop cameras in the interest of security and safety. While I understand some of the fears, I think that it is unfortunate.

I worry much more about government and corporate surveillance and the manipulation of citizens through propaganda and advertising. While I'm not blind to the needs for privacy and safety, removing a tool that uses an increasingly dominant mode of communication does not help, in the long run, to educate our children in the appropriate and ethical use of that medium.

Any tool can be used for good or evil. While we spend an inordinate amount of time focusing on text, much of the communication sent our way now is multimedia. It is our responsibility to help kids learn to discern the messages that they are consuming, and to do that, they need to create and think critically about these forms.

Cameras are everywhere now. Places such as YouTube are thriving. Don't schools have an obligation to help model effective and critical uses of video? I fail to see how denying access to cameras in schools will help to create better citizens in the 21st Century.

When I taught 5th grade, if I found that one of my students was using a pencil in an unsafe manner, I might have temporarily taken it away from the student, but it would have seemed absurd for me to have outlawed all pencils in my classroom or school as well. Rather than forbidding them in the educational process, there were consequences for not following the rules. In other words, individual responsibility.

How are student cameras different in that regard? Now granted, digital technology is faster and more powerful and complex, but doesn't that make it even more important that we model appropriate use in and outside the classroom? How can that be done without the tool?

Instead of forbidding them, let's . . .

1. Make movies
2. Learn visual grammar
3. Think critically about movies
4. Investigate privacy issues
5. Learn about propaganda and advertising
6. Become Media Literate
7. Discuss ethics and decorum and responsibility and trust and etiquette in the context of our work.
8. Learn constructive ways of using Photo Booth

George Orwell, Big Brother Is Watching Your House

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Are We Being Enslaved by Our Machines?

"The human dilemma is as it has always been, and it is a delusion to believe that the technological changes of our era have rendered irrelevant the wisdom of the ages and the sages." ~Neil Postman

From Jason Ohler's site:

Twenty Five Questions to Ask About Technology

See Technology's Effects

"In the past, we experienced technological change in the manner of sleep-walkers. Our unspoken slogan has been "technology ├╝ber alles," and we have been willing to shape our lives to fit the requirements of technology, not the requirements of culture. This is a form of stupidity, especially in an age of vast technological change. We need to proceed with our eyes wide open so that we may use technology rather than be used by it." ~ Neil Postman

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What Motivates Us?

Webinar: Dan Pink Discussing His New Book Drive
Date: Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Time: 5pm Pacific / 8pm Eastern / 1am GMT (next day) (international times here)
Duration: 1 hour

Amazon: Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us

The Motivation Tool Chest

Online Schooling

Five Habits for Effective Online Classes

Tips for Effective Online Teaching

Issac Asimov: "The Fun They Had"
. . .

"Margie did so with a sigh. She was thinking about the old schools they had when her grandfather's grandfather was a little boy. All the kids from the whole neighborhood came, laughing and shouting in the schoolyard, sitting together in the schoolroom, going home together at the end of the day. They learned the same things, so they could help one another on the homework and talk about it.

And the teachers were people...

The mechanical teacher was flashing on the screen: "When we add the fractions 1/2 and 1/4..."

Margie was thinking about how the kids must have loved it in the old days. She was thinking about the fun they had."

Wind Power

Essential Question: Is wind power a safe, viable option for helping to meet some of Maine's energy needs?

PBS: Wind Power Lesson

Wind Power Gathers Speed

How to Make a Wind Vane

Offshore Windfarms in the United States?

Wind Power WebQuest

A Wind Farm in Your Neighborhood?

Wind Projects in Maine

Wikipedia: Wind Power in Maine

Union of Concerned Scientists: How Wind Energy Works

Union of Concerned Scientists: Clean Energy

U.S. Department of Energy: Wind Energy Basics

Wind Power at LIM Resources (Add, delete, modify as needed)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Learning in the Valley

Last week I had the wonderful opportunity of spending two days in the St. John Valley of Maine. The specific purpose was the St. John Valley Technology Training where I worked with fellow regional mentors and participants from around the region on looking at ways of making technology work for us in classrooms.

I loved it there. Very down-to-earth and caring people everywhere. I learned that in Fort Kent, Les Miserable had just been produced and performed by a collaboration of the University and local high school. I learned about Ployes and had an opportunity to savor this delicacy at a local restaurant. I also visited Ed Latham's solar home on the outskirts of Frenchville to gain a better understanding of the challenges of making choices which leave a small footprint on the earth's limited resources and eco-system.

We met at Wisdom Middle/High School in St. Agatha for the workshops. Students were spending the day in Fort Kent for a school-wide wellness day. Watching students enthusiastically head out and then return later in the day warmed the heart. Teachers from around the region gathered to investigate the possibilities that computer technology offers in helping in meeting classroom goals. Again, there was an ever-present atmosphere of openness and enthusiasm. Loved it.

Childhood & Play

"He was not the Model Boy of the village. He knew the model boy very well though--and loathed him." ~The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Are there valid reasons for having more unstructured time during childhood?

In Defense of Childhood

Play: Essentials for All Children

Where Do the Children Play?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Monday, February 1, 2010

Digital Nation

Frontline: Digital Nation

February MLTI Webinars

The schedule and registration for February 2010 webinars are now available. Please forward, print, blog, twitter, etc and share this information with as many co-workers as possible.

February 2010 Webcast Schedule

February 2 - Navigating the Real World II
February 4 - Making Meaning: Presenting Reality – Tools to analyze data.
February 11 - Research Process: Structuring a Research Project – using tools online and on the MLTI laptop to plan, organize and carry out research projects.
February 25 - Writing Process: Drafting, Revising, and Editing (lots of tools and resources to talk about here as well as techniques and strategies).

Navigating the Real World II (February 2nd)

In partnership with Wri2me (What's Really Important to ME), MLTI is hosting a webinar titled Navigating the Real World. Navigating the Real World is a printed annual publication that will be distributed in late April to all Maine high school students and many 8th graders as well. At its companion web site,, you can view a substantial number of interviews. In this webinar you will learn how you and your students can use the site as a resource. You will also learn how your students can do interviews and post them at for the benefit of others and as a resource for the printed annual. We want their help to gather the stories from a broad range of Maine people.

Presenting Reality: Tools to Analyze Data (February 4th) Facilitated by Phil Brookhouse

Data exists in many forms. In the classroom, students come in contact with data and we try to provide opportunities for them to construct meaning from all that data. In this webinar, we will look at some fundamental principles behind data and technology integration. An overview of data entry, data manipulation and data analysis will be provided by looking at spreadsheets, probeware, and databases in the framework of learning. As in other webinars in this series, we will look at “why to” rather than “how to,” and examine some of the philosophy behind the way we use the technology.

Registration Information

Regularly scheduled webcasts are held each Thursday at both 3:15 pm and 7:15 pm (with the exception of Navigating the Real World, which is Tuesday February 2nd). To learn more about these webcasts, please visit:

Opportunity for the Fearful

Reposted - from Tora Johnson

Do you know of teachers who have had trouble incorporating the MLTI laptops into their curriculum because they lack basic computer skills or are fearful of using computers? The Education Program at the University of Maine at Machias, with funding from the National Science Foundation, is planning a special workshop and technical support program especially for them, and they need to hear from interested teachers!

The Education Program at the University of Maine at Machias will hold a pilot project (pending final approval of funding) to help middle and high school teachers overcome these hurdles and add computer activities into their curriculum in meaningful ways.

The T3 program is free, and participating teachers will receive CEUs and stipends.

Participants will...

· Join a supportive learning community of their peers
· Attend a four-day workshop in Machias in late June with free room and board (families may come along for an affordable daily rate, though we cannot provide childcare)
· Learn and apply basic laptop skills and related educational theory
· Work with patient, experienced instructors in a fun and relaxed learning environment
· Develop a modest plan for using the laptops to support some curriculum goals for the coming year
· Receive on-going support in implementing laptop activities, including on-site visits when needed
· Earn Continuing Education Units and a total of $1,200 in stipends

Any interested teachers must contact Tora Johnson at or 207-255-1214 with the following information:

· Teacher's name
· School
· Grade(s)
· Discipline(s)
· Mailing address
· Email address (if they use email)
· Phone number
· Availability for each of the two possible dates for the workshop: June 21 - 24 or June 28 - July 1 (Please indicate if you are available for either or both set of dates)

When NSF confirms funding, teachers will be asked to submit a brief application. For the pilot program, there will be room for only 12 middle and high school teachers. If the program is a success, additional funding will be requested for a larger effort.

Note that this opportunity is strictly for teachers who lack computer skills and/or are fearful of working with the MLTI laptops in the classroom. It is not appropriate for technically savvy teachers.

If you personally are not interested in this experience (or perhaps you are just too tech savvy!) please forward this opportunity to anyone you feel qualifies/may be interested.