October 16, 2012

Are you an expert teacher? Do you identify the most important ways to represent your subject? Do you create an optimal classroom climate for learning? Do you monitor learning and provide feedback? Do you believe that all students can reach the established criteria for success? Do you influence surface and deep student outcomes? Regardless of your years of experience, if you answered yes to most of these questions then you are well on your way to becoming an expert teacher.

If there is an area that you identify as an area of need, I urge you to focus your planning and delivery in that area. Believe and demonstrate to your learners that you are determined to improve. Our students deserve expert teachers!

June 5, 2012Summer is almost here. With it comes a learning lapse that we will all recognize at the start of school in the autumn. Consider leveraging some anytime learning by suggesting structured skill-based practice or reading that students can use to maintain their learning during the summer. A list of books or a list of websites might be all the support that a student or their parent needs in order to access learning during the summer. Also, make sure to offer specific feedback, about skills that can use attention during the summer, in your students' final report card.
Teaching Tip – Literacy skills are easily lost during the summer months if a student doesn't practice them, and even older students sometimes need a prompt to maintain their literacy skills. These two videos, Read Without Reading and Think Aloud Reading Strategies, offer some explicit reading strategies for the older student, and the Think Aloud Summary provides a simple refresher. Feel free to provide students or their families with the links to these or other skill-based videos for use over the summer. Also, here are two articles about summer work for students: Education Experts Share Antidotes For Summer Brain Drain and Summer Brain Drain Worse For Poor Kids.
Tech Tip - It’s common knowledge that students that do not read during the summer lose some of the progress they made during the course of the school year. One great way to encourage students to read is to create a suggested reading list for students to access throughout the summer. Instead of creating a paper copy that can easily be misplaced, you might consider creating a digital list that can be expanded throughout the year using web based applications like Google Books or Shelfari. Google Books is a web based application associated with your district provided Google account. The service allows users to quickly create public or private book lists. Users can see a star rating for each book, read an excerpt, read reviews by other users, or write a review of their own. The district’s suggested reading list for teachers can be accessed here. Shelfari by Amazon is a similar service that allows users to create a profile, create booklists, and discover books by interacting with other users. The list can easily be shared by posting the URL link to a blog or website or sharing it in an email. If you haven’t thought about creating a summer book list for your students, consider using one of these accessible web based applications to help your students begin their reading adventure this summer.

May 29, 2012
Many of us have begun to plan for the 2012-2013 school year. This is an excellent time to reflect on what students have accomplished in your classroom, and what you might want them to accomplish next year. Our students live in a constantly changing world, and we need to meet them at the door with content that excites them. Are students fully engaged by the content and the methods that they find in your classroom? Think about how you can refresh your approach by looking at the work being done by your colleagues around the world. Take a look at the project-based learning at Manor New Technology High School, in Texas. This link will bring you to a video, but there are also links to resources to the left of the video. Are there ideas here that you can use?

Teaching Tip – The end of the school year is always a challenging time to keep students engaged in learning, but that learning time is too valuable to waste. Blogger Rebecca Alber has some excellent suggestions for keeping students involved in learning as the school year wanes in Six Engaging End-of-Year Projects.
Tech Tip - With a little less than two weeks left of school, it is time to begin thinking about completing end of the year tasks like purging your district assigned laptops of personal files so it can be re-imaged by the Technology Department. If you are like me, you have probably filled a sizable portion of your hard drive with important lesson plans, resources, and student created projects that you want to save and reference in the future. Instead of purchasing yet another USB flash drive or burning your files to a disk, you might consider uploading your files to your district provided Google Documents account or taking advantage of one of the numerous free storage sites that are available online. There are a number of websites that provide users with free online storage. Two of my personal favorites are 4Shared and Dropbox. 4Share allows users to sign up and upload up to 5GB of text, audio video, and photo files for free, and share them with other users. Dropbox provides users with 2GB of free storage space when they sign up, and it gives users an additional 500 MB when they refer other people to the site. In addition, Dropbox can be installed on one’s personal computer or mobile device, so that users can access their files anywhere and at any time. Instead of investing in yet another external hard drive to store your files this spring, consider utilizing a storage site online for free.

Previous Bulletins and TipsMay 22, 2012The world of education is full of jargon. It's important to remember that, though we continue to define our developing model as performance-based education, there are other names for philosophies with similar themes. The names may differ significantly and the concepts may vary slightly, but we can still glean ideas that will support our students. Don't limit your professional exploration to sites or books that explore only performance-based learning. Look at Project Based Learning, competency based learning, Expeditionary Learning, cooperative learning, mass customized learning, or proficiency based learning. They all have student centered practices at their core, but they address teaching with slightly different approaches. See if the ideas espoused by any of these practices will benefit your students.

Teaching Tip – Student centered learning is at the heart of good education, but it's very easy to get pulled into teacher centered thinking. A student centered classroom puts the teacher in the role of facilitator, with students taking an active role in identifying their own needs and interests. This approach requires intentional practice, because we are trained to be managers rather than facilitators. Take some time to gather student feedback about your student centered practices. You could do this on a parking lot, through a paper survey, or even via an online survey form. Design your questions to elicit specific, clear information. Don't try to tilt the answers or your students won't take you seriously. Once you have the feedback, take the time to assemble it into data. Really look at the percentage of students who offer a similar piece of feedback. Ask for more information if there is something said that you would like clarified. If 20% of your students are saying the same thing, it's probably a good idea to examine their concerns more deeply. You might even ask them to offer suggestions for improvement. They usually know what helps them learn best. This Edutopia article, How To Foster Student Feedback, might give you some ideas.

Tech Tip - The prospect of integrating technology into one’s curriculum can often be a daunting task. Often the most difficult part of the task is not familiarizing oneself with new applications, but discovering the tool that will best meet the needs of one’s students. Exploring what teachers are doing with technology in MSAD 15 and neighboring districts is often a great way to find inspiration. One teacher that I have found particularly inspirational is Jonathan Amory, a technology teacher at Freeport High School who was noted last year for facilitating the creation of a twenty foot long wind tunnel. His Google powered online classroom can be accessed here. At the Career Pathways session at the 2010 Maine STEM Summit, he discussed some of the projects he was currently completing with middle school aged students. To watch the video, please click here. To watch other informative educational videos, please visit the Educational Videos page on the wiki. The best brainstorming sessions often are the product of exploration and collaboration, so take a few moments sometime this week to read an educational blog or news story, watch an educational video, visit a educational website, or talk to your neighbor across the hall about technology integration.
May 15, 2012 The calendar has many of us thinking about the end of 2011-2012, but this is also a time to begin thinking about 2012-2013. The district's expectations, next year, is that all staff will be working in Box 4 on the Classroom Design and Delivery model. As you prepare your students to move forward, take a minute to look at your own next steps. Contact the Instructional Coach or your building administrator if you want to clarify anything before the summer. ELA teachers might want to explore this CCSS file.
Teaching Tip – Transforming your classroom into a student centered, performance-based classroom can be daunting if you don't have a clear organization for the materials that students need. The standards are already organized in the learning maps, but you may not yet have created systems that will allow students to manage their learning materials independently. That may mean a set of labeled files in bins, or an online repository. Now that you can share documents with your students on Google Docs, it's possible for them to track their progress through the standards by shading in the standards in which they have demonstrated proficiency on a shared learning map. Providing students with opportunities to manage their learning helps create more instructional time and allows students to demonstrate responsibility.

Tech Tip - TED-Ed is a nonprofit organization that allows educators and students to access high quality supplementary video lessons on a variety of subjects for free. TED-Ed video lessons typically contain an educational video, comprehension quiz questions, short answer questions that require critical thinking, and additional lesson resources that help students to further explore the topic. Educators can search for videos by subject or series, and after finding a video lesson that meets their needs, instructors can choose to use the video as it is or flip the video to personalize the quiz questions, critical thinking questions, or additional resources so that it meets the specific needs of their students. The site contains some great ready to use video lessons like “Insults by Shakespeare” and “Just How Small Is an Atom.” If the site does not contain a video on the desired topic, teachers can create their own TED-Ed videos by finding and flipping a video on Youtube or SchoolTube. The creator can then decide whether to make the video public or to only allow access to specific users. In addition, the creator can track who viewed the lesson, how many questions were attempted, as well as which multiple choice questions they got right or wrong. If you want to learn more about TEd-Ed, please access this video lesson.
May 8, 2012The new MSAD 15 website is an excellent way for us to celebrate the accomplishments of everyone in the district. I know that there are a lot of exciting things happening in your classrooms. Don't forget to share your achievements. Jan Wilcox ( is managing the website content, so all you need to do is send her a brief write-up and photo to get your students' work or your work on the site. Help keep the website current by regularly submitting information.
Teaching Tip – Protocols are rules or procedures that dictate how formal actions and communications occur between members of a group during a specific interaction. They are useful in the classroom and during professional meetings. Protocols require some disciplined practice, but they can really help manage a group, while still producing useful results. The National School Reform Faculty site has a number of protocols that you might want to try.
Tech Tip - The Source, MSAD 15’s digital archive of important documents, has a new location on Google Sites. Employees can access the site by visiting, or by selecting the “Sites” tab in their Google account and searching the word “source.” The site contains a number of resources including curriculum materials, professional development materials, and technology tutorials. Users can choose to navigate The Source by either reviewing the site categories and selecting the page title that contains the information they need, or by completing a comprehensive search of the site by typing a key word in the search field. A tutorial on how to navigate The Source can be accessed on the Google Sites section of the Google Applications page of the Performance Based Wiki.
May 1, 2012May 1st is a day that reminds us of how traditions change through time, and how we must be responsible for creating celebrations within our own community. This date has been marked through thousands of years with celebrations of spring, goddesses, workers, and law. Each culture or group has assigned meaning to the date for their own purposes. In much the same way, we need to remember to stop in our classrooms and staff meetings to mark the passing of time and recognize our accomplishments. Students, especially, need to experience the motivation that comes from celebrating a job well done.
Teaching Tip – Now that the Common Core Standards have been adopted by almost all of the states, materials and tools tied to the standards have begun to appear more frequently in online journals and article. This Education Week article, Reading on Science, Social Studies Teachers' Agendas, is a good example. It has links to tools that Kentucky high school teachers are using to teach English standards through science and social studies standards. The tools are linked to the article, so that you can use them or adapt them to your classroom needs. If you find a site that's populated with useful resources, be sure to share it.
Tech Tip - After having the opportunity to attend several training sessions on Google Docs over the past couple of years, most employees are familiar with their Google mail account and some of the added features like Google Calendar, Google Documents, and Google Sites. However, many employees have yet to explore some of the additional features that are associated with their Google accounts. When you are logged into your Google account, you can quickly access a number of educational web based applications by visiting the Google Products page; to find the page, select “More” and “Even More.” Among the many educational web based applications available on this page are Google Groups, Google Trends, and Google Books. Google Groups allows teachers to quickly create discussion groups and post questions. Google Trends allows users to compare search trends or research the most popular searches for a specific date. Google Books allows teachers and students to create a share reading lists of books they have read or would like to read. Google Books also contains a whole host of free classic novels like L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables and Frances Hodgson Burnett The Secret Garden for users to access for free. If you have any questions on any of the applications that are attached to your Google account, please don’t hesitate to contact me at

April 24, 2012
Hopefully, the break has given everyone a chance to refresh and renew before the final weeks of school. I know that the countdown is on in many classrooms, but the work of education continues. The district's expectation is that all staff members are working in box 3 of the Classroom Design and Delivery Model this year. That means that standard operating procedures, flow charts, and other tools for the classroom are starting to be routine parts of your classroom. Next year, box 4 will ask you to be able to identify and organize your content standards, to create a system to allow students to chart progress through standards, to know how to unpack standards with students, to have a process for recording and reporting student progress, and to be able to create assessments to show proficiency using rubrics and scoring guides. You might elect to create a website on Google Sites like this sample portfolio to demonstrate your progression. If you are still trying to implement box 3, or if you'd like help planning for box 4, access the Instructional Coach or speak to your building administrator. There's no time like the present to plan for the future. The Instructional Coach and Technology Integrator are here to support you as you transform your classroom into a student-centered, performance based model with technology integrated into your students' learning goals. Don't hesitate to contact them.

Teaching Tip - Developing effective Professional Learning Communities is crucial to creating a professional collegial environment that is focused on student achievement. Don't build your PLC in isolation. If you and your colleagues are looking for guidance, consider devoting a PLC to reviewing literature about PLCs. There is a blog on the ALLTHINGSPLC website, along with articles, tools, and evidence. If your PLC time wanders or gets fragmented, take deliberate steps to identify an organizing protocol and commit yourselves to using it long enough to make it second nature.

Tech Tip - All teachers aspire to provide their students with high quality feedback on all of their summative assignments; however, finding the time to write detailed critiques or to conference with individual students is a challenge. A software development company called TechSmith Corporation has developed a number of free and low cost applications that will simplify evaluating digitally submitted assignments. A free downloadable software called Jing allows users to capture the images on their screen and record their responses. Using Jing, in tandem with Screencast, another no cost Techsmith application that allows users to store up to 2GB of digital footage, teachers can create a video that contains oral feedback instead of providing a student with written feedback on projects. To view a sample of how Jing could be used, please visit the Technology Integrator page.
April 10, 2012
Leading change that shakes up the status quo in essential ways requires new skills and processes, but most important, it requires a fundamental shift in mindset.” This is an idea that was introduced to MSAD 15 a couple of years ago. Over the coming break, think about what you believe about learning and school. Have you been able to shift your mindset in your quest to develop a student centered, performance-based classroom? Have you shared your new skills and processes with your colleagues? MSAD 15 needs everyone's participation if we are to truly transform our district. Use the coming break to reflect on your progress, and to prepare for action in the final weeks of the year.

Teaching Tip - Some of the district's teacher leaders were able to practice a protocol for assessment validation and calibration a few weeks ago. This is a protocol that they will be able to share with their colleagues at a future date, but everyone should be creating formal structures for engaging in this type of professional activity on a regular basis. Blogger Margaret “Peg” Regan, talks about the Six Steps to Master Teaching. Read what she has to say and reflect on your location on the path to being a master teacher. If your focus is currently more about building collaborative teaching practices, the attached file will give you some ideas on which to reflect as you plan your next phase of professional development.

Tech Tip - Friday, April 13th, marks the final day that employees will have access to their district First Class email accounts. The migration will be complete on April 18th or April 19th. Staff members will have access to their district Google Mail accounts during the migration period. To access more answers to frequently asked questions or to find tutorials on how to use your Google account, please visit the Google page.
Q: What do I need to do to prepare for the transition?A: Craig Moore, the District Technology Director for MSAD 15, has encouraged everyone to review their First Class email and delete any unnecessary emails. In addition to expunging your First Class account, you should also update your non-district email contacts in your Google Mail account.
Q: How is my First Class mail going to be transferred? Do I need to do anything?A: All of your First Class mail is going to be migrated to your First Class account by an outside vender during April break. In order for your mail to be migrated, it must be in your First Class mailbox (not on your First Class desktop), and folders may not contain any special characters except hyphens. Outside contacts in your First Class address book will not be migrated; they will need to be exported manually. Also, First Class Calendar items will not be transferred; employees using their First Class Calendars will have to re-create them on Google calendar. If you need help with your calendar or with your contacts, please contact your school’s Technology Integrator Technician.

April 3, 2012
The MSAD 15 community has reflected a lot in the last week. It's been a time to re-evaluate our perspectives, and remember to value one another. Education is a complex business that can easily overwhelm us. Don't forget to build in time for yourself, your family, and for one another.
Hope is grief's best music. ~Author Unknown
March 27, 2012
When the district began its transformation in 2009, we talked a lot about our “burning platform,” our need to improve graduation rates and achievement levels. It's' easy to lose sight of those critical motives in the details of daily school life. Our burning platform should create a sense of emergency, so that we alter our behaviors to create lasting change. You can read the story of the burning platform here, that might give you some insight into this problem solving approach.

Teaching Tip – Learning how to mine student data to guide your teaching requires some specific strategies, but it can greatly enhance your students' outcomes. You already gather some data, but there are other ways that you can systematically ensure that your students come away from class with the necessary learning. Consider using Exit Slips as a way to get a quick snapshot of student learning. They're a simple, fast way of collecting data that can directly impact your instruction. Education blogger Rebecca Alber talks about data in her post Three Ways Student Data Can Inform Your Teaching.

Tech Tip - One of the challenges faced by district employees during the transition to Google mail is providing new contact information to their outside contacts. This issue has worried many who don’t want to lose any essential communications that might be emailed to their old MSAD 15 First Class email account after the transition occurs on April 13th. While employees should begin the process of updating their email address with their non-district contacts, if a few non-district contacts are not updated by the final date of the transition, the communications sent to their old MSAD 15 address will not disappear into cyber space; instead, the mail that is accidentally sent to the MSAD 15 address will be automatically forwarded to the new SAD 15 Google mail, so that employees can continue to notify their non-district contacts of the change. One of the helpful hints listed in Migration Update #2 suggested that district employees add a one line statement to their signature page informing contacts of the change. For example, the following statement could be added: Please Note, as of April 13th, 2012, my new email address will be Some employees have decided to include an automated response instead of adding a line to their signature page. While this is also an effective way to communicate the pending email address change, it’s important to make sure that the First Class Mail preferences exclude “Local mail,” or district contacts using First Class, so that the district’s administrative assistants and secretaries are not overwhelmed with automated responses detailing the date of the change every time they send out a digital school wide memo. To access a written tutorial on how to add a signature or an automated response to your First Class account, please visit the Wiki.

March 20, 2012
Transforming MSAD 15 is an effort that involves the entire district. Creating a system where we all view every student as “our student” is not something that will happen overnight, but creating that sense of shared community is vital to our students' success. If you only know the students in your class, take a minute to learn the names of other students that cross your path every day. If you never leave your hallway, make a habit of visiting other areas of your building just to say hi to a colleague. Building community begins with each of us.

Teaching Tip – Though we are engaged in systemic change in the district, you might also find Systems Analysis thinking useful in the classroom. Systems Analysis helps develop understanding of the continuous improvement process, and how the individual parts fit into the whole. Take some time to think about the way that the various parts of your classroom interact. Beginning to think of your classroom as an interrelated system of components, rather than as individual parts will help you create self-sustaining practices that support students. There are also many online sources for systemic thinking in education that can help you integrate this process into your regular practice, such as this page on the National School Boards Association website. There is also a process in Tool Time for Education.

Tech Tip - There are two major differences between the First Class email account and your new Google mail (Gmail) account. First, the Gmail district directory contains staff and student email addresses. If you type in a common first name like David, for example, staff and student email addresses will appear as options. Some staff members in the district have children with similar names. It is, therefore, highly important that you double check each address before you send an email. It would be unfortunate if an email containing sensitive material that was intended for a staff member ended up being delivered to a student by accident. The second major difference between your First Class account and your Gmail account is the way that the information is organized. In your First Class email account, the emails containing the same subject appear in your mailbox as separate emails; in your Gmail account, the emails are grouped by subject creating conversation threads. You will recognize the fact that the emails are grouped in an conversation thread by the number that appears after your name and the individual or individuals with whom you are corresponding. You can create a new thread by composing a new message instead of clicking “Reply.” You can also forward, print, or delete a single email in a thread, by selecting the email in the thread that you want to forward, etc., and then select the down arrow and the described options will appear. If you select forward from the message box at the bottom of the page, you will forward the entire thread, not just a single message. There are numerous written tutorials available on the wiki. If you don’t find the answer to your question there, please feel free to email me at hmorin at

Take Note - Many staff members have already made the switch to Gmail. If you haven't, you may be missing important communication. Consider making the switch now, during the transition period.

March 13, 2012
The daily work of teaching has more components that I can list. It's easy to get caught up in practices that are comfortable, but we all know that good teaching requires continuous improvement. The normal transitions that come after the second trimester and the third quarter offer natural pauses for self-reflection. You might dust off your personal goal sheet, re-acquaint yourself with the Classroom Design and Delivery Model, or ask a colleague for feedback. Take advantage of those built in transitions to renew your professional thinking.

Teaching Tip - Making the transition to reporting proficiency requires some re-thinking on our part. Most teachers are accustomed to reporting every score that they assign to student work, but proficiency reporting re-focuses this habit. The recording of students' progress through formative work will go on as usual on matrices, in EDUCATE, or in a grade book. These scores inform instruction, however, and are not summative evaluations of proficiency that need to be reported. Instead, formative records should chart your students' learning process in the classroom, and should tell you, the teacher, where to target instruction. Student reports become a record of demonstrated standard proficiency and of the standards that are being studied. Separating learning and behaviors also makes the report a more concise document. We all come to education with certain assumptions about grading. Take a minute to consider your assumptions as you begin to make the transition to reporting progress. This article, Five Obstacles to Grading Reform, might prompt some new ideas.
Tech Tip - I am the type of person that likes to keep a checklist of tasks easily accessible, so I don’t have to re-orient myself when I return to work after a weekend or break. One feature that I love about Gmail is the Tasks feature. This feature allows users to quickly create one or more personal "to do" lists that they can access whenever they log into their account. You can email your task list to a collaborator or access the list from a mobile phone. Users can organize their task list by due date, and check off tasks when they are completed. For those students who frequently lose or misplace their day planner, this feature is a great solution. Students can create a list of upcoming homework assignments, or they can break down major assignments into manageable steps. To access the Task menu, click the drop down menu for your mailbox (titled Mail and located in the upper left hand corner), and select Tasks. Your personal task list will appear in the bottom right hand corner, and you can instantly begin adding items to your personal checklist by selecting the “+” icon.

March 6, 2012
The budget season is upon us, and with it comes questions. Questions provide us with an opportunity to explain what is important in education today, and to think about the steps that we are taking to continuously improve. Good questions generate new ideas, and may inspire a new way at looking at a complex situation, just as they do in your classrooms. Think about the questions you pose to your students. How can you elicit new ideas from them?

Teaching Tip - We all know about Understanding by Design, but when was the last time that you thought about your essential questions? Grant Wiggins' Big Ideas page says that a question is essential when it:
  1. Causes genuine and relevant inquiry into the big ideas and core content;
  2. Provokes deep thought, lively discussion, sustained inquiry, and new understanding as well as more questions;
  3. Requires students to consider alternatives, weigh evidence, support their ideas, and justify their answers;
  4. Stimulates vital, on-going rethinking of big ideas, assumptions, and prior lessons;
  5. Sparks meaningful connections with prior learning and personal experiences;
  6. Naturally recurs, creating opportunities for transfer to other situations and subjects.
If you haven't thought about how you're framing essential questions in a while, the Big Ideas page will give you some food for thought.

Tech Tip-While many people use Keynote for presentations and Pages for word processing, few people appear to be using the third member of the iWorks trio, Numbers. Numbers is a free form, user friendly spreadsheet software that allows users to personalize their data by moving the text, charts, and spreadsheets to different areas on the page. Numbers allows users to make their data cosmetically appealing by changing the font colors, font types, border types, and the page styles. Unlike most other spreadsheet software, Numbers also allows users to add pizzazz to their data by allowing them to quickly import multimedia elements in the form of personal photos and videos. Numbers would be the ideal application to use when having students compile and present data for a class project as it is very easy to use. Numbers also contains over thirty ready to use templates including Science Lab, Home Improvement, Grade Book, and a Weight Tracker Template. If you would like to learn more about Numbers, please visit the Apple iWork Support Page to view video tutorials on how to use the software.

Extra - Take a tour of Russell School.

February 28, 2012
I hope everyone had a restful break. With March around the corner, we also know that mud season isn't far behind. MSAD 15 is in its own mud season. We are in the messy, raw period before the flowers bloom. Individuals across the district are gallantly marching through the mud that is transformation. Sometimes it feels like spring will never arrive, but we all know that it will. Try to keep the sun on your face as you step back into your own muddy trench, and, if you get bogged down for a bit, pause to reflect on how much you've done already.

Teaching Tip - LACI is an information gathering technique that can be used by students and teachers. It can be a pencil and paper activity, or it can be formatted on a laptop. Divide a page into four quadrants. The quadrants are labeled Learnings, Applications, Challenges, and Improvements. Prompt your students or your group to begin by recording what they have learned in the Learnings box. After reflection, they can tell how they might use what they've learned, in the Applications box. Challenges is for identifying obstacles, and ideas for making the learning or the concept better are listed in Improvements. Take a minute to share the results in small groups or with the whole class.

Tech Tip - While the World Wide Web contains valuable information and useful tools, searching for a specific resource can often be a time consuming and often frustrating task. There have been numerous updates to MSAD 15’s Performance Based Journal Wiki in the past couple of weeks. First, the Resources for Educators page has received a make over. In an effort to make the material easier to navigate, the page’s technology resources have been divided onto two pages: Curriculum Resources and Educational Web Based Applications. On the Curriculum Resources page, materials are now sorted by topic: Online Curriculum Lessons and Tools, Educational Books and Film Resources, and Interactive Activities. Each downloadable software and web based application contains a description, and an attached matrix specifies the subject area(s) and grade level(s) the tool serves. The educational applications listed on the Web Based Application page are grouped under headings based on their purpose, and the tool contains a brief descriptor. There are a variety of great resources listed on these pages, so if you haven’t had an opportunity to visit, please do. If you know of a tool that should be added to make this list more comprehensive, or if you are looking for a specific tool to make your life easier, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

February 14, 2012
Change has been a noticeable constant in MSAD 15 for several years now. Change has always been with us, but our transformation work has made it an advisable and critical part of our daily work. Change is not easy, and some are more comfortable with it than others. The data that supports the need for change has been shared on numerous occasions. I am proud of the large number of staff that are embracing this initiative at all five of the MSAD #15 schools. Take a minute to read what blogger Jim Moulton had to say about his experience with necessary change. Are You Comfortable with Change?: Understanding What it Takes to Make Change Happen

Teaching Tip - The CRIS tool is an effective way for a team or school to confront issues of change. It is a simple format that asks participants to reflect individually and share with a peer. The ideas are then voluntarily shared with the larger group as the basis for discussing the problem or challenge that is being faced. This tool can be used with students and with colleagues. It provides a framework for discussions that can be difficult to tackle, while offering everyone a chance to offer input.

Tech Tip - I can’t present my report because the file won’t open,” students often complain on the due date of a major assignment. If I had a penny for each time I heard an excuse of this nature, I would be a very wealthy educator. One of the most difficult aspects of using a Macintosh laptop for educational purposes is attempting to solve the file conversion issues that inevitably result due to the fact that large portions of the student population run a Windows operating system on their home computers. Many students decide to use both their school assigned laptop and their personal computer when they receive a major assignment. When the student arrives at school toting a smile of success and a thumb drive, the real fun begins. The report frequently will appear in a weird computer script, the audio file is almost always completely corrupted, and the video file will simply refuse to play. After encountering this issue on several different occasions, I found a simple solution: free online file converters. There are a whole host of different file converters online including Zamzar, Media-Converter, and Convert.Files that teachers and students can use to convert a problematic file. To use these web based applications, users simply have to upload a file, select the output format, and download the file. With a couple of simple steps, nearly any file conversion problem can be resolved. Provide your students with the link, and you'll get to hear all variations of the “computer ate my homework excuse” for the last time.

February 7, 2012
Most of us spent some part of last Sunday evening in front of a screen; television, computer, or handheld device. While we might have been cheering for our favorite team, the reality is that many of us were also waiting for the advertisements. We might also have Tweeted about the game or chatted with other fans on social networking sites. It was estimated that 45% of the Americans who own tablets and smartphones watched the game on TV, while also watching game content on their other device. How we communicate is clearly evolving and it is important that teachers ready themselves to teach children who live in an ever changing digital world. This video might give you some ideas to ponder.
Welcome to the Digital Generation

Teaching Tip - Silent conversation, also known as chalk talk, is a great way to stimulate focused conversation between pairs of students. You can have students engage in a silent conversation on a single piece of notebook paper, but it is more effective if they are writing on a large chart paper that can be viewed by others in the room. Give each pair of students a paper and a prompt related to your area of inquiry. Ask them to have a discussion on the paper. They must take turns writing and must read one another's comments before they write their own. No talking. This is a silent conversation, only the chalk (writing implement) can talk. As students “talk,” the teacher walks around re-directing or focusing students on the prompt by inserting written questions or comments. Allow enough time for the talk to be meaningful. When the time expires, have the students share what they learned about the other person's perspective. If the conversations were written on chart paper, allow some time for everyone to look at the other conversations.
Tech Tip - Publishing is an essential ingredient of a successful project; publishing a project not only validates a student’s work, but it gives them a forum to show off their hard work and creativity. The problem that many teachers encounter, especially at the elementary and junior high school level, is how to find unique and interesting ways to showcase student work. The typical Keynote, Power Point, or Prezi presentation loses it charm when it is assigned repetitively. Web based applications like Animoto and Go!Animate offer teachers an alternative. Go!Animate allows students to create short 2D animated videos by completing a few simple steps. Another interesting web based application is Animoto. This application allows students and adults to generate professional quality videos in minutes using the unique technology. To view a sample video created using Go!Animate or Animoto, please visit the Technology Integrator page. Both companies offer promotions to educators which allow them to use the application for free. If your class is ready for something new but you don’t have the time to invest in a project on iMovie, these applications are perfect.

January 31, 2012
The first month of 2012 is already over and we are half way through the 2011-2012 school year. Take a moment to think about the goals that you set for yourself and your students earlier in the school year. Are you making progress or do you need some support? MSAD 15 is working hard to develop a collegial environment where we learn from one another and there is still a lot to learn about proficiency-based education. There are administrators and teacher leaders in each building who will help you take the next step toward achieving your goals. The technology integrators are there to help you learn how to bring technology into your lessons and the instructional coach is available to help 3-12 teachers identify and use the tools that help create a student-centered classroom. If you are unsure about any part of Standards Based Learning, you should be taking advantage of these resources.

Teaching Tip - Imagineering one of the processes in Tool Time for Education. It's a brainstorming technique that you can use, with your class, to find the optimal process or outcome. This is especially helpful when portions of the class or group don't have the same vision of the perfect outcome. This brainstorming tool can help you identify the steps of an SOP or the best projects for demonstrating a specific standard. Knowledge is power and this will help your class generate information that they can use.

Tech Tip - While it is difficult to define the actual frequency of plagiarism in middle school, high school, and college, everyone from middle school teachers to graduate professors are aware that it is a problem. In a recent controversial report released by, a company that sells academic plagiarism detection software, the company sited one hundred and twenty eight million content matches from a review of thirty-three million papers (that’s nearly eighty-five percent of the papers reviewed). While not all of the matches can be defined as clear examples of plagiarism, it is evident that plagiarism is occurring with frequency in schools. Teachers know that the greatest deterrent for students who are considering plagiarizing another person's work, in an effort to expedite the writing process, is the knowledge that they may get caught. That being said, I found that one of the most tedious aspects of teaching writing was making sure that my students' writing was original. At least once a quarter as I slowly made my way through a sizable stack of essays, I would encounter a passage where the writer's “voice” would change or the vocabulary used would be out of character for the student. I would then check the offending text using the advanced search feature on Google. If multiple essays required checking, the entire process became very time consuming. A free web-based application called the Free Plagiarism Checker makes the process more efficient. The application allows users to copy and paste student writing into a search bar, and a comprehensive search is performed. The feature that set this web based plagiarism checker apart from its various competitors is its simplicity. There is no “free trial” period that evolves into a monthly fee; in fact, users don’t even have to sign up to use the Free Plagiarism Checker. To use the application, you simply have to copy and paste up to thirty-two words from the text into the plagiarism checker and click search.

January 23, 2012
Now that we've had an opportunity to practice a snow day, it might be a good time to make sure that everyone has a clear plan for managing unexpected disruptions. Students will become increasingly responsible for planning their time, as the transition to the proficiency-based model unfolds, and that means that we need to begin thinking about how we support their learning of time management skills. Goal setting and planning are important components of a student's proficiencies, but we also need to help them build the resiliency needed to handle unexpected disruptions. If this is something that you already do, please share your practices with your administrator so that we can begin identifying proven ways to support students and teachers with this aspect of the transformation.

Teaching Tip - The constant buzz of a teacher's day often makes small obstacles loom large. This can cause us to put too much focus on altering the wrong things. The Interrelationship Digraph is simple tool that you can use to identify the factors that are most impacting your classroom or team. This is a fairly simple technique, but it can help you establish goals and make real improvements. Practice it on your own, before using it with students. Take a simple classroom procedure and follow the Interrelationship Digraph process. This will help you understand the steps and it will make it easier for you to support students when they use the tool.

Tech Tip - When I review resources created by organizations like Shodor, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing educators and students with high quality computational science resources, I always feel a spark of envy for science and mathematics teachers. This organization sponsors a number of resources for STEM and special education instructors including Interactive, a database of lessons in science and math for third through twelfth grade students; SUCCEED Curriculum, a compilation of lessons and educational activities designed to reinforce STEM skills for high school and graduate students; and Braille Through Remote Learning, a free online course designed to help viewers design second grade braille documents for students. I especially liked the lessons available on Interactive. I reviewed a lesson on numbers, operations, and fractions for fifth and sixth graders, which provides students with real world application of these skills by asking them to calculate the percentage of trees that will burn in a hypothetical forest during a forest fire. The lesson is accompanied by a simple flash animation that provides students with a visual of the burning trees. This activity puts the “cool factor” in fractions. If you teach STEM skills and you haven’t had an opportunity to review Shodor’s website, I strongly recommend that you take a few minutes to review it. I think that you will be impressed with the quality and detailed nature of the materials.

January 6, 2012
Continuous improvement is an important part of MSAD 15's commitment to transformation. The turn of the calendar causes many of us to renew personal goals and it's a good time to renew the district's goal of transformation to a proficiency-based system. I know that it is sometimes difficult to see the district goals when you're in the middle of the heavy lifting required by teaching, but we remain steadfast, as a district, in our move toward a student centered, proficiency-based model. This transition period brings many challenges, but the continuous improvement cycle will help us prepare to enter box 4 of the Classroom Design and Delivery Model, Developing Transparency So Students Can Navigate Their Own Learning, next year.

Teaching Tip - Plan, Do, Check, Adjust. PDCA. You planned in August and you've been doing since September. January is the perfect time to check and adjust. The Tool Time for Education tool outlines the steps and tools that you can use in the Probletunity Improvement Process. With the mid-point of the school year upon us, this is an excellent time to review your classroom practices or professional goals. The PDCA tool is also useful to students as they learn to reflect on their actions and set new goals. It can be modified for project work or daily classroom activities. Also, don't forget that the Teaching and Learning Connection often lists professional development opportunities and it just might be the place to find your 2012 goal.

Tech Tip - One of the most difficult aspects of transitioning to a technology rich classroom is educating students about being safe and responsible cyber citizens. Common Sense Media, a national nonprofit organization, has endeavored to find a solution for educators and parents. The organization offers a K-12 curriculum for educators and parents to download and use free of charge. Finding appropriate materials for a class is simple. The organization’s online website allows educators to narrow their search by grade and subject. A search of eleventh and twelfth grade materials reveals units on everything from Respecting Creative Works, a comprehensive unit on copyright laws and licensing, to Media Violence. The unit on Media Violence provides educators with lessons that address topics like hate speech in digital media. The lessons include powerful materials, such as an article that discusses the frequency and effects of hate speech in online games like “World of Warcraft” and “Call of Duty.” The lesson also includes sample discussion questions. With students spending more time online than they do talking to their families, educating students about the helpful and hazardous aspects of technology is now an essential aspect of a student’s education.

January 3, 2012
Can you believe it is 2012 and that January 19th marks the halfway point of the 2011-2012 school year? There is much to be done before this school year ends. It is hard to believe I will be using the January 20th Professional Development time to plan with administrators the summer work for 2012. I would really like to stop into your classroom to observe work that is connected to the November assessment training. If you have a lesson designed that showcases some of this valuable work, please let me know so I can put it in my calendar.

Teaching Tip - Transparency is extremely important to student learning. Students need to know what they are learning and how are going to learn it. If you haven't invested some time in making the Capacity Matrix tool a regular part of your classroom practice, now is a great time to start. The Capacity Matrix provides you and your students with a consistent tool for unpacking a standard, identifying learning opportunities for the broken down parts of the standard, and for tracking formative assessment. There are teachers, throughout the district, effectively using Matrices in their classrooms. If you would like to talk to one of them about how they have found success with Matrices, feel free to email me and I'll put you in touch with a colleague.

Tech Tip - My students would often tease me that one of my greatest flaws is my inability to keep track of time during an educational game or contest. I often became so involved in the classroom competition that my eyes would inevitably slide away from the clock and onto more interesting subjects. As such, one of the web based applications that I used most frequently when I was teaching was a simple website called The name says it all. offers a variety of free, easy to use timers that users can use online, download on their computers, or embed on their professional web page. The site offers virtually any style timer that a consumer could possibly need; there is a regular stop watch, an egg timer, a bomb style timer, a cash timer, and much more. This time keeper ended up being a huge time-saver. I bookmarked the website, and I used it for everything from keeping track of the periods to timing a test. The only individuals who seemed to like the online timer more than me was my students. The projected timer created a sense of urgency during the class competitions as the students watched their time literally melt away, and a sense of calm during a test as the test-taker always knew exactly how many minutes remained before they needed to relinquish the test. If your an individual who frequently loses track of time, download this time keeper and reclaim some of those lost minutes.

December 20, 2011
2011 is about to scroll past. It has been a year of change and hard work for everyone in MSAD 15. Your continued effort and thoughtful feedback are the backbone of the transformation that we are making. Your feedback is also valued by the Maine Department of Education. If you are interested in sharing your thoughts on flexibility in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, follow this link for a 10 minute survey. As we wind down this year, I hope everyone takes some time to relax and enjoy time with their families. Happy Holidays!

Teaching Tip - Power Standards are officially the name that we are giving to the standards that have been identified as essential for every student to learn at each level. Power standards have been identified in all content areas and performance assessments are being designed for these standards at many levels. If you're interested in knowing how power standards have been implemented in other schools, education blogger Elena Aguilar's article How to Focus Lessons and Learning Goals provides some insights. The teacher leaders in each building have also been asked to offer feedback on a set of tools that will become the official formats for MSAD 15. Creating consistency across the district will benefit students, just as consistency benefits students in the classroom. Look for these official formats on the wiki in January. While you're recharging your engine for the second half of the year, take a minute to recharge your professional thinking by visiting the article page on the wiki and see what's new.

Tech Tip - Many students benefit from viewing supplementary videos, on websites like YouTube and Vimeo, during a lesson. Visuals frequently help students connect abstract ideas or clarify their understanding of a particular subject. Videos offer a wealth of information that have the potential to be highly beneficial for students, but for every educational video, there are at least two non-educational videos that can distract students from learning. Additionally, teachers can't control the comments posted in response to a video and they sometimes contain inappropriate language and/or subject matter. Because of this, many schools block students and teachers from accessing YouTube. After hearing feedback from educators, YouTube has recently created a new resource for education called “YouTube for Schools.” The tool is a web portal where educational videos are compiled for teachers and students to access. For example, students will be able to view an interesting science video on the effects of combining hydrogen and oxygen, but the music video for the newest pop music hit won't be flashing on the same page. The comment option for the videos in the educational portal is also disabled and the portal offers a number of interesting features that will simplify the process of finding grade appropriate material. The videos are categorized by educational span and subject, so instead of completing a broad video search using key words, teachers have the option of reviewing the videos by category. The district has an account under and teachers may sign in, as users, with their Google email address. You may also browse and view videos without signing in. At this time, there are more than four hundred playlists on subjects like geography, geometry, and engineering. YouTube is interested in getting feedback from the educators that use this free service. Teachers can make playlist suggestions and comment on existing playlists in an effort to improve the newly released tool. So, say farewell to fruitless video keyword searches and say hello to “YouTube For Schools.”
December 13, 2011
The Maine Guiding Principles call for students to work effectively and respectfully with diverse teams, to exercise flexibility and willingness to accomplish a common goal, to assume shared responsibility for collaborative work, and to value the individual contributions made by each team member. As educators, we need to model these skills in our own professional practice, but we also need to design deliberate opportunities for students to learn the same skills with their peers. There are many resources available to help teachers design student collaborations. This Edutopia video will give you some ideas to consider. Take a moment to think about how you are teaching and modeling collaboration in your classroom and school.

Teaching Tip - While we all know the value, for students, of working with partners or in groups, it can be challenging to create those groups on a regular basis. The easiest way to group students is by using the clock appointment tool. Invest the time at the beginning of the year to establish appointment calendars and then use them to set up partners for all types of activities. The best part of this tool is that it eliminates the social divisions that happen when students are typically asked to choose their own partner. Begin by giving everyone a photocopied clock. There needs to be space to write beside each numbered hour. Ask students to walk around and "set appointments" by filling in one other's names on the corresponding hours of their clocks. If the crowd approach is too much for your students, call out a time and have them find one person for that slot. Once everyone has an appointment, call out the next number. Continue until the clock is filled. This approach can be helpful, because you will know that their first appointment is with a good friend, while their last appointment will be with someone they don't know as well. This is knowledge that you, the teacher, can use when trying to encourage new dynamics in the classroom. Don't forget the students who are absent. Post their blank clocks on the wall and have the students fill in the clock appointments for them. If there are fewer than a dozen students, have them set appointments on the even numbers or at just 3:00, 6:00, 9:00, and 12:00. Once the clocks are established, have students place their clock in a location that can be easily accessed. You might want to make back-up copies or even laminate the originals. Creating partners will be a simple task now. Just ask students to partner with the person named on a designated hour. Make bigger groups by combining already paired students. Try to choose a different appointment time whenever you use the clock to ensure that students have an opportunity to work with as many peers as possible.

Tech Tip - When I was teacher, there were never enough minutes in the day to accomplish all of the tasks on my to-do list. While I loved to add fun activities to my lessons, like game show style review activities or a new seating plan, I frequently found that preparation for these activities was pushed to the bottom of my ever growing list. Enter, This website offers a wealth of free resources to teachers. These tools include a seating chart generator, a group maker, a random name generator, and a number of interactive games that teachers can personalize and use with their students. At first, I was a little skeptical because the site is clearly still being polished by the webmaster, but the fun flash features drove my skepticism away. The seating chart generator allows teachers to upload a class list and create a random seating list. The list can be regenerated as many times as the creator desires, so it would be a great resource for teachers who like to mix things up with a new seating arrangement every week. I promise, it will keep everyone on their toes. There are also a number of flash games, like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and Jeopardy, which can be personalized and played with a class. The games are very easy to create and can be created in about fifteen minutes. Simply paste a list of questions into an online form and generate a new game. The games include the original music. They also have a score keeper and a way to track questions that have already been asked. I used the game to help students review for a quiz. It was a huge hit with the kids and it clearly helped to engage them in the review process. New resources, like Super Teacher Tools, are being added to the Wiki every day, so please take the time to check it out a page you haven't visited yet!

December 6, 2011
World class knowledge and skills are among the primary tools that MSAD 15 believes our students need in order to be college and career ready upon graduation. Students need to be proficient in the content standards and they must develop an understanding of how new learning translates into application outside of the classroom. As educators, it is easy to get locked to the classroom and content, but students need to observe adult behaviors that can be emulated in their lives outside of school. Students should witness us using knowledge from all content areas, collaborating, and problem solving. The first box of the Classroom Design and Delivery Model identifies moral purpose as one of the essential structures in a performance based system. How better to support district initiatives than to model them each day in your classroom!

Teaching Tip - Not false or imitation. Real. Actual. In other words, authentic. We've all heard about the value of authentic tasks in education and you probably have a personal learning experience that you remember because it was authentic. Conceiving of an authentic task and designing a good learning experience that is based on a real-world application is not simple. Part of the challenge is finding an authentic task that is engaging to kids. What kids find engaging is not always what an adult might find engaging, so it's a good idea to survey your students for ideas. They will need some guidance in this activity, regardless of their age. Help them think of problems that they believe should be addressed and discourage them from considering whether the problem seems solvable. Use their ideas to formulate a lesson that encourages them to solve a real-world problem, use real-time data, collaborate with peers or specialists via the internet, improve some aspect of their own community, introduce legislation that they have composed, support a researcher by doing field work, write a grant proposal, or compete in a challenge that allows them to rival students across the nation. Authenticity will improve student engagement and persistence, so it's worth your time to find something that really matters to students. After that, your job is to ensure that students have the requisite learning to engage in the task and that the standards being mastered are clearly articulated. Take a moment, today, to ask your students to identify issues that they find compelling. Then locate a colleague who is willing to collaborate and try to design a simple authentic task that you can put before students in the next month. Be sure to follow the work by reflecting with your collaborator. Figure out what worked and what needs to be developed. Then try another task and be sure to invite the rest of your building to see the final outcomes. If you'd like to read more about authentic learning, here's a link to a good article. Project Based Learning: Real-World Issues Motivate Students

Tech Tip - One way to motivate students is to include an educational contest in your learning plan. The possibility of earning a prize and gaining notoriety is a perk that drives many students to put forth extra effort. One contest that recently came across my desk is the STEM Challenge. This is an annual video game creation contest for middle and high school students. Students can submit an individual project or group project using a variety of free and low cost applications. One of the free applications that students can use is a programming platform called Scratch. Students use a Cartesian Plane to map out their characters' movements. I was able to create a basic underwater maze game in about an hour. Players must bring the main character home by navigating the maze without touching the sides or the underwater creatures. One of the obstacles in the game is a lobster that simultaneously creeps along while changing colors. If the main character touches the lobster, it will be sent to a random location in the maze. In order to create this obstacle, I had to plot a series of coordinates in the grid. The game reinforces a basic math concept, while calling for the use of critical thinking and problem solving skills. The software offers the option of personalizing the game by adding sound effects, thought bubbles, and much more. As with any new technology, there may be some issues to troubleshoot with the school filters, but don't let that stop you from encouraging your students to participate. Let me know if I can help resolve any unexpected obstacles. To view the game that I created, visit Underwater Game. If you are interested in participating in the STEM Challenge with your class and would like a tutorial, please use the technology page or contact me

November 29, 2011
I hope that everyone is renewed for the next academic push after two days of staff development and a few days with family. The information gathered through the staff development will be important to the district's advancement in the proficiency based model. Don't forget to email the created assessment outlines and rubrics to Submitted assessments will be made available on the District Assessments page on the wiki.You will be asked to submit revisions after you've had an opportunity to use the assessments and make any adjustments. This work is vital to creating the foundation of the MSAD 15 assessment system and your feedback throughout this process is highly valued. You should be proud of your work and this district. It is clear that MSAD 15 is a district on the move!

Teaching Tip- Providing feedback to students is how teachers ensure that students know when they're on the right track or know when they need to do more work. Feedback can come from fellow students too, not just from the teacher. Using a simple Plus-Delta sheet is an effective way to stimulate students to think critically, to communicate with one another, and to generate feedback. Ask students to complete a +∆ for a peer after a presentation, require peer-to-peer +∆ at various points in a multi-step project, invite students to offer you a +∆ about your class, or even create a +∆ specifically for you to provide feedback to students. The key to using this tool is to help students understand that they need to be specific. It's not enough to write a + that says “it's good.” They need to learn to write what is good and why they think that. The same is true of the ∆. Delta means that this is something that could be improved or developed. Students really need to understand that it does not mean that they are saying that something is bad. The objective is to help the person, for whom you're providing feedback, know what he or she can do to improve their work. This feedback tool helps students learn to provide thoughtful critique, while also supporting them as they work to meet standards.

Tech Tip- You've heard of a wiki and you may even have attend a workshop to learn how to create a wiki for your group or class, but you may be uncertain about how a wiki can benefit you. My situation might provide you with some ideas. This year, I have the privilege of working as the Technology Integrator for MSAD 15, and I am also the Middle School Student Council Advisor. Eighteen fabulous students in grades five through eight signed up for the council. Because I am not in the middle school building, it is a challenge to communicate with all of the students and their parents about meeting dates and events. I decided to create a website on Wiki Spaces, which is a user-friendly web based application that allows people to create their own no cost, web page. I can list meeting dates, introduce myself, provide access to important documents, create links to online resources, and much more on this wiki. The site gives me the ability to communicate with parents, faculty, and students that I might not have the opportunity to speak to in person. In addition to being an excellent communication tool, the creation of a wiki might be a great platform for a summative assessment. Students can be added as organizers and they can collaborate to create the content and design. Students will take pride in the fact that their product may be viewed by others. There is a privacy option, so if you donʼt want the wiki site you create to be available to the general public, you can limit who can view it. If you would like to review my Wiki Space for the Middle School Student Council, please follow the Student Council link. If you would like to talk about setting up your own wiki, please feel free to contact me at and we can schedule an appointment to discuss how to make a wiki work for you.

November 15, 2011
Welcome to the first edition of the Beasley Bulletin. I will be using this as a regular way to communicate with the district. I am very excited to be the Interim Superintendent for MSAD 15 and I am looking forward to a productive year. MSAD 15 continues to transform from a traditional teaching model to a student centered, proficiency-based learning model and the work that transformation requires is substantial. Every building is working toward implementation of the district's Classroom Design and Delivery Model () and teachers are making classroom decisions within this framework. I will be meeting with teachers and parents as the year progresses to make plans for our next steps. Please be looking for your regular link to the Beasley Bulletin.

Teaching Tip-Creating Standard Operating Procedures and putting them into a Flow Chart is a simple way to improve efficiency. Identify 2 or 3 routine events that you could expedite in your classroom. For example, turning in work, finding work when absent, using the restroom, or what to do when stuck. As tempting as it is to design these yourself, don't do it. Students need to be able to work through this thought process and understand why each step must be followed. That means that they will need your guidance when the SOPs are written, but they will own them more if they are the authors. If a procedure is something that students will regularly need in class, put it on the wall in a size that can be read from anywhere in the room. Other SOPs can be printed for inclusion in a student's binder, posted at a key location (such as beside a sign out sheet for the restroom), or made available online. The whole objective of an SOP is to take you out of the process, so you don't want them to write SOPs and make flow charts that require your regular participation. You might be the final step, but the intention is to put students in charge of their learning and to make the operations in class transparent. The most important aspect of a Flow Chart is that you must use it. If you lapse, so will students. If you enforce the procedure every time, they will begin to follow it and will expect their peers to follow it. Having SOPs should help you free up classroom time to enable you to work with individuals and small groups, so try to help students see how important it is for them to be responsible for their routine actions in class by making a flow chart.

Tech Tip-We have a new Technology Integrator. Hailee Morin was recently hired as the Technology Integrator for the middle school and the high school. Hailee graduated from the University of Maine at Fort Kent in 2007 with a bachelor of arts degree in English and a minor in education. She spent the last three years teaching English at Fort Fairfield Middle High School in Aroostook County. While teaching at FFMHS, she had happy fortuity to instruct a wide variety of middle and high school classes. She is looking forward to assisting teachers with their technological goals in MSAD 15. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact her at or (207) 657-2128.

Affinity Diagram. One of the most effective tools that you can use in the classroom is the Affinity Diagram. This is a simple way to sort a lot of information. It is the basic procedure that was used to generate the code of conduct, but it can also be used for academic purposes.
The Tool Time for Education description of this tool is linked below.

If you are still wrapping your mind around performance-based learning and want to hear what teachers who are practicing in a performance model have to say about their work, here's a link to a brief video.

If you have a SmartBoard and want to make sure you get the most of it, try this checklist: Interactive Whiteboard

Five Whys. Use the Five Whys to help students delve deeper into a concept. Improve critical thinking and improve understanding with this simple tool.
The Tool Time for Education description of this tool is linked below.

Bone Diagram. The Bone Diagram is a tool for clarifying where you are, where you want to be, and how you can get there. This is a good tool for improving classroom management and studying transitions.The Tool Time for Education description of this tool is linked below.