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Maine (Archived)

- April 2011 -
Submitted by Laura Wittmann and Ina Demers

While several private high schools in Maine (notably, George Stevens Academy in Ellsworth, Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine Central Institute in Waterville and John Bapst in Bangor) have tuitioned international students before, both Millinocket and Orono High will tuition international students in Fall 2011. The reason behind this is to boost student numbers and to tap into the Chinese market of students who wish to improve their English and attend an American university. Millinocket hopes to have between 20 and 60 international students, mostly Chinese, next year. Students would pay a total of $27,000 (tuition and room and board) for the year. One potential problem is that current federal law states that international students can only attend public school for one year, so students will have to change schools.

Check it out! Announcing the launch of the new “ESL in Maine” Blog and Twitter: www.eslinmaine.blogspot.com Welcome to the new ESL in Maine Blog!  Discussion has been floating around the State since the NNETESOL conference last Fall about having a Blog that allows teachers (and others) a means of direct sharing of ideas, best practices, troubleshooting with peers and answers to questions posed through our ESL Educators listserve.  Well, Bloggers-R-Us!  Nicole Lesperance from up in Strong and Ina Demers from down in Portland are online and ready to go! Nicole has been working extra hours to set up the Blog site and make it live and welcoming.  Nicole and Ina will be co-moderators for this Blog. There are already 8 topics posted (some already with comments), awaiting your input and exchange. The “How to Post” section gives directions for participating.  Straightaway simple! And please, spread the word! This blog will be a great resource to many! NOTE:  For you Tweeters, you can also Twitter – just scroll down the home page. www.eslinmaine.blogspot.com Questions?  Nicole at nlesperance@msad58.org or Ina at demeri@portlandschools.org

Take a look – “Study Island.” Go to www.studyisland.com:  A computer based NECAP practice program. Check it out!!  This summer, Ina attended a workshop at the Governor Baxter for the Deaf and learned that most of the strategies taught at that school are applicable to our students. In her opinion, ESL kids might as well be “hard of hearing” because majority of them are not “hearing” the academic vocabulary at home.

Received from Kathleen Hiscock, Adult Ed. Portland, Maine
Kathleen teaches 3 classes with about 30 students in each class,  mostly from Africa and the Middle East. She is thinking of presenting for this fall conference. She uses Wilson Reading System and obtains books from the Maine Humanities Council.

Received from Deborah Howard, Governor Baxter School for the Deaf, Portland, Maine
Deborah presented for the Portland Public Schools a workshop called  “Unique Learning Styles and Needs of Deaf and hard of Hearing Students in August – it was great!

Received from Nancy Jacobson, ELL Tutor and Coordinator for SAD 22
She provides regular services from K – 10th  Grade. Her students come from India, Greece, China, Hairi, Dominican  Republic and Columbia. She just screened three K students with  families from Greece, Chechoslovakia, and Arabic nation. She is also interested in what we have to offer.

Received from Margaret Peacock, ELL Coordinator and Teacher at Washington Academy
There are 11 towns in Maine that are  boarding students in town academies. They are Freyburg, George  Stevens in Blue Hill, Washington in East Machias, Lee in Lee, Guold, Kent’s Hill, Thorton, and others, who have international Boarding Students from all over the world especially Asia. Their needs are somewhat different from many of the public secondary schools. She wants to have some resources and conference sessions to meet the ESL teachers in these town academies.  She spoke for herself in her need to have assessment that would give her immediate results to drive her curriculum. According to her ACCESS does not meet her needs to place students at the appropriate level while TOEFL is too difficult as a placement test. She is looking for computer based assessment program/s and for the time being she is using SLEP, Secondary English Proficiency test. Ina Demers attempted to assist her and wrote to Maria Wilson-Portuondo at Brown, received an article, and a note from Dr. Ying Hui Michaels, who wrote about his experiences learning English.  Maria Wilson-Portuondo, although she has retired from Brown, she is still  working as a consultant at Brown. She gave us the Massachusetts Association for Bilingual Education (MABE) website for specific  tools to meet the needs of ESL educators. Maria and her crew hosted a forum on RTI and ELLs with Janet Klingner as keynote speaker. The  website: http://www.massmabe.org She ahs done some work with the EDCO Collaborative in Waltham, Mass., who received a grant for an  Institute titled “Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Assessment for ELLs: An Equitable Approach,” which she started teaching with Phyllis Hardy and Dr. Ying Hui Michaels.

- September 2010 -
Submitted by Laura Wittmann and Ina Demers

Take a look – “Study Island.” Go to www.studyisland.com:  A computer based NECAP practice program. Check it out!!  This summer, Ina attended a workshop at the Governor Baxter for the Deaf and learned that most of the strategies taught at that school are applicable to our students. In her opinion, ESL kids might as well be “hard of hearing” because majority of them are not “hearing” the academic vocabulary at home.

Received from Kathleen Hiscock, Adult Ed. Portland, Maine
Kathleen teaches 3 classes with about 30 students in each class,  mostly from Africa and the Middle East. She is thinking of presenting for this fall conference. She uses Wilson Reading System and obtains books from the Maine Humanities Council.

Received from Deborah Howard, Governor Baxter School for the Deaf, Portland, Maine
Deborah presented for the Portland Public Schools a workshop called  “Unique Learning Styles and Needs of Deaf and hard of Hearing Students in August – it was great!

Received from Nancy Jacobson, ELL Tutor and Coordinator for SAD 22
She provides regular services from K – 10th  Grade. Her students come from India, Greece, China, Hairi, Dominican  Republic and Columbia. She just screened three K students with  families from Greece, Chechoslovakia, and Arabic nation. She is also interested in what we have to offer.

Received from Margaret Peacock, ELL Coordinator and Teacher at Washington Academy
There are 11 towns in Maine that are  boarding students in town academies. They are Freyburg, George  Stevens in Blue Hill, Washington in East Machias, Lee in Lee, Guold, Kent’s Hill, Thorton, and others, who have international Boarding Students from all over the world especially Asia. Their needs are somewhat different from many of the public secondary schools. She wants to have some resources and conference sessions to meet the ESL teachers in these town academies.  She spoke for herself in her need to have assessment that would give her immediate results to drive her curriculum. According to her ACCESS does not meet her needs to place students at the appropriate level while TOEFL is too difficult as a placement test. She is looking for computer based assessment program/s and for the time being she is using SLEP, Secondary English Proficiency test. Ina Demers attempted to assist her and wrote to Maria Wilson-Portuondo at Brown, received an article, and a note from Dr. Ying Hui Michaels, who wrote about his experiences learning English.  Maria Wilson-Portuondo, although she has retired from Brown, she is still  working as a consultant at Brown. She gave us the Massachusetts Association for Bilingual Education (MABE) website for specific  tools to meet the needs of ESL educators. Maria and her crew hosted a forum on RTI and ELLs with Janet Klingner as keynote speaker. The  website: http://www.massmabe.org She ahs done some work with the EDCO Collaborative in Waltham, Mass., who received a grant for an  Institute titled “Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Assessment for ELLs: An Equitable Approach,” which she started teaching with Phyllis Hardy and Dr. Ying Hui Michaels.

- June 2010 -
Submitted by Laura Wittmann and Ina Demers

Jobs available: MSAD 37 in Harrington, Washington County, needs a full-time certified ESL teacher for 2010-2011. Contact Valera Crofoot.  ESL teaching jobs are also being posted in Lewiston and Portland.

Kudos: In Lewiston, the ESL students continue to benefit from the tutoring collaboration with Bates, LEAP, and the downtown area. Barbara Benjamin reports that “Snapshot Silhouette”, a play about,  “two very different girls from very different worlds; one African American, one Somali- must share a room…” will be held at L/A Arts DownStage, on May 29th and films such as “Rain in a Dry Land” have been shown in our public library. In addition, Lewiston 8th and 9th grade students scored well on the ACCESS, in the 5 and 6 range.

Upcoming Events:
Biddeford is hosting a data retreat to look at ACCESS and other test data next Tues., June 1st. Don Bouchard is leading the “retreat”. Mainstream teachers and administrators were invited along with ESL teachers. Invitations were extended to members of our consortium (Biddeford, OOB, Saco, Sanford and Kennebunk), as well as to other southern Maine communities. We will be hosting a follow-up session in the fall. Contact: “Cynthia Volin” cvolin@biddschools.org

The Gorham area would like to organize a group of ESL teachers who belong to the Sebago Alliance schools to informally discuss situations in our school systems. This would be planned for March 2011. This group is based on the ESL Chat group centered in Bangor ME, involving the ESL Ed Techs, Coordinators, Teachers and Professors in the Bangor, Orono, Old Town, Ellsworth, and Hampden areas. Contact: Debra Beckwith” debrab@gorhamschools.org

Project Opportunity is offering summer courses at Umaine. The courses are offered at different dates and times; contact 581-3847 or Shelly Chasse (Shelly_Chasse@umit.maine.edu) for more information.

USM is offering summer courses the Lewiston campus. Contact 753-6500 for more information.

USM and Project Opportunity have both sponsored Sonia Nieto and her lecture, “From Surviving to Thriving: Finding Joy in Teaching Students of Diverse Backgrounds.” The next lecture will be June 2 at USM. http://blogd.usm.maine.edu/cehd/

The Multilingual Center is offering their annual ESL summer program at Presumpscot School in Portland from the end of June thru the end of July.

Learning Works, an after school program to give ample opportunities to ELLS and other at risk students at East End Community School in Portland will have their first summer program as well. This is made possible by a 21st Century grant for the next 4 years. Ina Demers is one of the teachers who will be working with students this summer.

Learning Works has received a 5 year 21st Century grant for $11,000.000 to establish an afterschool program at Portland High School.

Portland Public Schools has been hired Maggie Connell who taught I Get it Math last year. http://igetitmath.com

The BAYSIDEWORLD MARKET AND FAIR will take place on June 12, 2010 from 11 am – 4 pm at Portland High School on Cumberland Avenue, Portland. Admission is free!! Plenty of ethnic foods, crafts, activities, dancing and music performances. http://www.baysideworldmarketandfair.com

Festival of Nations, July 30-31, 2010. http://www.festivalofnations.com

Ina Demers, as one of the MEA Human and Civil Rights Committee members, has been working to find better assessment tools for ELLs. She has been invited by MEA to attend the NEA RA in New Orleans from June 30 – July 8, 2010.

Past Events:
Grace Valenzuela was one of three presenters in The Center for Health and Health Care in Schools’ Webinar, “Promising Models for Funding and Sustaining School Mental Health Services to Immigrant and Refugee Families,” that was held on May 20, 2010. The webinar focussed on the ability of school-based mental health administrators who discussed their successes in developing financial models for their programs. All three programs were currently serving immigrant and refugee student populations and their families.

Don Bouchard has given a series of webinars this spring. The third (in a series of four) was “Structuring Formative Assessments of Language within the Curriculum for ELLs”, which was held on March 16. It focused on the important role of language assessment for informing instructional delivery. The fourth webinar was on May 6, entitled, “Collaboration for ELLs: When Two are Better than One.” This webinar explored the programmatic ways for sharing instruction in language and content to provide mainstream classroom support for English Language Learners (ELLs).

Project Opportunity presented Susan Bennett-Armistead in a workshop entitled, “What Comes Next? Thinking Beyond Prediction for Promoting Comprehension with Informational Text” on May 13, 2010 This workshop focussed on informational text, specifically on defining the features of informational text, examining a variety of types of these texts, and offer strategies for assisting young language learners in making sense of this genre.

One of Maine’s longtime ESL teachers, Linda Ward, from Kennebunkport, went to the TESOL National Convention in Boston in March.  She kept a blog while there, and it showcases her most memorable talks and presentations.  http://tesolward.blogspot.com/2009/12/its-december-and-i-am-enrolled-looking.html

USM offered “Response to Intervention – Making it Work” on Thursday, April 15. This webinar was designed to help teachers realize that RTI is a general education initiative which supports ALL students learning and behavior needs. The presenters were Amanda VanDerHeyden and Rachel Brown-Chidsey. http://www.edweek.org/ew/marketplace/webinars/webinars.html#archived

Legal News:
As part of the Race-To-The-Top federal grant process, the Maine Education Committee voted 9-1 in favor of LD 1800 – An Act to Adopt the Common Core State Standards Initiative as a way to make Maine more competitive in the Race To the Top grant application process.  For example, by the end of eighth grade, students should be able to “informally explain why the square root of 2 is irrational.” The effort — endorsed by 48 states — is being praised for its attempt to bring an “ambitious and coherent” curriculum nationwide, while others are critical of a “one-size-fits-all” approach. There has been no comment on how this might affect ESL students and teachers.

Also, as part of Maine’s Race to the Top application, Maine’s Legislature passed and the Governor signed LD 1799, An Act to Encourage the Use of Models in the Collection and Use of Student Achievement Data, now Public Law, Chapter 646. This law removes the prohibition that previously existed in law against linking state student achievement data to teacher and principal evaluations and will become effective on July 12, 2010. This means that school administrative units (SAUs) may consider using student achievement data, as one of multiple measures, in teacher and principal evaluations. If they choose to do so, they may only use one of the models developed by the Department and approved by a stakeholder group according to the provisions of LD 1799.

Maine is currently in the process of choosing a model by which the student achievement data can be evaluated and connected to teacher evaluation. No word on how this will affect ESL students and teachers.

Maine is working on ensuring that all high school graduates have met the Maine Learning Results in two ways. The name of this effort is the Maine Course Pathways. For ESL students, this means that they will have to not only pass the course and receive credit, but they will also have to prove that their content knowledge meets the Maine Learning Results.

- February 2010 -
Submitted by Laura Wittmann and Ina Demers

Lee Academy is working on creating sister schools in China and South Korea. The academy is an accredited boarding school with many international students.

Grace Valenzuela, the director of Portland’s ESL program, was highlighted in a new book, New Mainers: Portraits of our Immigrant Neighbors by Pat Nyhan.

Portland’s Multicultural Center will offer its annual Rock Around the World fundraiser on March 12, 2010 at the Italian Heritage in Portland, Maine. For more info contact Margie Mcdonald at (207) 874-8135. Coordinated by the Portland Public School, Office of Multilingual.

Via an informal poll on Maine’s ESL Listserve, many of Maine’s ESL professionals are concerned about how best to serve their low-incidence populations and how to connect with colleagues. Another concern is how to tease out Special Ed differences from ESL needs and finding appropriate interpreters for their students’ families.
In looking at NH, it is suggested that Maine create small working groups by geographic area that would allow ESL professionals to have a sense of community and professional support. There is an informal group in the Bangor area that meets 3-4 times a year.

Maine’s Professional Development includes monthly conference calls by Nancy Mullins, Don Bouchard and his ACCESS/ webinar series; and two workshops on culture and teaching by Dr. Sonia Nieto.

In terms of standardized testing, Maine started using NECAPS in the fall, to replace the MEA. NECAPS is a standardized achievement test used in Vermont, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. In testing in October, the student is tested on what they know from the previous school year. First year ESL students can still use the ACCESS test to take the place of the Reading test, but must take the Math section with accommodations.

Diane Bonney, of Ellsworth, has been chosen by the WIDA consortium to take a paid course in writing test items for ACCESS.

Eastern Maine Community College offers an ESL program now under Changsu Lee. IEI at UMaine continues to operate with about 20-30 students as a “school within a school”

Pleasant Point Reservation teaches Passamoquoddy as a heritage language.

The Portland Public Schools Office of Multilingual also offers workshops to assist ESL educators to find more ways to better serve their students. FMI (207) 874-8135

Bayside World Market and Fair is  June 12, 2010 at Portland High school in Portland, Maine. Contact Jennifer at: jls@ceimaine.org while the Old Port Festival is June 13, 2010 in the Old Port in Portland, Maine.

Aserela of Maine: A Sudanese group in Maine who are trying to build more schools in Southern Sudan. The feast is being hosted at Guild Hall at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception at 307 Congress Street Portland, Maine 04101. Tickets, $20.00 individually, children are $10.00 or $200 dollars for a table. Proceeds from this event help Aserela Maine continue working in the most forgotten parts of the community. for reservation contact, Robert Ochira 207-774-3314 or e-mail Ochira12@yahoo.com.