Christina Dionne: Striving to Make a Difference

Recently, one of UMF’s alumna was featured on the Mt. Blue Regional School District website for her exemplary work in building relationships with students and individualizing instruction. Christina Dionne, a graduate from UMF’s Secondary Education program, is currently teaching math at Mt. Blue Middle School and taking strides everyday to better herself as an educator and her students as learners.

Christina has always liked math, and she was in the advanced math classes in high school. When she first came to UMF she was an art major, but after her freshman year she changed her major so that she could pursue a career in math. The UMF methods courses that Christina took brought about a passion for teaching in her.

After graduating, Christina took a job as a camp counselor. Two years later, she became the arts and crafts specialist at camp. On her fourth year, Christina was promoted to being a unit leader and was responsible for managing the four groups within her unit, communicating with parents, and organizing activities and field trips. Eventually, Christina took on a job in early childhood, where she was able to understand child development more clearly and gain an understanding of how to better implement a curriculum with a holistic approach. Christina then took on her position at Mt. Blue Middle School.

Christina has expressed her commitment to proficiency-based education, which helped her to earn the respect of administration. Christina puts in very long hours at school, staying late to volunteer with After School Study and immerses herself in her work and her students.

One of Christina’s goals is to develop a proficiency-based program in math and show her students how to track their own progress in comparison with the standards. Christina would like to incorporate a more hands on approach that requires students to solve real-life math problems, and to implement the skills they learn both inside and outside of the classroom. She loves to challenge her students’ critical thinking.

Along with increasing student proficiency, Christina also makes it a point to create a student community in her classroom. Students often work together to learn from one another, build peer relationships, and increase their self esteem. This approach allows Christina to individualize instruction for those who need it while others are working together.

When asked about the challenges that she faces, Christina said that student frustration and behavior can be difficult. Christina tries to understand the cause of the behavior and work with the student to help them solve whatever problem they are facing. She aims to build healthy, valuable relationships with students. Christina also works at getting students interested in math. She uses various techniques, approaches, games, and activities to make learning math more fun and applicable.

Christina is one of many amazing teachers to have come from a UMF Teacher Education Program, and Mt. Blue Middle School and her students are lucky to have her! For more information about the amazing schools and opportunities in the Mt. Blue Regional School District, check out their website!

 

World Language Education: Preparing Language Educators for a Diverse World

The University of Maine at Farmington is excited to announce that it has created a new Bachelor of Science in World Language Education program to prepare educators for a career teaching Spanish or French in schools. There is an increasing shortage in the state of Maine and across the country of qualified World Language educators in the K-12 classrooms. This new major is designed to address the need for fully-certified World Language educators in the state of Maine and beyond.

A Maine Department of Education World Language specialist reports that all Maine high schools are now required to offer foreign language classes as a proficiency-based graduation requirement, and many Maine middle schools are expanding their language programs as well. Schools need language educators for a variety of reasons, including preparing students for a continuously evolving diverse world, collaborating with families from diverse backgrounds, and meeting college admission requirements.

This major will be offered beginning in the Fall of 2018. This program will provide an opportunity for students at UMF to become certified to teach in the classroom, with a deeper understanding of language and culture. UMF also teaches courses in Chinese and Japanese languages. For more information about the World Language Education major, visit the UMF media release or the  UMF website.

Social Justice Picture Book Display

This semester, students from both sections of Professor Kathryn Will-Dubyak’s Reading & Language Arts K-3 class (EDU 333) created a Social Justice Picture Book display on the third floor of Mantor Library.

As part of a class project, the students were asked to recommend children’s books for the library’s collections, and they decided to focus on books relating to social justice. In order to make their recommendations; they considered reviews from professional sources such as Horn Book and Publishers Weekly, looked at nominations for children’s book awards, and assessed the quality of the text and illustrations.

The titles the students chose have been purchased by the library and are currently being processed into the Mantor Library or Spenciner Curriculum Materials Center collections.

Some of the chosen books are listed below with brief descriptions:

The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig- Brian is a quiet boy who feels invisible. None of his classmates make an effort to play with him, invite him to their birthday parties, talk to him, or be his friend. When Brian befriends the new student, Justin, they become an unstoppable pair, and Brian shines among his classmates when he and Justin work on a class project together. This story shows how a small act of kindness and compassion can make a huge difference for children, especially the quiet ones.

All My Stripes: A Story for Children with Autism by Shania Rudolph and Danielle Royer- Zane, a young zebra with autism, worries that he will have problems at school if the students only notice his “autism stripe.” Zane’s mother helps him to learn to appreciate all of his stripes and all of his qualities, and to learn that he is not defined by his autism stripes but by how he treats others with honesty, respect, and care. The book includes a Reading Guide with additional background information about autism spectrum disorders and a Note to Parents and Caregivers with tips for finding support.

Sparkle Boy by Leslea Newman- Casey is a young boy who likes to play with puzzles, dump trucks, and blocks. He begins to show interest in his older sister Jessie’s things- her sparkly skirt, her shiny nails, and her bracelets. The rest of Casey’s family supports his interests, but Jessie doesn’t think that those things are for boys, so she doesn’t know how she feels about it. One day, Jessie sees other boys in the library picking on Casey for his “girl clothes.” Jessie realizes that Casey has a right to wear whatever he wants to wear and be whoever he wants to be. This is a great story that addresses and respects individuality and encourages freedom of typical gender roles and stereotypes.

For a complete list of stories included in the display case, click on the brochure below! The display can be seen in person on the third floor of Mantor Library. Great job to Professor Will-Dubyak and her class for such an amazing display and selection of books that are sure to touch your heart and make you feel good!

Sweatt-Winter Awarded New NAEYC Accreditation

“The Sweatt-Winter Child Care and Education Center on the UMF campus is proud to announce it has been awarded a new, five-year term of national accreditation by the National Association for Education of Young Children.

NAEYC Accreditation is a rigorous and transformative quality-improvement system that uses a set of 10 research-based standards to collaborate with early education programs to recognize and drive quality-improvement in high-quality early learning environments.

The Sweatt-Winter Center met 100 percent of the criteria in each of 10 program standards and was commended by the NAEYC for its outstanding efforts in maintaining and renewing its accreditation and for its dedication and commitment to continuous quality improvement.  The center fully-met the required elements within the standard criteria and scored highly on the random elements. Less than 10% of early childhood centers nationally attain NAEYC accreditation.

“We are so proud of this national accreditation and what it says about the quality of our programs,” said Julie Farmer, director of the Sweatt-Winter Center. “High-quality early education and childcare have huge benefits for children, their families and the entire community.”

The Sweatt-Winter program has provided full-time care and education to children in Franklin County and the surrounding areas for more than 30 years. The curriculum is based on the interests of the children, and is carried out through the use of age appropriate activities. It offers a safe, nurturing and stimulating environment for children ages 3-8. A preschool program for ages 3-5 and a before-and-after school program for ages 5-8 are available.

The Sweatt-Winter program is located in University of Maine at Farmington’s Ricker Addition. In addition to its value as a top quality child care program, Sweatt-Winter also serves as lab school for UMF education majors where best teaching practices are taught and demonstrated by onsite UMF faculty instructors.

Hours of operation are from 7 a.m.–5:15 p.m. The program currently has openings in its before and after-school child care program. For more information please contact  Julie Farmer, director of UMF’s children’s programs at 207-778-7480.”

Click here to view the complete article.

Makerspace: Creating Spaces to Innovate

Makerspace is an upcoming movement in the field of education. The goal of makerspace is to design a place for kids and students to create, play, and innovate. Johanna Prince, Director of Graduate Programs at UMF, has been involved in helping to educate the public about makerspace and potentially design a makerspace on campus. Johanna oversees the Masters in Technology program at UMF and has an interest in educational technology.

Makerspaces can be implemented and used in various ways. “I have seen makerspaces in kindergarten classes, art classrooms, high schools using high end, high-tech equipment,” said Johanna, “there’s a wide range in who can make use of them.” Makerspaces can consist of a fixed location to work in, mobile spaces in which items are transported to different locations on a cart, or even just a few shelves in a classroom with tools and resources designated for student innovation and creativity. Common tools and materials used are craft supplies, glue guns, small power tools, laser cutters, circuitry equipment, and much more!

3D printers are becoming increasingly popular as well, as people from various fields of study make use of them to design and create various tools. 3D printers can be used to create small or large items, math manipulatives, three-dimensional maps to study geography and landforms, and some assistive technology tools as well, such as a device to help turn a door handle or turn on a light switch. There is a 3D printer on campus at UMF, but it is not easily accessible to the public. If you are interested in making use of the 3D printer for educational and professional purposes, please contact Johanna Prince at johanna.prince@mane.edu

While there is not yet a dedicated Makerspace location on campus, there are various resources in the area that students and faculty can make use of. Everyone’s Resource Depot (located in the Education Center basement) has an abundance of craft materials and miscellaneous supplies at a very affordable price. The Spenciner Curriculum Materials Center (located on the first floor of the Education Center) has a variety of materials as well, including new Sphero Robots (pictured left), which can be controlled by tilting, tapping, or swiping your smartphone. Interested in learning more about Sphero Robots? Come to an interactive session using Sphero robotics and block based coding to play and learn, no prior knowledge or experience needed! This workshop will take place on Saturday, October 21st from 9:00-12:00 in Education Center 012. Spaces are limited to 20 participants, so fill out the registration form soon to ensure your spot!

Are you interested in makerspace, and want to learn more about it what you can do with it? There will be two more makerspace workshops and discussions after the Sphero robotics coding one workshop:

Low Tech and High Tech Making: Saturday October 28th 9:00-12:00 in Education Center 012

Join us for a hands on session to explore high tech and low tech making. You’ll get a chance to play with 3D modeling software,  use a 3D printer,  and create using low-tech repurposed materials. Limited to 20 participants, so fill out the registration form before it’s too late! 

What space is needed for a makerspace?: Wednesday December 6th 11:45-1:00 in Education Center 012

In this conversation we will continue to explore the ideal of making, creating and innovating.  We’ll discuss the ways we already have these spaces in our community and places, as well as how we can leverage them to develop spaces and opportunities for more making.  

At the last workshop, What is a makerspace?, there was an open conversation about makerspaces, what the goal of a makerspace is, and creativity! There was also a discussion about high school students who use high-tech materials in school coming to UMF, which has less tech integration and innovative technology faculty than their high school experience. It was an interesting and interactive discussion, and some small materials were provided to build and manipulate with. Check out these creations!

 

 

 

 

If you have any additional questions about makerspace, contact Johanna Prince (johanna.prince@maine.edu), Kathryn Will-Dubyak (kathryn.willdubyak@maine.edu), or Bryce Cundick (bryce.cundick@maine.edu). Stay up to date with the Ed360 blog to learn more about makerspace opportunities!

Meet the New Faculty of Special Education

The Special Education department at UMF is proud to welcome some new, bright, exciting members to the professional team. Kate MacLeod, Dominique Tetzlaff, and Kevin Good are the newest professors in special education at UMF.

Kate MacLeod is joining the the special education faculty in the Secondary and Special Education Division here at UMF. She is completing her doctorate in Special Education at Syracuse University and holds a Certificate of Advanced Study in Disability Studies from Syracuse and a Masters of Science in Special Education from Long Island University. Kate was a high school special education teacher and inclusion facilitator in New York City, and has expertise working with urban adolescents with disabilities. Her research and writing has been published in academic journals such as Educational Leadership, Disability & Society, Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, and International Journal of Whole Schooling, educational magazines such as Rethinking Schools and TASH Connections, and book anthologies focused on inclusive and special education. Her current research agenda is focused on best practices for the inclusion of students with complex support needs; understanding the culture of inclusive schools; and the development of teacher networks to support inclusive education. Kate is also an educational consultant who works with administrators, teachers, and families in the northeast and across the country to support their work to create and improve inclusive practice and culture for all students. She is a new resident of Unity, Maine and when she is not teaching, researching, or working with schools and families, she loves to play music with her husband and friends, and spend time outside with her dog Amelia. Kate is absolutely thrilled to join the UMF community!

 

 

Dominique Tetzlaff has been in the field of education for almost ten years. She started her career as a special education teacher in a middle school serving at-risk students in a high poverty community. Dominique recently completed her doctorate in Special Education at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and she specializes in high incidence disabilities, using technology for students with disabilities, and methods for teaching English Language Learners. Her dissertation study Using Mobile Technology to Increase the Math Achievement and Engagement of Students with Disabilities focused on the critical design features and implementation of mobile devices to support teacher-directed instruction. Dominique hopes to further expand this research line to develop guidelines for using digital lessons in the core content areas for students with disabilities. Dominique is very excited to be part of the UMF faculty and is looking forward to enjoying the community with her family!

 

 

Kevin Good is an instructor in Special Education.  He holds two master’s degrees and is preparing to finish his Ph.D. His focus in special education has resulted in various experiences including teaching, research, advocacy, and assistive technology consulting.  Kevin is interested in all areas of special education, but his primary teaching and research is on assistive technology, inclusive education, teacher education, literacy, academic and behavioral instructional approaches, and best practices in instruction and technology use.  His primary goal is to develop and mentor future teachers as they prepare to meet the needs of all learners.  He is also excited to work with community members with their assistive technology needs be it related to pk-12 education, higher education, or life.  As the Maine CITE coordinator at UMF, Kevin seeks to help all individuals at UMF learn more about the roles of assistive technology in the classroom and in life. Kevin is excited to be joining the UMF community because of its longstanding reputation in teacher education and its location in one of the most beautiful places in the country!

UMF is very excited to welcome Kate, Dominique, and Kevin to our faculty. If you see them around campus be sure to say hello and welcome them to Farmington. From all of here at UMF, we want to give a warm welcome to our new professors in Special Education!

Praxis Core Review Sessions Fall 2017

The UMF Learning Commons hosts multiple Praxis Core review sessions for students who would like some extra assistance preparing for the test. These sessions will be held as followed:

Writing- Multiple Choice Monday, September 18th 7-8 PM Ed Center 107
Math- Functions & Algebra Wednesday, September 20th 7-8PM Ed Center 106
Writing- Informative Essay Monday, September 25th 7-8 PM Ed Center 107
Math- Geometry Wednesday, September 27th 7-8 PM Ed Center 106
Writing- Argumentative Essay Monday, October 2nd 7-8 PM Ed Center 107
Math- Stats & Probability Wednesday, October 4th 7-8 PM Ed Center 106

Students are also welcome to visit the Learning Commons during tutoring hours (M-Th 12-2, Su-Th 7-9) for individual help.

An excellent online resource is the Learning Express Library. Once you create a free account, you can search for ‘PRAXIS Core’ to call up  4 different practice PRAXIS tests in Writing and Math.

Student Teaching Symposium #CountOnLearning

The final semester of college for most education majors is one of the most anticipated as they finally take on the role as a student teacher. Students are nervous, excited, anxious, and optimistic as they go into their student teaching position. Most students do not know what to expect during student teaching or how to prepare. Chelsey Oliver, UMF Class of 2017, felt the same way, as she would go to the symposium presentations every year looking for one about the student teaching experience. Year after year her searches came up short, so when it was her time to serve as a student teacher she decided to present at symposium about her experience.

Chelsey Oliver just graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington in the spring of 2017. During her final semester as a secondary education mathematics major, Chelsey completed her student teaching at Cony High School and Messalonskee Middle School. While education majors share their student teaching experience through portfolio presentations, Chelsey wanted to go beyond the units, lesson plans, and standards highlighted in portfolio presentations and also focus on the day-to-day experience of being a student teacher in a classroom. “A big part of my philosophy is collaborating with your colleagues, students, and teachers,” said Chelsey, “so this to me was the most exciting presentation I would give.”

Chelsey started her presentation by going over the daily schedule at both schools and comparing them. She touched upon some of the ‘out of the classroom’ components that came with student teaching, such as leaving the house in the morning when it is still dark out and getting home when it was dark out. Chelsey described some of the various programs and blocks in the school day, such as “RAM Time” at Cony High School, which was when teachers could meet one-on-one with students who may need help if they were absent, falling behind, or needed to finish a test. This was a great time for teachers to check-in with their students.

After going over the schedules, Chelsey emphasized the importance of self care and scheduling “me time.” As a teacher, you are constantly planning, grading, teaching, and working even when you are not at school. It is important to take care of yourself, and Chelsey did so by getting fresh air, meal prepping for the week ahead of time, and reflecting on her day.

Chelsey then gave a few classroom management tips, such as having a bin to leave work in for students who were absent. She also discussed making homework meaningful. She found that her students would do their homework, she would give feedback, and they would toss it in the trash. Chelsey then began assigning homework that required the students to talk about their struggles, their mistakes, a conversation they had with her that day, and to just personally reflect. This gave Chelsey a more personal look into her students’ lives as well. Chelsey then discussed technology and how it can be integrated into the classroom. Then, Chelsey touched upon her experience in UMF’s Student MEA (Maine Education Association) and how the various conferences, experiences, and collaborations that she participated in helped her develop as a professional.

 

Finally, Chelsey discussed the benefits of social media and how teachers can learn from each other. There are various Instagram pages, bloggers, and websites where teachers share their lessons, ideas, classroom management tips, and anything else you could imagine. Chelsey has also taken to social media and created a professional Twitter account (@countonlearning) and Instagram page (@countonlearning207) to share her teaching experience.

Chelsey’s student teaching experience was very meaningful to her, especially since she was able to personally share it at her symposium presentation. As the first student to present about their student teaching experience at symposium, she may have started a new trend as other UMF education majors will wish to share their experience as well. Congratulations to Chelsey and the rest of the UMF Class of 2017, and good luck as your begin your teaching career!

Graduate Studies in Education at UMF

The University of Maine at Farmington understands the importance of furthering and continuing education. That is why UMF offers various graduate degrees and certification programs beyond the first four years. UMF offers two Master of Science in Education programs and five certificates, including other additional programs. With all of these options, future educators have great opportunities to continue their professional development.

Master of Science in Education:

M.S.Ed. in Early Childhood Education- This program prepares educators to also be advocates, leaders, curriculum specialists, program administrators, and resources for young children and their families. The program emphasizes curriculum, child development, assessment, and the family and community dynamic. Through collaboration with community agencies, students are able to get a hands-on approach to building their skills. Students are mentored by faculty with extensive knowledge and abilities in the education field.

Approximately 30% of the program is delivered face-to-face, while the remaining 70% is conducted online. This 36-credit program is designed to be completed in 6 years and is comprised of both core and elective classes, which will be related to the early childhood field.

 

M.S.Ed. in Educational Leadership- This program contributes to the professional, intellectual, and personal growth of educators who wish to serve as exceptional leaders in their schools and communities. The program emphasizes school improvement and action research. Students in the program will complete an acton research project during the final two courses. This project focuses on classroom practice and/or school improvement. It includes planning, intervention, data collection, analysis, and the producing a professional report by presenting to faculty and peers.

This program is also 30% face-to-face and 70% online. The program is designed to be completed in two to three years. The Master of Science in Education program is approved as part of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) accreditation of the University of Maine at Farmington.

 

Certificate Programs:

Certification Programs are four-course programs comprised to graduate study courses to provide participants with a comprehensive, strong knowledge and skill base in a defined area of study.

Certificate of Administration- Designed for educators with two years experience teaching (required for admission), this program provides participants with the skills and knowledge to pursue opportunities in school administration.

Certificate in Applied Behavioral Analysis- This program prepares educators and professionals to work with challenging and difficult behaviors. Applied Behavioral Analysis is one of the best evidence-based practices for working with children on the Autism spectrum. If you are interested in this program enroll now- it will not be offered again until the Fall 2019!

Certificate in Gifted and Talented Education- This program prepares educators to work with exceptionally gifted and talented children. All courses are offered in a blended format, combining both face-to-face and online deliveries.

Certificate in Math Leadership- This program is designed for currently practicing educators to pursue opportunities in mathematics leadership. This program opens doors to various career options, including Math Coach, RTI Coordinator, Title 1: Math Teacher, and more!

Certificate in Proficiency Based Education- This program is designed for educators who wish to grow their content knowledge and increase their pedagogy. Participants will increase their skills in curriculum design, instruction, assessment, organization, and communication in order to best teach their students.

 

Other Programs:

Maine Mathematics Coaching Project (MMCP)- In July of 2015 UMF began piloting the Maine Mathematics Coaching Project. MMCP is designed to support PreK-8 teachers in transitioning to the role of mathematics coach in an elementary school setting. The three goals of the program are to (1) prepare Maine students to meet career and college mathematics demands, (2) provide teachers in the state of Maine with high quality mathematics professional development, and (3) increase interest, engagement, and self-efficacy in mathematics for students and teachers.

Special Education Alternative Route to Certification (SPARC)- This online program helps to address the need for qualified special educators in the state of Maine. This program is open to all current Special Education educators holding a baccalaureate degree, including in-service educators, those working in Birth to Age 5 intervention settings, Ed Techs, and others. Upon program completion, participants will receive their 282 certification in Special Education in the state of Maine.

With a growing demand for qualified, knowledgable, experienced, and competent educators, there are many opportunities for educators to further their education. UMF programs are flexible and designed to meet the demands of a constantly changing field. For more information about UMF graduate and certification programs, visit the UMF Graduate Studies website.

Graduate School Applications: How to Prepare

Applying to graduate school is a big step, and it requires careful time and attention. It can be stressful and confusing at times, but if you follow all of the steps and prepare for what is required, it will be a lot easier. Follow these steps to make the application process as stressless as possible:

  1. 1. Research schools based on location and disciplines. Once you find programs in the area you want, research each program to find out exactly what research is being done, what you will be doing, and what the application requirements are. You do not want to just apply to any program that has your discipline, because the school and program itself might not be a good fit for you. To find graduate programs that fit your needs, click here.
  2. Reach out to grad school faculty and ask questions. This will show them that you are serious about the program and that you take initiative. It will also facilitate a relationship with graduate school faculty, who are usually the ones to make admissions decisions.
  3. Prepare for the standardized test you will need to take (Graduate Record Exam-General Test, Graduate Record Exam- Subject Test, Miller Analogies Test, Graduate Management Admission Test) and register for the test. Each program requires (if any) different tests, so make sure you prepare for any and all that are needed.  
  4. Request letters of recommendation from undergrad professors, faculty, and internship/work supervisors. Professionals who can speak about your abilities, growth, passion, strengths, and about you as a professional overall are the best resources for recommendation letters. Do not include personal references unless specifically requested.
  5. Draft your essay/personal statement. Read it a few times, have others read it, and edit, edit, EDIT! Make sure it is perfect, because this is the first snapshot that grad school admissions will have of you.
  6. File your application by the admissions deadline. Make sure you know when any and all deadlines are.

Okay so now you know step by step what to do, but what about all of the in betweens? Here are a few tips to help you figure out how to do everything:

  • Breathe and relax. Getting overwhelmed can cause you to make careless mistakes. Take each step one day at a time if necessary.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute, because then you will be stressed and pressed for time, and you will be rushing to get it all done.
  • Make sure you follow all of the application directions. Failure to follow directions could cause faculty to question your ability to follow policies and procedures.
  • Make sure everything is spelled correctly and punctuated right. Poor spelling can have a negative impact on your application, no matter how high your GPA or tests scores are.
  • Be clear about your goals and desires, your strengths and areas for growth, and your professional experiences and abilities. This shows that you have personal insight, know where you stand as a professional, and that you are determined to reach your goals.
  • Communicate those goals/strengths/etc to those writing recommendation letters- these are important topics that they can touch upon and build up for you.
  • Have a backup plan, just in case you do not get accepted to your top choice program(s).

 

Applying for and going to graduate school can be stressful, but it pays off in the end and is definitely worth it! If you are considering furthering your education or for more information about the graduate school application process, visit the UMF Graduate School Resources site.