Welcome to the Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction webpage
  • Curriculum: what we teach and what we want students to learn
  • Assessment: tells us how successful we are as teachers and how to better support our students as learners
  • Instruction: our teaching methods and approaches


2015-2016 The Continuous Improvement Times


MDIHS Curriculum Newsletters


MDIRSS Educational Science Partners

Acadia National Park
College of the Atlantic
Healthy Acadia
Jackson Laboratory
Jesup Memorial Library
Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory
Somes-Meynell Wildlife Sanctuary




Recent Announcements

  • Exciting STEM/Science Developments

    Exciting STEM/Science developments at MDI Schools!


    Where do we stand? According to the NICHE ratings, MDI High School is #7 in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) in Maine. Three of our 8th grade cohorts had 100% of the students meet or exceed state expectations in science. All of our 5th grade cohorts, at schools large enough to rank, outscored the state. But our high science test scores are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to active learning in science in MDI schools. STEM experiences that integrate science with technology, engineering and/or math are occurring K-12 and coding activities are now widespread.


    New standards: The Next Generation Science Standards are demanding that science teaching and learning include the Science and Engineering Practices. Grade K-8 teachers selected common grade level content units blended with the Practices and the NGSS Crosscutting Concepts: patterns, stability and change, structure and function, etc. To graduate, MDI high school students need to demonstrate ability to use the Science and Engineering Practices with both physical and life science content. Engineering and design are now part of the Science curriculum K-9.





    Lots of teacher professional development: MDI teachers have actively participated in the science professional development provided by the RISE Center at the University of Maine at Orono. John Tapper, our math consultant, has worked with teachers and students in K-8 schools throughout the district. Many teachers throughout the district have participated in courses, gone on site visits and attended conferences related to science, technology, engineering and/or math. STEM -- design thinking, coding, project-based learning in science, 3-D printing --  has been featured during district professional development all year. Members of the Science Collaboratory are working with Acadia National Park and A Climate To Thrive on a climate science curriculum.



    New Science and STEM courses at the high school: In the past four years, we have added three Computer Science courses and completely redesigned the 9th grade Integrated Physical Science (IPS) course to include a stronger focus on engineering. This spring, we are offering an Intro to Design Thinking course. Next year we will be adding two Environmental Science courses, the Marine Systems Technologies satellite CTE program in partnership with Hinckley, and integrated science, arts and design courses. We are also looking to integrate the design thinking framework --  conceive, organize, lead, implement, and evaluate -- into many courses and to create an Active Learning Center, makerspaces and fablabs at the high school which will support all kinds of STEM and STEAM projects.


    Available resources: PTOs, local enrichment funds and REAP grant monies have supported STEM and science purchases/rentals of science kits, a 3-D printer, vertical gardens, science field trips and aquariums. The Emery Science grants, due April 1, have funded classroom science projects and supplies. Dave and Sandy Perloff have provided 3-D printers to four of our K-8 schools. Students are completing design challenges and projects are being integrated into the curriculum. The MDI STEM Fund has recently been set up by Maine Coast Engineering to support district STEM initiatives and teacher professional development. Jackson Lab has committed to providing internships, the 2nd grade Bacteriology experience and support for the Teaching the Genome Generation project. MDI Bio Lab has committed to providing internships, creating customized science experiences and teacher professional development. Acadia National Park has worked closely with our teachers on curriculum-aligned field trip design, offers ranger opportunities to teachers and students, and provides ranger visits who custom design to match the curriculum. ANP is also working with teachers to design professional development related to climate science. Middle school students at MDES are helping the Park monitor red pine scale. Billy Helprin from Somes-Meynell is working with third and fourth grade teachers and students at Trenton, Tremont and Pemetic to help them use the outdoors as a classroom. A recent MDI Education Enhancement Fund grant is paying for teachers to review climate science materials for consideration and to participate in professional development.



    For an updated version of the STEM Task Force Report, click here. Link to our District Technology Plan here.


    Posted Feb 14, 2017, 7:52 AM by Karen Shields
Showing posts 1 - 1 of 13. View more »

We will be posting information for parents and teachers on a regular basis, including answers to frequently asked questions such as:


Is MDIRSS using the Common Core State Standards?

Yes. Maine has adopted the Common Core State Standards as its Maine standards, called the Maine Learning Results, for Math and English Language Arts. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) provide a map to college and career readiness. MDIRSS has selected Foundation, Focus and Graduation Standards from the CCSS for Math and English Language Arts and the CCSS Literacy Anchor Standards for Science, Social Studies and Technical Subjects. This is local control at its best -- MDIRSS has adopted the CCSS because they describe a vision of education that supports students to read, write, problem solve and think critically in all content areas but has focused on those we feel are most critical to college and career readiness.


Has MDIRSS adopted the Next Generation Science Standards?

Yes. The Next Generation Science Standards provide a robust K-12 framework of science and engineering practices, and cross-cutting concepts that are important in all areas of science and specific content standards related to earth science, biology, chemistry, physics, etc. MDIRSS teachers and science partners -- Acadia National Park, Jackson Laboratory, College of the Atlantic, MDIBL -- are exploring the standards and working to develop effective curricula that will support teaching and learning aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards. Again, we have selected specific standards as our Focus and Graduation Standards in grades 6-12 and aligned curriculum materials to selected units of study in K-5.


What is the difference between learning standards and learning progressions?

Learning Standards describe what we want students to know and be able to do. They are the goal that we have for all students. Learning Progressions describe the learning path to the standards and are tools to measure where students are in their learning and where they need to go next.


What is the Lucy Calkins Writing Program?

Lucy Calkins is the founder of the Reading and Writing Project at Teachers College at Columbia University in New York City, Her work in the area of reading and writing instruction is known throughout the world. Recently, Lucy and her colleagues created a set of units that grade K-5 teachers can use to implement the writing workshop approach in a way that is aligned with the Common Core State Standards. MDIRSS has provided teachers with professional development in this approach and will be supporting implementation through coaching. The units of study are research-based and have been extensively field-tested and are the premier writing program in the country.