I’ve Been Busy Writing, But Not On My Blog – Our Race to the Top Grant

I really enjoy writing. Especially about the great projects I'm lucky enougth to be involved in. I use them to populate the Maine Center for Meaningful Engaged Learning website, and to answer other educator's questions. And I like to post at least a couple days a week.

But I haven't been able to do that lately (my last post was more than a month ago!). But not because I haven't been writing. In fact, I've probably been doing more writing lately than I usually do. That's because I'm part of a great writing team preparing a Race to the Top – District grant for a consortium of 5 districts. Here's some info about what we've been working on:

A consortium of schools from across Maine are looking to support their adoption of Customized Learning by applying for a federal grant. The Customized Learning Consortium will apply for a U.S. Department of Education Race to the Top – District Grant to further and support their implementation of Customized Learning. Auburn School Department will act as Lead LEA. Other districts in the Consortium include RSU 3 (Unity, Thorndike), RSU 10 (Dixfield, Rumford, Buckfield), SAD 15 (Gray, New Gloucester), RSU 57 (Waterboro).

All districts are members of the Maine Cohort for Customized Learning, and already collaborating at implementing this approach to personalized learning. All schools in each of the 5 district are participating, so this is a Pre-K/12 initiative, representing over 13,000 students.

The Consortium is eligible to request up to $30M over 4 years. It is still early in the proposal development process, and the exact amount the Consortium will request is yet to be determined. The grant is due October 30, and must include a 10-day comment period by the state and local communities, which is currently underway.

Customized Learning is based on the two core principles: that students learn in different timeframes and in different ways. Research shows that when schools are designed to support these two principles, students learn better. Making a change to Customized Learning requires a lot of capacity building (training, coaching, support, etc) and infrastructure (policies, structures, tools, resources, etc.). The grant will support Consortium district’s implementation of Customized Learning by focusing on these two areas. Grant activities include the following:

Capacity Building

  • Teacher Development
  • Pedagogical Coach Development
  • Leadership Development
  • Community Development
  • Development of Strategies Successful with Students and Families of Poverty


  • Curriculum Development & Organization (content knowledge; critical reasoning skills; lifelong habits of mind)
  • Learning Progress Management System Development
  • Educational Resources (learning materials, educational devices, apps, etc.)

Please note, that not only is this the work that Consortium districts are currently involved in, but it is the work that all districts in the Maine Cohort for Customized Learning are working on. It is also consistent with the Commissioner of Education’s strategic plan: Education Evolving. Receiving the grant would insure that districts in the Consortium have sufficient resources to successfully complete this work in a timely fashion. Further, lessons learned and products from the Consortium’s involvement in grant activities will be made available to be shared with other Maine schools.

Perhaps the irony is that I'm not sure I could have contributed as much as I did to the narrative sections I drafted if I didn't have my old blog posts to draw from, and the new writing will contribute to new blog posts once the grant is submitted.