A World of Unique Character and Natural Beauty

Chocolate and Kids, Oh My!

April 4, 2012      Author : Maine Island Living    Category: Community      0 Comment(s)

The Outer Islands TLC (Teaching and Learning Collaborative) is a group of Maine island educators who are committed to creating a virtual classroom community where teachers and students will have access to a rich and supportive inter-island peer network. The Outer Islands TLC serves the one and two room school communities of Cliff, Isle au Haut, the Cranberry Islands, Matinicus, and Monhegan.--The Island Institute

The Outer Islands Teaching and Learning Collaborative (TLC) coordinated with Black Dinah Chocolatier Kate Shaffer to teach Matinicus and Isle au Haut students how to make chocolate on March 22, 2012.  Explains Paula Greatorex, head teacher at Isle au Haut and one of several cofounders of Outer Island TLC, “The Teaching Learning Collaborative started as a way to connect the outer islands schools so students would be part of a larger classroom.  We combine the technology connections with at least three field trips a year where the students meet face to face.   It's an exciting program that is growing and changing all the time.”

Of the TLC program Alex, 10, of Isle au Haut says, “It’s nice to have some other kids from other islands come down.”  Classmate and newest school-aged resident Connor, 9, agrees, “Aiyup – it was pretty cool meeting kids from other islands.”

The Island Institute and The Maine Seacoast Mission are major TLC supporters, helping bring five outer island K-8 school systems together on a regular basis, in person and via Tandberg and Skype.  Students and teachers use wikis, blogs, googledocs, iMovie and Photobooth to further enhance and expand book groups, writing workshops, social studies, science lessons across five remote islands with student enrollment totaling 28 (Monhegan 3, Matinicus 4, Cliff 4, Isle au Haut 4, and the Ashley Bryan School in Islesford serving the Cranberry Islands, 13).

Dylan, whose sister describes as a “chocolatier”, stirs while masters-in-training look on and Kate Shaffer provides culinary advice. Says Dylan, “It was fun and pretty easy to do.” Photo by Paula Greatorex

“School visits are one of my (many!) favorite things about my job—as useful, engaging, and exciting as the technology can be, I think one of the main reasons the TLC is able to use technology so effectively is because we really make time to hang out with each other face-to-face. There's really no way to play a decent game of P.I.G. or freeze tag over the videoconferencing units. -- Anne Bardaglio, Island Institute Fellow coordinating Outer Islands TLC

Says Andrew,12, “I learned how to make bunnies and that you don’t have to put your fingerprints under it. We made the chocolate in like a minute!” Photo by Paula Greatorex

For Matinicus siblings Dylan, 14, and Layna, 12, the trip to Isle au Haut was their first.   Says Layna, “The island is a lot different than Matinicus because we don’t have mountains.  Isle au Haut was neat.  I liked it a lot.”  Adds Dylan, “It is much bigger than Matinicus and there are actually paved roads!”  Isle au Haut maintains a year-round population of around 50, while Matinicus

Says Michael, 11, “It was really fun, especially that we got to make our own bunnies and we got to keep them.” Photo by Paula Greatorex

currently has 25 residents.  Isle au Haut’s Michael, 11, adds how they have met the Matinicus students before via field trips, and that they connect regularly via internet for “science and reading and writing”.  Depending on one’s perspective, Matinicus and Isle au Haut are separated – or connected – by 16 nautical miles of the Penobscot Bay.

This school field trip required a Penobscot Island Air flight, car travel, and then the Isle au Haut Boat Services mailboat from Stonington to the island for chocolate class and several more educational and developmental activities.  Observes Matinicus teacher Lisa Rogers, “The children learned the art and science of chocolate making, but also that if you have passion and a dream, you can make it a reality with a plan and hard work."

Says Connor, 9, “Making chocolate was pretty fun. It was pretty cool how the bunny is made, but I thought it was going to be solid and then it was hollow.” Photo by Paula Greatorex

Michael of Isle au Haut and Layna of Matinicus contemplate their creations. Of Black Dinah Chocolatiers’ solar system Layna observes, “They had these tubes on top of the kitchen that heated up water. The water heated up as it ran through the tubes by collecting sunlight on the roof. They heat up really hot and that heated water is used to help make the chocolate. Photo by Lisa Rogers

Says Layna, “It was cool to see all the machines and stuff. It was amazing how much chocolate they produce in a day with such few workers and such. There was so much chocolate everywhere!” Photo by Lisa Rogers

Island resources referenced:

Outer Islands Teaching and Learning Collaborative-- www.outerislandstlc.org/
The Island Institute-- www.islandinstitute.org/
The Maine Seacoast Mission-- www.seacoastmission.org/
Penobscot Island Air charter service-- www.penobscotislandair.net/
Isle au Haut Boat Services-- www.isleauhaut.com
Black Dinah Chocolatiers-- www.blackdinahchocolatiers.com/
Ashley Bryan School in Islesford-- wwww.islesfordschool.blogspot.com/
Islesford, Cranberry Islands-- www.islesford.com/
Cliff Island School-- www.cliffisland.portlandschools.org/
Cliff Island-- www.cliffisland.com/index1.html
Monhegan Island-- www.monhegan.com/
Matinicus Island-- www.matinicus.info/
Isle au Haut-- www.isleauhaut.org

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