We Actually Did 5 Days Last Week!!!

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Upcoming Important Dates

Wednesday, March 4 – Spread the Word to End the Word Day
Friday, March 6 – GMS Musical Alice@Wonderland, GMS Auditorium 7:00 pm admission $5
Saturday, March 7 – GMS Musical Alice@Wonderland, GMS Auditorium 7:00 pm admission $5
Saturday, March 7 – 6th Grade Honor Music Festival, Bonny Eagle Middle School 3:00 pm
Tuesday, March 10 – 8th Grade Parent Night at the High School 6:00 pm GHS Auditorium
Wednesday, March 11 – Early Release Day, Student dismissed at 11:10 am
Thursday, March 12 – Parent Teacher Conferences 3:00 – 8:00 pm
Friday, March 13 – Parent Teacher Conferences 8:00am – 2:00 pm NO SCHOOL FOR STUDENTS

Alice @Wonderland

AliceatWonderland small posterJPEGIt is that time of year again! Our young GMS thespians get to “strut the boards” (that does it for my theatrical jargon!) and present to our community a wonderful adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Please join us on both Friday, March 6 and Saturday March 7 in the GMS Auditorium beginning at 7:00 pm for tea with The Mad Hatter or croquet with The Queen of Hearts. I am sure that the evening will be filled with wonderful song and lots of belly laughs for everyone.

Spread the Word to End the Word

For the past several years, Gorham Middle School Students, Faculty and staff have celebrated the 1st Wednesday in March expunge the word 100h-Alternate-Logo-Darkretard from the vocabulary in our school and community. Each year, our students renew their pledge to end the use of that word to denigrate, put down or otherwise slam their peers and I am happy to report that they have done a great job of cutting the word out of their vocabulary.

Luanne Amell has led this effort for several years at GMS and she has worked tirelessly to get our kids to go on line at www.r-word.org and make their pledge to stop using the word. We will have great celebration on Wednesday, March 4, the actual day of Spread the Word to End the Word.

I hope that many of you will join us in this pledge to value each and every member of our community for who they are and the talents the bring to our world. Just go to the link provided and make your pledge.

8th Grade Parent Night

parentsYou know, I say this every year and it really does seem to sneak up on us, but it is that time of year when we start the preparations for saying good-bye to our 8th graders. It really seems like they just started here and we are planning to send them off to the high school.

High School Principal Chris Record and all of his Department Heads will welcome the parents of our 8th graders, and the 8th graders, too, to the GHS Auditorium at 6:00 pm on Thursday, March 10. Chris will outline what parents can expect during the next few months from the high school regarding courses, requirements and expectations from the high school teachers. This is a great night for the parents to ask questions, clarify the expectations and get the answers they need direct from the source. I hope you can attend.

Early Release Day

Wednesday, March 11 will be an early release day for the students so that teachers can attend a professional development event. Students will be dismissed at 11:10, but we will have a regular schedule, just shortened classes.

Parent Teacher Conferences

Our Parent Teacher Conferences will be held on Thursday evening, March 12 from 2:30 pm until 8:00 pm and again on Friday, March 13 CLIPART_OF_15182_SM_2(hopefully not a bad omen for our students or their families!) beginning at 8:00 am until 2:00 pm. Students’ Advisors will be available to meet with parents on these days, however, if neither of these days works for you, please just contact your child’s advisor to arrange an alternate date. These conferences are a very important element of the home/school communication and are a great chance for teachers, students and parents  to get together and discuss progress throughout the year.

You should be hearing from your child’s advisor in the coming days to schedule your time to meet.

Please note: There are no classes for students on Friday for students.

Cold Enough For You!?!

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Upcoming Important Dates

Friday, February 13 thru February 22 – Mid Winter Break, Enjoy the snow!!!
Friday, February 27 – Southern Maine Honors Chorus Festival, Westbrook Middle School
Friday, February 27 – School Dance GMS Gym 6:00 -8:00 pm
Saturday, February 28 – Southern Maine Honors Concert, Westbrook Middle School 3:30 pm
Saturday, March 7 – 6th Grade Honor Music Festival, Bonny Eagle Middle School 3:00 pm

A Warm Welcome

photo-9All of the faculty, staff and our students want to offer a warm welcome to our new Superintendent-elect, Heather Perry. We truly look forward to working with Ms. Perry as we all tackle the challenges that public school education faces in the coming years.

A Dose of Reality

We had a great assembly with all of our kids on Friday. Linda Dutil, an Emergency Room Nurse from Waterville who travels around thephoto-10 country sparking with high school and middle school kids about the realities of abusing substances. Linda does a great job of keeping the presentation very appropriate for the age of the kids and she does not place challenges in front of the kids. What she does is talk about what happens when young people make poor choices and end up in her Emergency Room. Linda does a great job of getting the kids involved in the presentation and she paces her “shock” effect about substances with a comforting compassion of a parent.

Music Honors Season

MusicAs you can see form the “Upcoming Important Date” section of this edition, we have several Honors Concerts coming in the next few weeks for several of our very talented musicians. It is a source of great pride for our school and our community to have so many of our students selected for these great accomplishments. I urge you, if you can find the time, to take in one of these concerts. It is a great chance for our kids to collaborate with other great middle school musicians.

An Update of Proficiency Based Education

The Gorham School department continues to work toward awarding Proficiency Based Diplomas as required by the state beginning with our current 6th grade class. I know that there are several folks out there wondering what is the fuss about this and how is it going to impact my son or daughter as they continue on in CBE-image1school.

I think we first need to remember why we send our kids to school. Our community allocates lots of financial resources and makes great sacrifices so that our kids will learn skills and knowledge to be successful in their life and become productive, positive citizens who will contribute to the betterment of our society. Ultimately, we want our kids keep this Democracy, that has endured for more than 235 years, strong and vibrant well into the future.

There are far too many interpretations of what this looks like specifically, but I think we can agree that having a well educated populace is our top goal.

So the grading systems we all grew up with had teachers administering tests and quizzes and then assigning grades to them based upon the number of correct answers divided by the number of questions on the test. Some teachers assigned more points for short answer questions than they did for multiple choice, true/false, or selected response questions. Some tests had essay questions called constructed response questions that would be worth the most points. Teachers usually used a percent to represent how a student did on any given test.

So, here are 3 students in the same class, taking the same 10 tests. What do the results of these 3 students demonstrate about their learning in my social studies class?

Student 1 Student 2 Student 3
Test #
1 50 100 100
2 60 100 50
3 60 90 90
4 70 90 60
5 80 80 100
6 80 80 60
7 90 70 50
8 90 60 90
9 100 60 80
10 100 50 80
Average 78 78 78

Each student achieved an average of 78% on the tests given. These tests were designed to demonstrate student achievement on a topic in social studies. Unlike some teachers, I chose not to look at homework for this quarter, so I graded the students based solely on the results of these tests. I purposely didn’t give anyone a zero, because I know about the toxicity of giving a student a zero and how it serves only to disengage the student.

What do these grades say about each of these kids?

Let’s look at student #1;

This student appears to start slow, not getting the information or not knowing how to study for my tests, or not understanding what I was looking for. After a time in my class, this student seems to begin to understand either the content or what I was looking for in answers to my questions. By the end of the quarter this student seems to have a good understanding of the content, or what I was looking for in answers, or how to study better for my tests, or had the lead role in the play I was directing for the school, or was the all-state center on my hockey team, or was polite in my class! (Ok, some of these reasons are a little ridiculous, but I wanted to show how the human condition can enter into our decision process.)

Student #2:

This student starts the quarter off with a bang! 100’s on the first two of tests of the quarter. This is going to be a great quarter for this student, maybe a really easy quarter, maybe too easy! This student’s grade seem to fall off as the quarter moves on. Perhaps something happened at home, or “significant other” problems, or I truly bored this student (most likely!). What does this say about how much this student learn?

Student #3

This student is the most troubling, in my mind. Very inconsistent in the scores on each of the tests and this doesn’t really tell me a lot about whether this student is understanding what I am teaching.

The bottom line for each of these students is that the “averaged” a 78% for this quarter, but I cannot tell whether these kids have “mastered” what it was that I was teaching! The path each of these kids took to 78% are so vastly different that I cannot honestly say which one has attained proficiency toward the standard I was teaching.

This is why we need to honestly examine how we determine what students are learning and to what level there are learning it. Our traditional method for making these determinations has passed us by, and what we need our kids to demonstrate cannot be measured by these traditional methods.

We will continue to work as a school, and a district to create systems that will best help our kids become what we want them to become, and that is what we said above about preserving our Democracy for many future generations.

Please call, or email me, if you have any questions about what we are doing and why.

The Power of Social Media

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Upcoming Important Dates

Thursday, February 12 – Digital Citizenship Assemblies for all grades
Friday, February 13 – A Dose of Reality Presentation, all students.
Friday, February 13 thru February 22 – Mid Winter Break, Enjoy the snow!!!
Friday, February 27 – Southern Maine Honors Chorus Festival, Westbrook Middle School
Saturday, February 28 – Southern Maine Honors Concert, Westbrook Middle School 3:30 pm

My Story about Social Media

On Thursday, February 12, Terri Dawson, Susie Hanley and I will address our entire student body in grade level assemblies to remind our kids about how to be a responsible digital citizen. I think we all recognize that, in the hands of the inexperienced, naive or immature individual, social media can be a very dangerous tool. It can be fraught with so many pitfalls that some of our students get caught up in a spider’s web of harsh talk, meanness and threat that escape, or even retreat, seems impossible.

There are some very positive ways to use social media, however, that can create a better world for all of us. Before last week, we had never heard of James Robertson of Detroit, Michigan. Today, because of social media, he will no longer have to trudge 21 miles, round trip each day, to get to work. Evan Leedy, a Wayne State University student had the idea to raise $5,000 to help James get his old auto repaired. His efforts through a social media fund-raising site raised more than $350,000 for Robertson and a local Ford Dealership donated the Ford Taurus. The result of these efforts not only aided an individual in need, it raised the spirits of a city, Detroit, Michigan, that has experienced a considerable downturn in the past two decades. As Robertson said “Forget Los Angeles, Detroit is the city of angels!”

My story is quite a bit different and far less compelling than James Robertson’s and Evan Leedy’s. Mine is about a large corporation and a small guy living in Saco, Maine who just wanted a way to keep his driveway clear of snow.

This past fall I purchased a garden tractor to mow my lawn, and a snowblower attachment to keep my driveway free from snow. Now, I must admit, I did not foresee the kinds of storms we have been getting this winter, but I did want to release myself from being reliant upon someone else to keep free from the back-breaking work of shoveling a long driveway.

When the first snowfall came, I was ready! My snowblower was on (I had the Sears guy out it on because I would have messed it up!), gas tank filled, oil changed to the proper weight (did you know you should use 5W30 and not 10W30 in the winter!), chains on the tires, I was ready. About 10 inches into a 21 inch snowfall, I went out, started my tractor and gave it a go. It seemed to be working fine, although the wind-swept snow returned to my driveway as soon as I passed, but I was making progress (in my mind).

Now comes the fun part. Toward the end of the snow storm (maybe the 19 -20 inch mark) I return to my tractor to finish the job begun earlier. I again check the gas, the oil, the chains and the blower chute, all good. I sit in the seat, place the choke on, depress the brake pedal and turn the key.

A wirrrr! A wirrrr? Yup, definitely a wirrrrr, no turning of the engine at, all. This isn’t right!

I could tell you all of the things I did to try to start this baby, but it would be a waist of time and space here. Suffice it to say that I needed to call the company, which I did.

They sent a man out to fix it and, after a week of waiting for parts and his schedule, he fixed it. Or, so I thought. Next storm, exactly the same result!

This time my call was on a Sunday (right in the middle of another monumental New England snow storm), and the results were much different. They could not possibly get someone out to see my sick little tractor for 12 days, 12 days! With the threat of lots more snow in the forecast, that was not acceptable and I told them that. Alas, there was nothing they could do, and they regretted my inconvenience!”, this is where social media enter the picture for me.

Having not had success with anyone from the company ( I actually had one of the telephone guys tell me “he was the boss, and there was no one above him” that I could speak with!), I turned to social media, met notably, Twitter and Facebook. Here is a picture of my original tweet.Screenshot 2015-02-11 09.45.21

Immediately, I received several tweets from other disgruntled Sears customers about their experiences with Sears repairs. The response was absolutely amazing.

My next move was to express my displeasure on the Sears Facebook page. On the Sears Facebook page there is a section for people to leave comments. I think Sears hoped that people who had received great service or bought life-changing appliances would sing the praises of the company for the whole world to see. What I found in this section of the Sears Facebook page were people who had similar experiences to mine and they were looking for a place to sound off.

This may be where my experience differs from many of the folks who had posted the negative comments. Posting to Twitter and Facebook elicited an immediate response from someone (other than the caller who was the boss!) to inquire about my problem. I started to think I was getting someplace, because shortly after I posted my comments to the Sears Facebook page I received a direct message (DM) on my Twitter feed asking if we could keep this in DM and not public and to DM my phone number and address to the folks at Sears Cares.

Initially, the response was similar to all of the responses I received up to this point. Here is the Sears Cares response:

 

Screenshot 2015-02-11 12.04.30When I responded to their DM that I didn’t want their “regret”, I wanted to be able to use the $3700 I spent for a solution. I explained they I had my money but, I didn’t have their product to use. Not the way I expect commerce to work! So here was my response to them:

Screenshot 2015-02-11 12.08.55

They then responded by asking me to call a telephone number. Now, I must admit I had great trepidation in starting this all over again, trying to get someone to understand the real problem here, not that Sears can made everything they make perfectly, but that they need to stand behind the products they sell. I understand that stuff breaks, I wish we could all be perfect (not like me!) and that the sun shined everyday and that we had achieved world peace, but I really , really do know that is not possible. What is possible is that the company can become more of a humanist (if that’s the correct use of the word) and exercise some compassion for their customer. That’s all I ask.

A nice woman answered the phone, after the obligatory auto-phone-answering voice led me through a couple of options. As soon as I mentioned my name she had my information in front of her on her computer screen. (What a great way to use technology!) She recapped my story and asked if Thursday would work for me (3 days!), so she understood! Finally, someone from the great corporate giant showing compassion!

I don’t know if they will be able to fix this garden tractor, and I certainly could have left all of the negative comments out there, but Sears did respond in an appropriate manner and they did, eventually find some compassion for a small consumer. This is no

Today is Wednesday and I have just received my robot phone call reminding me of the call between 10am and 2pm. I will take time out of my day to be there, as they requested. I am hopeful that the repair guy will have a new starter with him and that I will be able use my very expensive snow remover without any further problems. We’ll see.

What I did learn out of all of this is that social media can be used in a very constructive manner and it can be very powerful. It can also help to open doors to people and things that can help to make your life easier. I have been a huge consumer and user of social media in helping me to get better at being a Principal. I have connected with some very amazing people all over the world who face many of the same challenges and obstacles I do in being a Principal, and they have been so very helpful and giving of their expertise and knowledge.

So, we will continue to work with our students to help them become responsible, respectful, compassionate, courageous and honest users of social media. We will focus our attention on the positive uses and work to minimize the negatives because, if we all endeavor to contribute only positively to social media, we won’t need to worry about the negative. Maybe I’m naive, but I do think I know I kids… and they are the best!

 

 

 

 

Enough Already!!! Please Stop the Snow!!!

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Upcoming Important Dates

Tuesday, February 10 – Southern Maine Honors Jazz Festival, York High School 4:00 pm
Thursday, February 12 – Digital Citizenship Assemblies for all grades
Friday, February 13 – A Dose of Reality Presentation, all students.
Friday, February 13 thru February 22 – Mid Winter Break, Enjoy the snow!!!
Friday, February 27 – Southern Maine Honors Chorus Festival, Westbrook Middle School
Saturday, February 28 – Southern Maine Honors Concert, Westbrook Middle School 3:30 pm

PIE Meeting Postponed

We had a PIE meeting scheduled for Thursday evening at 6:00 pm, but I am going to have to postpone this until later in February for personal reasons.

While I am on the subject of PIE meetings, I do want to follow up on a couple of topics that we discussed at our PIE meeting in January.

One question that was asked was about the contract custodial workers that are part of the private company that provides our cleaning services. I have been assured that each of the workers who work in our schools have all had criminal records check performed by the state police. As we said at the meeting, we could;t imagine that they would not have had a criminals record check, but we could not answer for sure. Now we can!

Another idea that came out of the PIE meeting was how can parents keep up with the ever changing landscape of social media. In full disclosure, Terri Dawson, our Technology Integrator for the middle school, passed this on to me a while ago so this may already be out of date!

Our good friends at Common Sense Media have provided parents with 15 Apps and sites that kids are going to besides Facebook. I wish I could tell you that I am familiar with all of them, but I can’t. Many of the Apps and sites and I familiar, but not all. Anyway, checkout this resources from Common Sense Media. Maybe after you have had a chance to check each of these out, we can all sit down and teach each other.

Digital Citizenship Assemblies

On Thursday, February 12, we will hold grade level assemblies for the students to remind them about their responsibilities to follow our Code of Conduct when the are using technology. By technology I mean any device, whether it is the laptop we provide through MLTI, or their cellphones or even their iPods and gaming consoles. We have experienced a couple of episodes of students not exercising their best judgment when using these advices.

I don’t think for a minute that our kids are deliberately attempting to cause harm to their peers, but I do believe that they are not thinking about what they are doing or what the possible consequences are for being unkind. Quite often, when we confront students about their actions on line, they explain that they “didn’t mean to cause harm”,

We intend to include a very recent, student produced video to try to drive home our point that as easy as it is to not think about what they post, it is just as easy to help all of us remember to think before we post. This video plays on the parody of a virus that is priding and that “carrier” may not know that they are “infected”. It is a nice pay on words that makes a very serious point.

 Dose of Reality

We will try once again to have Linda Dutil come to GMS to speak to our kids about the realities of substance use and abuse. So far, this is our third attempt to Have Linda join us for this very important presentation for our kids. She will be here on Friday, February 13 and will present to our entire school.

Now, if we can only get the snow gods to cooperate, we may actually get to Friday without any more snow days…

MLTI Laptops over Vacation

We continue to work on upgrades to operating systems and add applications for our students to use in their learning every month. In order for us to complete these upgrade properly, we like to have the laptops here at GMS, on our network, so that we can test the systems and push out packages. (Boy, that is a lot of technical talk!) We also complete inventories and an audit of the devices for damages and defects.

So all of this says that the students will not be taking their laptops home over the February vacation.

Report Cards

As we have done for the past year and one half, report cards are available through the Infinite Campus Parent Portal. You can, if you would like, print out your child’s report card from the system quite easily. If you have any difficulties, just ask your kids, they do it all the time here.

If you would like us to send you a hard copy of your child’s report card, please contact Terry Lamontagne in the Guidance office. She will put one in the mail for you.

Had Enough Snow Yet??

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Upcoming Important Dates

Wednesday, February 4 – Early Release Day, students dismissed at 11:10 am
Wednesday, February 4 – Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey
Friday, February 6 – School Dance 6:00 – 8:00 pm GMS Gym
Friday, February 13 – A Dose of Reality Presentation, all students.

MIYHSMaine Integrated Youth Health Survey

On the early release day, Wednesday, February 4, all of our students will be administered the MIYHS. This survey is a collaborative effort of the Maine Department of Education and the Department pif Health and Human Services. The results of this survey is completely anonymous, we will get results on a school-wide basis, but we will have no idea as to the identity of any of the individual respondents.

The information the state gains from these surveys, given to all students in grade 5 through 10, are used to inform the state on the efficacy of the current programs and how these programs can be improved. You received a letter through first-class mail from the middle school informing you of this survey. If you have any questions about the survey, please give me a call at 222-1228.

A Dose of Reality

OK, I am officially sick and tired of the snow and the snow days! All of these days away from school are causing us to really do a DOR-GA, Marietta-Dodgen MS-May 8, 2009 011-paintquick two-step trying to reschedule all of the activities we have had planned.

We have rescheduled the presentation by Linda Dutil, R.N. to Friday, February 13. You may remember that she is the emergency room nurse from Waterville, Me who travel around the country with her very appropriate and direct presentation on dangers of substance abuse.

For more information on her presentation, check our her web site at a-dose-of-reality.com

Chinese Culture and Language Class

COnfusius InstWe are planning to begin the Chinese Culture and Mandarin Language Class this coming Thursday, February 5. There is still time to sign your 7th or 8th grade student! We have about 10 7th grade students signed up, but only 2 8th grade students enrolled. We could really use some more 8th graders! If you are interested in having your child gain this wonderful, enriching experience, give me a call at 222-1228 or send me an email at robert.riley@gorhamschools.org.

Many Attend Public Forum for Superintendent Candidate

There was a great turnout for the public forum with Heather Perry, the finalist for the position of Superintendent of Schools. I think I counted almost 60 members of the community plus another 15 administrators and teachers from the Gorham Schools. Thank you to all who took time out of your very busy schedules to participate in the event. Thank you also fro bringing some great questions to ask Ms. Perry so we could all get a better insight into who she would help take our schools forward.

We all know how difficult it has become to finance public education, and how many requirements have been placed upon the public schools of all our communities, we need to have someone who can truly take the lead in this work.

I hope that each of you gained a better idea of who Ms. Perry is and how she would do if she were selected our next Superintendent.

That Time of Year

BullyingThere is something about this time of year that tends to make our kids forget all that we have worked so hard to accomplish about kindness and what it means to be a “friend”. Over the past week, or so, we have had to deal with a couple of instances where our great kids have forgotten about our Code of Conduct and behaved in a manner that creates upset in our building.

Our Code of Conduct is ubiquitous in our building! We have signs everywhere reminding us all of the words we believe are so important in our district. When we speak with students about behaviors, not just the negative behaviors, we always bring the conversation to our “Code”.

In the past few weeks however, we have had some incidents of “cyber-meaness”. Why “cyber-meaness” and not cyberbullying, you might ask. For an answer I refer to Sameer Hinduja and Justin Patchin’s work Bullying: Beyond the Schoolyard, second edition and their definition of cyberbullying.

“…the willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones and other electronic devices…”

Willful: The behavior has to be deliberate, not accidental.
Repeated: Bullying reflects a pattern of behavior, not just one isolated incident.
Harm: The target must perceive that harm was inflicted.
Computers, Cell Phones and other electronic devices: This, of course, is what differentiates cyberbullying from traditional bullying.

The one element that Patchin and Hinduja seem to leave out explicitly from this list is the idea of imbalance of power. I think that the imbalance of power is definitely implied in their book about cyberbullying. I think we can sometimes lose sight of the power of a mean post online.

Let me use the example i mention above. The young person who made a single post, taking a picture of a piece of writing by another student and posting that picture on their Instagram. This was a single post, and it was discovered very early in the process This student was mortified that this could be bullying, let alone cyberbullying.

“I was just kidding”!  “I didn’t mean to hurt anyone”! These were the responses through the tears of remorse, and I do believe there was legitimate remorse with this student. This student had never been in any sort of trouble before and, in fact, had been an exemplary student in many ways during their time with us. This was very much out of character.

But, as we examined this incident using the lens offered by Hinduja and Patchin, we can see that this was indeed a real case of cyberbullying. This was very willful,  by that I mean it was deliberate post by this student. The target of this post could certainly feel that harm had come their way with this post as it was not something that was intended for the public to consume and it definitely used a computer, cell phone or electronic device to convey the message. The question comes about repeated, was this something that was repeated? My answer is a resounding YES! Think about this, this student placed out into the universe of cyberspace something that was not complimentary about another. While they only placed out there for their friends gov view, they lost control of the content. The possibility of this piece of content being repeatedly shared is exponentially increased. I think this would qualify as repeated.

It does bring to mind the Native American tale “Feathers in the Wind” which I share with the students quite often. Understanding that gossip, or any sort of unkind words, placed on the “wind”of cyberspace, take on a life of their own which the originator lost control. That misunderstanding by the originator was critical in how we dealt with them for consequences.

This video from NetSmartz is a great teaching tool for getting young kids to understand the power of gossip!

 

Join Us on Wednesday to Meet the Superintendent Candidate

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Upcoming Important Dates

Monday, January 19 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday – No School
Tuesday, January 20 – Gorham Schools Volunteer Info Meeting 6:30pm GMS Library
Wednesday, January 21 – Community Forum to meet Superintendent Candidate 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium
Friday, January 30 – Gorham’s Got Talent 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium

Chinese Culture and Mandarin Class

We still have some room for additional students in the Chinese Culture and Language class that we will be offering beginning on Thursday, January 29th. The class will meet on Thursdays and Fridays during the 7th and 8th grade EICAL periods. We are working with Mrs. Mathieu and Mrs. Williamson to correct any possible conflicts that might arise for students in band and chorus, so, please don’t let that be an obstacle for your child not taking advantage of this very unique opportunity.

There are only a few middle schools in Maine that can offer this type learning, during the school day. Most schools have to do this before or after school.

If you are interested in having your child included, please either send me an email indicating your interest of give me a phone call at 222-1228.

Public Forum to Meet Superintendent Candidate

As part of the vetting process for selecting our new Superintendent of Schools, the Gorham School Committee will hold a public forum at 6:00 pm in the Gorham Middle School Auditorium. The forum will be led by School Committee Chair Dennis Libby who will introduce the candidate, Heather Perry, current Superintendent of School in RSU #3 in Unity, Maine. Dennis has some prepared questions that he will ask and then the forum will be open to the community for their direct questions.

There will be some reaction cards available for the public to share their reactions and comments about the candidate. I hope that you can find time to join us on Wednesday evening for this very important meeting.

 #gorhamms Slow Chat

At our last PIE meeting, we had a discussion about how we can help our parents gain better understanding about all of the different social media applications available to their children, our students. We have tried to keep parents informed of new social media apps as we become aware of them, but, to be truthful, there are so many new apps created everyday, it really is hard to keep up with them. What we can attempt is keeping you abreast of the social media apes that we see in our school. Even with our eyes wide open and our ears to the ground, keeping current is very difficult.

So, I thought I would start a “Slow Chat” on Twitter where we can all share what we are finding and ask questions that of each other about what we are hearing and seeing our kids doing on their devices. I think we first need to help all of us get up to speed with Twitter first so we can make this chat work for us!

So, what is Twitter? I have heard Twitter called many things, depending upon who you ask! Some of the parents I speak with call it something I can’t put in this blog! But, Twitter really is a micro blogging site. You can share thoughts, ideas, concerns or information of any kind with lots of folks in 140 characters, or less. This means that you need to be succinct!

I could continue, but, through Twitter, I have found a pretty good tutorial for beginners about why and how to use Twitter.

James Madison Excellence in Writing Contest Winners

Just before the Christmas Break, we held a wonderful ceremony before the entire school community to honor three of our students who demonstrated excellence in writing. The Gorham Town Republican Committee (not sure that’s the exact name!) for the second year sponsored the writing competition. Students were asked to write about what “with Liberty and Justice for all” meant to them.

This year we more than tripled to number of entries submitted, making it a very arduous task for the judges as they worked through all of the entries to arrive at the final three. The winners received a monetary prize of $100 for the two runners-up and the Grand Prize winner received a $250 check.

I want to thank the Republican Town Committee for their dedication and their determination for working through all of the entries to come up with these three winner. In speaking with John Doyle, School Committee members and organizer of this event, he said that it was very difficult to choose, but a rewarding endeavor, nonetheless.

Madison Essay Contest Winners and Their Parents.

The Essay Contest Winners and their proud parents.

Here are the winning essays, Samuel Orlando’s Grand prize winning essay first, then Haley Caron’s and Lydia Drew’s essays. Interestingly, each of these students are 7th graders! You will have to click on the link to read these essays, sorry.

Sam Orlando:

2014 winning essays 1

Haley Caron:

2014 winning essays 3

Lydia Drew:

2014 winning essays 2

Congratulations to all of the winners and we are really looking forward too next year’s competition.

National Geographic Society Geography Bee Winner

As we welcomed the students back from the very long Christmas Break, several of them had used that time to hone their skills on map photo-7reading, state capitals and geographic features of foreign lands in preparation for the school finals of the National Geographic Society Geography Bee. Thanks to Mr. Jeff Carpenter who did a great job of organizing this event that culminated in an entertaining and informative night of geography facts. We crowned our school champion wo will now prepare for the state championship later in March.

Congratulations to our National Geography Bee School Champion Aaron Goschke on surviving the challenge from all of his school mates. Best of luck at the State Championship! I know you will do a great job of representing Gorham Middle School.

 Linda Dutil, R.N. and A Dose of Reality

DOR-GA, Marietta-Dodgen MS-May 8, 2009 011-paintWe are finalizing plans for a presentation to all of our students by Linda Dutil, an Emergency Room Nurse who has been presenting for several years all over the country about the dangers of teens experimenting with dangerous and illegal substances, struggling with body image and making choices that could negatively impact their life.. Linda’s presentation is geared perfectly to our students as she speaks frankly with our students about her experiences as an Emergency Room Nurse in Waterville, Maine and about the power of being able to say “no”.

Tentatively, we have scheduled her for later in January, but her schedule is quite busy. Hopefully, we’ll have finalized the plans by early this week.

If you’d like to learn more about Linda and her program, here is her web site: dose-or-reality.com

 

topperMiddle

Upcoming Important Dates

Thursday, January 15 – PIE Meeting with School Committee Members
Friday, January 16 – School Dance 6:00 – 8:00 pm in the Gym (this is a change!)
Monday, January 19 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday – No School

New Year’s Resolutions

So, I have already broken most of my New Year’s resolutions, and we’re not even at the end of January!

I am sure, OK, maybe I am hoping that there are many others, who are reading this, who have a similar experience with your own resolutions. At least I can hope, anyway.

Chinese Language and Culture Offering

We are very fortunate to be able to offer to our 7th and 8th grade students the opportunity to learn about the culture of the people of China and gain some rudimentary understanding of the Mandarin language. With the help of the Confucius Institute at the University of Southern Maine, we will offer a mini course in Chinese Culture and Language on Thursdays and Fridays beginning with the start of the 3rd quarter, January 26th.

The students will be exposed to many of the cultural mores of China and how the Mandarin language weaves throughout that culture. The students will learn some basic conversational phrases and gain a brief understanding of how the Mandarin language works. They will learn how to write some of the characters of the language and what each stroke means and its importance to that meaning.

This will be the second year that the Confucius Institute will have served our school, introducing our students to a whole new world. Here is an example of some of what the ids will learn:

For more information on this great opportunity for our students, please join us on Thursday evening, January 15 at 6:00 pm in the GMS Library.

 How About a Twitter Slow Chat?

Twitter logoMany of you are aware, probably too aware, that I am an ardent user and believer of the positive power of twitter. I regularly use twitter to keep in touch with some very powerful educators who are willing to share their experiences and knowledge with me. I wish I were a better student for these people, but even I learn a great deal form them each and every day.

On different evenings during the week, different groups of people with a common intent gather in a twitter chat, signified with the hashtag (#) symbol to discuss a particular topic. For example, in Maine we have a chat for Maine educators called #edchatme. #edchatme “meets” every Thursday evening at 8:00 pm and we discuss topics that are pertinent to Maine educators. The really strange thing about the chats is that often times educators from “away”, not from Maine, join in and share their experiences from their states or countries.

A “slow chat” is one that continues beyond the usual hour that most chat go. A slow chat allows folks to check-in whenever they can and make comments, ask questions or offer up resources that those involved in the chat can check when they are free. It allows for those who have kids that need help with homework or have sports practices at all different hours to participate in the chat when they can.

Our hashtag (#) is #gorhamms. It is dedicated to our middle school and it is the hashtag that we put on everything that we put out over social media, e.g. Facebook Twitter or Instagram. So, if you have something that you would like to get out to the #gorhamms community, you can put it in Twitter and add the hashtag and we should be able to have our slow chat.

For those of you who still don’t know what I’m talking about, here is a short tutorial on using hash tag in a twitter chat:

Until next time…