Doesn’t Look Like Snow Day is Going to Work!

Thank You to 8th Grade Parents

Thank you to those folks who were able to get to the meeting on Wednesday night about the conflict with the municipal elections and our 8th grade celebration. Also, thanks to the many folks who emailed some suggestions, they all were very helpful. I think what we’ll do is put out an electronic survey with the ideas presented and allow more people the chance to weigh in. I do think, though, we need to have the decision made by the Monday we come back from vacation.

I also think that any chance for a snow will be very remote by then (that was my suggestion, by the way!)

Report Cards

Report cards will be going home with the students today. Please check the back packs, although there should probably be no surprises given that we just had Parent/Teacher Conferences.

I Do Love Being Ahead of the Curve, However!

Several post ago I reported to you about the latest fad that was traveling through communities that had danger written all over it, the Cinnamon Challenge. On Saturday, March 24th the Boston Globe had a very substantial article on the Cinnamon Challenge with warnings to parents and educators to be aware of this happening.

James Mojica, a pulmonologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston reports “The biggest problem is that the powder dries in your mouth and throat, which makes it easier for it to enter your lungs instead of your stomach”. This is what can lead to breathing problems and lung injury.

The Golbe doesn’t report many school indicating that there is a problem in their communities, and some schools are not planning to send out warnings to the families, some are. I believe that if you look at just won video on Youtube, you will agree that the practice is, at its best, nasty and at its worst, down right dangerous.

April Vacation

Not that the students, and certainly not the teachers, need to be reminded, but we have a week off from school beginning on Friday April 13th. Actually, on Thursday the students will be released at 11:10 am and the teachers will have an afternoon workshop. ON Friday the students have no school and the teachers will be working in workshop all day.

If you are traveling, we wish you a safe and swift journey. We will see the kids back here on Monday, April 23rd.

Lots of Stuff Going on After April Vacation

We have a very busy schedule for the week after April Vacation!

On April 24th (Tuesday) we will be holding our annual 5th Grade Parent Night beginning at 6:30 in the GMS Auditorium. There will be Administrators, School Counselors, the School Nurse and several 6th grade teachers present to answer your questions. The evening will last about an hour and will begin with a short presentation on a typical school day for our students, what you, as parents, can expect for your child next year and, perhaps, a little insight on what you can expect from your child in the next three years. Should be an informative evening.

Wednesday, April 25th will have our Jazz Band taking the stage in the Auditorium to entertain us with their work from this year. Mrs. Mathieu reports that the band is in great tune and that they have performed very well at recent competitions, taking second place recently at Scarborough High School.

I can tell you that from what I have heard listening to their rehearsals, this will be a great night of jazz that you will not want to miss. It begins at 6:00 pm.

Thursday April 26th is especially busy for our students. The 6th Grade Sebago Team is presenting an evening of ancient times. The students will exhibit their learning of the ancient Romans, Greeks and Egyptians. So, “Walk Like an Egyptian” over to the “Colosseum” to catch some student exhibits of “Olympic” proportions (did I get it all in?)

Also on April 26th we have a PIE Meeting in the Library beginning at 6:30. In a recent post, I aksed about the idea of a Pot Luck Supper at the middle school where folks shared their recipes that we could put into a cook book that could be a fund raiser for the school. But, we could talk about anything that night.

And finally, but certainly not leastly( my spell check tells me this is not a word, oh well!), the All Gorham Chorus Concert will happen at the GHS Auditorium beginning at 7:00 pm.

Truly a busy night for all of us, I hoe to see you at most of these events.

End of the Year Testing

Beginning the week of April 30 through May 18, we will be administering our Spring NWEA testing. Each student will be assessed in the areas of reading, math and language use. The NWEA is an adaptive assessment, meaning that as student answer questions correctly the difficulty of the questions increase, and if they answer incorrectly the opposite occurs. Which leads to the question, if I don’t want the test to be too hard get a few incorrect answers, but this works in just the opposite for the scores the students receive. The best idea is to do the best you can so we can see how much you’ve grown over the year.

The tests will be administered on the students laptops and should only take a period of two per day for about 3 days, trust me, the students will not be tested for all of the days all three weeks, we really try to keep the interruptions to a minimum.

The Maine Educational assessment in Science will be administered to the 8th grade students on Thursday, May 10. This will be completed in one day and it is required by the state for all 5th and 8th grade students.

Technology and Your Kids (Part 2)

Last week, I talked about a couple of instances where technology was impacting lives in a different way, not better and not worse, just different. It made me begin to think about how rapidly our world is changing and how it impacts the lives of our students.

The PBS Television series Frontline did a report called Growing Up on Line that is a very in depth and revealing (and, sometimes troubling) view into the world that is available to our students. It talks about how our kids can create a whole new and different identity for themselves right under our nose. The show is about an hour in length, but you can certainly view it in smaller segments. What is also included in this web version of the Frontline series are several interviews with the people who research this topic. They do offer some very insightful ideas about how we keep the lines of communication open with our children and still keep them safe.

This show was produced and aired in 2008, so, in technological years, this show is ancient. So much has changed in the ensuing years that has increased tech’s influence upon our children and ourselves. Students are still reporting that their parents a getting them cell phones at a much younger age and the students report that the parents get them because they want their child to have the safety of being able to contact them whenever. Sometimes the unintended consequence of this is their child has more access to the outside world.

One of the first thoughts that we all have is that behind every screen there is a predator waiting for your child to come on line so that they can snare them into their trap and have their way with them. And, certainly, this is some truth to this, but it may not be the only thing we need to worry about.

Some of our students, right here in Gorham, have engaged in behaviors that definitely have us worried. The district has a very strict filter that keeps students from going to places they should not go, places like Facebook and MySpace and any web site that may include sex or pornography. We regularly review the web histories of many students that, somehow, bubble up as getting involved in something they shouldn’t be involved with. We have a program called Apple Remote Desktop, where we can actually see what students are doing on their computer in real time.  We know there are no limits on what is “out there” in cyber space, (it kind of reminds me of what my idea of the Wild West was. you know, “no lawman for miles, and you’re faced with the hombre just down the trail”), so we are ever vigilant, when the kids are at school. We try very hard in our school to educate our kids on how to be safe on the internet, and we are quite pleased with our results.

Once the students leave our network, however, we lose a certain amount of control. We can’t see where they are in real time anymore and our filters and firewalls do not extend beyond our school network. We rely on the parents, at home to make sure that students are using the devices appropriately.

This is where I suggest to parents to check with their Internet Service Provider (ISP) to see what kind of controls are available through their network. Time Warner Cable has some very good features in their system, but they are really hard to understand for the average person. A call to them to help gain an understanding of their controls would be very helpful.

One area we really need to work, however, is the idea of how we treat each other with technology.

On many occasions, I relate to the students who have acted inappropriately with others using technology, of a time, long, long ago (when I was a kid, so, really long ago!) when everything we said about someone disappeared into thin air immediately after we said. There were no chat logs that could be recovered, or emails that were forwarded or even a time machine that could actually go back in time and recover files long since deleted. Our words were gone as soon as we said them.

Today, it is a very different story. We can recover key strokes of students computers, right down to when the backspace because of a misspelling. Everything these kids do on line in these days is recorded. Pictures from cell phones, videos from cell phones, uploads to Facebook and Youtube, these can all be shared instantaneously with an infinite number of folks (OK, not infinite, maybe more like 6 billion) all with the push of a single button.

And these images do not go away… EVER!

We can wring our hands and gnash our teeth and scream “what are we to do?”, but that won’t help. Our best advice for living in this new era is to become less of a digital tourist and work toward becoming a positive digital citizen.

Until Next Time…

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