Update from the Computer of the Principal!

Important Upcoming Dates

  • October 8 – Columbus Day – No School for students and teachers.
  • October 9 – Progress Reports for the first quarter go home with students.
  • October 10 – Team Leaders meeting in Melanie’s room 2:30
  • October 11 – The Middle School begins a Conversation about Bullying Behaviors at 6:30 pm in the GMS Auditorium. There will be more information to come about this series of conversations.
  • October 16 – Annual Magazine Drive Grade Level assemblies during EICAL Periods.
  • October 19 – School Dance sponsored by the 6th Grade
  • October 25 – Early Release Day for students, dismissal will be 11:10 am.
  • October 25 & 26 – Parent/Teacher Conferences. More information will be forthcoming.
  • October 25 & 26 – Gorham School Department will sponsor a Flu shot Clinic at both the High School and the Middle School. For more information click here.
  • October 30 – Picture retakes will be done.

A Conversation about Bullying Behaviors

On Thursday evening, October 11 beginning at 6:30 in the Auditorium, we will begin a conversation about bullying behaviors. This is a conversation that could last all night or not go anywhere at all! I am confident that we can do some good work, I’m just not sure, this is such a volatile subject.

I think every school in America, public, charter or independent have issues with the way students treat each. Heck, I think adults everywhere have difficulties with how we treat each other. The question, I think, is when does it rise to the level of bullying behavior?

This is what I hope we can explore during this time together. If we can determine a good definition of bullying behaviors that we can all agree upon, that would be a great first step in helping to rid our school of this kind of behavior.

We will have lots of handout for parents to peruse, we are looking for some good videos and other examples that we can examine to help us in our work. I am really looking forward to seeing many of our parents and community members on Thursday evening.

Picture Retakes

You will be receiving your child’s school pictures soon and I would expect that some of you may not be satisfied with the end results, and that’s OK. We always plan to do re-takes and this year they will be done on October 30th. This will cover those folks who were not satisfied with their results and those students who may have been absent on the day of the original picture taking.

Gorham School District Flu Clinics

As we have done for the past three years, we will offer a Flu shot clinic on Thursday and Friday, October 25 & 26 at both the High School and the Middle School. These days coincide with the fall Parent/Teacher Conferences and, hopefully, make it easier for all to receive the inoculations.

We have quite a bit of information available on the Middle School Web Site in the navigation bar on the left. Click on Important Documents.

NECAP Testing

During the past week all of our students were administered the annual assessment of our progress towards the Maine Learning Results. This has been an ongoing project for students in grades 3 through 8 for at least the last eight years, and for 4th and 8th graders for far many more years than that. The results of these assessments are the numbers that are reported by the state about whether, or not, our school and district achieve Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).

As our kids do every year, they did a great job. They took, very seriously, the fact that these tests were important to their school and community. Each and every student worked to their potential, and then some, as we took some very valuable instructional time or these assessments.

Whether or not these assessments are an appropriate method for determining the effectiveness of our school is a matter for policy makers, politicians and op-ed columnists. What I do know is, that for last week and for some students, this week, there will be a reduced amount of instructional time and key learning time, and that cannot be good.  We will use the results of these assessment, when we get them back in January, to help us make decisions about what we do next for students and teaching and learning. We will not use these results to make a judgement about our school or our students as a whole!

If you would like to read one man’s opinion, who is far more informed than I, there is an interesting article in Education Week by Peter DeWitt who looks at these assessments form differing perspectives that I found enlightening. Just click on the link, and enjoy.

Annual Magazine Drive

It is that time of year again when Middle School students will be seeking to get members of our community to purchase new subscriptions and renew existing subscriptions to a wide array of popular magazines.

I know this can be quite a bit of work for our students and and can also be quite a burden upon many families during these very tight economic times for families, but this is also a chance to purchase some great periodicals at an incredibly reduced rate from the cover price AND it benefits our middle school. Unlike many fundraisers that sell gift wrapping or candy (I’m not knocking either of these!), this fundraiser is one that continues to give month after month as each new issue of your periodical is delivered to you mailbox. This fundraiser also promotes reading for information and for enjoyment as well as learning about interesting, new places.

We will have Kick-off assemblies on Tuesday, October 16th during EICAL period and we really hope to make the experience fun for the students and give our community a chance to receive a monthly reminder of their good work for our school.

Maine Middle School Invention Convention

The University of Maine and the United States Patent and Trade Mark Office (USPTO) along with the Foster Center for Student Innovation will be hosting the Annual Middle School Invention Convention. In preparation for this event there will be a meeting for teachers who are interested in putting a team together for the competition. The meeting will be held on Saturday, October 27th at the Foster Center for Student Innovation on the campus of the University of Maine at Orono. They will provide food, travel compensation and a stipend of $100 for your time.

If you are interested in finding out more about this opportunity, please see me or send me an email.

Local Charities Day at GMS

We celebrate another very successful Early Release Day with more than 16 local charities coming to GMS and talk to our students about the work they do for our community and our community members. This is our fourth year of inviting these great folks to speak with our students, and I think this was our best ever.

Students heard from Goodwill Industries and our local Animal Refuge League about how they work directly in our community to help families. One favorite was our very own 6th grade teacher, Patty Joyce, talking to students about her commitment to a group called Canine Commitment, that places stray dogs with caring families. But, the best comment I heard all day was from one 6th grade student who was assigned to hear the speaker from the American Red Cross. Initially, she was very disappointed to have to sit through this presentation as she didn’t think it would be interesting at all! Dave Thompson, from the American Red Cross did such a great job in presenting the good deeds of the Red Cross, that this student came away from the presentation not only wanting to know more, but making a commitment to learn a foreign language “because the Red Cross goes to foreign countries to offer assistance, and she wants to do that”!

Now that is a real measure of success!

October 25 Early Release Day

Our nest Early Release Day is October 25th and the theme for the student portion of this day will be Diversity Day, organized by our Civil Rights Team. As in the past years, I am sure that our Civil Rights team is “cooking up” some terrific activities for our students and faculty. I will give you more details as we get closer to the date and our CRT solidifies those folks that will present.

The Faculty Portion of October 25th

The faculty will engage in the work of their respective Learning Teams. There will be two hours, from 12:00 – 2:00, dedicated to the continuation of the work of each of these teams. The Wiki’s have several excellent articles that can help shape the discussion of the these teams and the read from last week can help direct the work of each group dealing with the issues that are before us.

We will be adding several new articles and a couple of videos to the Wiki’s in the next couple of days that will also add to the discussions.

I would also like to remind each Learning Team to please upload the notes from your last meeting as soon as you can.

Hashtags (#) and Twitter

We are beginning to see more of our teachers and teams using Twitter to communicate team information and homework that I thought it might be a good time to find a tutorial about hashtags and how they are used. This can sometimes be a problem because the videos can be quite long and complicated. This video is under 3 minutes and it does offer a good, rudimentary explanation on how to use them.

There are a couple of hashtags that I follow about education. If you’d like, you can give them a try with your Twitter account. They are:

#educhat – This is an ongoing conversation about everything teaching and learning. It is followed by a great number of “real” teachers who are trying different things in their classrooms and then sharing their results, both good and bad.

#flipclass – Offers real tweets from teachers who are experimenting with “flipping” their classrooms through the use of technology.

#ptchat- This is dedicated to the relationship between parents and teachers and how both entities can work together better.

#edtech – This hashtag will bring you into the conversation of all things relating to technology uses in education. It is chalk full of great ideas to try in the classroom.

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