I am Always Amazed How Much We Do!

Important Upcoming Dates

  • November 14 – Faculty Meeting, this is a breakout session for content areas. A little later in this post I will give you an agenda.
  • November 16 – School Dance in the Gym 6:00 to 8:00 pm
  • November 21 – 23 – Thanksgiving break. We hope that you all enjoy this little break to relax in the comfort of family and friends.
  • November 27 – Code Blue Team meeting in the Nurses Conference room 2:30 pm.
  • November 28 – Team Leader meeting in Melanie’s room beginning at 2:30 pm.
  • December 5 – Faculty meeting, Whole Staff in the GMS Library 2:30 pm.
  • December 12 – Early Release Day Community Service day. Details will be forth coming.

Learning Teams

It would seem that many of our learning teams had some great conversations during our early release day on October 25th. I found the notes that you uploaded to the Wiki to be quite interesting. You all really are getting into your topic.

For those who have yet to upload your notes, please do so ASAP.

We have a few meetings left before the New Year, and then we will be expanding the teams and the depth of the conversations. Thanks for your hard work with this.

Breakout Faculty Meeting Agenda

Wednesday’s Faculty meeting is a breakout session. We will gather in The Library at 2:30 for the “social” portion of the meeting with food provided by the 8th grade, and, yes, we are raffling off another great prize or two to some lucky staff member. Then we expect that the rest of the time will be spent in breakout sessions as follows:

All ELA teachers will breakout by grade level to work on the alignment of our curriculum to the Common Core State Standards. The members of the ELA Committee have the details of the work that is necessary.

Science Teachers, I am pasting the email I received from Jane Esty about your work:

Regarding your upcoming science department time, here some tasks that need to happen this year and this is the perfect forum to get started. Thanks!  The Committee reps are feeling very strongly about regular and frequent opportunities to gather as a department (or at least as grade level department), so I am hoping that this opportunity is followed by many more during the course of the year.
I am asking that a recorder is nominated and that minutes of their time together be shared with me. Also, I am asking that the minutes indicate how afar they got with this agenda and what their next steps are, and how they will be sharing this information with the science teachers who will be on different work team on this day. (Can you tell me the specific day and tie of this meeting? If I can, I would appreciate being able to join them.)

My suggestions for the work of the GMS Science teachers is the following:
1) Read and analyze last spring’s Science MEA data. (Documents attached) Document group responses to the following questions:
•    What are the trends or points of interest communicated by the data?  What is interesting… gender? SES?
•    What is thought provoking about student performance in the particular strands of science?
•    Where results are strong, why? Where they are less strong, why?
•    Given the data, what is ONE thing that can be changed in the short term to enable increased student achievement on this coming spring’s MEA’s?

2) It is very important that all science teachers (and administrators) in Gorham have initial understanding of the upcoming Next Generation Science Standards. Knowing and understanding the planning document and the driving force for the formation of the standards, The National Research Council’s Framework, is the first step in this process. So, please:
•    Read all three attached documents.
•    In particular, discuss (and record) the “Three Dimensions” document relative to:
– What are the differences between “scientific inquiry” and “engineering design.”  Where are each of these in your current teaching     practices?
– Where are the opportunities for cross-disciplinary teaching and what can happen this year to accommodate that?  Next year?
– What work will need to happen next to align to this new set of standards (whose release is projected for March 2013)?

I will forward to the science teacher the attachments to Jane’s email.

Social Studies Teachers, you have continued work on Units of Study for your Curriculum Committee that you can continue to work on. My one request for this group would be how you can incorporate as much technology for the students to use as they explore the topics of study at each grade level.

Special Educators and Learning Labs, I know that there is plenty of work for you all to do, however, I would like to have representation at the ELA and math meetings from the Special Educators perspective. I will let you determine who and how. I would also be interested in having Special Education representation at the Social Studies meeting.

Math Teachers, your continued work exploring and becoming more familiar with our new math series is probably enough to keep you all busy for month and months. This would also be a great time to share what each of you has learned about this series and how you are using it differently in your classes.

VPA Teachers, I am sure that Susie has plenty of work to occupy your time. I will ask that she forward to you the necessary tasks for the afternoon.

Health and PE , I would be very interested in what you discovered at the most recent MAPHERD conference. The sharing of this information and preparing a report that Kim could use at the CAC meeting in January.

World Languages, I will check with Polly to see if that committee has a particular need. I would be very interested in having you explore how we can expand our offerings to our Middle School students.

 Student Council Food Drive

We all really need to extend ourselves in our advisory groups to help the Ecumenical Food Pantry this year. More than in any other year our community, as are so many others, are struggling to put food on the table. These cans and dry goods help to feed more families and provide basic sustenance that is so needed.

I know that every year at this time we seem to ask more and more, and I know that this seems rather cliche, but we really need to step up this year.

Family Math Nights

7th Grade Math Teacher, Chris LeSiege, has suggested that we hold a couple of Family Math Nights to highlight and show off our new math series form Glencoe. I am trying to find a night that works for our building, staff and parents. As soon as I get an exact date and time, I will send out an email and post it on the Middle School Website.

We do hope to hold this night sooner, rather than later. We have had several comments from parents about our new program as well as seeking advice and assistance as they try to help their children with their math homework.

Speaking of Math

I found an interesting article from the LA Times about how just thinking about math can cause you to get a headache. Now, I am not proposing that we could eliminate headaches if we stopped teaching math, but… Let me know what you think.

LA Times Article

Budget Development Time Again

I know, it seems like we just finished our budget process and now we have to start again!

Kristen will be placing budget development worksheets later this week for you to look at your supplies list and calculate what you will need for next year. As we have done in the past, and you have all done a terrific job, we are asking that you request only those supplies that you will use next year. We cannot yet afford to stockpile supplies and, that really is not the best use of our cash resources.

I would like the budget sheets returned to me by the last day of school before we leave for Christmas Break.

December 12 Early Release Day is Community Service Day

I am sure that many of you have begun planning already for the Community Service Day on December 12th. This is a perfect time for all of us to get “in the mood of giving” as the holidays approach. In conversations with some of you, I know that there are some great ideas being worked on by the advisories and I can’t wait to see the results of our kids, and yours, great work.

If I could make one plea, or suggestion, it would be that we refrain from activities that require students to raise funds for a particular group of cause. I have already mentioned how many of our families are struggling with these rough economic times, and we do not want to add to their burden. Also, community service can be about giving of one;s self in the cause of making our community better and that is a good lesson for our students to learn.

Teacher Workshop Portion of December 12

The afternoon of December 12th will be dedicated to technology and how we can use it to improve our student’s learning. We have been working on trying to make this day optimally beneficial for all of you. OK, I know that may be an impossible task… not!

I would, however, like to hear from you guys as to what you would find “optimally beneficial”. If you have ideas or suggestions how to make this possible, please let Terri, Susie or me know.

File Under, Now That the Election is Over!

Now that we have counted all of the votes and all decisions have been decided, I turned my thoughts to “Why Tuesday?”

This very short, but interesting video from TEDed tries to explain “why Tuesday” and how folks are trying change it to a day more conducive to turnout. Enjoy!

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