A Full Week of School…What a Novel Idea!

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Upcoming Important Dates

  • January 9 – Faculty Meeting in the Library at 2:30
    Agenda

    • Review of School Security
      Lock down and Hold in Place
      Fire Drills
      Code Blue
    • Learning Team Breakout sessions
      Please Check your team’s Wiki for new items for your review
  • January 10 – Curriculum Committees for VPA and Health/PE will be meeting. You should have been contacted by your Chairperson with information on meeting times and places.
  • January 10 – PIE Meeting in the GMS Library beginning at 6:00 pm. All are welcome to attend, we will be discussing school security in the wake of the events in Connecticut and in the days prior to school vacation. Lt. Chris Sanborn of the Gorham Police Department will join us to answer and questions.
  • January 16 – Leadership Team meeting in Melanie’s room beginning at 2:30 pm. Discussion of Learning Team work, FY14budget and the implications of the state’s curtailment will be on the agenda.
  • January 18 – School Dance sponsored by the Stroudwater team and the Eagle Team in the GMS Gym from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. Sorry folks, no fog machine!
  • January 21 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day no school.

Something We’ve Talked About, but…

Over the past couple of years, we have discussed the idea of having 8th grade teachers spend a day shadowing some of the High School teachers, New Ideasseeing how our “old” 8th graders are faring in their new environment. The opportunity for our 8th grade teachers to witness, first-hand, the workings of the new Academy system that our former students experience could bring some new ideas and concepts to our level regarding a smooth transition to high school life.

Between now, and February vacation, I would like to have some volunteers who would like to spend at least a half day with one of the High School Academies. If you would like to be first on the list, please let Susie or me know.

Regarding Fear

It would not be much of a stretch to make the statement that the last few days of school, just before the Christmas Break, were filled with considerable anxiety for many of us. With the echos of those terrible reports from Connecticut still ringing in our ears, we, schools in York and Cumberland County, were forced to deal with baseless reports being transmitted through social media outlets, of possible events in our schools.

Fortunately, we have a very professional police force who investigated these reports thoroughly and found that there were no threats of nefarious action by anyone toward any school in Maine. It is unfortunate, however, that we expended considerable human resources in essence, chasing air.

I am sure that psychology has a name for this. You know, the condition where we heighten our senses to every creek or noise and think that there is someone, or something, waiting to pounce on us and do evil. Given those horrific events, it is very understandable that we all would react in that manner. None of us ever want to experience that kind of pain.

I came across a video by Karen Thompson, author of a novel called The Age of Miracles. In this TED video, she uses the story of the whaling vessel Essex to talk about how humans relate to fear. I found this extremely interesting, I hope you do as well.

Common Sense Media

badge_school_webI am so happy to report to you that Gorham Middle School is now a Common Sense Media School! Thanks to Terri Dawson, we have completed all of the requirements to receive this very special certification.

For those of you who have visited this site in the past, you know that I refer to Common Sense Media often for reviews to new movie releases, reviews of new video games and some great tips for keeping our kids safe while they are online. The fact the we have completed the necessary requirements to achieve this certification is a statement to our commitment to our community. We are very proud to be able to put the Common Sense Media certification on our web page.

The Homework Debate

I can never remember my parents making comments on my homework (except when I didn’t get done, which was often). Homework was assigned and then it was completed and turned in to teachers. What happened after that, I don’t really remember. I guess I could have received feedback than help me adjust my thinking and learning, but I can’t remember This not remembering seems to be a theme with me!).

Today, and for the last 25  years or so, the debate rages on about homework. Do we assign too much or not enough? Do we grade the homework and have it count in the students’ final grade? How do we tech students to be organized and “take care of business”? Students, today, are so busy with after school activities, jobs, sports, chores and they already spend six and one half hours in school, when do they get their “down time”?

I am going to reference several different folks, all of whom have weighed in on the Homework Debate, from both sides, through professional articles, blogs and other types of media.

Dan Meyer is a Doctoral Fellow at Stanford and in 2007 he offered his take on the homework debate. In 2007, Dan was teaching HS math. His blog entry is entitled “Why I Don’t Assign Homework”.

Patrick Larkin, Assistant Superintendent of Schools in Burlington, Massachusetts and a former Principal of Burlington High School offered this blog post, perhaps more of an observation as a parent, entitled “How Necessary is Homework?” . This post also offers several other voices that provide a very balanced approach to the debate.

Joe Bower is a teacher from Red Deer, Alberta, Canada and writes a blog entitled “For the Love of Learning”. He openly professes to “challenge traditional schooling while exploring more progressive forms of education”. Joe offers a true “table of contents” for articles about homework that can be interesting.

Did You Call Me a MOOC?

openculture_bannerI am old enough to remember that if someone in your neighborhood called you a MOOC, that is was not good and could lead to fisticuffs to defend your honor. Today a MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course that makes learning, at a very high level, or not, available to almost everyone who has a desire to learn. Open Culture is a website that makes so much learning possible to so many people, at no cost!

Want to learn a foreign language? You’ll find lost of languages available at Open Culture. How about free audio books? There are more than 500 of the classics available at the click of a mouse. You can find college level courses taught by highly respected experts and college professors. Check out the  Open Culture Website

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