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Important Upcoming Dates

January 27 – 3rd Quarter and Second Semester begins
January 31 – Semester grades updated on Infinite Campus Parent Portal
February 5 – Early Release Day
February 5 – Talent Show for School (schedule to follow)
February 6 – Evening Performance of Talent Show 7:00 pm
February 17 – 21- Mid Winter break

Proficiency Based Learning

sbr2Last year the state Legislature passed a bill, that was signed by the Governor, that will have a major impact on how we graduate students beginning with our current 8th graders. Unlike the past, where students needed only to acquire a certain number of credits over 4 years to receive a diploma, students must now demonstrate, through several methods, a proficiency in each of the 8 content standards of the Maine Learning Results and the Common Core State Standards in Math and English Language Arts.

We have been working for several years to bring our practices in line with Proficiency Based Teaching and Learning. Some of the improvements we have made are the development of Power Standards for each content area, at each grade level, and we report out on those standards each quarter. We continue to work with our faculty and staff to refine those Power Standards and, also refine our classroom practices to match those standardized expectations.

Over the course of the next few years we plan to ramp up our work in Proficiency Based Teaching and Learning to align ourselves more completely with the expectations of the state and with the expectations we set for ourselves. I think that it would be very helpful to all of you not in education to review the Maine Department of Education web site and become familiar with the changes that will be coming in the years ahead.

If I can offer an aside to the state mandated requirements.

Learning us such a personal project. Some things we learn very quickly and some things we have to really struggle and spend inordinate amounts of time to understand. In American Public Education, we want all of our students to get to the understanding level. Does it matter how long it takes them to get to understanding? I guess what I am trying to implant into the front of everyone’s mind is that the learning is important, not the time it takes to achieve mastery.

Changes with the Student Laptops

Over the Christmas Break we were able to perform some updates to most of the MLTI devices as well as the 6th grade laptops. Finally, we have been able to figure out how to force shut down all of the machines by 10:00 pm and allow them to restart at 6:00 am. I realize that we have some students who are involved in many activities that require them to do 12894-Clipart-Picture-Of-A-Desktop-Computer-Mascot-Cartoon-Character-Confused-And-Seeing-Starshomework past 10:00 pm, and this may cause a problem for them. Unfortunately, we cannot pick and choose individual devices to place this restriction.

We have also added a policy banner to each device which will be the first screen the students see when they start up the device. This banner requires the students to acknowledge the Acceptable Use Policy of the district and it reminds the students that the device belongs to the state and they must abide by all of the rules of the school and the lease agreement.

We have also restricted the admin allowances for students to download games or there applications on the their device. For the first few months, students were allowed to download most any game the wanted with very few restrictions.

Finally, we will be adding some more “bells and whistles” to the devices over the February vacation, so the devices will need to stay at school. We will also be performing our regular inventory and performing some spot checks on the devices for damage or misuse.

Tell Us How We’re Doing!

SurveyOn January 31st you will be receiving an email from us through the Blackboard System, our universal messaging system, to participate in a survey about Gorham Middle School. This is a survey that is being generated by us to help us work toward that ever present goal of perfection. Ok, not really perfection, but as close to it as we can come.

How are your children doing in the Gorham Schools? Are there things that you wish we would do differently? How about courses of study, would you like us to offer something different? Do your kids feel safe coming to school everyday?

We will be using Survey Monkey, an online survey site and all responds will be absolutely anonymous. This is the first time in my 7 years that we have done this kind of information gathering and we would really appreciate your feedback. Please watch your emial inbox for the email with the link.

GMS Top 40

I haven’t been as religious with this as I should have been, but I am always intrigued by the requests our students make for music at our monthly dances. I will also admit that I knowAT40 only the names of the performers in passing and could not identify any of them just by their music (with the exception of Led Zepplin and Aerosmith!). If you know these performers and their music, then you are “with it” with your kids. OK, I think just saying “with it” has put me into the “not having a clue” category!

In any event, here are the top five songs requested by the students for the last dance and the top 5 slow dance songs requested:

The top 5 dance song requests:

  • #5 Lil Jon – Turn Down for What
  • #4 Macklemore – White Walls
  • #3 Jason Derulo – Talk to Me
  • #2 Zedd – Stay the Night
  • #1 Katy Perry – Dark Horse.

The top 5 slow dance songs:

  • #5 Led Zepplin – Stairway to Heaven
  • #4 Passenger – Let Her Go
  • #3 Christina Perri – 1000 Years
  • #2 Aerosmith – Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing
  • #1 Great Big World – Say Something

Fundraising Ideas

fundraiser_school-427-95-115-80-cWe have really made an effort to reduce the amount of times we ask parents to contribute to a fundraising activity at GMS. For the most part we have relied on our monthly dances to help us fund many of our activities. Now, the good people at the recycling companyCLYNK are offering schools an interesting fundraising opportunity that also helps the environment as well as provide us with the needed extra funds to continue to offer our students the “extras” at school.

I have asked our teachers to let me know about their interest in helping lead this effort, and now I am asking parents and our community to judge interest. If you would be interested in helping us with this campaign, please give me a call at school, 222-1220.

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