October 1st! Where Does the Time Go?

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Upcoming Important Dates

Monday, September 29 – October 3 – NWEA Testing for 6th graders
Tuesday, September 30 – Meet the Candidates Night at GMS 6:00 pm, GMS Cafeteria
Wednesday, October 1 – Maine Harvest Lunch celebration
October 13 – Columbus Day Holiday No School
Wednesday thru Friday, October 15 – 17 – Tooth Fairies
Friday, October 17 – GMS Dance Gymnasium 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Wednesday, October 22 – Early Release Day, Students dismissed at 11:10 am
Thursday, October 23 – GMS Flu Shot Clinic
Thursday, October 23 – Parent Teacher Conferences 2:00 to 8:00 pm
Friday, October 24 – GMS Flu Shot Clinic
Friday October 24 – Parent Teacher Conferences 8:00 am – 2:00 pm

Meet the Candidates Night

TN_sign_voteOn Tuesday, September 30, in conjunction with the Maine School Management Association, Gorham Middle School will host a regional Meet the Candidates night beginning at 6:00 pm in the GMS Cafeteria. It is expected that several candidates for the Maine Legislature will be in attendance to meet with local voters and discuss their positions on several issues. If you would like to join us on this evening, you should contact the Maine School Management Association to let them know of your interest.

There will be local candidates for legislative positions as well as several local elected officials available to answer questions and share ideas.

I hope you can join us for this informational evening.

Maine Harvest Lunch Celebrated

We will celebrate all the is Maine in agriculture on Wednesday, October 1 during the lunch times at GMS. The Maine Harvest Lunch Program, which has its beginnings right here at GMS, is an Lopeopportunity for us to highlight all of the agricultural delicacies available from our home grown farms and gardens. This year the menu includes beef raised right here in Maine as well as selected greens from local farms, Maine baked potatoes with good ole Maine made made cheese from good ole Maine raised cows.

The students will also get a short lesson on the importance of knowing where your food comes from and how important it is to have vibrant Maine farms.

Please ask your kids about their lunch on Wednesday when they come home from school.

ACTEM Recognition for GMS Technology Integrator

logoWe received news this week that Terri Dawson, Technology Integrator for GMS will be feted at the annual meeting of Technology Educators during the month of October.

Terri is an omnipresent being in every one of our classrooms helping to bring out teaching staff towards technology in their already great teaching. Her hard work and dedication to the Gorham Schools and, in particular GMS, has left an indelible mark how we do our work with our students. In in era when we are looking for constructive, engaging methods to bring our students closer to the work they will be doing when school is done, Terri is a critical friend to our staff and an abundant resource for our staff and our students. Congratulations, Terri!~

School Dances and Cell Phones

It seems as though with each passing year, cell phones become more a part of the middle school experience. Each morning on my arrival at school, we have a contingent of students who are already cellhere and each of them are on their cell phone! Some are listening to their playlist, others are playing games and some are texting messages to places unknown (but probably to the person sitting next to them or across the foyer. No sense getting up and walking across the foyer when a text will do!)

Some of our teachers are beginning to put the students and their cell phones to use in the classroom, which is good because it takes the device out of their pockets and places it on a desk, in the open, in view of all, so the teacher can insure that the device is used for school purposes.

As these devices get more and more sophisticated it becomes more and more important that we help our students understand the proper ways to employ these gadgets, and that brings me to our dances and cell phone title.

All of the phones that have been introduced in the past several years also include a camera with excellent resolution capabilities as well as a video mode for taking some fairly lengthy videos. When parents send their child to one of our dances, the last thing they expect to see at the end of the dance is a video of their child that is not very complimentary showing up on social media!

Seriously, though, we don’t want students to feel as though they must always be on guard for someone shooting pictures of them, especially when they are having fun with their friends. Sometimes,we all can “go over the top” with something and we don’t want that to become a reason for not coming to school. That fear of thinking that everyone is looking at them because they all saw the post of the video or picture of me at the dance on Friday night!

So, when we ask our students not to have their phones out at the dance, that is the reason. We ask all chaperones to be on the lookout for phone in use, but I am not sure we can catch it all, all of the time.

I rely on our Code of Conduct, Respect, Responsibility, Courage, Compassion and Honesty to guide our method of handling the idea of technology and socially networked adolescents. I believe our students do as well, yet, as we are all too aware, sometimes our adolescents’ frontal lobes don’t function the way we would like to expect and our students do things without thinking.

Operating under the idea that we must sometimes act as our students’ frontal lobe, we restrict the use of cell phones at our dances. This is sometimes contrary to the wishes of some of our parents. Rightfully, they want to know where their child will be when it comes to pick up time, or, if their child is planning to spend the night at the home of a friend. Sometimes, the plans of our kids change during the dance and parents need to know this.

We are asking all parents to help us with this and remind their children that we have phones in the office for our students to call (not text) to confirm plans of to notify of changes of plans. We need everyone’s help in keeping the phones of our students in their pockets during our dances.

So far, we have not had any problems that we know, but, as Ben Franklin said, “… an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Thank you for your help with this.

School Holiday – Columbus Day

Not that many of our students (or teachers and Principals) need the reminder, but we celebrate Columbus Day on Monday, October 13, so there will be no school on that day for students or teachers.

I hope that all get to enjoy the wonderful fall weather we always seem to get over that weekend (there I go! I just put a huge jinx on the forecast!)

Proficiency Based Education

We continue our progress toward a Proficiency Based Learning system that has been mandated by our Legislature through LD 1422, which requires that students achieve proficiency in the eight content areas of the Maine Learning Results. You may remember the Maine Learning Results or the MLRs as we in education like to call them. Students are expected to achieve proficiency in a particular area of study before moving on to the next level of learning. In essence, what this really means is that students will determine how quickly, or slowly they “travel” through their education careers. Currently, the school year begins in August (used to be September) and ends in June. At the end of that time students are usually moved to the next higher grade, although there are always exceptions to this. Some students have been “held back” and, less frequently, students are moved ahead and “skip a grade”. (Never a problem for me!)

In this system, time is the constant, that being the school year and learning is the variable. In other words, some students learn more during that time than others.

In the new Proficiency Based Learning System, time is the variable and learning is the constant. Some students will take longer to gain proficiency in certain areas than others students, and that is OK.

This video isn’t the typical kind of video I put here. Usually, I try to find something that is funny or engaging or has someone famous in it to keep your attention. This video is actually one that I could imagine being put on to a film strip. You know, the kind that beeps when you need to advance to the next slide. But the information is important and it does hit on all the elements of Proficiency Based Education, and, it’s short. (Ed Note: the term Standards Based Grading and Proficiency Based Learning are synonymous.)

I hope this helps in increasing your understanding of of what we are trying to do.

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