As the Holidays Near

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Upcoming Important Dates

Monday, November 10 – No School Teacher Workshop Day
Tuesday, November 11 – Veterans Day, No School
Friday, November 14 – School Dance GMS Gym 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Teacher Workshop Day and Veterans Day Celebrations

On Monday, November 10, teachers of the Gorham School District will be engaging in professional development all day. There will be no school for students.

On November 11, in the GMS Gym beginning at 10:00 am the Gorham Veterans Committee will be holding a celebration of the many veterans who sacrificed for the liberties we enjoy each and every day. All are welcomed to attend this great American Celebration of Honor for our citizen soldiers.

The Maine Military Museum will also be displaying several uniforms and other artifacts of a military nature. The display will be set up in the GMS front foyer and in our cafeteria. Please circle your calendar for this great event.

Holiday Helpers and Helping

thanksgivingEach year, our School Nurse, Teresa Merrill, organizes a food collection and distribution to those families in our community who face financial challenges of providing a holiday meal or a few gifts from Santa to put under the tree.

As we are fast approaching the holiday season, each year the staff, and the students (Student Council) at GMS, with a donation from the Gorham Health Council, provide holiday sharing of food baskets and small gift items for students at GMS and their families in need. If you are a family interested in assistance or if you are a family who would like to help contribute to this community sharing, please contact Teresa Merrill, R. N. (222-1224) no later than November 14, 2014. All requests for assistance are confidential.

My Hat in Hand!

I am seeking some help and guidance with this dilemma and I figured I would just put it out there, in the public, to see if I am being unreasonable and over reaching.Me with hat-in-hand

Each year, one of our teachers offer our 8th graders a wonderful chance to visit our Nation’s Capital, Washington, D.C., during the April vacation break. The students leave early on a Monday morning and return on Saturday. There is a cost to the trip which includes transportation, accommodations, meals and admission fees to several venues. As you can imagine, it can be very pricey for some of our students. I am wondering if there is a funding vehicle, available through online sources that might help pay for some of our more needy students to avail themselves of this great opportunity? If you know of something that we can use, without having to “sell our soul”, I would appreciate learning about it. Please feel free to call me at school or send me an email at robert.riley@gorhamschools.org.

I Had to Share This!

We are always looking for ways to expose our students to great learning opportunities. We have a very gifted artist in our school, who doesn’t use traditional canvas or paint, this student uses a digital canvas and his finger to paint some amazing pictures.

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This is a desert setting on IPad, created by Educreations, completed by using his index finger. Pretty Impressive, Huh?

From Digital Natives, Digital Wisdom

Mark PrenskyLast week, I wrote about a book that I have been reading by Mark Prensky. Mark is a former teacher who currently travels the world talking to and with educators, students and parents about how the world of education has changed with the digital revolution we are currently experiencing.

I really hope that I didn’t give the impression that I thought that technology is the be-all-end-all for our students. Let ,e be very clear about technology and its use in education.Technology is a tool, it is not the replacement for the teacher, or the textbook or any of the many other wonderful things that happen in classrooms everyday. Let me repeat myself, technology is a tool, like a shovel for digging a hole, or a hammer for driving a nail. It is only as good as the person who is wielding it.

But I also want to be clear about the majority of the students we deal with every day, they have great access to technology and information. Technology has become ubiquitous in our life.

Daniel Pink, in his ground breaking book (at least to me!), To Sell is Human, writes about how the advantage in most transactions completed today has shifted from the seller to the buyer. Why? Because buyers now have access to vast amounts on information about the product being sold. When buying a new or used car, the buyer can go the the Kelly Blue Book web site and get all of the information about a certain model of vehicle they are interested in purchasing. They can learn about recalls from the manufacturer, particular issues with a certain model (much like the back window motors that fail at an alarming rate on Chevrolet Impalas, I have unfortunately found out!). They can have discussions with people who have purchased the car, and discover their likes and dislikes about their use of the vehicle. Then when you decide on the exact vehicle you want and it happens to be a pre-owned, you can research all repairs done on that car, if it had any accidents, etc.

Need books? Try Amazon! Remember the Sears Catalogue? It’s online, bigger and better than ever! Need to sell that old Christmas present from Aunt Polly? Try eBay! Book a trip? File your taxes? Visit with your grandchild who lives in San Francisco and is beginning to walk and you want to see it? Skype! Feeling ill and want to know if it’s the flu? WebMD!

We all are using technology in more ways than we really know, and it has helped us. Yes, we are adults and we have fully developed frontal lobes and, usually, we can understand the consequences of our actions before we act! Sometimes.

What Prensky is saying is, that in spite of their familiarity with technology, in spite of the fact they are creating lives for themselves, in spite of the fact that they can run circles around us in the technology world, they still need our guidance in learning how to use this wonderful resource productively, appropriately and positively!

So, to demonstrate to you at least one adolescent has used her technology skills for a positive, constructive purpose, I offer the follow TEDx video from this past mont.

More on Proficiency Based Education

As many of you know, and as I have chronicled here many times, I spend a fair amount of time with my Personal Learning Network (PLN) discussing all things PBL logoeducation. My PLN is made upon educators from all across globe, literally from 6 of the 7 continents! (still not sure why Antarctica has failed to respond!).

This past week, my PLN had several discussions, in the Twitter hashtag format, regarding grading and Standards Based Learning, another name for Proficiency Based Learning. I thought I’d share some of the actual comments from folks during this chat as a way of explaining how educators (K-12, and Higher Ed), educational researchers and educational consultants saw Proficiency Based Education.

Here goes:

Q1 What is the purpose of Standards Based Grading, why make the change from “traditional”? #sblchat

A1: Important to eliminate behavioral/ compliance grading #sblchat

A1: SBG focuses learning on what you are teaching, not the “game” of school and point collecting  #sblchat  @rickwormeli2

A1 – Standards-Based Learning is based on learner outcomes rather than chapter, section, page and non-standards-based activities. #sblchat

A1 Standards Based Grading switches the focus in the classroom from grading to learning. #sblchat

A1: SBL helps prepare our Ss for the real world by holding them accountable for learning/mastery. #sblchat

A1: SBG is a measurement of learning not point accumulation for a variety of reasons. #sblchat

A1 Changes the purpose of grades from working the system to mastering the content. A grade is a reflection of learning #sblchat

I could post almost 800 of these kinds of comments about Proficiency Based Learning, but you could join in the chat by using the #sblchat on Twitter on Wednesday evenings beginning at 9:00 pm EST. Also, if you would like to see any of the full chats about #SBLchat, you can do so at Storify.com. Just do a search for #sblchat.

As you can see, there are a lot of educators involved in gaining a better understanding of how we can help our students with authentic learning and not just about acquiring enough points for a “B” or an “A”.

Until next time….

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