It Is Hard To Believe the Holiday are Just Around the Corner


Upcoming Important Dates

Wednesday, November 28 – 29 – Thanksgiving Break No School
Wednesday, December 10 – Early Release Day
Friday, December 12 – School Dance 6:00 – 8:00 pm GMS Gym

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.

Laptops Over the Thanksgiving Break

As we do during most school vacations, we will be performing an inventory as well as conducting some upgrades to the system and programs on the MLTI laptops. This will mean that our students will not have them with them over the break. All of their teachers have been made aware and they will not be assigning homework that will require the devices. I hope that this doesn’t cause too much of an inconvenience.

Just as a “heads-up”, we will also be conducting some upgrades over the Christmas Break as well. These upgrades will be quite significant and will require us to have the devices during this time.

PIE Meeting

There will be a PIE (Partners In Education) meeting on Thursday night in the GMS Library beginning at 6:00 pm. We have an open agenda, so we’ll be open to talking about anything related to GMS. I will have some resources on hand that we use to deal with bullying behaviors that I would be happy to share with anyone. We will also have information available on what we are doing as a school to comply with the new Proficiency Based Educations requirements.

I hope that you can join us.

GMS Civil Rights Team Project

Would you like your child to get involved in an activity at school, especially one that can help him/her learn some leadership skills and empathy as well as compassion? We have just the activity for you (and him/her), The Civil Rights Team Project(CRTP) is affiliated with the Maine Attorney Generals Office and it helps our students take a leadership role in helping to improve the climate and culture of our school.

The CRTP helps to identify areas of our school that need attention and then they create plans to address those needs. If you would like more information about the CRTP, have your child stop by the Ms. Rounds, 6th Grade Sebago, and get all of the information to get them involved in a very positive activity that helps to improve our school.

Preparing Kids for Their Future

Much has been written in the national press about how our kids don’t seem to be prepared for their future. Our test scores indicate that when our kids are put up against similar age groups kids from places like South Korea and Finland. There are some who think that the Common Core State Standards are wrong-minded solutions for the problems we face. Interestingly, many folks have completely opposite reasons for why the Common Core is wrong!

But I am not writing to debate the merits, or demerits of the Common Core. I am interesting in making sure that our kids are ready for the future, their future, making sure that they have the requisite skills, attitudes and aptitudes to be successful in a rapidly changing world. Truth is, I cannot fathom the possible changes that are coming!

What I can fathom is how much our students have changed over the past 10 years, and how they continue to arrive at middle school with new and different set of skills, attributes and dispositions. Each year, a new group of 6th graders arrive at GMS with more defined skills in technology. That’s because each year we improve the work of our teachers at the elementary grades with new devices and a far greater reach into the digital world. Sometimes we fail to recognize just how much our kids take in when they get their hands of technology and how quickly they adapt to it. In fact, I am confident that the GMS faculty has grown exponentially in the area of technology and how we employ the digital tools in our classrooms. So, what I am about to say may seem counterintuitive to my last statement!

We have grown, as a faculty, in our use of technology. We are getting better at integrating the digital tools in our practice and developing lessons and units that engage students and meet the students where they are. Some on our faculty can “Code” with the best of them, and those that can’t are standing in line to learn how. However, what I am not sure we are recognizing is the real difference in these kids today as opposed to those students who entered our school in the past.

Whether or not the Gorham School Department provides our kids with tech devices has become irrelevant. A quick survey of our incoming 6th graders reveals that many of them have engaged in online behaviors through their video game devices from Nintendo, Sega or Sony. Kids have played “multiplayer online” games with people that they “know” well but have never seen their face. This can be troublesome, if we think about this with our “over 30ish brain”, but it has become the norm for many of our kids and they have learned to manage these interactions quite well. But, I don’t want to stray into that area right now, I want to stay on the topic of how our kids are vastly different than previous generations.

Our kids come to us with vastly different experiences than their predecessors. The activities in which they engage are completely different and the outcomes they experience are far more immediate, allow students to learn from their mistakes and immediately use their learning and try again. None of this is what happens in a traditional school.

Okay, I can hear that little voice in my head saying, “this generation just wants everything… now”! And then I realize that is exactly what my dad said to me, and he was born in 1914, a whole century ago!

Now, I can hear my teacher voice saying “you’re lecturing and babbling on!” So, I will pick this up next week. I welcome your comments here or through my Twitter Feed @briley8557

Until next time…

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