Last Week of School for the Year!

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Upcoming Important Dates

Tuesday, December 16 – Chorus and Steel Band Concert GMS Auditorium 6:00 pm
Wednesday, December 17 – Annual Holiday Luncheon all students GMS Cafeteria
Friday, December 19 – James Madison Excellence in Writing Prize Awards GMS Gym 12:30 pm
Friday, December 19 – Student/Faculty Basketball Game 12:30 pm
Friday, December 19 – Last Student Day of the Year!
Monday, January 5 – Students return from Christmas Break

An Apology

In my last post, I think rambled on quite a bit about how the upcoming changes to education are being greeted by those of us in schools as well as the business world’s interpretation of the changes. I really hate it when I ramble on and say very little! So. I am going to try to be more succinct in what I want to say… So I found someone else who can say it much better!

For some reason, we have been made to believe that schools aren’t working for our kids. We are not properly preparing them for life in the “real world” after they complete school. I don’t think it does anyone any good to try to argue that point, on either side. What I believe we need to recognize is that the entire world has changed dramatically and will continue to change at a pace so rapid that we can’t afford to sit back and wait for the “pendulum to swing back”. (For those of you in education, you’re familiar with this phrase coming from those who would rather not face change!)

I came across this video by Steve Wheeler, a professor of educational technology in Plimouth, England. In this video, he talks about how much technology has changed in the past 3 years and what some of the changes that will be coming in the next 5 to 7 years. It is truly startling to begin to think of some of these developments. It is even more startling to think about what impact these changes will have on how we teach our kids.

There is a part of me that is absolutely terrified with some of the implications of these changes, and a whole other part of me wriggling with anticipation. I would love to hear your comments after you have viewed this video.

 Preparing for 2015

With coming of the new year, we have some fairly significant events that impact all of our students. This will be the very first year that our state will be using the assessment from The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) in math and English/language arts. Now, assessing math and language arts is nothing new for the state of Maine, we have been using the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) for the past 6 years, and prior to that we assessed our students using the Maine Educational Assessment (MEA). We also have been assessing our students through the Northwest Educational Assessment (NWEA), that is a computer based, adaptive assessment that asked students to complete multiple choice answers with a “point and click” format.

The SBAC is a bit different in that this will be an adaptive, computer based assessment that will require our kids to be able to manipulate content on their computer in order to be able to answer questions correctly. It really should be easy for most of our students, but it will still be different.

Additionally, we have been selected to participate in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).The NAEP is an assessment given to 4th, 8th and 11th graders across the nation to provide information on our “Nations Report Card” for the educational progress of America’s public schools. In the coming days, you will receive a letter from us indicating that your child has been “chosen” to participate in this assessment. Not all of our 8th graders will be assessed by the NAEP, and, no, I am not sure how they go about selecting the students, they just send us a list and tell us what day. Some of our students will be assessed in math and some will be assessed in language arts. None of them will be assessed in both.

If you want to learn more about the NAEP, you can check them out on this site: http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/

Finally, we are participating in two research grant projects. Each of these projects are very positive for our school and our students. These research projects will require either an assessment or a survey completed by our students. We will not allow these to interrupt our students’ classroom experience, and so these will be completed during the EICAL period. We’ll let you know the exact dates of each of these events.

2015 will also see us continuing our work towards proficiency based education. As you are all very aware, we have been doing a considerable amount of work so far in shifting to proficiency based learning. I have been writing quite a bit about this shift and what it will mean for our kids when we have completed the work. While it should be different, much will still be the same. What you will experience is a far better understanding of what it is that your child is learning, or not learning.

As we progress through the year, and next year as well, we will do a whole lot more communicating about Proficiency Based Education and how it will impact your child. What the implications will be for advancing each year in school, what content and how that content is taught (and, more importantly learned) to you child and how the community as a whole will know what it means to be a learner from Gorham.

Lots of stuff coming in the year ahead, so until next time…

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