Countdown to Summer!

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Upcoming Important Dates

June 9 – Referendum on the School Budget, GMS Gym & Municipal Center, all day
Tuesday, June 9 – 8th Grade Step-up day 9:00 – 10:40 am
Wednesday, June 10 – Open House for retiring Superintendent Ted Sharp 2:30 – 4:40 GMS
Thursday, June 11 – GMS Band Concert 6:00 pm Auditorium
Thursday, June 18 – Step up Day for 6th & 8th Grade, 9:00 – 10:45 am
Thursday, June 18 – 8th Grade to High School 9:00 – 10:45 am
Thursday, June 18 – 8th Grade Celebration 6:00 pm GMS Gym
Friday, June 19 – Last day of school (barring any snow storms!)

Municipal Referendum

If you do nothing else on Tuesday, June 9th, Please,make you voice heard by voting on the School Budget Validation Referendum. Regardless of how you vote on the budget, up or down, it is important that your voice be heard! Voting will open at 7:00 am and remain open until 8:00 pm. Please get out and vote!

Step Up Day

Our 7th & 8th Grade students will meet their new teams and their new advisors on Thursday, June 18. Over the course of the past 3 months, we have collected information from parents and current teachers about each of our kids. We have used this information to make decisions that we feel create teams and classrooms that are similar in make up to the entire grade level.

As happens every year, some students will be disappointed that they are not with a particular friend, or group of friends, or that they did not get a particular teacher or team. I want assure you that we read every parent input sheet and listen and read all of the input from this years teachers in making pour placements. Once we have placed students, we are very restricted in making changes and we will not make changes to accommodate being placed with friends.

We do have 4 possible conditions where we will make changes.

  1. Prior negative experience with a particular teacher and your child
  2. Prior negative experience with a teacher and a sibling,
  3. Significant conflict with a particular student (“significant meaning restraining order, protection for abuse, etc.)
  4. Relative or close friend or neighbor which could cause discomfort in the relationship.

If, for some reason, we may have missed this information, please give us a call. If we were not aware of any of these condition existing, we will need to have the details before we can act.

8th Grade Celebration

The 8th graders will have a very busy last day of school on Thursday, June 18. We will begin at 8:00 in the gym with a rehearsal of the evenings ceremony. Students will be given their designated seats and instructed on how the evening will go.

At 9:00 am, they will board buses for the high school where Chris Record and staff will provide information on activities, sports and other extracurricular events that will be open to them in the coming years.

Around 10:45, they will return to the middle school for a final run through of the evening events and then, weather permitting, move out to the recess area for a cookout.

At 1:00, they will all move in to the Auditorium for the first screening of the 8th grade slideshow. They will then head up to their advisory area, conduct a final clean up and clean out of lockers and be dismissed for the day.

The students are expected to be in their designated seats at 5:55 pm on Thursday evening. We will begin the celebration promptly at 6:00 pm with a goal to be done by 7:10, at the latest. From there, the students will dance the next two hours of the night away, rocking’ to the tunes of Adam Parvanta. There will be lots of food and snacks for the students to enjoy their final night as middle schoolers.

The 8th graders are not expected on Friday!

Standards vs. Standardization

Prior to entering the field of education, I worked in private business, first as a banker and then owning my own Bed and Breakfast in downtown Portland, Maine. It was vitally important that our guest experience be standardized from night-to-night. Our guests expected that their ensuing stays with us would at least equal their first stay with us, they need to know what to expect, and they expect a level service that was consistent.

Similarly, in my banking days, I had the privilege of having a few restaurant franchisees as customers, some fast food and some small chains. Of course, this was in the days before ATM and debit cards were accepted at fast food restaurants.

During my time with these folks as customers of the bank, and clients of mine, I learned a lot about the “McDonalds Way”, or the “XYZ Restaurant and Grill way”. Each business, regardless of the size of their bottom line worked and trained their staff in their “way”. Everything from how to answer the phone to how to greet the customer to portion control and recipes. It was all neatly outlined in a manual and it was expected that each would be followed to the “T”.

With my fast food franchisees, I learned that it was critical that each hamburg be grilled a certain amount of minutes on one side before they are flipped, and then a certain number of minutes on the second side. French Fries needed to be in the oils at a prescribed temperature for a prescribed number of minutes, and the appropriate amount of onions, lettuce, pickles and special sauce needed to be applied to each burger. To make sure that the fast food franchisees were keeping the formula in tact, the “Home Office” would send out inspectors to conduct audits of the cooking times and temperatures and woe be the franchisee who decided to change anything in the formula!

If only educating our young folks could be as simple as timing the amount of learning that needs to occur on one side and then know when to turn them over to complete the process in order for a students to be deemed proficient and “college and career ready”. But, alas, we know that’ not the way our kids learn. Kids learn in any number of different ways and in any number of different times. Sometimes, kids see the ideas and get them on first try and sometimes it takes longer.

To be honest, I think many of our problems can be attributed to our own steadfast nature about how the school experience should be for our kids. Within schools everywhere, classrooms are filled with teachers who will quickly state that not all children learn at the same rate and in the same way, and then assign a worksheet with 20 questions to be completed for homework.

We had an interesting conversation about technology in a faculty meeting last week. As you are aware, Gorham Middle School is one-to-one with technology in grades 6 through 8, participating in the Maine Learning Technology Initiative in grades 7 & 8, and 6th grade having the old MacBooks. as part of the image on each of our laptops, students have “Air Drop”, and application where students can literally drop a file onto the laptop of someone in the same room over the air, not emailed or shared, but dropped onto their desk top.

Teachers were saying that one student would complete the worksheet and then it would be “dropped” to other students to “change the font or color of ink and not change any of the wording” and then pass that work in as their own.

Now, on the surface, I’d say “shame on those kids for cheating”! But I think the issue is greater than that. If we only want kids to fill out sheets with only one correct answer for each question, is the problem the kids or is it the teachers? Do we disrespect the time of our students so much that we expect that 50 to 100 kids per class should all be doing the same thing, in isolation, and then come together to share our answers?

Getting our students ready for a future of cross-continent collaboration, inter-cultural understanding and becoming v=creative problem solvers, as well as productive, responsible citizens, don’t we need to ask more of them than to complete a worksheet?

We need our students to reach for these standards that will help make them better at all of the above, but not a standardized approach to learning that requires all students complete all 20 questions on every worksheet in order to demonstrate proficiency.

Someone who can articulate this far better than I can is Will Richardson. Will is a parent, an educator and the author of the best selling book Why School?, something we should ask ourselves everyday. Read this post by Will and see if you have the same concerns I have. I would love to hear from you.

 

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