Week of March 6

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Upcoming Important Dates

Mar 7 – 8th Grade Parent Night at GMS 6:00 pm MPAC
Mar 8 – GHS Principal Jandreau speaks to 8th Graders
Mar 10 -12 – GMS School Musical (more info below)
Mar 11 – 6th Grade Honors Chorus Concert at Bonny Eagle 3:00pm
Mar 12 – Daylight Savings Time Begins
Mar 14 – GHS Chorus Concert beginning at 12:30
Mar 15 – Early Release Day, Students dismissed at 11:10 am
Mar 16 & 17 – Parent Teacher Conferences
Mar 19 – Winter Fever Reliever GMS cafeteria 6:00 pm
Mar 20 – MEA Testing Window Opens (You all received a schedule last week)
Mar 20 – No EICAL for the next 3 weeks for testing

Parent/Teacher Conferences

We will hold parent teacher conferences on Thursday and Friday, March 16 & 17. We will begin after dismissal on Thursday and run until 8:00 pm and Friday, beginning at 8:00 am and running until 2:00 pm.

Please make every effort to meet with your child’s advisor during this time, this is a very important time of the school year as we begin to plan for next year.

This is also a time for students to be able to understand what they need to work on to improve the results, as well as begin to set the positive habits in potion for the close of the school year and the opening of another school year.

If you child’s advisor has not made contact with you be email of via a letter sent home with your child, please contact me and i will see that you get an appointment with your child’s teachers.

8th Grade Transitions

The transition to 9th grade and high school for all 8th graders begins, in earnest, on Tuesday evening with the Parent Nigh at GHS. The evening’s events are held in the GHS Auditorium, begging at 6:00 pm. GHS Principal Jandreau and other administrators and department heads will be available for questions and answers to parent questions.

Principal Jandreau will meet with the 8th graders on Wednesday morning at 8:05 in the GMS Auditorium to review the registration and course selection process with the students. Mr. Jandreau will also introduce several of the Department Heads who will let the students know what to expect for their classes and what the requirements will be for a successful High School career.

We will shortly be calling for a meeting of the 8th grade parents to begin planning for the Celebration of Middle School, the event that highlights with the ceremony in the gym and the final 8th grade school dance. Please watch this space, and our website for the time and place of this meeting.

School Musical School Day Presentation

A sure harbinger of Spring is the annual presentation by GMS students of the School Little Mermaid 2017Musical. This year, our students, under the direction of Tana Krohn, will be presenting The Little Mermaid, Jr. Presentation times are Friday and Saturday night, March 10 & 11 at 7:00 pm, and a new Sunday Matinee with the curtain rising at 2:00 pm.

The student presentation always is very well done with lots of entertainment value for families, please circle the date to enjoy at least one of the performances.

 

Music in Our Schools Month Concerts

I believe we finally have solidified the date for the annual Music in Our Schools Month GHS High School Chorus Tour. We will be entertained by the GHS Chorus on Tuesday, March 14 beginning at 12:30 pm in the GMS Auditorium. We will call down the teams at their appointed times, classes will just stop where they are, and when you return to class, pick up where you left off.

I expect the concerts to last about 25 minutes.

MEA Testing Windows

The MEA Testing windows open for the math and reading portion of the MEA’s on March 20th. During the 3-weel testing window, we will not hold EICal as a regular part of the day, teachers and students may use this time to make up for time lost during the testing sessions to meet with students and check-in fro continued progress during the testing.

There will be an additional testing window in April for 8th grade science and an additional testing window (new this year) for all grades for a writing assessment.

 

Week of February 27

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Upcoming Important Dates

Feb 27 – Students and Teacher return from Break
Mar 1 – Spread the Word to End the Word Day
Mar 2 – GHS Chorus Concert in the Gym 12:30 (we will do 2 concerts)
Mar 3 – School Dance sponsored by the 6th grade 6:00 -8:00 pm
Mar 3 & 4 – Southern Maine MS Honors Band and Chorus Concert
Mar 3 & 4 – GHS One-Act Play presentation 7:30 pm MPAC
Mar 7 – 8th Grade Parent Night at GMS 6:00 pm MPAC
Mar 8 – GHS Principal Jandreau speaks to 8th Graders
Mar 10 -12 – GMS School Musical (more info below)
Mar 12 – Daylight Savings Time Begins
Mar 15 – Early Release Day, Students dismissed at 11:10 am
Mar 19 – Winter Fever Reliever GMS cafeteria 6:00 pm

School Vacation

I hope that all of you had a great week of school vacation. I know that some years the weather can really deal a rough blow, but this year was exceptional. For those of you who are skiers, I cannot imagine better conditions than we had this week. And, even wit the warmer weather, there was still some great sledding weather or snowshoeing weather with great conditions.

It was also great weather to take in the championship run of the Gorham High School girls Basketball team at the Civic Center! Best of luck to the girls next week in Augusta as they take on the Vikings of Oxford Hills.

Now that we are at the end of a great week, we turn our sights toward a very busy March with MEA Testing, 8th Grade Transition activities and beginning the planning for the next school year.

Spread the Word to End the Word

Help Spread the Word to End the Word! You are invited to be a fan of respect and join us in an ongoing campaign to stop the use of the R-word. The goal of Spread the Word is an effort to draw attention to the fact that a large population of people are hurt and offended by the use of the R-word. This is more than just eliminating a certain word from your vocabulary, this is about an evaluation of our attitudes towards a population that has been stigmatized throughout their lifetimes. Everyone deserves respect and removing the R-word from our every day speech is one step we can take toward showing respect.

Please make your pledge by going to www.r-word.org. There will be pledge sheets at grade level lunches on Wednesday for students to sign.

GMS Students Present The Little Mermaid

Please circle the dates of March 10 trough March 12 and plan to attend one of the presentations of the annual GMS Musical. GMS students, under the direction of Tana Krohn, will present three (3) shows of the Little Mermaid. Shows on Friday and Saturday evening begin at 7:00 pm and, new this year, a Sunday matinee beginning at 2:00 pm.

We have come to expect from our students some amazing performances, beautiful singing, great acting, lots of laughs and a truly, wonderfully memorable evening. Please make pans to catch at least one show!

Changes in School Nutrition Program

We have been working with our School Nutrition folks to help get a handle on the number of students who are carrying negative balances on the school lunch account.

School lunch at GMS offers a very vibrant array of meals for our students to enjoy that are both delicious and nutritious (I sound like a commercial!). Our Food Service also offers some wonderful items on an “a la carte” basis. Pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches, hamburg and cheeseburger as well as a variety of cold sandwiches, salads and snacks. These are priced individually and the students can use their Pre-Paid account to purchase.

Families can use this pre-paid account system so that they don’t have to remember to give their children cash each day to eat lunch. Here is a link to the on-line pre-paid system that families can use to keep track of their account balances and to receive warnings when the account drops to a certain level and needs to be replenished.

We don’t ever want to withhold lunch from a child, and we won’t, however, sometimes, we do have accounts that go seriously into a negative balance. This causes a problem for your child and for the Food Service people, who need to be responsible to the taxpayers of Gorham and not become a burden on the school budget.

We recognize that family situations change over time and the family finances sometimes cause a struggle. We want to be able to continue to provide nutritious lunches for all of our students. There are some programs that can help, and if you give me a call I can confidentially steer you in the right direction to obtain information about these programs.

In the meantime, I will be reaching out to the people who are carrying negative balances to see if we can work out a plan to bring these balances into line with the program, If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call the Food Service staff or me.

Winter Fever Reliever

This information is from Tracy Williamson and has been sent to all of you in an email. This sounds like a really fun evening of music!

On Sunday, March 19th, the Gorham Middle School and High School Steel Bands will be performing a benefit concert with the Portland based steel band, Sister Steel.  The benefit is to raise money for our registration fee for the New England Steel Pan Festival that is to be held at Thompson’s Point on May 7th.
The event is from 6-8:30pm in the GMS cafeteria with a suggested donation at the door.
We are also looking for people to donate food items to a bake sale/snack concessions table for the event.  If anyone would like to contribute something, please let me know!  The steel band parents and Sister Steel are making crockpot meals and traditional foods from Trinidad for the event too.
Come enjoy some steel pan music, food and dancing on the 19th!  Hope to see you there!

Proficiency Based Learning

Imagine, if you will, (cue the Twilight Zone music) you are once again sixteen years old. You are sitting in the driver’s seat of your fathers four-door sedan, with the white walled tires, waiting for the man from the Registry of Motor Vehicles to slide into the passenger seat to administer your driving portion of the test for your first driver’s license.

The palms of your hands are dripping with sweat, so much so that your are not sure that you will be able to hold the steering wheel steady. Your armpits are moist and your heart rate is preparing to break land-speed records. You have studied the drivers manual, taken all of the drivers ed classes and completed at least 30 hours of driving with your mom or your dad, and it seems like years for them. You know you’re ready, but you’re still petrified!

The passenger door opens and the man dressed in the uniform of the Registry of Motor Vehicles slides into the passenger seat and begins to give you instructions about where to go and what to do.

Not ideal conditions for test taking, but it is what it is, and you fail to make a full stop at the stop sign (although, you’re sure you did!) and you FAIL your driving test and do not get your license!

Lots of tears and self doubt but, the world does not end. You go back to a few more driving practices with Mom or Dad, or, maybe that uncle who seems to show a whole lot more patience than Mom or Dad when you downshift to second instead of upshifting to fourth! The practice seems to work, your uncle has given you a pep talk to get you ready, and you return to the Registry of Motor Vehicles for another go at the “TEST”.

Alas, the pep talk didn’t work and you, once again, failed your driving test.

Let’s say you fail this test a third time, and now you’re wondering if driving is something that you really should be doing. You give it one more shot and, you PASS!

The Registry does not place any special restrictions on your license. There isn’t some kind of sticker that says “Took 3 times to pass”. You pass and you now have your license to drive.

Wouldn’t it be silly if the Registry used the average of all of your scores to determine if you could get your license. “Well, you failed the first 3 times you took the test, so you need to pass the test 4 times to get a passing grade on the driving test!”. That would be silly, and a waste of time for all. Or, worse, the Registry decided that your fails were so terrible they determine you will never get a license.

That’s just not the way the real world works, we just don’t average the things that really count. Yet, for more than 100 years, this is what we have been doing to students. One colossal fail on “the test” and you can never get your average up high enough to pass the course.

There are a plethora of examples of how real doesn’t match what we do in schools and, yet we continue the practice because… well, I don’t know because.

Will Richardson is a self-described parent, author, speaker, instigator, blogger about the web and its effects on school and learning. He is the co-publisher of ModernLearning.com and he can be followed on Twitter at @willrich45. I have been following him for several years now, and each time I read one of his blog posts, I am reminded about why I got into education in the first place.

I think the most profound phrase he uses that continues to stick with me more and more each day is “…trying to the wrong things right…”. When you think about our Core Beliefs here in Gorham this is what they say:

Each student is unique and learns in different ways and at different rates.

And yet, we continue to move students through school in similar age groupings. We also provide 51 minutes for math learning, 51 minutes for science learning, and so on. Our Core Beliefs have much more than just this and, I believe that every teacher, support staff and administrator in our district wants for each of our students to be successful in their life.Yet, we continue to try to get better at doing more of the same!

I’ve ranted on long enough. I am including a link to something from ModernLearning.com that came across my Twitter feed over the vacation. This can voice what I am so woefully explaining far better. I hope you enjoy.
https://medium.com/modern-learning/9-elephants-in-the-class-room-that-should-unsettle-us-8335b2cef9aa#.gp35fnw0n

Week of Feb 6

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Upcoming Important Dates

Feb 9 thru 12 – Gorham High School Spring Musical at MAPC
Feb 10 – Parent Meet-up 6:00 pm GMS Library
Feb 10 – School Dance 6:00 – 8:00 pm Gymnasium
Feb 15 – Early Release Day, students dismissed at 11:10
Feb 16 – PIE Meeting, GMS Library 6:00 pm (see agenda below)
Feb 17 – School Winter Vacation Begins
Feb 27 – Students return from Mid-Winter Break

Congratulations to the New England Patriots

I know that this morning we had a whole bunch of bleary-eyed people enter this building this morning, and a few bleary-eyed students too!

It was definitely a night for the ages and one that we all will remember with great fondness… unless you are not from New England! In any event, they certainly provided a lot of fodder for talk around the water cooler.

GHS Presentation of Footloose

Are you looking for some great entertainment next weekend? Can I suggest that you head on over to the Gorham High School MPAC to take in the GHS students’ rendition of the smash Broadway hit and the answer to many Kevin Bacon questions, Footloose. As in every other presentation of our wonderfully talented “former Gorham Middle School” students, this promises to be a night of great music and dancing. And who would pass up a chance to see Rocky Meyers on stage!?

Presentation are Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights,performances beginning at 7:00 pm and Saturday and Sunday matinees beginning at 2:00 pm

School Dance and Parent Meet-up

In conjunction with our monthly school dance, the Gorham Action Team for Youth (GATY) will be sponsoring a Parent Meet-up beginning at 6:00 pm in the GMS Library. The dance goes from 6:00 to 8:00 pm in the Gym.

GMS Social Worker, Cynthia Grover and GHS Substance Abuse Counselor, Claudine Emerson will host parents, answer questions and provide resources for parents who are questioning about the risky behaviors that are present in our community.

Last week, I sent out a letter to all parents and guardians about one such risky behavior, the Choking Game, explaining some of the tell-take signs your child might be engaging in this risky behavior.

If you decide to accompany your child to the dance, your child will be admitted to the dance for free and you’ll get some great information and meet two great resources (Cynthia and Claudine) to help you, and I’ll bet there will be some refreshments of some type!

We hope to see many of you at this very beneficial event!

Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey

Monday morning, all of our students will be taking the Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey. The survey is a collaboration of the Maine Department of Education and the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. These agencies will use the information gained from these surveys to help these departments in determining how they will utilize their resources.

We will get the results of this survey sometime late in the Spring or early Summer. We will share this with all of you when we get it back.

Early Release Day

On Wednesday, February 15, GMS students will be dismissed at 11:10 am. The Gorham Parks and recreation Department have planned a couple of activities for students to enjoy after they are dismissed.

Here are two fliers with he details of each activity. If you are interested in having your child participate, you must contact the Recreation Department directly.

PIE Meeting February 16

We will be holding another PIE Meeting in the GMS Library on Thursday evening beginning at 6:00 pm.

Last month, we talked about the process of moving the school to a Proficiency Based Learning system, and all that it entails. The conversation was lively, and there were still some questions left to answer and still more information that needs to be developed. This could be the top topic of the conversation, as could anything else folks would like to discuss.

I hope we see many of you there.

National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)

Selected 8th grade students will be administered the NAEP this coming Friday, during the school day. This is an assessment that we do not control, it comes straight from the US Department of Education. The results of this assessment, which is being given across the country to selected schools and students, will be used to determine the progress of our students in grades 5, 8 and 11.

To learn more about the NAEP and its purpose, check out this link.

Mid-Winter School Vacation Break

Mid-Winter School Vacation will begin at dismissal on Friday, February 17. Students will be dismissed at the regular time.

Here at couple of things that parents will need to know:

  • Students will return to school on Monday, February 27.
  • Student Laptops will be kept at school over the break for inventory and damage assessments.

We hope that all enjoy a restful mid-winter break. Hopefully, we don’t have too many snow storms!

Real Learning

I cam across this video this weekend and it really struck a chord with me when I think about learning. Not just learning in school, but learning while living your life. I hope you enjoy it

Week of January 30

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Upcoming Important Dates

Jan 30 – GMS Talent Show in the GMS Auditorium 6:00 pm
Jan 31 – Student showing of the Talent Show (see schedule below)
Feb 1 – New EICAL Rotation begins
Feb 9 thru 12 – Gorham High School Spring Musical at MAPC
Feb 10 – Parent Meet-up 6:00 pm GMS Library
Feb 10 – School Dance 6:00 – 8:00 pm Gymnasium
Feb 15 – Early Release Day, students dismissed at 11:10
Feb 16 – PIE Meeting, GMS Library 6:00 pm (see agenda below)
Feb 17 – School Winter Vacation Begins
Feb 27 – Students return from Mid-Winter Break

National Geography Bee School Champion

On Friday, January 27, we crowned a new Gorham Middle School Geography Bee Champion.

All students participated in the Preliminary rounds of the Bee and we had a record number of students answer correctly in all 7 rounds of the preliminary. Thirteen students gathered in the Library for the Tie-Breaker round to determine the 10 school finalists. After one round of tie-breaker questions, we have our 10 finalists. They were:

Griffin Loranger –  Monhegan
Rylan Flagg – Crescent
Josh Allen – Monhegan
Dawson Allen – Peaks
Michael Darasz – Boon
Emily Paruk – Monhegan
Ashley Thurston – Little River
Ben Allison – Crescent
Sam D’Amico – Harraseeket
Conner Allison – Harraseeket
Jacob Weisman – Harraseeket
Bryce Lumbert – Harraseeket
Andrew Suliman – Stroudwater

After several rounds of Final questions, we had our two Finalists, Connor Allison and Sam D’Amico.

The Final round consisted of 3 questions that were asked of each student. Sam answered two of the three correctly and Connor answered one.

Our New Gorham Middle School Geography Bee Champion is Sam D’Amico. Congratulations to Sam and Conner and to all of the participants in this years competition. Sam will now attempt to qualify for the State Finals to be held later in March.

Parent Meet-up

The Gorham Action Team for Youth (GATY) will be holding a Parent Meet-up on Friday, February 10 at 6:00 pm in the GMS Library. The meet up is designed to have parents meet with folks in our Support Services to talk about ways that our community can support our kids with activities to keep help continue to make good choices.

We have paired the Parent Meet-up with our monthly school dance in hopes that we could attract more parents to come to the Meet-up. We have also added an incentive to parents and students for coming. Usually, the dance admission fee is $5.00, but if students bring their parent to the Parent Meet-up, the admission will be waived.

I hope we see you here!

PIE Meeting Coming Up

Please mark your calendars for the evening of February 16 for our next PIE Meeting. The meeting will be held in the GMS Library and, following up on our last meeting, we will continue the discussion of Proficiency Based Learning.

I plan to have a couple of film clips from the acclaimed documentary Most Likely to Succeed,  a film about how schools can react to the changing needs of our students. Earlier this year we showed the film to parents. I think the clips will allow us to frame some good conversations about education.

Hope to see you there. If you have any questions, please feel free to give me a call.

Gorham School Department New Web Page

Our tech gurus have been very busy revamping, revising and improving our existing web page to help make it more accessible to our community. The site will go “live” on Wednesday, February 1st, so you can expect to see some dramatic changes in appearance and in the ease of use. The URL is still www.gorhamschools.org.

Early Release Day

Our next early release day will be Wednesday, February 15. Students will be dismissed at 11:10 am.

As we did last month, the Gorham recreation Department will be offering a couple of activities for the students to keep the busy. This month the Rec Department will be offering two activities.

You will need to contact the Recreation Department to get more details and to reserve your seat.

 What Parents Need to Know

It has come back around again!

If you have been doing this job for as long as I have, you see some trends come and go, and then came back again. Skateboards was a big thing for a while, but they faded away only to come back, and then fade away again.

One activity that I wish would fade away forever is a stunt that students do occasionally called the Pass Out Game, The Choking Game or the Fainting Game. These are games where students make themselves pass out by hyperventilating and then holding their breath until they lose consciousness. It is sometimes called the “Good Kids” high, because it does’t involve drugs, but it does provide a “high” for the kids.

You could do a Youtube search for the Fainting game and you will see lots of kids doing it. What the kids don’t see, and why they don’t know is the possible damage that could be done. Over the years, several young people have died from doing this.

I am not going to include a Youtube video with this as I do not want to encourage anyone, but I will include a link to an article by our friends at nobully.com that explains the game, the effects and some tips to help parents notice any of the warning signs that your child might be engaging in this activity.

https://nobullying.com/pass-out-challenge/

I wish I could say that this doesn’t happen here, but I can’t. If you’d like more information, please feel free to call me or any of our counselors.

Until next time…

Week of September 5th

topperMiddle

GSD Logo

Upcoming Important Dates

Sep 6 – Laptop Orientation during Tutorials
Sep 8 – Picture Day
Sep 8 – Vision & Hearing Screening
Sep 11 – 15th Anniversary of The Attacks on 9/11
Sep 12 & 13 – MLTI Parent Orientation Night 6:00 pm
Sep 12 thru Sep 23 – Star 360 Testing Window
Sep 16 – School Dance 6:00 pm GMS Gymnasium
Sep 17 – U.S. Constitution Day
Sep 21 – Early Release Day Students dismissed at 11:10

MLTI Laptops

I mentioned, at the close of last year, that GMS was going to be receiving new Apple MacBook Air laptops for all of our 7th and 8th grade students. Well, they have arrived and we gave them out to the students on Thursday. We will be working with the students to get them all configured when they return to school on Tuesday. We will do this laptop activation during the period we call Tutorial, so there will be no loss of class time.

Most of the 6th grade students received the whole MacBooks that we have used for the past 7 years. However, the students on the Moosehead Team will be participating in a Pilot program and will be using ChromeBooks. Every 6th grade students will have a device assigned to them for their use.

We will hold the annual MLTI Parent Orientation Nights on Monday and Tuesday, September 12 & 13 at 6:00 pm in the GMS Auditorium. Attendance at this event is required of all parents in order for their child to be able to bring their device home from school.

Please make every attempt to attend one of these evening events. I know these are a real pain, but we are required to do these and parents are required to attend annually. We will do our best to be quick and be informative.

Picture Day

Picture day is on Thursday, September 8 for all students. Students did receive an order form on the first day of school. Please use this form to complete your order.

If your child lost the form, please don’t worry, you can order pictures online by going to the LifeTouch web page. Just follow the directions on the page, it really is easy!

Portland Tutors

Portland TutorsOccasionally, I get asked if I know of a tutor who can help a child through some difficulties in math. Recently, a friend of mine actually began such a service and, I am happy to pass along his information. His name is Alexander Decal, a graduate of Maine Maritime Academy and an accomplished engineer. He can be reached via email at Alexander@portlandtutors.org, or via his website at portlandtutors.org.

Annual Vision and Hearing Screening

Nurse Cathy Loiselle will be conducting the annual Vision & Hearing screenings for all 7th grade students, and some Eye examselected 8th grade students. If your 8th grade child is one of the selected students, you will have been notified in advance.

These screenings are designed to uncover any issues with our students and to report anything we find to the parents. We have been conducting these screenings since I was in school, with chalkboards and paper bag book covers!

STAR 360 Assessments

For more than 10 years, we have use the NWEA Assessments in an effort to help us understand what we need to do next to help our students learn better. This should be the goal of any assessment, help us learn how we can help our students learn better.

This year, we will be making a switch to an assessment called STAR 360. This assessment is similar to the NWEA in that it will be administered via the computer and that it is also an adaptive assessment. The part I like best is that it will provide our teachers will a complete set of information on our students by class or by grade, and the information will be norm referenced, meaning a view of how our students fare against the nation as well as criterion referenced information, meaning how are our students doing toward the learning targets.

Parents will receive similar information on their child’s results and you will see a clear picture of their progress.

We plan to begin the administration of the assessments during the second week of September. When we have completed all of the administration, I will let you know overall results and when you will receive your child’s results.

Education for the Future

Over the past few years in this space, I have included articles, blog posts from others and videos that challenge our ideas about what education should be. I think I even offered the observation that if Horace Mann, who died in 1859, were to return to Earth today, the only thing he would recognize is the education system!

In Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith book Most Likely to Succeed, they speak in great detail about the shaping of the American Public School at the turn of the 19th Century. How the “movers and shakers” of the day recognized that America was moving from an agrarian society to one that required skills in manufacturing. They also realized that an educational system needed to be instituted to address this change and to train the American worker to move from the fields of the farm to the floors of the assembly lines.

In a way, these men, called the Gang of Ten (yes, they were all men!), recognized that the technology of the late 19th and early 20th Century was changing the way of life for our country, and the country needed to respond to these changes.

In a way, we are at a similar crossroads again. Technology has again changed the course of human events.

Schools need to be responsive to this shift, the shift in skills that the kids in our schools today will need for their future.

We have a lot of work to do in the coming years to re-tool what we do, and how we do it, in our schools to make sure our students are ready for the world ahead of them.

 

We’ll explore more in the coming weeks here. In the meantime, take a few minutes to view Ted Dintersmith giving a speech in Fargo, North Dakota on why he supported the making of the documentary Most Likely to Succeed.

 

Summertime, and the Livin’ is Easy!

topperMiddle

Upcoming Important Dates

Aug 29 – First day of school for 6th Graders
Aug 30 – First Day of school for 7th & 8th Graders
Sep 2 – No School Labor – Long Labor Day Weekend
Sep 5 – Labor Day No School
Sep 8 – School Picture Day
Sep 8 – Vision & Hearing Screening day
Sep 12 & 13 -MLTI Parent Information Evening
Sep 16 – School Dance

Student Placement

We have completed the placement process for all of our students for the next school year. The process is exhausting and extensive and it is one that we take very seriously. We take information from parents and the students’ teachers to make sure we put together combinations that make sense for the entire school. We also work hard to make sure that students have at least one friend on their team (usually, they have many friends with them!).  In any event, since the 8th grade is housed in one wing of the school, it is very likely that they will still have plenty of time for socializing with friends.

Our goal is to have teams that resemble the grade as a whole, in other words, a heterogeneous group of students with similar strengths and similar challenges. We endeavor to make sure that no one team can be perceived as the team that has far more of one type of student over another.

(Side note: In some of the emails and telephone calls we have received, parents have objected to their child being placed on the team with all of the Special Education students, or the behavior students, or, that another team has all of the “college-bound” students. This is why we do this exhausting process, to keep this from happening)

We also understand that sometimes we don’t get it right. We have set out a protocol for parents top voice their concern and request a change of team. To do so, parents must demonstrate one of the following four possibilities in making the request:

  1. Prior negative experience with the student and a teacher on the team;
  2. Prior negative experience with a sibling or family member and a teacher on the team;
  3. An issue between another student on the team that rises to the level of civil or legal involvement, and;
  4. A teacher on the team who is a relative and placement could cause a problem.

Short of meeting any of these conditions, we are restricted from moving students off a team.

There is a bit of hope, however, we know that over the course of the summer students move in and students move away. We are committed to making our teams representative of the grade as a whole. In late August, when we begin to receive the transfer requests, we re-examine the make up of each team and make adjustments at that time. In the past, we have had to move students to different teams.

What we cannot allow is the idea of “team or teacher shopping”. Making requests for a particular team or teacher would complicate the process to the extent that it would be impossible to keep the mix of students representative of the whole grade.

If I could pass on a little bit of wisdom that I have gained over the years, first as a parent, and then as a middle school administrator, kids are incredibly resilient. What appears to be the crisis to end all crises, can be mollified with time.

Finally, I am happy to meet with any parent to talk about each of the teams at our grade levels. We are incredibly blessed at Gorham Middl School because we have some very talented, dedicated teachers who go more than above and beyond to provide our students with great learning experiences.

 Supply Lists for 2016-2017 School Year

I figured that I would try to beat Staples, Wa;smart and Office Max to the punch and get our supply lists out to all well before the “Back-to-School Sale Season” starts. I want to temper these lists a little bit by reminding you that your child does not need  to have all of these supplies for the first day of school, these are meant to last for the entire year, so you might be able to ease into the purchasing a bit.

I have updated our GMS Webpage with the complete lists for each team. Follow this link to the GMS page and scroll down to “Supplies List” section. Please be very mindful of the amount of supplies your child will need. Also, if you are experiencing financial difficulties, please don’t hesitate to call me. We do have some supplies available for students, if necessary. I will keep any information in complete confidence.

Summer Reading for a Principal

Summer is the time that I can settle in for an afternoon of enjoyable reading. Maybe some history about General George Washington and the American Revolution, or John Sanford novel with Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers, those are always interesting, if not a bit gruesome.

But for now, I am elbow deep into Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith’s Most Likely to Succeed (MLS). Tony Wagner has been featured in this blog on a couple of occasions, both in video and in print. I appreciate his take on the challenges we are facing in preparing pour kids for their future. Ted Dintersmith is new to me. The book jacket says he is a venture capitalist who has turned his attention to improving our educational system in a manner that is quite different than other wealthy people are suggesting.

As I said, I am only elbow deep into this book with lots more reading and understanding to do.

About a year ago, Ted Dintersmith was in Fargo, North Dakota, attending a TEDx conference. He delivered this address about his ideas and talked about the documentary he financed about education across the country. So far, I have been completely enthralled with everything Wagner and Dintersmith have said about how our education system needs to be more responsive to the needs of our future. I think we’ll be talking about this more in the coming months. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy his speech from Fargo.

Week of May 9

topperMiddle

Upcoming Important Dates

May 9 – 7th Grade NWEA testing begins
May 9 – Dr. Ross Greene Raising Human Beings… 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium (more below)
May 11 – Washington, D.C Trip Parent Meeting 6:30 pm GMS Library
May 16 -18 – Elementary School visits during the day
MAY 16 – 6th Grade testing begins
May 20 – 8th Grade Physics Day at Funtown
May 23 – Civil Rights Team to state Convention in Augusta
May 24 – HS Student Ambassadors visit Boon Team
May 25 – HS Student Ambassadors visit Mohegan
May 26  – HS Student Ambassadors visit Peaks
May 27 Junior Solar Car Sprint Challenge
May 30 Memorial Day – No School

This Week in Middle School Athletics

5/9              MS GLAX @ Bonny Eagle                 3:30/4:45 pm         2:20 pm
5/9             MS BLAX (H) Bonny Eagle       3:30/4:45 pm
5/10            7th BB/SB @ Westbrook                    3:30/3:30 pm         2:20 pm
5/11             8th BB/SB (H) Westbrook         3:30/3:30 pm      
5/12            MS GLAX @ Massabesic                    3:30/4:30 pm         2:20 pm
5/12           MS Track Home                       3:30 pm
5/13            8th BB/SB @ Moore                            3:30/3:30 pm         2:20 pm
5/16            8th B&G Lax (H) Biddeford       3:30/3:30 pm

Home Contests in bold; Schedule subject to change

An Evening with Dr. Ross Greene

In conjunction, but not necessarily connected to the above announcement, The Rivers Region Coalition, a Drug Free Communities Support Program under grant #SP018268 from ONDCP and SAMSHA, will present an evening with renowned author and researcher, Dr. Ross Greene. The title of his presentation will be Raising Human Beings: Parenting to Foster the Better Side of Human Nature. In this evening of information, Parents will learn how they can influence their child’s direction and decisions and resolve disagreements without conflict.

The presentation will be on Monday Evening, May 9, beginning at 6:00 pm in the Gorham Middle School Auditorium. The admission is free.

We do hope that you can find the time to attend this incredibly informative presentation by one of the most predominant people working in the field of adolescent behavior.

NWEA Testing for 7th Graders

All 7th graders will be administered the NWEA Assessment during the week of May 9th. This testing is important information to measure student growth over the course of the year and to help us with placement decisions for next year. The information will available shortly after the testing window closes. We gather that information and prepare it for this year’s teachers to examine and for the teachers next year to use as they prepare lessons.

A Great Summer Learning Opportunity

I am happy to let you know about a great summer learning adventure that is available to our students. Junior Engineering and Mathematics with Lego Robotics, Problem Solving Puzzles and Modular Origami will be held during two weeks in July at 43 Foreside Road, in Falmouth beginning July 11 through July 15 and July 25 through July 29. Campers can register for one week of for both weeks. The program is not repetitious, so each week will be a new experience.

The cost of the program is $290 and the faculty, Eva J. Szillery, Ph.D. is the Director of the American Mathematics Competition for the state of Maine. She was also the recipient of Educator RecognitionAward fro Programming Excellence for this program.

For more information you can contact Eva Szillery at evaszillery@gwi.net, or you can pick up a program brochure at the Gorham Middle School Maine Office.

If you pick up a brochure, it comes with an opportunity to receive a discount to the camp. The students will be asked to solve two of the enclosed 5 questions. Successful students will receive a nice discount for their work.

Change

I am always trying to engage myself with a diverse group of learning professionals who are constantly examining the work we do and how we can do it better. By “the work we do”, I am talking about making education more relevant and responsive to our our students, their individual needs and what we might reasonably expect for the skills needed in their future.

I believe that we have to accept a different premise about our kids coming to school than we ever had to before. That premise that they have experiences vastly different than students of even five years ago. I also think that the experiences become more pronounced as the students advance in school and we need to recognize that, as well. Students entering middle school have had a significant amount of technology used in their learning and in their daily life.

I raised my kids a long time ago, but I do remember how technology began to creep into their lives and change the manner in which they communicated. Back in those days, IM’ing was the new thing (yup, I am that old!) and my kids would fight for computer time to do their homework (I told you I was old, we only had one desk top in the house!), At least that’s I thought! What they wanted to do was to communicate with their friends about all kinds of things, not just homework related. My kids could have 8, 9 or even 10 conversations going on at the same time and still get their homework done. It was impossible for me to fathom this, and yet, they succeeded quite well in school. I was worried that it would have a negative effect on their school work, then I began to worry about who they were talking to, and then I worried that they were talking to their friends about me!

That was quite a while ago, and technology has certainly changed since then.

Marc Prensky, in his book Digital Native to Digital Wisdom, has some interesting observations about whether or not our kids are thinking differently than generations before them.

Brain research over the past decade has demonstrated that the brain is constantly reorganizing itself based upon stimuli it receives, and it does so throughout our lifetime. This phenomenon it known as neuroplasticity.  This is a very different thought process from just 10 years ago.

I realize that not all kids get cell phones before they come to middle school, but many of our kids have experience with lots of technology in the form of video games, some of them multi-player games that entail these kids interacting with, or against, humans located someplace else. It sometime requires the kids to collaborate effectively to reach certain goals, or it may require kids devising some sort of logical plan to overcome an obstacle or foe. In both cases, the child is expected to execute some kind of thinking and using past failure and successes to take next steps. This has to have an effect on their brain.

I have heard lots of statistics about screen time of our kids these days, and there are reams of information about how much, what kind and how soon before bedtime should screens be shut down.

I am more concerned with what does all of this mean for schools and education. When our studnets arrive at the school house door, what skills do they possess? What dispositions and attitudes will they demonstrate when they are faced with a difficult problem? How will the adults within the school react to the student solutions to the problems they face? What role with the students play in their learning?

We are on the precipice of a new dawn in education, within the state of Maine, we will be reporting on student progress differently, expectations for graduation will change for all students and the time required to graduate with a high school diploma cold be different for every student. How are we going to face these challenges? Are we going to continue with the status quo, or are we going to recognize and honor the changes in our students?

I have far more questions than answers, but our kids deserve us to examine these questions and look at them through a very different lens.