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.

April 11

topperMiddle

Upcoming Important Dates

Apr 8 – School Dance 6:00 – 8:00 pm GMS Gym
Apr 11 – 8th Grade Celebration Organizing Meeting 6:00 pm
Apr 12 – All Gorham Chorus Night at GHS
Apr 13 – School Committee Meeting 7:00 pm at the Municipal Center
Apr 15 – Spring Break begins at the dismissal of students
Apr 28 – 5th Grade Parent Night at GMS 6:00 pm in the Auditorium

8th Grade Celebration

I say this every year, but every year it is true, I can’t believe they year has gone by so fast!

There are some changes coming this year to how we can do the 8th Grade Celebration, mostly because old Mother Nature did not cooperate with us at all.

The way the school calendar was set, we needed to have with no snow days or three snow days. Gorham Middle School is a plodding place for the town of Gorham and, as such, we need to make our gymnasium available for the municipal elections and referendums on June 14. This also requires that the gymnasium be set up the evening prior to the election, Monday night, the night we would normally hold our 8th grade celebration.

What we plan now is to hold the celebration activities on Friday, June 10, with the annual 8th grade dance immediately after. The 8th graders will them come to school on Monday, June 13 for our annual step up day. When the students return from the High School, we will have the cookout that we usually have on the same day as the evening exercises. After the cookout, the students will go into the Auditorium for the showing of the slide show of the 8th graders. After the slideshow, they will head back to their advisory and conduct their final locker cleanup and good byes for the summer.

To put this plan in place, we will have an organizational meeting on Monday, April 11 at 6:00 pm, in the GMS Library. At this meeting, we will make decisions on committees, and the make up of those committees and talk about some of the challenges we usually face in putting the event together.

I hope many of you can make this meeting.

The Future of Education

Last week, I gave an article written by Will Richardson, to our faculty to read. Inside the article was a video of Russell Ackoff, Professor Emeritus from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Ackoff was a pioneer in the field of systems engineering and social sciences. He had some pretty interesting ideas, and, given that the video included in the article was recorded about 8 years ago, long before many of the issues of education in America became hot button items, also very insightful.

The reason I gave this article to our staff is to begin to challenge our thinking about how we “do school” now. We are 15 years into the 21st Century, and how much have we changed relative to how much our students have changed.

What do I mean when I say our students have changed?

Sixty to seventy percent of our students at GMS have more technology on their phones than the students who graduated from GHS last June had on their MLTI laptops when they were attending middle school. That same percentage of students regularly participate in online games that require collaboration with friends and other people, some of whom they have never met. When our students encounter something that interests them, something they want to know more about, they don’t “Google it” any more, they go to Youtube or Vimeo and get “hands-on” instruction and information. If our students who want to know more about coding, there is a Youtube video lesson to help them. This is vastly different than before.

Education is about more than technology, however. it is about recognizing that our students come to school  with greater set of experiences than students of five years ago, and knowing how to engage them where they are is our greatest challenge.

If you are interested in learning more about how we see the challenge of educating our young, I highly recommend you begin with Will Richardson. You may not agree with everything he says, I certainly don’t, but he does make you think about why we do what we do.

 

MEA Testing

We are wrapping up our final week of MEA testing with the 6th grade students finishing up. This year was quite a bit different than the experience we had last year. While we definitely had a few “hiccups” as we worked through each grade, it was nothing like last year. To begin, the test was far less abstract. By that, I mean that the questions had one possible answer not 3 that “could have been correct” but which one was “more” correct!

Also, the platform that was used was far less complicated and way easier to use for our students.

But, by the end of this week, we will be done for another year, and then we’ll wait for the results and try to figure out what they mean!

I hope you all enjoy the Spring Break…

Week of Feb 8th

topperMiddle

Upcoming Important Dates

Feb 10 – Chasing the Rabbit, Community Presentation, GMS Auditorium 6:30 pm
Feb 11 – Grade level assemblies on digital citizenship
Feb 12 – Mid-Winter Break begins at dismissal of students
Feb 26 & 27 – Honors Chorus Festival at Westbrook Middle School
Mar 1 – 8th Grade Parent Night at GHS Auditorium 6:00 pm
Mar 1 – Principal Visitation and Observation session (info below)
Mar 2 – Read Across America Day
Mar 2 – Leadership Team meeting 2:30 in Melanie’s room
Mar 3 – Presentation of School Musical for students during the school day (schedule to follow)
Mar 4 – 6th Music Honors Festival
Mar 4 & 5 – Public presentation of School Musical GMS Auditorium 7:00 pm
Mar 5 – EdCampME at Waynflete School, Portland 8:00 am
Mar 7 – Southern Maine partnership Assessment Webinar 4:00 pm
Mar 7 – Public Forum to discuss the Gorham School District Re-Visioning GMS Library 6:30 pm

Chasing the Rabbit

On Wednesday evening, February 10, in the GMS Auditorium, Derek Volk a Maine Businessman, and husband of State Senator Amy Volk, and co-author, with his 24 year old son Dylan, of the book Chasing the Rabbit: A Dad’s Life Raising a Son on the Spectrum, . The book highlights the Volk family’s significant challenges and heartfelt triumphs as well as the various coping strategies they have employed throughout Dylan’s life.

The reviews indicate that this book is not just for parents, grandparents and siblings, but should be read by any professional who wants to increase their understanding of just what it means to have child on the spectrum.

The presentation is free and open to the public.

Grade Level Assemblies

We will have 3 grade level assemblies on Thursday, February 11 covering digital citizenship. Terri Dawson has created a wonderful presentation that will include the students needing to bring their laptops to the auditorium.

So, I am not sure if we have ever had more than 300 people trying to log onto our network, at the same time, in the same large room! We have asked that there be placed in the Auditorium, a few more access points to the network. This may work, or it may not work, in any event, we’ll find out on the 11th.

Since we’d like to have all grades hear a similar message, and we’d like ti not have to break up the 8th grade presentation, we will change the lunch schedule around and have the 6th grade eat at 11:28 (second lunch) and the 8th grade eat at 11:55 (last lunch).

Thanks for being flexible.

Laptops Over Mid-Winter Break

Please have the students leave their laptops in their charging stations over the break. We don’t have any real plans for maintenance of the devices, but we usually do some spot checking the devices for damage and missing laptops. I know we’ll hear a lot of groaning from the kids about not having them over the break,  but I think we’ll have more parents enjoying the “quiet time”.

Principal Visitation

We will have the honor of having all of the Principals from across the district visiting GMS on Tuesday March 1st. The purpose of these visits, we are the 3rd school to host a visit, is to help create a culture of collaboration among our team. Far too often, Principals can get caught up in the day-to-day work within their own building and lose focus of the larger picture of educating our young people. The intent of these visitations is to open our doors to the building leaders across the district and share our strengths and our challenges.

As we get closer to the day of the list, I will send out more details about what to expect.

Read Across America Day

March 2nd is Read Across America day. Now we all know that everyday should be Read Across America, but, in honor of Theodore Geisel’s birthday, we celebrate a day of intentional reading for and with our students. I will be going to the Narragansett School in the morning to read to 5th graders, but Susie and I would love the opportunity to join you classrooms to read a chapter or a poem or even a Dr. Seuss book to your class. Please just let either one of us know when to be there and if you’d like us to select and bring our book or if you have something you’d like us to.

School Musical Presentation

ON Thursday, March 3rd, we will develop a special schedule so that all students and teachers will get a chance to view the entire presentation of this year’s School Musical Legally Blond, Jr., as we have done for the past two years. This prevents the “teaser effect” of getting to the good part and having to cut the show and leaving the audience hanging. Our goal is to make a schedule that will allow all students and teachers to see the entire show.

The public performances of the show, and I do encourage all to take in at least one of the showings, will be on Friday and Saturday, March 4 & 5.

EdCamp Professional Development Opportunities

Over the weekend of Jan 30 & 31, I had the opportunity to attend a free (there’s that word again!) professional development opportunity at South Portland High School. In attendance were about 250 educators of all stripes. There were lots of classroom teachers, specialists, special educators, library media specialists, ed techs and, even a few administrators.

There were sessions in everything from Minecraft and Coding to Using Effective Formative Assessment. There was even some great discussions about Proficiency Based Learning and no one got angry or even frustrated. One session had a great discussion about the Teacher Evaluations systems that different school systems are using. In all, it was a great day of learning.

I have noted in the Important Upcoming Dates the date of the next EdCamp to be held at Waynflete School in Portland. This will be more of an EdCamp format meaning that it will be more free flowing than the one I attended on January 30, but it will also be far more directed by the attendees.

An Interesting Read on Interventions

This past week I had to opportunity to read a blog post by a wonderful 7th grade teacher that I follow on Twitter. She lives in the midwest and, I am of the opinion that she teaches at a school very similar to ours. Her town is a University town and probably has many of the same demographics that we have.

I was struck by how she writes about our attempts to provide for our kids who struggle. I will leave the opinions with that and let you draw your own conclusions.

Here is the link: http://pernillesripp.com/2016/02/06/when-we-harm-rather-than-help-some-thoughts-on-reading-interventions/

Terri’s Link to SpellCheck to GMail

At our faculty last week, Terri showed us all how to spellcheck our emails before we send them out. I  know how much I hate to have misspellings in my emails, and boy, do I have quite a few, so this will be a help to me…if I use it.

So, in keeping with the idea that if I don’t use, I will forget about it, I am reminding myself, and all of us, about the Google Classroom that Terri set up for our Professional Development. The video on Spellcheck is right at the top., but here is the link to the video as well:

Scholastic Warehouse Book Sale

It is that time of year again that the good folks at Scholastic Books open their warehouse to educators in Maine for some great deals on books and other items for our classrooms. These books are all current titles, and some old favorites and they are reduced by 50 to 80 % of the regular price. IN addition, they are also offering a $50 coupon that can be used on sales of $100 or more. It really does add up to a great deal.

Here is the link to the registration information and to the coupons: http://registration.scholasticbookfairs.com/events/warehouse/?eml=sbf/e/20160207/email///CAWSE_DollarDays_2016_3_MIM//register//28773//////

The warehouse is located in the Industrial Park in Saco, just off Route 1 south by the VacationLand Bowling Center.

Week of February 1st

topperMiddle

Upcoming Important Dates

Feb 1 – Student Report Cards Available on Infinite Campus Parent Portal
Feb 2 – Indoor Track organizational meeting 7:30 am cafeteria
Feb 3 – Early Release Day, students will be dismissed at 11:10
Feb 4 – Indoor Track first practice, after school
Feb 5 – School Dance, GMS Gym 6:00 – 8:00 pm sponsored by Civil Rights Team and Student Council
Feb 10 – Chasing the Rabbit, Community Presentation, GMS Auditorium 6:30 pm
Feb 11 – Grade level assemblies on digital citizenship
Feb 12 – Mid-Winter Break begins at dismissal of students
Feb 26 & 27 – Honors Chorus Festival at Westbrook Middle School
Mar 1 – 8th Grade Parent Night at GHS Auditorium 6:00 pm
Mar 7 – Public Forum to discuss the Gorham School District Re-Visioning GMS Library 6:30 pm

Student Report Cards

As we have for the past few years, all student report cards are available to parents and guardians via the Infinite Campus Parent Portal. All student grade should be finalized for the 2nd quarter. If your child has received an “incomplete” for a particular class, that means there is still some work needing to be completed and turned in to the teacher for additional feedback. Students have 2-weeks to complete the work and have the grade changed to reflect the work.

If you are unable to access the Parent Portal and/or would like a a paper copy, please contact Terry LaMontagne in the Guidance Office. She can either give you your individual access to the Portal or can arrange to have a paper copy sent vis first class mail. Terry can be reached at 222-1247.

Early Release Day

Studnets will be dismissed at 11:10 on Wednesday, February 3rd.

The 8th grade students will be attending a series of mini workshops presented by people from our community talking about the jobs they do. The students will learn what kinds of skill they will need to be successful in the work place.

We have folks coming to GMS from all walks of life, Agriculture Government & Public Administration, Architecture and Construction,Health Science and Marketing. Students have been assigned to groups based upon interested demonstrated through surveys conducted by Ryan Watts, School Counselor.

Please be sure to ask your child about the presentations they were able to attend.

The 6th and 7th grade students will be attending regular, but shortened classes on this day.

School Dance

Hard to believe, but it’s that time again for our middle school students to put on their dancing shoes and swing to the tunes of Mr. Parvanta! OK, that was really hokie, so,   sorry!

This dance is sponsored by the Civil Rights Team and our Student Council. We are always looking for chaperones for our dances and parents are always welcome to stop on by and enjoy the fun. The dance begins at 6:00 pm and ends promptly at 8:00, so please make sure that you are available to pick up your child if you are not going to chaperone. Did I tell that our dances are fun?

Chasing the Rabbit – A Presentation by Derek Volk

Derek Volk is a Maine businessman who has penned a memoir with his 24-year old son Dylan, called Chasing the Rabbit:A Dad’s Life Raising a Son on the Spectrum. The book highlights the Volk family’s significant challenges and heartfelt triumphs as fellas the various coping strategies they have employed throughout Dylan’s life.

Please join us in the Gorham Middle School Auditorium at 6:30 as Derek details the families frustration before Dylan’s diagnosis through adolescence and into his life as a young adult with a dream of pursuing a career in comedy.

The evening will begin promptly at 6:30 pm.

Save the Date

I realize that this is 5 weeks ahead of the planned event, but this is too important to let ride until the last minute. Please save the date of Monday, March 7 at 6:30 pm in the Gorham Middle School Library.

It has been almost seven years since the Gorham School District has revised the vision of our schools for our community. With the hiring of Superintendent Heather Perry, part of her work to familiarize herself with our district was to meet with as many community members as humanly possible within the first 6 months of her tenure. She has met with more than 200 members of community from business leaders to students in her efforts to get to know our community and our schools.

From all of those meetings came an understanding that it was now the to revisit the vision of the district that was written back in 2010. To accomplish this re-examination of our vision, Superintendent Perry has convened a committee of stakeholder to develop how we get the most input, from the most people within Gorham.

By now, many of you may have already received and completed a short survey asking for your input on about 10 questions. If you have already completed this survey, thank you.If you haven’t completed it, please check the district web site or call GMS and we’ll make sure you get the opportunity to have input.

The public forum on March 7th will be one of several scheduled at different locations across the district to allow the public to expand their input beyond the questionnaire. Please make it a priority to attend one of the public forums, if you can.

Grade Level Digital Citizenship Assemblies

Just prior to the February Mid-Winter break, we will be conducting grade level assemblies for our students to remind of the Gorham Schools Code of Conduct and that it does extend to the digital universe.

Students will gather in the Auditorium and Terri Dawson, GMS Technology Integrator will lead the students through a series of scenarios that many have encountered or could encounter online. The students will learn some basic strategies to help them deal with behaviors that tend to be manifest only in online situations. Terri will use the resources for the good folks at Common Sense Media to help guide the students through each scenario.

These assemblies will be held on Thursday, Feb 11 during the students normal tutorial period.

Indoor Track Sign up and Practice

All students who are interested in running Indoor Track should be ready to sign up tomorrow morning (Feb 2) in the Cafeteria before school. Practice will begin Thursday afternoon after school at GMS.

Indoor Track is a great way for kids to become involved in a school activity. All students at GMS are eligible to participate and practices are usually held after school with the students being able to take the late bus home. The meets are usually held on Saturdays at the Portland Exposition Building on Park Avenue (next to Hadlock Field where the Sea Dogs Play.). The meets are a wonderful way for kids to test themselves in a very safe and support environment. They also get to meet some kids from other schools during these meets. As a building Principal, it is really encouraging to see how the kids cheer on their teammates as well as their opponents during these events.

I encourage all to encourage their child to give it a try!

Maine Recycles Championship sponsored by Clynk

Over the course of this year, we have been recycling our returnables through Clynk in a program that allows us to give out bags with our stickers. Folks then use these bags and stickers to make donations to our school to help fund activities and supplies that are not in our budget.

Now, the good people at Clynk are sponsoring the 2nd Annual Maine Recycles Championship powered by Clynk beginning on February 22 and running through April 25. In this contest, we need to continue to collect and recycle our returnables and bring to the Clynk Recycling Centers at Hanford’s Markets. The winning school will receive an additional bonus of $500 on top of all the funds for the bottles returned. Additionally, Hanford’s will match fifty cents for every dollar of returnables recycled.

This is a great chance for our school community to raise some funds and be environmentally aware. If you have any questions, please drop me an email of give me a call.

Until next time….

Welcome Back

topperMiddle

Upcoming Important Dates

Jan 13 – Early Release Day, Students will be dismissed at 11:10
Jan 13 – Annual GMS Student Talent Show 6:00 pm in the Auditorium
Jan 15 – School Dance 6:00 – 8:00 pm in the Gym
Jan 18 – Martin Luther King, Jr Holiday, No School
Jan 22 – 2nd Quarter Ends

I’ve Been Away for  a While

I apologize for being absent for quite some time. I have been wrestling with a few challenges in my daily life, not that I should use that as an excuse! In any event, I am back and I will begin with my regular postings today.

Thoughts While Watching the NFL

The NFL regular season has ended and teams (and coaches) are either preparing for the playoffs or hoping that they don’t get fired. For those who are planning for the playoffs, we could say that their seasons were successful, or they met the standards that their fans and owners set for them. Those teams that didn’t  make the playoffs could be considered “failures”. The final “report card” for these teams is published in the daily newspapers across the country, and, working for each of these daily newspapers, are reporters and analysts who spend a great deal of time “passing judgement” on each of these organizations.

I used report cards in quotes because that is really what they are, a summative evaluation on the successes and failures of each team. I suspect that within each team, every player and coach receives a similar kind of summative evaluation on how well they performed during the season and the results will be reflected in how much they get paid next year.

But let’s take a look at some of these teams and their final report cards, and see if there is more than meets the eye. Before we begin this examination of the standings of the NFL, let’s frame this conversation around the report cards we send home with our students each quarter.

The New England Patriots started the season (16 games) with 10 consecutive wins, and finished the season by losing 4 of their last games.  They finished the year 12-4, a 75% winning percentage good for the second best team in their conference.

The Denver Broncos, the top seeded team (meaning they were the best) in the conference finished with the same winning percentage as the Patriots, started their season with 7 wins in a row and won 5 of their last 9 games, a kittle bit better than the Patriots.

The Kansas City Chiefs started their season with one win and five losses but won their last 10 games in a row for a record of 11-5, just behind the Broncos and the Patriots. All of this brings on the question, which team is really ready for the final push to the top.

This is a stretch as an allegory to student learning, but it does highlight that fact the numbers don’t always tell the whole story. Just as with these NFL teams striving to be the champions, we work with our kids toward a different “championship”, a life after their schooling that will lead to an enriched life, where each of our former students make positive and constructive contributions to their community. We strive for each of our students to be creative problem solvers and positive and constructive thinkers. Our ultimate goal is that each of our students reach their full potential and exceed our expectations.

Given the way that we currently measure and value student progress, if we were to apply that same procedure to the results in the NFL this year, the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos would be valued below the results of the Kansas City Chiefs. The fact that the Patriots “stumbled” to the end of the season, ( yes, there is a lot of consideration given to injuries,etc), they would have “failed” in their quest to repeat as champion. They still may! But is does seem like an unfair measurement given all that we know.

Update on Proficiency Based Education

Over the past two years, Gorham Schools has been working to clarify the work that we do with your children. We have been striving to make a much more transparent the process of learning and of expectations for our kids. I am providing a link to Superintendent Heather Perry’s blog that is filled with information about the process and about the work we will be doing in the future.

I suggest that you all subscribe to Superintendent Perry’s regular blog.

Early Release Day

We have an early release day on Wednesday, January 13. The students will be dismissed at 11:10 am. During the day the students will have an abbreviated schedule and they will also have a chance to watch their peers perform in the annual Talent Show. The students, and the whole community will also have a chance to come back at 6:00 on Wednesday night to view the whole show again.

Re-Visioning the Gorham Schools

It has been almost 7 years since we have done any work on the vision of the school district and we know that there have been many changes in our work, in the requirements for our students, and in the students who are coming through our schools. In the coming months, there will be several opportunities for community members to have input in the vision of the district.

I would urge you again to subscribe to Superintendent Perry’s blog (link above), to keep current on the work of this district. You will also be contacted, probably several times, with information on how you may participate in this re-visioningprocess.

School Dance

Hard to believe another month has passed and it is again time for our students to dust off their dancing shoes for another dance. This dance is sponsored by the 6th grade and, I know the teachers would welcome anyone who would like to chaperone. If you are interested in being a chaperone for the dance, you first need to have completed the volunteer training provided by the folks in our Volunteer Coordinators Office. If you have any questions, please call the Adult Education Office.

Also, I would like remind parents and guardians to be ready to pick up you child by 8:00 pm.

 

 

 

 

 

Week of October 5

topperMiddle

Upcoming Important Dates

Monday, October 5 – NWEA Testing for 6th Graders, all week
Tuesday, October 6 – Odyssey of the Mind Awareness Night, 6:00 pm GMS Library
Thursday, October 8 – Tooth Fairies
Friday, October 9 – Teacher Workshop Day, No School for Students
Monday, October 12 – Columbus Day, No School
Thursday, October 15 – Sports Team Pictures after school
Thursday, October 15 – School Committee Meeting, Municipal Center 7:00 pm
Friday, October 16 – School Dance, Benefit the GMS Holiday Food Drive 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Thursday, October 22 – Parent Teacher Conferences 2:00 – 8:00 pm
Friday, October 23 – Parent Teacher Conferences 8:00 am – 2:00 pm
Wednesday, October 28 – Early Release Day, Students dismissed at 11:00 am

What is EICAL?

We are very fortunate at GMS because our faculty has worked extremely hard with our administration to create a schedule that provides for many great learning opportunities beyond that which is typical of the “book learning” that we all remember fro our school days (daze?). This time allows our students to experience learning in a very different way. It also allows for any of our students who need some additional assistance with traditional learning some extra time and help that isn’t always available.

At each grade level, students will be assigned to Band or Chorus, Support room for math and ELA, and a whole array of learning experiences ranging from coding to forensic science and history through the cemetery to basic life skills such as sewing a button or writing one’s name in cursive. There is also a whole parcel of very different but interesting offerings for all of our kids.

Please ask your child about what they will be doing in EICAL in the coming weeks.I hope to be able to post some pictures on the @gmsprincipalriley Instagram account for everyone to see.

Tooth Fairies

OK, no, I have not lost my “marbles” and, yes, Tooth Fairies do exist!tooth fairy

The Tooth Fairies are a dedicated group of Dental; Professionals who make themselves available to several schools in the area to proved free, or very low cost, dental health services to families in each community. These services include cleaning and an examination of potential issues that parents can them address.

Our first Tooth Fairy visit is schedule for Thursday, October 8 during the school day.Tooth

If you would like your child to be examined by a “Tooth Fairy” please give GMS School Nurse Cathy Loiselle a call at 222-1224.

MEA Results

You may remember that back in May,  of our students were administered the MEA’s in ELA and Math through the state. We are awaiting the results of this assessment. When we finally do get the results, we will pass them on to all parents and guardians so that you can see exactly how your child performed.

I know that we all have lots of questions about what will be happening in the way of assessment in the coming months, alt least I know I do!

The state has requested from the many different companies that make these assessments proposals that can be used to administer reliable assessments this year. When we get that information, we’ll pass it along to you.

School Dance

Our next school dance will help to raise funds for our annual Holiday Food and Gift Drive. Each year, our school has provided holiday meals at Thanksgiving and Christmas for more than 20 families in our community. Our staff has also collected enough gifts to provide many of these families the chance to celebrate the holidays with a at least a few gifts under their tree for their kids on Christmas morning.

We will use the proceeds of this dance to help offset the cost of each of these events. We will also be collecting food later in the month with our Student Council to fill the Holiday Meal box with everything from the Turkey all the way to cranberry sauce.

Please watch this space later in the month for how you can contribute to our Holiday Drive

Parent Teacher Conferences

As hard as this is to believe, we are half way through the first quarter of the school year! Where does the time go!

We have scheduled our conferences for Thursday and Friday, October 22 &23. Thursday will begin at 2:00 pm and run through 8:00 pm and Friday will begin at 8:00am until 2:00 pm.

You will be receiving information from your child’s Advisor with information about the conferences and providing you an opportunity to schedule a time.

With our Advisory System, we have parents meet, at least initially, with the students’ Advisors. We do this to allow for more time than the 10 minutes or so, for the content area teachers that would need to be allowed if they met with all of their parents. This does not mean that you con’t meet with individual teachers, if you’d like. All you need to do is call them, or your child’s advisor and make that request.

Also, you never need to wait for the “Formal” conference time. You can arrange meetings with your child’s teachers at anytime, just give them a call or send them an email with your concerns and your desire to meet.

Essay Contest Opportunities for all Students

We have several opportunities for our GMS kids to show off their writing skills in the coming month.

I am very happy to announce the 3rd Annual Madison Prize for Written Excellence Contest, sponsored by the Gorham Town Republican Committee. The Madison Prize offers 3 cash prizes to the students, two runners-up prizes of $100, and a Grand Prize of $250 to one student.

We have given the entry forms to all of the teachers. I have asked them to work with any and all students who have expressed an interest in participating. The deadline for entry into this contest is November 6th.

The second contest is sponsored by the Anne Frank Center USA. This is the second year of the contest for students across the country in grade 5 through 8 to participate. The Anne Frank Center USA was founded by Ann’s father, Otto Frank, to teach communities about the dangers of discrimination. The Center believes, as Anne did, that children matter and can make a difference.

The Anne Frank essay contest has lots of information available on its website: http://annefrank.com

Odyssey of the Mind

Odyssey of the Mind (OM) will be holding an OM Awareness night on Tuesday, October 6, 2015 at the GMS Library beginning at 6:00 pm. At this meeting, parents and students will learn how the Odyssey of the Mind Creative Problem Solving Program encourages students’ teamwork, risk-taking and divergent thinking skills.

Encourage your child to “take a risk” and find out more about the OM at GMS.

Crafting Learning for Kids Today

While I believe that we have several students who are equal to Tomas Suarez, the young man in the video below, I was very intrigued with the manner in which he spoke of his passion. At no time did he indicate that this passion of his was solely nurtured by him. He mentions several times during this 4 minute video how several people, including his teachers encouraged him and helped him along the way.

I would like us all to find ways to release the inner Thomas Suarez loose in all of our learners. I hope you enjoy this brief video.

 

 

First 5-Day Week Done!

topperMiddle

Upcoming Important Dates

Friday, September 18 – MLTI Parent Orientation Meeting 6:00 pm GMS Library
Friday, September 18 – School Dance 6:00 – 8:00 pm GMS Gymnasium
Monday, September 21 – NWEA Testing for 8th Graders, all week
Wednesday, September 23 – Early Release Day, students dismissed at 11:10 am
Monday, September 28 -NWEA Testing for 7th Graders, all week
Monday, October 5 – NWEA Testing for 6th Graders, all week
Thursday, October 8 – Tooth Fairies

MLTI Parent Orientation Night

I really do recognize how much of an inconvenience attending these parent nights can be. For that past 13 years, I have been preparing and delivering these messages to rooms full of parents who are only present because their child has “badgered” them to attend. (OK, that may be a bit harsh, I really do think many parents attend because they want to learn more about the world their kids will be exploring!)

First, let me begin by stating that no child MUST bring their laptop home! It is, however, a very valuable tool for all of our students as the explore their learning. We do recognize that, along with this great resource for information, comes a great responsibility to use it it wisely and productively.

It is our goal that each parent will get a better understanding of how these devices can be used productively and positively and how to recognize when students are not using them productively and positively. We will share lots of resources with parents that will help you deal with your child when you believe they are being targeted, or they targeting other with their devices and other type of technology.

We will share with parents how the laptops will be used to engage students in their learning (And, we all know they should be engaged in their future, but sometimes it is a struggle!).

Please make plans to join us either of the 3 nights we offer the presentation, Monday, Tuesday or Friday of this week (Sept 14, 15 & 18)

School Dance

Our first school dance is this Friday night in the GMS Gymnasium. The admission fee is $5.00 and we ask that parents be prepared to pick their children up by 8:00 pm, the ending time for the dance.

as we do each dance, we are asking from parents who would like to come to the dance, please feel free to do, we have plenty of “jobs” that you can around the gym and the cafeteria. I am sure your kids would Love to have you here!

As an added attraction for our students, the good people at iSpoon will be offering a post dance special to our students fromlIspoon logo GMS after the dance. If you’d like to treat your kids to a “treat” after the dance, stop down to ISpoon and take advantage of their generosity.

NWEA Testing

nwea_logo_twittersquare_biggerWe will begin our twice yearly assessment of our students through the NWEA testing. The students will be assessed on reading, language usage and math. This is a computer based test that is aligned to our standards and it will gives a great deal of information about each of our students.

We have been using the NWEA’s for several years now , and the results can be used as a check-in on how we are doing as a school, but, more importantly, the results provide us with some very important diagnostic information about strengths and weaknesses of individual students.

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

Late Bus

We have begun running the late buses on Mondays through Thursdays. The buses pick up students at the middle school at about 4:00 pm. I say “about” because the buses do arrive somedays, a bit early, yet they do not leave the middle school until after 4:00. We also make sure that we have everyone who needs a ride on a bus.

The downside to our late bus program is that we only have 3 buses to bring students home, therefor it is almost impossible to have door-to-door service. We try very hard to get the students to within a half mile, usually we do a whole lot better, and some kids do get to be dropped off in front of their houses. We just can’t guarantee that for everyone.

If you have any questions about transporting our students, your children, please give me a call at 222-1228. I may not have the answer immediately, but I will get back to you as quickly as I can with an answer.

Early Release Day

We have our first early release day of the school year on Wednesday September 23.The students will engage in an assembly about our school Code of Conduct and how important our words are when we speak with each other.

The students will be dismissed at 11:10 am for the day.

The teachers will be engaged in content area work. The school is committed it ensuring that our students are properly prepared for the requirements of working in the “real” world of the 21st Century.

Tooth Fairies

OK, no, I have not lost my “marbles” and, yes, Tooth Fairies do exist!tooth fairy

The Tooth Fairies are a dedicated group of Dental; Professionals who make themselves available to several schools in the area to proved free, or very low cost, dental health services to families in each community. These services include cleaning and an examination of potential issues that parents can them address.

Our first Tooth Fairy visit is schedule for Thursday, October 8 during the school day.Tooth

If you would like your child to be examined by a “Tooth Fairy” please give GMS School Nurse Cathy Loiselle a call at 222-1224.

The Work of Education and Educators

I plodded through, like all dutiful Americans, the Republican Debate last Wednesday night. Some of the solutions that I heard, especially regarding education, seemed to me to be very rudimentary and lacking in a real knowledge of what challenges that educators face every day in preparing our kids for their futures.

Our “business” is truly a “people business”, one of relationships and understanding in the moment. At our level, our students are being bombarded with all sorts of messages about how their life should unfold for them, and we know that it just doesn’t happen the way it does on the Disney Channel or MTV.

I want to share a very short clip from one of my “Heroes of Education”, Sir Kenneth Robinson. For those of you who are regulars here, you will have seen his videos before an, I am sure, been impacted by his wisdom.

I hope that we can be successful everyday in keeping these words in the forefront of our work.

The Gift of Failure

In the past few posts to this spot, I have talked about Jessica Lahey’s book The Gift of Failure. As a school, we are beginning togift of failure start book groups using this as our “touchstone” to begin to see the power of “letting go” so that our kids can succeed, embracing the idea that failure is neither fatal nor final. Truthfully, this is a very difficult concept for some induction to embrace because many in education have been successful students themselves prior to becoming teachers (this writer not being one of them!).

I would love to have a book group made up of parents who would like to meet for some discussions about what lesson we could all learn from Ms. Lahey’s book.

If you are interested in starting a book group at GMS, please call me at 222-1228 or send me an email at robert.riley@gorhamschools.org. I could see meeting in the evening or the morning, over coffee and danish perhaps.