Week of September 5th

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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.

 

Week of October 5

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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.

 

 

Getting Ready for The New School Year

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Upcoming Important Dates

Tuesday, August 26 – GMS Open House 6:00 – 7:00 pm
Wednesday, August 27 – 1st Day of school for 6th grade
Thursday, August 28 – 1st Day of school for grades 7 & 8
Friday, August 29 – No School
Monday, September 1 – Labor Day, No School
Wednesday, Thursday & Friday, September 10, 11 & 12 – Tooth Fairies
Monday, September 15 – MLTI Parent Meeting 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium
Tuesday, September 16 – MLTI Parent Meeting 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium
Tuesday, September 16 – Picture Day, Vision & Hearing Screening

Not to be a “Debbie Downer!”

I know that summer is just beginning, and we are all still formulating plans for that fishing trip or family gathering. I, too, really don’t want to be thinking about this, but as the great philosopher Yoda says “think, we must”.

So, with that in mind, we have scheduled to GMS Open House for the evening of August 26th from 6:00 – 7:00 pm. Teachers will be in their rooms to meet the parents and guardians of their new students. We all hope to see you all there. It will be a great time to meet our “old” staff and the new faces that will be joining the GMS Family for the coming year.

Student Handbook Revisions

As we do each summer, we examine our Student Handbook for areas where we need to make changes. We intend to publish the Student Handbook in Ibook Author which will allow everyone to see it, regardless of what computer platform you use. It should also be available on other devices as well, such as smart phone and tablets.

The area that seems to cause the most concern and consternation is our dress code! Given that styles are ever changing, and the retailers are marketing specifically to our aged kids with an eye toward making them seem older than the really are, becomes a problem for most middle schools.

We, meaning me, really struggle with writing a dress code that does not single out one gender over the other, and yet most dress codes seem to do exactly that.

In our school, our male students have eschewed the baggy, low riders that displayed their boxers. A couple of years ago, the skinny jeans were in style for many of our male students, but that, too seems to have passed. We now have the yoga pants fad going through our school for our female students, and that seems to be causing quite a stir among our faculty as well as around the country.

I have done a little research on this in the past week and I have discovered that we definitely are not alone with this issue. Seems that schools all across the country are facing this new fad. How they are responding to their girls wearing yoga pants, which tend to be body conforming, is not unexpected, they are banning their students from wearing them.

I am not sure we are sending an appropriate message when we ban things like yoga pants from schools because it is, in fact, gender specific. In some manner, it may be perceived that the “good order of the school” relies on what the girls are wearing, this somehow feels unbalanced.

I have survived the middle school years, albeit 15 to 20 years ago. The schools my kids went to had dress codes that restricted what the students could wear. I didn’t find that I had to fight too much with my kids about what they wore, mostly because my and I bought their clothes, and we didn’t purchase the kinds of clothes that made my daughter look older than she was. Also, she was quite level headed and involved in other things to worry about what she wore.

It also helped that I was teaching at the school and she didn’t have the opportunity to leave the house wearing one set of clothes and then changing into other clothes when she got to school. This has happened with several of our students in the past year!

In any event, we will be making some adjustments to our dress code this summer. We will try mightily to make sure that we do not isolate on one gender with too many restrictions. And, we will be asking parents to be mindful as the  begin the process of “Back-To-School” shopping of succumbing to the wishes of “Madison Avenue” and the Disney Channel Kids shows, and looking for clothes that will be functional for school, easy on the pocket book and doesn’t make you child look 5 years older than they really are!

As an aside, I came across this article from an Evanston, Illinois newspaper about the dress code at one of their middle schools. I think you’ll find this interesting! Haven Middle School Dress Code Protest

Student Placement Issues

We have received a few calls and emails regarding the placement of kids on teams for next year. I appreciate all of you for understanding our process of placement and the lengths we go to to try and make teams that make sense for our entire school. We do try to make sure that each child has  friend with them on their team. In some cases, we have even been able to get friends in the same advisory, but not always!

Just a reminder about requesting changes of placement for your child. We have four possible conditions to which we can respond:

  • Negative prior experience with your child and a particular teacher;
  • Prior negative experience with an older sibling and a particular teacher;
  • Issue with another student that rises to the level of legal action between the families, and;
  • A neighbor, relative or close friend as the teacher that would create an uncomfortable situation for the child, teacher or family.

We will be back in the office during the second week of August, so if you have any questions regarding placement, you can call us then. You can also email us if you have a question that we can answer. We do monitor our emails often during the summer.

 Student Supply Lists

At the annual step up day this past June, your child should have received a supplies list from their next year team. The list usually includes items such as notebooks, 3-ringed binders, pencils, pens, index cards, markers, etc. I know these are all very important items for school. I also know that your child will want to feel prepared when they arrive at school on that first day. So, that means that you will begin hearing about all of the things that will be “necessary” on that first day of school.

I have cautioned the teachers to make sure that all requested supplies are “necessary” and just “what we have always done”. I can assure you that no child will be made to feel uncomfortable on those first days of school if they don’t have everything on their supply list!

I have always been shocked by the total  cost of all of the items on these lists. I must say, however, our teachers do a really good job of keeping the lists short, but, depending on grade level and team, the cost of all of the items on the list can exceed $100! And some of the items will not be needed until 2nd semester!

So, please use your best judgment, not about what is on the list, nut about what you can reasonably afford, when you head out for back to school shopping. (there, I said “Back to School”!)

Summer Reading Recommendations fro CommonSenseMedia.com

CommonSenseMedia Over the past several years, I have recommended CommonSenseMedia.com as a great resource for all things about your kids. Things like newly released movies and video games, ideas about how to help your child deal with issues about bullying, and so many more topics. Here is a review of some books for teens from 12 to 17 years old that might help both you and your child pick out some interesting summer reading books.

CommonSenseMedia not only makes a recommendation according to genre and style, they also give you a very nice synopsis of the book to help you decide if it is right for your child. Check them out at CommonSenseMedia. While you’re visiting the site, check out all of the other great features they offer to parents to help you deal with technology, video games and even friendships.

 

 

Sorry, I Haven’t Published Recently

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Important Upcoming Dates

October 17 – PIE Meeting in the GMS Library 6:00 pm
October 18 – School Dance in the Gym 6:00 – 8:00 pm
October 23 – Early Release day for 
students. Students will be dismissed at 11:10 am
October 24 – Parent Teacher Conferences begin at 3:00 pm until 8:00 pm
October 25 – Parent Teacher Conferences begin at 8:00 am until 2:00 pm
November 8 – Final 1st Quarter Grades available in Infinite Campus after 3:00 pm
November 11 – Veteran’s Day – No school
November 15 – Teacher Workshop Day – No school for students

A Great Opportunity for Students

Beginning November 4, we will be offering to selected students an opportunity to learn Chinese Culture and Language through the Confucius Institute at the University of Southern Maine. The students will be chosen using a criteria of current grades in classes, student behavior and disposition to learning and the students expressing their desire to be included in this class.

The class will meet on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays during the school year at the EICAL time. This will mean that students who are members of Band and/or Chorus that meet on these days will not be eligible for inclusion. Students who receive direct specialized instruction at this time will also not be able to take advantage of this class, if they are already booked into a class.

By the ned of the year students will be expected to understand grammar, structure and word order of Mandarin as well as a rich understanding of the culture of China.

We will ask that parents complete a request for admission to the class and that the student also complete a request for admission to this class to aid in making the determination. Students will be selected based upon their requests and their grades in their classes.

If you have questions, please give me a call.

PIE Meeting

On October 17 we will have our regularly scheduled PIE meeting in the GMS Library beginning at 6:00 pm. One item that came out of our grade level meetings were some ideas about fundraising for the middle school. I would like to discuss those ideas more and then come up with a plan for at least one socially themed fundraiser for the entire school.

I would love to have voices from each grade level present at the meeting, and would really love to have lots of voices present. I hope to see many of you there.

Gorham Education Foundation Adult Trivia Bee

Many of you already know about the great work that the Gorham Education Foundation does for all of our schools. But for those who don’t, The Gorham Education Foundation(GEF) is a private, non-profit corporation, founded in 2006, dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in education in the Gorham, Maine public schools through programs that encourage a thirst for knowledge, respect for the community, and responsible citizenship.

Each year, the GEF sponsors a major fundraising event that is fun and educational, however more emphasis on fun! This year the GEF is sponsoring an Adult Trivia Bee. Teams of 3-5 people will test their knowledge of mostly useless facts in a quest to win a really big and impressive trophy.

The bee will be held on Saturday evening, November 16 at the Odd Fellows Hall in Gorham with doors opening at 6:00 pm and the competition beginning at 7:00 pm. The event will be hosted by locla comic Brian Brinegar, there will be a cash bas and appetizers, a silent auction and a raffle.

Team registration is $150 and general admission for audience members is $10. For registration information or to purchase tickets in advance contact gorhamef@gmail.com.

Flu Shots Offered By Gorham School District

As we have for the past several years, we will once again offer to our community the most recent version of the Flu Shots. Middle School students brought home in their backpacks information about how, where and when we would be offering flus shots. We will be trying to “piggyback” on the time parents will be around schools for Parent Teacher Conferences.

The following dates and locations have been set up;

October 23, 2013 at GHS back of MPAC for GHS students only 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM

October 24, 2013 at GMS GYM for K-8 students (Parents must be present with their child or an adult designated by the parent) and GHS students who could not attend at GHS in the morning from 4:00 PM-6:00 PM

October 25, 2013 at GMS GYM  K-8 students (Parents must be present with their child or an adult designated by the parent) 8:00AM-12:00PM

For more information on the flus shots, check out the district web page: http://www.gorhamschools.org/health/flu_info/home%20page

Picture Retakes

We will be having picture retakes on Thursday, November 7th. If, for any reason, you were not satisfied with your child’s picture, this would be a great time to get them redone.

I am also aware that there have been some problems with getting back the pictures to some families in a timely manner. I have been in conversation with Lifetouch, our school photographer, about trying to correct these missteps. Also,in these conversations, we talked about the packages that were listed on the envelopes used to order. If you do’t want to purchase a complete package, you don’t have to! Some parents were only interested in buying an 8X10 photo, but didn’t see how to do that among the packages highlighted. All you need to do is call the number on the envelope and speak with one of their customer service people to place your order. That would also be true if you wanted to receive your pictures on a CD or in another digital format.

I am curious about the quality of the pictures, however. If you wouldn’t mind completing the poll here, it would be very helpful in directing us for the future.

Haircuts, Kindergarteners and Ken Robinson

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Important Upcoming Dates

September 16 & 17 – MLTI Parent Meeting, GMS Auditorium 6:00 pm
September 17- Team Leaders Meeting in Melanie’s room 2:30 – 4:00 pm
September 18 Faculty Meeting in GMS Library 2:30 – 4:00 pm
September 19 – PIE Meeting in the GMS Library 6:00 pm
September 20 – School Dance in GMS Gymnasium 6:00 – 8:00 pm
September 24 – 7th Grade Parent Night GMS Auditorium 6:00 pm
September 24 – Fall Sports Pictures after school, before practice
September 25 – Washington D.C. Trip Informational parent meeting 6:00 pm
September 25 – Maine Harvest Lunch in our Cafeteria
September 25 – Odyssey of the Mind Informational Night GMS Library 6:00 pm
October 1 – 8th Grade Parents Night GMS Auditorium 6:00 pm
October 2 – Early Release Day
October 4 – Progress Reports (Mid quarter)

SchoolHouse Arts Center Fall Program

schoolhouse-logo3The Schoolhouse Arts Center in Standish has several great offerings this fall for students interested in the Theatre Arts and performances. The many offerings are for pre-school through adults and the variety is quite amazing. Offerings include dance, Music, Family Enrichment and, even Puppets. For more information you can go to the Schoolhousearts.org web site or you can find a link on the GMS Web page.

Fall Sports Pictures

We will be offering fall sports pictures again this year after hearing parental concerns about not having sports teams in our yearbook. The pictures will be traditional team pictures, as well as individual pictures and they will be offered for sale to those who are interested in purchasing them. There is not, however and obligation by anyone to purchases.

Thank You for Participating in our Poll

Last week I placed a poll in this space to try to calculate the percentage of our students who have access to Smart Phone technology.

Recognizing that this is a very unscientific poll, it appears that about 60% of our students have access to cell phones but only about half of them have access to smart phone technology. What was surprising was the fact that almost 40% of our students do not have access to any cell phone technology.

Washington D.C. Trip Informational Night

There will be an informational night for those parents interested in the annual trip to Washington D.C. US Capitalduring the April Vacation in 2014. Melanie Doran will be meeting with those interested in the Library on September 18th, 6:30 – 7:30. If you have any questions about the trip please contact Melanie at MelanieD@gorhamschools.org.

 MLTI Parent Information Night

mlti-logoEach year, we are required by the state, from whom we lease the devices, to hold an informational parent night to explain the program and familiarize parents to the capabilities of the machines. Many years of doing this night, and many parents who have sat through countless informational nights sometimes makes the idea of doing it one more time almost unbearable.

This year, however, is truly different (I know, you’ve heard this before!), but it really is. Unlike past years, students will have far more control over their devices. Students will be able to download apps, unlike previous years, and the devices will not shut down at a set time, as they have in the past.

The capabilities of our new Operating System (OS) are far more powerful than past years and it will allow students to perform tasks that were not available in the past. Also, we will have a pointed discussion about digital citizenship and we will be using terminology that may be new to you. This terminology will be helpful to all of us as we help our kids learn to navigate this new world.

Finally, the School District will be offering a new Laptop Protection Plan that is different from the plan offered in the past and it will really require that parents and students understand the fine points of the program.

So, even though I recognize that many of you have had the experience of the MLTI Nights in the past, there will be a lot of new information and ideas that it will be vital to parents and that is why parents need attend one of these evenings in order for students to able to take laptops home.

Looking forward to seeing you all there.

Progress Reports and Report Cards

report cardOver the course of one school year we consume far too many cases of white paper than I can count! Really, I mean this. Each quarter we had been producing almost 900 report cards, each one three pages in length, that’s 2700 pieces of paper, or more than 5 reams of paper each quarter. This does not take into consideration and additional sum of paper for the quarterly progress reports in each content area, ink for the printer and the time it takes for personnel to perform all of the tasks.

Why am I boring you with this information? Well, we are trying to reduce of carbon footprint and increase our efficiency as well as reduce the costs of doing business.

This year we will not be producing, or consuming, as much paper as we have by utilizing our Infinite Campus Parent Portal more. All of the information that is produced on the report card is available, on demand, through the Parent Portal. You can actually acquire updated reports, on a weekly basis is you desire.

If you already have your Infinite Campus Parent Portal Username and Password, you don;t need to do another thing except check in to you child’s reports. If you have yet to receive your username and password, or forgot either one, you can email Terry LaMontagne at terryl@gorhamschools.org, or call her at 222-1247 and she can get you set up in no time at all.

As with anything we do, if you would still like to receive a paper copy of your child’s report card, please call Terry and we will make sure that happens. If you have comments or concerns about us doing this, please give me a call or send me an email at robertr@gorhamschools.org

Odyssey Of the Mind Information Night

OM LogoDiane Knott, Gifted and Talented Coordinator, has informed me that there will be an informational evening on Wednesday, September 25 from 6:00 to 7:30 in the GMS Library. At this evening event, parents will learn how the Odyssey of the Mind Problem Solving program helps encourage students team work, risk-taking and divergent thinking skills.

Parents and students are encouraged to attend this meeting.

Tooth Fairies

In past posts, I have mentioned the services provided by the Tooth Fairies, a group of dedicated dental health professionals who will come to our school to provide preventative dental services at a greatlyTooth reduced cost, or no cost.

Many of you have returned the sign up sheets and your children will be scheduled later this month on September 16th, 20th and the 24th. We will be calling the students out of classes and they will be gone for about 30 to 40 minutes. We will not be “announcing” the reason to the class, for confidentiality purposes, but I felt it was important for you to be aware that there will be some class time missed to receive this service.

If you have any questions about the Tooth Fairies service, please call Teresa Merrill, School Nurse.

More Information from Our School Nurse

You may remember that we began the Vision and Hearing Screenings on the first day of school after Labor Day. Unfortunately, we were unable to complete the task fully on that day so we will be screening those students whom we missed on Tuesday, September 17th. This is mostly for 7th graders, but there may be a few 6th and 8th grade students who we will need to screen. If your child is one of these students, you have already been notified.

GMS Garden Harvest Update

In our past posts, I have shown pictures of our Garden with the new Deer Fence that we installed last spring, as well as some of the produce that our students worked all summer to brig to harvest. I am happy to report to you that the Garden Club has been able to bring over 700 pounds to the Ecumenical Food Pantry of Gorham.

Heather Whitaker, the Garden Club Coordinator, reports that the garden will continue to produce for a short while longer, but the amount of the harvest will continue to dwindle.

Of Haircuts, Kindergarteners and Thoughts on Sir Ken Robinson

I used to get my haircut by a barber, but now I get it “styled” by a Hair stylist and my Stylist looks nothing like my old barber. She isn’t bald on top with a wee tuft of hair traveling from temple to temple and she definitely doesn’t have a mustache, but she is my “Barber”.

On Saturday we were talking about this or that and the subject turned to her 4-year-old daughter and her first days of pre-school. My stylist is quite happy that her daughter wakes up every day, including Saturdays and Sundays, excited and happy about heading off to school. This little girl is excited about learning and wanting to do homework. She asks her mother everyday about when will it be her turn to ride the yellow bus to school.

This kind of excitement about school is what we try to create in our school. A place where everyone arrives with that excitement of the journey to the unknown or not yet experienced, but expect to be surprised.

Somewhere between the time kids start Kindergarten and they arrive at middle school, some of that wonderment and excitement has disappeared, and, unfortunately, it wanes even more as students move through high school.

In this video from Ken Robinson he asks the question, “Do Schools Kill Creativity”. The video has been around for a few years, but it is very timely even today. I hope you enjoy it.

Well, I Think That Went Very Well…

topperMiddle

Happy Labor Day!

September 2 – Labor Day (No School)
September 3 – School Pictures and Vision and Hearing Screenings
September 3 – GMS Open House 6:00 – 7:00 pm
September 4 – Faculty Meeting 2:30 in GMS Library
September 10 – 6th Grade Parent Meeting GMS Library 6:00 pm
September 16 & 17 – MLTI Parent meetings in the GMS Auditorium 6:00 pm
September 19 – PIE Meeting, GMS Library 6:00 pm
September 20 – School Dance in the GMS Gymnasium 6:00 to 8:00 pm
September 23 – 7th Grade Parent Meeting, GMS Auditorium 6:00 pm
October 1 – 8th Grade Parent, GMS Auditorium 6:00 pm

Great Opening of School

On the last day of school, each June (and I’m speaking only for me), I personify our wonderful school building and begin to hear it say, in a whisper, “what am I going to do for the next two and a half months without my kids?”

OK, please don’t think I’ve gone mad, I really haven’t! The school definitely takes on a totally different feel when the kids aren’t present. The doors seem to open with the echo of emptiness, and each footfall walking in the halls resonates that emptiness. But when the kids come back, the life of the building returns, and the hum of life takes over the entire building the way a Big Papi homerun envelopes Fenway (had to get the Red Sox in here somehow!).

Usually, the first day of school is quite traumatic several of our 6th graders (and some 7th and 8th graders as well!), some tears and some children even refusing to leave their cars or get on buses. This year, while we had a few tears, the actual number of students outwardly demonstrating their anxiety was considerably less. So, can I extend a huge thank you to all of you parents and guardians for getting these kids ready for school?

I also want to thank all of our 7th and 8th grade teachers for being “so present” during the 6th grade only day. I really think that their presence in helping the new members of our community with tasks like successfully working the combinations on the new locks and guiding tours around the building, as well as helping out in the cafeteria really made the 6th graders feel very comfortable in their large, strange new surroundings.

Here’s hoping that we can go forward in this positive direction for the whole year!

Thank You for Following

I am hoping that we can use this blog as a vehicle to convey information and other resources that will be helpful during the course of the year. Knowing what we know about adolescents, some of the information (OK, maybe more than “some”) that we send home in backpacks never quite make it into your hands, this should be a resource to answer any questions.

I plan to update this at least weekly, more if there is information I think you may need, so please check back regularly. If you are already following, great. If not, it is very each to do and, when you do, you will receive an email letting you know about a new post.

GMS Open House

Tuesday evening, 6:00 to 7:00 pm, all GMS teachers and many of the staff will be available for a “Meet and Greet”. Teachers will be in their classrooms and we have asked each of our students to introduce you to their teachers and then conduct a tour of their new “digs”, classrooms and other places of interest that will e their world for the next 10 months.

We will have two banks of computers set up in the main foyer of the school. One bank will be dedicated to help parents complete the volunteer verification process so that we can have plenty of volunteers ready for things like working in the classroom, going on field trips and chaperoning dances. The second bank of computers will be to help parents sign in to the Infinite Campus System with their user name and password. The Infinite Campus system allows parents and guardians to remain current with your child’s progress in grades and homework during the school year.

I promise that we will have people at each bank of computers to help you with the process!

We look forward to seeing everyone on Tuesday night.

Give to GMS with Target.com

I will be keeping this entry in the blog until the last possible day of the promotion because this can be some real money for our school. I will try to keep this kind of commercialism to a minimum in this blog.

This is clearly filed under the category of shameless pandering by a Principal seeking funds to do our work, but this appears to be something that can really help us fund some activities that we could not cover in our very austere budget. So here goes…Target

Visit http://givewith.target.com/school/5098 GiveWith.Target.com to vote for our school.
This year, Target will give money to schools all over the country for one simple act: a vote. Our school needs just 25 votes to earn a $25 donation from Target. But that’s only the beginning. For each additional vote, our school will get $1 more. So please remember that, although the gesture is small, the rewards are potentially huge. Go to http://givewith.target.com/school/5098 to vote for Gorham Middle School once a week through September 21 or until Target has given away all $5 million. And please forward this email to your friends. Vote and see rules at  http://GiveWith.Target.com.

You can only vote once a week, but you can vote multiple time on different devices.

Tuesday, September 3rd is Picture Day

On Thursday, your child should have in his/her backpack an order form from Lifetouch Pictures. All students will be having photograph taken.framepic_home It is important for you to know that you have no obligation to purchase any of these packages. We have devised a schedule for these pictures to be taken with a minimum amount of disruption to classes.

We chose to have the good folks at Lifetouch do our pictures this year based upon some photograps they took a couple of springs ago that were well received by those who chose to buy the packages offered. Lifetouch also offered several other features which enhance our safety plans for the school and provide us instant assistance in case of an emergency.

As always, I would welcome your comments about their service and product.

Tooth Fairies

ToothIn the packets that your child brought home on Thursday was an informational sheet about dental care that we can provide through a non profit organization called “The Tooth Fairies”. The Tooth Fairies offer preventative dental care through cleaning to students whose families may not be able to afford such care. The Tooth Fairies are all volunteer Dental Hygienists who volunteer their services to our community.

In order to take advantage of this service, you must return the sheet to our school nurse by the end of this coming week. Teresa Merrill, School Nurse, will be scheduling students for visits by the end of the month.

If you have any questions, please contact Teresa Merrill at school.

Coming Attractions in Next Post

What is the Common Core State Standards. We will try to explain what all of this will meant to our students and our teachers.

The School Year has Begun

topperMiddleImportant Upcoming Dates

August 28 – First Student Day (6th Graders only)
August 29 – All students return
August 30 – No School ( Long Labor Day Weekend)
September 2 – Labor Day (No School)
September 3 – School Pictures and Vision and Hearing Screenings
September 3 – GMS Open House 6:00 – 7:00 pm
September 4 – Faculty Meeting 2:30 in GMS Library
September 10 – 6th Grade Parent Meeting GMS Library 6:00 pm
September 16 & 17 – MLTI Parent meetings in the GMS Auditorium 6:00 pm
September 20 – School Dance in the GMS Gymnasium 6:00 to 8:00 pm

August 28

back_to_school_56th Grade students have the whole school to themselves for the entire day! You remember that during step up day last year your child received their team assignment and met their teachers for this year. Well, it’ this year! Where did the summer go??

We, teachers and staff, have been meeting for the past two days making plans for the first day of school. I am happy to report to you that all of our teachers are ready and raring to go. Floors have been waxed, boards have been cleaned, classroom bulletin boards have been decorated all in anticipating of our newest middle school citizens arriving.

August 29

All students return to the Middle School for the start of a Brand New Year. We can hardly wait to see all of our new students. The day will be a full day for students with an extended Advisory Period so that the Advisory Groups and new team mates can get to know each other.

Give to GMS with Target.com

This is clearly filed under the category of shameless pandering by a Principal seeking funds to do our work, but this appears to be something that can really help us fund some activities that we could not cover in our very austere budget. So here goes…Target

Visit http://givewith.target.com/school/5098 GiveWith.Target.com to vote for our school.
This year, Target will give money to schools all over the country for one simple act: a vote. Our school needs just 25 votes to earn a $25 donation from Target. But that’s only the beginning. For each additional vote, our school will get $1 more. So please remember that, although the gesture is small, the rewards are potentially huge. Go to [ http://givewith.target.com/school/5098 ]GiveWith.Target.com to vote for Gorham Middle School once a week through September 21 or until Target has given away all $5 million. And please forward this email to your friends. Vote and see rules at [ http://GiveWith.Target.com ]GiveWith.Target.com.

You can only vote once, but you can vote multiple time on different devices.

Long Labor Day Weekend

The traditional end of summer weekend promises to be be great weather for all of those hammocklast activities of “freedom”. Cookouts, fishing trips, family gatherings and last walks on the beach (although, the weekends are still great for all of that right through October!), should be in many folks’ plans for the long four-day weekend.

When we return from that wonderful respite, after two grueling days of work (tongue planted firmly in cheek here!), we will begin to long journey of learning, actually a quest more than a journey, that will bring our students to wondrous places facinating people with some incredible stories.

A very long way to say enjoy the Official End of Summer Weekend and please be safe.

Picture Day – September 3

When students return to school from the aforementioned wondrous weekend, we will be framepic_homeholding our annual picture day for all students. We do this as early as we possibly can to make sure that we have time for re-takes for those not satisfied with their first pictures. Doing this early allows us plenty of time to make sure that you have pictures to give to your family members as presents during the holidays.

We will also be performin our annual vision and hearing screenings during this time. Normally, this is reserved for our 7th grade students, but occasionally we have to “catch up” with a few new 8th graders, as well.

Laptop Deployments

mlti-logoAs many of you may have heard, the state of Maine has again renewed the MLTI program for the next four years. This means that all of our 7th and 8th grade students will be receiving new MacBook Airs laptops. Our 6th grade students will be receiving the devices that had been used by 7th & 8th graders, but significantly upgraded from their previous life.

Laptops will be deployed to students beginning on Wednesday

No students will be able to bring home any device until after all meetings have been attended and all paperwork is completed and turned into the office. There is a required meeting for all Middle School parents on either Monday, September 16 or Tuesday, September 17. The meetings will begin at 6pm in the GMS Auditorium. We will look at the new devices for 7th and 8th grade parents and we will look at the new operating system (OS) for all of the computers.

We will also take this time to talk to parents about safety of our students while using technology. This is a very important topic with lots of great resources for parents to use with their children at home. There will also be some tips we can provide to parents so that they can “keep an eye” on their child’s comings and goings on line.

Looking forward to seeing all on this very important night.

GMS Open House

open_house_icon_55924September 3rd is going to be a very busy day for our teachers and students. Beside having our “real” first day of school (possibly with homework!), students will be bringing their parents back to school to introduce them to their new teachers and to show off their new classrooms.

We look forward to meeting all of our parents on this night. The Open House will begin at 6:00 pm and run until 7:00 pm. We plan to have lots of information available for our new and returning parents. There will be information on how to volunteer in our schools, our homework club and after school library availability as well great information about our school lunch program and much, much more.

Please circle the date of September 3rd to join us for this fun night.

Grade Level Parent Meetings

Something new that we would like to start this year at GMS are regular meetings withCLIPART_OF_15182_SM_2 parents of each grade level. Our first meeting will be Tuesday, September 10 at 6:00 pm, with parents of 6th grade students. Initially, we will schedule the meetings for the Auditorium, but, if necessary, we can move to a more appropriate location. These meetings can cover a myriad of topics from technology to Common Core, from the changing nature of their child to ideas about fundraising.

We hope that people will find these nights beneficial and informative and that these sort of events will make our school community a better place for our kids.

We will also be holding similar meetings for parents of 7th grade and 8th grade students later in September on Tuesday the 24th and Tuesday October 1st.

I hope you can all join us on these evenings…

Report Cards, Progress Reports and Infinite Campus

For the past 5 years, we have been using Infinite Campus (IC), a student information system that is as all encompassing as a system can be. IC tracks our attendance, heath issues, student grades and progress as well as family demographics.report2

For the past 3 years all of our teachers have been religiously entering into the IC Grade Module, the progress of students through their classes by placing the appropriate grades achieved on all of the student assignments. The teachers are required to enter their grades at least weekly so that parents can be assured that their child’s progress is as up-to-date as possible. Many of our teachers enter grades more often than once a week, so some are actually “live” grades.

Also for the past 3 years, we have made the Grade Module available to parents by means of a user name and a password. This Portal allows the parents, and students, to see how well they are achieving in each class, what work has been collected by the teacher and what work, if any, may be missing. By checking this Portal on a regular basis, students and parents can keep up on their progress and where any problems may arise.

Because of this Portal, we have found it to be extremely redundant (and expensive) to produce paper copies of all these reports available through the Parent Portal. Beginning with the October Progress Reports, we will no longer be printing copies of the reports for all students. Parents can view the reports through the Parent Portal on the IC System.

If you do not have access to the Internet, we can produce and send out to parents “hard” copies of reports. Please call the Guidance Office to make this request.

Hopefully, this will allow parents to remain current with their child’s progress and save our school a few dollars on paper and printing costs. As always, if you have any questions about this, please give me a call at the office.