Week of Feb 6

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Upcoming Important Dates

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

Congratulations to the New England Patriots

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

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

GHS Presentation of Footloose

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

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

School Dance and Parent Meet-up

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

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

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

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

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

Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey

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

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

Early Release Day

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

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

PIE Meeting February 16

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

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

I hope we see many of you there.

National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)

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

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

Mid-Winter School Vacation Break

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

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

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

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

Real Learning

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

Heading Into Winter Break in Style Courtesy of Nemo

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Important Upcoming Dates

  • February 13 – Leadership Team meeting 2:30 in Melanie’s room.
  • February 14 – NAEP Testing for selected 8th graders.
  • February 18 – 22 – School Winter Break (we’ll probably still be digging out from Nemo.

Please, All Stay Safe

As I write this, it is Saturday morning and Nemo still rages here in Saco, Me. Opening my door to head out to the barn to feed the horses, I encountered snow drifts that were up to my waist. It reminded me of my childhood when every storm seemed to be “historic”. By the way, that was way before the great “Blizzard of ’78”.

Listening to the folks on the TV in Portland, all of them remind us how dangerous the traveling is throughout Southern Maine. I hope that we all heed the advice of these folks and stay warm and safe at home. I also hope that anyone who has lost their power will have it restored very quickly.

Also, it feels quite special to have our town mentioned by Al Roker and other national media for having the highest snowfall in New England with 33 inches in Gorham. Only two towns in Connecticut have had more!

NECAP Results

Picture 9As I mentioned at the Workshop Day on Friday, we have received the results of the October administration of the NECAP’s. I also told you that we would no longer be “reducing” our students and their learning down to a single number, the percentage of our students who achieved proficiency. We really need to measure who well our students are doing in so many more areas of their learning life that will have a greater impact on their future life.

As the commentary in Ed Week by Mike Rose, that I shared with all of you said, “the qualities that account for success in school and life” are those that develop the students “character or personality, like perseverance, self-monitoring and flexibility”. When we reduce student results to this mere number on an achievement or ability of the students, we lose sight of the traits that allowed a struggling student to “survive” the administration of the lengthy assessment. Shouldn’t the fact that the student was able to complete the test, or partially complete the test be accounted in the overall results.

All of that being said, we continue to outperform our peers in this state by a wide margin. In reading, 85% of our entire school achieved proficiency and in math 74% of our student achieved proficiency. Our writing scores for the 8th graders was equally as impressive as we improved the number of students achieving proficiency or above from 66% to 74%.

February PIE Meeting has been canceled

The Partners In Education, affectionately known as PIE will be canceled for the month of February. It had been set for Thursday, February 14th and, alas, the romantic in me thinks that all good husbands should be taking their sweethearts out to dinner that night (at least that is what my wife said…just kidding!).

We will have our regularly scheduled PIE meeting on Thursday evening, March 21st at 6:00 pm in the GMS Library. Hope to see you all there.

8th Grade Celebration

This gets filed under the category of “I can’t believe it time already!”.

We will need to get our parents of 8th graders who will be leaving us at the end of the MBpinschool year together to plan the Celebration of Middle School activities. This event is usually held on the evening before the last day of school each year. Since we don’t really know the exact date, and won’t for some time, we usually meet after February vacation to organize the volunteers and decide what the theme for the evening will be.

I am proposing that we meet on Thursday evening, March 7th in the GMS Library at 6:30 to begin our planning. All parents are invited to participate in the planning activities and, in fact, we need lots of parents to make this last evening of middle school special for our students. Hope to see you all there.

Create, not Regurgitate

I listened, intently, to the words of our Governor LePage during his State of the State address on Tuesday evening, especially his words about education. In the interest of full disclosure, I do agree with him that the public education system needs to improve, I just don’t agree with how he wants to exact that improvement.

In his speech the Governor cited China, Finland and Canada as schools that excel on large scale, international assessments, and they do accelerate on this measurement. However, if you delve deeper into the how they excel, you will find many different reasons for it. In an article from Smithsonian Magazine by LynNell Hancock published in 2011 that looked at the schools in Finland, she asserts several differences in their educational system from ours. Most notably, in my opinion, is the fact that the people in the Ministry of Education are educators, not business people or politicians or military leaders. These are people who have worked in classrooms and faced the challenges of the classroom.

When she interviewed those who were in the classrooms, each of the teachers mentioned that they “are not much interested in the results of the PISA” but that they “do what they must” to help their students learn. They have chosen to help their students “learn how to learn”.

The article is interesting and worth reading. I think if we really want to improve our educational system, we could learn quite a bit from Finland, not just how they run their educational system, but how they support their families. I think that if the policy makers and politicians want to use these countries as an example of how to educate our young, they should also report everything that happens to support the young learners.

If you’re interested in reading the Smithsonian article, I have provided a link.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/Why-Are-Finlands-Schools-Successful.html

This whole train of thought was piqued, today, by a blog entry by Jay Posick, a Principal from Wisconsin, who writes about a conference he attended where Eric Shenigar, another Principal, was the keynote speaker. I am a regular reader of Eric’s blog and his Twitter feed and I have a great deal of respect for all that he offers.

At this conference, he spoke about student choice, opportunity, engagement, collaboration and creativity and how important these traits are to for our students. Jay contrasts Eric’s speech with the directives that come from the state about how to improve student achievement. From the sound of Jay’s blog, Wisconsin offers many of the same solutions for improvement as our Governor offered in his State of the State, and I agree with Jay, given the choices, I would choose creativity, engagement, collaboration etc.

Here is a link to Jay’s blog: http://jayposick.blogspot.com/2013/02/create-and-not-regurgitate.html