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

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.

 

 

 

 

 

OK, Winter, I Know You’re Out There!

topperMiddle

Important Upcoming Dates

November 20 – School Lockdown Drill
November 22 – School Dance, GMS Gymnasium 6:00 – 8:00 pm
November 27 – 29 – Thanksgiving Break No School
December 10 – Holiday Band Concert 6:30 pm GMS Auditorium
December 12 – Activities, Clubs and Sports Team Picture Day
December 12 – Chorus and Steel Band Concert 6:30 GMS Auditorium
December 13 – School Dance GMS Gymnasium 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Stormy Weather

It is that time of the year, you know, when kids (and teachers) seem to follow the weather reports with a far greater sense of importance. The possibility of that wonderful time when the air is filled with snow flakes, the roads are empty of cars (except the brave and the snow plows) and, speaking of snow plows, the age old battle of shoveling the end of the driveway only to have the gleeful snowplow man drive by 20 minutes later and re-deposit all of that snow right back where it came from (Argh!!).

We will continue to call the TV and radio stations to notify the public that “we will be sleeping in this morning” and we will also mass send out emails, text messages and make automated phone calls to you home and cell phones (which ever we have on file) making the announcement as well. Hopefully, everyone will get the message.

You may want to check the parent portal to make sure the we have your correct information in our Student Information System. If we have incorrect information, you can call Terry LaMontagne in our Guidance office and she will get the new info updated. Here’s hoping that we only have one snow day!

School Lock Down Drill

In conjunction with the Gorham Police Department, we will be holding a Lock Down Drill for our students on Wednesday, November 20. The building alarm will sound and students and teachers will practice our protocols designed and outlined in our School Emergency Plan. Local safety personnel will be on hand to evaluate all of all plans and offer suggestions on how we can improve our safety procedures.

We do these types of drills a couple of times a year, and each time we seem to learn more about how we can improve and keep our community safe.

File This Under “Stuff Parents Should Know”

In the past few weeks, although it has probably been going on longer, we have become aware of a social networking site that many of our students have been visiting that is causing some concern. OK, it is causing quite a bit of concern with me!

The site is called Ask.fm, and it thrives on the fact that people can post their messages anonymously. People are asked a fairly innocuous question like “why are you alive?”. They then answer their question and others are “invited” to answer the question about you as well. As you can imagine, there is ample opportunity for some people to take “liberties” that they would not ordinarily take in person.

There have been countless number of stories in the media about Ask.fm, and none of them have been very flattering. Because of the way the site is set up, respondents are anonymous, it is very fertile ground for cyber bulling and behaviors that students would not normally engage. We have had a few instances of our students being targeted, but, because of the anonymity, we are hard pressed to pinpoint the source.

This is where you all come in!

During our MLTI Information nights, you remember, the evening meetings you kids said “you had to attend”, we talked about keeping the laptops in a family room or in a common area all within eyesight of adults. Please do not let the students take the devices into their bedrooms so that they can “have a quiet place to study”. Having the adult eyes present as much of the time as possible, will inhibit the students from venturing to places of uncharted waters.

I would also suggest that each of us should ask our kids if they are aware of this site, have they been to it and have they ever participated in the “pile on” of others that happen on this site. Their answers could be great topics for discussion around the dinner table.

The site is blocked at school, so unless students have figured out how to bypass our filters, the 7 hours, or so, that students are at school, they will not have access to Ask.fm.

Going “Incognito”

I have been try to look at the situation that has been played out in the national media surrounding the bullying of an NFL Player by his teammates, and specifically, one teammate. As an observer of this through only the lens of what is reported in the newspapers and on the TV, I am amazed at how much this sounds like a middle school environment rather than that of a “Professional” organization.

One thing that I have found very interesting, however, is how this is playing out with teammates, management and others. The pathology (if that is the correct word) is strikingly similar to the stuff we deal with here at GMS. Students say something that is offensive to another student and the response we get “I was just fooling with him/her”, sound familiar?

Then we have the “bystanders”, the folks who are in the vicinity of the action taking place. Olweus has defined these people in several different categories from “henchmen” to “defender of the victim” and several names that fall in between those two ( see chart below).

What is interesting to me is the fact that what I have observed in the media is much of what Olweus describes on this chart, only more to the left side of the chart and less on the right side of the chart. This really demonstrates how difficult it is for anyone to come to the aid of the victim, even strong, overly aggressive grown men who do actually know the difference between right and wrong, yet do not want to appear to be weak in the company of their peers. If it is that difficult for a professional football player to stand up in a locker room and say that what apparently happened was not OK, imagine how difficult it is for our students to try this. And, yet we all know that the correct thing to do in this situation is to stand up, not for the individual, but against the behaviors that are wrong!

I would love to have a conversation about this with parents.

PIE Meeting

Our regularly scheduled PIE meeting, set for November 21 has been cancelled. I will be out of town on that evening. We will have our regular meeting on December 19th in the GMS Library beginning at 6:00 pm.

Cleaning Up Your Digital Footprint

One of the resources I use to collect information for this blog is Twitter, you know, that “140 character, I don’t understand what all the fuss is about, who cares what Kanye is doing” social media site that seems to be included in lots of peoples conversations. I also follow several very good people (not Kanye!) who help in doing my job and help me help my staff have lots of resources available to them.

One person I follow is Patrick Larkin, Assistant Superintendent of Schools in Burlington, Massachusetts. He is constantly “tweeting out” very interesting resources and he has created within his school district a true sense of what it means to be a 21st Century School System.

His students at Burlington High School, and other schools in the district, seem to have embraced a very positive position about how to properly use social media for improving the educational experience. The students seem to understand the power of social media and its truly positive elements in improving their educational experience and in using to help others have a positive educational experience. The students have developed a Help Desk, what the call a “Student Run Genius Bar”, that offers tips for students in maximizing their use of technology.

This post, from January 15, 2013, offer students not just the how to clean up your social media sites, but a very good rationale as to why you should clean up your social media sites. I will tell you that I found this very informative and helpful for me and how I employ social media in my work and my life and I thought you all might find that it makes for a good conversation with your kids. http://bhshelpdesk.com/2013/01/15/cleaning-up-your-digital-identity-a-students-perspective/