March 12, 2012

Upcoming Dates

  • Mar 14 – We will be having a group of students going on a field trip to the Westbrook Regional Vocational Center and Portland Arts and Technology High School. They will be leaving school in the morning and returning before dismissal. You should have received a list of these students from Kim Bennett earlier this week.
  • Mar 14 – For all of our math teachers, this is the day set aside for all things math Pi Day, enjoy. Let us know if your holding any special Pi Day activities. If you’d like some activities you can try this link: All Things Pi; or this from the National Council of Teachers of Math
  • Mar 14 – Faculty meeting in the GMS Library beginning at 2:30. This will be a whole group meeting.
    • We have discussed the establishment of Learning Teams, and we have raised some possible topics for further study. We will begin the process of solidifying the topics of interest.
    • Technology Minute (probably more like 10 minutes)
    • NECAP Access review
    • Other
  • Mar 15 –For social studies and ELA teachers, the Ides of March is day celebrated to commemorated our Roman roots and our love of Shakespeare, if you plan any activities to mark this day, let us know! The web site Read Write Think has some great activities for celebrating the Ides of March. Check out their link: ReadWriteThink
  • Mar 15 -Our monthly PIE meeting in the GMS Library beginning at 6:30 pm, all are invited to attend.
  • Mar 20 – 8th grade Parent Night at the High School. Chris Record and many of his teaching staff and guidance staff will meet with parents beginning at 6:30 pm in the GPAC. Parents will be informed of the registration process for classes for the incoming Freshmen and they will be able to ask questions about what to expect next year.
  • Mar 22 & 24 – Our annual presentation of the School Musical, this year our students are presenting Into the Woods, a funny and musical look at some of our favorite fairy tales. The presentation will begin at 7:00 pm each evening in the GMS Auditorium, please save the date.
  • Mar 26 – High School Principal, Chris Record, and a selected few of his teachers and counselors will met with the 8th grade students at 8:05 in the Auditorium. We will not adjust the schedule for this one period, so MDI students will miss their Allied Arts period on this day. Sorry to the AA teachers for this inconvenience.
  • Mar 26 -The District-wide Team Leaders meeting originally scheduled for this date has been postponed. No date has been set for a new meeting. I will let you know when we find out.
  • Mar 29 – Originally, this day was going to be our Public Safety Day for the students, but Tracy Wheeler and Terri Dawson are working on an alternative activity. We will have more details available for the faculty meeting on Wednesday, but from what I have been told, this will be a day that the students and staff will remember!
  • Mar 29 & 30 – Early release day and teacher workshop day, respectively. These days are Parent/Teacher Conference Days for the entire district.Conferences will be from 2:00pm to 8:00 on Thursday evening and on Friday from 8:00 am until 2:00 pm. We have confirmed this information with all schools in the district!
  • Mar 30 – 3rd Quarter ends, please have your grades into your grade book by Tuesday so that we can have report cards ready to go home on Friday April 6.

Some “Stuff” for the Future

Most Improved Student Awards

Once again, the Portland Sea Dogs and NextGen College Investing Plan have teamed up to honor area students who have displayed great improvement in their school endeavors. In order to participate in the program, students must be nominated by their teachers. The selection is not solely based on academic improvement, although that is good, students can demonstrate improvement in other areas as well. Each student will receive a free ticket to a Sea Dogs game, be honored on the field during pregame activities and have their name appear on the message board in center field.

If you have a student who has shown improvement in some part of their school year, or a student that you would like to reward for any reason, please forward their name to me by the end of the day today (Mar 12). This is a great way to recognize your students who have done something above and beyond your expectations.

GMS Night at the Sea Dogs

Don’t forget to mark your calendar for Friday night, April 27th for Gorham Middle School Night at the Portland Sea Dogs. As we all know, the Sea Dogs are the Double-A affiliate of our beloved (OK, my beloved) Boston Red Sox. On this night, our Incredibly talented Chorus will sing the National Anthem, one lucky staff member will get to throw out the first pitch and several of our teachers will be honored before, and during the game for their contributions to our school. It has the makings of a great night out at the ballpark, where, as we all know great memories are mad. So, grab your hat (hopefully not a wooly one), bring your glove (you never know, a foul ball could come your way!) and invite the family and friends and plan to join us at historic Hadlock Field for a night of fun and baseball. Tickets can be ordered through the office with Kristen, General Admission tickets are $5.00.

Clarification of Parent/Teacher Days

Last fall, during the Parent/Teacher Conference days, there was some confusion about what time teachers were expected to stay at school for conferences. As you may remember, some schools allowed teachers to leave as early as noontime on Friday. This was an incorrect assumption on the part of the administrators of those buildings. We are expected to remain available for parents until 2:00 pm on Friday and 8:00 pm on Thursday.

End of the 3rd Quarter

Grades close for the third quarter on March 30th, the same day as Parent/Teacher Conferences. Reports cards will be distributed to all students on Friday, April 6th at the end of the day during Advisory. Please make sure that you have your grades finalized by Tuesday afternoon so Terry can get them printed on time for distribution.

End of the Year Activities for 8th Graders

This is for 8th grade teachers. It is that time of year that we begin to plan for the Celebration of Middle School, the evening event for our 8th graders moving on to High School. In the past years, we have had students write about their Middle School experience for presentation on the evening of the Celebration. We would like to continue with this tradition as parents have commented on appropriateness of the reading and allowing more students to have an active role in the event. Please let me know how you would like to do this.

Also, in the past, we have selected 3 students, one form each team, to receive the Secretary of State Citizenship Award. We will need to get this information submitted along with the background information. Please let me know if you need any information about this by the end of the week.

We are waiting for Ted to officially set the last day of school before we can be more definitive with dates, but are planning on a slide show of student pictures (the I-Team is diligently working on putting that together) and we are planning on the last day of school (for 8th graders) cook out to begin around noontime. We are still open to other suggestions for this day for the students, feel free to let us know.

Interesting Article on Teacher Technology Use

The Bully Project

There is a brand new movie about to be released called Bully. Bully is a documentary that examines bullying form the perspective of the victim. Unfortunately, the movie has been given an R rating from the MPAA, the body that provides the ratings for every movie, because of the strong language and the how often the topic of suicide comes up. In the review provided by Common Sense Media, a web site for parents and teachers on all things technological, they highly recommend this film for middle school age students and older, providing there is and adult present who is able to lead the discussion. The reviewers say that there is a particularly raw scene with a slew of very graphic language that was spewed upon one particular student, but, they also say that the language is not any different than the language students hear on the bus ride to and from school, in our hallways (when we’re not around or downtown.

The movie is an R rated movie and that will keep us from being able to show the movie in school, unfortunately. But, I am sure that many of our students will see the movie in theaters with their parents or guardians, so we should be familiar with the contents. If you’d like to see the trailer for the movie click on this link: Bully

Time Magazine has an article online that talks about this movie. I am including a link to the article for your pleasure: Time Magazine

KONY 2012

We have had quite a buzz around our school and around schools in southern Maine about the movement called KONY 2102. In my parent post, I talked about how this movement began and how a couple of college students “accidentally” came across this tragic human event in central Africa.

In 2003, three college students left their campus for summer vacation armed with a couple of cameras and an idea that they would document the famine and human tragedy that had been ongoing in the Sudan. What they returned with was not what they had set out to get! They returned with a story of Lords Resistance Army (LRA) and how the LRA was terrorizing the people of northern Uganda, a story of immense cruelty and greed that would rival the atrocities of Nazi Germany.

These students document how the LRA would torment the country-side, raiding and pillaging at will and without provocation. Their documentary told the story of how young children would flee their village each evening, walking the five miles, or so, into the city to sleep in public places to avoid the raiding parties of the LRA and then walk back to their villages in the morning to attend school and family chores, only to repeat this as the sun would sink in the western sky. These raiding parties would kidnap children and force to to join the LRA. One of the first acts of the “new” soldiers was to kill their parents.

KONY 2012 is a movement to make Joseph Kony, the leader of the LRA for more than 30 years, the most famous person in the world in the hope that the leaders of nations will realize the atrocities that this man has committed and heed a call to action.

I think we can expect to see and hear more about KONY 2012 from our students in the coming weeks and especially as we approach April 19-20 when there is expected to be a world-wide event to highlight this movement. I am including links to the first documentary done back in 2003 and the most recent documentary that has fed this frenzy.

Invisible Children

KONY 2012

I must warn you that both of these videos are very difficult to watch. The raw human emotion is difficult, but there are also some situations that can cause some viewers concern.

National Women’s History Month

The month of March has been designated as Women’s History Month. During the month we highlight the many contributions of women throughout history, this year the theme of Women’s History Month is Women’s Education – Women’s Empowerment.  There are some very interesting honorees this year who were very prominent in the field of education in America. As you would imagine, I have several web sites to which you may refer for information and for some activities.

The National Women's History Project
U.S. Department of Defense Women's History
Crayola Celebrates National Women's History Month
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