A Lot of Information Here

topperMiddle

Important Upcoming Dates

September 23 – 7th Grade Parent Night GMS Auditorium 6:00 pm
September 25 – Maine Harvest Lunch in our Cafeteria
September 27 – 6th & 7th Grade Assemblies
September 30 – 8th Grade Assembly
October 1 – 10 – NECAP Testing and make up all grades
October 1 – 8th Grade Parents Night GMS Auditorium 6:00 pm
October 2 – Early Release Day
October 4 – Progress Reports (Mid quarter)

Infinite Campus Updates

We have been telling parents since the beginning of the school year that we want to save money by not performing mass printings of Progress Reports and report cards. We have also been reminding parents about obtaining their usernames and passwords to their accounts by calling Terri LaMontagne. So, it will be important that we have all of our grades and assignments updated on Infinite Campus.

If you are having difficulty in putting your grades on the system, and I know that we have had some minor issues, please let Susie or me know so that we can get it corrected.

Finally, we will need to be prepared to provide “hard” copies of Progress Reports to those parents who may request them.

NECAP Schedule

We have sent out the schedule for the upcoming NECAPs. It will be very important that we keep this schedule as best as we can. Believe it, or not, these will be the  very last administration of the NECAPs or the MEA’s that we will have to endure! Of course, that could change in the future, depending upon the whims of the policy makers.

PLease remember that we ask that homework and tests and quizzes be out off until after the NECAP are done so that we can have our students focus on these important tests.

Also, while the results of these assessments may not carry the weight they once did with the federal NCLB rankings, the results will have an impact on student placement for high school classes and inclusion in Algebra classes at the middle school. So, we need our students to take these with a strong intent of showing what they know!

The Madison Prize for Written Excellence

We have had some interest in this and I just wanted to remind all that this is open only the students from GMS and it is a great opportunity for a different “audience” for our students’ writing. I hope that all of our teachers will hype this with our students.

James MadisonWe have been contacted by a citizens group from Gorham who are looking to start a new tradition at GMS. The Madison Prize for Written Excellence is and essay contest for students at Gorham Middle School. All 6th, 7th and 8th grade students are invited to participate. The Madison Prize for Written Excellence celebrates our nation’s history by encouraging thought and reflection on the topics presented and offering students the opportunity to express themselves through the submission of original essays. All submissions will be reviewed, with exemplary submissions competing for one of three cash prizes. We invite you to become part of this new tradition.

I have heard from some of you expressing interest with your students, however, this is such a great opportunity I am asking each ELA and Social Studies Teacher to work with your students on crafting a submission.

How does the contest work?
Contestants must complete and submit the entry form along with an original work of authorship responsive to the competition’s question. Essays must be between 300 and 400 words in length.
What is this year’s question?
Question: “What made the United States great?”
When is the deadline?
All entries must be received by October 11, 2013.
Who is eligible to enter?
The competition is open to Gorham Middle School students.
What are the prizes?
Madison Prize: One entrant will receive $250. Runners-up: Two entrants will each receive $100.
What are the judging criteria?
Essays will be judged on the following criteria:
1. Knowledge demonstrated (30 points): Show thorough knowledge of the theme of your essay. Demonstrate that you have considered and researched the issues. Use examples for support.
2. Clarity of ideas (35 points): Write with good logical flow and in a way that is easy to comprehend, leaving your reader with a clear understanding of your answer and reasoning.
3. Persuasiveness/Presentation (35 points): Convince the reader of the correctness of your answer. Use appropriate language and grammar to relay passion and make your essay memorable.

I would encourage all of us  to work with our students to provide an entry to this very worthwhile endeavor. As we approach the full implementation of the Common Core, this type of integrated activity will become more and more prevalent in our classroom expectations.

For more information, please see me.

Grade Level Assemblies

On Friday, September 27, we will hold assemblies for the 6th grade and 7th grade during EICAL period. The general topic of the assemblies will be to familiarize all students to our Code of Conduct and what that looks like and sounds like in our school. There will be discussions around how we treat each other and what our expectations are as a community, both adults and adolescents.

We will also focus a great deal of attention on the topic of digital citizenship. With our new devices and the fact the we have two grade levels who have not had one-to-one technology before, this will be a critical piece of our work this year.

We will meet with the 8th grade on Monday during EICAL. This will necessitate the changing of lunches for 6th grade to eat during the second lunch and split that period 4. 8th Grade will eat last lunch on this day.

While the students are in these assemblies, teachers will meet as a grade level to iron out the details around the EICAL.

Early Release Day Activities

Unlike the past few years, we will not place a theme on our early release day on October 2nd. We will, in fact, spend the time getting our NECAPs done so that we can limit the disruptions in our schedule.

We will, however, have a full slate of activities for the teacher portion of the day.

The students will be dismissed about 11:10 and we will expect everyone back in the Library at noon, after lunch on your own. The topic of the day’s work will be technology and our new devices and our new operating systems. We have talked about how these devices are different and the OS offers opportunities that we have not had in past years, now we’ll get a look at how they are different and what we can do with this new technology in our classrooms.

Details and offerings will be coming our later this week.

Common Core Resources for Social Studies and Language Arts

We are all very well aware of the popular television show C.S.I., now the College of Education at the College of William and Mary in Virginia has developed a model called Historical Scene Investigation or H.S.I, that brings students to primary resources in order to deeply investigate events in history.

The primary thought behind this model is to bring solid primary resources into the classroom  toraise questions and to marshall solid evidence to support their findings.

There are several events in American History for which the folks at William and Mary have constructed “case files” and they cover quite a broad period of American History. They have also included plans for the teacher so that the students can follow a specific model to becoming proficient at investigating historical events.

For more information on the model go to: http://web.wm.edu/hsi/model.html

Raising Compassionate and Ethical Kids

In this weeks Marshall Memo, a weekly newsletter I receive, Richard Weissbroud, a faculty member of the Harvard Graduate SChool of Education and the Kennedy School of Government, offers some thoughts and ideas on how we can better prepare our students to be responsible, caring adults.

Kim Marshall writes in her memo, encapsulating an article from the Harvard Newsletter this way:

In this Ed. Magazine article (one of a set of 30 “big ideas” for schools), Richard Weissbourd (Harvard Graduate School of Education) suggests that American adolescents would benefit from an ethically-based coming-of-age ritual between the ages of 13 and 16. “With fewer Americans actively religious, fewer youth are participating in meaningful traditions that can build moral commitment and awareness,” says Weissbourd. Some schools have their students complete capstone experiences, but in most cases they lack a substantial ethical component, he says. A more substantive ritual would last a semester or a full year, be guided by an adult from the school or community, and focus on developing empathy, respect for differences, commitment to justice, and preparation for being effective citizens, workers, and family members. Some possible projects:

–   Writing a biography of someone in the school from a very different background;

–   Creating a video containing interviews with students, custodians, school secretaries, and other adults in the school about what constitutes a just community;

–   Developing a board or video game that promotes empathy and responsibility.

The project could culminate in a community ceremony in which students display and/or perform their projects.

            “[T]he stark reality is this,” concludes Weissbourd: “If we want a just society, we need to far more carefully attend in schools to developing students with the skills and commitments to lead just lives.”

For a little more background on Weissbroud and his work in the area, I am including a link to a 3-minute video from him on this subject:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Dc91nRSbzQ

Gorham-Windham in the Civil War

Seems like only yesterday, but, really, it’s been 150 years since the uprising we in the North call the Civil War and those in the South call the War of Northern Aggression was in full bloom. At this time of the year many of you in the 8th grade are in that period, so it is very appropriate that we have a local celebration going on here in Gorham.

The Gorham Arts Alliance is sponsoring a year long event with many activities that will highlight the role of the citizens of Gorham and Windham, as well as the Gambo Gunpowder Mill in the Civil War. There will be a kick-off event on Sunday, September 29 at the Great Falls School beginning at 1:00 pm with a toru of the Gambo Site at 2:00. There will also be events throughout the year. I will try to keep you informed as they come up, but you can also check out the  Gorham Arts Alliance website at: http://www.gorhamartsalliance.org/maine-in-civil-war.html

This probably enough for now….

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