Week of October 15

topperMiddle

Important Upcoming Dates

October 17 – PIE Meeting 6:00 pm in the Library
October 18 – School Dance GMS Gym 6:00 – 8:00 pm
October 23 – Early Release Day Students dismissed at 11:10
October 24 – Parent Teacher Conferences 3:00 – 8:00 pm
October 25 – Parent Teacher Conferences – No Students
November 1 – 1st Quarter Ends

Last Call for Madison Essay Contest Entries

BY the time you all read this, we will have had the last call for entries into the James Madison Essay Contest Sponsored by a citizens group for the students of Gorham Middle School. The essays need to be 300 words in length and must be in response to the question: What made the United States Great?

I am willing to bet, not that I am a betting man, that I could extend the deadline a bit for any stragglers out there. If you are one of those stragglers, please send me an email as to how many essays you would be turning in and when they would be ready, and I will see if I can get the deadline extended a bit.

Early Release Day

We will run an early release day schedule on Wednesday October 25th and not a themed based day. Not to worry, we will be having themed based days this year, just not every time. You will find the Early Release Day schedule in your faculty handbook, but, for those who may not be able to locate it, we will put a copy in your mailbox.

In the afternoon, we will spend about an hour looking at the common core ELA standards that cross-cut all of the content areas. We have a team, Jason Lambert, Mary Ridge, Lona Tassey, Chris Mitchell and Allison Mains, and they have worked during the summer examining how we are going to meet the large number of standards in ELA and all of our other content areas.

After that time, we will meet in advisory groups to prepare for the Parent Teacher conferences on Thursday and Friday.

Homework Club and Library

We are changing the way we offer our after school services for our students this year, partly because we are struggling to find coverage and partly because we need to do something different.

We will offer Library, staffed by Jeff Carpenter, on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday afternoon from 2:30 till 4:00. Jeff is not there to give direct assistance to students in homework help, but he will be available to assist students in finding resources for them to help themselves.

Also, students who choose to spend time in the Library are there to work on something academic. We are not providing a babysitting service or a warehouse for these students until the late bus arrives. Students who do not sign in to the Library from a teachers classroom (after 3:00 pm), will not be allowed to remain in the Library and will not be given a Late Bus Pass. Those students will be referred to the office where they will call home and get rides,or, if appropriate and confirmed by parents, walk home.

An Additional EICAL Offering for 7th & 8th Grade

We are entering an agreement with the Confusius Institute that will provide to our 7th and 8th grade students a Chinese Language and Culture class during the EICAL period on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The students will study with experienced Chinese faculty from Dongbei University, visiting the University of Southern Maine. They will learn basic grammar, pronunciation and word order/sentence structure. Additionally, they will examine the rich history and culture of China. At the end of the year, students should be able to write Chinese sentences in correct order, understand basic Chinese words when spoken and read Chinese characters.

We will be seeking from each team a list of students who are in good academic standing, are behaviorally responsible and have indicated an interest in foreign language. The class size will be 16 -20 students who will be able to make all classes (read: probably not band or chorus students).

The new Chinese Culture will begin on November 4th. As always, if you have questions give me a call. If you could send me your nominees for this class by October 18, that would be great.

MLTI Professional Development Opportunities

As MLTI does, so capably each year, they are offering several free (I love that word!) workshops for MLTI schools and teachers. Some offerings are for school engaged in the IPad Solution and some are for MacBook Air Solutions and some are for both. You will want to make sure that the session you plan to attend is either for MacBook Air or both.

For more information on these workshops and when they are happening, go to: http://maine.gov/mlti/events

MLTI Speak up Survey is Open

Since 2003, the annual Speak Up Survey has collected data from students, parents and educators about technology, learning and schools. Last year over 466,000 students, parents and educators representing over 8020 school nation wide participated in Speak Up. Now is our chance to get involved.

To take the survey visit http://www.tomorrow.org/speakup/Maine.html. Students will be required to enter in the password: su4maine to take the survey.

The top reasons for us to get involved in this survey are:

  • Gain a better understanding of our school technology needs;
  • Learn about the aspirations for our teachers for using technology more effectively – and what is holding them back;
  • Find ways to improve school to home communications using technology tools;
  • Make informed funding decisions

The more folks, students, educators and parents we get to take the survey, the better information we will have. The results should come back to us in late February 2014.

The Good News and the Bad News

The good news is that I was out of the building last Thursday and Friday, the bad news is that I was attending a 2-day Technology Workshop that gave me some great ideas and exposed me to a whole boatload of new Apps and websites that can be used in the middle school classroom… and they really seemed to be very easy to use.

So I will list a couple of them with a very brief synopsis of what each one can do… theoretically!

TodaysMeet
This site allows you to very simply “backchannel” your classroom. 
Students and teachers can have this set up in a web browser on their own computer or the teacher could have this projected on the screen. Students could ask questions, publish thoughts or ideas or even pose questions to the class or teacher. Very neat!

NoRedInk

NoRedInk.com offers teachers and students a great way to practice grammar in an online environment and provide them with some real knowledge about grammar and sentence structure that will assist them in becoming better communicators through the written word. It will also track the progress of students and help them learn in a fun environment.

Flipboard 

This one blew my mind with the amount of information and resources that were available to students. Flipboard is your personal magazine. It is the most popular way to catch up on the news you care about, discover amazing things from around the world, or stay connected to the people closest to you. Now with Flipboard 2.0, you can save and collect the things you love into your own magazines like “Trips I want to take” or “Dream Homes.” All you need to do is download the app to your iPad or iPhone or Android.

Learnist

 Learnist makes sharing what you know and learning from others fast and easy by remixing anything on the web like videos, ebooks, maps, blogs, podcasts, surveys and more into a simple and elegant learning resource on any topic that you can share with anyone. Learnist is like a collaborative, multimedia and interactive ebook from the future.

What all the above says is that this is a “searchable” resource for just about any topic you could image. For kicks, try a search for Common Core Resources, I think you’ll be surprised.

If you’d like a more comprehensive list, and I do have about 35 more Apps for classroom productivity, please see me.

School Dance Friday

This month’s dance is sponsored by the Student Council. I know that there is always a need for chaperones and if you haven;t had the opportunity to witness our incredible DJ and our incredible kids in this environment, you haven’t lived.

Also, if you witness the energy these kids have on a Friday evening, after a busy week at school, you might understand why I say that you need to work these kids much harder! They have way too much energy!

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