Some Updates Needed

topperMiddle

Important Upcoming Dates

January 7 – Leadership Team Meeting 2:30 Melanie’s room
January 8 – Faculty Meeting 2:30 GMS Library (Food Provided by Alt Ed)
January 9 – Lockdown Practice drill for whole school
January 15 – Early Release Day for students, dismissal at 11:10 am
January 15 – Teacher Workshop, Agenda to follow
January 15 – The Town Spelling Bee 8:30 am GMS Auditorium
January 20 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – No  school for students or teachers
January 23 – PIE Meeting GMS Library 6:00 pm
January 24 – Semester ends
January 24 – School Dance (rescheduled from Jan 17) Sponsored by the 7th Grade
January 28 – Leadership Team Meeting in Melanie’s room 2:30 pm
January 29 – Faculty Meeting GMS Library 2:30 pm
January 31 – Semester grades updated on Infinite Campus Parent Portal

School Spelling Bee

Lona Tassey has been hard at work organizing our School Scripps Spelling Bee and she reports that the School-wide Bee is planned for Wednesday, January 15 beginning at 8:30 in the GMS Auditorium. If you have not yet held your classroom bee, please do so this week and send along the names of the winner and alternates to Lona ASAP.

Teachers are also welcome to bring their classes down to witness the crowning of our newest Spelling Bee Champion, just let Lona know you’ll be coming.

The school winner will move on the Cumberland County Spelling Bee later this month.

…And Speaking of Bees

This year’s geography bee will be held on Wednesday, January 22 at 7pm in the GMS auditorium.  Susie is not able to judge for me this year due to a conflict….If anyone would like to help with the scorekeeping/judging, please let me know.  It is a fun night and we have a great time.

As an aside, Jeff does a great impersonation of Alex Trebeck, you certainly don’t want to miss this fun and informational night.

Science Stuff

I have received several opportunities for science teachers to pilot programs, summer employment opportunities at Acadia National Park as a Teacher-Ranger and summer employment with the Maine School of Science and Mathematics.

The Boston Museum of Science is looking for teachers who would be willing to pilot an after school program called Engineering Everywhere. The two units that they would like tested are called “From Plants to Plastics:Engineering Bioplastics” and “Outbreak: Engineering a Response to Pandemics”. Both of these units are geared to 6 through 8 grades. If you are interested in applying to pilot any of these units, please fill out the online form by Friday, January 17. The online form can be seen here: http://www.formstack.com/forms/eie-ee_ea_pilot_test_registration__spring_2014

The next opportunity is:

Imagine spending your summer hiking through spruce-fir forests, exploring tidepools, or sailing on clear waters in search of bald eagles, porpoises, and seals. The Teacher-Ranger-Teacher (TRT) program at Acadia National Park connects classroom teachers to the diverse cultural, natural, and recreational heritage protected by national parks. Educators gain hands-on experience working side by side with park interpreters, researchers, patrol rangers, resource managers, trail crews, and other specialists. They also work on resource-based lesson plans to use in their classroom.This professional development opportunity is funded through Friends of Acadia and includes a TRT uniform, shared housing if needed, a $400 weekly stipend, and a class field trip to Acadia. A six week commitment is requested; starting and ending dates are flexible. Maine teachers of any grade level or discipline are eligible. Preference is given to Title I schools.

Learn more and download an application at www.nps.gov/acad/forteachers/development/teacher-ranger-teachers.htm or contact Cynthia Ocel at 207/288-8812; cynthia_ocel@nps.gov. Application deadline is January 27th or until positions are filled.

Finally, The Maine School of Science and Mathematics is currently seeking presenters for our 3rd annual S.T.E.M. Educators’ Camp.  The Educators’ Camp is designed for educators across Maine who are interested in improving their teaching in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Presenters will teach self-designed, week-long, interactive courses to fellow STEM educators grades 3-12. Courses might focus on a technique, activity or resource that you’ve used successfully in a STEM classroom or after-school program.  They are looking for technology, physics, chemistry, biology, middle/elementary school science, high school math, middle/elementary school math, engineering, robotics, STEM literacy, and interdisciplinary course proposals. We will be selecting at least 20 course proposals for the 2014 Educators’ Camp. An applicant can propose one or more courses.  Applications are due Wednesday, January 15, 2014. 

If you would like more information or would like to apply, please visit our website.  Presenter applications can be downloaded and returned either via email or mail.   If you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact Lisa Smith, Summer Programs Director at MSSM.

Some Changes to our Calendar

Since yesterday we have had some fairly major changes to upcoming events, so I want to make sure that everyone knows what is going on.

The Talent Show, originally scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, January 15 and 16, is now scheduled for the early release day on February 5 and the evening of Thursday, February 6.

The dance, originally scheduled for Friday, January 17 will now be Friday, January 24. The dance is still sponsored by the 7th grade.

Now scheduled on January 15 is the Town Spelling Bee and that will begin with registrations at 8:15 and the bee will begin at 8:30. Lona has invited any and all teachers who wish to attend the bee with their classes to let her know.

The Work Ahead of Us

I don’t want to use this space to complain or moan about the work we have in front of us, but it is considerable. One of the things about having 17 days away from the school and the kids is a lot of time to think. The more I thought, the more I realized how daunting the task is. let’s just consider a couple of the things we have ahead:

Common Core Implementation: Beginning in September of 2014, we will need to be fully immersed and implementing the standards of the Common Core in Math and English Language Arts. Now, don’t let the idea that only two content areas are actually mentioned, as we have discussed at many of our faculty meetings, this English Language Arts “stuff” also includes History, Social Studies Science and other technical subjects, in other words, the rest of us!

Proficiency Based Diplomas: Beginning in 2017, all students will need to be able to have demonstrated “Proficiency” in all 8 content areas of the Maine Learning Results or Parameters of Essential Instruction and the Common Core ELA and math, as well as the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in order to be awarded a diploma from high school. While this may look like a high school problem, it is in actuality a challenge for all grade levels. Students will be judged on the whole body of work at each grade span before they are allowed to undertake a more challenging and complex standard expected to complete graduation standards.

There are so many possible implications for the Middle School with all of this that space (not on the page, in my simple brain!) cannot begin to comprehend.

Continuous Professional Development for Staff: As we tackle these challenges, we cannot forget about the needs of each of us as professionals. Making sure that each of us is offered the opportunity to continuously improve is vital if we intend for the above changes to work for the benefit of our students. Among the most important element in our professional development is the gift of time to work collegially within our school. To tap into the power and talents within our faculty to address these challenges is going to be critical and we will have to use our time efficiently.

Technology: We only need to look back to September to realize how rapidly this part of our job is changing. Each and every day some new kind of application or device is introduced into the marketplace that has an impact on our work. Just to review, since September we have introduced a new device, Apple TV, and a new administration platform. We have also upgraded, or will be upgrading the operating system to allow for greater flexibility with apps and programs. There is also promises of many more changes on the horizon to increase student productivity.

Financial Considerations: Every year we are being asked to accomplish more with fewer resources in the form of dollars and cents. This is not going to change in the near future and may actually become more acute as we have more expectations placed upon American public schools.

Other Considerations: Let’s not forget about our kids! We all know that, on the whole, they are great, but we also recognize that each student presents individual challenges for us and for themselves. Motivation, engagement and resiliency all have an impact on the production and success of our students. We know that we are challenged each day to find new and different ways to engage the students in their own learning. I think we are successful far more that not, but I also know that we need to continue to learn about this aspect of our jobs, and that takes time and money.

And, oh yeah, we all have lives beyond the school day with our own challenges of children and parents and spouses that can weigh upon our minds. These are real and they cannot be discounted. So what we do and when we do it all needs to be mindful and purposeful.

The good news in all of this is that we have done a lot of the hard work already. We are well on our way with implementing Common Core, we have done a great deal of work with Standards Based Learning and our abilities in the technology end have been honed over the past eleven years and we continue to adapt to the changes. Now we just need to put it all together.

The bad news, I think, is that this work will always need to be revised and improved, so maybe that’s not really bad news.

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