A Small Dose of Reality!


Upcoming Important Dates

Monday, August 25 – Teacher’s first day back
Tuesday, August 26 – Teacher Workshop Day
Tuesday, August 26 – GMS Open House 6:00 – 7:00 pm
Wednesday, August 27 – 1st Day of school for 6th grade
Wednesday, August 27 – Team Leaders Meeting 2:30 – 4:00 in Melanie’s Room
Thursday, August 28 – 1st Day of school for grades 7 & 8
Friday, August 29 – No School
Monday, September 1 – Labor Day, No School
Wednesday, September 3 – Faculty Meeting in GMS Library 2:30 – 4:00
Wednesday, Thursday & Friday, September 10, 11 & 12 – Tooth Fairies
Monday, September 15 – MLTI Parent Meeting 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium
Tuesday, September 16 – MLTI Parent Meeting 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium
Tuesday, September 16 – Picture Day, Vision & Hearing Screening

Updates on New Hires

Well, this title is kind of a misnomer in that we haven’t gotten very far, yet. We are reviewing the applications and will be holding interviews during the week of July 21. I was a bit set back by a wonderful visit from my grandson, who kept us all very busy and very entertained.

You may remember that we announced that we had hired old friend, (not really old, but, you know what I mean!) Heather Kilborn to fill the position of School Counselor. We are very excited about Heather re-joining our family.

As soon as we get the candidates chosen for the two ELA positions, we will send out the information to all of you so you can welcome them into the family.

First Teacher Days of the School Year

I know this is not what you want to hear (or read) on a fine July morning, but we will all gather again for the first days of school on August 25. We will have a continental breakfast beginning at 7:30 in tyne GMS Cafeteria and then gather in the GMS Auditorium for opening remarks from Ted and some other presenters. The afternoon will be reserved for teachers to work in classrooms.

On Tuesday morning we will gather in the Auditorium for our opening sessions. We will have lots to work on for the morning session but, you’ll be happy to hear, we will not be doing the much anticipated Blood-Borne Pathogens, Harassment Policy, and other federally mandated “stuff” during these first days. Truth is, we have way too much other “stuff” to work on, like Common Core, Proficiency Based Education, Teacher Evaluation, just to mention some of the work for this year.

Special Educators will be meeting with Kathy Hamblen for the afternoon while Teams and advisory clusters will meet at this time.

We will get a more complete schedule of events out later in the summer.

 Student Programs from the Office of the Secretary of State

The Office of the Secretary of State for the state of Maine has announced their student programs for the coming year. Some of these programs we have participated in and some we have passed on. Some of these programs would be directly beneficial for different grade levels and some are beneficial for all grade levels.

I know that in the last Presidential Election we participated as a school in the Mock Election. I would love for one of our social studies teachers to take on this challenge for what I expect will be a very important election for our state. This has been a great way to get all of our students engaged in the electoral process and they can join more than 40,000 other students around the state to voice their opinions and choices for who should lead us into the future.

If you are interested in leading this experience, please drop me an email.

Another very interesting program offered by the Secretary’s office is the Sesquicentennial for School Program. In this program, the State Archivist is available to come to our school and talk with the students about the impact that Maine had on the Civil War and the impact that the Civil War had on Maine. The archivist will tailor the presentation for Gorham and they will include any topic that you would like them to discuss.

The Maine Archives holds the most extensive collection of Civil War documents in the nation, including photographs of thousands of Maine soldiers, muster rolls, battlefield reports, official papers and correspondence on everything from education to healthcare, welfare to warfare, business to politics and gossip to government administration.

There are so many more programs offered that I would run out of space here. So if you’d like more information send me an email or go directly to the Secretary of State’s kid page.

Student Supply Lists

I know I say this every year, so I’ll say it again so I can say I said it!

I know that each team passed out to your students a list of supplies that you would like your students to have on the first day of school. I appreciate that you were all able to do this, it really is helpful to parents. However, as we think about the upcoming year, and we know how difficult the times are financially for many of our families. Some of the lists that were presented requested supplies that cost over $100, this could be difficult for some families, and let’s not forget that many families have several kids in our schools.

I hope that we can remember this when kids don’t bring everything we requested on the first day. Also, if you have students who have a need for supplies, please let me know, I will see if I can find a “secret stash” to get them what they need.

 Items from the Twitter-verse

You all know how much I espouse the power of social networking, and specifically the power of Twitter for learning new information about new stuff and new ways to use old information to help our students learn. This summer has been a very busy one for me with widening my Personal Learning Network, so I thought would share some of the items that I found:

The first offering is for our math teachers. You may remember Dan Meyer from a TED video I showed a couple of years ago. If not, here is a link to his TED talk in 2010, http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_meyer_math_curriculum_makeover, to remind you. In 2006, he wrote a blog post about “How Math Must Assess“. The blog post is short on ideas, but the comments from other teachers is worth the read.

More for our math teachers comes from Richard Byrne and Free Technology for Teachers. Richard is a former teacher from Oxford Hills High School and he has parlayed his love for teacher and his love for technology into a wonderful resource for all teachers. This offering is a Math Glossary and Collections of Free Math Tutorials. Originally designed for high school and early college students, it has expanded to include students of middle schools.

One more for our math folks from Jose Vilson, a middle school math teacher and coach from New York and someone I follow on Twitter. I find his tweets to be very informative and engaging and his blog posts offer some great information and resources for middle school school teachers especially. In this blog post, he discusses how he tries to get his students more deeply engaged in the “how” of math.

Richard offers free technology assistance for all teachers on his web page Free Technology for Teachers. I recommend you all take a look at what this page offers to teachers.

This next offering has 10 wonderful search engines specifically for history teachers and social studies teachers. This site seems to have quite a bit of commercially driven items, but that shouldn’t stop anyone form exploring this. It does have quite a bit of great info that would be helpful in each of our grades. http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2014/07/10-great-search-engines-for-history.html

Not to leave out our ELA folks, this article is written in a very frank manner with some rather strong language by the author. It was written more directed towards high school English teachers in the hopes that teachers can incite within their students the burning desire to read more. Natasha Vargas-Cooper, author of Mad Men Unbuttoned: A Romp through the Sixties actually notes at the end of this article that “I very much enjoyed the novels we read as junior high students. Lord of the Flies1984The Phantom Tollbooth. Eleven- to thirteen-year-olds still have the capacity for wonder, and the temperament to be afraid of not completing their reading assignments. I offer this to all as a different view point on teaching reading.

Finally, I offer this piece from Ed Week about Making Assessment Personal, from Monica Levy-Pabst, an ELA teacher from Boston Community Leadership Academy. She writes about her experiences in using formative assessment in her classes.

GMS Dress Code

At the close of school this past June, I had several folks stop by my office and express concern for the many girls who were choosing to wear form fitting yoga pants to school. Some folks wanted me to issue an absolute ban on girls wearing Yoga pants in school. For those folks, I asked about what if boys wanted to wear yoga pants?

My point is our dress code is very much slanted toward what girls can’t wear. We use as reason for this slant the fact that this style of dress is “distracting to the boys and men of the school.” Perhaps this is an area we can explore.

We aren’t the only middle school in America who has faced this issue, I offer an article from the Evanston Review, of Evanston, Illinois, about a middle school there struggling to come grips with the issue.


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