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News From the Principal's Desk

Does anything worthwhile come easy?  I really can’t think of anything I truly value in my life that hasn’t had work applied to it, and at times caused some pain as I try to grow, change, and develop.  I am a firm believer if I am going to become a better version of myself then I have to be open to what other people can contribute to my growth - even if it hurts from time to time.  The pain we may feel goes back to the amount of trust we have in our relationship(s), the commitment we have to other people, and the honesty (tempered with kindness) we can bring into each of our relationships.  If and when we violate these things, the pain can become more acute.  We can’t help each other grow and become more productive by being “a bull in a china cupboard” (causing too much pain, frustration, and confusion), but neither can we help someone change by being so soft as to never cause an “ouch” that makes the other think it is time to move forward.  The more we can model this type of true “growth mindset” as adults and pass it along to our students is a good thought to have at the middle school.  Getting better each day - continuous improvement - is a great goal to maintain in our lives.  

Dreambox Pilot

In all subjects, we utilize a variety of resources that support student learning from the classroom.  During the 2nd semester, we're exploring a new math resource, Dreambox, which is a tool where students practice math concepts taught in the classroom.  The unique aspect of this tool is that the difficulty level of the problems students experience will change based on their understanding of the material.  Teachers will be sharing more detail of how this will work within their daily classroom instruction.  Please reach out to your child's math teacher with any questions you have.  Thanks for continuing to support your student in their learning!

Around the Halls

As I have said to staff before, my job is one of the best because I have a chance to come in everyone’s rooms and watch, listen, and sometimes participate in the learning activities.  Last week I recorded some of my thoughts to share with you, so you too can have a window into the very good things going on in our school.  Please read on for some of the things I saw this week walking the halls!

  • Students working on a timeline of events in their life, the USA, and the world are able to research and compare what was happening - great skill work here.
  • Students were getting ready for a test on energy and ecosystems by drafting good test questions.  Questions needed to “use” information (higher Boom’s Taxonomy) instead of just “ask” for a definition.  Students were working cooperatively, debating and discussing what things would make the best questions.
  • Reviewing the “Life and Legacy” of Martin Luther King, Jr. with a scholastic magazine article was engaging for students.  Great informational text skills practiced here with students looking at headings, pictures, bold type words, italicized words, and other text features as a pre-reading activity.  Nice!
  • Students were examining the idea of “we do this because this is the way we have always done it” in a piece of dystopian literature and how it is okay to question a practice if it makes no sense.  Nice connection to the purpose of government and even a school principal’s rules (if they don’t make sense!).
  • Students were tracking the phases of the moon and really understanding “why” the phases of the moon occur.  Having a globe in the center of the room and using a light and object for the moon to show students the 3-D representation is so important.  We can have misconceptions because a 2-D representation in a textbook is not always good enough.  Other 3-D models were being used too this week – awesome!
  • Life in Sparta and Athens was similar and different.  Students shared with me (through the paper dolls they had created) eight different things about life in the city-states of Sparta and Athens - good compare and contrast skills.
  • Helping students understand the importance of active stretching in PE class will help them to have and maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Good consistent work on some “plyos” is good for our kids.
  • How do you shine?  Come to art class and you will be able to create a 3-D star, decorate it and then talk about how you shine in your life - very cool and affirming for our students (nice connection to LIGHT here as well)!
  • Using the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., to find at least three “take-aways” from an article (again informational text) about his life let students expand their definition of “civil rights” and helped them see the importance of a “day of service.”
  • Modeling for students “how” to find key information in informational text through guided notes.  Using text features such as pictures, headings, and bold-faced type. 
  • There were several examples of “guided practice.”  Guided practice is still a strong instructional strategy, because as students work, the teacher is able to move around the room and provide real-time, immediate, specific feedback to each student.  Whether the class was working on “whole to part relationships or percents,” or “what makes a good claim,” or “writing a strong thesis statement” - guided practice can be a very effective strategy.  Good work at specific student engagement!
  • Students were looking at different reference books in the media center and being reminded they do NOT have to look at Google, or another internet resources for everything.  Sometimes the answer can be found easily and more efficiently in a traditional print resource.
  • Examining different reasons “why” or “why not” to ratify the Constitution of the United States can help students compare different types of government.  Students also evaluated statements (primary sources) made by the founding fathers and came up with inferences about their meaning.
  • Students were using real world examples to see which discount resulted in “the better buy” for shopping - another example using percents and something every student can use as a consumer.  

What was great about these visits was all the strong, core learning going on - lots of compare and contrast skills being developed, finding evidence in text (both fiction and non-fiction), collaboration in groups, communication of ideas and thoughts, student choice about what they do, guided practice so teachers have time to provide immediate, specific feedback, evaluating questions related to reading, making judgments about the written word, making inferences from text, looking for patterns - angles and measurement in math, and active student engagement.  Some activities involved the chromebooks and others did not (which is perfect).  MMS continues to be a great place for students to learn because of these strong teaching practices – I am grateful for the work our teachers do each week.

Other Things to Note:

  • January 30th - Band concert for grades 5-8 at 7:00 p.m. in Medert Auditorium
  • February 6th  -  8th grade class photo and group photos
  • February 8th  -  PTO meeting at 9:15 a.m.
  • February 9th – All 8th graders hear about high school scheduling (during the school day)
  • February 13th – Freshman Focus 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. at the high school – this is for 8th grade students and parents.
  • February 15th – Sky Zone social for 7th and 8th grade students – watch for more details.
  • February 16th – Staff professional development day – no school for students.
  • February 19th – President’s Day holiday – no school.
  • February 22nd – High school counselors will be at MMS to register our 8th graders for their freshman year.
  • February 22nd  -  Choir concert for grades 5-8 at 7 p.m. in Medert Auditorium

For other important community announcements for our students don’t forget to click on this link Student Opportunities to find out about more opportunities for our students.  Newer postings include, Madeira Fastpitch Softball, Boys and Girls Lacrosse, and Madeira spring Soccer.  There is new information posted there frequently, so please visit the site as often as you like.

Thank you for all you do to help your sons and daughters succeed at the middle school.  Please give us a call (561-5555) or email us if you have a question about an assignment or a grade.  We are already getting close to the mid-point of the third quarter and encourage you to keep checking Schoology for the latest on your child’s progress.  Thank you!

Tom





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