8/21 - New Student Orientation
8/25-8/26 - Teacher Days
8/27 - First Day of School
8/29 - No School
9/1 - Labor Day
9/4 - Grade 8 PIN at 7 p.m.
Washington, D.C. Trip Info Mtg at 6:30 p.m.
9/10 - Wizard of Oz Parent Presentation
9/11 - Grade 7 PIN at 7 p.m.
Nature's Classroom Info Mtg at 6:30 p.m.
9/17 - Grade 6 PIN
9/25 - Rosh Hashanah (No School)
9/29-10/2 - Nature's Classroom for 7th Grade
10/10 - Teacher Professional Day (No School for Students)
10/13 - Columbus Day (No School)
11/3 - Navigating Social Media with Your Tweens/Teens (see details below)
You may have already met or been introduced to some of these individuals, but please join me in welcoming the following staff (some returning or in a new capacity) to Blake:
- Katie Adams - Office Secretary
- Emily Alland - Grade 6 Social Studies
- Jennifer Andersen - Special Education ACCESS Teacher
- Matt Frazier - Head Custodian
- Gabriela Harvey - Special Education Aide
- Maura Interrante - Grade 8 Learning Specialist
- Kate Jones - Art Content Specialist
- Donna Knott - Librarian Aide
- Kristin Manning - World Language
- Sharon Skerry - Blake Building Secretary
- Lisa Stefanik - ELL Teacher
- Stephanie Worthley - Guidance Content Specialist
- Science Teacher for Koalas Cluster - TBD
- 7th Grade Learning Specialist - TBD
Summer Reading and Supply Lists
Summer reading is a valued activity and expectation here at Blake. Every student is responsible for reading our all-school book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum. In addition to the all-school book, each student must read the respective grade-level requirements for summer reading - please refer to the Blake Middle School Summer Reading Lists for copies of the 6th-8th grade reading lists for this summer. During the first two of weeks of school, students will participate in several activities related to this required reading, culminating with grade-level assemblies in mid-September. If you have any questions, please contact Jon Haycock at firstname.lastname@example.org. Along similar lines, the Blake Supply Lists for all students and the Swim Test Form for all incoming 8th graders can be found on the Blake website.
Theme of Acceptance for 2014-2015
Our collective themes for the last three school years at Blake have been 'community', 'perseverance', and 'creativity'. The shared theme for this coming year is one of 'acceptance' and, as we did with our prior themes, our goal is to touch on the theme throughout the year - with advisory, assemblies, student recognition, and in our daily work with students. Many of the attributes, skills, and competencies we want for our students and community are influenced and impacted by acceptance. To help spark some conversation amongst ourselves and the greater community, I am sharing two articles of interest that I believe will help frame our thinking as we look ahead...
From Kid to Young Adult
by Cossondra George in Educational Leadership
This post by George represents a global perspective on the middle school years and some specific strategies for how we as caring adults can help 'bridge the transition from kid to adult' for adolescents. At the heart of these strategies is acceptance and guidance...
"Middle school should be the best years of a child's life. Teaching in the middle, likewise, should be rewarding, enriching, and the most exciting job in the world. Students come to the edge of our bridge still vulnerable children of 11 or 12, looking for acceptance and guidance. If middle school teachers provide a stable transition, three short years later, we'll see smiling young adults step off the other side of that bridge, waving goodbye and heading for a successful high school experience."
Acceptance and Change
post by Ian Lawton
As we look ahead to our exploration of this theme, it is important to think beyond the literal and defined understanding of 'acceptance' and towards the implications and connections that exist. I particularly like Lawton's 'AAA' approach to change (Awareness, Acceptance, and Action) and the varying degrees to which one view the role of acceptance in one's personal life, with one another, and with students...
"Please note - acceptance does NOT mean being passive or submissive. It’s the choice to approach a situation pro actively and peacefully rather than judgmentally, and without fear and loathing."
We look forward to helping our students and one another gain a deeper and richer appreciation for acceptance throughout the coming year, and we will be looking to engage the community in this worthwhile pursuit with us. As a staff we have been brainstorming ideas and I encourage all families to join us in the brainstorming process as well. As ideas and thoughts come to mind, do not hesitate to e-mail me (email@example.com) or Kelly C. (firstname.lastname@example.org).
ADL - Make A Difference
We are eagerly looking forward to beginning our exciting work with our 28 new ADL World of Difference Peer Trainers in September. In early July, Heather Gonzalez and Kelly Campbell spent an inspiring and thought-provoking 4 days in Vermont, participating in the ADL training with teachers and administrators from Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. They returned filled with ideas and ready to get started training our new cohort of peer trainers. Experienced trainers from ADL will be joining us for four days in September and October to train our student leaders. More details to come soon.
E-mail Address Changes
Earlier this year, the Medfield Public Schools made the decision to transition from FirstClass to Gmail (Google). Effective this July, the transition resulted in a domain change from 'medfield.mec.edu' to 'email.medfield.net'. With this change, our new e-mail addresses are email@example.com (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org). As a backup, all e-mails sent to 'medfield.mec.edu' will continue to be forwarded to 'email.medfield.net', but hopefully this communication will help everyone stay on the same page.
iPad Initiative and GAFE
As you know we are looking forward to expanding our work with iPads to all grades this year, following a successful experience with the 8th grade during the 2013-2014 academic year. The 'minimum specifications' will still remain as the iPad 2, meaning the following are acceptable devices for students to use: iPad2, iPad Mini, iPad4 and the iPad Air. Although the iPad 2 is no longer manufactured by Apple, it will suffice for the students' needs in school as long as Apple continues to update the OS (operating system) on that device. If your family intends to purchase a new device this year, then the iPad4, iPad Mini or iPad Air are the recommended devices. Our pilots over the last two years provided a foundation as our teachers and staff continue to thoughtfully implement and review the effectiveness of this initiative. It is important to keep in mind that teachers and students will be following the same curriculum frameworks and the common core Blake curriculum.
We will also be continuing our work with all students using Google Apps for Education (GAFE) to enhance the way we use technology and share information within and beyond our school community. Essentially, GAFE is a cloud-based learning platform allowing teachers and students to create a range of documents online, e-mail, share calendars and 30 gigabytes of data storage to be accessed at home and school on any device. GAFE allows us to collaborate and learn more effectively through the use of technology, and offer a range of new learning opportunities for teachers and students. Further information about GAFE can be found here: Google Apps Overview and Benefits
Our primary reasons for employing GAFE as a district are:
- To give our students practice using technology applications and tools
- To give students the ability to work on common, no-cost tools on their own documents both at school and outside of school
- To facilitate ‘paperless’ transfer of work between students and teachers (‘work flow’)
- To provide adequate long-term storage space for student work
- To help students work collaboratively, engage in peer-editing of documents, and publish for a wider audience
- GAFE works on any computer or device with Internet connection. This allows our students to continue learning beyond the classroom and the ability to access their content at any time.
- Students and teachers can work in teams, sharing calendars, documents and collaborating ideas to learn more effectively.
In our continued efforts to provide resources and share our thinking with this work, I am highlighting two posts that underline our guiding principles for the integration of technology...
The Invisible iPad: It's Not About the Device
by Michael Cohen in MindShift
As we delve into the exciting and eye-opening world of tablets in the classroom, it is critical that we stay true to Blake's mission and the tenets of effective teaching and learning. Cohen succinctly articulates the fundamental view that the device is not the focus -- "For progressive educators, it isn’t enough to change how we use the iPad, but why we use the iPad." We must continually remind ourselves to focus on the skills we want for our students first, and then look to see how the iPad can enhance the experience...
"Before we even begin to think about how and where we place the iPad in our learning process, we have to nail down our goals, possible challenges, and the planned path of process. If we reach a point during the project and hit a road block, we can become flustered if we do not have even a rough outline to backtrack to a clear point of success. This all starts with identifying which skills we will need to use. In elementary and middle school, these skills need to be clear and simple so students know that right now they are “collaborating” or “problem solving.” We can expect these skills to be subconscious as adults, but this is not realistic for most students below or even at high school level."
Building the Culture of an Empowered Mindset Towards Technology Innovation
post by George Couros
I shared this post by Couros last year at the start of the year and I believe it is worth sharing again, as it offers and administrative perspective in visual form of, "...the correlation of the school mindset on technology innovation in learning, and the alignment it has with administrator support, professional development, and the corresponding hardware/infrastructure within the school/classroom." As we look ahead at the initiatives that we are currently working on and ones that lie ahead, I believe this will help our entire learning community (students, staff, parents, and greater community) understand and envision the progression we want to travel from a 'closed or fixed' mindset to one of 'empowerment'. Communication and transparency are key elements in this growth pattern and I look forward to the conversations we have yet to have in this regard.
I continue to encourage you to peruse our mobile learning blog (Mobile Learning in Medfield) for resources and to gain a greater understanding of the work that has taken place. We are excited about the prospects that lie ahead as we work to provide your students with the opportunity to learn with the new technology and are hopeful that we can foster and promote a positive learning experience. We anticipate sending out more information throughout the year to families regarding user agreements, tips for family management, and apps. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact me.
We have two openings for parent representatives (Grade 6 and Grade 8) on the Blake Middle School Site Council. The Site Council meets monthly to review issues and discuss initiatives for the Blake Middle School community. The Council is also responsible for developing the annual School Improvement Plan and monitors progress with the plan throughout the year. Members include the administration, teacher representatives, and members of the community. The meetings are typically held once a month on Monday afternoons at 3:30 p.m. Serving on the Site Council is a wonderful way to get involved in your child's education and have an active and positive role in improving the Blake Middle School experience. Interested parents should send a letter of interest, indicating their desire and rationale for involvement, to me (email@example.com) by Thursday, August 21. If multiple parents express interest, an election will take place at the respective parent nights. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.
Parent Information Nights
Our Parent Information Nights (PINs) will take place on Thursday, September 4 for grade 8, Thursday, September 11 for grade seven, and Wednesday, September 17 for grade six. These nights will provide you with an opportunity to visit your student's classrooms and hear about the curriculum and exciting programs that will take place throughout the year. There will be an optional meeting on Thursday, September 4 at 6:30 p.m. for eighth grade parents interested in learning about the trip to Washington, D.C. There will be an optional meeting on Thursday, September 11 at 6:30 p.m. for seventh grade parents interested in hearing final details about the trip to Nature's Classroom. Sixth grade chorus, band, and orchestra parents are invited to informational meetings at 6:30 p.m. on September 17, prior to PIN. We will send out reminders and more details on all of these meetings as we get closer to the actual dates.
In an effort to keep all valuables safe, all Blake students are required to have locks on their lockers and the lockers should remain locked at all times. Combinations will be given to advisory teachers for safekeeping in the event that they are forgotten. In addition students are not permitted to bring in baked goods (cookies, cakes, etc.) to celebrate birthdays or personal events. There are many students who have food allergies and other dietary needs, and it is important that we continue to provide all of our students with a safe and healthy environment. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated. On the topic of general reminders, when shopping for 'back to school' clothing, please bear in mind the Blake Middle School guidelines for appropriate attire. We are confident that good judgment on the part of students and parents will result in the wearing of clothing that will contribute to a respectful academic environment and educational atmosphere. At Blake we endeavor to remove as many distractions from the day as possible so that students are able to focus on the most important aspect of their day - learning.
Health Information from Mrs. Williams
All 7th grade students and new students are required to submit a recent physical dated within the past twelve months to our school nurse by the first day of school in September. The physical must include and updated immunization record. Students who require any medication during school or school sponsored activities must provide written authorization from a physician and parent. This includes prescription as well as over-the-counter medication including Advil, Motrin, ibuprofen, allergy and cold relieving medication, etc. Medication must be kept in the nurse's office and dispense by the nurse and authorization is valid for the current school year only. To do his/her best in school, it is important that your child gets an adequate amount of sleep every night, starts each day with a healthy breakfast, and drinks plenty of water throughout the day. Please send your child to school with a refillable water bottle daily. During adolescence, eight to ten hours of sleep is recommended each night.
Communication and Updates
I will resume updating my blog on a consistent basis once again after the official start of the school year, and I encourage you to check this site weekly (Blake Principal's Blog) for updates and important information. In addition you can 'follow me' on Twitter (@nat_vaughn), as I am using this account as a communication and resource tool - tweeting up-to-date information, Blake happenings, links to sites, and articles on a daily or more consistent basis. We have established the hashtag (#bmsed) for education-related tweets of interest and Blake events, so be sure to check it out!