December 17 - Subway Night for Blake
December 18-19 - Christmas in the City Field Trips for 8th Grade
December 19 - 7th Grade Field Trip to A Christmas Carol
December 23-31 - No School
January 1 - Happy New Year! (No School)
January 2 - School Resumes
January 2-3 - Geography Bee Preliminary Rounds
January 3 - Ski Club
January 6 - Geography Bee Grade Level Finals
Site Council Mtg (3:15 p.m. in Blake LMC)
January 9 - Ski Club
January 10 - CSA Mtg (9 a.m.)
January 14 - Royal Pizza Night for Blake
Grades 4-6 Chorus Concert
January 16 - Ski Club
January 20 - MLK, Jr. Day (No School)
Day of Service at Blake
January 23 - Ski Club
Topic/Question(s) for the Dinner Table
To help encourage conversations about the importance of creativity and play in learning, our Topic/Questions for the Dinner Table this week is: Whether separate or combined, can the acts of creation and play become regularly used tools when trying to foster and reach higher order thinking goals?
Term 1 Report Cards
This past Friday students will bring home their report cards for the first term. Time has been spent in advisory with students reflecting upon the work they accomplished, as well as setting healthy goals for the second term. If you have any questions about your child's work or the reports, please start by having a conversation with your own child. If questions still exist, you should contact the teacher directly to gain more insight.
26 Days of Kindness
One last call for any pictures of students participating in the 26 Days of Kindness or other activities during our 26 day timeframe at which students were reaching out to others in the community. Please e-mail them to Tracy Allen (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The cast emails have gone out, and your student should have or be getting today, a commitment letter. If your student is acting in one of the productions, we ask that their measurements and clothing sizes be written on the back of the letter so we can start pulling costumes early. Please make sure you and your student sign it and return it to Ms. Allen or Mrs. Caprio by December 20th. There is a $60 activity fee for all performers and crew members. Checks should be made out to Blake Middle School. Remember that all schedules, changes to the schedule, and important information about the shows will be posted on the theater website. http://padlet.com/wall/611ejx2h8v.
Book Fair Summary
Thanks to the awesome support of Blake parents, students and teachers the 2013 Scholastic Book Fair was a big success! Total sales were $2800, up $1000 from last year. The Blake Library earned approximately $1500.00 in "Scholastic Dollars" which we will use to add new books to our collection in 2014. We also collected $30.00 in change for the Scholastic "All for Books" program. Because of this generosity we earned three free books and Scholastic will donate books to one of two charities (Kids in Distressed Situations, Inc or Kids in Need Foundation). We're excited for a year of reading in 2014!
Seasonal Reminder about Gift Giving for Students and Families
This is a reminder that as a school we will not be orchestrating 'Secret Santa' type activities for students in which gifts are being purchased and/or given. For a number of reasons, school is not the proper forum for the exchange of gifts, and we appreciate your understanding and support. During this holiday season we will continue to do our best to keep in mind the diverse faiths of our community and student body. The season/culture in our society is certainly predominantly geared towards Christmas, and we all need to keep this in mind when creating activities for our students.
School Hours Reminder for All Families
We have noticed that some students are being dropped off early at Blake and I want to remind parents/guardians of the expectations and guidelines. The Blake office hours are 7 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., and these are the time parameters for students to be at school. Students who arrive before 7:30 a.m. will report to the gymnasium (sixth and seventh grade) or cafeteria (eighth grade). Supervision in these designated locations starts at 7:10 a.m., so students should not be dropped off prior to 7:10 a.m. unless they have a pre-arranged appointment with a teacher or are attending an announced extra help session. These extra-help sessions do not begin until 7 a.m., so students who are dropped off prior to that time should report to the main office. By the same token, students who are staying after school need to be with a teacher for extra help or in the library doing homework. They should be picked up promptly after their sessions are over, as they will not be supervised at that point. All students need to be picked up by 3:30 p.m. as that is the time that the Blake secretaries leave. We need to make sure that all students are safe and supervised at all times. Thank you for your understanding, help, and cooperation.
Twitter Account (@nat_vaughn) and Blake Hashtags (#bmsed and #bmstech)
I continue to encourage both staff, students, and parents/guardians to explore the world of Twitter. For the past year I have used this technology as a communication and resource tool for both the Blake community and my own learning network. If you are interested in exploring with me, my account is @nat_vaughn. In addition to the weekly blog to our community, I plan on continuing tweeting up-to-date information, Blake happenings, links to sites, and articles of interest on a daily or more frequent basis. We have established the hashtag (#bmsed) for education-related tweets of interest and Blake events and (#bmstech) for technology tweets of interest at Blake, so be sure to check them out! Admittedly I had some reservations at first, but Diane Horvath (one of our Technology Integration Specialists) encouraged me to get out of my 'comfort zone' - thanks, Diane! This is by no means an expectation for anyone, but I thought you may find it of interest - I have found the 'dialogue and network' via Twitter to be relevant, engaging, tangible, and simply put - useful.
There are two ways to get my tweets...
1. To get the 'real feel' for Twitter- you should sign up for your own twitter account and follow me. This works well when you use the twitter app to get the live feed.
2. Go to this link: http://twitter.com/nat_vaughn where you'll be able to see all my tweets without a twitter account.
Community Service Club Message
It is the time of year that the Community Service Club at Blake participates in its annual Coat Drive, sponsored by Anton's Cleaners. Each year we gather over a hundred new or gently used coats and donate them to needy families all across the region. If you are interested in helping with this cause, please drop off any new or used coat in the box outside the library near the main entrance. The drive runs from December 9th to Friday January 10th. Thank you and have a great holiday vacation.
Higgins Armory Visit - 8th Grade
On Friday, December 13th the 8th grade enjoyed a presentation from the Higgins armory museum in the auditorium. The presentation offered students an opportunity to interact with samples of the armory's extensive collection of Medieval armor. The Higgins armory in Worcester has one of the largest collections of armor in North America and the museum presenter, Neal Borbeau, interacted with a number of student volunteers during demonstrations. The 8th grade Social Studies teachers would like to thank the CSA for their continued support of this engaging educational opportunity for our students.
Curriculum Highlights - Professional Afternoon Updates
In lieu of the highlights from two departments this week, we are providing an update from last Thursday's professional afternoon.
Our Blake Art teachers attended the first of two Google Docs workshops with Diane Horvath. We learned a few ways in which to share documents and presentations with our students, as well as ways for students to share their work (individual and/or group) with teachers. We were also able to see how using Google Docs will enable us to provide back and forth communication with our students. Following the Google Docs workshop, our Blake Art teachers worked together to outline and practice how we intend to implement Digital Portfolios with all of our 8th Graders. This will be presented to our classes in January, as we introduce everything from "How to photograph your artwork" to "Creating shared folders with your Art Teacher". We are very excited about putting this goal into practice with our classes.
Grade 6: While Mrs. Caprio used the professional development day to attend a conference on co-teaching, Ms. Hurley and Mrs. Pratt took part in two Google workshops, updated links on the Grade 6 Live Binder and revised the webquest accompanying the novel, Fever.
Grade 7: Teachers in Grade 7 used their professional development time to reshape the upcoming assessments and integrate the new departmental initiative on grammar instruction into the next essay.
Grade 8: Grade 8 teachers used professional planning time to analyze ways iBooks and Subtext could play an important instructional role in the next novel, Fahrenheit 451. To companion students' study of Bradbury's novel, teachers also spent time creating a packet of non-fiction current event articles that make important connections between Bradbury's futuristic novel and students' world today. Teachers also edited Nearpod presentations that will be used with the novel.
The math department enjoyed a successful day of professional development on December 12th. Several teachers participated in professional development in co-teaching, while others refined their skills in the Google Doc environment. Additionally, some math teachers worked toward creating common assessment experiences for our students by grade. A meaningful day was had by all!
6th grade teachers created an interactive lesson “Journey through the Universe” in which students will utilize tablet technology to see how mass and weight vary throughout the universe. They also honed some Google skills later in the day.
7th grade teachers learned how to integrate Google into their classrooms and created some new data gathering activities to utilize the digital balances we purchased for the department last year. They also re-examined and modified some life science curriculum content.
8th grade teachers developed several tellegami/padlet vocabulary activities for upcoming units, developed a new project using a “comic book” app and created an explain everything narration activity for the plate tectonics unit. They also spent some time determining how to go paperless and discussed the integration of weebly websites next year.
6th grade - The teachers worked on curriculum planning and pacing as well as learning more about Google Docs. They also looked at the data resulting from the common map quizzes.
7th grade - The teachers looked at the results of the first "big" common assessment and spent time working with Google Docs.
8th grade - The teachers analyzed the data from the 1st common exam - how far off were their results? Were there questions that were unclear? Is the language used consistent from teacher to teacher? They also planned to share their experiences using Google Docs.
Grade-level Learning Specialists spent the day at a conference, presented by Lisa Dieker, targeting co-teaching. Our other specialists spent time in discipline-based cohorts collaborating within vertical teams to update progress toward established SMART goals. Our inclusion facilitators completed individualized, online instructional modules targeting subjects including establishing rules and routines and response interruptions/redirections. A productive day!
Met with K-12 staff to share experiences from Student Learning Goals pretesting and how instruction may have been modified to meet student needs. Shared data collection tips and how the data is being used.
2:00-3:00 Looked at the Teacher Evaluation Rubric to gain an understanding of how the elements of quality teaching look in health and physical education classes and to understand what evaluators will be looking for from the rubric during observations.
The World language Department -grades 2-12- spent an engaging afternoon with Software developer, Louie Huang from Swift Education. We learned about the DiLL language lab software that he created and many of its capabilities. We saw and experimented with the software on our small pilot lab now in place at Blake. Teachers had the opportunity to experiment with and experience different functions of the lab software. We were also able to ask Louie and his two colleagues, William Nelson and Joseph Captain questions about the program. It was a great opportunity for our teachers and department as we envision innovative and creative ways to use a language lab for the future language learning.
Music at Blake - Guess the Blake Pandora Jockey!
Last week's Blake PJ/DJ was Jim Cousens and our student winner was William Johnson! Our new PJ/DJ will begin next Monday. We encourage all students to participate by voting at our Blake Pandora Jockey Link, and all entries must be registered by Thursday evening at 8 p.m. An 'electronic selector' will highlight a winner each week, and the winning student will be the Blake PJ for the following Monday. Each student may register only one vote. Encourage your students to participate!
Your trash, Blake's cash! Clip and send in your box tops. Collection box in the office.