Sunday, December 28, 2008

Delete Cyber Bullying 2!

Delete Cyber Bullying!

Cyber-Safety – Do You Know What Your Teens Are Doing Online?

Over the past several years, like most middle schools in the U.S., ELMS has seen a rise in the number of incidents where students have “abused” the power of the internet. Some of the incidents we have investigated involving students include: engaging in inappropriate online chats at home and then printing-out the dialogue and bringing it to school to embarrass one or more students; using cell phones to take inappropriate pictures at school and then sending them to other students via the internet; texting during school hours; videotaping inappropriate behavior at home and bringing it to school for others to see; and creating websites for the purpose of ridiculing other students. While these incidents were isolated, the use of computers, cell phones and other digital-aged tools by teens, while incredibly useful, can be abused.

In response to these troublesome incidents and other potential cyber safety issues, our staff has seen this as a wonderful opportunity to teach our students about the many benefits and dangers that exist in the digital age in which we live. Our Student Services Team, has taken an active role in creating and teaching lessons for all of our students on “NETetiquette”. These lessons include cyber safety, cyber bullying and a safety pledge for both parents and students to sign where students agree to follow the guidelines established by

Here are some recent CYBER facts that may be of interest...

Did You Know?

• 94% of American teens ages 12-17 use the internet
• 87% of all parents are online

• 73% of all families have broadband @ home

• 68% of online Americans have broadband @ home

• 6% of teens do not use the internet

Did You Know?
• 33% of all online teens have sent an inappropriate text message, instant message or image over the internet using a computer and/or cell phone
• 59% of online teens report having images of themselves on the internet

Did You Know?
• 58% of online teens have a profile online
• 70% of teen girls, particularly older teen girls, more likely to belong to a social networking site compared to 57% of teen boys
• 32% of teens report being contacted online by a stranger
• 23% of teens contacted by strangers, report to feeling scared or uncomfortable by the stranger’s comments
• Overall, 7% of online teens have experienced disturbing stranger contact

Did You Know?
• Only 58% of teens report that their parents have rules regarding internet use at home
• Only 55% of teens report that their parents place limits on the amount of time on they can use the internet at home

Research conducted by PEW/Internet: Teens & Online Safety. This study was presented by: Amanda Lenhart in October, 2008.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

For Those Who Believe...NORAD Tracks Santa!

Every Christmas Eve for the past several years, NORAD has provided radar support for Santa and his reindeer as they travel through North American air space on their very important mission. Below is the link to view Santa's progress tonight. Enjoy!

Merry Christmas to you and all of your loved ones!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

ELMS Badminton Tournament Is A Big Success!

An excerpt from a recent article in The Howard County Times written by Susan Lavin :

During physical education classes, many students competed in the ELMS badminton tournament. Skills had improved a lot this year and the competition was tough! Grade level winners for the singles games were:

Sixth grade: Austin Bennett, Gerardo Portillo

Seventh grade: Max Balter, Marcus Fedarko.

Eighth grade: Agil Jose, Jazlyn Nketia

"Despite the talents of many of our students, (ELMS principal) Mr. (Thomas) Saunders still remains the undefeated singles badminton champ at ELMS," Carol Jones said.

The winning doubles badminton teams from the sixth grade were Austin Bennett and Zach Ciepiela, Gerardo Portillo and Michael Xega.

The seventh-grade winners were Max Balter and Joey Grabowski, Andrew Accardi and Matt Marcin.

The doubles teams from eighth grade included Jazlyn Nketia and Michael Bullock and Blackburn and Michelle Amaya.

Principal Saunders selected student players as his doubles partner to challenge many of our doubles teams.

The double teams of Max Balter and Joey Grabowski and Tyler Lewis and Clay Bartnik defeated Saunders' doubles team in the competition. These seventh-grade boys earned "bragging rights" in badminton for their win! Way to go guys!

For the complete article, here is the link:

Click Here To Read The Whole Story!

Thanks to Carol Jones, Physical Education Teacher extraordinaire, for setting up this annual event for our students!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Data Tools 101 - Treasure Hunting!

This week, I had the opportunity to conduct a workshop, entitled Data Tools 101 - Treasure Hunting for HCPSS middle school administrators and other school system leaders. The workshop, held here at ELMS, focused on how to use both the state and local online data tools to inform data-driven decision making by school staff.

Joining me in conducting the workshop, were members of the ELMS Intervention Team. who helped to highlight how our staff uses these tools on a regular basis to inform our school improvement process and accelerate the academic achievement of all of our students. I want to thank Gina Stokes, Stephanie Harden, Holly Cheung, Geordie Paulus and Tina Eder for doing such a great job sharing their knowledge and expertise with our colleagues. I also want to thank all of the HCPSS leaders who attended our workshop!

Below are links to the Maryland State Department of Education sites that we discussed and are provided for all educational stakeholders in our state:

Here is a link to the slides we used during our presentation.

Here are some questions I would really like to get your thoughts about...

What strategies help to facilitate data-driven decision making
in your school?

What tools do teachers use when conducting data conversations?

What books or websites do you find helpful in understanding
data-driven decision-making?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Another Loss, Another Uncomfortable Jersey!

Once again, "my" Washington Redskins lost an important game to our geographic rival - the Baltimore Ravens by a score of 24-10. And once again, I had to wear an opponents jersey due to the loss.

In addition to having to wear "purple and black" on Friday, I had to withstand comments from both students and staff about how poorly the Redskins played. Since ELMS is located in a suburb of Baltimore, this loss was especially painful for me due to the large number of Raven fans here at the school.

Oh well, after a great start to the year, the Redskins have fizzled out. The good news for me is that I have no more "jersey" bets planned this year.

Monday, December 8, 2008

PBIS Continues to Pay-Off!

A dance? Basketball? Computer games? Movie watching? What is going on here? A few weeks ago, we held our first quarter social where 99% of our student body was eligible to participate in a assortment of activities based on their consistent demonstration of positive behavior and exhibiting the ELMS Expectations of being safe, respectful, responsible and prepared during the first quarter of this year.

For the 3rd year in a row, ELMS has been using Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) to create a school climate that provides clear behavioral expectations and consequences for students, which are enforced consistently by all staff. When students meet the expectations established, our staff reinforces their positive behavior by providing a variety of rewards and incentives to celebrate their success.

In addition to earning the “right” to attend quarterly socials, students have the opportunity to receive STAR cards for demonstrating the ELMS Expectations in class, in the hallways and even on the bus. STAR cards can be redeemed for all types of “cool” middle school prizes including food during each social.
For those students who fail to meet our behavioral expectations on a consistent basis and receive office referrals, they have time taken away from quarterly socials. For each office referral a student receives during the quarter, there is a half-hour taken away from their participation in the two-hour social. At ELMS, this is a huge consequence. Students who receive office referrals are encouraged to earn back their lost time by doing “community service” for the school.

Our data tells us our approach is working! This past quarter, we had a 10% reduction in office referrals when compared to the same time period last year. And since we began the use of PBIS, ELMS has realized a 60% reduction in office referrals. In addition, our suspensions have been reduced by nearly 85%

Our positive, yet firm approach with students has proven to be very successful. In fact, our school was recognized as a Maryland State PBIS Exemplar School in 2008.

What types of rewards and incentives does your school use to reinforce positive behaviors?