Sunday, February 28, 2010

No Strings Attached is Simply Amazing!

Last night, I had the good fortune of attending WLMS's version of No Strings Attached which is a musical adaptation of Carlo Collodi's classic Pinocchio. Everyone’s favorite "block head" got an extreme makeover in this funny and entertaining musical adaptation of the classic tale of a talking puppet. As you probably remember, Pinocchio gets into all kinds of trouble before learning what it truly means to be human. The WLMS student actors did an awesome job bringing to life the many characters from the original classic using lots of slapstick humor, clever wordplay and a wide range of musical styles including hip-hop, gypsy swing, bluegrass and good ol’ rock ’n’ roll!

In this play-within-a-play, Kyle, played by Ryan Wilson, becomes Pinocchio and improvises his way through the story, meeting some familiar characters—including a cricket with an attitude, Calan Harrison (“I’m Gonna Bug Ya”), the devious fox and cat, played by Maya Carey and Tasha Powers respectively (“Easy Money”), and the memorable Blues Fairy, Egaria Lee (“Blues Fairy Mama”)—as well as Fannie Oakleaf played by Annie Scott. With the help of these characters as well as some others, Kyle stumbles upon life’s lessons as he’s forced to make important decisions. After a string of poor choices (which makes his nose grow and ultimately leads him to make a donkey of himself), he finally does something good for a change by saving Geppetto, played by Joe Boccher, from the mouth of a giant shark. This was such an enjoyable journey!

Wow, I was so impressed with the incredible talent of our entire cast and crew. The Lake has some simply amazing student performers. I also want to commend Ms. Berla, Ms. Motaung and Ms. Chiarella for directing this wonderful production. Our students are very fortunate to have such a committed group of adults to direct them. Way to go!

Source of descriptions:

Friday, February 26, 2010

Terrapin Day Is A Huge Success!

Today, we held our first Terrapin Day. We used the Terrapin Theme for the day to create a truly interdisciplinary study of the world of turtles - both the reptiles and the type found in College Park, Maryland. Thanks to Amy Musgrave and Wendy Mundis, teachers at WLMS, we were able to collaborate with our National Aquarium and University of Maryland partners to develop a day-long event highlighting the significance of turtles. The day began with our 8th graders going to the University of Maryland to tour the campus and our 6th & 7th graders participating in various seminars designed to share information about turtles.

The seminars that our students attended were: 1. Poplar Island - The Terrapins Habitat, 2. Terrapin Data, 3. Threats to the Species - Taking Action, Terrapin Art, 4. A Day in the Life of a UM student - Panel Discussion, and 5. Sports Talk - Fitness Friday with UM Athletes.

In addition, our students had an opportunity to learn more about our adopted Terrapin named Skittles. Skittles is a Terrapin hatchling that is on loan from the National Aquarium to WLMS for this school year. Skittles will be released on Poplar Island in May.

One of the highlights of the day was when Testudo, the University of Maryland mascot, paid a visit to our school. Testudo Rocks!

A huge THANKS goes to our National Aquarium and University of Maryland partners along with the Maryland Environmental Service for helping to make today such a huge success!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Trendy doesn't work in middle school education, study finds

Strong educational practices, not demographics or organizational philosophies, most affect middle school test scores, a survey of more than 300 California schools found. Study finds, strong educational practices most affect middle school test scores.

By Amanda Paulson Staff writer / February 24, 2010

Forget the oft-debated issue of whether middle-schoolers are better off in a separate school or in a K-8 environment.

The real things that improve their test scores have more to do with educational practices than school structure, according to a major new study that examined middle grades in California.

The study, conducted by researchers at EdSource and Stanford University in California tried to get at the question of why some schools do so much better than others, despite similar student populations. And its findings reinforce some of the educational priorities of the Obama administration, which is pushing to make “college- and career-ready” standards the new hot item, and is advocating a much greater emphasis on teacher accountability and improved student performance.

“If you’re not on a college-ready track by 9th grade, your chances of getting on one are very low,” says Michael Kirst, an education professor at Stanford and a principal investigator on the study. “A strong theme here that comes out is the importance, at the middle-grades level, of early intervention and getting students back on track as soon as possible.”

Researchers looked at the concrete practices of more than 300 schools, some serving middle-income students and some serving lower-income students, to determine which ones led to higher test scores. They found a clear correlation between student performance and a school-wide focus on achievement, an emphasis on long-term educational success, a willingness to set measurable goals and evaluate educators based on student performance, and curriculum that’s aligned with high standards, among other practices.

Read more: Trendy doesn't work in middle school education, study finds

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Congratulations to Gretchen Shaffer!

W.Va. Teacher of the Year Gretchen Shaffer Honored
(Former Elkridge Landing Middle School Teacher)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Gov. Joe Manchin joined Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia, Inc., Mountain State Blue Cross Blue Shield, Superintendent Steve Paine and the West Virginia Board of Education on Thursday to recognize Gretchen Shaffer, West Virginia’s 2010 Teacher of the Year. Shaffer is the recipient of a car and $5,000 for being selected as the state’s top educator.

“It is my distinct privilege to honor such a fine educator in our state’s public school system,” Manchin said. “Gretchen’s dedication to her students and to incorporating 21st century learning skills into her classroom is evident every day. She is innovative and dynamic in the classroom and instills in her students a true love for learning.”

Paine added, “The teaching profession makes all other professions possible. West Virginia has some of the best educators in the nation. Gretchen is a shining example of the talent in our classrooms and I am proud of all she does for her students.”

To read the entire article, click here:

Source: West Virginia State Department of Education, posted January 14, 2010.

I had the privilege of hiring Gretchen as a first year teacher when I was the principal of Elkridge Landing Middle. Gretchen is most deserving of this incredible honor!

Way to go Gretchen!!!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Cool Site!

I recently came across a site for creating Motivational Posters using your own quotes and photos. I plan to use the posters below on our school's website. There are so many possibilities for teachers...Here is the link:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wireless and Netbook Equipped!

I am happy to announce that Wilde Lake Middle is now the first HCPSS school to be completely wireless. In addition, we are the first school in our county to receive 180 netbooks to be used by students during school. WLMS is piloting the use of wireless technology and the use of netbooks to determine their feasibility for future use in other HCPSS schools. The Related Arts Team and each of the content teams will have a mobile cart of 25 computers to use for instructional purposes. The computers should be ready for student use by the end of next week.

This infusion of technology helps with our school's instructional vision of bringing (HEAT): Higher Order Thinking Skills, Engaging students, Authentic problem-solving and the use of Technology. Our vision has been adapted from the work of Dr. Chris Moersch.

I plan to share more information as our pilot program progresses.

If your school is already using netbooks and you have advice to share, please drop me a comment or two...

Congratulations Ms. Healey!

Ms. Healey is the winner of the WLMS Storm Picture Contest. Her prize for winning our contest is a netbook computer for her use for the remainder of this school year. After receiving an overwhelming amount of votes from our staff and the readers of my blog (10 votes total!) The picture of Ms. Healey's husband standing on top of the snow mound won convincingly...well it received 3 votes. ; )

Congratulations Ms. Healey!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Progress Being Made!

Thanks Martin for the pictures!

After being out this past week, we are now making progress at reopening our school. We hope to have school open on Tuesday morning for all of our 485 students and more than 80 staff members. However, another storm is forming out west...only Mother Nature knows if this latest winter blast will affect our goal of reopening or not.

I want to commend the WLMS custodians and grounds crews for doing such an outstanding job during this unprecedented storm period. Mr. Myers and his crew ROCK!

On a lighter note, I couldn't resist sharing these photos from

Friday, February 12, 2010

Be the Judge - Please!

Dear Readers,

I would appreciate your help in judging the pictures that have been entered by the WLMS staff during our Winter Storm Picture Contest. As you read the posts from February 7-10th, certain pictures have been numbered (1-38). Please select your favorite. The WLMS staff member who receives the most votes wins a fabulous prize.

Please only select one picture as your favorite. Email me the number located next to the picture you have selected to

The winner will be announced sometime next week.

Thanks so much for your help.

Something to Ponder

Source: Washington Post

Back in the winter of 2007, on a cold January morning in a Washington, DC Metro Station, a man, with a violin, played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approximately 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes, a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes later:

The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

6 minutes later:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes later:

A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children... Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly...

After 45 minutes:

The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

At the end of One Hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities.

The questions raised:

In a common place, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?

Do we stop to appreciate it?

Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:

We are so busy that we don't have even a moment to spare to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made.

In our haste, how many other things are we missing?

Thanks Julie for sharing this with me!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

The most snow to fall in the U.S. in a single 24-hour period was 75.8 inches at Silver Lake, Colo., on April 14, 1921?

Did You Know?

62.5 inches of snow was the most snow to fall in the central Maryland area during an entire winter?

Did You Know?

83.9 inches of snow have fallen this year in the central Maryland Region?

Yes, it is true...this is the snowiest winter on record for our area.


Thanks to Martin and Doug for the pics!

Even More Pics...


Monday, February 8, 2010

More Storm Picture Contest Entries

Here are some more winter storm pictures captured by WLMS staff members from their homes all around central Maryland.

Unbelievably, another storm is coming our way tomorrow night and should stick around all day Wednesday. The National Weather Service is calling for this next storm to dump an additional 16-20 inches of snow here in central Maryland This will smash the previous snow fall record of 62" by more than a foot. And may I remind you, it is only February 8th!

11. 12.



18. 19.