Tuesday, March 30, 2010

WLMS Pride! Students Earn Award at County History Day Competition

Congratulations are in order for Tasha & Meg for winning 2nd Place in the Junior Group Exhibit category at the county History Day competition. Their group project was entitled Stop, Slow Down, Go: The Innovation of the Automatic, Three Color, Four Direction Traffic Light. Their award-winning project highlighted the importance

of the invention of the traffic light in making driving safer.

As a result of their 2nd place honor, the girls will be moving onto the state level competition. I also want to commend their teacher, Ms. Attridge, for helping them! Way to go!

For more information about National History Day, click here:


Friday, March 26, 2010

Time Article: Does Puberty Make You Stupid? Lessons from Mice

Up until 20 years ago, scientists believed that the human brain was largely mature by puberty. Apparently, they had failed to notice the irrational behavior and flaky thinking of teenagers. Now, of course, we know that the human brain continues to undergo serious restructuring well into the 20s.

Sophisticated brain-scan studies by Jay Giedd at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have shown dramatic changes throughout the teenage years as excess gray matter is pruned from the prefrontal cortex — the seat of higher-order thinking and making judgments (like not smoking weed right before your chemistry exam). Meanwhile, behavioral studies have shown what every parent already knows: teens have poor control over impulses and a tendency toward risk taking. Still, relatively little is known about how such changes affect learning or what happens at a biochemical level in the brain as teens go through their addled adolescence.

A fascinating study published in the current issue of Science helps fill in a bit of the picture, drawing evidence from that research-friendly fellow mammal, the mouse. The authors, a team from State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, wanted to look at whether the ability to learn is affected by changes in brain chemistry that occur at puberty. They devised a task that was relatively complex (at least for a mouse) and required learning how to avoid a moving platform that delivered a very mild shock.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Art World Has Lost a True Treasure!

In a crowd of teachers, on any given day, there was never a question as to what subject belonged to Patti Battaglia.

Regularly outfitted in bright colors and lively accessories, she looked like an art teacher ought to, according to her friends and colleagues.

Known for her unique fashion sense and nurturing teaching style, Patricia A. "Patti" Battaglia, a longtime teacher in Howard County public schools, died March 13, 2010, from cancer. She was 56.

Born Oct. 17, 1953, Battaglia worked in the Howard County school system for 30 years, teaching at Stevens Forest and Clemens Crossing elementary schools, in Columbia, and at Elkridge Landing Middle School, in Elkridge.

A resident of Catonsville, Battaglia most recently taught at Elkridge Landing, helping open the school in 1995 and retiring in 2008, Principal Gina Stokes said.

Battaglia's colleagues credit her with igniting a love of art and creativity in her students and serving as a visual reminder that it's OK to be different.

"She really, genuinely loved kids," Stokes said. "Her room was always a haven for them."

Added teacher Pattie Holy-Ilenda: "If Elkridge is like a family, Patti was the favorite aunt."

Battaglia's personal flair gave her classroom a distinct personality, said Lexie Bianco, who served as a student teacher under Battaglia before working alongside her at Elkridge Landing.

"As soon as you walked into her classroom, it was visual overload," Bianco said.

Battaglia was known for coordinating her outfit with the school's color-coded schedule, which assigns a different color for each day of the week. She greeted students in the school's lobby each morning, serving as a reminder of what class schedule was in effect. (All but "yellow day," that is -- since Battaglia didn't care for the color, she wore purple instead.)

Outside the school day, Battaglia made and sold jewelry and also taught children to make jewelry through an after-school program.

Betty Thomas, a second-grade teacher at Clemens Crossing, described Battaglia as an easy-going and upbeat person.

"When she entered a room, there was always a spirit of joy because of her contagious laughter and her engaging smile," Thomas wrote in an e-mail. "You never heard her make an unkind remark. She had an unique style of dress that only she could do and do very well."

Along with her students and other artists, Battaglia helped create murals at Elkridge Landing and also on the outside of the Elkridge Branch Library.

Battaglia is survived by her mother, Lucy Witherspoon (nee Levasseur); her companion, Bill Murphy; her siblings, Michael, Timothy and Gregory Battaglia.

She was preceded in death by her father, Salvatore Battaglia.

A Mass of Christian Burial was held at Our Lady of Victory Church, in Catonsville, March 20, 2010.

Interment was at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens, in Timonium.

Memorial contributions may be made to Defenders of Animal Rights, 14412 Old York Road, Phoenix, MD 21131.

Thanks Patti for all that you did for kids and for always

inspiring me.

Some Shots From Outdoor Education at NorthBay This Week!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Another Win! Congratulations to Our Debate Team!

Should schools ban animal dissection?

The WLMS Debate team defeated Hammond Middle School today in an excellent, hard fought battle over the question whether schools should ban the practice of animal dissections. The debate seemed close at times, especially during the rebuttal; however, our team edged out their opponents in the end by arguing that dissections should be banned. The judges commended the team for the tremendous amount of research and statistics they included in their arguments, as well as the professionalism of their delivery. The WLMS Debate team remains undefeated over the past two years. I also want to congratulate Ms. Motuang for coaching our talented students. Way to go!

What do you think?

Should schools ban animal dissections?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

March is National Middle School Month


National Middle Level Education Month
March 2010

Shining the Spotlight on Middle Level Education

Whereas, middle level education has a special and unique function in the nation’s educational system, and

Whereas, young adolescents are undergoing dramatic physical, social, emotional, and intellectual growth, and are especially vulnerable, and

Whereas, the habits and values established during early adolescence have critical, life-long influence, and

Whereas, this influence impacts directly on the future health and welfare of our nation, and

Whereas, an adequate public understanding of the distinctive mission of the middle level school is necessary for that mission to succeed;

Therefore be it

Resolved, that the month of March 2010 be declared National Middle Level Education Month, and that the public be afforded special opportunities to visit middle level schools and participate in programs that focus on the nature of young adolescents and celebrate the ways in which our nation’s schools respond to their needs and to the needs of the nation.

Some Issues that Middle Schoolers and Those Who Love Them Face

  • Making parents understand that their children really do want them to be involved in their lives - even though it isn't always obvious
  • Students face tremendous challenges and they will make major life affecting choices - including such things as friends, leisure activities, study habits, serious moral dilemmas that need to be addressed, etc…
  • The physical challenges of puberty - the tall girl and the short boy
  • The importance of friends and the influence they have on many decisions that are made.
  • The need not to be embarrassed in public places - parents who talk too loud in restaurants
  • Middle school is the last, best chance to avoid a diminished future
  • The call of the opposite sex will beckon to many during the ages of 11 through 14
  • It is important that parents are patient, understanding, caring and loving with their young adolescent - even when they cannot understand where this new child came from!
Loving them most when they are most unlovable!

Source: http://www.principals.org/

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Preparing for Outdoor Education

This coming Wednesday, Thursday and Friday our 6th graders will be traveling to NorthBay for our annual outdoor education program. NorthBay is a state-of-the-art adventure camp and retreat center located on the upper Chesapeake Bay. Situated within the Elk Neck State Park in Maryland, students will have an opportunity to learn about the Chesapeake Bay and its importance to our region.

During this three day and two night trip, the outdoors will be our classroom! Students will participate in a variety of hands on learning experiences and work in teams to problem solve and enhance their communication skills. In addition, students will participate in activities that promote Investigating and Evaluating Environmental Issues and Actions (IEEIA). These activities are based on the model developed by Drs Hungerford and Volk in the late 70's. The goal of the model is to use environmental issues as integrating contexts to teach students critical thinking skills, and to have students investigate issues, without bias, thus arriving at their own conclusions.

I want to thank Ms. Carmean and the entire 6th grade team for organizing this very important learning experience for our students. I know we are going to have a great time!

Ms. Musgrave has developed a blog for families and friends to follow that will document our adventure. If you would like to follow along, here is the link to her blog:

Service Learning Alive and Well at WLMS

Service Learning is a teaching method that combines meaningful service to the community with curriculum-based learning.

Students improve their academic skills by applying what they learn in school to the real world; they then reflect on their experience to reinforce the link between their service and their learning.

Source: Learning in Deed by Edward B. Fiske

Service Learning is alive and well at WLMS! Here is just one example...This year our 8th graders have adopted a local animal shelter to help. Earlier in the year students conducted a fundraiser for the shelter and this past week made dog toys that will be given to dogs who end up in the shelter.

Below is a lesson that Ms. Warner created to help our students solve a real problem in our community by infusing it into the regular reading curriculum! This is when "magic" happens in a middle school classroom...students engaged in solving real problems and applying their academic skills and processes! Way to go Ms. Warner and all of her students!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Quote of the Day!

get ahead
of anyone
as long as
you try
to get even
with him.

Lou Holtz
former college football coach

Award Winning Letters Written by WLMS Students!

Congratulations to

Iana Dingle and Jenny Haynes

for being selected as finalists in our states' 2010 Letters About Literature competition. Their letters were selected from nearly 2000 entries. I also want to thank Ms. Warner for helping our students.

Way to Go!!!

About the competition:

Students (grades 4 to 12) demonstrate just how life-changing a good book can be by writing letters to their favorite authors. Students are invited to express their admiration for a favorite author and showcase their reading and writing talents through Letters About Literature.

This national contest encourages students to write a personal letter to an author—from Carl Hiaasen to Anne Frank—that explores how the author’s work changed their thinking about the world and their place in it.

Fans of any genre, fiction or nonfiction, contemporary or classic, are invited to participate, with the chance to receive awards and recognition at the state and national level.

Past sources of inspiration include Lois Lowery, Antoine De Saint-Exupery, Beverly Naidoo, Sharon Creech, JK Rowling, Robert Louis Stevenson, Anne Frank, Martin Luther King, Jr., Maya Angelou, and Elie Weisel.

Letters About Literature is one of the signature programs of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, and is implemented by the Maryland Center for the Book at the state level.

For more information, please contact Jean Wortman at 410-685-4187 or visit the Letters About Literature site.

Source: http://www.mdhc.org/

Sunday, March 7, 2010

End the Use of the R-Word!

It is time we spread the word to end the use of R- Word‚ and build awareness for our society to stop and think about our use of the R-word. Using the R-words of "retard" or "retarded" can be very hurtful and painful for millions of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their family members and friends. These words are just as cruel and offensive as any other slur that is intended to degrade a group of people.
  • Young people around the world are taking a stand and raising awareness of the dehumanizing and hurtful effects of the words "retard" or "retarded" and are helping encourage others to think before they speak.
  • We ask that you help us change the conversation and help eliminate the demeaning use of the R-word from today's popular youth vernacular and replace it with "respect." We are asking for your help in creating a more accepting world for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and all those people that may appear different, but have unique gifts and talents to share with the world.
  • We're asking every person - young and old - to help eliminate the demeaning use of the R-word‚-a common taunt used to make fun of others. Often unwittingly, the word is used to denote behavior that is clumsy, hapless, and even hopeless. But whether intentional or not, the word conjures up a painful stereotype of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It hurts. Even if you don't mean it that way.
Did You Know?
  • Up to three percent of the world's population have intellectual disabilities - that's 200 million people around the world. It's the largest disability population in the world. Perhaps you know someone?
  • By casually using the word "retard(ed)" to refer to an action as less than ideal you are making someone with an intellectual disability feel less than human - whether you mean to or not? Demeaning any of our fellow human beings by using inappropriate words toward any population negatively impacts all of us.
  • People with intellectual and developmental disabilities are capable and enjoy sharing life experiences - listening to music, playing video games, watching the latest movies, and yes, having fun - as well as working together toward athletic excellence and mutually enriching one-to-one friendships as demonstrated constantly through Special Olympics and Best Buddies International. They can attend school, work, drive cars, get married, participate in decisions that affect them, and contribute to society in many ways.
  • Special Olympics' Multi-National Public Opinion Study of Attitudes toward People with Intellectual Disabilities, conducted by Gallup, reveals that throughout the world, over 60 percent of people still believe that people with intellectual disabilities should be segregated in schools and in the workplace. This is intolerable. We need massive attitude change now to attack and reverse the stigma that is destructive to the lives of people with intellectual disabilities and a barrier to growth.
For more information: http://www.r-word.org/

Source: http://www.thearc.org/

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Gotta Keep Reading!

This is a very cool video...congratulations to Ocoee Middle School for creating such an inspiring music video!

Keep Reading!!!

Thanks Lauren for sharing this with me!

Middle School Scheduling Webinar

This past Friday, I had a unique opportunity to share some thoughts and ideas about middle school scheduling along with two other principals from Maryland. The purpose of the webinar is to open dialogue and share best practices with our colleagues here in the state and beyond. The webinar series is hosted by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) in partnership with Johns Hopkins University. Our goal is to close the gap between special education and general education students. In collaboration with the MSDE's Break Through Center and Johns Hopkins University, local school systems in Maryland are working to identify promising practices that will help all students meet or exceed the rigorous local and state academic standards.

This particular session, Building A Master Schedule That Supports Effective Co-Teaching Practices, was hosted by Paul Dunford, a former principal/administrative director and now the Director of Middle School Initiatives for MSDE, and featured Jacques Smith, Principal of Chesapeake Bay Middle, Barbara Canavan, Principal of South Hampton Middle and myself (I also was assisted by Wendy Mundis, the Special Education Support Teacher and Team Leader here at WLMS.) Thanks Wendy!

Each principal was asked to share how we go about scheduling our special education students to support the implementation of the co-teaching model. We were also asked to talk about our scheduling priorities and philosophies. If you are interested in middle school scheduling (at this point if you are yawing, you aren't), I thought this was an informative discussion about the realities, challenges and exciting possibilities of providing access for all students to the general curriculum.

The recorded presentation can be viewed from: http://connect.johnshopkins.edu/p16762824/ My particular section of the presentation happens at the 25.52 minute mark in the 60 minute presentation.

Thanks to Stephanie Harden and all of the other special educators I have worked with for helping me to formulate my thoughts and ideas on how to schedule special education students.

Feel free to email me for more information.