Sunday, April 25, 2010

UM's Maryland Day

Jim DeGeorge, President of C of Ed. Alumni Assoc.,
Pat Costantino, Alumni Director and me

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to return to the University of Maryland and co-host the TERP Taught Trivia game during the annual Maryland Day open-house. I had a great time working with Jim DeGeorge, President of the College of Education's Alumni Association, and other members of the university's staff.

Despite the weather, thousands of alumni and visitors came on campus to get information about the great things happening at the UM. I had a blast meeting students of all ages and testing their knowledge about the state of Maryland. I am happy to report that most visitors to the College of Education's tent performed well on this Trivia assessment and as a result walked away with a fabulous frisbee. Who could ask for more?

If you are a University of Maryland College of Education alumnus, we are looking to reconnect with you. Please send me an email if you would like information about how to get involved with the college.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Guys Night Out!

Last night, I had the opportunity to attend Running Brook Elementary School's first-ever "Guys Night Out." An evening to focus on the positive power that fathers/guardians can have if they are engaged in meaningful and healthy relationships with their son(s).

It was a powerful evening! When I arrived, the cafeteria was packed with men and the beaming faces of elementary school boys they had brought with them. After eating pizza and drinking juice boxes, Mr. Todd introduced himself and the other male staff members who were in attendance. He then shared with us all, the importance of fathers and the other significant male figures who play the "father role" in a child's life. He shared this poem:

Life Lessons
You may have thought I didn't see,
Or that I hadn't heard,
Life lessons that you taught to me,
But I got every word.
Perhaps you thought I missed it all,
And that we'd grow apart,
But Dad, I picked up everything,
It's written on my heart.
Without you, Dad, I wouldn't be
The (woman)(man) I am today;
You built a strong foundation
No one can take away.
I've grown up with your values,
And I'm very glad I did;
So here's to you, dear father,
From your forever grateful kid.

By Joanna Fuchs

After the introductory comments were concluded, there was a rotation of various activities planned for both the men and the boys. Most of the activities were designed for both the men and the boys to work together, however, there was also time for Mr. Todd to talk to just the fathers/guardians. Mr. Whitaker, principal of Wilde Lake High School and I were invited to be participants in this portion of the evening. Fathers were invited to ask questions or share concerns. It was great to have a room full of dads talking to each other and sharing encouragement and advice about how to help their boys. Wow...a truly awesome experience for me.

I want to thank Mr. Todd for inviting me to participate in "Guys Night Out" and I want to commend him and his staff for doing such a great job providing this program for our community. I can't wait for next year!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

WLMS Pride: Students Perform Well at Destination Imagination Competition

Congratulations to WLMS students Noah Bathras, Alex Berkhimer and Thomas Jessell who finished in 7th place at the Destination Imagination Maryland State Competition. I also want to thank their coach, Mr. Bathras, for helping our students and those from Clemens Crossing Elementary, Harpers' Choice Middle and Lime Kiln Middle. Way to go!

Here is a link to a great story about the competition in the Howard County Times:

For more information about Destination Imagination, here are two links:

Reading Test Dummies - NY Times OP/ED

By E.D. Hirsch, Jr.

In his recent education speech, President Obama asked the states to raise their standards and develop “assessments that don’t simply measure whether students can fill in a bubble on a test.” With the No Child Left Behind law up for reauthorization this year, the onus is now on lawmakers and educators to find a way to maintain accountability while mitigating the current tendency to reduce schooling to a joyless grind of practice exams and empty instruction in “reading strategies.”

Before we throw away bubble tests, though, we should institute a relatively simple change that would lessen the worst effects of the test-prep culture and improve education in the bargain.

These much maligned, fill-in-the-bubble reading tests are technically among the most reliable and valid tests available. The problem is that the reading passages used in these tests are random. They are not aligned with explicit grade-by-grade content standards. Children are asked to read and then answer multiple-choice questions about such topics as taking a hike in the Appalachians even though they’ve never left the sidewalks of New York, nor studied the Appalachians in school.

Teachers can’t prepare for the content of the tests and so they substitute practice exams and countless hours of instruction in comprehension strategies like “finding the main idea.” Yet despite this intensive test preparation, reading scores have paradoxically stagnated or declined in the later grades.

This is because the schools have imagined that reading is merely a “skill” that can be transferred from one passage to another, and that reading scores can be raised by having young students endlessly practice strategies on trivial stories. Tragic amounts of time have been wasted that could have been devoted to enhancing knowledge and vocabulary, which would actually raise reading comprehension scores.

To read the entire article, click here:

E. D. Hirsch Jr. is the author of “The Knowledge Deficit: Closing the Shocking Education Gap for American Children.”

Thanks Mark for sharing this with me!

WLMS Staff Defeat Students, Again!

Earlier this month, the WLMS Staff demonstrated that not only are they talented teachers, but gifted athletes. Our staff defeated our students again in our annual PBIS Staff vs. Students Basketball game. Despite alot of "trash talking and jawing" from some of our students, the faculty left little doubt about who owned the WLMS basketball court.

Congratulations to Mr. Walsh and all of the other members of the faculty who helped to organize this activity. To my wonderful students...there is always next year!

National Junior Honor Society Students Prepare Meals for the Homeless

At the beginning of this month, 12 members of the WLMS National Junior Honor Society prepared a meal to be served at the Grass Roots Intervention Center located here in Howard County, Maryland. The menu consisted of several delicious chicken and rice casseroles made from scratch, salad, and apple and cherry pies for dessert.

I want to thank all of the students who stayed after school to help with this important project. I also want to thank both Ms. DeForge and Ms. Baldwin for sponsoring this activity and transporting the food to the shelter.
You all ROCK!