Sunday, February 27, 2011

Congratulations to the WLMS Robotics Team!

WLMS Pride!

Yesterday, at the Maryland FIRST Lego League Championship held on the campus of the University of Maryland Baltimore Campus (UMBC), the WLMS' Robotics Team performed impressively. In fact they placed in the top 20 out of the 64 teams who competed yesterday and out of the 215 teams that began the year. I am so proud of each of our team members. They are: Augie, Daniel, Calvin, Skylar and Noah. Way to guys!

Also, I want to commend our coach, Mr. Fox, and all of the parents who helped to prepare and transport our team during this season. 

Considering this is only WLMS's second year competing in this competition, I am confident that we will only get better in the future as we fine tune our robot and work on gaining more points during each round.

What is the FIRST LEGO League (FLL)? It is a result of an exciting alliance between FIRST (a non-profit organization dedicated to helping students become technology leaders) and the LEGO Company. Guided by adult mentors and their own imaginations, FLL students solve real-world engineering challenges and develop important life skills.

FLL provides students, age 9-14, with a hands-on, interactive robotics program in a sports-like atmosphere. Teams of up to 10 players focus on team building, problem solving, creativity, and analytical thinking to develop solutions to a problem currently facing the world - the Challenge.

Each September, a new Challenge is unveiled to FLL teams across the world. Over the ensuing 8 weeks, the teams strategize, design, build, program, test and refine a fully autonomous robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS™ technology. The teams also do their own research, talk to professionals, and develop compelling presentations which relate to the Challenge. At FLL competitions, the teams are evaluated on their robot's performance, their presentation, teamwork and robot design.

Find out more about how to start a team and other Maryland FLL events(Source: First Lego League of Maryland Website)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Voices of Youth Speech Competition Helps Students in Darfur

This past Thursday evening, fifteen seventh-graders at Wilde Lake Middle School participated in the second annual Voices of the Youth speech competition. This event had been rescheduled from January 25th due to a snow storm that hit our area.  

The students, selected by their peers, delivered original speeches on various issues facing our country. The speech topics included: obesity,  the War in Iraq, animal rights, standardized testing, health care and saving the arts in schools. The winning speech was about obesity. Congratulations to all of the students who participated in this competition and to the top four winners! They are:  Ileana, Franc, Abby and Amanda. What talented orators we have here at the Lake! Way to go!

I also want to commend Ms. Swank for developing this competition and helping our students become aware of the plight of students in the DarFur region of Sudan. All proceeds raised during this event will be given to the Darfur Dream Team Sister Schools project.
Mrs. Swank said she hoped that the students raised as much money as they did last year for the charity and that the school continues the event, and the partnership with Camp Djabel, for as long as possible. "Kids need to be listened to more and heard more because they do have some amazing ideas," she said. "I hope the kids see now that they need to be involved in their community; they need to know what's going on in their area. They shouldn't be passive; they should be questioning things and speaking out." (Source: Columbia Flier - January 20, 2011)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Celebrating Academic Excellence at WLMS

“Excellence can be obtained if you: care more than others think is wise;

risk more than others think is safe; dream more than others think is practical;

expect more than others think is possible.”

Author Unknown

This past Thursday morning, our staff hosted a breakfast for all of our students and their parents who earned straight A's during the second quarter a of the year. This is always a wonderful opportunity to congratulate our young scholars and appreciate their commitment to learning. This past quarter we had nearly 60 straight A students! Way to go!

I am so proud of all of our students, but it is important to recognize and appreciate those kids who exemplify the characteristics of being a scholar.

Here are some pictures from the breakfast:

Would You Hire Your Own Kids?

7 Skills Schools Should Be Teaching Them
 By Tony Wagner

  "The ability to ask the right questions is the single most important skill. --President, BOC Edwards

I've spent the last two years researching and writing a new book, The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don't Teach The New Survival Skills Our Children Need -- and What We Can Do About It. I began with several questions: First, in the new global economy, where any job that can be turned into a routine is being either automated or "off-shored," what skills will our students need to get -- and keep -- a good job. And what skills are needed for citizenship today? Are these education goals in conflict, I wondered.

With a clearer picture of the skills young people will need, I then set out to learn to what extent we are teaching and testing the skills that matter most. And because we already know that many of our nation's urban schools are failing, I chose to observe classrooms in some of our most highly regarded suburban schools in order to understand whether our "best" was, in fact, good enough for our children's future. What I discovered in this journey may come as a surprise to many.

One of my first interviews was with Clay Parker, the President of the Chemical Management Division of BOC Edwards -- a company that, among other things, makes the machines and supplies the chemicals for the manufacture of microelectronics devices, including silicon semiconductors and flat panel displays. He's an engineer by training and the head of a very technical business, so when I asked him about the skills he looks for when he hires young people into the company, I was taken aback by his answer.

"First and foremost, I look for someone who asks good questions," Parker responded. "Our business is changing, and so the skills our engineers need change rapidly, as well. We can teach them the technical stuff. But for employees to solve problems or to learn new things, they have to know what questions to ask. And we can't teach them how to ask good questions - how to think. The ability to ask the right questions is the single most important skill."

"What other skills are you looking for?" I asked, expecting that he'd jump quickly to content expertise.

"I want people who can engage in good discussion --who can look me in the eye and have a give and take."

"I don't understand," I confessed.

To read more, click here:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Pressuring Kids: It's Just A Game!

The Canadian Hockey Association created a series of Public Service Announcements to help remind parents about appropriate parent participation during hockey games. They are thought provoking and go far beyond the hockey rink...

Thanks to Mike Smith for sharing these commercials.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

MSA Math Night at WLMS!

This past Thursday night, we hosted our first Maryland School Assessment Mathematics Night. We concentrated on sharing the resources we have compiled for families to use to enhance math skills and to review concepts that are tested on the annual assessment.

Here is a link to the resources we shared:

I want to thank Ms. Carmean and our entire Math Team for organizing this event and for helping to compile the resources we shared. I especially want to thank Ms. Carmean for developing the MSA Math Calendars that were inspired by the benchmark calendars that my own children received from the elementary school they attend in Carroll County.

What does your school do to prepare for annual assessments? 
Does it work? How do you know?

7th Graders Visit Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.

This past Thursday, I had the privilege of being a chaperone on our 7th grade trip to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. I was so proud of the behavior of our 7th graders as they explored the various exhibits that confront the issues of hatred, genocide and are designed to inspire us all to promote human dignity and understanding. If you have not had the opportunity to visit this memorial, I would urge you to go. I want to thank Ms. Swank for organizing this trip and all of the parents and teachers who helped to chaperon this important experience.

Friday, February 11, 2011

How the School of the Future Got It Right | Edutopia

How the School of the Future Got It Right | Edutopia

An Interesting article about a school in New York City who is making great strides in creating "authentic assessments" for their students. I think this approach has a lot of merit.

What do you think about this approach?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Favorite Super Bowl Commercial!

Been there...thought about doing that... ; ) Reply All can be very dangerous!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

An Amazing Bus Driver!

This post is dedicated to all our talented bus drivers that transport our students safely each and everyday! (Psss...please don't try this with Howard County Students!)

Since it is Super Bowl Weekend: Here Are Some Cool Commercials I Have Seen

Cool Vending Machine!

An Amazing Artist!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Wilde Lake's Activity Day is a HUGE Success!

Today, Wilde Lake Middle School hosted our second quarter activity day. Students had the opportunity to attend a dance, play computer games, watch a movie, compete in a variety of board games and/or read quietly if they consistently demonstrated the Wilde Lake Way of being Responsible, Respectful, Ready and Safe during the second quarter of this school year. I am thrilled to announce that 95% of our entire student body qualified to take part in this special event. We tracked student behavior by monitoring office referrals and suspensions. This is the highest percentage of students attending an activity day in the past several years.

Way to go Wilde Lakers!!!

Famous Slam Poet Works with Wilde Lake Middle Students

This week, Gayle Danley a well-known slam poet, began her two week "Artist in Residence" program here at Wilde Lake Middle School. On Wednesday, she performed for all of our 8th graders many of her thought provoking poems that have won her national acclaim. She demonstrated her amazing orating, story telling and performing talents that have earned her several national awards! 

What is Slam?
Slam combines movement, voice, drama and the written word for an unforgettable spoken word experience. Slam made its debut back in the late 1980’s in Chicago when a local poet named Marc Smith grew tired of the stale presentations of poetry that seemed to pervade the coffee shops and libraries around town. Thus Slam was born as a way of expressing oneself briefly, powerfully and impactfully. (Source: Gayle Danley's Website)
Over the next two weeks, Gayle will be working with our 8th graders as they create their own slam poems. On February 17th, our students will share their poems during our Slam Poetry Reading. I can't wait to see and hear the poems that will be created by our students under the guidance and inspiration of Ms. Danley. 

I want to thank Gayle Danley for coming to our school and the Howard County Arts Council for helping to fund the Artists-in-Residence Educational Program for our students.


Thanks to Ms. Lebowitz and Ms. Berla for organizing this
special program!