Friday, June 24, 2011

Last Day of School...Have a Great Summer!

 Thanks for a great year! Enjoy your Summer!

Saying Thank You at WLMS!

On Tuesday, our sixth graders had an opportunity to say thank you to those individuals and organizations that helped partially fund their outdoor education experience this past spring. We held an assembly where several of our 6th graders shared how much they enjoyed their experience at NorthBay and how much they learned during their 4 day adventure. We recognized Ms. Berla for her her efforts to write a grant that helped fund the buses and several scholarships for students. 
We invited to the assembly Dr. Hance, Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the CEO of triCerat, John Byrne, to thank them and their organizations for their support. We gave both men frames of our school logo which was signed by all of our 6th graders. In addition, we gave them WLMS lanyards.

After the assembly, the sixth graders were divided into small groups and were assigned various activities that helped with improve the environment around our school. They helped to weed gardens, pick-up trash, etc. This supported the mission learned at NorthBay about providing each person with opportunities to acquire the knowledge, values, attitudes, commitment and skills needed to protect and improve the environment.

Once again, we are so grateful to the Chesapeake Bay Trust and to triCerat. We hope you will continue your support of our programs in the future! Thanks to both Ms. Tanner and Ms. Musgrave for helping to organize this special event.

Monday, June 20, 2011

WLMS Pride: Victoria Brown Makes it to National Debate Finals

We are pleased to report that Howard County Capitol Debaters won the Middle School National Policy Debate Championship this past weekend in Dallas, Texas.  The team of Lime Kiln students Nikita Datta and Jake Smith and the team of Lime Kiln student Simon Zhu and Montessori student Daniel Budai advanced all the way to the finals of the Middle School Policy Debate National Championship.  As both teams were from Capitol Debate, they were declared National Co-Champions in Policy Debate.  The team of Ellicott Mills student Gabriel Koo and McDonogh School student Alyssa Resar advanced all the way to the quarterfinals of the national championship.  Simon Zhu was awarded top individual speaker in the United States. 

In Public Forum Debate, the team of Elkridge Landing student Meagan Lane and Wilde Lake student Victoria Brown advanced all the way to the finals of the championship before losing a close debate to Sydney Lanier Middle School of Houston, Texas.  The dynamic twin teams from Lime Kiln Middle School of Joe Smith/Jon Smith and Sonya Datta/Alexis Datta advanced all the way to semifinals.  The team of Hammond student Isabel Slavinsky and Lime Kiln student Athena Kan advanced to the final sixteen in the nation before losing. 

There were over 500 students from 26 states (and 1 territory) and 62 schools at the Middle School National Championships hosted by the National Junior Forensic League.  This marks the third year in a row that Capitol Debaters won the national championship.  Special thanks and congratulations go out to Capitol Debate coaches Daryl Burch, Joshua Weingarten, Cayman Giordano, and all the middle school GT teachers in Howard County that worked with most of these students.  We look forward to defending our title in June 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Source: Capitol Debate Team Press Release

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bubbles Is Released on Poplar Island

Thanks to Ms. Musgrave, WLMS was selected, for the second year in a row by the National Aquarium, to raise a Diamondback turtle hatchling. Some of our 6th grade students had the opportunity to study this year's turtle, named Bubbles, for approximately 8 months. As you might imagine, Bubbles became a celebrity with our sixth graders because Bubbles was so much fun to watch as it grew and played.

The National Aquarium asked our students to study the hatchling to try and discover when the sex of the reptile would be determined and at what water temperature. Our students tracked various data points each day and provided food and shelter for this wonderful little creature. About a month ago, we determined that Bubbles was a girl.

Earlier this month, the turtle was released on Poplar Island by several of our students. Poplar Island is a large scale ecological restoration project where dredged material is being used to reconstruct an eroded island in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay. During the past 100 years the island has eroded and only three small (4 hectares) islands remained. Over the past 10 years, the Army Corps of Engineers has built a stone-covered dike perimeter that is being filled with dredged material from the Baltimore Harbor to restore the island. In addition, the National Aquarium and other scientific organizations are helping to repopulate the island with wildlife and native plants that existed on Poplar Island before it eroded.

Here are some movies taken by our students as they released Bubbles into her natural environment on Poplar Island.

7th Graders Perform for Administrative Staff

This past week, selected band students performed the Disney song, Color of the Wind for the administrative staff here at WLMS. They did an awesome job! It is wonderful to have the beautiful sound of music echo through the halls of our school.

Thanks Mr. Messick for sharing your students' talents with us!

Here is a link to one of my favorite versions:

Asia Day at WLMS

This past week, sixth graders had an opportunity to learn more about some of the countries and people of Asia. The students began the day with an assembly that I facilitated sharing information about my trip to Korea this past summer. Using Google Earth, I took the students on a virtual tour of the places I had visited. I introduced them to the amazing Saemanguem land reclamation project and the differences and similarities in our schooling systems. I also taught the sixth graders how to say hello and thank you using the korean language.

After the assembly, students went to various classrooms to hear from parents, guests and teachers about other areas in Asia including Japan, China and some of the countries in Southeast Asia. During each session, students were able to learn various facts and create items that are representative of Asia. In the afternoon, students were able sample various foods and drink tea. The food was fantastic!

I want to thank Ms. Tanner and Ms. Healey for doing such a great job organizing this event! I look forward to expanding this event next year.

Edutopia's Summer Reading List for New Teachers

Edutopia Staff
Online Community Assistant @ Edutopia
Summer is around the corner so we compiled a list of "summer reads" for teachers recommended by community members from a previous discussions here on Edutopia. What other "classic" educator books do you think should be a "must read"? What do you like about these and other recommended books?

1) Why Didn't I Learn This in College? by Paula Rutherford

2) Beyond Smarter: Mediated Learning and the Brain's Capacity for Change by Reuven Feuerstein, Rafael S. Feuerstein, Louis H. Falik

3) Fred Jones Tools for Teaching: Discipline, Instruction, Motivation by Fredric H. Jones, Patrick Jones, Jo Lynn, Fred Jones

4) Educating Esme: Diary of a Teacher's First Year by Esme Raji Codell

5) Star Teachers of Children in Poverty by Martin Haberman

6) Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College by Doug Lemov

7) Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin

8) The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children by Gloria Ladson-Billings

9) The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher by Harry Wong and Rosemary T. Wong

10) The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller

11) A Mind at a Time by Mel Levine 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Korea to introduce 5-day school week

By Lee Ji-yoon (

The government will recommend that all primary and secondary schools adopt the five-day school week starting next year.

Currently, local schools rest every second and fourth Saturday in a month.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said Tuesday that a pilot program will start at some schools in the second half this year as the new measure is likely to affect the pattern of family life greatly.

“The 40-hour working week is slated to start from July at all workplaces with more than five employees. There has been a growing demand for the five-day work week in a bid to foster a healthy leisure culture in which parents and children enjoy (time) together,” said Education Minister Lee Joo-ho in a news briefing on Tuesday.

“The Education Ministry along with other related government agencies have agreed to adopt the five-day school week and to join forces to soft-land the work week in Korea,” he said.

With the adoption of the five-day school week, the number of school days will decrease from the current 205 to 190, the OECD average.

A teacher and students conduct a science experiment at a Seoul elementary school. (Yonhap News)
Existing Saturday classes ― most of them focused on arts and sports activities ― will be conducted during weekdays, while the vacation days would decrease by up to four days.

The ministry expected that there will be no confusion in school curriculum as it had already revised education programs in 2009 based on the five-day school week.

To read more:

Thanks Mr. Jung for sharing this with me.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century

Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century addresses this vital question, taking viewers to the frontlines of what is rapidly becoming an education revolution. The film, targeted at parents, teachers, and anyone concerned about education in America, explores how exceptional educators are increasingly using digital media and interactive practices to ignite their students' curiosity and ingenuity, help them become civically engaged, allow them to collaborate with peers worldwide, and empower them to direct their own learning.
Source: PBS Telvision Productions

Thursday, June 9, 2011

9 Days and Counting...Dealing With End of the Year Stress

Strategies for Educators

By , Guide

The end of the year is approaching for many of us. A lucky few might even be out already. But in order to reach the big payoff - summer vacation - we have to deal with the stresses that the last few weeks bring: end of the year exams, summer schools lists, parents who do not understand why their children are failing, rooms to be cleaned and items to be stored, accounts to be reconciled, and many more items that I'm sure I missed. And of course your personal life continues to move forward through all of this. Heaven forbid you get sick at this time of year!

So how can educators handle all of this stress? Unfortunately there is not one answer. However, we can find a lot of relief by practicing a positive attitude towards all of the problems facing us. This makes all of the difference.

Causes of Stress

Teachers today are expected to fulfill so many roles, not the least of which is to actually teach. In many places throughout the country they are to perform their 'duties' with very little pay. In what other job with a Master's Degree are you earning barely $6000 more after 10 years of experience than when you first started?
As the school year nears its end, many teachers find other roles being thrust upon them. Their duties increase while they still have to deal with grading assignments, writing tests, and of course teaching class. Let's look at a few of the reasons why the end of the year might cause stress:
  • Too much work - Not only are teachers figuring out final grades, but they are also cleaning their rooms, gathering lesson plans, and performing numerous other required tasks.
  • Time pressures and deadlines - Just remembering the deadlines for everything from failure notices to final grades everything can be a real chore. 
  • Apparent lack of support - Sometimes the administrative staff is less than supportive of the myriad problems faced by the classroom teacher at the end of the year. They too have items they have to complete before the year ends and teachers' concerns sometimes take a back seat. 
  • Unclear expectations - This can occur with new teachers or teachers at a new school who are not sure what the end of the year procedures are. 
  • Responsibility for students' grades - Even though as teachers we know that students EARN their grades, it often feels that parents and students place failing grades on the shoulders of the teachers. This is especially compounded in Senior Year where the grade means the difference between a diploma and no diploma 
  • Disruptions - You've just sat down at the end of the day to work on those research papers and realize that a meeting has been called. Unfortunately, many responsibilities exist outside of the classroom that require attention. 
To read more:

WLMS Awarded Second Consecutive Healthy Howard Award!

I am excited to announce that for the second consecutive year, WLMS has been awarded an innovation award by the Howard County Health Department. This year’s award was for our Team Nutrition program, created by Ms. Middleton. This program received the prestigious Healthy Howard Innovation Award for Nutrition. Ms. Middleton’s program was recognized for providing a variety of lessons and activities to raise awareness about the negative impact of poor nutrition. For example, students did food comparisons to determine the healthiest food choices, used the Food Guide Pyramid to identify whether their daily diets were meeting national recommendations, and learned how to make healthy snacks including a smoothie. Congratulations to Ms. Middleton and all of the students who participated in this award-winning program!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Ravitch: Standardized Testing Undermines Teaching

by NPR Staff

Diane Ravitch is a historian of education and the former United States Assistant Secretary of Education. She currently teaches at New York University. She was recently interviewed on NPR. To hear her comments, click here:

Her new book is:

What do you think of her comments?

U.S. Reforms Out of Sync With High-Performing Nations, Report Finds

 By Stephen Sawchuk

The United States’ education system is neither coherent nor likely to see great improvements based on its current attempts at reform, a reportRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader released this week by the National Center on Education and the Economy concludes.

The NCEE report is the latest salvo in a flurry of national interest in what can be gleaned from education systems in top-performing or rapidly improving countries. It pushes further than other recent reports on the topic by laying out an ambitious agenda for the United States it says reflects the education practices in countries that are among the highest-performing on international assessments.

Among other measures, the report outlines a less-frequent system of standardized student testing; a statewide funding-equity model that prioritizes the neediest students, rather than local distribution of resources; and greater emphasis on the professionalization of teaching that would overhaul most elements of the current model of training, professional development, and compensation.

“I think we have been for a long time caught in a vicious cycle. We’ve been unwilling to do the things that have been needed to have a high-quality teaching force,” including raising the entry standard for teacher preparation and requiring prospective teachers to major in a content area, said Marc S. Tucker, the president of the NCEE.

“We’ve been unwilling to pay teachers at the level of engineers. We’ve been solving our problems of teacher shortages by waiving the very low standards that we have. We have been frustrated by low student performance, and now, we’re blaming our teachers for that, which makes it even harder to get good people,” Mr. Tucker continued.

To read more, click here:

U.S. Reforms Out of Sync With High-Performing Nations, Report Finds

Favorite Moments of the Week

I wanted to share a strategy that my wife and I have been doing for the past month or so that seems to be really working for our middle school-aged daughter and our first grade son. It is simple to do, doesn't cost any money and is legal. Interested?

Julie and I had noticed that we were giving a lot more negative feedback to our wonderful children, based on our observations of some of their not so wonderful behaviors. We were spending a lot of time telling them not to do things, almost highlighting their failures, and failing to "accentuate the positive." When we did give them positives, it tended to be about great grades on tests, being picked for something important such as Student of the Week, or when they outperformed their peers and were seen as The Best at something. While these things are all deserving of praise, they are just a small part of what is important to us to promote with our children.

Thanks to my wife (she is the smartest member of our parent team), we have changed this dynamic by implementing on Sunday evenings a time for Julie and I to share our "Favorite Moments of the Week" with each child. Our "Favorite Moments" are based on not just the successes our children achieve (read here TIGER MOM moments) but times when each child learned a new skill, had a new insight about themselves or those around them, or showed ingenuity or resilience when faced with a problem. For example, this past Sunday I shared with Ben how much I loved the fact that he was a good sport during his field day and how much I appreciated how he introduced me to all of his friends when I participated in field day at his school. I also shared with him that I truly admired how he didn't give up when he was reading a challenging book. I told my daughter how proud I was when she allowed her brother to help select the putt putt golf course we played over the weekend, even though it was her time to pick the course of her choice. In addition, I thanked her for playing with Ben and his first grade friends one evening this past week and helping them to have so much fun.

It  has become a routine at our home that all of us look forward to doing. When Sunday rolls around, both Cassie and Ben are making comments like, "Are you going to share your favorite moments tonight?" Like most parents, we struggle with trying to strike the right balance of providing constructive criticism and positive reinforcement. We have found that this strategy ensures we have a dedicated time for positive reinforcement and to recognize those situations where our children are displaying the values we hold dear.

If you have any strategies you use with your children that seem to make a difference, please share them here.