Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Parker News and Info

Fall in Reading; this is such a great time of year. The trees are turning, the weather is constantly changing and our students are, for the most part, fully acclimated to their fall schedules. At this point in the fall, teachers are putting the finishing touches on lessons and assignments that will be included in the first marking period. Teachers are also working with students to help them prioritize their time and effort to complete the first quarter with grades that represent their best work and effort. Report Cards will posted to Edline on November 12th at http://www.edline.net/pages/Walter_S_Parker_Middle_School

We have been working this fall trying to take opportunities to help students make their work public. The theme we talk about is “…producing work for an audience greater than one…” The reason we chose this phrase as a reference for our work is that is creates different entry points and opportunities for teachers to help students make their work public. Depending on your experience in school, most students in the past, produced work that was only viewed and commented on by one teacher and no one else. The work was usually graded and returned and time went on without much fanfare. Teachers here at Parker are working to help students share their work with greater audiences…different audiences. We find that when students know that an assignment or project will be viewed by others they put forth their best effort and they want their work to be the best it can be. There are a number of different ways that we have structured this at our school. Some students simply share their projects or written work with other students, while other classes use technology to create blogs, wikis and or podcasts to share their work. Students have had the opportunities to publish their work on the internet and allow the world to see work that represents their thinking, their ability to communicate about the subjects they are learning.

Other examples of students producing work for an audience greater than one can be found on-line at:

The Quill is the on-line Parker Middle School News and Arts Journal http://thequillonline.wordpress.com/

Mr. Olivo’s English Class keeps a daily journal

Mr. Musselman’s Science Blog
http://mrmusselman.edublogs.org/ and http://www.youtube.com/user/ParkerScience

Mr. Williams Science Blog

Sixth Grade Student Book Reviews can be viewed at:

Our First Dance of the Year

This past Friday evening we held our first dance of the year, with 126 students in attendance. Special thanks to the Student Peer Leaders and the Peer Leader coordinators Chris Copeland and Vonda Gauthier for organizing the event. It was a great way to start the year. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Reading Food Pantry. Thanks to all!

Parker’s Friday Night “Minute to Win It”

Parker’s “Minute to Win It” was part of the Friday Night Activity series and the PTO Magazine Drive where about ninety students had a great deal of fun competing for prizes.

Upcoming Events

Veterans Day Assembly – We will be honoring veterans at our all-school assembly on November 11th. Parker students and staff will have an opportunity to hear from veterans, some of whom are relatives of our students and others who are Reading residents. It is a terrific day for our students and teachers to recognize and honor the service of so many that have sacrificed while serving the United States. It also highlights for many the fact that our country is still actively involved with soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Cyber Bullying and Cyber Safety Presentation – Katie LeClerc former Intelligence Analyst with the Massachusetts State Police and Internet Safety Program Coordinator for the Massachusetts Attorney Generals Office, educator and national presenter will be speaking to students on November 9th and parents on the evening of November 10th. This enrichment presentation is part of the PTO enrichment series for students and also part of the PTO Speaker Series for parents. http://de-de.facebook.com/ParkerPTO

Nature’s Classroom – One hundred and fifty one of our seventh graders will be traveling to Becket Massachusetts in the Berkshires from November 3rd to November 5th to participate in an outdoor learning experience where students live in cabins and spend their days learning about nature in the great outdoors. The address of the camp is 748 Hamilton Road, Becket, MA 01223, if you have time please send your son or daughter a letter while they are away. For most kids it is the first time they have received a letter from home. You may have to send the letter ahead of time so it arrives when we are there. http://www.naturesclassroom.org/Becket.htm

Friday, October 15, 2010

Thinking Big when planning Service Projects

In a recent lunch with twenty two 8th grade Peer Leaders, students were tasked with defining their service work for their final year at Parker Middle School. The guiding questions were fairly simple: What service work do you as Peer Leaders want to do this year? And what activities or projects do you think would make a difference in the lives of people in our community, in the state or possibly in other parts of the world? Students were encouraged to think big, to think about how they could lead or participate in an activity that could have a positive effect on our school community.

The talk started slowly, some students thought of and talked about activities that we have participated in the past, and then one quiet young student asked, “…Wait a minute, can we do something to help someone at our school?...” And I replied “absolutely!” Meghan Barry, Kate Mignosa, Sarah Bond and Meghan Zeigler suggested that they could lead and organize a student group to participate in the ALS Walk for Mrs. Peach. Mrs. Peach was our cafeteria manager who was diagnosed with ALS last spring. They continued to talk and plan and asked further if something could be done here at Parker; in addition to the walk. At the end of the conversation we had the beginnings of a two-part plan that became a school assembly to present the first annual Parker Middle School Hero’s Among Us award to Mrs. Peach and also a student group that participated in the ALS Walk on October 3rd. At the assembly, students led the ceremony speaking brilliantly about Mrs. Peach, her dedication, service and commitment to “…her kids…” the students of Parker Middle School. It was a wonderful day!

At the ALS Walk (see the video below), we had 44 students and 10 teachers who participated as part of the 137 person team that represented Cheryl Peach. The team raised over $17,000.00 for ALS research and it was a terrific day to be part of such a thoughtful service project that touched someone so close to us.

A take away here for our student leaders is, think big, be committed to what you want to do for yourself and others. Share your ideas and your enthusiasm for the work and great things can happen. The school assembly and the service walk would not have taken place had it not been for our student leaders. We are so very proud of our Peer Leaders and especially eighth grade student leaders, Meghan Barry, Kate Mignosa, Sarah Bond and Meghan Zeigler. They are such a fine representation of the community and of our work here as educators!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It's Colombus Day weekend.  The weather is perfect.  The trees are stunning and I’m waiting for my son’s soccer game to start.  Perfect time to reflect back on the week at Parker.  It was a busy week.  The magazine drive is wrapping up.  The kids have been really terrific about participating in the fundraiser.  They have sold hundreds of magazines.  This event ends this week with a culminating activity on Friday night.  Parker’s own Minute to Win It game show will be held on Friday night from 7-9.  All are welcome to come and watch.  Students who have sold at least six magazines will be allowed to participate in the event.  We had another team breakfast this week.  Thanks again to Michelle Biggio for coordinating these early morning get togethers.  She is expert at creating the perfect ambiance.  We have one more breakfast next week.  Also this week we held our first school council meeting on Wednesday night.  Dr. John Doherty came to speak with us about his entry plan for year one of his superintendency.  Immediately following school council we held our second PTO meeting of the year.  Dr. Doherty also presented to this group.  He is looking for feedback and suggestions from the Reading community as he plans out the year.  On Wednesday afternoon the district committees met for the first time.  This is a great opportunity for teachers in the district to get together and collaborate around a common goal.  On Thursday the Black team visited Plum Island and the Spencer Pierce Little Farm.  This is a great trip and offers students the opportunity to experience what its like to be an archaeologist and to do some birding with our building expert, Mr. Williams.  Also on Thursday Doug Lyons and Stacey Sherpe attended a MARC training on bullying.   More to follow on Parker’s efforts to integrate the new bullying legislation.  Finally, on Friday progress reports for first quarter were updated to edline.  Please be sure to check edline regularly for news and information.  If you are having trouble accessing edline please contact Meg Powers.  mpowers@reading.k12.ma.us
As always, if you need anything please just let us know.  Thanks and have a great week.  –Cathy & Doug


Friday, October 1, 2010

October 1st

It's hard to believe that it's October 1st.  The weeks seem to really fly by.  This past week we had a lot of excitement with the magazine drive.  It's not too late to participate in this fundraiser.  Ask your son or daughter about it or visit Edline for more information.  On Sunday many of our students are participating in the ALS walk to support Mrs. Peach, one of our cafeteria managers.  It is so great to see the Parker Community help each other in times of need. Next week we have a PTO meeting on Wednesday night at 7:00.  Please join us if you can.  Next week we also have several more team breakfasts.  A big thank you to Michelle Biggio and her crew for organizing these wonderful events.  As always, if you have any questions or concerns please just give a call or send an email.  --Doug and Cathy