Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Principal Notes - September 2011

We would like to welcome you all back to Parker Middle School. If you are new to our school and have endured your son or daughter trying to explain the 6-day rotating schedule at the kitchen table, I am sure you will notice that they have it down and are doing quite well in their new environment. September is our busiest month, marked by Open House, Team Coffees, and Team Meetings. The teams of teachers are working hard to learn about your children and have been diligent establishing structures and routines that make the learning at Parker welcoming, accessible and appropriately challenging. If you have any questions or feedback for us please do not hesitate to drop a note to me at .

Focus on Teaching and Learning
We at Parker have for the last several years been working on helping students make their work public. The theme we talk about and share with visiting teacher teams and administrators who come to Parker to find out about student engagement and how to help students use technology and media to display their work is “…producing work for an audience greater than one…” The reference, audience greater than one, refers to the “old school” version of kid’s writing papers or taking tests that only the classroom teacher would see. We have learned that when we change the audience for kids (and teachers) the level and creativity of their work increases dramatically. We have learned that by using technology and media to allow students to share their work and get feedback, it improves their work product. You will see, and we think be pleasantly surprised at what your sons and daughters are producing. An exceptional video called Blue Ribbon Site Visit (April 2011) which can be found at the Parker site on Eduvision by going to ( simply click on the video screen with the name Blue Ribbon Site Visit. The Eduvision site is a virtual space we use to store and access video and documentary shorts produced by students and teachers and to stream Parker News Live for morning announcements. Let us know what you think?

In grades seven and eight there will be a particular emphasis on reading and writing in all classes as well as during FLEX periods. This is in response to our learning that our students are expert at using the internet to gather information, reformat text and produce work without truly needing to think about the content they are writing about. This issue is not specific to students at Parker but we are deliberately making a concerted effort to interrupt this pattern of writing without truly having to think about or apply what students are writing about.

If you are interested in reading some student work you can access “The Quill” Parker Middle School’s on-line News and Arts Journal at What is so outstanding about students writing in the Blog or Wordpress format is that it is making work public via the internet. Additionally, readers can comment on what student’s are writing in real time. The more feedback our kids get the more they improve!

Parker’s Instructional Leadership Team and Lab Classroom Group
We were notified last week that some of the Instructional Leadership Team and Lab Classroom Group work we have been doing here at Parker will be cited in a new book being published by Teachers College Press at Columbia University. The name of the book is: Where Adults Learn: A Guide for Instructional Leaders by Angela Breidenstein, Kevin Fahey, Carl Clickman and Frances Hensley. The work cited comes directly from the Instructional Leadership Team, the Lab Classroom group, site visits, participation in professional development activities and also interviews that were completed by Professor Kevin Fahey from Salem State University, and Francis Hensley from the University of Georgia. It is great to see our work regarded as a model from which other schools and teacher leaders can learn.

PTO Open House
Special thanks to the PTO President Mike May and Peer Leaders for organizing an outstanding Open House on Tuesday, September 20th. The feedback from parents was terrific. We hope that you left Parker with a sense of what your children go through traveling around the building from class to class. It also gives parents an opportunity to see and hear from teachers directly. Thank you!

Peer Leaders and Student Council
One of the fastest growing groups at Parker is our Peer Leader and Student Council Groups. These student groups participate, coordinate and lead service activities, community initiatives and projects that range from “Toys for Tots” to “The ALS Walk.” Students vote on which activities that they would like to lead and what groups they would like to support in the community and the world. With some help and a little coaching our students can achieve amazing things. I will write about our activities monthly to keep you updated. The two major community projects happening on October are “The Hero’s Among Us Award 2011” given annually to a member of the community who has made a difference in the lives of our middle school students (on October 14th) and the “ALS Walk” around Lake Quannapowitt in Wakefield (on October 15th). If you would like to join us in the ALS Walk please send a note to Chris Copeland at

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