Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Parent Partnerships

WE NEED YOUR HELP!!! Our goal at the Graettinger-Terril Middle School is for all of our students to take pride in their school, and to perform at a high academic level. After reviewing student grades over the 2nd trimester, I’m asking for teachers to improve communication with parents and your help and support to raise the performance level of our students.

Beginning March 29th, we will begin having Academic Assistance, rather than Monday School. Rather than notifying you weekly of missing assignments, we will be notifying you if your child has a D or F in any of their classes (you will receive the letter the same day you would have for Monday School). If they do, they will be required to stay the following Monday night for Academic Assistance with the teacher in the class they are struggling in (even if their grade is improved before Monday).

As parents and guardians I’m asking you to do the following (if you are not already):

1. Talk to your child and reinforce your expectations about their academic performance.

2. Check your child’s grades online weekly and talk to them if you have a concern with their grades. There is a vast amount of research that shows parent involvement is a key factor in their child’s academic success.

3. Ask your child to see their planner. If it is blank, and they are not doing well in classes, require them to use it.

4. Support the teachers educating your child.

We know that your child is the greatest asset that you have. We are very fortunate that you allow us to share them with you every day. Together, we can improve the education your child is receiving. If you have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Committee of Ten

So I started reading a new book, Curriculum 21-Essential Education for a Changing World, Edited by Heidi Hayes Jacobs. I'm only halfway through the first chapter, but it has immediately caught my attention. Some intriguing questions she has asked:
  1. What are the roots of our school-related habits and dated curriculum?
  2. What if sports where ran like education? Can you imagine preparing for a football game, and you get to another school and the field is actually the size of a soccer field? (Her point is that all states have different curriculum, yet we try to compare them)
  3. Do kids feel like they are entering time machines when they enter our schools?
We only have so much time (because our attention span for reading blogs are only so long), so I wanted to share a little history lesson on The Committee of Ten. This was a group of prestigious educators in 1892 who were asked by the National Educational Association to research how America needed to deal with the influx of students in schools. The reason there was an influx was because at this time in America there was a little thing called the industrial age, so there were less people living on farms and more people living in cities.

There was much debate! The core of the debate centered around the following:
  • Should schools focus on memorization or critical thinking?
  • Should schools group students into college-bound and working-trades?
  • Should there be standardized courses all students must take?
  • Should schools focus on teaching Latin and Greek OR more practical studies?
  • How should schools assess their accomplishments?
So what did they decide? Click here for full report.
  1. All students need the same curriculum.
  2. School calendars will be based on the Agrarian calendar (180 days)
  3. Schooling would take place over 12 years (8 Elementary and 4 High School).
  4. English, history, civics, mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics would be the focus.
So there you have it! A century ago 10 guys sat around a table and decided the pedagogy that still exists in schools!

My question to you is this: how many of those same questions are we still asking ourselves today? Is our curriculum meeting the needs of our students for their future? Finally, knowing our current standards of how a school is ran was designed a century ago, what will it take to move forward for the betterment of future generations of students?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Cray-Pas Winners at GT!

Thousands of students participated in the "2010 Cray-Pas Wonderful, Colorful World Contest". They only select 150 students as finalist for this elite competition...BUT of the 150 finalist, 4 are right here at the Graettinger-Terril Middle School!! Congratulations to Ethan, Marcus, Jillian, and Danial for being finalist. Congrats also to Rae Ann for being named honorable mention! The students received a t-shirt with their own artwork displayed on it (see picture), a certificate, and a Cray-Pas art set. Special thanks to Mr. James for having our students participate in this competition. They represented our school very well!!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Invent Iowa TAG Contest

Graettinger-Terril Middle School TAG students will be competing in the "Invent Iowa" contest. During TAG Mrs. Miller has been facilitating the process of our students finding a problem, and then coming up with an invention to fix the problem. Part of the presentation has to be scientific research (through surveys and trial and error), market research, and doing cost analysis. Alex, Brady, Isaac, Beau, and Blake had some great ideas! Alex and Brady will be competing at Humboldt this weekend...Good Luck!!!