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The Brain: A Meaning Creator

As an educator, I am fascinated with the brain and all the mysteries it holds to the way we process and learn information. Through my ‘twitter-sphere’, I discovered TED Talks and a brief and powerful talk about the way the brain creates meaning. As I watched and listened to this talk, I was reminded of the critical and necessary need for all learning to be visual–as well as interactive and repetitive. At Georgetown, we continue to refine ALL our instruction so that we are meeting the needs of varied learning needs with an emphasis on visual directions that also include modeled instruction. This talk helps to explain why this is a best practice strategy for instruction.

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Mrs. Brouwer is an Artist in the Summer, too!

Many of you know Mrs. Brouwer as our art teacher.  It is also important to note that she is also an ARTIST.   I realize that this may not surprise or shock you, and this makes logical sense.  What I do find most amazing is that Mrs. Brouwer shares her work as an artist with her students and also BLOGS about her work–even in the summer months.  This summer she is exploring the art of collage. Please visit her blog and leave an arsty comment to encourage her creative energy!

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Math Facts: Cool Tips for Parents

If you are working on math facts with your child over the summer months, I have a helpful link that is worth checking out.  The authors of this blog provide strategies for learning addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts.  MATH FACTS

If you are looking for a site that provides practice with facts, here are some additional links to check out!

Kids Numbers

Online Math

Math TV – Video Mathematics Lessons

Ghost Blasters, Math Blasters

Math A Tube
Who Wants Pizza?

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I have something to say…

JUST WRITE WAS JUST PERFECT!

Many thanks to everyone who participated in this event!  Throughout the week, we had well over 1,000 family and friends tour the building to read our writing in books,  on lockers, and on the walls. In addition to writing tours, we hosted Shirley Neitzel, author of over 14 books for children. Our week ended with JUST WRITE SKITS–student writing performed by our Broadway bound staff! We have compiled a slide show that highlights all the activities of the past week. ENJOY…and remember this:

If you have something to say, JUST WRITE!

NOTE:  You can still purchase a copy of our  JUST WRITE story collections at our lulu storefront. You may also download a copy of for FREE.

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Celebrating Our MEAP Scores

The Michigan Department of Education has finally given us permission to release our MEAP scores.  These were published in the press last week, and I would like to share our results with you!  You can view this year scores in comparison to 2006 and 2007 by clicking on the attached document:  MEAP Results 08

We are very proud of the way in which our students performed.  We opened our school in the fall of 2006–with students coming from 7 + different schools (with varied curriculum and instruction) and staff from 4 + schools.  You can see that each year, our curriculum approach has tightened and this is evident by scores that have gone up every year, and scores that remain in the 90% percentile ranking.  The teachers at Georgetown are focused on best practice instruction and our students in all grades put their very best in working hard and learning well!  We are very proud of them.

We have focused very intensively on writing these past three years.  We have celebrated every gain and have noticed that our students have improved exponentially on their school writing assessments.  In some cases, we have seen students improve their scores low to high within one year.  This is due to our work on the craft of writing (Lucy Calkin’s Writing Program) and our focus on student’s owning their writing progress (rubric bases assessment).

We have, however, been very frustrated by the scores we have received from the state.  Although the state has shown that we have improved, none (that means zero) of our students have received a proficient score of ONE (1) in spite of their incredible improvement on our assessments.  It is important to note that throughout our district, not ONE student received a proficient score in grades 3-8.

As a teacher of writing, a writing trainer, and an advocate for writing to teach other subjects, I have been extremely frustrated with the inconsistent writing results.  I was even more frustrated when I found out that student papers received only one reading last year.  In the past, papers received a reading by two assessors–and any papers that had a discrepant score were read by another assessor.

I was happy to hear that our state Superintendent Mike Flanagan listened to many of our concerns about these results that lacked reliability and integrity.  The writing portion of the MEAP will be re-evaluated and retooled so that the results indicate true writing strengths beginning in the fall of 2010.  To find out more about the flaws in the writing assessment, read this excellent article by a west Michigan parent and writer.

Writing will be a focus of improvement at our school in all grades, every year.  We are amazed by the writing (essays, memoirs, personal narratives and poetry) that our students in grades K-5 are producing.  To view their published work, visit our school storefront at lulu.com In addition, we will be celebrating our writing school wide the week of May 4th with stories published on lockers, walls, and monitors.  We will be reading stories over the intercom and performing stories with a star studded cast.  More about this event is found here:  JUST WRITE. Remember, if you have something to say…JUST WRITE!

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April is Poetry Month

I found this wonderful site called GOODY BLOG.  I thought I would share it with you. It is powered by Parents Magazine.

Alphabetica Their recent post features information about National Poetry Month: April.   Our school wide writing program features a poetry unit of study.  Each year, teachers share their surprise and excitement regarding the quality pieces of poetry produced by students in every grade.  Knowing that many teachers save this unit of study for the spring months, I thought you might enjoy this post.

” April was the lucky month dubbed National Poetry Month and poets.org told me this: T. S. Eliot wrote, “April is the cruelest month.” It is our hope that National Poetry Month lessens that effect.
So in honor of April, poetry and all the non-weather-resistant shoes stuck in our closets for another 30 days, I present Alphabetica, Odes to the Alphabet. This bright, intricately designed kid’s book dedicates a poem and a picture-filled page to each letter of the alphabet. As a bad-weather bonus, “P” is for puddles. Here’s an excerpt, “Splishy, splashy, getting drenched, puddle-jumping, sopping wet..”  Sopping wet, indeed. ”

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BMS 6th Grade Orientation

5th Grade Parents:

Baldwin Street Middle School will be holding its 6th Grade Parent/Student Orientation Night on Monday,   May 4, from 7:00-8:30 p.m.  On this night parents and students will meet our administrators and counselors.  They will also learn about our academic, exploratory, prime time, and extended opportunity programs, and have ample time to ask questions.  The Orientation Night schedule is as follows:

7:00-7:45 – Overview of Middle School Program
7:45-8:00 – Q&A Session
8:00-8:30 – Opportunity to tour the building

If you have questions, please contact BMS at 669-7750.

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Raey Guang Blog Connection Made!

I am very excited to share with you that our sister school, Raey Guang Elementary, has successfully loaded photos, videos and texts to our common blog, BLOGPALS: Schools that Blog Together, Learn Together.

Please visit the blog to see how the students in Taiwan learn conversational English.  The examples posted include “How to check out a library book” and “How to explain you are not feeling well.”

Enjoy!

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Baldwin Middle Welcomes our 5th Graders!

From Mr. Dave Powers, Principal of BMS:

Dear Fifth Grade Parent/Guardian:
It is time to begin the process of welcoming your child to Baldwin Street Middle School and plan for this new world that is sixth grade. Whether they have older siblings who have been at BMS before or not, your student will encounter this transition in his or her own unique way, and we aim to make it a positive experience.
We are excited about the transition activities in store for you and have quite a program set up to make both you and your child comfortable with the change that awaits. The process gets under way on Wednesday, March 18, when we welcome all incoming sixth graders to Baldwin Street Middle School for a special visit. The complete schedule for this visit can be viewed by clicking:
BMS parent-letter-09-10

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