Wednesday, August 24, 2016

2016 Minute Meetings with 6th Grade!

   Welcome to CMS 6th Graders. Today, Mr. Barry is going to introduce himself to you, show you where his office is, and have you answer the following four questions all in under 1 minute! Awesome! Please click the response that best fits your answer. Thank you!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

College Visit 2016 Next Month!!

8th Graders:
   Next month, all of you get a chance to tour a college campus. The classrooms, the dorm rooms, the buildings, the sports facilities, and much more! You will get a chance to hear from college students about their experience. And....you get to do this all during the school day and it is FREE! This is our 2nd annual 8th Grade College Tour and it will take place on Wednesday, March 30th. Please take the survey below so we know which college you would like to tour. About 40 students will go on each trip and we will try our best to get you into your 1st or 2nd choice.

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Fastest (or Slowest) Three Weeks in a School Year!

         With the Thanksgiving Holiday now officially over and the next holiday break not too far in our future, now is the BEST time to be focused on grades and school work. Even when I taught at the high school, I always thought the time between the two holiday breaks is the most important time for a student’s educational year outside the month of May. At the high school, it is almost the end of the a long semester and a chance to move each grade up just a notch before the all-important semester exams. With our middle school doing trimesters, it isn’t the end of a grading period, but it is right smack in the middle and that is just as important. And with winter sports in full swing and the excitement of the upcoming break and holiday, middle school students don’t always focus so well during this time period. This is why these 3+ weeks are so important. Grades are just starting to come in for the trimester and good grades over this time period can really set them up for a good 2016. By the time we hit the holiday break, our trimester is basically half over and it is much easier to have our hard work show positive results in the first half of the trimester than in the second half of the trimester.  So, while I know times are busy and hectic and there is a lot going on not only in the lives of our students, but in the lives of their families as well, please take some time each day to discuss the school day and keep the focus on your child’s education. 

Did you know?? We now have more “days off” than “days of school” left before January 4th.  Want to know the math? We have 17 days left of school in 2015, but if you count weekends and our entire Winter Break, we have 18 days of break. So….just another reason to work hard every day….your child gets plenty of time to rest and relax in the upcoming month!

Other tips to keep your child focused during this time.....

*Have a routine. Pick a time and place each night to do homework or simply check to make sure homework is done. Be a part of this process. Don't just send your child to their room for an hour, make homework an activity that you are involved with and help where you can. If your child says they have "no homework", have a discussion about their day and look up their grades together on Infinite Campus to review how they have done.

*Use "Growth Mindset" vocabulary with your child. Your child will be hearing about Growth Mindsets during Advisory this month and learning that failure and mistakes are okay, the goal is to learn from these. Don't praise your child on their outcomes, but on their process. Say things like "I like how hard you worked on your homework!" or "Keep practicing, keep trying. Effort is the key." or "Our goal is to do better than the last assignment....not perfection." Growth Mindsets and the language of growth mindsets have been proven to keep students motivated, on-task, and wanting to do more and to keep trying on their work.

*Small and frequent rewards. Find some little things you can do with your child, for your child, or possibly even get for your child for little rewards along the way. This could be extra technology time, game activities, their favorite snack or dinner, or even some items from the dollar bin at Target or the dollar store. Doesn't have to be much, but little fun things to reward their focus and hard work. Make learning and focus fun!

*Calendar/Chart. I am not a big fan of "Countdown Charts", but these can work and can keep your child motivated. It might help them keep track of their busy schedule both at school and outside of school. Middle School students like routine and like to know what is coming next, so a calendar or chart can really help.

*Be supportive. Even if you don't do any of the things listed above, being supportive is so important. Your child thrives on positive energy and feedback. While the holidays can bring stress, this stress gets easily transferred onto your child if they sense that you are stressed. It is what makes middle school so interesting....students feed off of the emotions of others. Your child feeds off of your emotion, so stay calm and be supportive and you will be amazed at how this can change the attitude of your child.

  Good luck and let me know if I can be of any help in this process. Have a great December!!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Breaking the Technology Addiction.....How??




     I will be the first to admit it, I might be addicted to technology. This coming from a guy who once said he would never own a cell phone and only finally agreed to get a phone (but not use it!) because his pregnant wife said he needed one  just in case she went into labor. Fast-forward 10 years and 5 kids later, and I have my cell phone by me 24 hours a day. But what really worries me is when my 5-year old son says his best friend is "the IPad" and when asked what he is thankful for, his answer is "IPad!". Um...we have a problem. Fortunately, all problems can be solved or at least worked on. And fortunately, a radio DJ this weekend had several solutions we, as parents, can try. So, if your kids are like mine (or better or worse), here is a list of things you can try.

1. Sit down and have a conversation with them about technology use. And write up some expectations (rules, contract....whatever you want to call it). This doesn't make you bad parents for not laying down the law. Kids will buy into the expectations more if they have some input. They may surprise you with what their limits should be. This conversation should include all types of technology, not just phones or IPads, but game systems, E-readers, etc. But get the expectations in writing so everyone can agree upon it and review it from time to time and maybe update it.

2. Create Tech-Free zones. The dinner table, after 9 p.m., during homework time, church, etc. This can be part of your family discussion. But technology should not interrupt family time or other important times. As for late night technology use, screens are not good just before bedtime. It affects all of us and our ability to fall asleep quickly and have good, sound sleep. Pre-teens and teens don't really need technology in their room, but if they do, make sure it isn't keeping them up at night. Believe it or not, I have several students who wake up in the middle of the night (some even set their alarms!) and play on their phones or watch Netflix from 2-5 a.m.!! Technology is supposed to be useful and fun, not limit our family time or hurt our bodies. These Tech-Free zones might help us all get our families, and our sleep, back!

3. Discuss what Technology we are all using and why? Reading a book on an E-Reader or playing Cool Math Games online....not a bad choice for technology. Playing Call of Duty and killing video-humans or zombies for hours on end....probably not the best choice. Playing candy crush on a smart phone all through dinner versus texting back and forth with a friend who just moved away and had a rough first day at his new school.....pretty easy choice as to which is good and which is bad. Again, technology is meant to help us, not make us into mindless drones. It is no secret that the most popular games have endless levels and give extra lives and powerups. Remember the good ol' days when you have 3 PacMan lives and if you died 3 times you went back to your seat at Pizza Hut and enjoyed your family and good pizza. Well, technology creators have solved this problem by making sure kids and teens can play over and over and over and never quit if they want. A little mindless fun is okay every now and then, but if it is consuming their time and causing other things to not get done (homework, chores), then it is a problem. Not to mention what games, apps, social networking sites are appropriate vs. non-appropriate for certain ages.

4. Be there with your child when they are using technology as much as possible. Not only can you monitor their time, but you can monitor what they are doing with that time. Safe and appropriate use is key as they are learning and consuming technology. We wouldn't let our children drive a car without going through many steps and having us along their side and we wouldn't allow them to work a job without some training and a boss and co-workers supporting their learning, so why would we let them use technology without our help, support, and monitoring?

5. Last, but not least.....reflect on your technology use. I will admit it, my kids use technology a lot because I do. But I am getting better at modeling how I use technology so my kids see this and hopefully follow my lead. This means no phone or tablet at the dinner table, no texting and driving, no violent or pointless video games, and other expectations I want my kids to follow. I do have the urge to do these things sometimes, but I push that urge aside not just for me, but for my kids. Learning by example and observation is what kids do best, so no matter what rules and things you try to do, if you can't stick to them, your kids likely will not be able to either.

   I will leave you with this video which I have seen before, but I saw it on a few sites as I researched for this blog. It is a good reminder why we should not be glued to our screens.





Tuesday, October 27, 2015

8th Grade Student Needs Assessment

Students, please take the following survey by clicking "Agree" or "Disagree" for each statement. If you need help in an area, click "Agree". That help may be by offering you an invite to a group that will be working with that topic, inviting you in to speak with a counselor about the issue, or by sending you information about that topic. Either way, we want to know what our students need help with. You answers will be kept confidential with only the counselors knowing what you personally marked for answers. We will collect class data to provide to your teachers, but will not use individual names. Thank you for taking the time to do this survey and please stop in our office if you ever need help with anything!!

8th Grade Bully/Harassment Fall 2015 Survey

Students, please take the time to answer the following 10 questions about bullying and harassment. Your answers will be kept anonymous and confidential. We want to know more about bullying and harassment in our building and hearing from students is the best way possible to do this. When finished, click the "submit" button. Thank you!

7th Grade Bully/Harassment Survey

    Students, please take the time to answer the following 10 questions about bullying and harassment. Your answers will be kept anonymous and confidential. We want to know more about bullying and harassment in our building and hearing from students is the best way possible to do this. When finished, click the "submit" button. Thank you!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

6th Grade Needs Assessment

Students, please take the following survey by clicking "Agree" or "Disagree" for each statement. If you need help in an area, click "Agree". That help may be by offering you an invite to a group that will be working with that topic, inviting you in to speak with a counselor about the issue, or by sending you information about that topic. Either way, we want to know what our students need help with. You answers will be kept confidential with only the counselors knowing what you personally marked for answers. We will collect class data to provide to your teachers, but will not use individual names. Thank you for taking the time to do this survey and please stop in our office if you ever need help with anything!!

6th Grade Bully/Harassment Fall 2015 Survey

  Students, please take the time to answer the following 10 questions about bullying and harassment. Your answers will be kept anonymous and confidential. We want to know more about bullying and harassment in our building and hearing from students is the best way possible to do this. When finished, click the "submit" button. Thank you!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

How Carving a Jack-o-Lantern is like Parenting. Seriously.


   As I started my Saturday morning with my wife under the weather and needing me to occupy the kids in some activity so they would let her sleep, my daughter suggested we carve the two large pumpkins that have sat on our kitchen floor for over a week. While my initial thought was "How come I didn't hide those so the kids would forget?", I decided that this would be a good family activity that would take a large amount of time and the kids would love it. So, perfect idea Abby! An hour later, we were done with one pumpkin and I made a funny Facebook post about how carving pumpkins is a great analogy for parenting and thought I was done. But when others agreed that this was a great analogy, I gave it more thought and I think I am on to something. The whole pumpkin carving process is truly like parenting and I came away from this morning activity appreciating my kids and the process of parenting even more. It also helped that my daughter had so much fun that she demanded to do the 2nd pumpkin all by herself while I iced my sore carving hand. :)

   So, let's start from the beginning. Going to the pumpkin patch to pick out the perfect pumpkin and then bringing it home. But you can't carve it yet, you have to also buy the special carving tools and the buy the patterns (or go online where they are free!). You have to find the perfect pattern and cut it out and get your carving station all set up. This all takes awhile, but you will be much better off if everything is ready to go before you start. Hmmm.....sounds a lot like having your first child! All the preparation, buying all the supplies and books and reading all the parenting tips and strategies, and of course getting the nursery ready for the baby's big arrival. This is the fun and exciting part, just like getting ready to carve the pumpkin is fun and exciting, especially for the other kids in your family. But at some point, it is time to start, and that is where it gets tough.

   When you start carving, you quickly realize that the hope of your pumpkin turning out like the pattern you chose is likely gone. You really have no shot at recreating what the picture shows, but that isn't a bad thing. It is still fun. But then it keeps going....and going.....and going. Your hand cramps up, a tool breaks, you realize the plastic tools you bought don't work and one might even break. You find new tools. You throw some things. You swear (only a little). You step back and look at your creation several times before convincing yourself that you can do this and you need to finish what you started. You might even watch a Youtube "How to" video (I have!) or ask someone else who has tried carving a pumpkin for some advice. Either way, this is way harder than you thought. It was so easy when you were a kid and you just cut 3 triangles and a silly mouth. Now, you are trying to cut a vampire chasing a bat in a wooded setting and the final product is suppose to look like something Da Vinci did in his prime. Yours? Not so much.

   This represents the part of parenting you are likely in right now: from birth to adulthood. It isn't as easy as it looks (trust me....I have 5 Jack-o-Lanterns at home!). The tools and books you bought don't always work and you are constantly asking for advice (and yes, likely even watching some Youtube parenting advice videos). You may throw things, you may swear, you may cry, and you may walk away to take a break. But you keep coming back because this is your creation and you need to finish what you started, even if raising your children isn't going exactly as you planned. Parenting is tough and you get tired. A lot. And it's messy...just like carving a pumpkin. But when you step back and look at it, as frustrating as it may be, it is fun and worthwhile. You learn things as you go and you get better at it and soon you are giving advice to others. Maybe the biggest difference between carving a pumpkin and parenting is you eventually finish carving the pumpkin, but you are never done parenting.

   But.....there is a time to put the pumpkin outside for others to enjoy. You put a light inside your new Jack-o-Lantern and now it is on it's own. There is a time like this for parenting too. Eventually, we need to let our kids shine their light for others to see and to be out on their own. That's the best part of the Jack-o-Lantern....getting them out into the real world with a light to show off their specialness and uniqueness and for others to enjoy. We know that from the moment we buy the pumpkin....they will eventually not be in our kitchen, but outside for others. I would like to think that the pumpkin has the same goal (maybe?).


   So what does this all mean? Well, for me, it meant to enjoy a fun family activity and had me reflecting on how many more times I will get moments like this with my kids. But it also helped me enjoy the carving process instead of dreading it. It helped me realize that even though parenting is tough and a struggle, I need to enjoy these moments, not dread some of them. It made me appreciate my final Jack-o-Lanterns because even though they weren't perfect, they were mine and they were special. And once we got a light in them and took the picture you see above, we were all pretty excited and proud. It was hard work, but fun work and our family loved the final product. It may have been a struggle, but our family is all smiles now and that is a great thing!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

7th Grade Student Needs Assessment

7th Graders....please take the survey below. Your answers will be kept confidential and only viewed by our counseling staff here at the middle school. Ms. Flagor and I will review each of your answers and possibly form groups or invite you to participate in groups that focus on topics you have marked "agree" on. Regardless of your answers, we always invite you in to talk to us about any needs you have or any help you would like to receive. Even if all you need is for someone to listen.....we are here for that too! When finished with the survey, just click submit and you may log out. Thank you!