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Friday Focus 101714

posted Oct 17, 2014, 10:46 AM by Michael Lepene   [ updated Oct 17, 2014, 10:47 AM ]


RMS Friday Focus 
Friday, October 17 2014

RMS fields in October at recess.

+Principal’s Corner

Dear Parents/Guardians, 

Good afternoon! This week I thought I would share an example of some professional development the staff was engaged in at a recent staff meeting. Hanover High School teacher Margaret Caldwell led a session on the Harkness method. Staff were able to hear about Margaret's efforts to implement the strategy into her classroom and we watched her run a simulation using some staff member volunteers. 

The Harkness Method is a way of organizing discussions where participants come prepared to share, discuss, and discover. Participants typically sit at a round or oval table with a designated facilitator. Regardless of the subject or topic the emphasis is on the conversation and group discovery. Participants are coached on how to listen carefully, speak respectfully, accept new ideas and question older ones. In addition to summarizing the discoveries or new ideas uncovered the facilitator also asks participants to reflect on the group process and their role in the discussion and outcomes. The goals and outcomes of this process fit well with several of our RMSExpectations for Student Learning. For more on the Harkness method and some examples from Phillips Exeter Academy click here

Prior to the staff meeting, Margaret had our participants read an article on the Cold War and Nuclear Arms race to prepare for the discussion. During the discussion, Margaret prompted us with some quotes from the article. We initially reacted to the quote or prompt but quickly moved to responding to each other. Listening was critical as we looked to build on something that was said or if we hoped to offer a counter-point. Through the discussion we covered a myriad of topics that extended well-beyond the specific issue of nuclear weapons such as leadership, conflict-resolution, conflicts in the world today, systems-thinking and communications. 

Following the demonstration, we looked at various rubrics and tools to formatively evaluate both the participation of individuals and also the success of the exercise as a whole. Staff were given the opportunity to think about strategies they use to organize discussions in their classrooms and content areas. We talked specifically about strategies to engage different types of learners and how to build skills for all students. Moving forward, as we observe each other teach we'll look at facilitated classroom discussions with an expanded toolbox and be better equipped to ask questions and offer feedback.

Collaboration between staff members both within the school and across the district offers opportunities for reflection and professional growth. We are fortunate to have talent and innovative ideas all around us and look forward to future opportunities to learn together. As we continue on this journey I'll share some of the stories with you.

Michael Lepene 

+RMS Quick Poll 

Last week we asked you about your possible interest in some parent inservice opportunities and what topics you might suggest. We received some terrific ideas and suggestions. I'll list a few of them here and will share the list with our staff so they we might think of a variety of formats and opportunities to explore the topics in greater detail with our community. Some may lend themselves to a Friday Focus format and others may fit well with evening or day presentations or trainings. We thank you for letting us know where we can help!

A sampling of suggested topics:
-SAU leadership and Decision-Making: Who is in what role? How are decisions-made? Where can the public provide more input?
-Navigating Social Media: Tips for Parents and ideas for talking to teens about pros/cons.
-Ins and Outs of extra-curricular activities provided through the community and the school: What is available and how to access them? Ideas for striking a balance between scheduled/programmed time and open time for children.
-Homework support and resources: Tips and strategies for supporting children with their homework.
-The Adolescent Brain: How it develops and learns.
-How to be more involved and supportive of the school community and efforts. What opportunities are available or could be made available to do more?
-Technology: Specific how-to sessions, screen-time conversations, opportunities for enrichment/extensions at home.
-Break-out groups: Writing workshops, Parenting in the Middle, Managing Stress and Career Changes, Digital and Non-Digital texts and resources, Parenting Strategies and Discussion-Groups.
-Priorities and Vision for the Future of RMS.

This week's poll question:
We are beginning our annual budget conversations here at RMS through staff meetings, committee conversations and an annual review of spending from the previous year. As we move through the process I'll provide some highlights and thoughts through the weekly Friday Focus. For the poll question this week I would love to hear some of your early thoughts. 
-What programs or priorities would you suggest be a part of our budget conversations this year? Examples might include creating a homework club for all students at RMS, considering new textbooks for a subject area, adding additional supports for students, creating new or different field experiences for students, and many others. 
We look forward to hearing your big ideas! I'll be sure to share them with our budget committee as they come in.

+All School News and Events (RMS web site has GoogleCal with events and dates/times) 


Friday, October 24  -Chris Waddell Nametags Assembly and RMS School Dance

Monday, October 27 -Q2 Electives Arena Scheduling

+RMS Notes and Information

-On Friday the 24th, Chris Waddell will be bringing his "Nametags" presentation to the students and staff at the Richmond Middle School.  Chris Waddell is a multi gold medal Paralympic skier.  He became a paraplegic after a ski injury during college.  Chris travels around the world speaking with groups about overcoming obstacles in your life.  In addition to the school assembly, on the evening of October 23rd Chris will be showing the documentary film about his amazing climb up Mt Kilimanjaro in a specially designed wheelchair.  The film is called "One Revolution".  Chris will be here to answer questions and discuss his experiences.  The film will be shown at 7:00pm in the RMS auditorium and is open to any community members. For more information on either event please contact John Lacrosse.

-Flu Clinic: Thursday's student flu vaccination clinic was a success. 106 (25%) students were vaccinated against the flu. A team of 4 parent volunteers, 4 RNs, 1 Paramedic and 3 RMS Staff members helped to make sure this event ran smoothly. Thank you Kim Wilson, Jeanne Ball, Elizabeth Harrison and Gayle Aspinwall. Our Clinic attendance was up 2% from last year, and we will be considering mailing next years clinic forms in advance for optimal parent/student access. Thank you for supporting our efforts to keep the RMS community healthy. 

-General Health Information: The health office received 483 visits for the month of September. General illness that was seen in the beginning of the year has decreased (cough, colds, fevers). Students have responded kindly to my student health presentation at each 6, 7 and 8th grade PE classes, by usually saying to me "We know Mrs. Pelletier, we should wash our hands". The State of New Hampshire Health Department supplies the health office with daily and weekly statewide health updates. Here are the recent recommendations for "What Parents Need to Know About The EnteroVirus D68".  Also of value is a short article by DHMC's Dr. Altomare on "Making Sense of Recent Health Headlines".  Have a restful weekend -Abigale Pelletier, RN  

-Reminders from the office: (1) If your student participates in after school sports, please have a plan in place with them so that they know what to do/how to get home in the event of a cancelation.  Cancelations are posted in the lobby each afternoon. On days when the weather is bad and there are multiple cancelations, we cannot get individual messages to all the students affected. (2) Messages are delivered to homeroom cubbies each day at 2:30 (1:30 on Weds).  If you call after 2:30 we will try our best, but cannot guarantee that the message will reach your student.

-Sustainability at RMS News: The RMS Cafe has started buying local cider and unwaxed, unstickered apples from Walhowdon Farm to sell in the cafe to students. In addition, we are purchasing our salad mix locally from Wild Water Farm. Buying local products helps decrease our carbon footprint because the travel time from farm to table is decreased dramatically from the national average of 1,500 miles it is typically transported. Local food and beverages provide the freshest, healthiest and tastiest options for students and staff. It also helps our community members. Walhowdon Farm is located in Lebanon, NH and Wild Water Farm is located in Quechee, Vermont.  The RMS Cafe also makes attempts to purchase season local produce as it is available and fits with their menu. More exciting news from our Cafe will be coming soon!

-The RMS Student Council is sponsoring a food drive to benefit The Haven beginning Tuesday, October 14 through October 31. Please send in food items to help us reach our school goal of 3000 food items! Cash donations are also welcome (checks should be made out to: The Haven)--each dollar donated counts as 2 food items towards our goal! As always, thanks for your support!
The RMS Student Council

+Community Calendar and Activities 

-Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) 
 Wednesday, October 22, 2014 Francis C. Richmond Middle School Gym 7:00 to 9:00 pm
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) established a Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) to provide a forum for communication and public participation in the environmental investigations and restoration being performed in and around the USACE Engineer Research and Development Center’s Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) facility on Lyme Road in Hanover, New Hampshire. CRREL and the RAB are hosting a Community Open House to present information to the public about the ongoing environmental restoration program.The Open House will be held on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 in the Richmond Middle School gymnasium at 63 Lyme Road, Hanover, from 7 pm to 9 pm. The format will include multiple stations covering various topics to allow interaction with USACE experts and contractors working on the project. For more information about the RAB and the Open House, please contact Darrell A. Moore, 978-318-8152

-Dartmouth is trying to break a record in the Guinness Book of Records with the most people taking a big bite out of apples at the same time! The community is invited and Dartmouth Dining Services will provide Walhowdon Farm, Patch Family apples for everyone. The crunch will be on Monday, October 20th at 3:15 so stop by right after school! Click Here for more Information. 

-Family Dance with Cuckoo's Nest and caller Adina Gordon. Sat. Oct 25 5:00-6:30 pm Tracy Hall, Norwich, VT. Please bring a clean change of shoes. Children should be accompanied for this event. Admission: Adults $5, kids Free! Potluck supper at 6:30 pm8:00 pm - Contradance (better-suited to middle-school aged kids and up). These contra and square dances are traditional Vermont and New England social dances that have been danced for many generations in town halls, barns and kitchens all across the state.  The music is provided by fiddle, guitar, and mandolin.  All dances are taught and called.  

-One of our RMS Robotics teams, League of Learners, is looking for a volunteer.  If you have a lead, please e-mail or Tony Dietz, team coach, at The team ​is​ looking for a volunteer sign interpreter to work with Sheila Babbitt when she talks to our middle school robotics team. We would like to find a volunteer for an hour or so next Saturday afternoon (Oct 25th). As part of the Richmond Middle School Lego Robotics Competition, the team had to (1) chose something we always wanted to learn, (2) create an innovative solution that improves the learning experience, and (3) share our solution with others. Our team (LoL - League of Learners) brainstormed a lot of ideas and eventually settled on unspoken languages, specifically sign language, as their topic.  Their problem statement is 'How could we improve the way that someone learns sign language?'​"​

-SAVE THE DATE--Join your neighbors at the Solarize Hanover event, Oct 236:30-8:00 p.m. HHS. Save money on solar panels through group purchasing power.