Please look for this letter that was mailed home to all GWMS families. It should be arriving today or early next week!
August 24, 2015
I hope everyone had a relaxing, safe and fun summer. I had a very nice summer spending much of my time camping across southern Manitoba with my family. This is a picture of my wife Erin, son Bennett and dog Meeko camping at Birds Hill Park early in the summer (Meeko tends to be a bit camera shy!).
School is quickly approaching and I thought I’d send you a short letter welcoming you to George Waters Middle School or back for another year! We have many exciting things planned this year for all of our students. We are participating in Dot Day to kick off the year. Dot Day is all about being yourself and making your mark on the world. Later on in the year we will once again participate in The Great Kindness Challenge. This is a weeklong event where schools across the world focus on kindness and making the days of others better. This has been a focus of George Waters Middle School for the past few years. Our school day has been altered slightly as well. Start time and end time remain the same (8:30 AM and 3:20 pm) but our entrance times have been changed to maximize our daily reading after lunch and the length of all of our classes (All Sharks Read).
Areas of focus for everyone at GWMS are literacy, numeracy, and relationships. We will concentrate on learning more about the 21st Century Learning Skills. These include six big skills that are: Critical Thinking, Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, Citizenship, and Character. These skills are intended to give all people the opportunity to fulfill any goals they set their mind to. Teachers and students will use technology, paper/pencil, and a variety of other resources in all of our classes to encourage growth in all of these areas.
All students at George Waters will continue to send home ‘Daily Reflections’. Daily Reflections are meant to give all parents an insight into what happens everyday at school and it allows your children to communicate the good things they are doing at school and things they may need help with. Please read these as you can as they allow you to ask good questions about your child’s day at school and see what they are learning about everyday. We will also continue with our JAWSS Classes (Joint Activities with Staff and Students) where students will work closely with their homeroom teachers and classmates to talk about what’s happening in our school and in the world. Students also create their ‘Chomp’rehensive Growth Portfolio (We are the Sharks after all!) that parents can view at any time they pop into the school, or during one of our Portfolio Cafés throughout the year. The goal of JAWSS is to ensure each child at George Waters MS has a positive connection with at least one adult in the building. JAWSS usually happens two times per month.
We have some new initiatives at each grade in the classroom as well. At the grade 6 level, students and their teachers will participate in the Daily 5 everyday after lunch. The Daily 5™ is a framework for structuring literacy time so students develop lifelong habits of reading, writing, and working independently. At the grade 7 and 8 levels, all students will get the chance to learn how to code in one class per cycle. Coding is the method of making programs to run apps or programs. The late Steve Jobs of Apple stated, “Everybody in the country should learn how to program a computer... because it teaches you how to think.”
We will talk about the ‘Three Levels of Sharkdom’ everyday at GWMS. These are the expectations for everyone at our school. We expect, at the grade 6 level, for all students to ‘Get Involved’. Getting involved means attending everyday, asking questions in class, making mistakes, trying again, playing on teams and/or joining clubs. At the grade 7 level students are expected to ‘Stand Up for Others’ (and Get Involved). This means that our grade 7s should make sure everyone is feeling safe, to be helpful bystanders and to be positive role models for new students to our school. At the grade 8 level students are expected to be ‘Be a Philanthropist’ (and Stand Up for Others and Get Involved). This means to help make the days of others better by helping out around the school, thinking about making the world better. To watch a short clip that explains this well please follow this link: http://bit.do/gwphilanthropy.
We have a variety of ways for parents to stay connected to George Waters throughout the year. We don’t expect you to follow all of these but please use the one(s) that you are most comfortable with. Our daily news feed is on our blog (http://gwmssharks.blogspot.ca). This also includes our school calendar and daily announcements. Our social media feeds include Instagram (@gwmswpg), Twitter (@GeorgeWatersMS) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/GeorgeWatersMS). Our school website is at http://georgewaters.sjsd.net. This too has lots of helpful information on it. To get text message updates to your cell phone about important events happening at our school please text @gwmsa to (204) 800-2782.
Triad meetings to open our year (parent, child, teacher) are on September 9 and 10. This is a great chance to get to know your child’s homeroom teacher and see where your child will be spending much of their time over the next 10 months. Also, parents can make sure that all forms are signed, pay student fees, get locker information and share important information about your child to ensure everyone has the chance to have a successful start to the school year. Registration for triad meetings begin on September 1, 2015 by visiting http://bit.do/gwtriad or by calling the school office at 204-888-4898.
I am looking forward to a great start to a new school year. More important information about the new school year that was sent home in June can be found here: http://bit.do/GW_1516. Keep in touch by following our blog and/or our social media feeds. Your children and the GWMS staff will do amazing things everyday all year long. Everyone, at some point, will also make mistaks as well. It is important that we all respond in a positive manner when faced with difficult decisions and we keep the lines of communication open to make sure we give the most important people of George Waters Middle School, your children, the best chance for a successful school year,