Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Preventing Brain Drain Over Break!

Students, Teachers, Parents... heck, almost everyone, is excited for Winter Break! There is a lot of cheer throughout the hallways as Thursday approaches. 

One thing that we've noticed over the years is that many students see a lull in their performance at school when they return from break. That's an obvious conclusion for many of our readers, but what you may not know is how to prevent the brain drain that occurs over break. Here are a few helpful ideas:

1. Every student at Beach Middle School is required to read - don't let your student tell you otherwise! If you are looking for some good titles, there are some great resources at your local library or with Sheryl Dewyer here at Beach!

2. Making connections with school work and every day life - many of your students are currently working on projects, content, or literature that can be related to every day life. For instance, 7th graders are all reading "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens. Make the connection by showing your student different versions of that classic on television. My personal favorite is "Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol". 

3. Take 5 minutes to get updated - the hectic school and work schedules may have you out of the loop with your student's academic life. Take 5 minutes on 4 different days to go over core classes (English, Math, Social Studies, and Science) with your student. Have your child show you their teacher's Haiku page and their PowerSchool grades. This is a great way to remind students of their previous work, and a great way for you to reconnect.

4. Get organized! - your kiddos do a good job of juggling the flaming torches of school work. This winter break is a great opportunity for your student to get organized and purge their notebooks, folders, etc. Coming back from break with a clear mind and organized binder will take a lot of anxiety away.

5. Read with/to your student! - Studies show again and again that reading with/to your child can yield some of the greatest gains in their comprehension, fluency, and vocabulary. It does not matter what age your student is, it helps! 

The staff here at Beach wish you the most pleasant of times over the next few weeks, and we hope that your student is well-rested and happy for their return in January.

Happy Holidays, Chelsea!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Pre-Holiday Post!

Every one is feeling it right now. There's a bit of an itch - a tension that is palpable. Students (and staff) need a break! We have been on a grind since the start of the school year, and this Thanksgiving will be a welcomed respite.

There are a couple of things to keep an eye out for if you're interested in seeing our middle schoolers in action!

  • The Robotics Team will be competing in Mason this weekend and in Howell on 12/3! Bleep, bloop, bleep, whirrrrrr (that's Robot-talk for "Good luck")
  • The Boy's Basketball teams have begun their seasons. You can find the full athletic calendar here.
  • Science Olympiad is practicing after school and will begin competition soon!
  • The Drama Club is working their thespian hearts out! 
  • Our Making Money class, with Mr. Thorburn, is taking a field trip to the Junior Achievement Finance Park in Detroit. For more information check out this link.
  • Our WEB Leaders are planning some fun activities for our 6th graders, but I've been sworn to secrecy... gobble, gobble.
  • 6th graders are headed to the Henry Ford Museum to watch the IMAX movie about our National Parks on December 1st. I can't wait!
  • Band, Choir, and Orchestra have concerts the week of 12/5
  • The first home swim meet of the year is 12/12. Come visit Beach to watch aquarial (I made that word up) students compete!

Don't forget, the trimester ends 11/22. Schedules change and grades are finalized.

Enjoy your Turkey Day!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Athletics at BMS: hidden academic and social benefits

The Fall season is coming to a close around the state. Here at BMS, we saw all of the obvious benefits of extra-curricular sports: team work, socialization, and an increased understanding of their sport. What many people don't see, however, are the additional academic and social benefits of participating in athletics.

This blog post is not being negligent in leaving out important after school clubs and organizations like Science Olympiad, Robotics, and others. However, there are obvious academic benefits to participation in those activities. It's unquestionably important for students to be active in many different arenas outside of the school building, and we are extremely proud of all students and their endeavors.

Many parents and teachers report that student-athletes see a boost in their grades during their sport seasons. This can be attributed to the fact that those students are more physically active, which has a proven correlation to academic success. Sports offer student-athletes an unexpected gain in skill when it comes to the classroom: time management. Student-athletes have to be cognizant of the time constraints that sports put on their schedule, particularly with homework. Often times, the rigorous calendar of sports will force families to carve out time to address academics. A Heather Clark article from 2015 showed "connections between sport and positive psychological and social outcomes, including self-esteem, self-regulation, general life skills, and pro-social behaviour." (Clark, 2015). 

Here at Beach Middle School, 45% of all students participate in an after-school sport. That is a staggeringly high percentage of participation for any schools district. This article could go on to talk about how Chelsea is not pay-to-play, how there are no cuts at the middle school level, and how everyone gets substantial playing time, but that's a blog post for another day. In the end, the Chelsea School District wants to see as many students participating in after school activities as possible. It's mutually beneficial for the student, the family, and the school district. 

If your student is not signed up for a sport or after-school activity, here are some resources for you to get the ball rolling (pun intended).

Beach Athletics Homepage

Beach Extra-Curricular Activities

Sports Physical Form

As always, thank you for reading and Go Bulldogs!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Teamwork Between Home and School

I am often asked about the difficulties of working in schools, whether it's from a teacher perspective or an administrative point-of-view. People mostly just want to hear juicy stories about angry parents, troubled students, or teachers that should be avoided. They are always disappointed to hear that those stories are few and far between.

The main reason is that the three groups I mentioned (parents, students, and teachers) all have the same desired outcome: student success. I have yet to meet a teacher that does not want all of their students to experience academic, social, or emotional success. I doubt I ever will. I have also never met a parent that does not want what is best for their child. There have been a lot of students that say, "I don't care if I do well in school", but the reality is that every student wants to feel successful.

For this reason, we often see great collaboration here at Beach between our stakeholders. In the five weeks that this school has been open, many parents have come through the doors wanting to better understand their child's academic plan. Those parents have been met by teachers that are willing to share, but also receive feedback on how they can better service students. Students have reached out to teachers and support staff so they can improve their learning outcomes and meet expectations.

The shared vision and goal of academic, social, and emotional success of all children is why I don't have dramatic or juicy stories to share with curious people. Only when the stakeholders here at Beach come together with an understanding that we all want the same thing for students can we achieve collaboration, empathy, creativity, and problem solving.

If you are a parent that is interested in learning more about what is happening here at Beach Middle School, please continue reading blog, first and foremost, but also consider following us on twitter and Facebook!


Friday, September 9, 2016

First Week in Review

Thank you all so much for reading the blog! We've had an increasing viewership over the last several entries. Please feel free to share it out with other families and community members!

The first week of school is always a daunting prospect when looking a month out, or even a week out. The idea that students will be filing in the hallways, struggling with their lockers, and losing their way to class is something that the staff stacks on top of all of their worries.

The amount of preparation that goes into leading one, two, and sometimes three classes is a mountain of work on its own, and teachers spend a lot of their Summertime navigating new curricula, data management systems, behavioral studies, and lesson planning. The first days of school, in a lot of ways, is the zenith of tension in a school year. Once that first bell rings, and the students enter the building, all of that planning and preparation pay off. It's smooth sailing from there, for the most part.

Here at Beach, seeing those bright, smiling faces is the best part of our job. We work so hard year round to cultivate, engage, and grow lifelong learners. While we understand that the beginning of the school year can be stressful for our families out there, and believe me, we feel it too, we couldn't be more excited about the start of the 2016-2017 year!

Check out some photos from the first week of school!

Friday, September 2, 2016

First Days, Professional Development, and Relationships

Teachers and administrators started yesterday, August 30th, for the 2016-2017 school year. It's amazing to be at this date already! It seems like last week when we were wrapping up the 15-16 year, and now we're back to it!

The started off with an incredible breakfast provided by CSD Food Services.

Believe it or not, it actually tastes better than it looks, which is quite an accomplishment!

Julie Helber introduced herself to everyone, and began the year off talking about grit, the confluence of passion and perseverance, and how this skill is one of the strongest indicators of future success. This segued into the Chelsea Graduate Learner Profile (more on this later). New staff were introduced, years of service were recognized, and wellness plans were rolled out to staff.


When we returned to Beach, there were new faces to learn, people to greet, and games to play. The Beach Scavenger hunt yielded some of the highlights of the day, as the staff here truly thought outside of the box to come up with creative, funny, and outrageous pictures!


After playtime, teachers got to work talking about the building themes, data from parent surveys, new opportunities inside and outside the building, and myriad other bullet points that accompany days such as this. While the work can be tedious, Beach teachers remained undaunted.

Teachers also spent time with a marshmallow challenge - an exercise in planning, goal orientation, prototyping, and execution. There are some incredibly creative and thoughtful teachers here at Beach. Take a look for yourself!

On day #2 of professional development, the staff picture was the priority for the day. We have some interesting ideas for apparel next year, but for this year we went with simplicity:

 Afterwards, teachers started by spending a little time understanding each other's leadership style and how we may interact, learn, and collaborate with one another. For the record, I'm a "South" and I struggle with the "West"!

The Chelsea Graduate Learner Profile was next on the agenda. The district has taken it upon itself to outline the traits we deem necessary to all graduates of the Chelsea School District. The list is extensive, and has been reviewed over and over again. Each building was then asked to interpret, synthesize, and create a visual representation of all of the qualities we desire in our graduates. The Beach Middle School Staff was hard at work to come up with that representation. While the groups are still in the developmental stage of those visuals, the early signs are very positive!

Finally, Beach Middle School hosted their Open House event for the school year. Students, parents, and friends of the community poured into the hallways to meet their new teachers, visit with former teachers, and reconnect with the building and the people. It's atypical, in my opinion, to see so many people enthusiastic and excited about coming back to school. There's always an eye-roll, or a parent who is not happy about their child's placement, but from what I could gather, there were none. It's a testament to the nature of the community and its relationship with Chelsea Schools.

The first two days of school were a whirlwind, but not the type that carries you away, or makes you feel overwhelmed. Instead, the beginning of the school felt familiar and comfortable, like all of the people in the building had been acquainted for years, and that this was closer to a holiday party or family reunion. There was little anxiety  or angst. There were hugs and "how have you been".

I can't wait for Tuesday to begin so I can experience that whirlwind again!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

My First Experience at the Chelsea Fair

While this blog will mainly deal with the ins-and-outs of Beach Middle School, I would be remiss if I didn't put down thoughts through my lens as a newcomer to the district. Last night was my first experience at the Chelsea Fair, and it lived up to the hype!

Upon entering the gates, accompanied by Mr. Angel, I was immediately swept up in the communal feel. Everyone knew Mr. Angel, and I was introduced to students - both current and former - parents, community supporters, and residents from all over Washtenaw county. The friendliness was unsurprising, but the warmth of those that I met was staggering.

The Chelsea School District administrators hosted the annual kiddie games at the grandstands, right after the BMS 8th grade marching band came through.

The kiddie games were well attended by children from ages 2-12. The hunt for quarters in the sawdust was fantastic and competitive! 

The three-legged race, shockingly, produced no tears, only smiles! The potato sack race was the big-hitter, however, needing 6 heats in order to give everyone a shot! Little metaphors exist in these races when we watch our children work with their peers to accomplish a goal; when we watch them stumble and fall, yet rise and continue; when we see our children cross the finish line and show the toothy grins of accomplishment. 

While seeing the expressions of joy and excitement on the faces of the youngsters at the fair was wonderful, what was equally as enjoyable was watching excellent educators in their natural element; providing opportunities for kids to have fun, learn, and grow. Julie Helber, Marcus Kaemming, Teresa Zigman, Beth Starkey, Lisa Nickel, Scott Wooster, Mike Kapolka, Jason Morris, Andrew Neidlinger, Nick Angel, Stacy Battaglia, Luman Strong, and Denis Taylor are all exemplars in the Chelsea School District of the values that are clearly held dear. It was a marvel to see them do what they do best.

Finally, Mr. Angel and I traveled across the fair grounds to the dunk tank - another hallmark to the Chelsea Fair experience. Mr. Angel was first, and whipped the crowd into a frenzy! Money was raised in partnership with Chelsea Lions Club, and the urge to dunk Mr. Angel created a peak in fundraising! Even his daughter, Brooklyn, got in on the fun!

When my turn came to sit on the platform, it came to me that in many ways this was an initiation, a baptism, in a sense. This was a first step in the immersion into the Chelsea Community. What started out as fear of hurting my backside on the bottom of the tank turned into excitement and eagerness to be submerged in the culture and energy of district. 

The Chelsea Fair was an experience that I will not soon forget, nor can I wait until my next visit to the dunk tank!

Monday, August 22, 2016

New Staff at Beach!

While next week is the official start for teachers in the Chelsea School District, this week is dedicated to the new hires. This morning in the school board room, orientation began with an icebreaker and an introduction from our new superintendent, Julie Helber.

Marcus Kaemming, executive director of instruction, curriculum, and human resources, continued the conversation about what makes Chelsea great. It's shocking to see how many of the new hires (46 total!) have students that are either in the district, have graduated from the district, or went through Chelsea schools themselves!

Kathryn McCalla, 8th grade ELA teacher at Beach, gave phenomenal teaching points to the new hires - kind of a crash course in effective instruction, helpful hints, and tools to use for the coming year.

If you have a keen eye (and you've been scouting your future teachers) you may have noticed Kevin Tykoski on the left. Mr. Tykoski is going to be teaching 6th grade science and math. Other new hires for Beach Middle School include Fred Van Reesema (school social worker), Marissa Zychowski (para professional), and Rebecca Brown (para professional).

I'll end with a great question from Mrs. McCalla, "Would you want to be a student in your class?" Phenomenal food for thought for the upcoming school year.

See you all soon!  

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

2016-2017 School Year Begins!

Welcome, Beach Families!

The purpose of this blog is not to simply inform you about upcoming events here at BMS or around the Chelsea School District (that information can be found elsewhere on our school website), but instead will give a unique view inside the classroom, front office, and in the hallways.

We will highlight work from our students and staff that show innovation, creativity, critically thinking, and more!

Stay tuned for future blog postings!

Go Bulldogs!