We have some very talented young people at Mabry. Last week, when I was at Jekyll, one of our 7th graders told me she had drawn a picture of me that she wanted me to have. Today at school she and her friend brought me the picture. I am amazed at what a good job she has done! In talking with our Art teacher, Mrs. Evans, I have learned that Ashley has drawn other staff members with an amazing level of realism.
posted on: March 1, 2006
I hope you have seen the news posted on MabryOnline. Our internationally recognized web presence is adding interactivity. You can read about these substantive changes (the what) in the News section of the website. I wanted to take a minute to discuss the why.
Our students are growing up in a world that is radically different from the world in which you and I grew up. With pervasive computing and connectivity our jobs, our degrees, our potential for meaningful economic empowerment can be transfered to China or India via fiber optics in less than a heartbeat. Globalization isn't coming, it's here now. As I shared at the beginning of the year, a few months ago I read a Stanford study stating that 15,000,000 high paying US jobs will be outsourced abroad over the next 10 years. When you do the math, that's when our middle schoolers will be graduating from college and entering what will most assuredly be a global job market.
I want us to begin to address these issues now. I want to turn these enormous fundamental changes into the seeds of opportunity for your children. I want them today to begin learning that their peers around the world want what they have, and they want it badly. I want our students to realize that the children of the world are hungry for the opportunity that presently is theirs. (Within a year, MIT will be shipping $100 windup laptops that don't require a stable electrical source to children in the most remote regions of our world!) I want our students to feel this energy that is nipping at their heels. I want them to use this energy to maximize their academic performance today! (Somehow it always comes back to our school goal!)
Additionally, I want our students to gain increased understanding of the world. I want them to begin now to learn what global collaboration is. I want them to learn to maximize online collaboration and research (exploration skills) to become ambitious, creative, problem solvers. Critical thinking and problem solving can no longer be something of which we speak in the abstract. We must actualize it today!
These are among my reasons for wanting to take the educational opportunities afforded your children to a higher level. I hope you will encourage your child's participation in at least one opportunity in Mabry's new Global Learning Collaborative. Work with them to select a school project in which they have personal interest to make it exemplary work worthy of publication to the world. Don't do the work for them, but encourage them to work harder, to edit and revise and re-edit, to do their very best work. By doing this, you as their parent are showing them your deep personal commitment to their academic success as well as your deep love for them as your child.
These new projects are just beginning. They will grow in number and scope over time. Frankly, I am unaware of any school anywhere that has such an undertaking. If you know of any, I would greatly appreciate your letting me know about them. I would be eager to talk with like-minded educators who believe that increasingly, the best educational experiences we provide children are those that forge collaborative relationships to create solutions to real-world problems, issues, and concerns. As a nation, focusing our energy and resources on minimum standards just isn't going to cut it!
posted on: January 8, 2006
The graphs below represent the average score in each subject in each grade level. The cutoff score for "on grade level" which is the minimum expectation, is 300. The score of 350 is "above grade-level" or exceeds expectations. As you can see, each grade-level did very well!
posted on: May 20, 2005
The results from the state 2005 CRCTs have just arrived. Remember, our goal at Mabry is to maximize student achievement. I could not be any more proud of the exemplary work our students and teachers do. Clicking on each picture below will enlarge the picture so you can see it easily. The goal is to increase the purple area and eliminate the yellow.
Congratulations on a job very well done. I am proud of you all!
posted on: May 19, 2005
Every year 8th grade students across the state of Georgia take the state-mandated Middle Grades Writing Assessment. I am pleased to report our students' achievement on this assessment. Click on the picture to the left to view an enlarged picture.
The top bar represents the performance of our Mabry 8th graders. The middle bar represents the achievement of all students in Cobb County. The bottom bar desribes the results for the state as a whole.
The yellow portion of each respective bar represents the percentage of students who scored below grade level at Mabry, in Cobb County, and in the State of Georgia. The blue portion or each bar represents the percentage of students that are on grade level. The purple portion represents the percentage of students who are achieving above grade level.
The percentages on the bottom bar pictured above (11%, 76%, and 12%), representing the state scores, do not add up to 100% because of rounding.
posted on: May 12, 2005
Every year I think that the digital movies our students produce for the Film Festival simply can not get any better. Yet every year they do!
Our theme this year is Celebrate Achievement! We placed an emphasis on positive messages that empower and inspire others. I am pleased to tell you that this year's festival will be spectacular. All of the extraordinary movies come directly out of what our students are studying in their classes.
We look forward to celebrating the outstanding achievement of our students on Tuesday, April 19, 2005, at 7:30 PM. Remember admission is by ticket only, and this is considered a dress up affair, Mabry's version of the Oscars.
I am extremely proud of what our students accomplish with our limited technology resources. You will be too.
posted on: April 13, 2005
On Monday, March 7th, Mabry students, parents, and teachers were invited to the capitol to share with our elected state officials the innovative ways we use technology at Mabry Middle School. We were one of only 13 schools around the state invited to attend!
(Click to enlarge)
The students presented their digital video Wild Life Documentary project. Mr. Swanson, one of Mabry's excellent 7th grade Life Science teachers, went to Botswana and Zimbabwe this past summer to shoot digital video footage of the wildlife, habitats, and ecosystems in those countries. That footage, along with footage donated by an international expedition company, about 60 gigabytes all total, has been loaded on our Mabry servers and made available to our 7th grade Life Science students.
Both Mrs. Carroll's and Mr. Swanson's students are presently in the process of creating their movies. (Because of limited resources, only 2 teacher's students can do this, in groups, at a time. If every child had a laptop from The Power to Learn initiative, every single child in the 7th grade Life Science curriculum could make his or her own movie project.)
Each team of students selects a topic, for example: comparing and contrasting the Cheetah and the Leopard, researches various aspects of the species (for example: adaptations, interdependence with other organisms in their biome, etc.), and puts together a movie from the footage that applies to their research. I suspect that the only way learning these Georgia Performance Standards could be any more engaging for our students would be if our Life Science teachers took them to Africa to shoot the footage themselves! (Actually, they want to do that too...)
The team that went to the capitol has been meeting before and after school to create the first (beta test with this footage, if you will) movie project. A number of people at the capitol stopped by their display and watched all 3 of their movie projects. Ms. Lynda Martin, Cobb County Area 4 Superintendent, came to see our students' work. Cathy Cox, Secretary of State, spent about 30 minutes with the Mabry team, watching their work in its entirety and asking them numerous substantive questions about their project. The students did an excellent job of presenting their work to the many adults and other students who visited their display.
Congratulations to these students and teachers for their outstanding work which has gained state recognition: Shane, Katie, Diamond, and Anna (all 7th grade students representing the group), Matt, Will, Logan, and Marli (additional 7th grade students who participated in the project), Mrs. Carroll, and Mr. Swanson (teachers), and Mrs. Janet McCrary (Instruction Lead Teacher).
Once again, I couldn't be any more proud of our staff and students who work every day to reach our school goal: maximize student academic achievement of the Georgia Performance Standards!
posted on: March 10, 2005
As many of you are aware, the state of Georgia is phasing in a new math curriculum. The first year of implementation at the middle school level will begin next year with our rising 6th grade students. Each year thereafter the new curriculum will be added, first in 7th grade and the following year in 8th grade.
A few important items of note:
- The new math curriculum will raise expectations for learning math for all students at all grade levels.
- Repetition of topics found in the current curriculum have been eliminated to provide more time for teaching for understanding and mastery.
- At the conclusion of 8th grade all students will be expected to have developed skills with rational numbers as well as understandings of important concepts in Algebra I and Geometry.
- After the 2006 - 2007 school year, the need for the stand alone course of Algebra I and Geometry will no longer exist.
- Because of the new elevated math content, the need for accelerated math courses in middle school will be greatly reduced.
- Students can progress further with the new on grade level curriculum than they presently do with our current accelerated programs.
- The new on-grade-level math curriculum will provide opportunities for all students to study math at higher levels and to prepare for advanced placement (AP) math course.
For those few students who are highly talented in math and function at levels well beyond the new math curriculum, Mabry will offer an accelerated math program. This program will have strict and stringent placement requirements.
- In 6th grade, accelerated math students will cover all of the 6th grade curriculum and half of the 7th grade math curriculum.
- In 7th grade, accelerated math students will cover the remainder of the 7th grade math curriculum and all of the 8th grade math curriculum.
- The 8th grade Accelerated Math I course will cover topics traditionally found in the latter parts of high school Algebra I and Geometry and the beginning of Algebra II.
As you can see, the accelerated math curriculum will be extremely demanding and rigorous. Placement decisions will be made by the Mabry Middle School staff during the summer and no later than the end of the first 9 weeks of the sixth grade year. We will share the placement criteria with you before the end of this school year.
If you would like to learn more about the new math curriculum, I would invite you to talk with our 6th grade counselor, Mrs. Cindy Jackson, and/or visit the State Department of Education's web site.
posted on: March 2, 2005
Here are a couple of pictures from Mrs. Abrams' last live internet video conference with the Technology Reporter of USA TODAY, Kevin Maney, and Ken Paulson, the Editor in Chief of USA TODAY. I blogged about this several weeks ago (February 5th) when it happened, but I didn't have pictures to share at that time.
Left: A picture of the live internet video of the editors at USA TODAY as seen on the large screen in the theater. If you look carefully, you can see a small window inset in the bottom right hand corner of the computer window--a live picture of the student asking the question--what the editors at USA TODAY saw on their iBook.
Right: Our students asked their questions in front of the Apple iSight camera connected to the Apple iBook computer. The iBook was connected to speakers and a display device so all of the students seated in the theater could hear and see the USA TODAY editors as they answered the students' questions.
This was a powerful educational experience for our students.
posted on: March 2, 2005
Congratulations to the following Mabry Students who received awards at the Cobb-Paulding Regional Science & Engineering Fair that was held on Saturday, February 26th, at Wheeler High School.
Stephanie, Sarah, and Hilary all earned 1st place recognition and are eligible to go on to the State Science Competition. Stephanie and Sarah also earned the Kemira Award of Excellence which is a plaque and $100 Savings Bond awarded to only 12 individuals demonstrating exemplary work.
Krista and Grace both earned 2nd place honors and Michael earned a 3rd place award in the Fair.
I am proud of our high achieving students.
posted on: February 27, 2005
Mabry did itself proud tonight as we hosted the first Power to Learn Information Session sponsored by the superintendent. I want to express my appreciation for the heartfelt comments made by many of our Mabry teachers, parents, and students. I was especially impressed with our students' comments. They "get it!"
I found it interesting that one of our students was so outraged by what he found to be offensive and uniformed remarks made by one of the first adults to speak in the open forum, that he immediately found Mrs. DeBardeleben to ask her if he could speak at the microphone. She was a little worried that he was too angry to speak. But our student held back his anger and was able to effectively articulate why he believed his having a laptop would enhance his achievement in school. Way to go, Ben! I was proud of you.
Several of our students chose, on their own, to speak. And every single one of them did an excellent job. As one very impressed parent from another school told me, "Dr. Tyson, your students did you proud tonight." Yes, indeed, they did!
I could highlight so many of the wonderful remarks that were made, but I will just share with you the passionate comments of our 2006 Teacher of the Year, Mrs. Hartnett. She was the last person to speak, and she summed it up well. She basically told everyone that no teacher grades more writing papers than she does, and that she wants to grade even more. Laptops for students will allow her to do more work! She actually wants to do more work. She is committed to bringing her students to the highest skill level possible in their writing, and she sees student laptops as the way to do it!
Let there be no mistake. We are talking about one thing and one thing only: maximizing student academic achievement of the state performance standards. We are not talking about a keyboard and a monitor. We are talking about gifted, committed, hard-working teachers who believe in their hearts that every child having a laptop will help them attain our one goal: maximizing student academic achievement of the state performance standards. Trust these dedicated professionals. Their vision of academic excellence for each child is altruistic to its very core.
This is a transformational initiative that will shape the destiny of every child in Cobb County! As several people said, "Can we move this initiative ahead faster?!" Our superintendent's leadership with this initiative is nothing short of visionary.
posted on: February 23, 2005
Rarely does something come along in our lives that is utterly transformational. It has. And fortunately, our school district is truly visionary, setting the pace for educational excellence for the entire nation. As your principal, I can not wait for Mabry students and teachers to get their hands on these powerful tools--to have The Power to Learn!
Having easy access to such powerful tools (63,000 laptops) will transform the education of Cobb County's children by providing equal access to information for all children, making the educational environment substantially more interactive, providing access to increasingly rapid assessment feedback, making dramatic increases in lesson creativity possible, providing unprecedented possibilities for collaboration and differentiated instruction, and expanding educational opportunities for all children.
Mabry's mission is to maximize student academic achievement. I can think of no tool that would be more empowering than laptops for every child and teacher in our school! The power workspace is a digital workspace, and we would be irresponsible not to prepare our students today for their digital futures. With the laptops, children's learning space expands beyond the classroom walls and reaches out to the best resources in the entire world. Children can reach farther faster. They can manipulate information with unprecedented speed and facility. They can become producers of knowledge-based products rather than just consumers of information.
I think a lot of people may just see computers as expensive gameboys. But our teachers at Mabry see the tremendous educational value of every teacher and every student in our school having access to his/her own laptop. I just couldn't be any more excited! The future's so bright, ya gotta wear shades!!
posted on: February 8, 2005
About 125 7th grade students at Mabry studied the US Constitution and the First Amendment to see how they impact their individual lives. The students also researched the nature of writing and editing a national newspaper. They also studied a government site on the internet to learn about amendments to the Constitution. And finally, the students all read technology articles in USA TODAY.
The students then synthesized all of the information gathered from these resources and generated interview questions. These questions were written with one goal: gather as much information from the answer as possible. Twenty-three students were selected from the group to pose their question to 2 very important gentlemen in an interview setting.
The interview was a live, realtime internet videoconference, using iChatAV with an iSight camera on an Apple* PowerBook, that was projected on a large screen in the theater, so other students were able to view the videoconference. Our 2 important national guests were the Technology Reporter of USA TODAY, Kevin Maney, and Ken Paulson, the Editor in Chief of USA TODAY. This videoconference with these leaders in society was truly a meaningful real-world research project for our 7th graders. I can not tell you how excited our students were to get to see and hear these gentlemen hosted live in our theater.
And one other important note: this project covers one of the new Georgia Performance Standards in Language Arts: research. Mabry teachers are already beginning to enrich our students' academic experiences with the new performance standards.
*Apple Computer is one of Mabry's Partners in Education.
posted on: February 5, 2005
I am posting this morning from Jekyll Island, where most of our seventh grade students are participating in a field trip to the Jekyll Island 4-H Center this week (January 31 - February 4). What a fantastic location for our students to study the natural history and ecology of a barrier island. I have rarely seen this much excitement, energy and enthusiasm for learning.
Primary instruction is literally taking place “in the field,” and topics include beach ecosystems, the maritime forest, and salt marsh ecology as well as other aspects of the natural history of the Georgia coast. I shot this picture just before driving over the bridge to the island. But if you really want to see some truly great photography of students having a blast learning, check out Mr. Swanson's BioBlog!
A very, very special thank you to our 7th grade science teachers for planning this trip and making it possible for our students! They put in a tremendous amount of extra work. I also want to thank our other 7th grade teachers for their support in chaperoning and "holding down the instructional fort" at home. And finally, thanks to all of the moms and dads who were brave enough to chaperone as well as all of those parents who made this trip possible for their children. This is yet another reason why our students don't just attend Mabry; they attend mabry.cool!
posted on: February 4, 2005
In anticipation of Mabry’s Fourth Annual Film Festival, which will be held on April 19, 2005 (Mark your calendars now!), we are proud to announce that every eighth grade student is currently involved in producing a two-minute broadcast quality movie directly related to their curriculum. The theme for this year's film festival is Celebrate Achievement!
The students are making these movies in their foreign language classes, as well as Georgia Studies. While this instructional activity is straining our technology resources to the very limit (Have I mentioned before that every child needs a laptop?!), I couldn't be any more pleased! I am proud of these teachers who have undertaken this monumental activity, as well as our extremely talented students.
posted on: February 1, 2005
I'm sure everyone is aware that middle school curriculum in the state of Georgia is changing. State-wide implementation of standards-based curriculum begins next year. Your teachers at Mabry have been busily training on standards-based curriculum design and the new curriculum in Language Arts and Reading Across the Curriculum in all grade levels, 6th and 7th grade Science, and 6th grade Math.
Our goal at Mabry is to continue our rich tradition of academic excellence by continuing to provide our students with educational experiences that go beyond the standards. Our goal continues to be maximized academic achievement for every child. I encourage you to visit the Department of Education's website's link to Performance Standards to learn more about standards-based education and the changes in curriculum.
posted on: January 27, 2005
This morning I met with the PTSA and shared several items. Below is a very brief summary of each of the items.
- The SPLOST construction will add 50,000 square feet to our school. We will now have 150,000 square feet at Mabry!
- I have a meeting this week to explore the purchase of furniture and equipment for the new classrooms.
- Students are now taking the Performance Series, a nationally normed computer adaptive test that is correlated with the CRCT and should allow us to predict success on that state test.
- The 8th Grade Writing Assessment is scheduled for Wednesday, January 19th.
- Early Release Day is scheduled for Wednesday, January 26th.
- Buddy Pictures are scheduled for Friday, January 28th.
- The 7th Grade Science students will take a fieldtrip to Jekyll Island the week of January 27th.
- The changes in the federal overtime regulations are impacting schools. (See my post on January 6th.)
- The Power to Learn (1 on 1 laptop initiative) appears to be scheduled to go before the board during the first part of February.
- I have joined with those teachers who are now blogging as a communication tool for parents by starting this blog.
- All who are interested can take a tour of the construction immediately after your meeting today.
posted on: January 10, 2005