Monday, November 2, 2009

WAG Nov 2-6

Dear Parents,

Recently, I have had the opportunity to spend time with 7/8 students in their Engage classes. The students were using SimCity 4 to create virtual cities and run a simulation of what it be like to run actual cities. Viewing the students using SimCity was another way of seeing them apply the skills that they have acquired throughout their time at BCS. I was able to see:

• Students being challenged to use creativity and imagination
• Students take control of what they learn and how they learn it
• Problem solving became a way of life in the classroom
• Critical and analytical thinking is nurtured
• Students are motivated to master the material they are learning

Learning is student-centered, rather than teacher-centered
These observations can be be seen in every classroom throughout BCS which is fabulous!
This weekend I reread an interesting article regarding computer games that I would like to share with the parent community! The article is entitled “Computer Games Explore Social Issues” written by Kara Platoni. An excerpt of the article is listed below:Social studies teachers Karl Atkins and Scott Deckelmann take on a very serious subject by giving their students a very amusing challenge: Win a computer game. In fact, students have to win PeaceMaker, a simulation of the Middle East peace process, twice -- once while playing as the Israeli prime minister and once as the Palestinian president.In both cases, students must respond to a rapidly evolving political situation by choosing which actions -- building settlements, launching rockets, making speeches -- are most likely to broker peace. The Scappoose, Oregon, teachers have played PeaceMaker with more than a dozen sections of their freshman global-studies and junior international-relations classes, and they say gaming is an effective way to explore intricate political issues. Indeed, PeaceMaker is at the forefront of a movement -- often called serious games or social-issues games -- in which educators use games to illustrate complex social issues, from immigration to climate change."Games are largely misunderstood in our society. They aren't necessarily trivial or sophomoric. Gaming is just a young medium," says Suzanne Seggerman, president and cofounder of Games for Change, a resource and support clearinghouse for game developers, nonprofit organizations, and educators. "They're a great way for people to explore serious issues."Better yet, they make that exploration fun, even addicting, according to Scapoose sophomore Ashley Amick, who played PeaceMaker at school last year. "I never wanted to go to my next class, because I hadn't won yet, and I wanted to see what would happen when I did," she explains. "We usually learn from textbooks or worksheets, but because you automatically learn while you play it, even my classmates that don't like school had fun."

Modeling the Real WorldSocial issues are by their nature complex and dynamic. Understanding them involves analyzing cause and effect, multiple viewpoints, and rapidly shifting scenarios. Games easily mirror this fluidity."The thing we get with games that is different from what we get with books or other media is that we are able to actually build models of relationships between the different moving parts of a system and let people mess around with them, let people experience what happens when they change one variable or when they introduce a different kind of behavior," says Ian Bogost, an associate professor of computational and digital media at the Georgia Institute of Technology. (Bogost is also an adviser to the Serious Games Summit at the annual Game Developers Conference, and he wrote the book Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Video Games.)"Understanding something such as war or poverty or immigration demands understanding a whole range of different kinds of inputs and outputs," he adds. In other words, if you take an action in PeaceMaker, you'll soon find out what the other side thought of your input."It is very clearly active, not passive," says Deckelmann of the way his students use the game. "They are part of the game. They are helping determine the end of the story. They don't get to determine the end of a documentary. It's about them deciding what's important, as opposed to us telling them what is important. And it's allowing them to fail in a safe place where no one can shame them." Games teach almost entirely through trial and error, with few real-world consequences; if you mess up, you can always restart.A big lesson students pick up from PeaceMaker, says Deckelmann, is that "being a leader isn't easy." It's not just having your finger on the button. Indeed, Amick says the game encourages flexible thinking and empathetic decision making. "Every decision you make will affect something, whether immediately or in the future," she says. "It helped me learn to think from different viewpoints, and not just my own. Whenever I picked what to do next, I had to think about the consequences it would have on both sides, or I might hurt one side and help the other, which wouldn't work out in the end."

Have a Great Week!!Hal

We are pleased to introduce Nora Krol, who will be Nicole Toth’s long-term guest teacher in Spanish 1 and OS while she is out on maternity leave in November and December. Mrs. Krol's interest in and passion for the Spanish language and Hispanic cultures started while living in Montevideo, Uruguay for two years as a teen. She graduated from Miami University with a BS in Finance and minors in International Business and Spanish. After spending 5 years in Commercial Lending, Mrs. Krol entered a Post Baccalaureate Teacher Certification program in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During two years of training, she worked in a Bilingual Kindergarten classroom and did field placements at two of Milwaukee’s Spanish Immersion schools. She then taught both Elementary and Middle School Spanish with Kettle Moraine Schools in Wales, Wisconsin. During the 8 years focused mainly on rearing her three children, Mrs. Krol continued to tutor and teach Spanish in various capacities, including a two-year job as Spanish teacher for 10 home-schooled students. Since 2006, she has been a Guest Teacher with Oxford Schools, which included an 11 week position teaching 7th and 8th grade Spanish. Mrs. Krol hopes that her time at BCS will serve to enhance students' understanding and appreciation of the Spanish language and culture.

(Disclaimer: Please check all your calendars and in case we missed something)Monday, November 2 6-7PM – Proud Dads Co-ed Tennis at Pine Lake Country Club, indoor courts4:05-6:20 – Play practice for the cast of Oklahoma!
Tuesday, November 3 – ELECTION DAY7:30-8:00AM - BCS Diversity Committee meeting in Room 505 – All are welcome8-8:20AM – Bagel sale in front of the media center by the 8th grade celebration committee9:30 AM – BBFA Meeting – “Talking to your Kids and Teens about Sex” at the Gary M. Doyle Center3:15-4:00PM – School store is open in the main hallway during choice hour7 PM – BBFA Meeting – “My Child is Turning 18 – Now What?” at the Gary M.Doyle Center7:00PM - BPS Board of Education meeting at the BPS Administration building, 550 West Merrill Street, Birmingham. Watch it live on Comcast channel 17.
Wednesday, November 4 9:15AM – 5/6 Room Parent Meeting – Media CenterPopcorn Day – freshly popped popcorn is sold during choice hour for $1 in the main hallway7-8PM – Snow Club Informational Meeting –Media Center. Applications will be handed out after the meeting and are accepted in the office beginning November 18.
Thursday, November 5 Last day of the 1st quarter5-6:30PM – Proud Dads Co-ed Flag Football for 3rd – 8th graders7 PM – Friends of Different Learners Meeting – “Understanding and Coping with Bully” in the BCS Media Center7:00PM - Community Conversations regarding BPS budget and school funding - Derby
Friday, November 6 No School – Records day

Hot Entrée menu for the week: (subject to change, if necessary)Available everyday: Salad Bar, Hamburgers, Chicken Patties, Pizza & Cheese Breadsticks
Monday – Popcorn chicken or julianne turkey and breadstick.
Tuesday – Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, green beans, or soup with cheese breadstick.
Wednesday – Baked chicken tenders, buttered noodles, and garden peas.
Thursday – Cook choice, fresh fruit, yogurt and muffin.
Friday – No school

To submit an item for next week’s “WAG”, email by FRIDAY 7AM

OPEN HOUSE STUFFING VOLUNTEERS NEEDEDThe BCS Community Connections Committee is looking for volunteers to help stuff the 500 folders needed for the upcoming BCS Open House. We will be stuffing folders in the Media Center on Tuesday, November 3rd from 8:15 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. or until we are done. The more hands we have, the faster it will go and coffee and donuts will be available for all those who help. Please contact Becky Bachand at for more information and to let us know how many extra hands we can count on. Thanks so much!?

WINTER I SPORTS Boys Basketball (grades 7-8) and Girls Swimming (grades 6-8) are the Winter I sports. Students who want to participate must have all athletic paperwork and payment submitted before they can practice.Athletic paperwork and fees can be turned into the front office beginning today. Once all paperwork is complete and the fee is paid, Mr. Heard will issue a slip of eligibility to the student (referred to as the “orange slip”). It is the responsibility of the student to give the eligibility slip to the coach to be admitted into practice. The student will not be allowed to participate without an eligibility slip.Athletic paperwork can be picked up in the front office or downloaded from Try-outs for boys basketball begin the week of November 11Swim practices begin the week of November 16?

POSTCARD INVITATIONS TO BCS OPEN HOUSEIn an effort to let as many people as possible know about our BCS Open House on November 15 from 1-3 p.m., we have created special announcement postcards for distribution. Parents are invited and encouraged to take responsibility for a handful of these, to send on to friends and neighbors living in the district whose children might be interested in BCS at any grade level. The postcards are also a wonderful way to extend an invitation to families without school age children, as these are voters whom we hope will continue to support our millage renewals. During the week beginning November 2, each grade 3-4 student will receive two postcards to take home for your use and 5-6 students will receive one. If you have students in 7-8 or if you would like MORE postcards, there will be a box of them available for pickup in the front office during the next two weeks. Please help yourself!Finally, Adam will be emailing an electronic version of the postcard to you next week, if you prefer to invite people electronically, as well as a link to his personal invitation to prospective families.BCS is an amazing and unique center of teaching and learning which our students and staff are eager to showcase! Thanks in advance for your help in encouraging potential families to attend.

The Scholastic Book Fair is November 10-12 - Volunteers are needed!! ? If you love books and are looking for a short term volunteer job... we would love to have your assistance with the BCS/Scholastic Book Fair! Parents are needed to help set up, assist students during their previews, collect $ during the sale and to pack up. This is a fun event and all proceeds go directly to the Media Center to purchase new materials!! If you have a junior or senior BCS alumni high school student who needs community service hours, we would welcome their help too! Please contact Linda Weitzel ( or 248-865-7279) if you can help!2 hour shifts are available during the following times:Monday, November 9th - book fair set up- 9:00 am to 3:00 pmTuesday, November 10th - student preview times - 8:30 am to 3:30 pmWeds. and Thurs. Nov 11 & 12 - student preview and public sale - 8:30 am to 8:00 pmThursday November 12th - book fair pack up - 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm

BAKE SALE AT CONFERENCES-Sponsored by parents of 8th GradersThe 8th Grade Celebration Committee is holding a bake sale during the upcoming conferences in front of the media center and cafeteria. Please stop by and support this effort. All proceeds go toward the 8th grade farewell celebration. There will be wonderful home baked items for sale. Just what you need after conferences!If you are the parent of an 8th grade student, please consider baking some items and/or staffing a sale table for an hour during conferences. Please contact Frances Trask at or 248.646.5106 with idea for a baked good or time available to sell. THANKS!

Dear Families:Due to the likelihood that we will see a sudden increase in the number of flu cases, it is not feasible to send individual letters home each time a student is absent due to the flu. Our district Web site will update flu absentee numbers daily. It is important that you keep in mind that students come in contact with others outside their classroom throughout the day through the use of common areas: hallways, gyms, cafeterias, playgrounds, etc. That is why it is important that you be aware of the entire building total rather than just per classroom. Starting Monday, November 2, school totals will be available on our district Web site. This is also a good time to remind you to sign up for the district eNews if you have not done so already. Important districtwide information is shared in that format. Visit the home page and click on the eNews button to add the district eNews to your current subscription list. Thank you. Marcia F. WilkinsonDirector of Community RelationsBirmingham Public Follow Birmingham Public Schools on Twitter:

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