The Cardinal Way

Sharing and Learning at Southport Middle School

Student Success is a Team Effort!

IN THE MIDDLE OF IT - Blogging, It's not for me...

Over the past few years, one thing, one simple action, has provided me with more personal and professional growth than any other. Blogging. For me, and hopefully for you, there is a great deal of power in the weekly reflections that take place on this blog. Taking the leap a few years ago to start this learning journey was one of the best decisions I have ever made for the betterment of myself. It might seem an impractical journey at times, but there is no way I would ever give up this weekly practice. There are many other commitments that would go before I would consider having to stop sharing my weekly reflections through the blog.

I have shared these sentiments with many, and have encouraged many others to start sharing their learning journey through a blog. Perhaps I am just not a good salesman, but usually when I encourage others to start blogging I hear one of the follow four responses: I am not a good writer, I don’t have anything important to say, I don’t know what to write about, or I don’t have time.

I have heard these responses repeated enough times, that I felt like I should take some time to address each of these four different concerns/excuses. So, I have decided to dedicate my blogging in April to diving into each of these ideas explaining why these “excuses” are actually the reasons you need to start a blog.

The first one I will tackle is for those of you who believe that you have diminutive writing skills. Some of you might not have confidence in your writing skills; and there is a strong possibility that you have never thought that you are a good writer. Great, neither do I. Just ask my high school English teachers, they will tell you I was always a struggling reader and writer. Or, go back a couple years on this blog and read some of my first writings...they were rough. (I go back periodically and re-read some of my first posts just to see how far I have come and how much I have grown over the past few years; in thoughts as well as how I express myself.)

As I look back on my journey through blogging, it all started because I was willing to take a risk in doing something that was not a personal strength. Pushing myself into something that I considered a weakness of mine has created countless opportunities for growth. If you want to grow you must attack your weaknesses. We need to remind ourselves that we do not get better by doing what we are already good at doing; even if it we prefer it because of its safety. I often think of the ideas that : If you are not focusing on getting better; you are getting worse. And, if we only stay in the comfort zone of our strengths, we will not grow. To get better, we must be willing to make mistakes. As Robert Frost tells us “Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

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I am, to no extent, telling you I think I am now a great writer, but I do believe that writing is no longer a fear of mine or a weakness. Using this reflective practice and sharing my story of learning through writing has forced me to focus even more on the process of improvement because it has not been easy. But, as I have learned from my jump into blogging, until we realize adversity is an opportunity for growth, we will avoid it at all costs. So, if you are not a great writer -- GREAT -- share your story of learning anyway. Push towards you weakness and leverage it as a way to grow and improve. Your message and your story might help someone else, and the reader will hopefully not be reading to count comma splices or other grammar transgressions, but to learn something from you that might be able to help them.

I hope over the next month by reading these posts, you too will take the leap and begin an amazing learning journey through blogging. I am so happy and thankful I made the decision a few years ago to take the road less traveled. It has made all the difference.

Keep learning; keep growing; keep sharing!

This is cross posted on my Principal's Blog

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  • Congratulations to Tammy Tellas, who recently had Donor's Choose grants funded. If you stop by her room, I am sure they would love to tell you about their grants!
  • Congratulations to Michael Thompson the 2015-16 Tom Springer Award Winner -- very well deserved!!
  • Congratuations to Amy Gaisser, she will be recognized with the Humanitarian Award for Southport Middle School this year. Amy was given this recognition for her tireless efforts working with and supporting out EL students.
  • Congratulations to our March Teacher of the Month, Michelle Swan. Michelle was recognized for her efforts with the yearbook, the student organized Cardinal's Nest, teacher intersession, and her daily efforts with some of our most struggling math students.


Week 30 Grateful Friday Challenge:

Sneak a post-it challenge...

Write a nice SHORT note on a post-it and sneak it where someone will find it that day -- pat them on their back with it, stick it in their lunch box, the arm of their Jacket, on their computer when they leave the room...SURPRISE!


The Meaning - Jim Carrey


Each day we share a story of learning taking place at Southport Middle on our 180 Days of Learning Blog. Below are this week's stories of learning.

Melinda Weiss

Students in Ms. Weiss's 7th Grade Spanish class started started a new unit: Going to a Cafe and Eating Food. Students pronounced new vocabulary in Spanish, with the correct pronunciation, and made connections to their own culture. As they were learning new vocabulary, Ms. Weiss had them think about how they would remember the English word for each Spanish term. After making connections, they shared out their own technique for remembering the words. Next, students played a game called Los Refrescos o Las Meriendas. This is where students use hand signal to show their answer. To end the lesson students read through a story frame to emphasis key verbs and other vocabulary in the unit.

Stephanie Quinlan

Today, students from the University of Indianapolis visited Southport Middle School with 23 students who are considering education as a major. The purpose of this visit is to expose students to different school settings before they officially declare their major. Mrs. Quinlan, SMS Assistant Principal, coordinates these visits with UIndy. Through Mrs. Quinlan’s efforts, Southport Middle has become a true teaching school. Over the course of a school year, SMS will open its doors to over 100 college from pre-service teachers (who considering education as a major), field experience teachers (who visit twice a week over the course of a semester and teach mini lessons during this time), and students teachers (who are finishing their education degrees). Students success is a team effort!!

Physical Education

Our Physical Education classes always spend time focusing on overall physical fitness for our students. 8th grade students were working through a new digital fitness program called FitnessGram. FitnessGram evaluates the five components of health-related fitness: Aerobic Capacity, Muscular Strength, Muscular Endurance, Flexibility, and Body Composition and allows students to track their progress digitally. Our 7th grade classes are working through fitness rotations this week with some new fitness equipment purchased for our PE classes. Students work through a variety of ability, strength, and cardio stations over the course of the period. At the end of class, students always have the chance to process their fitness tasks and progress to help students improve their overall physical fitness.

Michael Thompson

It is important to pause from our busy school schedules and recognize those who help to make Southport Middle a great place. Today, the SMS staff took an opportunity to honor Mr. Michael Thompson with the 2015-16 Tom Springer Making A Difference Award. This award is in honor of the 48 years Thomas L. Springer made a difference in the lives of students. Forty of those years were spent in this building as the Guidance Director. The award is given annually to the staff member of any position (janitorial, cafeteria, support, secretarial, teaching, or administrative) who is selected by the committee as the exceptional representative of the difference each of us strives to make in the lives of Southport Middle students. Congratulations to Mr. Thompson! His tireless efforts to support the students at SMS have not gone unrecognized. Mr. Thompson caring spirit and attitude towards the students he serves is something we should all strive to emulate!

8th Grade Science

8th grade advanced science students in Ms. Coleman, Ms. Nelson, and Ms. Vaught's classes have been working on Rube Goldberg Projects this week. The goal of the project is to start by dropping a golf ball into a Styrofoam cup and the last step is to turn a page in a book. But, the challenge is there can be no human interaction between these steps. The requirements included having five energy transfers using the six simple machines and having four different simple machines must be used. And, bonus points may be awarded for using all 6 simple machines and for machines with more than 6 steps. Students have been hard at work this week and will begin testing their projects next week.


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