November 20, 2015

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Principal for a Day!

Our Principal for a Day, Mark Reiswig, joined us at Five Forks yesterday for a fantastic day of learning! He was able to visit many of our classrooms, and he couldn't say enough about the clever teaching strategies he saw that kept our students engaged. Mr. Reiswig also spoke to our students on the morning announcements about how he applies literacy - reading, writing, and discussing - every day in his career! He encouraged our students to plan for the future - to plan for jobs that have not yet been created. Mr. Reiswig is the Emergency Preparedness and Response Director for Gwinnett, Newton, and Rockdale County Health Departments and visited our school as part of a GCPS program in conjuction with American Education Week. He has four grown daughters and two of them attended Five Forks! Mr. Reiswig is pictured with Ms. Douthart and also visiting Ms. Senker's 7th Grade Science class in our STEAM Lab. Thanks for visiting, Mr. Reiswig!

Giving Thanks!

We are especially grateful to all of our Five Forks families who contributed Thanksgiving goodies for our staff. The line formed early and there were enough goodies for each and every member of our staff to select a treat to share with their own family over the Thanksgiving break. We wish all of our Five Forks families a wonderful and relaxing break. We are thankful for you!

STEM Award!

Recently, 6th Grade Teachers Ms. Byrd, Ms. Coston, and Ms. Glenn received a "STEMMY Award" from GCPS! These teachers were recognized for their recent implementation of the "Cost of Conserving" Project-Based Learning unit developed at the Buck Institute session this past summer. GCPS Representatives Dr. Jonathon Wetherington (Director of Science), Ms. Bonnie Brush (Director of Mathematics), and Ms. Jen Johnston (STEM Program Coordinator) observed various components of their lessons and provided glowing feedback. Ours were among Gwinnett County teachers nominated by their colleagues in recognition of their exemplary work implementing STEM-focused Project Based Learning. It was stated that, "This team of teachers engages students in authentic STEM PBL projects that capture their interest and lead to deeper learning. Congratulations to these transformational teachers!" Way to represent FFMS and engage our students in meaningful learning opportunities!
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As mentioned in the previous post, the STEAM Committee has developed six objectives to guide our work this year as we seek the Georgia Department of Education’s STEM certification. Last week, we focused on the first three objectives and this week we’ll look at objectives 4-6 in greater detail.

Objective 4: Develop Plans for STEAM cohort model for 2016-2017 – In an effort to earn the STEM certification, our school will be assessed according to fifteen rigorous standards. Several of these standards expect us to develop a STEM cohort of students and program that offers a curriculum that is unique to STEM education. Our cohort model will align with the STEM pathway program that currently exists at Brookwood High School. Our Five Forks STEAM committee has been exploring the parameters of the cohort model by meeting with representatives from others schools and visiting Duluth Middle School, which is in the second year of its STEM cohort model. In the 2016-2017 school year, we anticipate that the STEAM cohort will begin in the 6th grade with one team of students. In 2017-2018, we’ll have two cohorts (one in 6th grade and another in 7th grade). In 2018-2019, we’ll add a third cohort (one in each grade level). Students who are interested in participating in the STEAM cohort in the 6th grade next year will apply in the spring 2016. Special attention will be given to ensuring that this cohort of students is truly representative of the population at Five Forks Middle School. More information will be presented to the faculty in January and to the community in February.

Objective 5: Outfit STEAM Lab with technology – One of the standards by which our STEAM program will be assessed is the technology accessibility of our STEAM lab. It is our priority to outfit the STEAM Lab with technology that will enable teachers to engage students in inquiry-based, collaborative learning. Last summer, Five Forks MS received a $3,000 grant to purchase eight Labdisc Probes which have the capability to measure a variety of different factors (pH, temperature, sound, etc.). In October, all of our science teachers were provided with an orientation to these devices by representatives from the Box Light Company. In addition to the probes, we have set a goal of dedicating a class set of 35 Chromebooks to the STEAM Lab. Through funds secured by the PTSA, we have purchased 15 tablets. Also, we have written a $9,000 grant to purchase an additional 37 Chromebooks. If the grant is fully-funded, we will dedicate 20 of the Chromebooks to the STEAM Lab (bringing the total amount to 35) and then have 17 additional Chromebooks for general use throughout the school. One more exciting bit of news to share is that Five Forks received a monetary gift of $1,001 from an anonymous donor, which will be used for technology for our students!

Objective 6: Develop Community Partnerships – Our final objective for this year is to cultivate partnerships with STEAM community organizations. A team of teacher-leaders is building relationships with community partners, encouraging them to lead hands-on demonstrations, and inviting them to speak with our students about their vocations. The experiences of these STEAM partners will provide our students with a greater context on how STEAM education can be used to solve real-world problems.

As you can tell, the STEAM committee has made great gains in advancing our school forward in the certification process. If you have any questions, then please feel free to reach out to a STEAM committee member.

Bidding for Good!

Parents, please support our Brookwood Cluster by participating in the "Bidding For Good" fundraising auction! Funds generated are used to make improvements to our cluster schools and to help purchase valuable equipment and technology to provide rich and engaging lessons for students. Click here for a link to the online auction! We appreciate your support!

Parent Survey!

Parents, we need your help! Please visit the Parent Portal and take a brief, confidential survey that will help us improve our school! The survey should pop up on log-in at

We Love Our Five Forks Family!

Each week, we highlight a member of our staff with the "Count Me In" award so that others will get a glimpse of the awesome work going on within the building. We hope you enjoy learning about our fantastic staff!
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Milestones Results!

Gwinnett County Public Schools has received the results of last spring's Milestones tests. Click here for a letter from GCPS with further information.

GSMST Lottery Process!

The GSMST Lottery Application is now available for students to apply for a lottery number to be part of the 2016-17 freshman class at GSMST. Enrollment is open to all 8th grade students who are residents of the Gwinnett County school district attendance zone; who are successfully promoted to 9th grade by the end of spring semester 2016; and who successfully complete an 8th grade math curriculum that is a full Carnegie-eligible Algebra I Course or higher. We highly encourage interested families to attend one of the three informational meetings to gain a better understanding of the academic rigor provided at GSMST. The lottery drawing will be held on February 8, 2016. Click here for further information.

Dates To Remember!

11/23 - Thanksgiving Holidays (through 27th)

11/30 - School resumes

12/3 - Basketball vs Shiloh MS, 5:00pm, Shiloh HS

12/4 - Hat Day to benefit Relay for Life; pay $1 to wear a hat!

12/5 - Basketball vs Moore MS, 5:00pm, BHS Gold Gym

12/4 - Schoolwide Pep Rally

12/7 - Hour of Code at BHS, 7:00-8:00pm, Commons and Computer Labs

12/10 - Basketball vs Crews MS, 5:00pm, BHS Maroon Gym

12/12 - Saturday Opportunity School, 9:00-11:00am, Media Center

12/12 - Basketball vs Bay Creek, 9:00am, Grayson HS

12/17 - Basketball vs Trickum, 5:00pm, Parkview HS

12/21 - Winter Break (through 1/5/16; School resumes Wednesday, 1/6/16