May Newsletter

From the Principal

To the HMS Community,

I have spent several decades fearful of that Rubik's Cube. I would pick it up, spin it all different directions, hoping for an epiphany that miraculously guides me to a solution. Like most people (especially adults, I assume), I would spend five or so minutes on the Cube, get frustrated with my lack of progress, and give up.

That all changed the other day when I was fortunate to work with the students in our afternoon Explorations class on Rubik's Cube. The students were watching videos, collaborating with peers, and memorizing steps (we call them "algorithms") in their own attempt to conquer the Cube. It was really fun to observe and participate. By the end of the class, and with the help of a few students, I was just two pieces away from solving the cube. Naturally, being so close to an achievement that has alluded me for many years, I was determined to figure out the last few steps. I had a need to learn; a purpose. What I was reading, discussing with others and researching was relevant to me.

That is the spirit of our Explorations program. To provide students with experiences and opportunities to learn and discover- because it is relevant and authentic. I see this in all of our Explorations classes- students collaborating, working together, learning new skills, thinking creatively and working as a community. I am excited to see how this program will evolve and how we can bring aspects of it to our regular school day.

Our daily mission is to create and deliver experiences for children that are rich in authenticity and relevance- or in the words of our students, to make learning "fun". That, is Helen Morgan School.


Doug Layman


Helen Morgan School


5.16- No School (Unused Snow Day)

5.17- Food Drive Begins

5.20- No School (Unused Snow Day)

5.26- NJASK Science for 4th Grade

5th Graders...Countdown for Launch

5th Grade classes are heading to space! The Buehler Challenger and Science Center provides a unique opportunity for students to participate in simulated space missions.

5.18: Bleakley, Caputo, Feldmann, Arlen, Rennie and Siipola

6.9: McMahon, Sawicki, Szatkiewicz

6.10: Cocilovo, Garagliano and LaBell

In addition, all 5th graders will experience Sparta's very own Star Lab. In late May, students will explore the constellations and look far into our universe.

LEGO Robotics Coming to HMS?

In the Fall of 2016, we would like to start a First Lego League at HMS. This would be a volunteer-led, after-school program that allows interested 5th graders to build and program LEGO robots as a team, with the intention of competing in local tournaments. If you are interested in serving as a coach for a team of students, please e-mail Mr. Layman.

The FLL season lasts from August/September through November and teams typically meet 1-2 times per week. At HMS, meetings can take place in the building after school.

Once we determine how many coaches we have, we will then send out an invite in June to interested 5th graders (current 4th).

Our goal is to not only form teams but to bring the experience of LEGO robots to the entire student body as a component of our growing STEM library.

To learn more about FLL please go here and see video below.

What's FIRST LEGO League (FLL) - :60 version

Internet Safety

Last month HMS hosted an evening with NJ's Department of Homeland Security Cyber Crimes Investigative Group . The ways our students communicate and will communicate are changing rapidly, making parents feel like it is impossible to keep up and keep our children safe.

In addition, as students begin to reach middle school age, most social conflict takes place on social media apps (ex: Snapchat). The detectives' primary message to parents was to communicate with their children, set rules for using devices, and monitor usage.

Resources provided:

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children- Cell Phone Safety

Common Sense Media Guide on Social Media Safety

5 Parenting Tips for Online Digital Safety

Looking for a safe search engine?

Electronic Device Policy Reminder

Speaking of cell phones, we understand that some students may have electronic devices. Most recently, we have seen an increase in SmartWatches- which qualify as electronic devices. Please remind your children of the following, which comes from the HMS handbook:

The unacceptable uses of Electronic Communication Recording Devices (cell phones, Ipads, Ipods, etc.) are: *See School Board Policy 5516* 1) Camera-equipped cell phones or similar devices may not be used by students as cameras during the school day (unless given permission by a faculty member for instructional purpose). They may not be used in the school buildings or on school buses nor may they be used at any time in locker rooms or bathrooms. 2) Students are not allowed to take photographs or videos of students or staff without their knowledge or permission. 3) The transmission, storing or sharing of photographs taken on cell phones or similar devices may constitute criminal behavior and will be reported to proper authorities.

MAP Assessment

At the end of May our students will be taking the Spring MAP assessment in ELA and Math. We measure student growth in many ways- one of which is the Measurement of Academic Progress. This will be the third and final version, and we look forward to using the results to inform our practice and guide us in lesson, unit and assessment design.

Morning Drop-off

For the sake of your safety, students' safety and other drivers' safety please do not walk your child into school while buses are in our parking lot.

We understand that the car line can take time (we start at 8:55 and are typically done by 9:05), but the safety of our students and community is much more important.


Thanks to a grant from the Sparta Education Foundation, HMS now has 12 Sphero programmable robotic balls in our STEM library. Coming to a classroom near you.

Common Sense Media Monthly Tip

Common Sense Media: Cell Phone Parenting

Common Core Standards

NJ will soon adopt the New Jersey Student Learning Standards, and no longer use the term Common Core. In the principal's opinion, it is a distinction without a difference.

From NJ Spotlight:

Recommended by a series of working groups over the past year, the changes are largely in wording and emphasis

PARCC Testing

The 2016 version of PARCC (Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Career) was a much better experience this year. Instead of two testing periods, one in March and one in May, we only had one. Thanks to the efforts of the district's incredible IT staff (Mike Cronin, Director) and maintenance department we were able to test all students at the same time, resulting in less interruption to our schedule.

Thank you to Mr. Ciaburri, HMS' testing coordinator, for making this year's delivery of test a great success.

We hope to receive the individual student results late in the summer (last year, we received them in November).

Save the Date

End of Year 5th Grade HMS Pool Party at Lake Mohawk Pool.

Thursday, June 16th- 1:30 to 5:30

Additional information forthcoming.


Big image

Data Analysis (of Owl Pellets!) in 5th Grade Science

Big image
Big image

HMS joins the sussex county chamber orchestra

Big image

backstage at the band concert

Big image

minecraft club at HMS

Big image

planting flowers on earth day

Big image

learning about soil at SCMUA

HMS Text Messages

Click here to sign up to receive general HMS reminders, updates and school-related news.