WWW 2018 is Here at Last! WOOHOO!!!

Hello parents, and greetings once again from the UAS Middle School!!

Unbelievable as it may seem, the first half of the 2017-2018 school year is coming to a close, with the 1st semester ending on Thursday, February 1. My how time flies when you’re having fun!

The UAS MS will be enjoying our yearly sports day on February 1, followed by our annual Week Without Walls (WWW) adventures from February 4 – 10.  Because of the scheduled professional development day on Sunday, February 11 – students need not attend school on this day – we will return to our normal operating procedures on Monday, February 12, as the 2nd semester begins.

Speaking of WWW, I wanted to take time today to share my thoughts about this yearly endeavor.  So, the question you should be asking is this:  Why Week Without Walls?

Through the WWW program, or experiential learning, we aspire to provide our students with experiences that will change their outlook on the world, their attention to the needs of others, and truly change their lives for the better.  By extending the curricular knowledge beyond the classroom, it is our hope to guide each student toward being a more caring/responsible global citizen who learns to be a better person in the world, so he/she can be a better person for the world.

The WWW program subscribes to five main objectives and/or learning goals:  life skills, service, personal growth, cultural understanding, and curriculum enrichment.

Life Skills:  By participating in the WWW program, we hope our students will build the skills necessary for personal growth and maturity. By living, communicating and cooperating with a diverse group, students are encouraged to be open-minded, caring and compassionate towards others.  Students have the golden opportunity to learn key skills such as reading maps, photography, time management, communicating in a foreign country, safety awareness, and compassion.

Service:  We believe that service learning helps students discover the significance of caring about others, and we endeavor to have our young people develop skills and attitudes that can enable them to better contribute as principled global citizens.  Our WWW program has a component of service imbedded within it to help achieve our mission of creating responsible global citizens who understand their impact and influence on our world.

Personal Growth:  Each trip strives to reinforce self-esteem and provide opportunities for self-awareness. During the week, the students will be responsible for their choices and actions as well as learn the importance and relevance of taking responsibility. Trip activities are designed to help students develop a sense of camaraderie and social skills.  In addition, the activities encourage students to take healthy risks, and step outside of their comfort zone.

Cultural Understanding:  WWW promotes an appreciation and understanding of cultural differences, as students who travel internationally participate in activities that allow them to interact with local residents.  MS students traveling to Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Kenya, will learn how life in other countries differ from their own.  Students may have opportunities to learn traditional dances, songs or cuisines, as well as visit historical sites that help develop an appreciation for cultural diversity and tolerance.

Curriculum Enrichment:  Finally, and very importantly, our WWW trips allow students the opportunity to forge stronger links between the classroom and the wider world.  Each itinerary is tied to learning objectives found within our curriculum, as the type of knowledge or skill will vary from destination to destination, and from excursion to excursion.

In short, our WWW/experiential learning opportunities empower our students to take meaningful action, serve others, and become responsible global citizens.  The opportunities for our young people are truly extraordinary.  As for me, I will have the privilege of accompanying a group of grade 8 students to Kenya on Friday, February 2.  This will mark my first WWW trip @ UAS, and I am more than a little excited about spending a week of my life with our amazing young people!  Here’s hoping your child’s school year is enriched by the WWW experience, whatever that adventure may be.

Thank you for listening.  I do hope this message finds you and your family happy and healthy.  Until our paths cross in person, please take good care and peace be upon you.

*******************************************************************Upcoming dates and activities:

  • January 15: MS/HS choir concert @ 6:30 in the MPH
  • January 17: MS/HS band concert @ 6:30 in the MPH
  • February 1: Last day of semester 1
  • February 1: MS Sports Day
  • February 4-8: Week Without Walls
  • February 11: PD for MS staff – NO SCHOOL for students
  • February 12-19: MAP testing
  • February 12: first MS day of semester 2
  • February 21: semester 1 report cards available to parents/students
  • February 28: MS Fringe Festival

Technology is Extraordinary, But Our Students Still Need Guidance

Howdy hello parents and greetings from the amazing confines of the UAS Middle School!!

It is shocking to review the calendar and note the end of the 1st semester on Thursday, February 1 is approaching faster than the speed of light.  Where did the first half of our school year go? Time apparently does fly when you’re having fun! WOOHOO!!!

You are kindly encouraged to check with your Middle School student and ask about any end of the semester assessments, semester ending projects and the online grade book (are all of your child’s assessments completed?) The next two weeks are likely going to be very busy, and your child will likely need your assistance to stay organized.  Healthy food choices and lots of sleep will help your child cope with the academic challenges they will encounter at this time of the school year.  May your child be receptive to your care and encouragement, and may your busy schedule permit you to provide the support they need to feel successful.  Good luck!!!

Thoughts About Technology

As February 1 passes, the UAS MS will have officially enjoyed 5 semesters of existence.  As you know, from the beginning, our students have been expected to have a MacBook as part of their daily educational routine. Access to technology and the ability for students to research, learn and grow has been, and continues to be absolutely extraordinary.  The variety of ways in which technology potentially enriches our lives, and in theory makes our daily routines easier, is truly unbelievable. But, let’s be honest: just because the technology of today “can” make our lives easier, doesn’t always mean that having access to the technology makes our lives better.

As I ponder the impact technology has on our young people and our school, I felt the need to pass along some tips to parents. I encourage you to:

  • Regularly check your student’s devices for applications (Apps), pictures and/or other information that are potentially unhealthy for their consumption. You are the parent, and you most certainly have the right to keep an eye on the Apps your child is using, and the interactions they are having with other people.  Your/our job is to protect our children, even when they are either unwilling or unable to protect themselves.
  • When it comes to life and/or the use of technology, I strongly suggest you remind your child to always observe the golden rule. Encourage them to only communicate with other people (students and adults) in the manner in which they would like to be communicated. Respectfully.    Positively.  Productively.  Purposefully.
  • I would encourage you to have an ongoing conversation with your child about the role technology has in their life, and about their online personality. We want our children to establish a well-balanced life, that is not exclusive of human connection.  We should remind them to never underestimate the power of face to face interactions.  Social media, email, WhatsApp, etc., are all effective means of communicating, but it doesn’t mean they are always the best, or the most respectful. The power of the tool remains where it should be – with the user.
  • Finally, please encourage your child to report any issues of inappropriate technology use to an adult. Your child should feel safe reporting concerns about cyber bullying etc., to you or any other adult that is ready, willing and able to keep them safe from harm.  Please speak with your child about what their plan will be if they become aware of other students using technology inappropriately, or if they are the target of an unsuitable technology practice.  Technology is not going away, and I strongly encourage you to keep checking, keep asking, and keep watching your child and their technology use throughout their teen years that lie ahead.

We want our children to lead normal, productive lives that include these amazing advances in technology, but their lives must also include people.  May we continue to work together to find the balance for your child that is not only healthy, but appropriate and inclusive of the school community, your family and the world in which we live.

*****

If you follow this BLOG, you know that I shared a note last week about the MS Fringe Festival, which will land on our doorstep on February 28.  For your viewing pleasure, I have attached a link with a video with more details about this year’s celebration of Middle School arts, and the talented students who are wonder our hallways every day.

Thank you for listening.  I do hope this message finds you and your family happy and healthy.  Until our paths cross in person, please take good care and peace be upon you.

****************************************************************

Upcoming dates and activities:

  • February 1: Last day of semester 1
  • February 4-8: Week Without Walls
  • February 11: Professional Development for MS staff – NO SCHOOL for MS students
  • February 1: first MS day of semester 2
  • February 12-20: MS MAP testing
  • February 21: semester 1 report cards available to parents/students
  • February 28: MS Fringe Festival

Join us On the Fringe!

Welcome to the extraordinary world of the UAS Middle School, where the New Year has begun with positive energy and enthusiasm galore!!!

As I look ahead on the school calendar, the end of the first semester looms large on Thursday, February 1, and our annual Week Without Walls experiential learning opportunities are close behind from February 4-10.  MAP testing follows from February 12-19, and the first semester report cards will be available for parent/student viewing on February 21.  Rounding out the month of February is the 2nd annual Middle School Fringe Festival.  WOOHOO!!

Please see the following information provided by Ms. Cris Mejia our drama/dance teacher, about this year’s fabulous Fringe Festival.

MIDDLE SCHOOL FRINGE FESTIVAL: Feb., 28, 2018 – by Cris Mejia

UAS is a great community to be a part of, for this reason I am inviting you to participate in the second annual UAS Middle School Fringe Festival on Wednesday, February 28th.  On this festive evening, we will come together as a community through art, creativity and quality time!

So, what is Fringe? Fringe means alternative, unconventional. It is a festival of art, music, dance, drama, miming, storytelling, puppetry…..whatever you can think of, this is what the fringe will become. The performers will be all of us, ideally a combination of us: families, students, teachers, and support staff, all coming together to perform or to watch at various points across the campus – from the Middle School office to the pitch.

Many performances will be happening simultaneously. On one corner, we may have a parent and a student playing the guitar. A little further we may have our Philippine staff performing with our dance students. In another place, we might have a Mime show, or a short play with teachers and students. In another space, we hope to set cushions and have a little stage for a puppet show, or stand-up comedy.  All the shows, just like street art, will have hats placed in front of the performers in order to raise money for our Million Solar Stars Program. Anything you want to do, you are encouraged to make it happen!

If you want to participate but don’t know how, contact me and I will help you brainstorm ideas; or you can have a bake sale as well to continue raising money for this cause. If you want to participate and have an idea, you can sign up with me or my team. If you don’t want to perform, don’t worry, you can just come that evening and join us to watch the shows, to celebrate art and to celebrate our awesome school.

I will be sending out more information about signing in once I have my team in place, which will include some students, teachers and parents. If you want to be part of my team please contact me as soon as possible, the sooner we get started the better it will be. Thank you!  Hoping to see many of you at the 2018 UAS MS Fringe Festival on February 28!!  Cristina Mejia – Middle School Drama and Dance Teacher:  cmejia@uasdubai.ae

Thanks for reading my weekly blurb. Please take good care and until our paths cross, may peace be upon you.

*************

Upcoming dates and activities:

  • January 15: MS/HS choir concert @ 6:30 in the MPH
  • January 17: MS/HS band concert @ 6:30 in the MPH
  • January 15–18: MS MAP testing
  • February 1: Last day of semester 1
  • February 4-8: Week Without Walls
  • February 11: Professional Development for MS staff – NO SCHOOL for MS students
  • February 12: first MS day of semester 2
  • February 21: semester 1 report cards available to parents/students
  • February 28: MS Fringe Festival

Happy New Year and Welcome to 2018!!! WOOHOO!!

Welcome back to the exciting world of the UAS Middle School!  Here’s hoping you and your MS student enjoyed some quality family time during the winter break.  When the winter holiday was first announced, I must admit I was wondering how I would keep myself busy or entertained for three weeks.  Rest assured, it passed in the blink of an eye, and now here we are in this New Year, confirming in my mind that time surely does fly when you’re having fun!

In addition to visiting my family in Montana, USA, I had the good fortune of traveling to Seattle, Washington where I met my beloved granddaughter for the very first time.  WOW, what an amazing experience.  Holding a baby of my lineage in my arms is joy like no feeling I have experienced since my son (now 33) and my daughter (now 31) were newly born.  May I never grow weary of that joyful bliss!  I had the good fortune of allowing my granddaughter to nap in my arms on several occasions, and of course I had many chances to practice my “baby talk” in hopes of camera capturing a cute smile, a laugh, or a spit bubble!  If you see me in the MS hallway, please don’t hesitate to ask, and I’ll gladly share pictures of my newest “pride and joy”.

As you and your Middle School student look forward to the adventures that lie ahead in 2018, I would encourage you to remember the following points.

  1. The first semester ends on February 1, and there is a lot of learning that will occur between now and then. As you well know, with the acquisition of knowledge also comes reflection about that learning in the form of formative and/or summative assessments.  Please remember that you can help support your child in their personal organization habits by being aware of upcoming assessment dates.  Your MS student has access to the Google Classroom and therein can be found the assessment calendar to help guide their end of semester studying for the assessments which will ultimately shape their final grades.
  2. The parent portal provides you the golden opportunity to track the academic progress of your child, in each of their subjects. I would encourage you to open this online grade book and have a chat with your son/daughter this week. The conversation could focus on what strategies need to be used in the coming 4 weeks to either maintain or raise their current academic standing.  In addition, now is a good time to address any incomplete grades that may still be lingering within the grade book.  (Please click this link for access to the Middle School summative assessment policy.)
  3. Last, but not least, if you want to stay current with details of MS activities, programs and/or policies, please feel free to watch the daily news program – the MS Patcast – on Youtube. This program is the same version that our students watch on a daily basis, and is also aired on the TV within the MS hallway.  Birthday wishes are shared, reminders are given, and humor is often injected into the broadcast in hopes of making our school day a bit brighter.  I hope you can tune in!

Thanks for listening.  I hope you and your student are looking forward to the adventures that lie ahead in 2018, and many there will be!  WOOHOO!!!  Please take good care and until our paths cross, may peace be upon you.

*************

Upcoming dates and activities:

  • January 7: First school day in 2018!  WOOHOO!!!!
  • January 15: MS/HS choir concert @ 6:30 in the MPH
  • January 17: MS/HS band concert @ 6:30 in the MPH
  • January 15–18: MS MAP testing
  • February 1: Last day of semester 1
  • February 4-8: Week Without Walls
  • February 11: Professional Development for MS staff – NO SCHOOL for MS students
  • February 12: first day of semester 2
  • February 21: semester 1 report cards available to parents/students