Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Taylor's New Schedule for 2010-2011

The Principal’s Corner by Mr. B

Taylor will be one of a dozen APS middle schools to pilot one of two new schedules next school year. The district offered middle schools a choice of a:
• Six-period “traditional” schedule which has five 60-minute classes and one “skinny” class for advisory, remediation, and enrichment.
• Five-period “block” schedule which has four 75-minute classes and one “skinny” class for advisory, remediation, and enrichment.
Our Instructional Council listened to a presentation from me on February 10 about the pros and cons of the two schedules in comparison to the seven-period schedule we currently have. We asked the Council to discuss the two schedules with their constituent groups and submit their vote to IC chair Margarita Smith by February 19. I also met with the PTO board and presented both proposals for PTO consideration. The results of the balloting were as follows:
 Six-period schedule – 7 votes
 Five-period schedule – 5 votes
Both PTO votes were cast in support of the six-period schedule.

Based on this vote, I submitted a request that Taylor be allowed to pilot the six-period schedule next school year. On Wednesday, March 10 we received notice that our request was approved by APS leadership. While there is no perfect schedule, I do believe that the six-period schedule will be an excellent fit for our school.

Here are some key features of next year’s six-period schedule:
• Math, science, social studies, and language arts meet every day for 360 minutes per week of instructional time in each class each week.
• Elective classes meet every other day on an alternating A/B schedule. For example, a student might have band and PE for electives. Band would meet Monday/Wednesday/Friday one week and Tuesday/Thursday the next week and so forth. One week, the student would get 180 minutes of band class and 120 minutes of PE. The next week it would flip-flop. Overall, the student gets 360 minutes elective class per week.
• The “skinny” class meets every day for 45 minutes and will be either:
o a third elective for students who don’t need remediation, or
o an extension of a core class such as math or reading to help your child catch up on basic skills

Placement decisions about what skinny your child gets will likely be based on his or her DBA results in math and reading. Students who score at beginning steps will likely be assigned to a skinny class to help them improve in math and/or reading.

One additional feature of the six-period day is built-in time for teacher collaboration in professional learning communities (PLC). We will structure these PLCs by grade-level which we will help us better support your student’s learning and social development.

I think the six-period day offers students the advantage of seeing all core teachers every day. I also believe it provides a daily rhythm that works best for middle school kids. This year will give us a chance to pilot the schedule for APS. I am excited that we were chosen for the pilot and I sincerely believe it is going to be a big success for our kids.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Can you help Ashley?

Let me tell you about a special Taylor 7th grader Ashley Cano in the words of science teacher Margarita Smith:

“Last year Ashley needed three blood transfusions a week because she had renal failure. Over the summer, she received a kidney transplant but since then has had to travel to California to have biopsies done to check if everything is okay. The first time they went out there, Ashley got sick and they had to return home with no results (the trip had been in vain). Although she does have medical insurance, her medicine is expensive, travel costs and many other health related costs are not covered. Her mom has fallen behind on rent, had their car repossessed (which she finally got back) and has trouble paying bills. Now Ashley needs a liver transplant too!”

Mrs. Smith has organized a fund raiser to help pay some of Ashley’s bills. The fund raiser will be conducted in first period classes from Friday, March 5th through Friday, March 12th. The class that collects the most money will win breakfast burritos from Little Anita’s Restaurant. This money will be added to $301.50 that was already raised by Nathaniel Lattin-Montano, Kwentin Howard, and Khalen Howard.

Please help us help Ashley Cano and her family. Checks can be made out to Taylor Middle School. Thank you for your support of this worthy cause.

Monday, March 1, 2010


This week I am throwing together some odds and ends into what my mother used to loosely call a casserole. Not really leftovers – just not enough of any one thing to be considered a main dish.

Item: Albuquerque Journal; Wednesday, February 24, 2010 – “APS MAY CHANGE SCHOOL START TIMES”.
According to the Journal, APS is considering changing starting times for our schools next fall. According to the article, the
• Elementary school day would last from either 7:30 am to 1:55 pm or 8 am to 2:25 pm.
• Middle school day would start at 9:15 and end at 3:45
• High schools would start at 8:35 am and end at 3:10
The new schedule would replace the district’s “current hodgepodge” of 82 start times according to the Journal which went on to quote APS Superintendent Winston Brooks as saying, “We really want to have a discussion with the Board about this.” Parents and grandparents who want to weigh in on the matter should notify board member Lorenzo Garcia (Garcia_lore@aps.edu) or PTO president Tanya Lattin (bryah909@aol.com) . The matter will also be on the agenda at the next Board meeting on March 3.

Item: Taylor Students Experience Temporary Amnesia:
A growing number of students appear to have forgotten a few key points in the Student Handbook about IPods, cell phones, and dress code. So I want to take this opportunity to refresh everyone’s collective memory:
• Cell phones – allowed outside before and after school and at lunch only. Otherwise they must be powered off and stored away. (Agenda, page 6)
• IPods – not allowed on campus, period. The reasons: they are easy to steal, hard to trace, and a nuisance in class. Students who bring them do so at their own risk. (Agenda, page 10-11)
• Dress code – 95% of the kids are model citizens. It is the other 5% whose excuses make me chuckle:
o “What do you mean nylon gym shorts don’t count for Denim Wednesdays?”
o “I thought plaid was a kind of denim!”
o “What’s wrong with sagging? I still have boxers and gym shorts underneath them!”

Item: Taylor Athletic Teams Dominate:
• Basketball: Our very tall and athletic 6th and 7th grade boys’ basketball team is undefeated this year. Our girls’ team has played very hard and shown great sportsmanship in this rebuilding year.
• Soccer: Our newly resurrected soccer teams shut out the boys’ and girls’ teams from Garfield on Wednesday. Both teams are 1-0 in district play.

Finally, I hope you will support our Chorus as they appear at the Festival de Bellas Artes at the National Hispanic Cultural Center tonight (Friday, February 26) from 6 – 8 pm. Thanks!