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Personal LearningDear Mustang Parents and Guardians,

Here’s hoping you and your family are enjoying the summer break.  Nothing does the “Mind, Body and Character” more than the occasional break from the norm.  During this time at George Mason, we are becoming more excited with each passing day as we get closer to the launch of the Personalized Learning program at Mason and throughout Falls Church City Public Schools.

Those of you who have been with us for the last three years know the intensity of our preparation for the launch of a truly transformative learning initiative.  In 2011, we began getting our digital infrastructure in place.  In 2012, we started retrofitting classrooms with 21st century technology, and transforming our curriculum to take advantage of these new tools.  Last year, our robust wireless internet network was completed and opened for student use.  We also updated our digital roadmap to the future - The Instructional Technology Plan - with help from some of the brightest minds in the business.

And now we’re ready for you!  Beginning August 11th, the George Mason Digital Learning team and school administration will begin conducting one-hour Personalized Learning sessions.  The purpose of these sessions is to provide students, and parents/guardians with our rationale for instituting this initiative, distribute MacBook Air laptops, and discuss the appropriate use and care for this dynamic learning tool.  We will also use our time together to address parental controls options, insurance, and maintenance.  It is essential that students, accompanied by at least one parent/guardian, attend one of these sessions.  In addition to learning about the topics addressed above, parents/guardians will be asked to sign and submit the attached agreement.  We appreciate the hectic nature of summer vacation and that family commitments might make attending a challenge.  This allotment of your time and attention would not be requested if I did not feel that it was warranted.  Together we must continually provide our children with opportunities to develop the skills and abilities they will need to compete in and contribute to the global community and economy.  This tool, and the skills and abilities our children will develop while using it, will help us achieve that promise.  We fully expect to begin utilizing this new resource at the onset of the 2014-15 school year as we continually work to prepare our children for the diverse opportunities that exist today and those that will be present tomorrow.

SIGN UP: Personalized Learning Orientation Sessions

www.fccps.org/pl

Daytime and evening sessions are available.  Sessions are limited to 30 families each, on a first-come, first-served basis.

During the sessions, and soon on the website, you’ll find more information about Personalized Learning, and get any questions you may have answered.   For those new to George Mason this year, let me just say that Personalized Learning will ensure equal access for every student with each starting from the same place.  Having 24/7 access to the laptop and software they use in their classroom levels the playing field for our students as they listen to class lectures, review teacher and student notes, and  collaborate with one another in and outside the classroom - an invaluable advantage to advancing their learning.

If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact me directly, or submit a question on the website.   None of this would have been possible without your support, and that of the Falls Church School Board, City Council and, most importantly, the Falls Church City community.

Please review, sign and bring the attached agreement with you to your Orientation Night.

Sincerely,

Tyrone Q. Byrd, Principal
George Mason High School

After a year of planning GM is able to take the last steps toward a new technologically integrated curriculum

by Blaise Sevier

Sevier PersonalizedLearning News
With the help of George Mason Technology Coordinator Steve Knight, and many others, the plea to increase technology within the Falls Church School Public Schools has been revisited again: this time with a concrete triennial plan to implement a “Personalized Learning” initiative in the 2014-2015 school year.

Starting the week of August 11, every student in George Mason will receive a laptop as part of the newly developed, "Personalized Learning" initiative. The full details of the plan are found in Falls Church City Public Schools Instructional Technology, Strategic Planning Integration Recommendations manual. This plan was just recently approved (on April 9, 2014) by the Virginia Department of Education, and is officially part of the GM curriculum.

“I’m excited about the promise of every kid having a technological resource in their hands,” said George Mason Principal Tyrone Byrd. “It’ll make it easier in school and they’ll be able to personalize it to their own interests and also take it home.”

A parent meeting will be required during the two weeks starting August 11 to sign devices out to students. Then, once school starts, the first few days of classes will also incorporate informational workshops that help assist the transition. Also, throughout the school year, an on-site assistance booth, and more services will be provided for faculty and students.

“We have heard loud and clear (from the reaction of the 1-1 program) that if we are going to be giving students and faculty members laptops, training is a critical step that will need to be incorporated within our school year,” said Knight.

The recognition of this training program has already made its way to the 2014-2015 calendar. Before and during the school year staff will have a minimum of 20 hours of technology integration training.

“It doesn’t replace the teacher and the relationship they have with their students, so we’re going to help them walk that balance,” said Byrd.

For more information about FCCPS’ upcoming “Personalized Learning” program visit theFCCPS Instructional Technology Strategic Planning and Integration Presentation

“I’m really excited about it, our teachers are excited about it, there’ll be a lot of development over the summer to prepare for that so we’ll hit the ground running next year,” said Byrd.

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By Megan Butler

Butler MrMsMason YearinReview

 

There are many anticipated events that happen during the school year. The Mr. and Ms. Mason competition is one of those anticipated events of the year. The contestants of the annual Mr. and Ms. Mason competition are nominated by teachers and are seen as students who represent the ideals of Mason. This year’s competition was said to be one of the best, far better from previous years with a handful of Mason students participating and performing creative and comical acts.

“It was definitely better this year, the performances were a good amount of time and didn’t lose people’s interest. Contestants also included a lot of their peers, which was cool,” said Science teacher Will Stewart, a judge for the competition and previous Mr. Mason victor. “Mr. Knight also helped a lot to make the scoring on iPads so we could score faster and then the show went smoother.”

Some featured performances that got competitors into the finals were original dances from senior Preston Custer, senior Truman Custer, junior Arijeet Sensharma, and sophomore Blaise Sevier. Senior Maeve Curtin’s “The Weekend Update” making fun of problems at GM and Claire Trevisan’s Ellen DeGeneres impersonation had the audience laughing as well. Finally, to claim the crown of Mr. Mason, Matt Earman performed a skit, “The Whitest Kids You Know.”Then to take the title of Ms. Mason, Lily Constance the song “Good Morning Falls Church City” based off of the song from Hairspray.

The 2014 Mr. and Ms. Mason Competition has raised the bar of the event and is one that will never be forgotten.

By Andrea Philbin

Philbin FireDrillPicnic YearInReview

The fire drill picnic celebrates the ending of a school year for students and faculty. The fire alarm sounds and the students eagerly exit the building headed to the field for an extended picnic lunch with a school photo, free pizza, celebration of retiring teachers and faculty, and games.

Last year’s end-of-the-year scramble to plan the fire drill picnic ended in disappointment when the rain came and pushed the activities inside.

The fire drill picnic is a well loved tradition that is dying because planning is not thought of until the last minute. For something that means so much to many Mason students, it is overlooked by administration many times.

There seems to always be a problem in the planning of the coveted fire drill picnic. I’m not saying the administration can control the weather; However, in the past two years there has been a threat of cancellation due to insufficient funds and poor planning.

This year, we have the money and the event was even included in the list of senior activities.Yet, is has been officially cancelled due to a scheduling conflict over the field with Mary Ellen Henderson.

As a senior, I’ve been looking forward to all the end of the year activities, including the fire drill picnic. It’s disappointing to find out one of my favorite days in the school year is being cancelled due to poor planning.

Other seniors agree the cancellation is a disappointment as well.

“It sucks that as it’s our last year, they couldn’t work around the schedule to make it happen. It would be our last big thing with the rest of the school before we break off and graduate,” said senior Ashley Alexander.

It’s not the pizza or the free time away from class that makes it special, It’s the time enjoying the weather with friends and teachers and taking a photo of the student body to remember another year passing.

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