MSM 226: Cheesy Penny Lane, I Used to Think…

Presented in collaboration with the Association for Middle Level Education.

Eileen Award:


  • Google+: Patti Gray


Jokes You Can Use:

When his teenage son asked to borrow twenty dollar, the man said, “Son, don’t you realize that there are more important things in life than money?”
“Yes, sir,” the youth replied, “I do. But you need money to take them to the movies.”

A tourist in Vienna goes through a graveyard and all of a sudden he hears some music. No one is around, so he starts searching for the source.
He finally locates the origin and finds it is coming from a grave with a headstone that reads: “Ludwig van Beethoven, 1770-1827.”
Then he realizes that the music is the Ninth Symphony, and it is being played backward! Puzzled, he leaves the graveyard and persuades a friend to return with him. By the time they arrive back at the grave, the music has changed. This time it is the Seventh Symphony, but like the previous piece, it is being played backward. Curious, the men agree to consult a music scholar.
When they return with the expert, the Fifth Symphony is playing, again backward. The expert notices that the symphonies are being played in the reverse order in which they were composed, the 9th, then the 7th, then the 5th.
By the next day the word has spread and a throng has gathered around the grave. They are all listening to the Second Symphony being played backward.
Just then the graveyard’s caretaker ambles up to the group. Someone in the group asks him if he has an explanation for the music.
“Don’t you get it?” the caretaker says incredulously. “He’s decomposing.”

A man wrote a letter to a small hotel in a midwest town he planned to visit on his vacation. He wrote, “I would very much like to bring my dog with me. He is well groomed and very well behaved. Would you be willing to permit me to keep him in my room with me at night?”
An immediate reply came from the hotel owner, who said, “I’ve been operating this hotel for many years. In all that time, I’ve never had a dog steal towels, bedclothes, silverware or pictures off the walls. I’ve never had to evict a dog in the middle of the night for being drunk and disorderly. and I’ve never had a dog run out on a hotel bill. Yes, indeed, your dog is welcome at my hotel. And, if your dog will vouch for you, you’re welcome to stay here, too.”


Cost of a penny

Middle School Science Minute

by Dave Bydlowski (k12science or

Public Laboratory (not lavatory 🙂

Troy Patterson, of the “Middle School Matters” podcast mentioned Raspberry Pi recently, and it got me to wondering if most people knew what it is.  Raspberry Pi is is a credit-card sized computer which can help kids do spreadsheets, play games, watch HD videos and learn programming, all for about $25.

It got me to thinking of other “Do It Yourself” gadgets that middle school students might also enjoy.  This then took me to the Public Laboratory:
a community where you can learn how to investigate environmental concerns using inexpensive “Do It Yourself” techniques.

From the Twitterverse:

* Will Richardson ‏@willrich45
“My Kindergartner had 14 tests this year…”  I’m telling you, reformers are going to test themselves out of business.
* Scott McLeod ‏@mcleod
Just a Reminder: American Teachers Do More Work for Less Pay Than Their International Peers  #edreform #iaedfuture
* Lucas Gillispie ‏@PCSTech
Full middle-grades language arts curriculum based in WoW and CommonCore aligned is here –  #BYOTchat
* Gary Johnston ‏@GaryJohnston1
My First 3 Days In A 1:1 iPad Classroom … via @edudemic Great advice from someone who hit the ground running.
James ‏@CrashCourseTech
CommBadge gives you a Star Trek: TNG experience…almost: Tired of plugging a Bluetooth earpiece i…  via @phonearena
* Miguel Guhlin ‏@mguhlin
A Must Have App Evaluation Rubric for Teachers
* BethRitterGuth ‏@BethRitterGuth
RT @bausel: Free Resources for Teachers | Online Student Code of Conduct …
* Steve ‏@2learn2
TED: Paolo Cardini: Forget multitasking, try monotasking – Paolo Cardini (2012)
Did you know there’s a great online source with almost 60K NASA images & 30K videos? Visit:
* Scott McLeod ‏@mcleod
New bookmark: Legal and ethical issues surrounding use of VAM for teacher evaluation
* Monte Tatom ‏@drmmtatom
How Teachers Are Using Social Media Right Now  #fhuedu642 #fhuedu320 ~ for @MSMatters followers

5 Great Ways for Teachers to Collaborate on Twitter  #fhuedu642 #fhuedu320 ~ for @MSMatters followers

6 #iPad Apps That Help You Create Interactive Study Guides  #mLearning #fhuedu320 ~ for @MSMatters followers

Report: Middle School Students Using Smartphones More Interested in STEM — THE Journal  #fhuedu642 #fhuedu320

#mschat every Thursday at 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time.  



Why Everything Sucks

*Note – some Not Safe For Work Language (NSFW) is present.

Questioning Autism?

Questioning Autism? is an iOS app designed to help concerned parents understand the signs and symptoms of autism, and to convey their observations to their pediatrician. The app features 12 simple questions, and the ability to share the observations with notes via email. Parents and caregivers can track a child’s progress over time, and save their observations for multiple children. Also included are helpful resources and the ability to share the app socially.

15 Cheesy Christmas Music Videos on YouTube

Well, the title pretty much says it all.

Historical Figure Greeting Cards

This morning I used the web version of the Trading Card Creator to create an Abraham Lincoln trading card. To create the card I found a public domain image of Lincoln, uploaded it to the template provided by RWT, and completed the fields that asked for information about Lincoln’s life. When my card was completed I was able to download it to my computer. I could have also emailed it to myself or to a friend.

Web Spotlight:

Primary Sources

Docs Teach offers seven free tools that teachers can use to create interactive learning activities based on primary source documents and images. The seven tools are Finding a Sequence, Focusing on Details, Making Connections, Mapping History, Seeing the Big Picture, Weighing the Evidence, and Interpreting Data.

I used to think…

In a beautifully candid and beautifully written piece for PLP Network’s Voices from the Learning Revolution, Canadian teacher Shelly Wright examines how her thinking and her classroom practice have changed.

The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

Too many kids already hate school. Why do we want to make them do more of it?



A study led by an Indiana University School of Education faculty member finds little correlation between time spent on homework and better course grades for math and science students, but a positive relationship between homework time and performance on standardized tests.
Contrary to much of the published research, a regression analysis of time spent on homework and the final class grade found no substantive difference in grades between students who complete homework and those who do not. But the analysis found a positive association between student performance on standardized tests and the time they spent on homework.
The authors suggest in their conclusions that other factors such as class participation and attendance may mitigate the association of homework to stronger grade performance.
“We’re not trying to say that all homework is bad,” Maltese said. “It’s expected that students are going to do homework. This is more of an argument that it should be quality over quantity. So in math, rather than doing the same types of problems over and over again, maybe it should involve having students analyze new types of problems or data. In science, maybe the students should write concept summaries instead of just reading a chapter and answering the questions at the end.”

AMLE Annual Conference Sessions:

Dr. John Medina:  Brain Rules

The field of neuroscience doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with education.
Brain Mythologies
10% usage
Left brain vs. Right brain
Cross brain/physical thingy:  bunk
Interpretation of data is everything!
We don’t know much about the brain, but we do know some things.
Solve problems, related to surviving, outdoors and constantly on the move.
Lecture Part One:  Exercise and the brain
Exercise boosts brain power and counteracts the effects of stress.
“Ode to a Sedentary Carnivore”
1989- Paper called ?

Baby boomers were aging either beautifully or not so beautifully.

Sedentary lifestyle made all the difference.

Executive function vs sedentary.  The scores are hugely different for those that had exercise.

   20-150% difference in scores after introducing exercise.
Aerobics and toning exercise does not improve your memory.
How much exercise to get benefit?
150 minutes of walking, enough that you couldn’t sing while you walk.
Exercise boosts cognition
Sweet spot:  20% increase in learning if the exercise comes right before the classroom experience.
Aerobic trumps strengthening.
Structure:  Exercise, class, class, exercise, class class
Lecture Part Two:
Arousal States
Being digitally exposed during studying is the same as being drunk.