MSM 239: The Genius Hour & Self Defense . . .

Presented in collaboration with the Association for Middle Level Education.

Jokes You Can Use:

Little Johnny comes downstairs crying. His mother asked, “What’s the matter now?”

“Dad was hanging pictures, and just hit his thumb with hammer,” said little Johnny through his tears. “That’s not so serious,” soothed his mother. “I know you are upset, but a big boy like you shouldn’t cry at something like that. Why didn’t you just laugh?

“I did!” sobbed Johnny.


A man lying on his deathbed called to him, his lawyer, his doctor, and his pastor. “I am going to die tonight,” and I want to prove that when you go to heaven you can take it all with you. So to my three most trusted friends, you three of course, I am leaving 50,000 dollars in these envelopes. When I die you must come to my funeral and put the envelopes in my coffin with me.” The man handed the three men identical envelopes.

A day later they each received news that, that night the old man had died . So each knew they must go to his funeral and fulfill his death wish.

Standing over the coffin one week later the pastor confessed, ” I can’t hide what I’ve done. I took 10,000 dollars from the envelope because the church needed to be painted.”

Then as he did so the doctor also started to fidget then finally confessed “I took 30,000 dollars from my envelope because the hospital needed a new wing.”

Then the lawyer said plainly “You bunch of crooks! I wrote him a check for the full amount!”


I don’t mean to say the economy is bad, but yesterday the ATM gave me an IOU.

Eileen Award:

  • Twitter: Karen Webster

  • Google+: Dawnette Brenner




Poverty is hard to define, even though it is a term that we use very often.

“Poverty lines vary in time and place, and each country uses lines which are appropriate to its level of development, societal norms and values”

– The World Bank,

Poverty Analysis Overview

The Poverty Line project is an attempt to show what it means to be poor, by taking photos of daily amounts of food you can buy if your income lies at the poverty line.

Ice Cream Currency Calculator

Who values ice cream the most? What about other items?


Middle School Science Minute

by Dave Bydlowski (k12science or


Progression of Ideas

I was recently reading the March, 2013 issue of Science Scope, a magazine for Middle School Science Teachers, published by the National Science Teachers Association.  Joe Krajick, wrote and article entitled “The Next Generation Science Standards: A Focus on Physical Science.”  In this article he shared many ideas of why all students should have a basic understanding of Physical Science.


He went on to write about the importance of the progression of ideas.  Here is an example of the progression of ideas for the structure and properties of matter:

*  By the end of 2nd grade, students will have developed a descriptive model.

•  By the end of 5th grade, students will have developed a particle model.

•  By the end of 8th grade, students will have developed an atomic molecular model.

•  By the end of 12th grade, students will have developed an atomic structure model.


You can find more info at:


From the Twitterverse:

* Patrick Larkin ‏@patrickmlarkin

The Problems with “The Rise Of Tablets As Textbooks” via @ryanbretag #beyondtextbooks

* Kate Maccoll ‏@kmacc1 28 Mar

Check out Cathy Hunt’s iPad Artroom. Well worth a look!  #slide2learn #ade2013

* Jeff Herb ‏@InstTechTalk 8h

Edmodo – Facebook for the Classroom  #edtech #edchat

* Monte Tatom ‏@drmmtatom 24 Mar

Mobile Learning On The Interwebs  #iPads #fhuedu320 #fhuedu642

* Monte Tatom ‏@drmmtatom 24 Mar

A Simple Yet Powerful Student Blogging Activity  #fhuedu320 #fhuedu642

* Monte Tatom ‏@drmmtatom 22 Mar

Monosnap – A Screen Capture Tool for Mac, Windows, iOS & Chrome  #fhucid #fhuedu320

* Donna Boucher ‏@MathCoachCorner 54m

@bcurrie5: Blubbr – Create Interactive Quizzes Using YouTube Clips … #edtech #elemchat #mschat” Awesome!

* Two Teacherz ‏@askteacherzcom 1h

Testing Culture = Atlanta Ex-Schools Chief Indicted  #TwoThumbZdown #edchat #satchat #mschat #MichEd #Rheediculous

* Mr Z (Josh) ‏@MrZsMath 2h

5 Ideas for the One iPad Classroom – Getting Smart by Susan Oxnevad  #edtech #mschat

* LitLife ‏@LitLifePD 22h

RT @middleweb: The developmental needs of tweens are unique @RickWormeli has 5 strategies for tween tchrs  #mschat

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


Genius Hour — Let Your Students Challenge Themselves

What would happen if we gave kids one hour a week to work on anything they wanted? Would you expect to find a classroom completely out of control? Or worse, a classroom, where students choose to do as little as possible for that one hour?


Web Spotlight:

The Senate Social Network

Social network analysis has been around since long before MySpace, Facebook, or the modern Internet itself. But the ubiquity of these platforms makes representations of data as social networks more familiar and accessible to readers. For example, here’s a representation of the Senate as a social network, in which any two senators are “friends” if they vote the same way at least 75 percent of the time.

The math behind social networks borrows a few things from physics, beginning with a spring system that gradually resolves into a coherent picture, as you can see in the animation. While the nodes are colored according to the senator’s party for visual effect, the network itself has no knowledge of partisanship. The divide is a natural consequence of a highly partisan legislature.



The Internet is just like junior high

If life is just like high school, then the Internet might be an age group lower. Much of our digital world means never having to leave junior high school behind.

If, as cultural critic Neil Postman asserted, TV ended childhood — the medium provided an impetus for young people to act older, which created hand-wringing about generations growing up too quickly — the Internet has done the opposite, she says.


Teachers and school staff turn to self-defense training

As school professionals nationwide re-evaluate plans for keeping schoolchildren safe, more teachers, staff and parents turn to self-defense training, defense instructors across the country say.

As school professionals nationwide re-evaluate plans for keeping school children safe in light of recent school shootings, more teachers, administrators and some parents are turning to self-defense training, self-defense instructors and educators nationwide say. Some people say it is the wrong approach to improving school safety.

“Teachers should be more prepared than just hiding under the desk,” Jerry Chenault said. “Self-defense isn’t the answer, but it is an answer.”

South Dakota passed a bill this month permitting teachers who undergo the same training as law enforcement to carry weapons on school campuses. The law will go into effect July 1 and is largely geared toward the state’s rural schools that are often at a distance from law enforcement centers, said Tony Venhuizen, spokesperson for the governor’s office. “Self-defense training also makes sense,” but each school district should decide for themselves, he said.


Study: Middle School Algebra Push Yields Minimal Performance Gains

Many states are pushing students to take Algebra 1 in middle school to prepare them for advanced math in high school. A new analysis, however, suggests that increased enrollment hasn’t led to higher math performance for states on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Mr. Loveless said the study suggests that advanced math in middle school may be “watered down” as more students of different ability levels in math take the course.


Are We Creating a Generation of Observers?

By Stephen R. Herr

I think most educators have a growing sense of concern that their students are turning into a generation of observers. The many watch the few.

I worry that, in our classrooms, we have become focused on celebrating the lives of others, at the expense of the act of creation.

As Socrates noted over 2,000 years ago, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Perhaps, in 2013, the unexamined event is not worth perpetuating.


Common-Core Tests to Take Up to 10 Hours

Districts will get 20 days to administer

By Catherine Gewertz


New tests being designed for students in nearly half the states will take eight to 10 hours, depending on grade level, according to guidance released last week.

The other group of states designing tests, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, has already come out with time estimates for its tests. Students in those 24 states will face testing times of seven to 8.5 hours. Now that PARCC has issued its test-time projections, educators in 22 other states and the District of Columbia know how much time students will need to take those exams.

The amount of time students will have to complete both the performance-based and end-of-year components in math and English/language arts:

  • Grade 3: 8 hours
  • Grades 4-5: 9 hours, 20 minutes
  • Grades 6-8: 9 hours, 25 minutes
  • Grades 9-10: 9 hours, 45 minutes
  • Grades 11-12: 9 hours, 55 minutes
  • For students: Five to nine days

For schools and districts: Up to 20 days for the performance-based component of the test, and up to 20 days for the end-of-year component. Schools may administer the tests in narrower windows of time if they have the capacity to do so.

iPad App/idea:

Turn your iPad into a Document Camera





Half-Baked Ideas . . .

Are conferences better if they are free or paid?