MSM 240: Evaluate 2000 Calories, Lessons, Makayama.

Presented in collaboration with the Association for Middle Level Education.

Jokes You Can Use:

Q: Where do cows go on Fridays?

A: To the Moooovies


One day Mikey was sitting in his apartment when his doorbell unexpectedly rang. He answered the door and found a salesman standing on his porch with a strange object.

“What is that?” Mikey asked. “It’s a thermos,” the salesman replied. “What does it do?” asked Mikey. “This baby,” the salesman said, “keeps hot things hot and cold things cold.”

After some deliberation Mikey bought one, deciding it would really help his lunch situation. The next day he arrived at the plant where he works. Sure enough, all the other employees were curious about his new object. “What is it?” they asked.

“It’s a thermos,” Mikey replied.

“What does it do?” they asked.

“Well,” Mikey says in a bragging manner, “It keeps hot things hot and cold things cold.”

“What do ya got in it?”

To which Mikey says, “Three cups of coffee and a popsicle.”



Eileen Award:

  • Twitter: John Harrison, Seb Haire




What does 2000 Calories Look like?

Here’s what your daily allowance actually looks like.

Inspired by:


How long does Trash last?


Most Valued Possessions

Middle School Science Minute

by Dave Bydlowski (k12science or


Water Stewardship


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.  Nicole Nelson, wrote an article entitled “Using School-Yard Restoration to Engage Students in Water Stewardship”  In this article she shared her techniques for getting middle school students to personally connect to the ideas of conservation and stewardship in their own communities.


The major resource that she used was the Earth Partnership for Schools (EPS) Restoration-Based curriculum.  You can find this resource by Googling:

EPS, water stewardship curriculum

or visit:


From the Twitterverse:

* Steve Dembo ‏@teach42

Coolest. Dice. Ever. (How often have you said THAT??) But what would you use them for? “DICE+ pre-orders for $40”

* russeltarr ‏@russeltarr

Excellent Teacher Training Videos! #topfilm

* Larry Ferlazzo ‏@Larryferlazzo

RT @alexanderrusso: Middle School Students Short on Lunch Money Ordered to Throw Food in the Trash

* Will Waidelich ‏@WillWaidelich

Name Brand Education?  via @blocht574 @AMLE

* Tom Murray ‏@thomascmurray

A6: Educators looking to evaluate rigor should look at Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK) — strategic and extended thinking. #satchat

* Kelly Hines ‏@kellyhines

Interesting. “@sanmccarron: Principal plays surprising role in why new teachers quit

* Diane Ravitch ‏@DianeRavitch

Cody: Time to Hold Bill Gates Accountable

* Jeff Herb ‏@InstTechTalk

Apple TV in the Classroom  #edtech #edchat

* Richard Byrne ‏@rmbyrne

Five Free iPad Apps for Creating Video Lessons (AKA Flipped Classroom Lessons)

* Gary Johnston ‏@GaryJohnston1

5 Brilliant ‘Design Your Own Game’ Websites for Students … via @FractusLearning #minecraft

* Scott McLeod ‏@mcleod

Lesson design groups now giving each other feedback. Striving for cognitive complexity, student agency, & tech infusion. #nesa_sec #edtech

* Monte Tatom ‏@drmmtatom 16h

“Online Teacher Emergency” • #fhucid #eLearning #fhuedu642 #fhuedu320 #TETA …

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




Lesson Plan Organization

Looking for a place to enter and organize your lesson plans? This provides quick links to the Common Core.


Web Spotlight:

Creating Classrooms We Need: 8 Ways Into Inquiry Learning

“Our whole reason for showing up for school has changed, but infrastructure has stayed behind,”




Example: Laufenberg asked her students to watch President Obama’s State of the Union address and respond to what they watched and heard. She gave her students the option to either post comments on Twitter (fully public), Facebook (semi-public), Moodle (walled garden) or for low-tech participants, play Bingo with key words the students anticipated they might hear.




Laufenberg made a point of defining the difference between “blameworthy” and “praiseworthy” failure. Blameworthy failure is when the student just decided not to participate in a project. But praiseworthy failure is quite different: kids take risks and experiments knowing that they might not get it right the first time.


“I always told my kids, if I got boring, they should let me know, and if they got boring, I’d let them know,”


“If by the end of the year, they still need me, I haven’t done my job,” she said. “I’m not coming with them to college. They have to be self-driven, independent thinkers.”


Realistic Expectations for New Teacher Evaluation Systems

I’ve asked a number of prominent accountability hawks that question over the past six years and the answer I’ve heard most frequently is “5 to 10 percent.”

For over a century, school reformers have been dissatisfied with how teachers are evaluated, yet overhauling rating systems has not, historically, been an effective way to improve educational outcomes for kids. This is like hoping to lose weight by buying a new, high-tech scale, without changing your diet or exercise routines.

During the late nineteenth century, the New York City schools used an “excellent-good-fair-bad” rating system for teachers. When reformer William Maxwell became superintendent in 1898, he complained that 99.5 percent of teachers were rated “good” and instituted a plan to grade teachers on an A-D scale instead

In prominent education journals, dissident principals like Alexander Fichlander, a Brooklyn leftist, explained that the paperwork involved with implementing the system was so burdensome that administrators rushed through it; what’s more, there was little incentive to spend a lot of time rating teachers if the district provided no extra funding or training to those who needed to improve.

But if the new evaluation systems end up being more about paperwork than about improving practice, then they, too, will fail to improve instruction and will lose their political palatibility.


Common Core supporter: ‘I see the opportunity being squandered’

standards “represent the greatest opportunity for history teaching and learning to be widely re-imagined since the Committee of Ten set the basic outlines for American education over a hundred years ago.”

with each step towards implementation I see the opportunity being squandered. We cannot possibly continue to move solely in the direction of “college and career readiness” in History & Social Studies education without ensuring that “civic” readiness is valued equally

teachers working in Common Core states are currently engaging with the changes demanded by the Common Core. In too many places, this is happening without sufficient time and supports,

All systems are moving full speed ahead to assess core skills without sufficient consideration of the end to which these skills are applied.

Primary and secondary schools cannot merely be a farm system for universities and jobs. Rather, as public institutions, they must ensure that a new generation will be prepared for active civic engagement as youth and adults.

backwards design is not a simple linear process. These assessments will exist before anyone has had a chance to develop curricula that will prepare students for the assessments.

it is naive and simplistic to assume that changes to the standards and assessments will not be necessary once implementation occurs.


Essay-Grading Software Offers Professors a Break

will make its automated software available free on the Web to any institution that wants to use it

Although automated grading systems for multiple-choice and true-false tests are now widespread, the use of artificial intelligence technology to grade essay answers has not yet received widespread endorsement by educators and has many critics.

“There is a huge value in learning with instant feedback,” Dr. Agarwal said. “Students are telling us they learn much better with instant feedback.”

Les Perelman, has drawn national attention several times for putting together nonsense essays that have fooled software grading programs into giving high marks.

“Let’s face the realities of automatic essay scoring,” the group’s statement reads in part. “Computers cannot ‘read.’ They cannot measure the essentials of effective written communication: accuracy, reasoning, adequacy of evidence, good sense, ethical stance, convincing argument, meaningful organization, clarity, and veracity, among others.”

The EdX assessment tool requires human teachers, or graders, to first grade 100 essays or essay questions. The system then uses a variety of machine-learning techniques to train itself to be able to grade any number of essays or answers automatically and almost instantaneously.

“This is machine learning and there is a long way to go, but it’s good enough and the upside is huge,” he said. “We found that the quality of the grading is similar to the variation you find from instructor to instructor.”

“It allows students to get immediate feedback on their work, so that learning turns into a game, with students naturally gravitating toward resubmitting the work until they get it right,”

“One of our focuses is to help kids learn how to think critically,” said Victor Vuchic, a program officer at the Hewlett Foundation. “It’s probably impossible to do that with multiple-choice tests. The challenge is that this requires human graders, and so they cost a lot more and they take a lot more time.”

With increasingly large classes, it is impossible for most teachers to give students meaningful feedback on writing assignments, he said. Plus, he noted, critics of the technology have tended to come from the nation’s best universities, where the level of pedagogy is much better than at most schools.