MSM 246: 8, Who do we Appreciate?

Presented in collaboration with the Association for Middle Level Education.

Jokes You Can Use:

After leaving the racetrack Bill bumped into his old friend Peter on the bus.

“Say,” Peter said, “How’s it going?” “Going? You want to hear one of the most amazing things that ever happened? Tell me- what’s today’s date?”

“July seventh.” “Right. The seventh day, of the seventh month. I go to the track at seven minutes past seven. My son is seven years old today, and we live at number seven, Seventh Avenue.” “Let me guess,” Peter interrupted. “You put everything you had on the seventh horse in the seventh race.” “Right.”

“And he won!” Peter sighed.

“No. He came in seventh.”


A fellow bought a new Mercedes and was out on the interstate for a nice evening drive. The top was down, the breeze was blowing through what was left of his hair and he decided to open her up. As the needle jumped up to 80 mph, he suddenly saw flashing red and blue lights behind him. “There’s no way they can catch a Mercedes,” he thought to himself and opened her up further. The needle hit 90, 100…. Then the reality of the situation hit him. “What am I doing?” he thought and pulled over. The cop came up to him, took his license without a word and examined it and the car. “It’s been a long day, this is the end of my shift and it’s Friday the 13th. I don’t feel like more paperwork, so if you can give me an excuse for your driving that I haven’t heard before, you can go.”

The guy thinks for a second and says, “Last week my wife ran off with a cop. I was afraid you were trying to give her back!”

“Have a nice weekend,” said the officer.

Eileen Award:

  • iTunes: MSM Fan

  • Twitter: Chuck Taft, Mary Yonker Vales, Craig Frehlich

  • Diigo: Annette Duffy



Stupid Calculations

Take a variety of obscure thoughts and put math to them…

Middle School Science Minute

by Dave Bydlowski (k12science or




Each year the National Science Teachers Association announces the outstanding science trade books from grades K-12.  This list includes books published in 2012.  This is the fourth in a series of 4 podcasts that will look at the best books for grades 6 – 8.


The books included in this podcast are:

1.  The Plant Hunters: True Stories of Their Daring Adventures to the Far Corners of the Earth, by Anita Silvey

2.  The Polar Bear Scientists, by Peter Lourie

3.  Wild Horse Scientists, by Kay Frydenborg


From the Twitterverse:

* Kathy R. Cook ‏@kathycook1 19m

22 Effective Ways To Use Twitter In The Classroom  #edtech

* Steve Reifman ‏@stevereifman

Teachers, prepare your students emotionally, physically, & academically 4 a great school day in just 10 minutes.

* Chris ONeal ‏@onealchris

#iste2013 #iste13 attendees take note RT@mcleod: How To Use Evernote: The Unofficial Manual

* edutopia ‏@edutopia 1h

Thought-provoking. RT @keightyeight: 5 Questions to Ask at the End of the School Year  #edchat #teachchat

* John Norton ‏@middleweb 2h

MWSmartBrief @ratzelster effective student practice; manage behavior; teach curation; WordNerds  #amle #ntchat @naesp

* Larry Ferlazzo ‏@Larryferlazzo 3h

RT @DianeRavitch: Who Distorted Charlotte Danielson’s Message?

* Scott McLeod ‏@mcleod 5h

Carol Burris Reviews John King’s Teacher Evaluation Plan and Finds It Wanting

* On the ClassroomWall ‏@FlyontheCWall 4h

gr8 RT @ncarroll24: Diff between Projects & Project Based Learning: … #4thchat #PBL #elemchat #edchat #5thchat Gr8…

* Monte Tatom ‏@drmmtatom 15 Jun

A Wonderful Visual on Common Core Standards for Teachers & Students #fhuedu610 #fhuedu508 …

* Monte Tatom ‏@drmmtatom 15 Jun

8 alternatives to Google Reader #fhucid #fhuedu642 #eLearning

* Monte Tatom ‏@drmmtatom 15 Jun

27 Ways To Make Sure Students Pay Attention In Class | Edudemic #fhuedu508 #fhupsy306 …

* Craig Nansen ‏@cnansen 3h

Sign up for the FREE Photo Walk in San Antonio  #iste13 #iste2013

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



HTML Tables

Copy your spreadsheet cells and, poof, an html table. This can be very helpful to quickly create HTML tables.


Teachers Training Teachers Video

Lots, and I do mean LOTS, of videos about teaching. Most are about technology and using technology as a teacher.



Because of Winn Dixie Study Guide:

We have a study guide for students reading the novel.  It is an excellent resource for students to enrich their understanding of the novel as they read through it. – See more at:

Web Spotlight:

Principal: Why our new educator evaluation system is unethical

A few years ago, a student at my high school was having a terrible time passing one of the exams needed to earn a Regents Diploma.

Mary has a learning disability that truly impacts her retention and analytical thinking.

Because she was a special education student, at the time there was an easier exam available, the RCT, which she could take and then use to earn a local high school diploma instead of the Regents Diploma.

Regents Diploma serves as a motivator for our students while providing an objective (though imperfect) measure of accomplishment.

If they do not pass a test the first time, it is not awful if they take it again—we use it as a diagnostic, help them fill the learning gaps, and only the passing score goes on the transcript

…in Mary’s case, to ask her to take that test yet once again would have been tantamount to child abuse.

Mary’s story, therefore, points to a key reason why evaluating teachers and principals by test scores is wrong.

It illustrates how the problems with value-added measures of performance go well beyond the technicalities of validity and reliability.

The basic rule is this: No measure of performance used for high-stakes purposes should put the best interests of students in conflict with the best interests of the adults who serve them.

I will just point out that under that system I may be penalized if future students like Mary do not achieve a 65 on the Regents exam.

Mary and I can still make the choice to say “enough”, but it may cost me a “point”, if a majority of students who had the same middle school scores on math and English tests that she did years before, pass the test.

But I can also be less concerned about the VAM-based evaluation system because it’s very likely to be biased in favor of those like me who lead schools that have only one or two students like Mary every year.

When we have an ELL (English language learner) student with interrupted education arrive at our school, we often consider a plan that includes an extra year of high school.

…last few years “four year graduation rates” are of high importance four-year graduation rate as a high-stakes measure has resulted in the proliferation of “credit recovery” programs of dubious quality, along with teacher complaints of being pressured to pass students with poor attendance and grades, especially in schools under threat of closure.

On the one hand, they had a clear incentive to “test prep” for the recent Common Core exams, but they also knew that test prep was not the instruction that their students needed and deserved.

…in New York and in many other Race to the Top states, continue to favor “form over substance” and allow the unintended consequences of a rushed models to be put in place.

We can raise every bar and continue to add high-stakes measures. Or we can acknowledge and respond to the reality that school improvement takes time, capacity building, professional development, and financial support at the district, state and national levels.

Creating bell curves of relative educator performance may look like progress and science, but these are measures without meaning, and they do not help schools improve.


Mindset Matters

Mindset is about believing in yourself. Carol Dweck, the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology and author of “Mindset” discovered in her research at Stanford that belief guides a large part of your life. Much of what you think of as your personality actually grows out of this “mindset” and could prevent you from fulfilling your potential. You can have either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.


Stabbed With a Pencil

Why are we allowing our students to use pencils in the classroom setting? Based on a Google search that I conducted recently which you can see below, I was amazed at the number of pencil stabbing incidents that take place on a yearly basis.

Don’t get me wrong, pencils are great and they do wonders for a student’s educational experience.

Yet many schools are still reluctant to infuse social media, mobile learning devices, and Web 2.0 tools as a way to engage learners because of the issues that could arise.

The point that I am trying to make is that it is no longer acceptable for school districts to prohibit mobile learning devices and social media in the school setting. I understand that these tools can be used inappropriately, but so can pencils and toilet paper.


Technology Safety

As an educator in today’s modern world, your guidance is critical for students to navigate through the intricacies of new media and cybersafety successfully. To help you teach your students to safely and ethically use their digital devices in the classroom–and throughout their communities–iKeepSafe has created the following programs:


Want to Improve Teaching? Listen to Students

Annie Emerson doesn’t have to wonder about what it takes to help her kindergarten students learn how to write or do math. They’ve told her.

Emerson’s students told her that they wanted more open-ended time to work on writing and math activities — which is exactly what the Florida teacher gave them. Along with adding longer blocks of time for those activities during the day, Emerson began finding ways to help students weave math problems into their lives outside of school,

Good teachers have long known the importance of knowing their students, both as learners and as individuals.

Students who are given a voice in setting goals gain ownership in what they’re learning. Teachers who listen to what students tell them they need to learn gain more than just a better understanding of the children they teach — they gain clarity on their roadmap to better teaching.

Half-Baked Ideas . . .

Why do I want a Microsoft Surface RT?

Pick up your Microsoft Surface RT at the Grand Hyatt Ballroom . . . for free.   Why in the world would they give away a $499.00 tablet?  Get yours here if you’re going to ISTE: