MSM 254: Close reading, Misdirection and Misconceptions.

Presented in collaboration with the Association for Middle Level Education.


Jokes You Can Use:

An executive was interviewing a young woman for a position in his company. He wanted to learn something about her personality, so he asked, “if you could have a conversation with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?”


She quickly responded, “The living one.”


What did Mrs. Claus say to Santa as they were looking out their front window?

“Looks like rein dear”


Did you know that “verb” is a noun?

If two mouses are mice and two louses are lice, why aren’t two houses hice?

Why is the plural of goose-geese, and not the plural of moose-meese?

Q: Why is the Dalmatian always found when playing hide and go seek?

A: Because his is spotted!

“Last Christmas I got a new rifle for my wife. Good trade, don’t you think?”

On the first day of school, the kindergarten teacher said, “If anyone has to go to the bathroom, hold up two fingers.” A little voice from the back of the classroom asked, “How will that help?”


There were three pigs. The biggest pig went to the market and asked for the largest soda. He gulped it up and asked where the bathroom is. “Right over there,” says the store clerk. Then, the middle pig went to the market and asked for the largest soda. He gulped it down and asked where the bathroom was too. “Right over there,” said the store clerk. Finally, the littlest pig came in the market and asked for the largest soda. He gulped it all down. The store clerk asked,” Aren’t you gonna ask where the bathroom is?” “Nope,” said the little pig,” Don’t you remember I’m the one that wee wees all the way home.”


Eileen Award:

  • Twitter: Samantha Jenkin, Michelle Cordy,

  • Facebook: Dennis McCall, Susan Rona Stein




The Art of Misdirection

Have the students watch the video. Ask them some questions about the video. Then ask them if they would be fooled by him. (If possible, pause at the 8:00 minute mark – this is where he reveals that he has adjusted his outfit).

What every teacher ought to do… before it is too late

Posted by Vicki Davis

Many of you have been sharing on Twitter how you’ve had students create cards and do things to say “thank you.” Wherever you live, whoever you are, if you teach – make sure you’ve scheduled one day and one activity this year to thank these heroes of our community.

Yesterday as my students delivered and set up an appreciation for local law enforcement, they were met with gratitude. In two separate places they were told:

“People don’t really want to come down here for good things, it is always the tough things we deal with.”


Alice Eve explains fitting in….

Good for a discussion about fitting in versus not.

Middle School Science Minute

by Dave Bydlowski (k12science or



I was recently reading the April/May, 2013 issue of “Science Scope,” an magazine for middle school science teachers, published by the National Science Teachers Association.  Within this issue is an article entitled “Science Meets the Arts” written by Lawrence Perretto.  “Science Meets the Arts” is a program that engages students in scientific inquiry by having students create their own realistic wildlife art.  Embedded in this artistic/scientific process are key content connections that meet the Next Generation Life Science Standards.

From the Twitterverse:

Bloom’s Taxonomy for iPads. #ukedchat #edchat #edtech #ipadchat #iPad #ipaded

* Scott S. Floyd ‏@woscholar 34m

OH: “I didn’t choose to do homeschooling. Why are you sending 2 or 3 hours of homework home with my child?” #GoodPoint

#mschat this week was co-hosted by @amle on the topic of homework.  Here’s a resource they shared:

* Tami Brass ‏@brasst 34m

“How to Make School Better for Boys” – Boys are born tinkerers… …

* Tami Brass ‏@brasst 44m

“6 ChromeOS Tips to Make Chromebook Sparkle” – Although I’m not a diehard Chromebook user, do love the speed …

* Jon Samuelson ‏@ipadSammy 58m

Here is the link to the @LiveBinders for @wfryer session on Classroom 2.0 … #edcampatl #edcampps

* Larry Ferlazzo ‏@Larryferlazzo 1h

“Parents: 19 Meaningful Questions You Should Ask Your Child’s Teacher” …

* edutopia ‏@edutopia 12 Sep

6 Free Online Resources for Primary Source Documents:

* Mark Dunk ‏@unklar 2h

How to Close the Achievement Gap: Arts Education  via @edutopia

* Alec Couros ‏@courosa 2h

To my #ecmp355 preservice teachers – you may want to read this:’s+Journey)#.UjR4rGRFxjE … (You have a great opportunity before you right now)

* Scott McLeod ‏@mcleod 12m

#Reading logs aren’t learning, they’re obedience | @lisamorguess  HT @raybake #edchat

* Scott McLeod ‏@mcleod 49m

“In education, bad ideas are timeless & good ones are incredibly fragile” | @garystager  #edreform #iaedfuture #plaea

* TechSmith ‏@TechSmith 17 Sep

Looking for a better screen recorder? Get a deal on Camtasia for Mac for a limited time! …

* Class Tech Tips ‏@ClassTechTips 1h

iPad QR Scavenger Hunts! Check these out! #edtech #ipaded #edapp #freeapp

* Kevin Cummins ‏@edgalaxy_com 1h

Looking for new ideas to Teach History and Geography – Look no Further than here

* MrAspinall ‏@mraspinall 2h

Five obsolete teaching practices. I appreciate #3 …

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



Some Common Alternative Conceptions (Misconceptions)


Assign students a misconception that they will teach to the class. Assign can be done via student interest (ie. self-select, random picking or teacher assigned). Have the students work in groups. Their assignment will be to teach the class the misconception and the correct version.


  • Science

    • Seasonal Change

    • Knowledge about the Earth

    • Day/Night Cycle

    • Plants

    • Path of blood flow in circulation

    • Categories of Misconceptions (Erroneous Ideas) (See Pelaez, Boyd, Rojas, & Hoover, 2005)

    • Force and Motion of Objects

    • Gravity

    • Ontological Misconceptions

    • Other Misconceptions in Science

    • Epistemological Misconceptions about the Domain of Science Itself (its objectives, methods, and purposes)

  • Mathematics

    • Money

    • Subtraction

    • Multiplication

    • Division

    • Negative Numbers

    • Fractions

    • Decimal/Place-Value

    • Overgeneralization of Conceptions Developed for “Whole Numbers” (cited in Williams & Ryan, 2000)

    • Algebra

  • Language Arts

    • Poetry

    • Language



A Web-based companion to Write or Die, EditMinion is similar to After the Deadline. This writer’s companion doesn’t track your work, though. Rather, it provides an editing box for you to cut and paste work for immediate analysis and grading.

Adverbs, clichés, weak phrasing, repetitive usage and more are all laid bare for the author to see, making initial edit passes quick, if not painless.

EditMinion is also free, so the only thing you have to lose is your dignity when a beloved scene fails to make the grade. At least there are no witnesses.

North Jersey schools offering yoga as part of curriculum


Many schools in the region offer yoga as part of the curriculum, either in physical education courses or in the classroom setting. In the Fort Lee school system, yoga is incorporated into part of the traditional gym curriculum for grades 9 to 12.

Yoga originates from Eastern religions like Buddhism and Hinduism, but many schools incorporate the physical poses and relaxation without the spiritual aspect.

“A lot of yoga is about being mindful of your space, and that can be a big thing in the classroom,” she said. “Or if kids are having a hard time in class, a teacher might say, ‘OK, let’s refocus and work on our breathing.’ “

“We’ve taken physical education out of many schools and also lost recess in many places,” she said. “At the same time we have an increase in technology, more sitting in one place. I think the increase in popularity of yoga in schools has also come about because of the general interest in mind-body medicine.”

“I talk to them about quieting the mind,” she said. “It’s hard for teenagers to just close their eyes and breathe, but once they get into it, it can be so helpful. I remind them that when they are anxious about a test to use their yoga breathing.”

Web Spotlight:

Will an emphasis on ‘close reading’ kill the joy of reading?


As most educators know by now, the new Common Core standards emphasize ‘close reading.’ It’s hard to argue with that as a necessary skill for understanding complex writing.


BUT… I keep thinking back to some quotes from Kelly Gallagher’s phenomenal book,  Readicide:


So I’m torn. I want students to be able to critically analyze what they’re reading but even more importantly I want them to love to read.


Half-Baked Ideas . . .


David Knox and screen capture.

  • Screenflow
  • Screeny
  • Camtasia
  • Swivl