MSM 262: MODEMS Are a Pain, but necessary… The Musical.

Presented in collaboration with the Association for Middle Level Education.

Jokes You Can Use:

Q.  What kind of monster is safe to put in the washing machine?-

A.   A wash and wear wolf


Q.  What does a cow make when the sun comes out?

A.  A shadow


Top 10 signs your presidential candidate is under-qualified

10. Promises to improve foreign relations with Hawaii.

9. Runs a series of attack ads against Martin Sheen’s character on “The West Wing.”

8. His #1 choice to work on his cabinet is “That Bob Vila guy.”

7. Outstanding record as Governor of Rhode Island nullified by the fact that no one really cares.

6. Got his degree in Political Economics by bribing Sally Struthers with a chocolate donut.

5. Anybody mentions Washington, he asks, “The state or the DC thingie?”

4. At the debates, answers every question with a snarled, “You wanna wrestle?!?”

3. Vows to put an end to the war in Pokemon and free the Pikachu refugees once and for all.

2. Says the Pledge of Allegiance as quickly as possible, then shouts, “I win!”

….. and the Number 1 Sign Your Presidential Candidate Is Under-Qualified..

1. On the very first question of the debate, he attempts to use a LIFELINE.


The Old Man and the Sea

A seaman meets a pirate in a bar, and they take turns to tell their adventures on the seas. The seaman notes that the pirate has a peg leg, hook, and an eye patch. Curious, the seaman asks “So, how did you end up with the peg-leg?”

The pirate replies “I was swept overboard into a school of sharks. Just as my men were pulling me out, a shark bit my leg off”.

“Wow!” said the seaman. “What about the hook”?

“Well…”, replied the pirate, “We were boarding an enemy ship and were battling the other sailors with swords. One of the enemy cut my hand clean off.”

“Incredible!” remarked the seaman. “How did you get the eye patch”?

“A seagull dropping fell into my eye”, replied the pirate.

“You lost your eye to a seagull dropping?” the sailor asked.

“Well…” said the pirate, “That was my first day with the hook.”

Eileen Award:

  • Twitter:  Raul Santiago





What’s your general term for a sweetened carbonated beverage? What word or words do you use to address a group of two or more people? What do you call it when the rain falls while the sun is shining?


What if Instragram had been available throughout history?


Yep, MicroSoft. Predicts passwords.


Right or Left Brained?

If you’re not sure whether you’re left- or right-brained, here’s a quiz to give you an idea.

A quick review:

• Right-brain types are visually oriented. They tend to think in images rather than words, focus on the big picture rather than the details, and go through life in a somewhat seat-of-the-pants (a.k.a. scattered) way.

• Left-brainers are those who think in words (attention, list makers!), do a lot of advance planning, and approach challenges in a rational, linear way.

* Note that this is targeted at Home Organizing.


Middle School Science Minute

by Dave Bydlowski (k12science or


Changing Grades


I was recently reading the October, 2013 issue of NSTA Reports, published by the National Science Teachers Association.  In this issue, they reported on a survey that was given to teachers, asking whether they were ever asked to change a student grade that they had given at the end of the semester or school year.  The results of the survey are included in the podcast.  Five middle school science teachers also shared their comments on why this is or is not a reasonable practice.


From the Twitterverse:

* Scott McLeod ‏@mcleod 7m

International test scores: Getting the data straight

* Scott McLeod ‏@mcleod 37m

Twenty Ideas for Engaging Projects | @edutopia

Rurik-Rory Nackerud ‏@ruriknackerud 32m

Write about your work because NOBODY ELSE is going to do it for you. #pdkel13

* Kevin Honeycutt ‏@kevinhoneycutt 35m

We need the some pig principle from Charlotte’s Web, brag about it or you will be bacon. Same concept for public education. #Brag

* Russel Tarr ‏@historynews 2h

First World War project to tell little-known stories of the artists  #historyteacher

* Monte Tatom ‏@drmmtatom 6 Dec

QuizBean – Quickly Create & Distribute Quizzes to Students Even If They Don’t Have Email Addresses  ~ #fhuedu320

Hemanshu Nigam ‏@HemanshuNigam 26m

Viral photo teaches 5th graders in Tennessee important internet safety lesson

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



How Competency Based Grading Has NOT Changed Our School’s Transcript

by Brian Stack • December 6, 2013

My school district implemented a K-12 competency-based grading and reporting system four years ago.


They are surprised to learn, in fact, that little has changed about our transcript.


The purpose of our high school transcript, just like any other high school transcript, is to provide a final record of a student’s performance at our school.


Other information, such as:  Class Rank; Grade Point Average (weighted or non-weighted); Attendance Information, and Diploma Type are optional features that can also be printed on a transcript as needed.


Our transcript explains to the reader what the final grades of E (Exceeding), M (Meeting), IP (In-Progress), and LP (Limited Progress) mean. It also explains what it means for a student to get a code of NYC (Not Yet Competent) or IWS (Insufficient Work Shown), both of which result in no credit awarded for the course.


At one point last year a team of administrators from my school had the opportunity to address an audience of admissions representatives – one from every single public and private college and university in the State of New Hampshire.


Then, they began to talk about how the differences between our transcript and the tradition school’s transcript are not in the grades themselves but what the grades represent.


The message for the college admissions representatives that day was that our transcript, just like any other high school transcript, is just a snapshot of data on a student.


Varsity Tutors

Our mission is to improve the academic achievement of all students by providing high quality individualized tutoring services that foster intellectual and personal development in a positive learning atmosphere.

Service has real tutors that are available for hire.

They also have a variety of tutorials available on-line for free. Additionally, you can create flashcards and organize them by class.

AMLE 2013 Annual Conference

Rick Wormeli & Formative Assessment

Videos:  The Piano Guys and the Nowegian Technology Problem.  The Inner Net

Formative vs. Summative Assessment and questions conventional practice.


Opening Video:  Corner Gas (?), Mr. D.  Grading Essays in the Bar:

Follow up conversation:

   Electronic download available on the AMLE website.

What’s the difference between formative assessments and summative judgements?

   Let’s change the name from homework to Social Studies practice and tests are performances.

   Formative gives them feedback.

Soooooo . . . What if we put the standard in the Zangle and then put in the grade for a Project Based Learning grade?

Game changing tenets for Formative Assessment

   Fair isn’t always equal

   We grade against students, not the routes we take to get to standards,

   Descriptive feedback and the power to revise in response to feedback are paramount.

   All summatives can be turned into formative assessments.

Common Core is a foundation of basics and the local school district determines the details they want included.

“Tim was so learned, that he could name a horse in nine languages; so ignorant, that he bought a cow to ride on.”  -Ben Franklin

The better question is not, “What is the Standard?”  The better question is, “What is the evidence?”

“The student understands fact versus opinion.”






Wormeli’s definition of mastery:

   Students have mastered content when they demonstrate a thorough understanding as evidenced by doing something substantive with the content beyond merely echoing it.  Any one . . . .

Consider graduations of understanding and performance from introductory to sophisticated.

Article:  “How do you know what to teach?”

Larry Ainsworth:  See his articles for the most practical stuff.


   1.  The way you see the world.

   2.  Decide every year if it still works.

   3.  Can you minimize your hypocracy.

Operating Mindsets

   Grading isn’t a “gotcha” enterprise

   We strive to be criterion – evidenced based, not norm-referenced in classroom grading.

   It’s what students carry forward, not what they demonstrated during the unit of learning, that is most indicative of true proficiency.

Grading Mindsets

   1.  Accuracy increases with sample size, use clear and consistent evidence over time.

   2.  Disaggregate:  The more curriculum we report with one symbol, the less useful is the report.

   3.  Grading evolution is a journey of ethics.

Grading Mindsets C

   Just because it’s mathematically easy to calculate doesn’t mean it’s pedagogically correct.

   The symbols we use for garding (A-F, 4-0, %’s) mean nothing.  They are shorthand for much longer descriptions of evidence.

   We can learn without grades, we can’t learn without descriptive feedback.

Grading Mindsets D

   Anything that diffuses the accuracy of a grade is removed from our grading practice.

   The best grading ocmes only when subject like colleagues have vetted what evidence of standards they will tolerate

   Se cannot conflate reports of compliance with evidence of mastery.

Grading Mindsets D

Grades are NOT compensation.  Grades are communication:  They are an accurate report of what happened.

Gold mine of short videos:  Recent uploads

Feedback is where you hold up a mirror to the students, showing them what they did and comparing it what they should have done – There’s no evaluative component!

Assessment:  Gathering data so we can make a decision.

   Greatest impact on Student Success:  FORMATIVE feedback.

Two ways to begin using descriptive feedback:

   1.  “Point and Describe”

   2.  “Goal, status, and Plan for the Goal”

   Identify the objective/goal/standard/outcome

   Identify where the student is in relation to the goal (Status)

   Identify what needs to happen in order to close the gap.

Formative Feedback Suggestions:

   Question #, Topic or proficiency, Right, Wrong, Simple mistake?, Really don’t understand it.

November 20th Ed Leadership:  Wormeli’s article.

CEU Code:  UL-34

Article:  Inside the Black Box.

Random Thoughts . . .

Conference notes. Native Apps vs Generic Conference apps.