MSM 264: Suffixes matter & Sunshine on the Soap Bubbles . . . Then there was a ding.

Presented in collaboration with the Association for Middle Level Education.

Jokes You Can Use:


Q. What do you call a person who goes on talking when nobody listens?

A. A teacher!

Did you hear about the thief who moved into an apartment over the Police Station?


Computers are like air conditioners. They work fine until you start opening windows.


Why was the glowworm unhappy?

Because her children were not very bright!

The drunken defendant appears yet again before the tired judge, who says, “You have been constantly appearing before me for the past twenty years.” Replied the drunk: “Can I help it if you can’t get promoted?”


“An abstract noun,” the teacher said, “is something you can think of, but you can’t touch it.

Can you give me an example of one?”

“Sure,” a teenage boy replied. “My father’s new car.”

An Antartian boy and his father were visiting a mall. They were amazed by almost everything they saw, but especially by two shiny, silver walls that could move apart and back together again.

The boy asked his father, “What is this, Father?” The father [never having seen an elevator] responded “Son, I have never seen anything like this in my life, I don’t know what it is.”

While the boy and his father were watching wide-eyed, an old lady in a wheelchair rolled up to the moving walls and pressed a button. The walls opened and the lady rolled between them into a small room.

The walls closed and the boy and his father watched small circles of lights with numbers above the walls light up. They continued to watch the circles light up in the reverse direction.

The walls opened up again and a beautiful 24-year-old woman stepped out. The father said to his son, “Go get your mother.”

Eileen Award:

  • Twitter:  Jodi Stewart, Coach Burk, Michael Carton




I’ve included a link for you to print out your own. The trick looks best through a camera. If you close one eye and move back and forth it works pretty good too.


GreenT-Rex image

Red T-rex

Blue T-rex

Winter Soap Bubbles

When the weather forecast announced about the unexpected cold from -9°C to -12°C last week, Washington-based photographer Angela Kelly decided to take an advantage of it in one truly creative way. Together with her 7-year-old son, Kelly combined the home-based remedies – dish soap, karo syrup, and water – and went out to blow bubbles and take pictures as they freeze and melt.

Middle School Science Minute

by Dave Bydlowski (k12science or




I was recently reading the November, 2013 issue of Science Scope, a magazine for middle school science teachers, published by the National Science Teachers Association.  I then read the article “Increasing Science Vocabulary Using PowerPoint Flash Cards.”

In order to help improve science vocabulary in the school, they did the following:

1. Explored Science-Vocabulary Acquisition

2. Implemented Vocabulary Instructional Practices

3. Implemented PowerPoint Flash Cards

4. Integrated Science Vocabulary as a School-Wide, Universal Support System.

From the Twitterverse:

* Laura Gilchrist ‏@LauraGilchrist4

How a book really can change your life: Brain function improves for DAYS after rding a novel  via @VictoriaL_Day

* Larry Ferlazzo ‏@Larryferlazzo

Two Days Left To Share The Best Education-Related Book You Read This Year! …

* Lockie Chapman ‏@lockiechapman

Turns out there is a word for the indescribable— 38 Wonderful Foreign Words We Could Use in English  via @ShareThis

* John Bernia ‏@MrBernia

Are you starting to think about your return to work? Time to step back and think “keep, stop, do.” …

* Wendy Lecker ‏@Wlecker

Pearson, Microsoft, and Barnes & Noble Join Forces to Form an “Online Education Dream Team”

* Seth Berg ‏@BergsEyeView

Some quality ideas for engaging middle school readers

* Scott McLeod ‏@mcleod

“We want our schools to be more like those in the East, who, in turn, want to be more like us”  #edreform #iaedfuture

* Maria Popova ‏@brainpicker

Judge rules Sherlock Holmes is in the public domain  Celebrate with how to think like Holmes

* Erin Klein ‏@KleinErin

20 Ways to Bring Your Textbook to Life!

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



Open Library

One web page for every book ever published. It’s a lofty but achievable goal.

To build Open Library, we need hundreds of millions of book records, a wiki interface, and lots of people who are willing to contribute their time and effort to building the site.

To date, we have gathered over 20 million records from a variety of large catalogs as well as single contributions, with more on the way.

Open Library is an open project: the software is open, the data are open, the documentation is open, and we welcome your contribution. Whether you fix a typo, add a book, or write a widget–it’s all welcome. We have a small team of fantastic programmers who have accomplished a lot, but we can’t do it alone!



Web Spotlight:

Turn 0 Phrase

Identify colloquial phrases.

‘Small typo’ casts big doubt on teacher evaluations


A single missing suffix among thousands of lines of programming code led a public school teacher in Washington, D.C., to be erroneously fired for incompetence, three teachers to miss out on $15,000 bonuses and 40 others to receive inaccurate job evaluations.

Devaney said the firm employs stringent quality control, which in this case included 40 hours of meetings to review the updated model and an analysis by independent programmers paid to comb through the code line by line. Yet no one noticed the missing suffix until yet another routine quality review took place this November — after the district had already distributed bonuses, layoff notices and evaluation scores based on the value-added data for the 2012-13 school year, Devaney said.

The recalculations produced “very small differences” in individual teachers’ scores, Devaney said. “But small differences can sometimes have big implications,” she added.

But some critics noted that it may be impossible for the district to “hold harmless” all teachers affected by the error, as Kamras intends. A study released earlier this year found that getting a poor rating prompted many teachers to leave the district or quit the profession, even though they were not fired. It’s unclear whether any of the affected teachers may have altered their career plans after receiving scores that were lower than they actually deserved.

A study that Mathematica conducted for the Department of Education in 2010 found that value-added estimates “are likely to be quite noisy.” Indeed, the study concluded that even when three years of student test data are used, as many as 50 percent of teachers will be misidentified — deemed average when they’re actually better or worse than their peers, or singled out for praise or condemnation when they’re actually average.


5 Ideas To Bring Parents Into The Learning Process

by George Couros • December 26, 2013


Here are some ways that we can build strong connections with the parents in our school communities:

  1. Use what the kids use

  2. Have an open mind

  3. Tap into parent leadership

  4. Focus on open communication

  5. Create learning opportunities

Why All Students Should Write: A Neurological Explanation

by Judy Willis M.D., M.Ed.,


Writing promotes the brain’s attentive focus to classwork and homework, promotes long-term memory, illuminates patterns (possibly even “aha” moment insight!), includes all students as participants, gives the brain time for reflection, and when well-guided, is a source of conceptual development and stimulus of the brain’s highest cognition.

There is an involuntary information intake filter that determines what sensory input is accepted into the brain. Input must also pass through an emotional filter, the amygdala, where the destination of that information. When stress is high, the intake filter favors information selectively admits information related to perceived threat, virtually ignoring other sensory input.

Writing can include individual journaling, formal research-style formatted reports of student experimentation and data analysis, newspaper editorials about the evidence for environmental problems and a plan for intervention. Writing can be shared with varying degrees of scaffolding for students who need to build confidence, such as class blogs or wikis with code names known only by the teacher.