Podcast #51: News, Kagan Structures, and NMSA ’08 Part Deux …

Items & Events

  1. Get introduced to ISTE!
  2. Ohio Middle School Association’s Annual Conference, February 19-20, 2009 in Sandusky, OH.  Presenter information is posted on the page.  Download now and get it it in to your administration while they’re too confused and dazed with the opening of school’s events to say, “No.”  (You could argue . . . )
  3. The Michigan Association of Middle School Educators (MAMSE ) Annual Conference will be meeting March 12-13 in Saginaw.  Make plans to attend.
  4. The Michigan Department of Education has posted new proposed Tech Standards for K-12 and opened a Zoomerang survey page for posting comments and replies.  You can get to the proposed standards directly here and you can go to the survey page here.  No one will stop you at the front door of the survey if you’re not in the Great State of Michigan, so have at.
  5. The New England League of Middle Schools has a whole bevy of professional development planned for the 2008-2009 school year and you can access it here.
  6. ANNOUNCEMENT:  The New England League of Middle Schools is looking for someone to fill the position of Executive Director!  Contact Paul Freeman if you’re interested in the position.
  7. ADVISORY IDEAS NEEDED:  NELMS is putting together an Advisory Resource page with lessons for you to use.  They are asking for submissions here by January 1, 2009.  If your entry is used, you will be entered in a raffle for a 3 day NELMS conference ticket.
  8. Are you a member of the National Middle School Association?  You are eligible to join MiddleTalk, a listserv for middle school teachers that engages in middle level “shop talk.”  Sign up here.
  9. Join the gang going to NMSA’s Annual Conference by signing up at the Ning site and connecting with other Conference goers:  NMSA08 Please do sign up and connect with other conference attendees.  Of course, you’re always welcome to post here too . . .
  10. There’s a new research document on counselors in middle schools and the importance they play in our students’ lives.  The research summary details the importance of each student knowing one adult well and how to do that before the counselor’s role can become multifaceted.  In a way, think of them being the ultimate super Advisory teacher first then counselor.  Check it out here.
  11. If you get a chance to visit Second Life, zip over to the ISTE island for their speaker series on Tuesdays & Thursdays.  This Tuesday’s topic is PBS Teachers.  It begins at 6:00 pm Pacific and is scheduled to end at 7:00 pm pst.  Tomorrow will be a SL ISTE tour.  Meet at HQ to begin the tour.  Check the bulletin board for times and details.  Thursday is a social event.  The topic is a prelude to Thanksgiving.
  12. NMSA is looking for an editor!  Tom Erb was honored at this year’s Annual conference with the John Lounsbury award for his many years of service to middle schools as editor of the Middle Journal.
  13. ISTE is holding their annual Computing Conference (NECC) in Washington D.C. this year.  Click here for housing and dates.
  14. Case to watch:  FCC v. Fox TV.  Profanity is defined by local standards.  Fox and the FCC went before the Supreme Court on Nov. 4 and argued that definition and the application of the profanity rules are confusing.  Look for a definition of profanity, what constitutes offense, and how it applies to free speech to come out of this decision.  The next time you write up a kid for profanity I wonder if they’ll use this in their defense while you write up the referral.
  15. Second Life in Education – http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Second_Life_Videos or   http://sleducation.ning.com/
  16. MathTrain.tv – Math videos

Obama’s High Tech win holds lessons for Education
“A lot of schools are struggling just to keep their web sites updated,” she said. “They might not know where to start with something like [social networking].”
Schools can take similar steps by soliciting feedback from parents and students through their web sites, taking the pulse of the community to find out what stakeholders think is important and make them feel like a part of the school community.

Wisconsin could lose $200 million through shaky investments


Two years ago, school board members across Wisconsin tried to help save teachers’ retirement plans by borrowing money from a European bank in an investment that reportedly promised big profits.Now, these five Wisconsin school districts–Kenosha, Kimberly, Waukesha, West Allis-West Milwaukee, and Whitefish Bay–are suing the investment firm of Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. Inc., as well as the Royal Bank of Canada, in Milwaukee County Circuit Court over their $200 million loss. The districts say the investment firm did not fully disclose the risks involved.

Teachers & Facebook: Privacy vs Standards


An attorney for a suspended Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teacher says she never intended for the public to view negative comments she made about students on Facebook.

She now faces possible firing for listing “teaching chitlins in the ghetto of Charlotte” among her activities.

A 26-year-old third-grade CMS teacher who did not want her name used, fearing reprisals, said the district hasn’t clearly specified what employees can and cannot post on such sites. Most teachers think if they keep their profiles private, she said, they’ll be safe.

Some say teachers can use social networking sites to help students, who communicate regularly online. Others say the risks are too great. They say some cases of teachers having inappropriate relationships with students started with electronic messaging.

Full Story:http://www.charlotteobserver.com/education/story/349354.html
School Chief Takes on Tenure
The Washington, D.C., schools chancellor has proposed spectacular raises for teachers willing to give up tenure in a move that has stirred up controversy, reports the New York Times. Michelle Rhee, the hard-charging chancellor of the D.C. public schools, thinks teacher tenure might be great for teachers–but it hurts kids, she says, by making incompetent instructors harder to fire. So Rhee has proposed raises of as much as $40,000, financed by private foundations, for teachers willing to give up tenure.
Full Story: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/13/education/13tenure.html?_r=2&ref=education&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

NMSA 2008 Conference

Excellence & Equity: Proven Instructional Strategies Close the Achievement Gap

Based off of cooperative learning. Pointed out the research that backs up the effectiveness of cooperative learning. One of the issues that Dr. Spencer Kagan addressed was the issue of excellence vs equity. In a traditional method of instruction, the high achievers learn at a higher rate than lower achieving students. Essentially, this leads to both sets students learning, but the most successful students learn more. Practically, this is indicative of the belief that traditional instructional methods are more geared toward those students who are considered “smart”. With cooperative learning, the high achievers and the low achievers both grow, but the low achievers make up some of the gap. Of course, this part of the demonstration was clarified with charts, arrow and diagrams.
Show pictures of a traditional class with hand(s) up vs a classroom where all of the kids  are working.

Cooperative Learning vs Traditional – 182 studies – Effect Size .78 – Percentile Gain 28
this talks to excellence but not equity.
Looking at equity, traditional methods (direct instruction) work for both but the high achievers are learning at a higher rate than lower achieving students.
With cooperative learning, the high achievers and the low achievers both grow, but the low achievers make up some of the gap.

Doesn’t deal with what we teach but how.

Groupwork vs Cooperative Learning
“Put them together and pray”- no structures is not coop learning.
Think Pair Share – groupwork
Timed Pair Share

Active participation takes the same amount of time but allows for more equity.

Each moment we have a choice (Traditional, Goupwork, Kagan) they have over 200 structures.

Quiet Signal:
1.Raise Hand (no bent elbows)
2.Full focus on Teacher (no talking, no working)
3.Signal Others
Managing attention is the key here. This focuses the kids onto what you want them to do.

Kagan Structures:
Rally Robin:
1.Teacher poses a problem to which there are multiple possible responses or solutions, and provides think time.
2.Student take turns stating responses or solutions

Frequent Processing:

Three Step Interview:
1.Teacher provides the ____________topic, states the ____________ of the interview, and provides think time.
2.In pairs, Student ______ interviews Student _______.
3.Pairs _________ roles: Student B interviews Student A.
4._____________: Pairs ____________ up to form groups of _____. Each student , in turn, shares with the team what he/she learned in the ______.

Sage -N- Scribe
Setup: In pairs, Student A is the Sage; Student B is the Scribe. Students fold a sheet of paper in half and each writes his/her name on one half.

1.The ______ gives the Scribe step by step instructions how to perform a task or solve a problem.
2.The Scribe __________ the Sage’s solution step-by-step in writing, coaching if necessary.
3.The Scribe ____ the Sage.
4.Students _____roles for the next problem or task.

Pairs Compare
Pairs generate a list of possible ideas or answers. Pairs pair and compare their answers with another pair. Finally, pairs work as a team to create additional ideas or answers.


Kagan: Teaching the Middle School Brain
• Teaching the Middle School Brain (Stop by the booth for a handout on the session.)
• 1. Principles of Brain Friendly teaching.
• 2. Align instruction with how brain best learns through structures.
• 3. Silly sports & Goofy games that align with brain friendly instruction.
• 4. Deepen our understanding of our 3 pound miracle.
• The quiet signal:
• 1. Raise your hand.
• 2. Full focus attention on Dr. Kagan
• What the brain attends to the more the brain retains.
• 3. Signal others.
• Good brain instruction involves structured interaction and a high level of engagement.
• Structure: Take off, Touch Down
• If it’s true, stand up. If the second statement is true move again.
• Why is it brain friendly?
• It increases blood and glucose and oxygen in the brain to stand up and sit down a couple of time.
• The brain consumes 20% of all the glucose in the body. It is only 2% of the body’s weight.
• Put your two fists together. That’s the size of your brain. Disappointed?
• Brain dendrites fire 200 times per second.
• 100 billion neurons.
• Standing up and sitting down puts more glucose and oxygen in the brain.
• Better nourishment: Frequent muscle movements are important.
• Book: Spark by John J Ratey, MD.
• Evidence for more phys. ed. in the schools to grow better brains.
• Aerobic movement is required.
• Brain attends to Novelty.
• Stand up, Hand up, Pair up
• RallyRobin
• Why is RallyRobin more brain friendly?
• Frequently stop and have students process information.
• Why frequently process?
• 1. More energy for new learning.
• Inhibiting impulses takes a ton of energy.
• 2. Clarify and refine thinking.
• Became aware of what you know and what you don’t know.
• 3. Store in long-term memory.
• 4. Clear working memory.
• It’s what we can hold in our heads at one time.
• Not usually more than ten things.
• Number 11 replaces one of the original 10.
• 5. Engage multiple intelligences and multiple memory systems.
• Episodic memory is the most engaging of the memory systems.
• The brian processes in episodes, something that takes place at a location, has a beginning and an end and a location.
• More brains active
• More brain parts active
• Social Interaction
• Episodic memory
• Team Interview
• Teambuilding
• Favorite snacks
• anything fun will serve as a teambuilder
• Ways to spend $1000.
• Fun things to do after schooll
• Movies you have liked.
• Describe a scene from a movie you enjoy.
• See the Personal Questions page he has prepared. (Sells?)
• Favorites
• Academic content
• Science: View on cloning; inert elements
• Math: Geometry Proof; prime numbers
• Language arts: Verbs; metaphors
• Social Studies: Causes of event; consequences of an event.
• How will I use?
• Interview each other (gambit chips?) and create a 5 paragraph essay based on the information they’ve gleaned from their partners and incorporate transtitions between paragraphs. 3 main paragraphs are based on each of the 3 people interviewed.
• What happened in the brain?
• The amygdalae
• There are 2.
• Left processes tone of voice
• Right processes faces.
• Both sides are threat sensors
• When do they fire most?
• Stranger
• Other race
• Fearful face
• Angry face > Happy face
• out-group > in-group
• Linked to all major parts of the brain.
• Prerontal Cortex
• Decision making
• Emotional Control
• Attention, thinking, working memory
• The Amygdala can shut this down.
• The Amygdalae explain
• Impared learning (high stress destroys brain nerves).
• Silly Sports
• Hagoo: Inuit game.
• If they can make the other person smile, they cross over the line and join their team. Teams are in two lines.
• No touching, can say anything they like.
• Great picture of a “teenage brain”
• What is white matter?
• Myelination of neurons helps them fire 200 times faster.
• The teenage brain is not completely myelinated.
• Independent Memory systems
• There is not one thing called memory!
• Memory Test
• 1 Night
• 2 tired
• 3 wake
• 4 dream
• 5 sleep (not on list!)
• 6 bed
• 7 rest
• 8
• 9
• 10 (slumber)
• Memory pinciple: Memory is not a place it is a process!
• SPEWS & Structures (matrix made by Kagan)
• CEU Code: DS8