Middle School Matters #59 Carol Josel’s Revision Presentation @ NMSA 08 and Social Networking in Schools.

Quick Quiz:

What did 1 math book say to the language arts book?
Why did the middle schooler bring a ladder to school?
Which word is always spelled incorrectly?
What is a pirate’s favorite subject?

* Want the answers? Just listen to the show.

Items, Events, Calendar, Eclectic Stuff (truc et chose)

  1. Alightlearning is looking for votes and support for a software venture that will incorporate technology and education.  They are competing for a $10,000 grant to start-up their venture.  Generalized information is available on the website.
  2. NMSA ’09 Invitation Video
  3. Michigan Association of Middle School Educators Annual Conference March 12 & 13 at White Pine Middle School in Saginaw Township.
  4. Ohio Middle School Association‘s Annual Conference will be February 19-20 in Sandusky, OH.
  5. MIT Vocab Contest!:  Have your students produce a video defining standard SAT vocabulary words.  For every 5 videos uploaded one iTunes download will be awarded up to 1000 downloads per the event in total.  In other words, get ‘am in early and often if you’re looking for the iTunes motivator.  Only 1000 available for the entire WORLD!  Oh, and check out the website.
  6. NMSA is looking for nominations for the Board To nominate yourself (or Troy) click here or go to the NMSA’s main page.
  7. NMSA is accepting presentation proposals to their Annual Conference in Indianapolis next year.
  8. Interested in a Science Quiz show online and in a virtual game show environment?  Try The Second Question.
  9. NECC is coming this summer!
  10. Five questions for Arne Duncan.  Well, maybe from Arne Duncan.  Steve Hargadon has posted the five questions Arne Duncan would like answers to at a teacher’s round table discussion.  Carol Broos has them posted on her blog.  Here are the five:
    • 1. What is the one most important education issue you wish Secretary Duncan to focus on during his tenure and why?
      2. How shall the tenets of the No Child Left Behind act be altered or invigorated? What are its positives? How can its negatives be improved?
      3. How should the new administration respond to the nation’s need for better prepared and more qualified teachers?
      4.What should the new administration do to increase student engagement in mathematics, the sciences and the arts?
      5. How should funding equity issues be addressed?
  11. Go on a virtual field trip!  Land of Lincoln has the Lincoln White House, a typical town, the CSS Hunley, and several other biographical items related to the Lincoln Administration in Second Life.  Use a screen shot recorder (like Snapz Pro) to record a tour to show in class as a virtual field trip.  The Bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth is February 12, 2009.
  12. Second Life notices:
    • 1/11 ISTE Island Wolverine Island Tour 6 pm SLT.  Meet up at ISTE HQ.
    • 1/17 ISTE Island Basic Skills Workshop check the calendar for time and place.
    • From the email bag:  “Cafe 101 is starting up a new semester!  New speakers, new events and a few new teacher tools in the 2nd floor freebie shop!  Come and take a look at Virtual Texas State Technical College’s new sim design while you’re here.
      Play some Una (Uno) on the Cafe roof with a friend, and test your skills at Memory!  Have a great Spring Semester, Everyone!  Cafe 101: Get Your Learn On.”

Discussion of Social Networking and Education:
1. Use by Teachers for professional development
2. Use by classrooms
3. Use by students

Web Spotlight:  Animoto:  Grab all those pictures you took in Advisory (you did take some, didn’t you?) and throw them into Animoto.  Let groups of students pull together music they’d like to set the pictures to and let Animoto do the rest.  Thousands of possible combinations let each group’s work turn out different with the same base material.  What a great way to motivate the kids through the dark winter months.

Are We Testing Kids Too Much?

As a third-grader last year at Portage’s Amberly Elementary School, here’s what Cole took:

• The Michigan Educational Assessment Program tests, which involves more than eight hours of testing during two weeks in October.

• The Standardized Test for Assessment of Reading, a computer exam given four times annually to determine his grade-equivalent reading level.

• The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills test, administered three times during the school year to check reading progress.

• The Otis-Lennon School Ability Test, which is essentially an IQ-type exam.

School Officials: Cuts needed to pay teachers
While districts across the state have explored the idea of a four-day school week, and state officials have tossed it around as a possible cost-cutting measure, most superintendents say the minimal savings isn’t worth the disruption.
The district also wants to redesignate money set aside for summer school, then conduct a less expensive summer program through online courses.
Budget Pain Dampening K-12 Efforts

More and More, Schools Got Game
The logic for the importance of improving school mathematics programs is reasonably unassailable. But the problems with mathematics in the United States are just as clear. A depressingly comprehensive, yet honest, appraisal must conclude that our typical math curriculum is generally incoherent, skill-oriented, and accurately characterized as “a mile wide and an inch deep.” It is dispensed via ruthless tracking practices and focused mainly on the “one right way to get the one right answer” approach to solving problems that few normal human beings have any real need to consider. Moreover, it is assessed by 51 high-stakes tests of marginal quality, and overwhelmingly implemented by undersupported and professionally isolated teachers who too often rely on “show-tell-practice” modes of instruction that ignore powerful research findings about better ways to convey mathematical knowledge. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/03/AR2009010301556.html

Teaching Intangibles With Technology
Teach students some facts, and they learn for one exam at a time. Teach students to think and they learn how to learn for the rest of their lives. Ambitious work from European and Israeli researchers is making it easier to help students learn to think for themselves. This is exciting stuff for teachers.

The Art of Revision (702)

Board Quotes:
Writing makes our thinking visible for ourselves and others.  – unknown
Feed your brain with words.  Read till your eyeballs fall out – Wilson Rowls
A writer takes a sentence, cuts it within an inch of its life, adds a clause, tucks in a few adjectives and then – when it can hardly stand up – hacks away at it again.  It’s hard work and don’t let anyone tell you its’ not – Helen F. Brassel
The writer is careful of what he reads, for that is what he will write.  He is careful of what he learns, for that is what he will know. – Annie Dillard
You have to do a lot of bad writing to get the good writing. – Don Murray
Writing is long periods of thinking and short periods of writing. – Ernest Hemingway
It is perfectly okay to write garbage as long as you edit brilliantly.  Until you have something down on paper, even if its terrible, there’s nothing to work with, nothing you can improve – C.J. Cherryh
Use as many words as you need and not one you can live without.  R. Jordan
The best stories are not written, but rewritten. – Scott Willis
Show, don’t tell.  Writing and reading are acts of discovery.  ‘Telling’ robs a story of the feel of discovery – Rick Jones
Regard your writing as literature – unknown
Poetry is fewer words that say more. – unknown

Carol A. Josel
Bio:  Has a smart big sister.
Valerie went to Yale, Cornell, and Penn.  Valerie is also an artist.
Two things I could do:  Swing by my head and get nose drops on the green velvet sofa.
Good advice:  You need to find something that you’re good at.
University of Maine started as a nursing student.
Didn’t do well in Organic Chemistry.
She has a free e-newsletter.  Please sign up for one.
She has a blog!
Kids should journal everyday on a topic or on themselves.
Have a writer’s journal of your own.
Mark Twain wrote Huckleberry Finn 10 times.
Stars:  We twinkle in the cold sky air we are there all night if you try to pull us down we will burn a hole in your pocket.
Ralph Fletcher- “Writing becomes beautiful when it becomes specific.”
Maniac Magee example.
Ralph Fletcher’s book:  Adam (descriptive language, speciific)
Write what you see, not what you’re supposed to see.
Example:  stapler
It’s not a stapler.  It’s a small paper viper, dangerous to paper, and only harmful to humans if they poke at it and provoke it to anger.  You can tell when it has struck by the two tiny holes in the corners of papers.
Play “This is not a …”
Adjectives and adverbs can clutter up a piece of writing.
Example:  “Very gradually, it go really, really windy.  The wind blew a lot.”
Revised:  “At first there was just a breeze.  Later that afternoon, though, a cat blew by my window.”
In the journal put favorite words
Revision activity:  Fold paper in half make two columns.  Left side put the first word.  Right side put the verbs from each sentence.
Good way to check for the 23 non-action verbs.
Find great leads to read to students.
Leading Types:
1.  Leisurely:  “The first week of August hangs at the firey top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the seat of a Ferris Wheel when i paused in its turning.  The weeks that came before are only a climb from the balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless and hot.  it is curiously silent, too, with blank white downs and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color.  Often at night, there is lightning, but it quivers alone.  There is no thunder, no relieving rain. These are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things they are sure to be sorry for after.”  – Tuck Everlasting.
Thought shots
2.  Beginning at the end.
3.  Introducing the narrator
4.  Unreiable narrator
5.  Starting in the middle:
6.  A sound effect:
7.  Dialogue
Now its our turn in the packet.
Practice Leading:  Directions:  Here are some 8th graders’ leads.  Consider them carefully, deciding on their effectiveness.  Then its your turn …
Topic:  The German invasion of Poland which triggered WWII.  A loud roar echoes throughout the Polish countryside, the clear blue sky quickly turning black with billowing clouds of smoke.  (Kelly Ballady)  See packet for more.
Practice:  Roach Facts  Make a lead from the facts.
Was Kafka wrong?  Imagine what you could do in the Olympics if you could run 90 miles per hour!  You’d stay at a roach motel be able to eat a Danish and, if injured, regrow lost appendages.
Barry Lane activity:  Twenty questions.
starter:  There was this dog.
Students ask questions about the dog with no yes/no questions.
Find the best sentence in lot and use that as your leading sentence.
Carol’s ideas for making writing an everyday expected activity:
1.  Message each other frequently by leaving notes on pillows, desks, mirrors, wherever.
2.  Make letter writing a habit for all, sending them to friends, relatives, even Santa.
3.  Write your autobiography as a gift to your child.
4.  Have your child write an annual “Year in Review”–an ongoing record of your lives.
5.  On birthdays, give written gifts of family stories and recalled moments.
6.  Send postcards to each other—without going anywhere.  We all love mail.
7.  Make the sending of thank you notes a must for everyone.
8.  Keep a family journal, a record of your lives over time—and include captioned photos.
9.  Writing letters to the editor keeps the juices flowing.
10. Promote journal writing—and respect privacy.
11. Encourage your child to write and perform skits or puppet shows. Think Popsicle sticks.
12. Contact Student Letter Exchange for pen pals: 516-887-8628; www.pen-pa.com