Podcast #61 Middle School Good News Week!

Today’s Quiz:
Teaacher: Can anyone give me the name of a liquid that won’t freeze?
Teacher: Does anyone know which month has 28 days?
Why was the head teacher worried?
Teacher: I told you to stand at the end of the line?
Teacher: I said to draw a cow eating some grass but you’ve only drawn the cow?
Teacher: Why are you standing on your head?
Teacher: That’s quite a cough you have there, what are you taking for it?
*For answers, listen to the podcast.

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

  1. NMSA’s Middle Level Essentials Conference April 23-24, 2009. Robert Balfanz will be keynoting.  He has done a bunch of research on 6th grade transition factors that has been cited by NMSA.
    • “Robert Balfanz is a research scientist at the Center for Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University and associate director of the Talent Development Middle and High School Project, which is currently working with more than fifty high-poverty secondary schools to develop, implement, and evaluate comprehensive whole-school reforms. His work focuses on translating research findings into effective reforms for high-poverty secondary schools.

      Balfanz has published widely on secondary school reform, high school dropouts, and instructional interventions in high-poverty schools. Recent work includes Locating the Dropout Crisis, with co-author Nettie Legters, in which the numbers and locations of high schools with high dropout rates are identified.  He is currently the lead investigator on a middle school-dropout-prevention project in collaboration with the Philadelphia Education Fund, which is supported by the William Penn Foundation.

      Balfanz received his PhD in education from the University of Chicago.”

  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.  Mr. Ron Clark will be keynoting. Approximately 20 days left for the early registration discount.
  4. Ohio Middle School Association’s Annual Conference will be February 19-20 in Sandusky, OH.  Keynote speakers this year include Mr. Mark McLeod and Mr. Ty Sells.
  5. The National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform will be holding their annual conference in June.  See the flyer at their website for details.
  6. Teacher Preparation Symposium information at NMSA.
  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!  Here’s an excuse to travel to Washington D.C.
  10. If Mr. Berckemeyer dawdles on getting us the Kindles, soon we’ll want these from Plastic Logic.  “Did you bring pencil, eraser, and epaper with you to class today?”
  11. Saturday, January 17th, 9am Pacific / 12pm Eastern / 5pm GMT: “Google Forms.” The Newbie Question of the Week will be: “What is a feedreader and why do I need one?” Information on how to watch or join in at http://live.classroom20.com.
  12. Thing To Try This Week:  Create a flash mob of faculty at the corner of one of your hallways.  Ideas for the flash mob can be posted here at www.middleschoolmatters.com.
  13. From Steve Hargadon’s Classroom 2.0:  “Looking for Lincoln: Changing Views of History, Changing Views of Race” with speaker Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

    The time for this event is 8:00pm Eastern (USA) / 5:00pm Pacific (USA). A link for international times is HERE.
    PBS Teachers® and Classroom 2.0 are partnering on a series of free monthly webinars designed to help preK-12 educators learn new ways to integrate online instructional resources in the classroom and engage students in curriculum lessons. The webinar series features leading education experts, authors, and PBS producers who will discuss timely and relevant curriculum-related topics, and share their knowledge and ideas on using digital media to create rich learning experiences for students
    Dr. Gates will discuss how Americans’ understanding of President Lincoln and African American history and culture continues to evolve, and ways to approach this topic with students. Dr. Gates is the host of the documentary “Looking for Lincoln,” which premieres in February. The program addresses the controversies surrounding Lincoln about race, equality, religion, politics, and depression by carefully interpreting the evidence from those who knew him and those who study him today.
    A recorded version of the event will be available soon afterwards at http://live.classroom20.com in the archive section.

  14. Second Life notices:
    • 1/25 ISTE Island Tours
    • 1/27 ISTE Seminar:  Virtual Renaissance & Education – Virtual Harlem’s role as a learning community.
    • 1/29 Data Visualization around the Campfire on ISTE island.
    • 1/31 Basic Skills Workshop:  Appearance (ISTE Island 3)
    • 2/3   ISTE Speaker Series (TBA)

Hernando School Board says administrators should get raise, despite what they say

BROOKSVILLE — Four out of five School Board members agreed Tuesday that Hernando County administrators deserve a raise this year.

But at least 16 principals and other senior officials are saying just the opposite, that hard times are not the time for senior staff to be taking extra public money.

Suit filed over longer middle school day
The Pinellas teachers union filed a lawsuit Tuesday hoping to force the School District to abandon a seven-period middle school schedule that the union claims violates the teachers’ contract.  District officials have maintained for months that reverting to the old schedule would be too disruptive for about 22,000 middle school students and that some would be forced to drop electives they need to get into special high school programs. The standoff began in June, when the School Board voted to lengthen the school day by 14 minutes and add an additional period as a means of cutting $2.2-million from the budget. Officials said the change also would make room for elective courses aimed at getting students more engaged in academics before they reach high school.

Standards Help Minn. Vie With Top Nations
Thirteen years ago, Minnesota was a state with no academic standards in mathematics and science and what some observers said was a mixed record in grounding students in crucial academic content, such as number skills and algebra.  As one of only two U.S. states to participate in a prominent international measurement of academic skill, Minnesota is scoring at or near the level of many of the highest-performing countries on that exam, and its scores in some categories have jumped significantly since it first took part in 1995.

Web Spotlight:


  1. Find data to study or add your own data.
  2. Study and play with data online as flashcards, hangman game, crossword puzzle, matching, word search, or word scramble.
  3. Study anytime/anywhere by printing data or exporting flash cards to your cell phone, PDA, or iPod.


Journal Article:
An Early Warning System:  by promptly reacting to student distress signals, schools can redirect potential dropouts onto the path to graduation.

  • A final grade of F in mathematics.
  • A final grade of F in English.
  • Attendance below 80 percent for the year.
  • A final “unsatisfactory” behavior mark in at least one class.


  • Whole-school interventions:  Weekly or monthly attendance parties, one individual who intervenes at the first absence, placing or creating a school culture that rewards intrinsically or extrinsically good attendance.
  • Targeted interventions
  • Intensive interventions