MSM 313:  It’s the Area Code Show!!!

Jokes You Can Use:


Sign on a plumber’s truck:  A flush is better than a full house . . .


Eileen Award:  

  • Twitter: Dan Siepen, Raul Santiago, Sean Beeson, Khushi Shah,




How to argue on the Internet:


Middle School Science Minute  

by Dave Bydlowski (k12science or


STEAM – Representing Hurricanes


I was recently reading the March, 2015 issue of “Science Scope,” a magazine written for middle school science teachers, published by the National Science Teachers Association.  


In this issue, I read the article, “Understanding the Art in Science and the Science in Art Through Crosscutting Concepts.”  It was written by Irene Plonczak and Susan Goetz Zwiirn.  The article describes STEAM lessons that mirror real-world processes that have contributed to breakthrough discoveries, incremental improvements or new thinking.  These STEAM lessons are organized using crosscutting concepts from the K-12 Framework and NGSS. In this second podcast in a multi-part series the STEAM lesson incorporates representing a hurricane.


From the Twitterverse:  

MiddleWeb ‏@middleweb

REVIEW: Scrambling to teach in a 1:1 Classroom? “Power Up” is the book for you, says our reviewer. … #ipaded #edchat

MiddleWeb ‏@middleweb

MiddleWeb Retweeted NYT Learning Network

Huge resource & absolutely fascinating. Esp. of interest to those who can cope with the mashup culture. #engchat

Lisa Snider ‏@snidesky

Class has started #PassionProjects. Stu projects in comments: … @DonWettrick @cdworrell Blogs under StuBlog tab

Vicki Davis ‏@coolcatteacher

5 More Educational Technology Concepts Every Teacher Should Know

Thomas Middle School ‏@AHSD25Thomas

7-2 Thriller flash mob at lunch. Great work Mrs Stocco. #HappyHalloween #tms25 #ahsd25

#mschat every Thursday at 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time.  And as Troy says, “The Twitter never stops!”  




The best way to learn math is to learn how to fail productively

Students who are presented with unfamiliar concepts, asked to work through them, and then taught the solution significantly outperform those who are taught through formal instruction and problem-solving.

So far, teachers have mixed reactions. They recognize that the approach is good but they worry about efficiency and standardized tests: will kids fall on high-stakes national and international tests?

Kapur uses the research to make his case. Students get more output (deeper learning) for the same input (hours of instruction), which presents another problem: teachers have to get out of the way. “They [teachers] say it’s stressful to teach this way,” he says. “It’s easier to tell them [students] what you know.”

In fact, Kapur theorizes in one of his studies that direct instruction might close students’ minds. Once a teacher presents a solution, students may no longer see the possibility of other solutions, or more creative approaches.




What Parents Should Know about Tumblr

Tumblr is an unending streaming scrapbook of text, photos, videos, and audio clips. It pioneered the vibrant, graphic-rich, full-screen design that kids love (which is one reason Yahoo bought it for $1.1 billion 2013).

Tumblr is unique because of the wide variety of content that users can post from their phones or computers. Not only can they text and post photos, they also can offer up quotes, links, music, voice messages, and videos. It all shows up on a member’s page along with a stream of posts from people they’re following. This ability to post instantaneously can be a risk for impulsive teens (or any teens, really), so if your kid likes Tumblr, it’s a good idea to talk about thinking before you post.


Helping Students Navigate the World of Texting

Texting offers some interesting challenges for middle school students as they develop and practice social and emotional interactions with one another.


Starting a classroom conversation about texting can help students share and learn together the best ways to navigate the world of texting. Teachers could

  • Have students discuss texting in “pair shares”
  • Visit with students asking for pros and cons from every student (if you have a small enough group)
  • Include as an essay topic the things students like or don’t like about texting

Wabbit Calculator

Wabbitemu, the best Z80 TI emulator available. For regular users all that is required is the exe file (either 32 or 64 bits depending on your OS). The DLL is used to provide a COM interface into the wabbitemu core allowing developers to use it in their own applications

Available for PC, Mac and Android

TI Calculator


There are constant opportunities for checking in with partners.  Group conversations are the norm rather than the exception to the rule.  Projects are always done in pairs — and they happen all the time.  My lessons are fast-paced and full of energy and there’s few moments set aside for genuine introspection.

Sometimes I feel like I am competing with a thousand sources of entertainment that rest a few clicks away for today’s kids.  If every lesson isn’t filled with heaping doses of whiz-bang, I figure I’m going to lose an audience that has learned to hit the reset button the moment something doesn’t go their way.  Pauses are interruptions to the impatient, aren’t they?

The simple truth is that finding space for introspection in days that are straight slammed and in schools that prioritize action over reflection won’t be easy to do.  But I can promise to stop judging the “quiet kids” in my classroom.  Instead of seeing them as disengaged, I’m going to force myself to remember that learning doesn’t have to be loud and messy to be meaningful.


Writing Prompts – Toasted Cheese


Teach your students to code with’s free resources

Here is a list of free tools, resources and sources of inspiration to help you get started:


Zoom In!


Zoom In is a free, Web-based platform that helps students build literacy and historical thinking skills through “deep dives” into primary and secondary sources.

Zoom In’s online learning environment features 18 content-rich U.S. history units that supplement your regular instruction and help you use technology to support students’ mastery of both content and skills required by the new, higher standards:

  • Reading documents closely and critically
  • Identifying author’s point of view and purpose
  • Engaging in higher-order, text-based discussions
  • Writing explanatory and argumentative essays grounded in evidence


Web Spotlight:


Ex Teacher of the Year Resigns

Ann Marie Corgill is a nationally certified educator and a published author with more than 20 years of experience who was selected as a finalist for national teacher of the year in 2014-2015. So when she was told she wasn’t qualified for her new position teaching fifth grade at a federally funded low-income school, she was more than a little frustrated.

Corgill said Friday that she fired off a resignation letter out of frustration, but that she is now trying to work out the issue with the school system, and will “continue to give my life to the profession.”

“Every child I teach and learn from is a part of me,” Corgill said. “I love them and work to give them my best. The wall of bureaucracy I encountered trying to straighten all of this out with my employer led to my writing the letter.”

Corgill was teaching at an elementary school in Mountain Brook, one of the South’s most affluent communities, when she was named the state 2014-2015 teacher of the year. She was also one of four finalists for national teacher of the year.

It was then that it was pointed out to her that Corgill didn’t meet the definition of “highly qualified” that is required for such Title 1 Schools because her current state certification allows her to teach only up to the third grade. Corgill has a national certification to teach children up to age 12. But that does not supersede the state certification requirement, said Alabama Department of Education spokeswoman Erica Pippins Franklin.


Does a shorter week help kids with their learning?

How would you react if you were told that your local public school planned to change the schedule from the traditional Monday-through-Friday model to a schedule that contained four longer school days? Would you worry about long days for young children, their academic accomplishments and, of course, childcare?

Our results, based on fifth grade mathematics scores, generally show that achievement rises after the introduction of a four-day week. We found that, even after we take into account the variations due to different socioeconomic levels, the four-day school week is associated with an increased achievement.

These results naturally led to speculation on the mechanisms that drove the results.

Could teachers be using alternative instruction methods that enhance learning?

Maybe students on a four-day schedule miss fewer days of school; a number of prior studies have pointed to attendance being a factor in achievement. Or, is it that teachers miss fewer days of school on the alternative schedule?

Random Thoughts . . .  


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