Podcast #64 – We’re excited about reviews, advisory and NMSA08!

Items, Events, and Other:

  1. Book sale!  Clearance prices!
  2. 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.”

  3. NMSA ‘09 Invitation Video
  4. New NMSA resource:  http://www.nmsa.org/u_rd/022009/gradNation.htm  NMSA has partnered with America’s Promise to disseminate a resource to middle schools about the dropout crisis in today’s high schools.      National Middle School Association

    “Dear NMSA Member,

    One-third of all students and half of minority youth—a startling 1.2 million kids—fail to graduate high school each year. Many of those who do graduate lack the basic skills needed to succeed in college, work, and life. With this many children at risk, our nation is at risk. We need your help to stem this tide.

    As part of America’s Promise Alliance, National Middle School Association is pleased to present you with Grad Nation, an evidence-based guidebook to help you increase the high school graduation rate in your community.

    We invite you to use this first-of-its-kind “road map” that has the latest data, best practices, and tools for meeting your specific high school dropout challenges. In addition to the research-based guidance for addressing the crisis, Grad Nation also includes ready-to-print tools and links to additional online resources. Available to all free of charge, this online resource can be found at: www.americaspromise.org/gradnation.

    Authored by Robert Balfanz, Ph.D. and Joanna Honig Fox from the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, and John M. Bridgeland and Mary McNaught of Civic Enterprises, Grad Nation presents a compelling case for a broad cross-section of all organizations and individuals to get involved.

    Although there is no silver bullet for reducing the dropout rate, we know which approaches work, and this guidebook is the first ‘one stop shop’ for anyone who wants to assemble the best set of approaches that will impact the problem, including information on public policies proven to help reduce the dropout rate.

    As leaders of middle grades education, we must continue to set an example and inspire others to take action to strengthen our schools and keep our young people on the path to success. The Alliance formally unveiled this tool on February 10, 2009. Please join me in supporting Grad Nation as a valuable new resource.


    Betty Edwards, Ed.D.
    Executive Director
    National Middle School Association”

  5. 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.
  6. North Carolina Middle School Association’s Annual Conference will be March 16-17 in Pinehurst, NC.  Keynote speakers include Bill McBride and Rick Wormeli.  Ron Williamson from Eastern Michigan University will also be speaking at the conference this year.    
  7. The National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform will be holding their annual conference in June.  See the flyer at their website for details.
  8. Free Professional Development through Webinars! NMSA is offering previously recorded webinars for free from their website.
  9. Classroom 2.0’s Live Calendar.
  10. NECC is coming this summer!  Here’s an excuse to travel to Washington D.C.
  11. Classroom 2.0’s Ning Blog:  This week’s discussion is on the uses of Skype in the classroom.  Archived content is available.
  12. Second Life:
  1. From the Twitterverse:

Why I didn’t turn in my homework…

  • I lost it fighting this kid you said you weren’t the best teacher in the school.
  • I was mugged on the way to school and the mugger took everything I had.
  • Our furnace stopped working and we had to burn it to stop ourselves from freezing.
  • I didn’t do it because I didn’t want to add to your already heavy workload.
  • My father had a nervous breakdown and he cut it up to make paper dolls.
  • I didn’t do it, because I didn’t want the other kids in the class to look bad.
  • ET stopped by my house and he accidentally took it home with him.

Shout outs:

  1. C-O Connections bloggers .
  2. Will Richardson, thanks for getting us all excited about your impending visit to Jackson . . . MS! not MI . . .
  3. “I have just started listening to the MSM Podcasts. I download them from iTunes U and listen to them on the way to work. Today I am home with a sick child and I am listening to a marathon of MSM, spending my day with Shawn and Troy. lol.

    I am a special education teacher at the secondary level and have shared the MSM link and iTunes U info on the podcast with the tech department for my school to distribute to the school, because MSM highlights and covers content that isn’t limited soley to the middle school level.

    MSM is an incredible resource for newbies to the tech world. . . like me. . . because Troy and Shawn provide a thorough and comprehensive review of current education, technology, pedagogy and its practice information available from a variety of sources.

    Listening to Shawn and Troy at MSM has “elevated the level of my game” so to speak. They are thoughtful and thought provoking in their content and coverage of material. . . all provided with a good dose of . . . humor!”

    Thanks Jenny!  We appreciate your spreading the word!


History Before and After Humans
Shows an overview of the development of Homosapiens and the potential future of humans.

Grad Nation: A Guidebook to Help Communities Tackle The Dropout Crisis

It is a guidebook that provides a road map to help communities tackle the dropout crisis. It is designed to help communities develop tailored plans for keeping students on track to graduate from high school, prepared for college, work and life. Grad Nation is a natural outgrowth of our local summit work to ensure that solutions are developed to put our youth on a path to success.

Grad Nation also includes ready-to-print tools and links to additional online resources, in addition to research-based guidance. It provides information and tools for developing and implementing a customized program that’s right for individual communities.



Project Management Keeps Learning on Track

Like other teachers spearheading ambitious collaborative units, Smith’s two-pronged approach to managing the Monster Project — developing his students into self-directed learners while also harnessing technology tools to help keep things on track — has allowed him to smoothly complete complex projects while maximizing student learning opportunities. “Teachers are only successful if they understand how to manage the project cycle,” notes Bernie Trilling, global director for education strategy and partnerships for the Oracle Education Foundation, which emphasizes project learning.


San Jose dad in jail — and mom’s on the way — for 13-year-old girl’s chronic truancy

It started back in third grade with polite letters from the school principal to the East San Jose couple: Your daughter has had a series of unexcused absences; please contact us. Back then, Carol Reynoso and Jayvee Geronimo’s youngest attended school about 80 percent of the time. Now, Vanessa said she’s willing to do anything if only the court would spare her mother from jail, including face her worst fear — school. “I’m willing to really try this time, to go to school,” said Vanessa, whose family says she was mercilessly teased about her weight. “I know I’ve said that before, but I mean it.”


Why All Teachers Must Learn How to Teach Online

Patrick says that public education has struggled to incorporate technology into schools and just adding computers piecemeal is not enough to engage students. Educators properly trained to use the Internet and digital tools can teach in a traditional manner and have unlimited resources at their fingertips. Online learning can also help create more personalized learning plans for each student.

NMSA ’08 Conference Sessions

Lion Taming 101 by Dr. Debbie Silver
Selected notes from Drumming to the Beat of Different Marchers
Lion Taming 101 by Dr. Debbie Silver

The Teacher
“Concerning a teacher’s influence, I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive  element in the classroom.  It’s my personal approach that creates and climate.  It’s my daily mood that makes the weather.  As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to mae a child’s life miserable or joyous.  I can e a tool of torture or an instrumnt of inspiration.  I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal.  In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or deescalated, and a child humanized or dehumanized.”  – Haim Ginott
Dress Code – Music by Monte Selby
Lion Taming 101
Be Proactive!
Seating charts
We want teaching to be seamless.  No child or teacher should stop the learning process.
Decide what battles you’re going to fight.
Things that are nitpick level, shouldn’t be at the “rule” level.
Practice procedures and routines.
Establish non-negotiables
Lee Cantor’s method can escalate this to an impossible situation.
Don’t get into it with a child in front of the other students.
Stay on your feet and move around the room.
Find your own “rhythm for management”
RESPECT the students.
Taking Inventory
Please answer the question.  There are no right or wrong answers.  What you write will be held in confidence.
1.  What is your full name?  What do you like to be called?  Why?
2.  List 5 words that describe you.
3.  List the people that live in your home(s) and put 2 describing words after each name.
4.  What is your favorite thing to do at school?
7.  Do you like to read? Why or why not?
10.  Write your own question and answer it.
Tips for Successful Communication With Students
Do not begin instruction until all students are focused and attentive.
Be sure your voice and body language are consistent with your words.
Use direct eye contact and simple hand gestures to redirect off-task or inappropriate behavior.
Use clos proximity and a quiet voice to make reminders and censures personal and private
Be warm and friendly, and be firm.
Idea:  Hall Moms & Pops:  Folks in the hall during passing that talk to the students.  Some have erasers, pencils, etc.
Offer choices of behavior so that you control the direction they go.  It also helps them because they can’t come up with choices on their own.
Write notes or emails to students to let them know how much you appreciate them.
Why Students Misbehave
To gain power.
To get attention.
To seek revenge.
To avoid failure
Adapted from Catherine Neale Watson, Middle Ground
They are bored.
You as the teacher are obligated to be engaging, not necessarily to be entertaining.
Things to consider before you react to a disruptive student
Does the student feel the he is not being respected or losing face?
Is it possible that this student really ..
Could this be about your own need to win?
Could have you misinterpreted the situation?
Have you confronted the one who wasn’t the primary instigator?
Behavioral Journal Sheet
Student’s Name ___________________
Class/Period ____________________
I violated our class code by :
I chose to do this because:
A more appropriate choice would have been:
This is how I feel about whathappened:
This is what I plant o do in the future to prevent a recurrence of y actions
This is how my teacher can help me implement my plan:
Student signature and teacher comments:
Individual Behavior plan
Student name, etc.
long-Range goals for the student:
Short-Range goal for the student:
What student will do to meet target goal:
What teacher will do to help student meet that goal:
What Parent ill do to hel reach that goal
What are the consequences?
Positive recognition will be made with _____ of successful behavior.
Rose poem:
When we plant a rose seed in the earth … -Timothy Gallaway.
Secret Password:  iamateacher  www.debbiesilver.com
Selected notes from Drumming to the Beat of Different Marchers

Cooperative Learning
Businesses are moving to this model because together they remember more and can do more than alone.
Students can utilize their own strengths