MSM 347:  Practice is Best Practice


Jokes You Can Use:  


Student: “I’m cold”.

Teacher: “Go stand in the corner, it’s usually about 90 degrees there”.


What do you call a belt made of watches?

A waist of time.


Why can’t bicycles stand on their own?

They are two tired.


What’s the best thing about living in Switzerland?

Well, their flag is a big plus.

Flag of Switzerland hanging from a building.

How long is a Chinese name.

Middle School Science Minute  

by Dave Bydlowski (k12science or

Literacy Engagement


I was recently reading the October, 2016 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 the article, “Literacy Engagement and Its Role in the Science Classroom.” It was written by Kaitlyn McGlynn and Janey Kozlowski.  In the article they talk about the importance of helping students unlock science content through reading engagement.


From the Twitterverse:  

Derek McCoy ‏@mccoyderek

9 Fundamental Digital Skills for 21st Century Teachers

Poster with Digital Skills

Dru Tomlin ‏@DruTomlin_AMLE

A6. A6. Convos w/ other Ts/admins/colleagues, Twitter (#mschat too), & have This We Believe 2 remind me what a Gr8 middle school is #satchat

Meredith Johnson ‏@mjjohnson1216

A1. Love this chart that explains personalization, differentiation and individualization for the learner. #satchat

Tony Vincent ‏@tonyvincent

Recap for iOS, Android & Web is a free way to collect short selfie videos from students.

Christopher Weiss ‏@ChrisWeissCT

RT @Alex_Corbitt Powerful 4-Step Learning Sequence (by @4OClockFaculty) #edchat #education #edtech #engchat #sunchat #satchat #leadupchat

Will Richardson ‏@willrich45

5 Big Ideas In Education That Don’t Work  Shocking.

Dru Tomlin ‏@DruTomlin_AMLE

A6. And of course I turn to  and @AMLE when I need middle grades help! Got everything 4 #middleschool #satchat

Oliver Schinkten ‏@schink10

10 Skills All Students Need to Be Successful … on @LI_Learning

Brad Currie ‏@bradmcurrie

All It Takes is 100 Minutes a Week #Satchat

edutopia ‏@edutopia

Create a rockstar rubric with this editable template: .

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




New Year’s Resolution: I’m Moving ALL Assessment into the Classroom

This may sound like a crazy resolution given that most teachers spend hours of time outside of school assessing their students’ work. However, there are three reasons I’d argue we should NOT spend our time outside of class grading:

  1. Our prep time is better spent designing creative and engaging lessons.
  2. Real-time feedback and assessment are way more effective.
  3. We don’t get paid for the time we spend grading outside of class.


Practice is Best Practice

As I have sat down with students who are not doing well in my class over the past 17 years, one recurring conversation has gone something like this: “Mr. Harrison, I’m studying for your tests, but I’m still not doing well on them. I don’t know what else to do.” I would reply, “Well, how exactly are you ‘studying’?”

The responses have usually gone something like this: “Well, I read over the study guide, I read over the notes, I read the book…”


Ten things we may be doing wrong in middle school


How To Make Writing Report Cards Easier

You can make writing your report cards quicker and easier by completing one simple action right now!

You need to match your assessment tasks to your report card.



Mars Challenge Winners

Look at the winning submissions.

All Entries:


Web Spotlight:


Poet: I can’t answer questions on Texas standardized tests about my own poems

Badly worded or poorly conceived questions on standardized tests are not uncommon (remember the question about a “talking pineapple” on a New York test in 2012?). But here’s something new: The author of source material on two Texas standardized tests says she can’t actually answer the questions about her own work because they are so poorly conceived.


Academic Write Center

Lots of resources. You might want to share this with kids, or know about it for plagiarism.


How Design Thinking Became a Buzzword at School

At a recent teaching conference in Richmond, Virginia, a session on “design thinking” in education drew a capacity crowd. Two middle-school teachers demonstrated how they had used the concept to plan and execute an urban-design project in which students were asked to develop a hypothetical city or town given factors such as population, geography, the environment, and financial resources.

Design thinking, like Carol Dweck’s work on fixed and growth mindsets and Angela Duckworth’s research on grit, are best understood in context, as a complex and nuanced approach to learning rather than a checklist of executable tasks. Dweck was so alarmed by the rampant oversimplification of fixed and growth mindsets that she wrote an article for Edutopia to clear up common misconceptions about her work. Just as Dweck’s work can’t be conveyed adequately in a Life Hack infographic, and Duckworth’s research is apt to be misunderstood when reduced to a listicle, design thinking seems likely to fail as an educational tool when communicated in terms of “Five Simple Steps.”


Are you a blithering fool? Here’s 10 words to make you sound smarter



Since 2000, the Electronic Village Online (EVO), has been offering free professional development workshops for English language educators around the world. Organized by volunteer coordinators, with five-week sessions conceived and facilitated by teams of volunteer moderators, the EVO is open to anyone (TESOL members and non-members alike) with a computer or smart phone and an internet connection. No academic credit is offered for either moderating or participating in an EVO session; it is a labor of love–the love of learning, and the love of sharing what we have learned.

The EVO was originally conceived as a project of TESOL’s Computer-Assisted Language Learning Interest Section (CALL-IS). Almost since the beginning, IATEFL members and SIGs have also been involved in the EVO, as participants, moderators, and coordinators.


Random Thoughts . . .  

Personal Web Site