MSM 354:  The “Rat Hole” Show and a Half


Jokes You Can Use:


What’s the difference between a Hippo and a Zippo?


What always runs, but never walks, often murmurs, but never talks, has a bed but never sleeps, has a mouth but never eats?


Two men are in a desert. They’re both wearing backpacks. One of the men is dead. The man who is alive, has his pack open. The dead man’s pack is closed. What is in their packs?


What has rivers with no water, forests but no trees, and cities with no buildings?


I am the beginning of the end, and the end of time and space. I am essential to creation and I surround every place. What am I?


The manufacturer doesn’t need it, the buyer doesn’t want it, and the user doesn’t know that they are using it. What is it?


You leave home, make three left turns and return home where you find two men wearing masks. Who are they?


If you are running in a race, and you pass the person in second place, what place are you in?


You can easily touch me, but you can’t see me. You can throw me out but not away. What am I?



The Invisible Gorilla


Appolo Robbins – The Art of Misdirection

Evelyn Glennie


Middle School Science Minute  

by Dave Bydlowski (k12science or



I was recently reading the February, 2017 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 Citizen Science article, “Citizen Science for a Rainy (or Snowy) Day: The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network.” It was written by Jill Nugent.  The article describes the CoCoRaHS Network, a nonprofit network hosted by Colorado State University with support from NOAA.  The goal of the network is to report weather data that will then be used by meteorologists.  For more information, please visit:


From the Twitterverse:  

Scott McLeod‏ @mcleod

What We Ask of Our Students and What we Do | @conprin  #cpchat #edadmin


Eileen Harrity‏ @EileenHarrity

Eileen Harrity Retweeted edutopia

Interesting video of a London school that focuses on wellbeing, PBL, & oracy (like literacy, but for oral presentation of info).

Miguel Guhlin‏ @mguhlin

Immersive Reader Samples  


Sean Marie Sweeney‏ @ssweeney602

Help ESL students learn vocabulary using the app Aipoly Vision @aipoly  #edtech


Snagit‏ @Snagit

BREAKING NEWS! New product offering from TechSmith​, the makers of Snagit:


Seesaw‏ @Seesaw

Engage students by creating a listening station for your classroom today!

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




Read This Before You Ever Make Fun of Comic Sans Again


Fonts and Dyslexia

  1. CONCLUSIONS AND FUTURE WORK The main conclusion is that font types have an impact on readability of people with dyslexia. Good fonts for people with dyslexia are Helvetica, Courier, Arial, Verdana and CMU, taking into consideration both, reading performance and subjective preferences. Also, sans serif, monospaced, and roman font types increased significantly the reading performance, while italic fonts decreased reading performance. In particular, Arial It. should be avoided since it significantly decreases readability.


A DSA Assessor noted student preference for 1.5 line spacing. It is likely that line length, line spacing and font size are just as important. Bigelow and Holmes make this point in their 2014 review of research which found no evidence for a best typeface for dyslexia. Arnold Wilkins showed that children aged 7 to 9 read better with a bigger font size

Comic Sans is the most popular Microsoft font for children. However, some dyslexic adults consider it looks childish. They love it or hate it. It was designed for comic strips. It is not considered professional in the publishing or academic worlds. There is even a ‘ban comic sans’ web! It meets all dyslexic ‘likes’ except mirrored b and d.


Based on the evaluation of 48 dyslexic subjects ages 11-50, reading 12 texts with 12 different fonts, they determined that reading performance was best with sans serif, monospaced, and roman fonts used in the study. They also found that reading was significantly impaired when italic fonts were used.

As someone who has wrestled with the issue of font choice and legibility for years, I was not surprised at the poor performance of OpenDyslexic. Although the font has been widely promoted as being designed for dyslexics, I find the font clunky and difficult to read, and others I have talked to had mixed reactions (some liked it, others not).

At the same time, I question an assumption underlying the researchers’ conclusion that font design is paramount. It seems to me that their research showed simply that the most commonly used fonts were also the ones that were the easiest for their subjects to read.  I remember how my son struggled as child with cursive, and his own insistence for using 14 pt. Times New Roman for all of his own written work.  I think familiarity with the type face and individual letter forms may be particularly important for dyslexic readers.  It may be that dyslexics are far more sensitive to minor variations in letter shape, form, and spacing. That they did best with the font sets that they were most likely to have been exposed to in the past does not necessarily mean that those fonts are the best for everyone.


Dsylexie Font

Free for home use, special pricing for schools.


List of Fonts




Potential Google Fonts


3 Things to Know About “Dyslexic Fonts”

What if people with dyslexia could read more easily by switching to a special font? That’s the promise behind several typeface designs created in recent years. Here are three things to know about all fonts:

1) While font design can impact reading effectiveness, reading time and perceptions of legibility, this holds true for all readers including those who have dyslexia and those who do not.

2) It’s important to compare apples to apples. Many factors need to be taken into account when comparing fonts including text characteristics, text size, line and character spacing and computer display settings.

3) There are tradeoffs. For example, research points to a relationship between fonts, reading accuracy and reading speed. Some studies show fonts that are read faster may also read less accurately.

Still thinking about switching fonts? Whether you have dyslexia or not, experimenting with fonts may be worthwhile and boils down to personal preference. Above all, it’s important to remember for those who have dyslexia there are no quick fixes and switching fonts is not a substitute for a Structured Literacy approach to reading instruction.


I made my classroom look like the real world…and test scores soared


The school year is a simulation of adulthood where students work, create, and learn about personal finance and entrepreneurial skills. They experience real-world situations and gain insights into global affairs. Students tend to view my classroom less as a “classroom” and more of an interactive city where all projects intertwine to create an ecosystem of businesses and homes.

Each student has the opportunity to become an entrepreneur, politician, banker, and more. They are given $1,000 in Johnsonville cash to begin their lives. Students must buy a house or rent an apartment, earn wages, and manage their finances. As the children buy and sell items I donate, they learn math skills along with life lessons.

Students are in control. Other teachers trying PBL often tell me, “my kids can’t do it” or “it’s a lot of work.” I think the real issue here is teachers not wanting to give up control of their classrooms. PBL gives me the freedom to facilitate and encourage critical thinking. Additionally, I find students work better when the teacher isn’t hovering over them. PBL promotes students to think creatively and build the 21st-century skills they need to be successful in today’s job market.



Assessment resource with lesson plans and over 700,000 games, audio, lesson plans, assessments and more . . . some for free.  


ESSA Resources

The website is produced by the Center for Research and Reform in Education (CRRE) at Johns Hopkins University School of Education, in collaboration with a distinguished Technical Work Group and a Stakeholder Advisory Group. It is information solely intended to be useful to educators and the public and has no official status.


Material Review is an independent nonprofit designed to improve K-12 education. increases the capacity of teachers, administrators, and leaders to seek, identify, and demand the highest-quality instructional materials. Drawing upon expert educators,’s evidence-based reviews of instructional materials and support of smart adoption processes will equip teachers with excellent materials nationwide.


Music Creation

Soundation is a powerful online music studio with professional features like recording, effects, virtual instruments and over 700 free loops and sounds.


Soundation Chrome is the latest version of our online studio and is developed using Google Native Client for Chrome web browsers. This means a faster and more stable environment with lower latency and CPU usage and does not require Flash. Soundation Chrome has an entirely new audio engine and we made it as “backward compatible” as possible with the flash version of Soundation Studio so it looks and loads all your previously created songs.


BandLab is the easy-to-use, all-in-one, social music creation platform.


Web Spotlight:




Images of Change —

Dig This! Erosion Investigation —

Investigating Erosion —


I Learned Nothing, I Just Googled The Parts of the Cell

Can we get real? There are a lot of well-intentioned assignments and projects that frankly have very little LEARNING that goes with them. Create a poster of the solar system. The kid spends a lot of time (and money on supplies) with the outcome that they can (hopefully) identify the 7 planets. This is a DOK 1 task… and maybe even DOK 0.

Random Thoughts . . .  


And Now for Something Completely Different:

Play this in class one day as they come in.  Just for fun.  


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