Podcast #80: Departmentalization of School: Twitter, Cell phones, and Content!

Teacher Questions & Answers:

Are you in the top half of your class?
No, I’m one of the students who make the top half possible!

The picture of the horse is good, but where is the wagon?
The horse will draw it!

Why are you picking your nose in class?
My mother won’t let me do it at home!

Why are you reading the last pages of your history book first?
I want to know how it ends!

What can we do to stop polluting our waters?
Stop taking baths?

Can’t you retain anything in your head overnight?
Of course, I’ve had this cold in my head for two days!

Shout Outs:

From the Twitterverse:

Sparkly Moments:

Marzano  & Smartboards:


Palm Beach County elementary school changes face opposition

Students in grades 3 through 5 will switch classes |South Florida Sun Sentinel

Parents at A-rated Boca Raton area elementary schools are raising the threat level over a mandatory plan to drop the traditional one-teacher model in grades 3 through 5. The plan is called departmentalization, in which students have different teachers for reading/language arts, math, science and social studies, similar to middle school. Principals are free to use this model for first and second grades and even kindergarten. Students who are eligible for gifted classes will continue to receive the same amount of specialized instruction, Hernandez said. At the Del Prado meeting, parents asked for research or some proof that student performance improves under departmentalization. Some parents also opposed the change on the grounds that their schools are already performing at high levels and should stay the course.

Rising Above I.Q.

Published: June 6, 2009
In the mosaic of America, three groups that have been unusually successful are Asian-Americans, Jews and West Indian blacks — and in that there may be some lessons for the rest of us. These three groups may help debunk the myth of success as a simple product of intrinsic intellect, for they represent three different races and histories. Richard Nisbett cites each of these groups in his superb recent book, “Intelligence and How to Get It.” In any case, he says, the evidence is overwhelming that what is distinctive about these three groups is not innate advantage but rather a tendency to get the most out of the firepower they have.


Guidance program promising

Instead of telling kids to avoid bad behavior, “Positive Action” sets out a framework

By Susan Essoyan

A new study shows that fifth-graders in Hawaii who took part in a schoolwide behavioral program called “Positive Action” were about half as likely to try drugs, alcohol, weapons or sex as their peers in other schools. Unlike programs that focus simply on avoiding risky behaviors, Positive Action gives students a comprehensive framework to guide their behavior, with daily 15-minute interactive lessons. Ala Wai Elementary Principal Charlotte Unni said yesterday that initially she was reluctant to try the program, but now is a convert. Positive Action, a kindergarten-to-12th-grade curriculum, was created more than two decades ago, but this was the first randomized, scientific trial of its efficacy, according to Brian Flay, principal investigator in the study. Those results contrast with studies of DARE, the most widely implemented program on preventing drug abuse in the country, which takes place in fifth or sixth grades. In 2001, the U.S. Surgeon General concluded that DARE does not deter substance abuse. The program costs about $300 to $400 per classroom up front, plus 10 to 15 percent of that per year, Flay said. “It’s very cost-effective, because the costs to society of a kid who becomes a drug user or engages in violence are very high,” he said.

Survey: Many teens use phones in class to text or cheat

One-fourth of teens’ cellphone text messages are sent during class, a new survey finds, despite widespread classroom bans on cellphones at school. The survey of 1,013 teens — 84% of whom have cellphones — also shows that a significant number have stored information on a cellphone to look at during a test or have texted friends about answers.


But What Do I Say?

Benjamin Dotger and Mara Sapon-Shevin

John Smith, a 15-year-old student who is interested in music, has started avoiding the band room. He’s wary of that side of the school and asks his mother to drop him off each morning near a different entrance.

Ms. Laffett is a young teacher who recently received her teaching certificate. She loves the pace of her job and thrives on the challenge of teaching English to teenagers, but she has no idea what to say when Mrs. Smith comes in for a conference.


No Longer Letting Scores Separate Pupils

Sixth graders at Cloonan Middle School here are assigned numbers based on their previous year’s standardized test scores — zeros indicate the highest performers, ones the middle, twos the lowest — that determine their academic classes for the next three years. So in an unusual experiment, Cloonan mixed up its sixth-grade science and social studies classes last month, combining zeros and ones with twos. These mixed-ability classes have reported fewer behavior problems and better grades for struggling students, but have also drawn complaints of boredom from some high-performing students who say they are not learning as much. Educators have debated for decades how to best divide students into classes. Some school districts focus on providing extra instruction to low achievers or developing so-called gifted programs for the brightest students, but few maintain tracking like Stamford’s middle schools (tracking is less comprehensive and rigid at the town’s elementary and high schools). David Rudolph, Cloonan’s principal, said that parents have long complained that the tracking numbers assigned to students dictate not only their classes but also their friends and cafeteria cliques.

Events & Happenings:

Calendar of Events:

  1. The National Middle School Association is looking for an editor for their Research in Middle Level Education Journal (RMLE).
  2. NMSA’s Annual Conference:  NMSA ‘08 Technology Focus VideoNMSA ‘09 Invitation Video:  Indianapolis, IN Conference  November 5-7, 2009.  Individual Registration is now open.
  3. ATTENTION Michigan Association of Middle School Educators & Friends: MAMSE is putting together a bus for the trip to the National Middle School Association’s Annual Conference in Indianapolis, IN this fall.  Ride down to the conference in a luxury bus.  With all the conversations with middle school teachers on the bus, I wonder if we could call this a mini-MAMSE conference?  There’s nothing like getting together with people who love the people we love:  our students.  Getting together with folks like that is energizing and priceless.  Email Teresa Sutherland for information and details.  Don’t forget to mention you heard about it on Middle School Matters.
  4. NMSA 09 Conference Connection:  Stay connected before, during, and after the conference!  Start your packing lists for the conference using packwhiz.com!
  5. Keynote speakers for NMSA ’09 have been announced:  Daniel Pink (political connections) opens and Rick Wormeli closes.
  6. NMSA has a new publication on the role of middle grades in drop-out prevention.  You can download it as a pdf file.
  7. Schools to Watch Conference June 25-27, Washington D.C.  Conference registration info.
  8. Institute for Middle Level Leadership Santa Ana Pueblo, NM July 12-15, 2009; Ft. Lauderdale FL July 19-22, 2009
    Registration Still Open Deadline Extended
  9. Educational Technology Leadership Conference, June 24th at Holt High School, Holt, MI. Register for the event.
  10. ISTE Eduverse Talks are the recorded sessions held on ISTE Island every week.  Join ISTE in their Second Life conference location for their weekly talks on education.
  11. The Michigan Association of Middle School Educators Annual Conference is coming up March 4-5, 2010 in Dexter, MI.  MAMSE will be celebrating its 40th Anniversary!
  12. Classroom 2.0’s Live Calendar.
  13. Classroom 2.0’s Ning Blog:  This week’s discussion is on “The BUZZ about LearnCentral” for Teachers.  Archived content is available.
  14. Second Life:
    • No Events specified.  Regular Tuesday meetings are scheduled.  See the board on the ISTE Island for up to the minute details.
    • Video:  Educational Uses of Second Life