Podcast 96 NMSA09 Wrap UP #1: Summaries & Why Middle Schools Matter!

From the Twitterverse:


2 Truths & a lie – have students make 3 statements: 2 are true, 1 is a lie. Section the room into thirds. Have the other students move to one of sections that they think is the lie.

On Our Mind:

Shout out to March Wells III:  Thanks for being on the podcast with us!
Shout out to our NMSA traveling buddies:  Jennifer Fryzel, Andrea Melaragni, Nancy Kiefer, Kathy MacDonald, March Wells III, Fran Delaney, Vickie Molnar!
Shout out to Dr. M. Monte Tatom and Susie Highley for saying, “HI!”, at the NMSA conference.

MAMSE:  Contact your local MAMSE board member and volunteer to be a Regional Coordinator!


Breakthrough Learning Conference:



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Session 1- 10 ways to scaffold super summaries across the curriculum.

Dr. Lori G. Wilfong Kent State Unversity
Thursday 10:30 am

5 words or less.

  1. Tear a piece of paper into 10 pieces.
  2. Write 1 word on a piece of paper that describes you.
  3. Arrange the words in a way that makes sense to you.
  4. Share with someone.

Write about themselves first. This gets them going.
Scaffold summary writing by having students subtract out the 10 (teacher picks the number) on pieces of paper. Have them arrange the words in a way that makes sense. They then use those 10 words and only those 10 words to create a summary – in full sentences. Can use notecards, sticky notes, scratch paper, etc.

Strategy #2: Class Trip by David Lubar
SWBST: Somebody Wanted But So Then: (Something Wanted But So Now)

Somebody Wanted But So Then
Mr. Pegler To go to the museum
Congress Reform healthcare They can’t agree They keep arguing We still don’t have reform.

One sentence summaries are made easy.
Can also remove the Then if that is a repeated item.

Strategy #3: (See The Most Important Thing by Margaret Wise-Brown)
The Most Important Thing:

  • The Most Important Thing about __________________________ is ____________________
  • Detail
  • Detail
  • Detail
  • But, the most important thing about ____________ is ________________________

Leads to the structure that helps kids do well on standardized tests.

Strategy #4: Found Poetry

  • Taking any piece of prose and turning it into poetry
  • Choose a passage that feels important to you or that exemplifies the text in 75 to 100 words. Write that passage on a piece of paper.
  • Carefully discard the words or phrases that are not that important.
  • Pretend that you have to pay for each word you are keeping and want to pay the minimum.
  • Copy your saved words onto a page.
  • Cite the author

Works with a wide variety of sources. Works with fiction and content.

Strategy #5: Fishbones

  • backbone main idea
  • Supporting details.

Strategy #6: Four-Two-One

  • Individually, generate 4 words or concepts that summarize your learning.
  • With a partner, share 2 words. Together, come up with 2 common words or concepts about the story.
  • In a small team, Share your words. Together, come up with one word or concept that best summarizes your learning about your learning.
  • As a whole group.

Strategy # 7: Final Countdown
(Large Triangle with 1 space on top, 2 in the middle, 3 on the bottom). This is a reverse 3-2-1.

  • Using the Final Countdown template, write the 3 most important details from the story.
  • Write the 2 questions you still have about the story.
  • One way this relates or connects to material previously learned.

Strategy # 8: Vanity Plates

  • Create a personalized license plate about the material.
  • Limited to 8 characters
  • Can expand to symbols as well

Strategy # 9: Magnet Summaries: Similar to 10 words or less.

  • After each paragraph, they substract out the most important word on a sticky.
  • Take each of the words to put them in order.

Strategy # 10 Shaping Up Review Four shapes. Heart, square, triangle, circle:

  • Heart – one thing that you loved learning
  • Square – Four concepts that are important
  • Triangle – 3 most important facts
  • Circle – One all encompassing statement that summarizes all of the important concepts and facts.

All of these strategies can be used to facilitate a written summary.

Shawn’s Session 1:  Dr. Robert Balfanz on Why Middle Grades Matter!
Why Middle Grades Matter
Finding 1 half or more of eventual dropouts can fall off the path to graduation in the middle grades.
Asked how early in the middle grades could we identify students who, without intervention, likely would not graduate.
Wanted reliable and valid inidcators
Collectively wanted the indicators to produce a high yield of future non-graduates.
Four sixth grade indicators emerged
1. Attending less than 80% of the time.
2.  Receiving a poor final behavior grade in a core course.
3.  Failing Mth.
4.  Failing English.
Sixth graders with any one of this indicators had 25% or lower graduation rates.
Colectively indicators identified 40% of all dropouts.
Failed English.
Sixth-graders who fail English have a 1 in 8 chance of making it to the 11th grade on time.
Only 16% graduate on time or with one extra year.
Failed Math
Sixth-graders who fail math have a less than 1 in 5 chance.
Attendance and Behavior are porwerful components of course fialure in 6th Grade.
85% of 6th graders who failed English and 75% of those who failed math also received a poor final behavior mark and/or attended less than 80% of the time.
Note:  There’s usually both a behavior and a grade failure component.  Not happening in isolation.
This is a school engagement issue.
By comparision, students who enter middle school with basic skills, attend regularly, behave and pass their courses are likeley to graduate.
Sixth graders who came to school most days got good behavior makres, passed math and ?English and had basic (not proficient) academic skills had a 69% graduation rate.
In short, middle grades (even high poverty) schools work much better for the students for whom they were tradtionally designed.
The key is that the schools are designed for the kids.
In many large cities or high poverty areas these students are in short supply.  Less than a quarter of the sixth graders might match this description.
Comparison group.
6th graders with 90% attendance, excellent behavior do well.
Extension and replication studies.
Have looked at additional cohorts in Philly.
Analysis has been replicated in six schools.
Major finding
Students in high poverty school districts who successfully navigate grades 6-9 by and large graduate from high school 75% or higher grad rates.
In high poverty school districts 75% of eventual dropouts can be identified in sixth grade.
Students are knocked off course in the early secondary grade by the A,B,C’s
Course failure
No common thresholds across the districts – philly needede to be below 80% attendance to get 75% yield.  Boston needed to be below 90%.
Where you are in the attendance distribution may be a factor, as well as total days missed.
States and districts will need to do their own analyses to identify key attendance thresholds.
Philly data indicates that sustained, mild misbehavior is a problematic as behavior that generates suspensions.
Challenge-most districts do not systematically collect data on mild misbehavior, only on suspensions.
Suspensions were predictive through number and type varied by school district, ut may more students in Philadelphia had poor behavior grades than were suspended.  thus suspensions as only behavior indicator may miss a significant number of off-track students.
We need a way to tack mild misbehavior.  This is a key to identification.
Course Perforance
Failing courses in the middle grades was consistently predictive of non-graduation and ropping out across districts.
In most districts, 6th Graders failed only one or two courses.  Failing a single core course typically signaled off-track status.
Only extremely low test scores- below the 5th percetile- on nationally normed tests had predictive power that produced high yields.
The earlier student develop off-track behavior . . .
The onset of adoleescence combined with concentrated, inter-generational poverty creates its own set of risk factors.
The developmental and cognitive challenges all middle grade studetns face-magnified by the freedoms of urban environments and large numbers of studetns with below grade level academic skills,
Neighborhood challenges-gangs and criminal enterprises need young adolescent males.
Family responsibilities brought on by poverty increase in adolescence.
Males are in an empty house somewhere playing x-box and the girls are mostly helping at home.

Thses challenges are met with an inadequate educational response, making matters worese.
Large numbers of studetns with demanding emotional, social, and academic needs in a sub set of middle schools
Insufficient numbers of skilled, stable adults in these schools and neighborhoods.
As a result, middle grade students in high poverty schools begin to disengage from school in large numbers and at a n accelerating rate.
Some stop attending school on regulary.
Some start acting out and being distruptive
Some just stop trying and start failing courses
Student disengagement precedes involvement with the juvenile justice system and teenage pregnancy.
4-years of resilience.
Finding 2:  Students who enter High School two or more years below grade level struggle to pass standards based courses and exit exams.
Attendance and behavior are the key to achievement over time and graduation.
Effective instruction PLUS student engagement – achievement gains.
Having a good teacher made the largest difference.
Attendance and behavior had additive effects beyond just having a good teacher.
As attendance and behavior improve, it has a doubling effect on achievement.
Implications for Practice
Most of the things we think matters, does matter but with limited impact.
To make progress will need comprehensive strategies.
In addition to good teachers, stron ginstrucitonal programs, and safe and supportive learning environments we will need to pay attention to the ABC’s to improve achievement.
We need to measure attendance in informative and actionable manners- Every Absence Needs to Bring a Problem Solving response.
We need to track attendance closer than the average daily attendance.
We need acknowledge good attendance.
Social recognition is better than physical reward.
Half of kids absences are discretionary absences.  They chose to be absent.
Good attendance needs to be recognized regularly through public acknowledgement and social rewards.
For better or wrose need to acknowledge that middle grade students are making independent decisions about rather they are engaged by school.
“How many students are missing 20 or more days a year?”
Behavior and Effort
Need high engagement electives that provide avenues for short term success and positively recognize asymmetrical skill levels in students.
We need to build in short cycle activities to provide recognition.
Need activities that honor and use middle grade students desire for adventure and camaraderie.
Why are they skipping school?  They’re getting adventure and friendship out of it.
Positive behavior needs to be recognized.
Same as attendance.
Organizational and self-management skills need to be taught.
Course Performance
Quality course work involves the ability to integrate a series of skills and a set of knowledge to produce and intellectual product.  Common benchmark assessments may not measure this.
We need to acknowledge the implication of course grades being more predictivie of eventual success than standardized test scores.  Need common grading rubrics.
We are pressured to make middle school like high school, but this is not right.
We need to create standards that fit the maturation level and cognitive ability.
We need to create high school and college readiness indicators that are meaningful and engaging to middle grade students, and understood by parents.  Think Academic Merit Badges.
We need to get Extra Help Right.
Standard model is to provide extra help by someone else.
Providing extra help on what he doesn’t know isn’t helpful for his need on the test on Friday.  Aim extra help at the stuff he needs for the test coming up in class.
Putting it all together with early warning and Intervention systems.
Focus on effective intervention is not just identification.
Recognize and build on student strengths.
Provide time, training, and support to teachers.
We’ve gone from just teaching to teaching and making sure that kids are staying on track.
Match resources to student needs but practice intervention discipline.
Evaluate the effectiveness of interventions
Measure which ones work and drop the ones that don’t by looking at them with a microscope.
Remember you can get started with the data in your school.
Diplomas Now is designed for the middle and high schools with the greatest number of “off-track” students
1.  Combine whole school reform, national service, and integrated student supports with an early warning indicator system and on-site coordination to provide a full school tiered system for supporting all students.
2.  Continuous monitoring of student performance related to key early warning indicators.
3.  Identification of students who are veering off track by indicator.
Used Americorps volunteers to follow kids as a cohort.
4.  Provide the appropriate interventions.
Diplomas Now Schol Design.
Providing the right support to students at the right time.
information:  See Robert Balfanz’s website to get the powerpoint.
http://www.every1graduates.org  (Presentation Here)

Events & Happenings:

Calendar of Events:
NMSA News:

  1. NMSA Annual Conference:  Baltimore 2010.

Other News:

  1. 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.
  2. The Ohio Middle Level Association will hold their annual conference February 18 & 19, 2010.  Jack Berckemeyer will be keynoting.
  3. 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!
  4. Theater Education Opportunity:  Eastern Michigan University’s Quirk-Sponberg Theater has announced their Fall 2009 Season.

    “The Prince, the Wolf and the Firebird”
    By Jackson Lacey
    Directed by Pam Cardell
    December 4, 5, 10, 11 at 7PM
    December 5, 6, 12 at 3PM
    School Matinees: December 9 and 10 at 10:00 am.  Tickets $4.00 for students and every 15 students gets a chaparone in for free.

  5. Classroom 2.0’s Live Calendar.
  6. Classroom 2.0’s Ning BlogArchived content is available. 
  7. 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