MSM-125 Twitter is our friend.


A father of five won a large stuffed animal in a raffle. All the way home he agonized about which child should receive the toy. When he arrived, he called the kids together. “I have decided this gift should go to the most deserving,” he said. “Who is the most obedient?” he asked. “Who never talks back to mommy? Who does everything she says?” Five small voices cried in unison. “You do, Daddy!”

Helping the Town
A seedy-looking man was sitting in the first row heckling the mayor as he delivered a lengthy speech. Finally the mayor pointed to the heckler and said, “Will that gentleman who differs with me please stand up and tell the audience what he has ever done for the good of the city?” “Well, Mr. Mayor,” the man said in a firm voice. “I voted against you in the last election.”

One day at the local all you can eat buffet, a man suddenly called out, “My son’s choking! He swallowed a quarter! Help! Please, anyone! Help!” A man from a nearby table quikly stood up and announced that he was quite experienced at this sort of thing. He stepped over they boy with almost no look of concern at all, wrapped his hands around the boy, and squeezed. Out popped the quarter. The man then went back to his table as though nothing had happened. “Thank you! Thank you!” the father cried. “Are you a paramedic?” “No,” replied the man. “I work for the IRS.”

Pregnancy Questions
The room was full of pregnant women and their partners, and the Lamaze class was in full swing. The instructor was teaching the women how to breathe properly, along with informing the men how to give the necessary assurances at this stage of the plan. The teacher then announced, “Ladies, exercise is good for you. Walking is especially beneficial. And, gentlemen, it wouldn’t hurt you to take the time to go walking with your partner!” The room really got quiet. Finally, a man in the middle of the group raised his hand. “Yes?” replied the teacher. “Is it okay if she carries a golf bag while we walk?”

On Our Mind:

The “Reply All” button

The Michigan Joint Education Conference:
Troy presents at the 8:00 and 10:00 sessions.  You’ve got to be there!

From the Twitterverse:



Hey guys,

Hope you are enjoying your summer.  We still have another full week of school.

Ran across this the other day and thought you might be interested:

It is a free product from Microsoft.  Since most students learn how to use powerpoint in computer class, this would be a fun tool for student presentations.


PS  Still not on Twitter.

Robert Jackson
Kyiv, Ukraine

Model Schools Conference, Orlando
HUGE thanks to Dr. John Harrison for recommending Middle School Matters to his session attenders at the Model Schools Conference in Orlando, Florida this week.  We really appreciate the recommendation, though it cost us the last of our business cards.

Tech Tools:

Teen Chat Decoder

Create Short Animations at Fuzzwich

Free Quizzes that you can play right in your browser!

Welcome to! Who said that learning has to be boring? Everybody learns better when they are having fun! Here at you will find educational games and quizzes on many subjects, including Math, Reading, Spanish, Geography, SAT, Spelling, Music and more. All activities come with animated interface, fun sounds and other cool features that make learning more enjoyable.

To find an activity, start by clicking on the general subject that you are interested in.


Your Next Read

Forbes Map

Interactive Feature Map: Where Americans Are Moving Jon Bruner
More than 10 million Americans moved from one county to another during 2008. The map below visualizes those moves. Click on any county to see comings and goings: black lines indicate net inward movement, red lines net outward movement.

Understanding Genetics

Are Good Teachers Always Good, No Matter Where They Go?

The more we fixate on the “good teacher,” the less we seem to concern ourselves with good teaching.
But the story also drove home how seldom we hear about the conditions that foster good teaching. Most news stories on ed reform leave the impression that a good teacher is a good teacher is a good teacher, no matter where he teaches, no matter what challenges he faces, no matter how toxic the climate in his school is. Good teachers, it seems, are widgets to be deployed to all manner of schools, where they’ll climb every mountain and ford every stream.


Prince William middle school to try single-sex classes

Fred M. Lynn Middle School will run a pilot program during the coming school year that will have single-sex classrooms for core academic classes for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students. Lunch and elective courses will be coed. Coleman, who launched a similar program when she taught in another school system, pitched the idea to school administrators this month and sent a letter to parents June 11 describing the pilot program. Applications to be in the single-sex classes are due Friday, but Coleman said that if 150 students aren’t signed up by then, the deadline will be extended.
A staple at many private schools, single-sex classrooms are making their way onto public campuses — more than 500 U.S. public schools, including Woodbridge Middle, offer single-sex education opportunities, according to the National Association for Single Sex Public Education.

Old Mill Elementary teachers building centers of learning

Literacy effort to intensify next school year
“Literacy centers have really become best practice for teaching reading skills, and we want our teachers to be able to become more purposeful and comfortable using them,” Vachon said.

Educators, students can benefit from technology training

By Michael Hildebrandt

Middle Schools Conference Notes

1.  You’re expected to use technology, just don’t plug it it.
2.  You’re expected to use technology, but there’s no internet access point where the sessions take place.
3.  You’re expected to tweet and facebook the conference, but not where the sessions take place.
4.  All presentations are on the website.  Presenters then fly through the slides not letting you read the info on the screen because . . . it’s on the website . . . you can’t access.

Boston Globe example.

Teachers need to be the objects of change.
Stop waiting for the cure, Educators are the cure!!
Educators should be the agents of change.
In order to get better, we need to be different.
So what is stopping us?
The challenge we face
Best Practices, Next Practices and innovation
Closing thoughts
What got us to where we are today in education is not what will get us to the future.
In many cases, our efforts to transform education look much like the original system.
Shreddies Video
Add value without changing the value.
TED Conference Video.  LOL!
Why is it so hard to change?
The more successful a system is, the more difficult it is to recognize when it must change. By example, market leaders are the last ones to transform.
The American Education System, “The market leader during the industrial era.”
Dominant logic.  “That’s the way we do things here.”
We need to stop looking at threats and opportunities that we face through our dominant logic!
In the years ahead the “forgetting curve” may be more important than the learning curve!
(the most adaptable)
Have we adapted?

Mental Lock
We don’t need to be cretive for most of what we do (driving, shopping, business of living).  So staying on routine thought paths enables us to do many things without having to think about it.
The Right Answer.
The Second Right Answer
Not:  What is the answer?
What are the answers?
Not:  What is the meaning of this?
What are the meanings of this?
Not:  What is the result?
What are the results?

Soft Hard
Metaphor                     logic
Fantasy                       Direct
Dream                        Focused
Hunch                         Parody
Child                           Adult
Generalization              Work

metaphor                     Logic
Dream                         reason
Humor                         precision
anbiguity                         …

shades of gray             black and wihte
hard to pick up             easy to pick up
many answers              right answer

What is the connection between these two words:  cat – refrigerator
They purr
They have tails
Excuses we use in education.
That’s not logical  (side)
Follow the rules
The rules keep you doing what you’re doing in the current system.
Be Practical

Theme:  Best Practices, Next Practices and Innovation.
“I don’t want non-education people telling us what to do.”
AYP line
Get to the line by Researched Based Successful Practices.
“Tight-Tight” environment
Critical point when you get to the AYP line.
Remain Tight-Tight
Will not get you any higher and eventually will decline.
Go Tight-Loose
When you institute this environment there will be an implementation dip and then you will go up and get to a critical point.
Best practices allow you to do what you are currently doing a little better, while next practices increase your organization’s capability to do things that it has never done before.
Best Practices
Researched Based
Successful Practices Network
Read 180
I Can Learn
Learning Together

Best practices allow you to do what your are currently doing a little better, while next practices incrust your organization’s capability to do things that it has never done before.

College and career readiness Defined
Cognitive strategies
Content knowledge
Academic behaviors
Contextual skills and knowledge.
Next practices
Penn Foster
Princeton Review
Expert Space
Expert 21

Expertise can sometimes be a roadblock to aproblem solving and the development of Next Practices.  Experts see their points as critical to resolution, wihtout sometimes valuing the thinking of others.

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.”
Shumyu Suzuki

System (round circle)
Great idea:  (Triangle)
Fit the triangle into the round circle.
Edges overlap
This is sustaining Innovation
The pieces that were cut off because they aren’t in the circle are “Next Practices”
Make the circle an oval and include the corners of the traingel and that’s “Disruptive Innovation”
Video clip:  The Marshmallow Challenge.  TED Video
18 mintues
Who consistently performs poorly?
Business school
Who does well?
Kindergarteners build prototypes.
They get consistent feedback.
They learn from FAILURE.

Next Practice Thinking
The Iterative Process
We need the freedom to fail and to retry ideas.
People need empowerment.
Sustainability is about the relationship between people . . .
“Well.  I would have exhibited more leadership if someone would have told me.
Successful lleadership . . .  lost it.
Four quadrants of leadership
A:  Authoritative
B:  Collaborative Leadership
C.  Visionary Leadership
D.  (Moved too fast . . . “it’s on the website.”)
Quadrant D Leadership cannot be implemented unless people are empowered to act.  Developing teacher’s and students’ capacities to lead is clearly important.
Empowerment is a soft word, can you measure it?
Why good spreadsheets make bad strategies.
We live in a world obsessed with science, predictability and control.  If we can’t measure it, it doesn’t count.
PollEverywhere used to find out what audience thinks.
We must consider the possibility that if we can’t measure something, it might be the very most important thing!
Culture Trumps Strategy
What does empowerment look like?
Talking with kids …
What makes a teacher worth going to and what makes a teacher worth listening to?
It’s not us against them!
(Title of his book by the way …)
Empowering the students:  Day of Pink:  A day to stand against bullying, harrassment, and discrimination.
Kids chose to tie it to curriculum by doing “Quick Writes.”
Question:  Do you feel like you’ve been bullied or has there been a time where you’ve been pressured by a bully?  Then held an assembly where the kids were the speaker.
Create a disciplined , managed space for deelopment of new way to accomplish difficult tasks.

Theme:  Closing Remarks
The system is not to blame, we are, for not adapting it to our ever changing world.
Two ways to move your system.
1.  Find a system that starts with the What, How and then the Why.
What:  We educate all the children
How We have the best.  (tech, teachers . . )
Why:  OUr children deserve the best.
Highly effective starts with the:
Why:  OUr children’s future success rests on their ability to apply what they know against what they don’t know.
How: Engaging our children . . .
What:  lost it.
I can’t imagine anything worse than looking back at the oppportunity before us in education and thinking we blew it!

Connecting Successful Practices to Next Practices and the Role of Empowerment.

Events & Happenings:

Calendar of Events:

NMSA News:

Other News:

  • 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.
    • ISTE 2010 June 27-30, 2010 (Formerly NECC) in Denver, Colorado.

      • June 19:  ISTE Denver Metaverse Meeting 4:00 – 5:00 in Second Life ISTE Island
        • Experience a virtual learning experience sim as the ISTE folks take you on an authentic silver mine tour.  Meet at the Denver Convention Lobby.
  • The Michigan Joint Education Conference will be at Thurston High School in Redford, MI this June 23, 2010.
  • The Ohio Middle Level Association will hold their annual conference February 16 – 18, 2011.
  • Second Life: