MSM-145 NMSA 2010:U.S. Department of Education & JACK BERCKEMEYER!


Speed Versus Age
A Policeman stops a speeding car and tells the woman driver; When I saw you driving down the road, I thought to myself, sixty-five at least. The woman replied: “I don’t think that is quite fair. I think this hat makes me look younger.”

Hearing Aids
Seems an elderly gentleman had serious hearing problems for a number of years. He went to the doctor and the doctor was able to have him fitted for a set of hearing aids that allowed the gentleman to hear 100%. The elderly gentleman went back in a month to the doctor and the doctor said, “Your hearing is perfect. Your family must be really pleased you can hear again.” To which the gentleman said, “Oh, I haven’t told my family yet. I just sit around and listen to the conversations. I’ve changed my will five times!”

On Our Mind:

NMSA 2010 Conference

North Pole

Activities – Paid site, but you could gather some ideas.

From the Audience:

In response to Reid’s question on digital science resources, I thought I could share a few thoughts and ideas.

Probably the best interactive online science simulations are called Gismos and can be found at:
They come at a cost but when you look at them you will see that they really provide skills in inquiry and understanding.  They are very “age appropriate” and include topics in earth, moon, and sun; measurement and lab skills; heredity and genetics; ecology and interdependence; motion and force, electricity and magnetism; and many, many more.  You can’t go wrong with Gizmos.
As far as online textbooks go, there are not a lot of choices, unless you go with a textbook company and Reid did not want to go with a standard textbook.  I agree that he will have more success if he looks at “units” instead of a “full year.”  In Michigan we recommend four 9-10 week units in grades 5-7.  In 8th grade we recommend more units, but units that last shorter periods of time.  The other negative about online resources is that they tend to downplay inquiry, which is very important, as well as being more “high schoolish” in their content and delivery.  But here are a few choices:
Classzone—They provide resources to their student texts, but provide quite a bit of material.  Visit:
Prisms—PRISMS is a collection of reviewed phenomena and representations for middle school. The goal is to help increase the amount of content aligned and pedagogically useful resources available in the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) for middle school teachers and students.  Visit:
Khan Academy—You have mentioned quite a few times, but is worth a visit at:
I would also recommend that he participate in the National Middle Level Science Teachers Association. Educators can join at:
You mentioned that I write a newsletter and it is the twice-monthly Michigan Science Matters Network eBlast.  It is archived at But Science Matters is a network from within the National Science Teachers Association and Indiana is a part of the Network.  I would encourage him to contact the State Coordinator:  Kate Baird.  They are also affiliated with the state science organization—Hoosier Association of Teachers and they can be found at:

Middle School Science Minute

by Dave Bydlowski (k12science or
Pennies for the Planet! Penny Wars!


Secret Santa

The Secret Santa gift exchange is a favorite Christmas season activity. Put a twist on it in your classroom by having students give each other acts of kindness rather than gifts. Remind students how Secret Santa works. Tell them that instead of giving gifts they will be giving acts of kindness. Supply them with a few examples, such as giving compliments, helping with homework or sharing a joke. Give students slips of paper to write their names on and place them in a bag. Students draw the name of their partner for Secret Santa. Remind students to keep their identity secret.

Give the students pieces of A4 paper and have them decorate with Christmas borders so that they look like scrolls. Each day students write their acts of kindness on their scrolls. At the end of the week, everyone tries to guess who their Secret Santa is, and they turn their kindness scroll over to their partner.

From the Twitterverse:

*maggiecary Helping Your Child Transition from EZ Readers to Chapter Books:
*bdyck Wondering How the Internet Sees You?
*bhsprincipal The Answer Sheet | What Tom Friedman got wrong about schools and why it matters – via @wackjacq #cpchat #bhschat
*bhsprincipal Patrick Larkin RT @MrWejr: Teachers Who Shun Social Media Left In the Dark- Vancouver Sun via @jsteffenhagen #edchat #bhschat
*cybraryman1 Email Around the World Project: #ellchat #kinderchat
*cybraryman1 @kconners09 My Ed Chats page: #sschat (every Monday 7 pm EST)  Here’s the link to tonight’s #sschat archive.
@Ron_Peck A properly designed Cooperative Learning Project does work well. Cooperative Learning: #sschat
*WackJacq RT @mcleod: New post: The 7 tacit lessons which schools teach children http://bit.l #sschat #cpchat (Note:  link in the tweet is bad.  Here it is:
*TheSwish @MsTeacher28 We do a Bill of Rights “hand game” & “Do I Have a Right” from @icivics #sschat
*Larryferlazzo The Best Teacher Resources For “Foldables”
*mbteach Come see a model lesson on using Skype in the classroom w/myself & @dancallahan at 11:20 #edcampnyc w/@jswiatek at #edcampcitrus

NSMA 2010

Department of Ed Interview

Session 4

April Tibbles is chief of staff.  (I got to sit next to the lovely and talented April Tibbles!)

Greg Darnieder is special advisor to Sec. Duncan.  College Access Initiative.
Leah Raphael, Patrick Desmond (Teacher fellows)  (LaDezma? A little difficult to hear)
Secondary planning group being developed.

Think about this while we talk:  If you had 60 seconds with the secretary, what would you say about middle school?

Speed round:
1st word:  Personalization
2nd word:  Looping
3rd word:  College and career readiness standards.
4th word:  Rigor
5th word:  Transitioning to high school.
6th word:  Data

Are the needs of middle school students distinct?
What does a middle school look like?
Reauthorization of Perkins is coming up next year.
Should that program be revised to include middle grades?
If you had 60 seconds with Arne Duncan . . .

1.  Exploratories to drive desire to learn and career choice.

2.  This We Believe – No half measures.

3.  We would love to have you on the podcast.
Secondary Schools Working Group

Session 4

LA Strategies that Meet the needs of the Adolescents

Jack Berckemeyer

Hands on. See hand out.

steve spangler – diaper genie and bernoulli’s law.

I. Spelling:
Get words from other courses.
Put words on an index card. Tape the card on their back. They get 20 questions to figure out the word.
Harley Davidson spelling words. =

• Snap fingers and spell.
• Have them repeat you spelling the word. Change volume to really low.
• Chanting the word by syllable.

Word within a word

Paper plate Spelling – Put one letter on each plate. If a word includes more than one instance of a letter, the holder must move. If they start to spell it wrong, interrupt them. Then go back to them. Each and every group has to recite their answer. The kids hear it many times. (Always correct).

Replace a letter with a sound.
Blueberry and banana sentences. Replace the underline with a word. Use only 2 words to replace the line.

II. Reading Strategies
Book Talks
National Geographics (appropriate). Use for students who are finished with the assignments. Pick interesting articles. Use during pre and post learning time.
Story Pyramid- See handout
Useful for any subject. Just switch the questions.

3 Study card
The art of manipulation. The week of the test (Monday)use outlining, teaches listening skills and outlining. Then combine it down to a smaller piece of paper. Then cut it down to one index card.

READ magazine.
Pick a role and sell it to the kid first.

III. Academic Writing Strategies
19 Rules to Final Copy

IV. Creative Writing Strategies
Cliff Hangers
Make the kids be quite for 5 minutes at the beginning of class and write. It gets them focused.
How to make a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich. The follow up is important. Teaches sequence of events and transitions.
Spin a story – Put a brad on a piece of paper with names/locations/conflict. Can also use  Weekly World Report – just the headlines.

V. Grammar
We don’t think about grammar as visual. Go to the window- does anyone see a noun?
“Fanatasia” the dancing hippos – kids come up with adjectives.
“Grammar Rock”

VI. Listening Skills
Place an X on the floor where you give direct instruction.
Sound effects on CD. They write what it the effect is.
“Green Grass Grew All Around”- they listen then quiz them.

VII. Oral Communications

Chin Up
Speak so you can be heard
Eye Contact
Have them memorize a poem, then project the words on the back wall.
Use a prop box.


Scrapping Education Dept. Could Be Tough Task

By Alyson Klein
During the recent midterm election, a number of conservative Republican candidates eager to clamp down on what they see as bureaucratic waste took aim at scrapping a familiar target: the 30-year-old U.S. Department of Education.


A Closer Look at a Christmas Carol

Need an example of an author rewriting? Want to teach the “secret” code of adults (cursive)? This is a great example of how Charles Dickens wrote the classic tale.

Free Audio version of A Christmas Carol

Author: Charles Dickens
Narrator: Antonia Bath
Unabridged Edition
Running Time: 2 Hrs. 45 Min.

The Power of Literature Circles
I promise to provide practical resources on the how, when, where, what of lit circles, but let me first make a case for why every K-12 classroom should institute some version of literature circles.

Interactive White Boards

Interactive White Boards are here, whether we like them or not. Golly, if your classroom doesn’t have one by now, I’d be real surprised.  And while tech educators often rail against them (because teachers hog them), I’ve decided to throw up the white flag of surrender- for the kids.  It would seem teachers aren’t going to give these things up and let the kids use them. Ever.

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.
    • The ISTE Special Interest Group:  Virtual Environments is holding meetings on Mondays from 4:00 – 6:00 pm (SLT) on ISTE Island.
  • The Ohio Middle Level Association will hold their annual conference February 17 – 18, 2011.
  • Second Life:
    • Regular Tuesday meetings are scheduled. See the board on the ISTE Island for up to the minute details.  Check frequently this week as the ISTE Annual Convention is this week.
    • Video: Educational Uses of Second Life