MSM 204: Make Yourself Smarter!

Jokes You Can Use:


Johnny Depp is making another Pirates of the Carribean.  It’s “Arrrrgh” Rated . . .
RUTH BUZZI ‏ @Ruth_A_Buzzi

On Our Mind:

Bad Pirate Jokes . . .


Eileen Award:

  • Dave Brown
  • Mary Alise Herrera
  • Craig Malkin


Thou Shall Not Commit Logical Fallacies

A logical fallacy is usually what has happened when someone is wrong about something. It’s a flaw in reasoning. They’re like tricks or illusions of thought, and they’re often very sneakily used by politicians and the media to fool people.
Don’t be fooled! This website and poster have been designed to help you identify and call out dodgy logic wherever it may raise its ugly, incoherent head.
If you see someone committing a logical fallacy, link them to the relevant fallacy to school them in thinky awesomeness and win the intellectual affections of those who happen across your comment by appearing clever and interesting e.g. (rollover/click icons above).


Middle School Science Minute

by Dave Bydlowski (k12science or

The National Science Teachers Association has recently announce its Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12.  In this podcast we look at three more of the books which are very appropriate for students in grades 6 – 8.  They are:

  • Baby Mammoth Mummy Frozen in Time! A Prehistoric Animal’s Journey into the 21st Century
    by Christopher Sloan
  • The Elephant Scientist
    by Caitlin O’Connell and Donna M. Jackson
  • Elephant Talk: The Surprising Science of Elephant Communication
    by Ann Downer



From the Twitterverse:

* Steve ‏ @2learn2

* Leigh Graves Wolf ‏ @gravesle

* Vicki Davis ‏ @coolcatteacher

  • Have discernment! Some ppl make things up! RT @MichaelCatt: If you believe everything you read, you better not read. Japanese Proverb
* Daniel Pink ‏ @DanielPink

* Jane Balvanz ‏ @JaneBalvanz

  • So, what do those “tenured, lazy” educators do w/ their free time? They seek professional development on Twitter, Monday- Sunday.
* Justin ‏ @justinstallings

* Chris Sousa ‏ @csousanh

* Jerry Blumengarten ‏ @cybraryman1

* Ancient Proverbs ‏ @AncientProverbs

  • Excellence is an art won by training & habituation. -Aristotle
* ‏ @androidinabox

  • The new Ainol Novo 7 Aurora with LG IPS display is now available! Come back and order from the following link for…
* ABC News ‏ @ABC

* Richard Byrne ‏ @rmbyrne

* edutopia ‏ @edutopia

Don’t forget to check the #midleved on Twitter for middle school PLN connections!




Can You Make Yourself Smarter?

Psychologists have long regarded intelligence as coming in two flavors: crystallized intelligence, the treasure trove of stored-up information and how-to knowledge (the sort of thing tested on “Jeopardy!” or put to use when you ride a bicycle); and fluid intelligence.

Working memory is more than just the ability to remember a telephone number long enough to dial it; it’s the capacity to manipulate the information you’re holding in your head — to add or subtract those numbers, place them in reverse order or sort them from high to low.
The training tasks generally require only 15 to 25 minutes of work per day, five days a week, and have been found to improve scores on tests of fluid intelligence in as little as four weeks.
But already, people with disorders including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (A.D.H.D.) and traumatic brain injury have seen benefits from training. Gains can persist for up to eight months after treatment.

If measuring intelligence through matrices seems arbitrary, consider how central pattern recognition is to success in life. If you’re going to find buried treasure in baseball statistics to give your team an edge by signing players unappreciated by others, you’d better be good at matrices. If you want to exploit cycles in the stock market, or find a legal precedent in 10 cases, or for that matter, if you need to suss out a woolly mammoth’s nature to trap, kill and eat it — you’re essentially using the same cognitive skills tested by matrices.

N-back challenges users to remember something — the location of a cat or the sound of a particular letter — that is presented immediately before (1-back), the time before last (2-back), the time before that (3-back), and so on. If you do well at 2-back, the computer moves you up to 3-back. Do well at that, and you’ll jump to 4-back. On the other hand, if you do poorly at any level, you’re nudged down a level. The point is to keep the game just challenging enough that you stay fully engaged.

Jaeggi and Buschkuehl gave progressive matrix tests to students at Bern and then asked them to practice the dual N-back for 20 to 25 minutes a day. When they retested them at the end of a few weeks, they were surprised and delighted to find significant improvement.
Play the free on-line version of the N-back game

The study did have its shortcomings. “We used just one reasoning task to measure their performance,” she says. “We showed improvements in this one fluid-reasoning task, which is usually highly correlated with other measures as well.”

For some, the debate is far from settled. Randall Engle, a leading intelligence researcher at the Georgia Tech School of Psychology, views the proposition that I.Q. can be increased through training with a skepticism verging on disdain. “May I remind you of ‘cold fusion’?” he says, referring to the infamous claim, long since discredited, that nuclear fusion could be achieved at room temperature in a desktop device. “People were like, ‘Oh, my God, we’ve solved our energy crisis.’ People were rushing to throw money at that science. Well, not so fast. The military is now preparing to spend millions trying to make soldiers smarter, based on working-memory training. What that one 2008 paper did was to send hundreds of people off on a wild-goose chase, in my opinion.

The most prominent takedown of I.Q. training came in June 2010, when the neuroscientist Adrian Owen published the results of an experiment conducted in coordination with the BBC television show “Bang Goes the Theory.” After inviting British viewers to participate, Owen recruited 11,430 of them to take a battery of I.Q. tests before and after a six-week online program designed to replicate commercially available “brain building” software. (The N-back was not among the tasks offered.) “Although improvements were observed in every one of the cognitive tasks that were trained,” he concluded in the journal Nature, “no evidence was found for transfer effects to untrained tasks, even when those tasks were cognitively closely related.”

While studies of twins suggest that intelligence has a fixed genetic component, at least 20 to 50 percent of the variation in I.Q. is due to other factors, whether social, school or family-based. Even more telling, average I.Q.’s have been rising steadily for a century as access to schooling and technology expands, a phenomenon known as the Flynn Effect.

“We know that height is heavily genetically determined,” Jonides told me during our meeting at the University of Michigan. “But we also know there are powerful environmental influences on height, like nutrition. So the fact that intelligence is partly heritable doesn’t mean you can’t modify it.”

Chein has found, translates into the kind of real-world improvements associated with increases in cognitive capabilities. “We’ve seen, in college kids who do it, improvements in their reading-comprehension scores,” Chein said. “And in a sample of adults, 65 and older, it appears to improve their ability to keep track of what they recently said, so they don’t repeat themselves.”

After eight weeks of training — 75 minutes per day, twice a week — Bunge found that the children in the reasoning group scored, on average, 10 points higher on a nonverbal I.Q. test than they had before the training. Four of the 17 children who played the reasoning games gained an average of more than 20 points. In another study, not yet published, Bunge found improvements in college students preparing to take the LSAT.

Of course, in order to improve, you need to do the training. For some, whether brilliant or not so much, training may simply be too hard — or too boring.




CorePlanner:  Resource tool for teachers planning their lessons around the Common Core Standards.

Compared to:


PBS Kids Cyberchase – Dozens of Math Activities


3D Toad

Putting a spin on Education.

  • Dissections
  • Animal Skeltons
  • Human Skeltons
  • Music
  • Geology
  • TRX Workout
  • Dental Hygiene
  • Coral
  • Yoga
  • Fossils
  • History
  • Ballet Positions
  • Chemistry
  • Emergency Preparedness – Need Sign-in
  • Dental Program – Need Sign-in
  • Computer Networking


Taylor Mali

Mali, a former teacher and now full-time globe-trotting poet/advocate/recruiter for the teaching profession, has followed up his most successful poem with a book of the same title.  I read it in 2 sittings and it made me feel great— it’s a highly recommended “just-cause” or end-of-year gift for a teacher in your life.
The small, novelty-sized hardcover is broken into 26 vignettes, with several of Mali’s poems mixed in. The book has heart and Mali’s love of teaching shines through. What elevatesWhat Teachers Make above the next paean to teachers on the shelf is Mali’s irreverence and a keen ability to tell big stories with short word counts. He also gave me a few ideas for tweaks in my own classroom, most notably in the chapter titled “No One Leaves My Class Early For Any Reason.” I do need to tighten up about that.

YouTube Speech:

Web Spotlight:

33 Animals Who Are Extremely Disappointed In You

Not angry, just disappointed

The 5 Worst Things a Teacher Can Say to Students

By Dan Brown
5. “I know this may seem pointless but we have to get through it…”
4. “I don’t know what I’m doing.”
3. “The other class did well with this. What’s wrong with you guys?”
2. “You will never be able to (fill in the blank).”
1. “I get paid whether you (fill in the blank) or not.”


Test Scores and Housing Costs

Parents hoping to enroll their children in the best public schools have long known that where you live matters and that housing prices can be dictated by the quality of the nearby schools.

That means that a family would have to pay more per year to move into a good public school zone than for their children to attend some private schools. Translated into an average home price, the gap works out to an average of $205,000 more for a home near a high-performing school.

“We think of public education as being free, and we think of the main divide in education between public and private schools,” Mr. Rothwell said in an interview. “But it turns out that it’s actually very expensive to enroll your children in a high- scoring public school.”


A Child’s Helping Hand on Portions

MARSHALL REID, 12, a sixth grader from Sanford, N.C., has a know-it-all quality that can drive some teachers crazy. As he does prep work for a Cuban black-bean stew for his family’s supper, he leans over a cutting board with a self-assured smile and a dramatically furrowed brow.
Marshall had been bullied about his weight for years. To fortify himself for school, he took comfort in breakfasts of cans of roast beef hash, plus biscuits and gravy. That year, the school fitness report said his body mass index was 32.3. He was emphatically obese.
he said, “Mom, let’s do the opposite of ‘Super Size Me’ ” — Morgan Spurlock’s documentary about a McDonald’s-only diet for 30 days — “and be healthy for a month. I’m tired of this.”
Marshall’s sister Jordan, now 15, lives on the other side of the somatotype moon: a relentless soccer player, she inhales junk food but remains thin. Marshall’s father was unable to help much. Army Lt. Col. Dan Reid was in Iraq.
They decided to make YouTube videos of Marshall’s new meals, to share with his father and to keep Marshall on track: see Marshall reading labels on a can of peas at the Piggly Wiggly; discussing how to reduce fat and sugar in recipes; boasting about the taste and healthy balance of his meals.
Turns out that the same know-it-all quality that can irk a child’s teachers finds its natural habitat in how-to videos.

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