MSM-104-The Terrible 2’s (There are 52 weeks in a year . . . well, you get it.)


Buddaist Monk walks into a restaurant. What can I get you?
Make me one with everything.
Thanks Steven

On Our Mind:

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From the Twitterverse:


Masters of Disaster:

Try this with your Advisory:
tremellino Three Swedish switched witches watch three Swiss Swatch watch switches. Which Swedish switched witch watch which Swiss Swatch watch switch?


A National Yardstick for Gauging Math Progress

States Show Uneven Performance; Even Top Achievers Fall Short

By Christopher B. Swanson

To complement Quality Counts 2010’s exploration of reinvigorated interest in common standards and assessments on the national stage, the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center conducted an original analysis intended to help ground these dynamic debates in a firm understanding of state performance in one core academic area.

Geography matters. Where a student lives affects his or her chances of benefiting from known correlates of achievement and attainment. Those would include exposure to a middle school curriculum that places students on track for advanced coursetaking during high school, as well as the opportunity to learn from experienced and well-qualified math teachers.
For example, only one out of five students nationally attends a school where taking algebra by the 8th grade is the norm. However, the index shows tremendous cross-state variability in this opportunity indicator, with virtually no 8th graders attending such schools in some states, compared with more than half in California.
A closer investigation of Math Progress Index data reveals that states where poor students have more-equal access to experienced math teachers also tend to post significantly smaller math-achievement gaps. This is, just to be clear, correlation and not causation.[MF4Qzo6orsW67cZxBzNGAHZdia9LvSag4Z

Debunking the Case for National Standards

By Alfie Kohn

I keep thinking it can’t get much worse, and then it does.
A decade ago, many of us thought we had hit bottom—until the floor gave way and we found ourselves in a basement we didn’t know existed. Now every state had to test every student every year in grades 3-8, judging them (and their schools) almost exclusively by test scores and hurting the schools that needed the most help. Ludicrously unrealistic proficiency targets suggested that the federal law responsible was intended to sabotage rather than improve public education.

  • Let’s be clear about this latest initiative, which is being spearheaded by politicians, corporate CEOs, and companies that produce standardized tests. First, what they’re trying to sell us are national standards. They carefully point out that the effort isn’t driven by the federal government. But if all, or nearly all, states end up adopting identical mandates, that distinction doesn’t amount to much.
  • Second, these standards will inevitably be accompanied by a national standardized test.
  • Third, a relatively small group of experts—far from classrooms—will be designing standards, test questions, and curricula for the rest of us.

Advocates of national standards say they want all (American) students to attain excellence, no matter where they happen to live. The problem is that excellence is being confused with entirely different attributes, such as uniformity, rigor, specificity, and victory.

…common-core-standards Web site, don’t bother looking for words like “exploration,” “intrinsic motivation,” “developmentally appropriate,” or “democracy.” Instead, the very first sentence contains the phrase “success in the global economy,” followed immediately by “America’s competitive edge.”

Yes, we want excellent teaching and learning for all—although our emphasis should be less on achievement (read: test scores) than on students’ achievements. Offered a list of standards, we should scrutinize each one, but also ask who came up with them and for what purpose. Is there room for discussion and disagreement—and not just by experts—regarding what, and how, we’re teaching and how authentic our criteria are for judging success? Or is this a matter of “obey or else,” with tests to enforce compliance?

Walnut school adds iPod touch to three Rs

By Caroline An, Staff Writer

With their headphones and iPod Touch machines on, Beatrice Azanza’s 20 third grade students were geared up for an afternoon of reading and math.
After a lesson on addition and subtraction, Azanza’s students can get on the iPod Touch, launch the Basic Math application, and test how quickly they can solve a set of problems. The fun, Azanza said, is endless.
In September, Azanza’s class was chosen for a pilot program to gauge if students’ English comprehension and fluency improved with daily use of the iPod Touch. Oswalt Academy is already using technology in the classrooms, having implemented a One to One Laptop Learning Program two years ago. Currently, fifth through seventh grade students use computers with pre-loaded textbooks and other applications, said Astrid Ramirez, Oswalt’s principal. Oswalt was recently named one of eight schools in California as an Apple Distinguished School.

Azanza said to help students improve their reading and comprehension skills, she will have to listen to a book on iPod Touch so they can hear the different intonations and where the pauses are. After that, the students will record themselves reading the same story.

The idea is to have an audio archive so students can hear how they have improved over the weeks.

“It’s also for the parents, too. I’m going to play them during parents conferences so they hear their child’s progress,” she said.

Epson has new “short throw” data projectors.


Teaching in 4-D:  Rick Wormeli Closing Keynote
What elements of This We Believe have we really integrated into our teaching?
We teach in ways they best learn, not we best learn.
Teachers have their own secret code so the kids don’t know what’s going on:  Cursive.
We don’t settle for this reality in exchange of a potential reality.
“I don’t know” gets the response of “If you did know, what would you say?”
Fine arts gives dimension and meaning!
Kids need to eat every 90 mins. or they lose cognition.
Irritability is the first sign of dehydration.
Mantra of the middle school teacher is “Let me get out of the way.”  Open up all the possibilities for our students to express what they have learned.
(example:  juggling illustration of ethos, pathos, and logos.)
We need to teach our kids how to ask good questions.  Really GOOD questions.
Thems that ask the questions are doin’ the learning!
Teach in different ways.
How would you teach if you couldn’t give homework?
How would you teach if there wasn’t long term memory?
Concerned with the demonization of failure.
Differentiate the assessment if the assessment is not the product.
The person who never makes mistakes takes his orders from one who does.
Go beyond the “Gotcha/Caughtcha” mentality.
Rim Waver:  the child digs a pit and the teacher stands at the rim and waves . . .
Your job is to jump into the pit and tell the kid, “I’ve been here before.  I know the way out.”
Our commission:  I teach so that you can learn.
Let them redo.  Every real world test does!
Make them do a letter about what they learned if they do a redo
Make it a learning experience (a small hassle) to redo, but let them redo.
Get them to get permission from their parent to do a redo.
Charge $5.00 to do a redo and finance the budget.
Courage is not the absence of fear, it is the judgement that something else is more important than that fear.  (Horace Redmoon?)
There is a democratization of knowledge.
Kids can check your facts.
We do all this stuff together.
We become a bright, shining community …
Full use of personal technology!
Facebook, MySpace:  We’re creating an online culture where people only visit sites that are familiar.
We need to expose our students to multiple sources of information.
Join a listserv (MiddleTalk Rules!)
Write a letter to yourself about all you learned here at the conference and then seal it in an envelope and give it to a friend to mail to you in six months as a
way to re-ignite the fire from the conference.
… that can become the echo (slide changes before I can finish …)
Doubt is the compass rose to an educator.
Who’s voice is not being heard?
How do our metaphors limit us?
Core classes (What are the others then?)
LD  (Learn Differently or Learning Disabled?)
What is the role of homework?
Does it matter WHEN he learns it?
The General Westmoreland paratrooper story.
We need to hang out with the folks who inspire us to be better teachers.
Fight the good fight more than 50% of the time.
Go out and ask the important questions and inspire the next generation.
This, we believe . . .
Video:  The Perfect Teacher, an Instructional Lesson in …  Instruction!
Sound of Music clip.

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 Ohio Middle Level Association will hold their annual conference February 18 & 19, 2010. Jack Berckemeyer will be keynoting.
  • Second Life:
  • Google Teacher Academy for Administrators: “We’re very excited to announce our first ever Google Teacher Academy for Administrators.  Since many of you have been asking for a GTA for Admins for a while, we’ve decided to host the first one immediately preceding the ASCD conference, on Friday, March 5th in San Antonio, Texas.  As you might know, the Google Teacher Academy for Administrators is a FREE professional development experience designed to help K-12 educational leaders get the most from innovative technologies. Each Academy is an intensive, one-day event where participants get hands-on experience with Google’s free products and other technologies, learn about innovative instructional strategies, receive resources to share with colleagues, and learn how to apply examples from our innovative corporate environment.  Potential applicants include educational leaders or decision makers including (but not limited to) school principals, assistant principals, state, county or district superintendents, technology directors or coordinators, and CTOs who actively serve K-12 teachers and students.  For more information, please check out:
    Apply before midnight, January 25th here: “