Podcast #42 NMSA: Not Much, School Actually.

News & Events: 

1.  Start planning for October’s Month of the Young Adolescent!
2.  Ohio Middle School Association’s Annual Conference, February 19-20, 2009 in Sandusky, OH.  Presenter information is posted on the page.  Download now and get it it in to your administration while they’re too confused and dazed with the opening of school’s events to say, “No.” 
3.  NMSA Annual Conference, October 30 – November 1 (Video sample)
4.  Canadian National Middle Years Conference, November 5, 6, & 7 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
5.  Rick Stiggins has a Balanced Assessment Manifesto posted at NMSA‘s website worth checking out.  
6.  Looking for news from Ontario Middle Level Educators Association.  If you have any, drop us a line. 
7.  Wisconsin Association of Middle Level Educators annual conference is coming up October 9-10, 2008. 
8.  The New England League of Middle Schools has a whole bevy of professional development planned for the 2008-2009 school year and you can access it here
9.  ADVISORY IDEAS NEEDED:  NELMS is putting together an Advisory Resource page with lessons for you to use.  They are asking for submissions here by January 1, 2009.  If your entry is used, you will be entered in a raffle for a 3 day NELMS conference ticket. 
10.  Second Life Education Community Conference (SLEDcc) Announcement:  (From the webpage…) “The Second Life Education Community Conference 2008 will take place in conjunction with the Official Second Life Community Convention 2008 in Tampa, Florida (US) and in the virtual world of Second Life on September 5 – 7th, 2008. All members of the Second Life educational community and anyone with an interest in the use of virtual worlds technology in education is invited to attend! Please note: Registration fees cover both the SLEDcc and SLCC events! Conference registration and fees only apply to those going to SLEDcc/SLCC in Tampa, in-world only participants do not need to register or pay any fees.”  Here’s your chance to attend a free conference during the first week of school.  The conference schedule can be found here.
11.  The Tennessee Association of Middle Schools has announced the results of their election and congratulations to the following:

Congratulations to the newly elected TAMS Board members for 2008-2009:

Vice President: Cedrick Gray, Memphis City
Teacher Rep (West): Trassey Boone, Shelby County
Admin Rep (West): Charlene Thornton, Memphis City
At-Large Rep (West): Jessie Hubbard, Memphis City
Teacher Rep (Middle): Kristi Thone, Williamson Co.
Higher Ed Rep (East): Andrea Stairs, UT Knoxville

12.  NMSA has a Facebook !  They would like to invite you to join them on Facebook and the opportunities it affords. How many of you can reach Facebook through your district’s firewall? 

NMSA to Consider Name Change

The group cited several reasons for the recommendation, but two were considered crucial:

  • To clarify that NMSA provides support and resources to all who are working with young adolescents, no matter what the grade configuration. Because “middle school” is in our name, some assume that our interest is only in middle schools, and that is far from the truth. Our overriding interest is the education of all young adolescents, period.
  • To recognize that while NMSA started in the heartland of the United States, we are no longer “national” in scope. We have members in 45 countries and strong affiliates in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe, so we are in fact an “international” organization.

The name of National Middle School Association belongs to our members, and members will make the ultimate decision about whether we change our name. Therefore, Task Force 2010 was appointed this year to establish a process to gain input from a vast audience about 1) whether we should change our name, 2) what that new name should be, and 3) how we should move from one name to the other. It’s anticipated that such a transition would happen in the year 2010—thus the name of the task force. Ultimately, members would decide through a vote during our annual election.


Ideas (note if any of these actually get used, Troy & I would each like a Kindle presented by Mr. Jack Berckemeyer.):

  • International Middle School Association (too obvious?)
  • International Society of Middle School Professionals
  • Societe Internationale des Professeurs de Middle School
  • Intercontinental Middle School Association
  • Polynational Middle School Association
  • Multinational Middle School Association 
  • Teachers of Transescents (ToTs?  Would those from Idaho be “Tater ToTs?”)
  • Polynational Middle School Association
  • International Congress of Middle School Teachers
  • People for the Ethical Treatment of Adolescents (PETA, hmm, taken?) 
  • Institute for Middle Level Learning
  • Foundation for Middle Level
  • Interstellar Middle School Association (home of the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster – apologies to Douglas Adams)
  • The Association for People Perceived as Not-Normal for Loving the Age-Group Considered Not-Normal  (APPNLACNN)

One Reason to Attend NMSA ’08:
Starting February 12, 2009 and continuing throughout the year will be the bicentennial celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s life and presidency.  The State of Illinois has put together a traveling exhibit on the late president and among the few stops currently scheduled is the NMSA Annual Conference in Denver, Colorado this year.  The exhibit travels in a semi-trailer and has been in several places in Illinois and Missouri.  This may be your chance to see it unless it gets sponsorship to your area I’d imagine.  Want to check it out some more?  Look here.  Poke around for the educational materials on the site as well.  Many places with a Lincoln connection are producing materials for the coming celebration and there should be lots to choose from in the coming days. 

NMSA ’08 Prep Tips

Considering attending NMSA ’08 this year?  A couple of factoids you might want to know:

  • Concessions are at the back of the exhibit hall this year by the NMSA booth and the touring Lincoln Bicentennial truck.  Prepare to be fleeced . . . 
  • There is a business center on site.  They have shipping services so you don’t have to shove your loot into a suitcase and worry about going over the 50 lb. limit or carrying an extra bag on board and paying the additional bag fee. Do make sure to check out the business hours for the business center.  Experience in the past has been waiting until the last moment to ship stuff ends up in a closed business center and an extra bag at the airport check in counter. 
  • Internet is provided solely through the Colorado Convention Center.  Bring your iPhone or join us in calling for Mr. Jack Berckemeyer to provide us with Kindle units so we can download the entire conference handout library and access it as we go throughout the conference.  (You should know, however, that neither of us has spoken to Mr. Berckemeyer about providing such a unit.  But it would be nice and if anybody could make such a thing happen . . . )
  • Check out the NMSA conference website for housing, in my experience it generally tends to be a better price than going to the hotel directly. 

Service Learning Projects Grant
Looking for something for Advisory?  What about having your students take the lead on a service learning project and having it funded by State Farm?  State Farm Insurance is funding 30 of these types of projects through a Youth Advisory Board.  Details on the grants can be found here at their website. 

“Gotta have this!” Tech Moment:  

World’s smallest projector can project a 40″ inch screen with VGA quality.  Reinforces the need to teach presentation skills in that our students will be giving presentations from their cell phones in the near future.  Product is now out on the market. 

Sneaking Suspicion:  Does anyone else get the feeling that a large part of incorporating computers in education has been only in creating redundancy for bureaucratic regulations?  Just wondering . . . (First you enter this in the ‘puter, then print three copies, one for C.O., one for the Secretary, and one for your personal file …) 

Shout outs:

  1. Mary Henton from Ohio, thanks for the email and the link! 
  2. Tom, we love ISTE members too!  Glad you caught us in Second Life through our link in the ISTE Blogger’s Hut.  Thanks to ISTE for putting a link in their Second Life location for us. 
  3. Michael Cohen, thanks for the feedback and suggestions from your laundry buddies! 
  4. Brad Emerson, thanks for the heads up on the Kid’s Open Dictionary Builder.  Go check it out! 

Postyourtest.com raises concerns

In effect, the programs aim to pinpoint how each student’s mind processes information, then prescribe a solution that is targeted specifically to the individual.
“These questions begin the search for patterns in the student’s learning processes,” said Jensen. “We’re moving away from the wait-to-fail approach. With MindLadder’s reach-to-teach model, schools can anticipate, recognize, address, and document student learning needs and match them up, without delay, with specific and effective instruction.”
When the teacher has completed the LearningGuide, each function of the student’s mind is color-coded according to what must be developed (urgent), what must be strengthened, and what could be built upon (good). (See image below)
“Before, only school psychologists could complete these kinds of tests, and it would only be for troubled students. Now, the test is simple enough for any teacher to use and understand, and [it] can be used for all students to best help them learn,” Jensen said.
“This is not meant to replace traditional testing,” Jensen said. “Instead, it is a whole new way of looking at assessments. The teacher is a mentor, not just an examiner. The test, along with the guide, measures students’ growth over time, allowing them to be the best learner they can be.”
“Most of us were taught, implicitly or explicitly, that intelligence was a fixed entity, thanks in part to the proliferation of IQ tests and classification of students’ potential to learn over the last 50 years,” Pennington explains. “We need to throw away those old perceptions and embrace the idea that we can teach in ways that enhance students’ ability to think and learn, making mastery of any content standards possible.”