Sunday, March 27, 2011

One Day!

Love this song! 
It really speaks to me as a middle school educator! If you decide to purchase his album, proceeds will help the Japanese Red Cross!
Other Artists are doing this as well on iTunes.

Who is Matisyahu?

Matisyahu emerged in 2004 with his debut album, Shake Off the Dust. Here was a Hasidic Jew -- dressed in a black suit with a broad-brimmed black hat worn over a yarmulke, and sporting a full, untrimmed beard -- who nevertheless performed toasting raps about the glories of traditional Judaism over reggae beats in a dancehall style directly from Jamaica (Source:

Please share the songs that inspire you?

Love CNN Student News!

This is a great site for keeping students up to date on current events. What does your school do to keep students aware of world events?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

21 Things That Will Be Obsolete by 2020

By Tina Barseghian
Inspired by Sandy Speicher’s vision of the designed school day of the future, reader Shelly Blake-Plock shared his own predictions of that ideal day. How close are we to this? The post was written in December 2009, and Blake-Plock says he’s seeing some of these already beginning to come to fruition. [Update: I asked Shelly Blake-Plock to respond to comments to this post. Read it here.]
By Shelly Blake-Plock

The 21st century does not fit neatly into rows. Neither should your students. Allow the network-based concepts of flow, collaboration, and dynamism help you rearrange your room for authentic 21st century learning.


Foreign language acquisition is only a smartphone away. Get rid of those clunky desktops and monitors and do something fun with that room.


Ok, so this is a trick answer. More precisely this one should read: ‘Our concept of what a computer is’. Because computing is going mobile and over the next decade we’re going to see the full fury of individualized computing via handhelds come to the fore. Can’t wait.


The 21st century is a 24/7 environment. And the next decade is going to see the traditional temporal boundaries between home and school disappear. And despite whatever Secretary Duncan might say, we don’t need kids to ‘go to school’ more; we need them to ‘learn’ more. And this will be done 24/7 and on the move (see #3).


The AP Exam is on its last legs. The SAT isn’t far behind. Over the next ten years, we will see Digital Portfolios replace test scores as the #1 factor in college admissions.


The 21st century is customizable. In ten years, the teacher who hasn’t yet figured out how to use tech to personalize learning will be the teacher out of a job. Differentiation won’t make you ‘distinguished’; it’ll just be a natural part of your work.


Wikipedia is the greatest democratizing force in the world right now. If you are afraid of letting your students peruse it, it’s time you get over yourself.


Books were nice. In ten years’ time, all reading will be via digital means. And yes, I know, you like the ‘feel’ of paper. Well, in ten years’ time you’ll hardly tell the difference as ‘paper’ itself becomes digitized.


Bio scans. ‘Nuff said.


A coat-check, maybe.


Ok, so this is another trick answer. More subtly put: IT Departments as we currently know them. Cloud computing and a decade’s worth of increased wifi and satellite access will make some of the traditional roles of IT — software, security, and connectivity — a thing of the past. What will IT professionals do with all their free time? Innovate. Look to tech departments to instigate real change in the function of schools over the next twenty years.


School buildings are going to become ‘homebases’ of learning, not the institutions where all learning happens. Buildings will get smaller and greener, student and teacher schedules will change to allow less people on campus at any one time, and more teachers and students will be going out into their communities to engage in experiential learning.


Education over the next ten years will become more individualized, leaving the bulk of grade-based learning in the past. Students will form peer groups by interest and these interest groups will petition for specialized learning. The structure of K-12 will be fundamentally altered.


This is actually one that could occur over the next five years. Education Schools have to realize that if they are to remain relevant, they are going to have to demand that 21st century tech integration be modeled by the very professors who are supposed to be preparing our teachers.


No one knows your school as well as you. With the power of a PLN (professional learing networks) in their back pockets, teachers will rise up to replace peripatetic professional development gurus as the source of schoolwide professional development programs. This is already happening.


There is no reason why every student needs to take however many credits in the same course of study as every other student. The root of curricular change will be the shift in middle schools to a role as foundational content providers and high schools as places for specialized learning.


Ongoing parent-teacher relations in virtual reality will make parent-teacher conference nights seem quaint. Over the next ten years, parents and teachers will become closer than ever as a result of virtual communication opportunities. And parents will drive schools to become ever more tech integrated.


Nutrition information + handhelds + cost comparison = the end of $3.00 bowls of microwaved mac and cheese. At least, I so hope so.


You need a website/brochure/promo/etc.? Well, for goodness sake just let your kids do it. By the end of the decade — in the best of schools — they will be.


Within the decade, it will either become the norm to teach this course in middle school or we’ll have finally woken up to the fact that there’s no reason to give algebra weight over statistics and I.T. in high school for non-math majors (and they will have all taken it in middle school anyway).


In ten years’ time, schools will decrease their paper consumption by no less than 90%. And the printing industry and the copier industry and the paper industry itself will either adjust or perish.
Read more in the School Day of the Future series.
What do you think? 
Any predictions you think should be added?
 Thanks Tiffany and Bill for sharing this with me.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Some Interesting Teacher Tools!

Here are some sites that were recently shared with me. They were presented at a recent Social Studies Professional Development event here in our county. I want to thank Dr. Stout, Mr. Coffman and Ms. Joanna Tanner for sharing these links with me. I love to explore new teacher tools and add them to my I thought you might like some new links to explore, too. --an interactive version of wordle where you can zoom in on specific words, could work well for a preview of a lesson (type in all the words you want kids to know from your unit and have them look at the tagxedo for prominent words). --students can create cartoons using stock characters, good end of lesson assessment. --students can create movies where the characters talk to one another. Could be useful for anything that would be best explained by characters. I see many potential uses for this. -- use cell phones to cast your vote. While we can't use this in class as an all student response system, we could potentially use it in assemblies for parents. People could "text in" their questions or give immediate feedback in a way that might be more engaging than the typical feedback form. --post a picture and kids record themselves commenting on it--foreign language teachers? --virtual bulletin board kids can post to. --allows users to annotate Google Maps with text, shapes, images--- I see major social studies potential here. -- students create what looks like a clip from a newspaper. Could be a good way to spice up a summary writing assignment.  --create photo books.

Joanna, thanks again for sharing this with me!

March Madness Comes to WLMS!

 Tiger Shark Pride!

Last night, we held our third annual March Madness 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament and Family Wellness Event at the school. We had over 300 families, friends and supporters of WLMS attend this event. I am happy to report that this broke last year's attendance record by over 100 people! The proceeds from this tournament are used to purchase books and other materials for our media center.

I want to congratulate Ms. McNeill-McBrien, Ms. Todd and Mr. Spicher for doing such an outstanding job organizing this event and to all of the PTSA volunteers who helped make this tournament such a huge success. In addition, I want to commend our very talented student musicians who performed during the tournament under the direction of our very own Mr. Messick! I believe this is the first-ever Pep Band WLMS has ever had! Great job!

I also want to thank Mr. Todd, Principal of Running Brook Elementary, Mr. Martin, Principal of Bryant Woods Elementary, and Mr. Walsh for playing on my team. It was a blast playing with these scholar athletes and showing the WLMS students that old guys can play, too.

I also want to thank the Book Ladies for making an appearance at the tournament last night. As you might recall, the Book Lady is somewhat a celebrity at our school. She is a famous rapper, book reader, TV personality and now basketball player. She came to support the cause and brought two of her friends! Simply AMAZING! ; )

Thanks to everyone who played, cheered, performed and attended last night! And a special shout-out to the 2011 tournament champions - the Souljas!
Kyree Press
Jarrett Cromarti
Kenaurd Tharpe
Nasir Robinson


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Facebook Users Who Are Under Age Raise Concerns - NY Times Article

SAN FRANCISCO — The fake ID has gone digital, and spread to elementary school. 

Across the nation, millions of young people are lying about their ages so they can create accounts on popular sites like Facebook and Myspace. These sites require users to be 13 or older, to avoid federal regulations that apply to sites with younger members. But to children, that rule is a minor obstacle that stands between them and what everybody else is doing.

Parents regularly go along with the age inflation, giving permission and helping children set up accounts. They often see it as a minor fib that is necessary to let their children participate in the digital world.

Plenty of people fudge the truth about their age, whether to buy beer or project a younger image to potential mates. But researchers and other critics say allowing children to break the rules sends the wrong message. And, they argue, it sets children loose in a digital world they may not be prepared for — exposing them to the real-life threats of inappropriate content, contact from strangers and the growing incidents of bullying by computer.

“Not only are kids lying about their age, but more often than not, parents teach them to lie about their age,” said Danah Boyd, a social media researcher at Microsoft.

Ms. Boyd said this ran counter to the goal of getting parents more constructively involved in children’s online activities, which was one aim of the legislation that spawned the age restrictions in the first place.

At the same time, the practice is hard to stop, say Web sites and federal officials. Sites try to catch under-age users — “We are not burying our head in the sand,” said Joe Sullivan, the chief security officer at Facebook — but verifying a young person’s age over the Internet is a task that ranges from tricky to near impossible.

Cristina Flores, 44, a nurse in San Francisco, said she had decided to allow her 11-year-old son to get onto Facebook rather than deny it to him and risk that he would sign up behind her back. Besides, she said, she did not realize there were any age restrictions on the site.

“It’s not like there’s a legal age limit for being on the Internet,” Ms. Flores said.

Her son Jake said he had told Facebook that he was 15: “I just picked something random.”

In one of Jake’s fifth-grade classes at Commodore Sloat Elementary school, 15 of the 30 students said they had Facebook accounts.

“And you should see all the third-graders who are on,” said Aundrea Kaune, the class’s teacher. Last year, she went onto Facebook and was shocked by how many students from the school were there.

“It’s lying — and about age,” Ms. Kaune said. “What happens when they want to drink beer?”

The risks for under-age members of social networks are not theoretical. Hemanshu Nigam, the former chief security officer of Myspace, who now runs an Internet safety consulting business, recounted a recent incident from his business. In New York State, he said, an 11-year-old boy accepted a friend request on Facebook from a girl in his class. But the girl’s account was fake, and the person behind it began posting images of the boy on sex-oriented sites, along with nasty comments.

When the boy’s images started showing up in Google searches, the school suspected that he had posted them and summoned his parents. Other children began picking on him.

“It can be a living nightmare for an 11-year-old who just wanted to hang out with his friends,” Mr. Nigam said.

In 2006, 31 percent of 12-year-olds in the United States were using social networks, according to the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project. That figure grew to 38 percent by mid-2009, when the survey was last conducted.

ComScore, a firm that measures Internet traffic, estimates that 3.6 million of Facebook’s 153 million monthly visitors in this country are under 12. Some of those visitors may not have Facebook accounts and may simply be visiting public pages, comScore said. (It reached that figure by cross-referencing its own traffic analysis with household demographics.)

Internet companies have set up the rules against under-age users because they must comply with the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, passed in 1998, which says Web sites that collect information from children younger than 13 must obtain parental consent.

Obtaining that consent is complex and expensive, so companies like Facebook and Google, which owns YouTube, reject anyone who tries to sign up using an age below 13. Google, Facebook and Yahoo all declined to talk about how many children jump the barriers, but they say they try to enforce the rules.

Mr. Sullivan of Facebook said the company blocked new registrations or deleted the accounts of thousands of under-age users every day.

But some children’s advocates say these companies are not publicly owning up to the scope of the problem.

To read more:

More Motivational MSA Videos!

Love these! Great job! Thanks Geordie and Robert for sharing theses videos with me.

Friday, March 4, 2011

MSA Rap: World Premiere of the Book Lady and the WLMS Rapsters

We have been working hard this year...
I know our students are going to try their best!!!

Thanks to Vanilla Ice and the Boys Choir of Harlem for their inspiration.