Saturday, August 27, 2011

An Amazing Use of iPods! You Have to See This!

Marco Tempest: The magic of truth and lies (and iPods)

As Hurricane Irene's Eye heads towards us tonight, I am grateful to be with my family and the ability to watch videos from TED! Where ever you are tonight, I hope you are safe and dry!

Goodnight Irene! Please spare us loss of life and major damage!

South Korea classrooms to go fully digital by 2015

To see the Reuters Video Clip, click here:


Friday, August 26, 2011

Beloit College's 2011 Mindset List

Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Mindset List, providing a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college each fall.

It was originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references, and quickly became a catalog of the rapidly changing worldview of each new generation.

1. There has always been an Internet ramp onto the information highway.
2. Ferris Bueller and Sloane Peterson could be their parents.
3. States and Velcro parents have always been requiring that they wear their bike helmets.
4. The only significant labor disputes in their lifetimes have been in major league sports.
5. There have always been at least two women on the Supreme Court, and women have always commanded U.S. Navy ships.
6. They “swipe” cards, not merchandise.
7. As they’ve grown up on websites and cell phones, adult experts have constantly fretted about their alleged deficits of empathy and concentration.
8. Their school’s “blackboards” have always been getting smarter.
9. “Don’t touch that dial!”….what dial?
10. American tax forms have always been available in Spanish.
11. More Americans have always traveled to Latin America than to Europe.
12. Amazon has never been just a river in South America.
13. Refer to LBJ, and they might assume you’re talking about LeBron James.
14. All their lives, Whitney Houston has always been declaring “I Will Always Love You.”
15. O.J. Simpson has always been looking for the killers of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman.
16. Women have never been too old to have children.
17. Japan has always been importing rice.
18. Jim Carrey has always been bigger than a pet detective.
19. We have never asked, and they have never had to tell.
20. Life has always been like a box of chocolates.
21. They’ve always gone to school with Mohammed and Jesus.
22. John Wayne Bobbitt has always slept with one eye open.
23. There has never been an official Communist Party in Russia.
24. “Yadda, yadda, yadda” has always come in handy to make long stories short.
25. Video games have always had ratings.
26. Chicken soup has always been soul food.
27. The Rocky Horror Picture Show has always been available on TV.
28. Jimmy Carter has always been a smiling elderly man who shows up on TV to promote fair elections and disaster relief.
29. Arnold Palmer has always been a drink.
30. Dial-up is soooooooooo last century!
31. Women have always been kissing women on television.
32. Their older siblings have told them about the days when Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera were Mouseketeers.
33. Faux Christmas trees have always outsold real ones.
34. They’ve always been able to dismiss boring old ideas with “been there, done that, gotten the T-shirt.”
35. The bloody conflict between the government and a religious cult has always made Waco sound a little whacko.
36. Unlike their older siblings, they spent bedtime on their backs until they learned to roll over.
37. Music has always been available via free downloads.
38. Grown-ups have always been arguing about health care policy.
39. Moderate amounts of red wine and baby aspirin have always been thought good for the heart.
40. Sears has never sold anything out of a Big Book that could also serve as a doorstop.
41. The United States has always been shedding fur.
42. Electric cars have always been humming in relative silence on the road.
43. No longer known for just gambling and quickie divorces, Nevada has always been one of the fastest growing states in the Union.
44. They’re the first generation to grow up hearing about the dangerous overuse of antibiotics.
45. They pressured their parents to take them to Taco Bell or Burger King to get free pogs.
46. Russian courts have always had juries.
47. No state has ever failed to observe Martin Luther King Day.
48. While they’ve been playing outside, their parents have always worried about nasty new bugs borne by birds and mosquitoes.
49. Public schools have always made space available for advertising.
50. Some of them have been inspired to actually cook by watching the Food Channel.
51. Fidel Castro’s daughter and granddaughter have always lived in the United States.
52. Their parents have always been able to create a will and other legal documents online.
53. Charter schools have always been an alternative.
54. They’ve grown up with George Stephanopoulos as the Dick Clark of political analysts.
55. New kids have always been known as NKOTB.
56. They’ve always wanted to be like Shaq or Kobe: Michael Who?
57. They’ve often broken up with their significant others via texting, Facebook, or MySpace.
58. Their parents sort of remember Woolworths as this store that used to be downtown.
59. Kim Jong-il has always been bluffing, but the West has always had to take him seriously.
60. Frasier, Sam, Woody and Rebecca have never Cheerfully frequented a bar in Boston during primetime.
61. Major League Baseball has never had fewer than three divisions and never lacked a wild card entry in the playoffs.
62. Nurses have always been in short supply.
63. They won’t go near a retailer that lacks a website.
64. Altar girls have never been a big deal.
65. When they were 3, their parents may have battled other parents in toy stores to buy them a Tickle Me Elmo while they lasted.
66. It seems the United States has always been looking for an acceptable means of capital execution.
67. Folks in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have always been able to energize with Pepsi Cola.
68. Andy Warhol is a museum in Pittsburgh.
69. They’ve grown up hearing about suspiciously vanishing frogs.
70. They’ve always had the privilege of talking with a chatterbot.
71. Refugees and prisoners have always been housed by the U.S. government at Guantanamo.
72. Women have always been Venusians; men, Martians.
73. McDonalds coffee has always been just a little too hot to handle.
74. “PC” has come to mean Personal Computer, not Political Correctness.
75. The New York Times and the Boston Globe have never been rival newspapers.

Copyright© 2011 Beloit College

New Student Orientation is a HUGE Success!

We welcomed over 190 sixth graders and their families yesterday. Here are some pictures from our opening session!

A 10-minute rule for homework

How much is enough? "The research is consistent with the '10-minute rule,' or about 10 minutes of homework each night for each grade (20 minutes for second grade, 50 minutes for fifth grade, and so on)," says Harris Cooper, a professor of psychology and neurobiology at Duke University and author of The Battle Over Homework.
More than two hours a night total for high school students is not associated with higher achievement, he says. Cooper offers other advice as well:


Be a stage manager. Make sure your child has a quiet, well-lit place to do homework, with needed materials (paper, pencils, dictionary) available.

Be a motivator. It's a great opportunity for you to tell your child how important school is. Be positive about homework.

Be a role model. When your child does homework, don't watch TV. If your child is reading, you read, too. If your child is doing math, balance your checkbook. Help your child see that the skills they are practicing are related to things you do as an adult.

Be a monitor. Watch your child for signs of failure and frustration. If your child asks for help, provide guidance, not answers. If frustration sets in, suggest a short break.

Be a mentor. If the teacher asks you to play a role in homework, do it. If homework is meant to be done alone, stay away. Don't teach your child that when the going gets tough, Mom (or Dad) gets going.

TIPS FOR TEACHERS(and things for parents to look for)

Give the right amount of homework. Overloading students with too much homework can be counterproductive at all ages.

Keep parents informed. Let parents know the purpose of homework and what your class rules are.

Vary the homework. Homework is a great way for kids to practice things learned by rote (spelling, math facts, foreign language). It is also a great way to show kids that what they learn in school applies to things they enjoy at home (calculating batting averages, reading the back of a cereal box). Mix it up.

Never give homework as punishment. That implies that you think schoolwork is aversive. Children will pick this up.

For more information about Howard County Public School's Homework Guidelines, click here:

Homework's balancing act: What's the right amount?

By Michelle Healy, USA TODAY

Homework's balancing act: What's the right amount? -

Life is pretty stress-free these days at the Coffman home in Alexandria, Va. Noah, 11, is busy hanging out with his grandmother, Jan Jackson, visiting from Indiana. On their agenda: the skatepark, movies, shopping, a few days at the beach, lunch with Mom near her office building.

But soon, Grandma Jan will head home; summer break will end; and Noah's sixth grade will get into full swing, which means homework — and the stress, long hours, and uncertainty that can come with it.
Noah's mom, Lisa, doesn't recall her own elementary-school homework as stressful: "Sure, you had it, but it was simply reinforcement of what you did during the day."

Now, as a parent, "depending on the night, it's all over the spectrum — too little, too much. Sometimes it's almost like an additional unit that the teacher didn't get a chance to get into during the day."

On especially challenging nights last year, Lisa and her husband, Greg, would joke: "We're not in fifth grade anymore. Why are we tripping about this?" she says with a laugh.
Across the country, discussions about homework loads and how they're weighted in students' overall grades are hot topics among parents and within school districts.

The nation's second-largest school system, the Los Angeles Unified School District, downgraded the importance of homework to no more than 10% of a student's final grade. The stated goal: to base students' grades on what they know, not on assignments for outside class.

That was May. In July, the system, responding to criticism, rescinded the policy.
Public opinion on homework moves in cycles, and "at the moment, we're in a 'too much' cycle," says Harris Cooper, a homework researcher and professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University.

Two main factors fuel today's cycle, he says: intense pressure on educators to meet national testing standards, and some parents' belief that excessive homework is synonymous with a rigorous education, which will get their children into select colleges and universities. 

But his review of research shows that too much homework can cause student burnout — and no higher grades.

It also "robs kids of downtime, family time, sleep and the opportunity to do a lot of the other things that families say are important for their children to having a balanced life," says Cathy Vatterott, associate professor of education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and author of Rethinking Homework.

Homework's real value is in "reinforcing or practicing skills already learned and giving (teachers) feedback to check for understanding," says Vatterott, a former teacher and principal who trains teachers on creating meaningful homework.

"There's a lot of bad homework," she says. "It's often busy work, or it's made intentionally difficult or long."
Some education advocates and teachers believe homework kills interest in learning, and schools would be more effective with absolutely no homework. But Vatterott believes most parents are not comfortable eliminating homework. "They feel that it is important for children to learn how to work on their own, and that practice is necessary to develop and refine intellectual skills." 

Come September, Lisa Coffman will take comfort in knowing that her son, so far, seems less stressed about homework than do his parents. "If he has to do it, he tolerates it," she says. "It's part of his job."

For more information about Howard County Public School's Homework Guidelines, click here:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

We are Back! Shakened, but not Stirred!

We are back! The WLMS staff is preparing to welcome more than 530 middle school students next week. As if the start of a new school year isn't exciting enough, Mother Nature decided to ramp it up a bit yesterday with an earthquake.  I am convinced it was caused by the amazing professional development that was taking place here at the time. Our presentations really shook things up!

I am happy to report that while our school shaked, rattled and rolled, we did not sustain any injuries to staff or damage to the building. We continue to make preparations for our new student orientation and open house that are scheduled for tomorrow.

Way to Go Noah!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Fun Theory: Can Fun Change Human Behavior for the Better?

The Fun Theory is dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behavior for the better. Be it for yourself, for the environment, or for something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that it’s change for the better.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Teach Every Child About Food

Jamie Oliver has been drawn to the kitchen since he was a child working in his father's pub-restaurant. He showed not only a precocious culinary talent but also a passion for creating (and talking about) fresh, honest, delicious food. In the past decade, the shaggy-haired "Naked Chef" of late-'90s BBC2 has built a worldwide media conglomerate of TV shows, books, cookware and magazines, all based on a formula of simple, unpretentious food that invites everyone to get busy in the kitchen. And as much as his cooking is generous, so is his business model -- his Fifteen Foundation, for instance, trains young chefs from challenged backgrounds to run four of his restaurants.

Now, Oliver is using his fame and charm to bring attention to the changes that Brits and Americans need to make in their lifestyles and diet. Campaigns such as Jamie's School Dinner, Ministry of Food and Food Revolution USA combine Oliver’s culinary tools, cookbooks and television, with serious activism and community organizing -- to create change on both the individual and governmental level. (Source: TED bio)

The Deskless Teacher

By David Ginsburg, Education Week Teacher
July 30, 2011

Being anal retentive may not win you friends, but it sure pays off in the classroom where you're doomed if you're disorganized. Yet even if you're not a neat freak by nature, you can maximize teaching and learning time by disorganization-proofing your classroom. I previously suggested you do this by wearing everyday supplies in a tool belt--or smock or whatever suits your style. And now some suggestions for managing everyday paperwork.

Between lesson plans, handouts, student work, notes from parents, permission slips, and main-office mail, most teachers are swamped with papers every day--even in today's world of cloud computing, mobile technology, and electronic gradebooks. So many papers from so many people and places that it's hard for even the tidiest teachers to keep those papers from piling up. That's why a lot of teachers' desks look like they've just been ransacked, and why a lot of teachers are leafing through stacks of paper when they should be teaching. To prevent such inefficiency, you need a system for processing all those papers. Not just a couple of trays that make your desk look neater, but a system that lets you focus more on teaching and less on handling or searching for documents. Here are some components of such a system:

  1. In- and out-trays for student work. Arrange two sets of stackable trays, one for students to turn papers in onClassroom Paper Storage - In Out Trays.jpg their way in and out of class (and for you to place papers in that you collect during class) and the other for you to store graded papers until you return them, on a table along the side wall near the entrance to your classroom. You'll need a pair of trays for each class period or for each subject if you teach in a self-contained classroom.
  2. Folders for daily instructional documents. Tape heavy duty expandable file folders, one per subject you teach, to the sides of your projector cart if you have one--otherwise go with a table or the side of a file cabinet. At the start of each day, load the folders with lesson plans, handouts, and any other documents you'll need during class that day--separated by dividers inside each folder. This simple idea will do for your daily documents what a tool belt will do for your daily supplies: move them from a remote cabinet or cluttered desk to your fingertips.
  3. Containers for administrative documents. Arrange a row of trays or baskets on a table near the entrance to your classroom. Or, better yet, Classroom Paper Storage - File holders.jpg prevent trays/baskets from being knocked over and save floor space by mounting plastic wall file holders--available at most office supplies stores--to the wall. You'll need a separate container for each category of administrative papers. Here's a possible breakdown:
    • Students - Urgent. Notes from parents, field trip permission slips, and any other papers students need you to return to them by the end of class. Instruct students to deposit these documents into this box instead of dropping them on your desk or handing them to you. Then, at an opportune time, you can retrieve, review, and return these papers.
    • Students - Non-urgent. Tardy slips and any other papers submitted by students for your records only. Again, instruct students to place these papers directly into this container so that you don't misplace them or waste class time handling them.
    • Miscellaneous - Urgent. Memos, phone messages, and any other papers from your mailbox that require your prompt attention, but not during class time.
    • Miscellaneous - Non-urgent. Magazines, brochures, newsletters, handouts from workshops, and any other materials that you'd like to read or file but are not time-sensitive.

  4. Calendar and containers for past assignments and handouts. Students returning from absences are entitled to know what you covered while they were gone. They should not, however, be entitled to interrupt you or their classmates to get caught up. Some teachers prevent this by maintaining a class website where students can access assignments. But if students can't always access your website or you don't have one, consider recording lesson topics and assignments (color coded for each subject) on a monthly planning calendar along the side wall near the entrance to your classroom. Be sure to laminate your calendar so that you can eraseClassroom Calendar.jpg and update information using wet-erase markers. Next, set up boxes or wall file holders, one per subject, beneath the calendar. Each time you distribute a handout in class, file extra copies in a folder within the proper box or file holder. Now when students return from absences, they just need to refer to the calendar to see what assignments they missed, and reach into the appropriate folder to obtain them.
  5. Mail folders for homeroom students. If you oversee a homeroom, you're likely to get as much mail addressed to your homeroom students as to you. To separate students' mail from yours, set up a box or wall file holder with an individual folder for each homeroom student in alphabetical order. Now, instead of distributing mail to students during homeroom, file it in their folders so they can pick it up themselves. This not only gives you one less task to squeeze into hectic homeroom periods, but also frees you from having to hold onto--and forget about, if not lose--mail for students who are absent.
This system for organizing papers will not only improve instructional efficiency but may also--in combination with a tool belt or other means of wearing everyday supplies--make your desk so dispensable that you'll want to do what I did: get rid of it. Of course, a classroom without a teacher's desk will seem strange to students and visitors, so expect lots of questions about its whereabouts. No problem, though. Just hitch up your tool belt--or tug at your smock or vest--and tell the truth: "My desk? I'm wearing it."

Another great article from MiddleWeb's Of Particular Interest!  Thanks! 

Common Core: Top 10 Questions?

Interim Maryland Schools Superintendent, Bernie Sadusky, answers top 10 teacher questions about Maryland's transition to the Common Core.

Click here to see the video:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Joys of Summer

I had the pleasure of reading an article by Mitch Albom called “The Joys of Summer” that was published in this past Sunday's Parade magazine. (Albom is the author of Tuesdays with Morrie

In this article, Albom declares that children need fewer organized activities during the summer and more time to relax and daydream. Wow, how true this is...He provides a four-point plan for an ideal summer day:

1.  Have a face-to-face conversation with a friend.
2.  Read something.
3.  Build something.
4.  Get wet. A pool. A hose. A sprinkler. Whatever.

According to Albom, “That’s really enough.”

The first thing I noticed about his plan is the lack of structure it provides. Can modern parents really provide no structure for a day with their children? Can a child survive with only four things to do everyday, and that’s it? Is this a recipe for chaos and mayhem?  Of course not...Refreshingly absent are a time frame and a detailed to-do list. There aren't details about who to Talk to? Or what to Build? Or how long to read and what type of book or blog it should be? Ah, freedom. Ah, choice...independent thinking...nah, impossible!

I especially love #4! It’s an item that’s usually missing from most To-Do lists (although I try to have fun everyday - after all I am in middle school)–I agree with Mitch, that having fun is critical.

As I was assessing my own To-Do List against Mitch's, I realized that I have not gotten wet enough this summer. I plan to correct this immediately. After work today, look out neighbors, my kids and I will be using the sprinkler. Yes, we are going to have some fun and get wet!

To read the entire article, click here: The Joys of Summer |