Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Letter From Santa
Written by Mike Gorman (

Dear Teachers,
I have been meaning to write this letter for a long time! It is a letter that I feel is long overdue and with the elves getting all ready for my long ride, I finally found the time! I have been watching teachers for many years and I am amazed at the work they do. I have come to a conclusion that the teaching profession, like my own, must be filled with bits of  magic! Please let me provide ten statements of evidence for my belief.

1.  I travel the world one night of the year visiting all the boys and girls of the world. The teaching profession works with every boy and girl all year long. This equates to each teacher fulfilling educational needs for 30 – 200 children each and every school day. Seems like magic to me!
2. I deliver presents to all the boys and girls. From my Toy Repair Shop statistics I find many of these gifts are broken or no longer garner a child’s interest within months!  Yet teachers find inner gifts in every child. Teachers nurture these inner gifts  until they develop into true presents that will last a lifetime.  These kinds of gifts sure seem like magic to me!
3. I keep my naughty and nice list for every child. Some people believe this job is pretty amazing! Yet when I look at the teaching profession, teachers provide a constant evaluation of all their students! Their list covers all the aspects of developing and learning which they report to children’s parents and to the children themselves! This evaluation is based on a wide variety of observations, data, and student performance.  Teachers will then use this list to help improve each and every student! Wow, keeping track of every student’s ability and prescribing ways to be successful must really be magic!
4. I leave presents to students who are on the nice list and who believe in me. Teachers work with all children because they believe in every student. Teachers continue to do so, even when students stop believing in the educational system’s ability to help them achieve.  That type of persistence has got to be magic!
5. I have operated my workshop using the same technology for hundreds of years and it has worked for me. Then again, I work with children when they are asleep, delivering presents in my own way. Teachers work with children when they are awake and they have spent time learning how to engage children using googles, blogs, phlogs, glogs, prezis, and all these other words I really don’t know! Being able to teach, transform, and accommodate for this new digital generation must really be magic!
6. I have made it a practice to leave coal behind for children who do not make my good list! It seems every year the same children always get the coal. Teachers refuse to leave coal, in fact, they are working hard at leaving no child behind. To work towards a goal of leaving no child behind is a true act of magic!
7. I read the news and I am always so thankful to read all the nice articles about my work. It really does provide me with motivation to keep up my vocation. I read news articles about the education profession and it seems that most articles are unsupportive. Yet, teachers keep working hard at providing success for their students! These teachers must be operating on a little bit of magic!
8. I have thousands of elves, of course the reindeer, and the  community of the entire North Pole to assist me. Teachers work every day, many times by themselves, as they provide new opportunities for their students! Carrying that load alone must be much heavier than my bag of toys. It must really be magic!
9. I receive many a thank you and millions of pictures of happy faces as children open their presents each year. Teachers don’t always get the thank yous, or may never see the present get eventually opened. When they do, appreciation may come from decades later!  A thank you that appears after many years must be the result of pure magic!
10. I discovered a light in Rudolph brightens up a dark, foggy, or snowy night so that I can deliver joy to all the children across the world. Teachers provide the light that brightens our world in both the darkest night and brightest day! It is the light of learning and knowledge!  The ability to keep that light burning  bright  must take a quite a bit of magic!
You see, I have found that magic does not come easily! It is made possible only by those who work hard and keep believing, and seek what they know is possible! As you can see, there must be a great deal of magic in the education profession! Please continue to keep this magic alive and know that you are all on my good list! After all, I had to learn all that I do from somewhere! So from across the years I know I have many teachers to thank!   Last, to all teachers across the world… I really do believe in you!
Thanks for all the magic,
I hope you enjoyed this very special message from Santa. Please take a moment to share this letter with other educators across the world. It will truly help bring out the magic in our profession! Please accept my present to you,  which is another year of postings by subscribing at 21centuryedtech. Feel free to follow me on Twitter (mjgormans).

Friday, December 23, 2011

Some Important Holiday Sites

Also, you can see the reindeer before their big night...

Click Here:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

WLMS Pride! Former Graduates Make a Mark!

Brothers create computer data sifter 
By Carolyn Y. Johnson 
Globe Staff 
December 15, 2011
for Health and Science - 16brothers - (Right to left): Brothers David Reshef and Yakir Reshef developed MIC under the guidance of professors from Harvard University and the Broad Institute. (ChieYu Lin)

Photo Credit: Chie Yu Lin, courtesy of Pardis Sabeti

Brothers David, right, and Yakir, left, Reshef developed the new statistical tools under the guidance of professors from Harvard University and the Broad Institute.

It is an unusual starting point for a high-profile paper in a leading science journal: Two brothers, students a year apart at universities down the Charles River from one another, decide to work together on a summer project. The research unfolds through ideas scribbled on the walls of a laboratory, insights gained during downtime working as an emergency medical technician, and brainstorms shared at a fraternity house in Boston.

Yesterday, the influential journal Science published the fruits of that labor: the creation of a powerful computer program that rapidly flags patterns and identifies correlations in huge databases, from sports statistics to online social networks to the genomes being churned out by science laboratories.

While it is rare for two brothers in their mid-20s to share credit as the lead authors of a paper, the achievement demonstrates how creativity often arises from the back-and-forth of a team, in this case, David and Yakir Reshef, who have been collaborating since childhood.

“I think, in some sense, David and I have been roping each other into things for our entire lives,’’ said Yakir, 24 and a Fulbright scholar at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. 

The summer after his senior year at MIT, David began working with Pardis Sabeti, a biologist at the Broad Institute who had an interest in global health. David was developing an approach to sift through large, international health data sets, highlighting potential relationships between demographic information and the incidence of infectious diseases, such as cholera or HIV.

“We just wanted a simple way to figure out what was in the data sets,’’ said David, 25, who is pursuing a dual degree in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. “At first we thought we would go find some methods that existed. It turned out to be a much more complicated question to answer.’’

To read the entire article, click here: Boston Globe Article
As the amount of data that comes out of the lab increases, so does the time it takes to analyze it. Yakir Reshef and his brother David and have developed an algorithm that will allow researchers to comb through vast amounts of data to find results they may not have otherwise noticed.
WLMS Pride!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

WLMS Students Train as Triathletes

TriColumbia, the Mid-Atlantic’s premier endurance event production company, partnered with WLMS to provide  triathlon instruction during physical education classes in an effort to educate students on the experience and lifestyle benefits of triathlon. The partnership was formalized with an official signing on September 28 at Wilde Lake Middle School in Columbia, Md. Above are pictures of our students beginning the training process.

Because of this partnership, 15 triathlon bikes have been donated to the school and our students have gained access to use the Columbia Aquatic Center to enhance their swimming skills. Thanks to TriColumbia for their support and to our amazing PE teachers Ms. Middleton and Mr. Tiffany!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

WLMS Pride: Council Honors WLMS's Karen Stiller

The Howard County Council honored WLMS math teacher, Karen Stiller this past Monday evening for being selected Maryland's Outstanding Mathematics Teacher of the Year by the Maryland Council of Teachers of Mathematics! I want to thank Council Member Mary Kay Sigaty and the entire Council for helping to make this special recognition possible for our amazing math teacher. Way to go Karen!

Project Based Learning Explained

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Restructuring Middle Schools in Howard County

In 2010, Maryland was one of the first states to adopt the Common Core Standards in Mathematics and English Language Arts. As a result of this decision, major changes to the state's curricula and assessments are beginning to take shape. One of the biggest changes is the emphasis on disciplinary literacy.

What is Disciplinary Literacy?
Disciplinary Literacy is defined by
Shanahan and Shanahan (2008)
as advanced literacy instruction
embedded within content-areas. 
Disciplinary Literacy instruction
engages learners with content in
ways that mirror what scientists
and mathematicians do to inquire
and gain understanding in their

Consequently, it has become important to review how Howard County middle schools are currently structured and determine whether changes are needed to to deliver the new state curricula for all of our students. This past week, a proposal was presented to the Board of Education that opens an important dialog about middle level education here in our community.

We know the Common Core Standards require students to be fluent thinkers, readers, and writers within the context of a variety of disciplines. Students will need to be able to read, analyze, and respond in writing to complex texts in a variety of subjects. This will require them to be familiar with the vocabulary, compositional style, and particular structure of texts from all content subjects, as well as the larger perspectives, modes of thinking, and forms of evidence embodied in such texts. The demands of the standards will also be reflected on the new assessments, which will replace the MSA's during the 2014-2015 school year.

Currently, Howard County middle schools provide a stand alone reading class for all students. This practice has served our students very well for more than a decade. In fact, Howard County middle school students have ranked at the top or near the top in reading as assessed by the Maryland School Assessment (MSA) each and every year this state testing program has existed. However, the Common Core makes it necessary
to move away from teaching reading skills in isolation from content and towards infusing literacy into all disciplines. In doing so, the program will move closer to providing students with the skills, knowledge, and confidence they will need to be successful in high school and in a variety of educational and career contexts.

While basic reading skills were a foundation of the MSA, the Common Core raises the bar and requires students to use higher level reading skills outlined in disciplinary literacy. Therefore, to help our students meet the rigorous demands of the new curriculum as well as the PARCC assessments which align to the standards, it is important that we restructure the middle school program of study here in Howard County. This includes the elimination of reading as a stand alone course and providing time for content teachers to begin to address the concepts found in disciplinary literacy. 

As part of the restructuring, we hope to include world language classes for  6th graders, extending access to physical education, and providing additional assistance for students who need more instruction in mathematics and/or literacy. We will continue to provide direct reading supports for those students who are reading below grade level.

The time for change is now!

Source: Howard County Public Schools Middle School Report, 2011