March 20, 2011 · Posted in Middle School · 4 Comments 

A few years ago at  EARCOS, I heard Ian Jukes’ Keynote speech. I found him to be quite entertaining and fairly knowledgeable. He made many insightful points, but one of the most memorable comments was about teenagers when he said they really need to be called “screenagers”. It hit me like a brick! Well, about two years have passed, but this morning – the term surfaced again. However, this time is wasn’t a teen that made me think of it. It was me – the middle school teacher on a Sunday morning… watching screens!

Where do I start? I know, the BREAKING NEWS on CNN about the Coalition attacks on Libya.

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And in between, the review of the various home footage shot by random civilians in

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Japan capturing the tsunami that is the most horrible catastrophe in history on smartphones and personal video cameras. On the lap, my Lenovo. I sift through and delete old Yahoo and Outlook emails. Also checking Facebook, Twitter, checking bank balances and double checking Spring break plans. All of this from the comfort of my couch with a “wireless” connection. Now, glancing left, the third screen. With the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, also known as “March Madness”, in full swing, I was able to watch a few games using 3G thanks to CBS Sportsline streaming the games.

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So, like most teachers, I think about my students and education –  quite often. And when I call my 8th graders screenagers – they get it now. But, I guess I can throw myself into the category now also. It truly makes me smile at how far we’ve come since I actually was a teenager.  It’s amazing how SCREENS have truly changed our lives – both young and old.

Selecting a New Textbook

March 10, 2011 · Posted in Middle School · 4 Comments 

Developing new curriculum is tough, especially in this day and age.  Why?  As a newly formed “History and Social Studies” department, we need to select new textbooks.  The challenge – selecting the right resource that includes a great textbook that is both hardcopy and online.  One may ask why we need the hard copy since we are a 1:1 school, but we also serve many ESL and resource students in our middle school.  For this reason, many students need tactile interaction with pages, maps, questions, etcetera, in order to engage in multiple pages quickly.  

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Most online textbooks don’t allow for this “quicker” interaction yet.   

After perusing just a few potential texts, I’ve noticed a big change in the presentation.  Some highlights include more bolded text, already highlighted sentences or phrases, and great visuals.  Many books have included better maps, graphs, activities, and links to websites (many of which require a paid for password).  

Which leads me another concern – price.  Not only are textbooks 

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 themselves, but add in all the other potential online and digital resources, the total cost go through the roof.


However, I am still looking forward to the challenge.  It should be an exciting adventure fumbling our way through the new jungle of text – digital and electronic.