Monday, March 31, 2008

MPH middle school kids win big at Greater Syracuse Science Fair

MPH had many 5th through 8th graders attend the Greater Syracuse Scholastic Science Fair at Solvay High School on March 30th . The kids were judged by up to nine different judges and were there from noon to 6:30pm. Below are the awards our students earned, please pass along your congratulations. Those kids winning the Discovery Education’s Young Scientist Challenge Award and the SSP Middle School Program are invited to apply for another fair at a national level.

Also attending:
5th grade:
Maryam El-Hindi

6th grade:
Phillip Maier
Elena Bingham

Honors: 7th Grade:
Ashley Kaigler

High Honors:
5th Grade:
Elizabeth Clarkson
Emerson Czerwinski Burkard

6th Grade:
Lexie Melendez Martineau
Sigma Xi Award

Morgan Smith
CNY Skeptics Award

Highest Honors:

5th Grade:
Will Maresco

6th Grade:
Lisie Andersson also won:

Society for Science and The Public’s Middle School Program

Discovery Education’s Young Scientist Challenge Award

7th Grade:
Sammy Appleby also won:

The American Chemical Society Award

CNY Skeptics Award

Sigma Xi Award

Society for Science and The Public’s Middle School Program

Discovery Education’s Young Scientist Challenge Award

8th Grade:
Elliot Tan - Discovery Education’s Young Scientist Challenge Award

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

8th Graders get a lesson in tragic flaws

Well, you have to admit, MPH does certainly promote critical thinking and heady ideas, even in the middle school. Check out the amazing lessons Bill Preston has been doing in his English 8 class with the comparison of MacBeth and Spitzer. Very thoughtful and important stuff...

Toil and trouble: Students discuss Spitzer's tragic flaw Tuesday, March 18, 2008
By Elizabeth Doran
Staff writer
What do former Gov. Eliot Spitzer and Shakespearean tragic figure Macbeth have in common?

A lot, according to Manlius Pebble Hill eighth-grade teacher Bill Preston, who's been teaching his students how Spitzer's fall relates to Macbeth, the tragic central figure in the Shakespeare play of the same name.

Media accounts have portrayed Spitzer as the central figure in a Greek tragedy, but Preston assures his students that's inaccurate. Greek tragedies involve the anger or amusement of the gods or fate.

"Either you ticked off a god, who then made sure you paid, or you did something terrible that had repercussions in the future in divine payback," Preston said.

In Shakespearean tragedies, a gaping character flaw leads to the character's ultimate downfall, he said.

"The Spitzer matter is Shakespearean tragedy. Everyone has a crack or flaw in his or her character. It becomes a tragic flaw when it expands to become your entire personality and ultimately destroys you," he said.

Macbeth undergoes dramatic changes as he lusts for power, his bravery and loyalty evaporating as he becomes evil and murderous in his quest to be king.

Eighth-grader Polly Englot said the class talked Tuesday about the parallels between the main characters in the play and the scandal.

"Both Spitzer and Macbeth had character flaws that led to their downfall," she said. "Macbeth's desire to have more power led him to kill the king, and Spitzer's flaw was that he was so comfortable with his power he thought he could get away with anything."

Spitzer's confidence in his power led to his demise, just as Macbeth's yearning for absolute power caused him to do horrible things like kill the king, said student Mark Berger, 14.

"It's showed me you have to notice your flaws so they don't wind up hurting you," he said.

Spitzer resigned as governor effective Monday after being linked to a high-priced prostitution ring.

Elizabeth Doran can be reached at or 470-3012

Monday, March 17, 2008

Character Education at SUNY Cortland

As we move forward at MPH with a comprehensive approach to social and emotional education, I found an interesting assessment tool for schools looking to enhance their character ed. programs. Check out The Center for the 4th and 5th R's at SUNY Cortland:

Thursday, March 6, 2008

What is bullying?

Last MPH held a bullying seminar for parents. For middle school educators, bullying is as much a part of the conversation as is organizing three ring binders and getting students to complete rough drafts. Last year, while head of middle school at a school in California, I worked closely with an organization called No Bully based in the Bay Area. The first thing we did was to define bullying. What is it? What does it look like? Once this is done by a school, the administrators and teachers can begin to address the students constructively, systematically and clearly, all of which is crucial to the emotional health of middle schoolers. This is the definition we used:

What is Bullying?

School bullying takes four main forms.
Physical bullying, where a student uses physical force to hurt another student by hitting, pushing, shoving, kicking, pinching or holding them down. Physical bullying also includes taking or breaking a student’s belongings or stealing or extorting money.

Verbal bullying is when a student uses words to hurt another student. This includes threatening, taunting, intimidating, insulting, sarcasm, name-calling, teasing, slurs, graffiti, put-downs and ridicule. It also includes hostile gestures such as making faces, staring, giving the evil eye, eye rolling and spitting.

Relational bullying occurs when students disrupt another student’s peer relationships through leaving them out, gossiping, whispering and spreading rumors. It includes when students turn their back on another student, giving them the silent treatment, ostracizing or scape-goating.

Cyberbullying refers to the use of cell-phones, text messages, e-mails, instant messages, web blogs and postings to bully another student in any of the ways described above. Examples of cyberbullying are sending threatening or insulting messages by phone and e-mail, and spreading destructive rumors.

When bullying is also harassment. Bullying is part of a continuum of student violence and may, at times, amount to harassment. Harassment occurs when a student is the recipient of threatening, disturbing or unwelcome behaviors because of a particular characteristic. Many forms of harassment are prohibited by federal and state laws, the most well known being harassment based upon a student’s race or sex.

Students are often bullied for reasons beyond those prohibited by anti-harassment laws. Particularly at risk are students who are perceived as gay or lesbian or who do not conform to stereotypical gender expectations. Students are also targeted for not belonging to the dominant race or class, because they are disabled or obese, for being less (or more) intelligent, athletic, attractive, confident or simply because they dare to be different. If we allow harassment and bullying to continue at our schools, we fail to protect the diversity of our children and ultimately our whole culture.

I urge you check out their website for more info: