Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Will these things become obselete? From

21 Things That Will Become Obsolete in Education by 2020

Last night I read and posted the clip on '21 Things That Became Obsolete in the Last Decade

1. Desks
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.

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

3. Computers
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.

4. Homework
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).

5. The Role of Standardized Tests in College Admissions
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.

6. Differentiated Instruction as the Sign of a Distinguished Teacher
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.

7. Fear of Wikipedia
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.

8. Paperbacks
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.

9. Attendance Offices
Bio scans. 'Nuff said.

10. Lockers. A coat-check, maybe.

11. IT Departments
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.

12. Centralized Institutions
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.

13. Organization of Educational Services by Grade
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.

14. Education School Classes that Fail to Integrate Social Technology
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.

15. Paid/Outsourced Professional Development
No one knows your school as well as you. With the power of a PLN in their back pockets, teachers will rise up to replace peripatetic professional development gurus as the source of school wide prof dev programs. This is already happening.

16. Current Curricular Norms
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.

17. Parent-Teacher Conference Night
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.

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

19. Outsourced Graphic Design and Webmastering
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.

20. High School Algebra I
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 IT in high school for non-math majors (and they will have all taken it in middle school anyway).

21. Paper
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.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Can Exercise Make Kids Smarter? -

Do you really need more evidence that students need to run, play and move? MPH gives each middle schooler PE everyday and a new recess period will be rolled out next week. Richard Louv would approve.

Phys Ed: Can Exercise Make Kids Smarter? -

Monday, September 27, 2010

Obama, Quizzed on Private Schooling, Is Blunt

This is from

Obama, Quizzed on Private Schooling, Is Blunt
President Obama offered a bleak assessment of the schools in the
nation’s capital, saying his daughters could not get the same
education in a D.C. public school that they are getting at Sidwell Friends, the elite
private school they attend.

The president did not use the issue of security for his two daughters
as an excuse for his decision to put them in private schools. Rather,
he said, Sidwell Friends offers a better education.

“I’ll be blunt with you. The answer is no right now,” Mr. Obama said
during a half-hour interview about education on NBC’s “Today Show.” He
added that there were some “great” schools in the city, but that the
system over all was struggling.

“Given my position, if I wanted to find a great public school for
Malia and Sasha to be in, we could probably maneuver to do it,” Mr.
Obama said. “But the broader problem is for a mom or a dad who are
working hard but don’t have a bunch of connections.”

During the interview, the president also endorsed a longer school
year, saying that would “make sense” but would cost money. He said he
wants to work with teacher unions to reform schools and to honor the
profession. But he said teacher unions must be willing to acknowledge
the shortcomings of their members.

“You can’t defend a status quo in which a third of our kids are
dropping out,” Mr. Obama said, noting that some schools have high
failure rates. “In those schools, you have got to have radical change.
And radical change is something that is in the interests of the
students. And ultimately in the interests of the teachers.”

Mr. Obama said the coming documentary about schools, “Waiting for
Superman,” offers a “heartbreaking” image of students in a charter
school lottery, whose futures depend “on the bounce of a ball.”

In answer to a question about responsibility, Mr. Obama said part of
the blame lies with parents.

“If the kid’s coming home from school and the parents aren’t checking
to see if the kids are doing homework or watching TV, that’s going to
be a problem,” he said, adding that “at some point you have to say,
your job right now is to learn.”

The president defended his administration’s “Race to the Top” program,
in which states compete for a share of $4 billion in extra education
money by embracing school reform. He called it the “most powerful tool
for reform in decades.”

But he said that other school funding that is distributed to all
states according to a formula was also important so poor schools and
school districts continue to receive federal funds.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Middle School Advisor/Advisee Lists

For all to see - these are the adviror/advisee grouping in the MS this year.


James Eagen

Head of Middle School

Manlius Pebble Hill School

5300 Jamesville Road

De Witt, NY 13214

315 446 2452 x 162

Dress code from a middle school viewpoint

This week in my 7th grade Expository Writing Class, I posed the always popular question - should MPH have a dress code? The students were then asked to write the first three sentences of a ten sentence paragraph, which we call the three sentence assessment. Here is a response from a 7th grade girl:

"Many great institutions of knowledge have an enforced dress code. Manlius Pebble Hill, being a college preparatory school is one of the aforementioned institutions. But not many stores carry cute clothes so it makes it really hard to shop."

This response shows exactly why middle schoolers are so wonderful!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I presented the new Middle School Commitment to Community, a document that was created over the course of many months last year in order to put language around what we do at MPH to ensure we teach students not only how to think and learn, but how to strive to be their best as citizens on campus, and beyond.

The students will sign this document in the coming weeks as will their advisors. I will sign each document too. The signature symbolizes a student's commitment to the Middle School and MPH and will be a guide throughout the year when they may fall short or lose sight of their purpose.

The commitment can be seen at the bottom of this page. We are proud of our work in the MS and know the hard part is still ahead. Discussions started today during tutorial and I am sure there are many more to come.


Monday, September 20, 2010

What is so important about recess in the middle?

Today at lunch, like many days, I took the middle school outside to run, play, and connect. At times, we fret about them being out of class, loosely grouped, romping about just before language or math class. But what was clear to some faculty this afternoon was how important it is to let adolescents be, and at the same time quietly observe their social workings. This morning, the 6th grade team discussed two new students who were not connecting to their classmates. The teachers expressed concern, even worry, about the two students inability to mesh with fellow classmates in the class during the first week. I listened, gave my two cents and then made it a goal to make sure I observed these two during the course of the day and the week. Within five minutes of watching, one was seen in a game of freeze tag with seven other girls. The other student? Walking across the field in deep conversation with a 6th grade boy. Both students were clearly fitting in, at least today, connecting and feeling better about being a part of things. Without those unstructured moments kids might not find that place to organically connect. And without watching from a safe distance as they play, talk and be, we might not see the whole child or the entire social picture, limiting our effectiveness as educators, protectors and leaders.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dumb Action Games Make You Smarter. Really.

From Fast Company: "For just about as long as there have been politicians and pundits complaining that videogames cause violence and indecency, there have been academics quietly refuting them. Collaborative play fosters communities, says one. Games can treat ADD, says another.

In today’s issue of Current Biology, however, a new study takes these results a step farther. Cognitive scientists from the University of Rochester set out to see if games improved decision-making. And they weren't thinking of smart games like Sim City or Civilization. The researchers wanted to see if there was a relationship between improved decision-making and the loudest, brashest, most action-packed—some would say dumbest--games around.

The team’s initial findings were intriguing. Simply by comparing groups of people who regularly who play action games (like Call of Duty or Grant Theft Auto) against groups of people who do not, they saw that the former made decisions more quickly--but with the same degree of accuracy.

But the researchers needed to go farther than that--they wanted to show that playing shoot-‘em-ups actually caused these gains in decision-making prowess, and not simply those who already made better decisions also played action games. Daphne Bavelier, one of the study authors, explains that her group then took young adults who were not fast-paced gamers. These were divided into two groups: a control group playing leisurely games like The Sims 2 or Tetris; and a group playing action games like Counterstrike or Halo. The action gamers were better able to answer questions in a visual test involving a field of moving dots and an audio test involving distinguishing a target sound from a field of noise.

“If the effect is really due to action game play,” Bavelier says, “we expect those individuals trained on action games to show more improvement between pre-training and post-training than the control trained group. This is exactly what we found.” The study design “ensures causality,” she says.

It’s an intriguing study, but it still raises a few questions. Action games may train us to make “better decisions” when it comes to spatial and auditory cues--but decision-making in general is a much broader category than that. For the time being though, this study is another one for the back pocket when anyone complains you play too many shooters--just tell them you’re getting smarter.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Started School of with a Shake

This is from today's Post Standard: "Manlius Pebble Hill started its first day of school today with the school’s traditional handshake greeting. The private school’s students all lined up to shake hands with all the faculty and staff outside the school in DeWitt.

The tradition stretches back to when Pebble Hill was a separate school, and has been going on for decades. The school later merged with Manlius School in 1970.

This year about 560 students shook the hands of 130 faculty and staff. The seniors go through the line first, and then the rest of the school shakes hands with the staff and all the seniors. School officials said the event has never been rained out, and is designed to welcome everyone to a fresh new year."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Lesson in innovation for the start of the school year

This year, the Middle School's theme is collaborative innovation. Faculty will be working with others to come up with new approaches to teaching core concepts in and out of the classroom. According to thinker and writer Dan Pink, Colorado math teacher Karl Fisch is taking a new approach to something old, "and in the process, he’s offering a lesson in innovation for organisations of every kind." According to Pink, Fisch returned from the summer to his classroom to teach an algebra course to 9th and 10th graders. However, instead of lecturing about polynomials and exponents during class time – and then giving his young charges 30 problems to work on at home – Fisch flipped the sequence. He’s recorded his lectures on video and uploaded them to YouTube for his 28 students to watch at home. Then, in class, he works with students as they solve problems and experiment with the concepts. Lectures at night, “homework” during the day. Read more from Pink below - you may have to cut and paste the link into your browser:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Change, anxiety and hope for the new school year

Retiring school head Lenesa Leana of Belmont Day School in Massachusetts said these words during her Back To School Night Remarks a couple of years ago: "Certainly science is front and center as a force for generating dramatic changes, along with technology and medicine. But it is also clear that the fields of diplomacy and conflict resolution will face mighty challenges as well. In addition, I also think about the arts, about instruments we might never have imagined and the interweaving of technology and the visual arts that are beyond our ken. No wonder as we ponder all these possibilities at once, we can find our hearts beating faster and faster. Such challenges and the possibilities of such change elicit anxiety. What I have learned so keenly over my years in education is that change invariably invokes a sense of loss at some level. Put those two together – anxiety and loss – and it is difficult to focus on excitement and expectation! And we do so need to keep those positive emotions in mind, for it is our responsibility as educators and parents to share a perspective of hope and anticipation with our children. We want them to know that we believe that we will meet these challenges with ingenuity and expertise, with a commitment to do the right thing with focus and excellence."

Jack Stamp - Why Music Matters

Diversity workshop: bonding with citrus? Gotta love it people....

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Way We Live Now - When Does Holding Teachers Accountable Go Too Far? -

From the NY Times: "The start of the school year brings another one of those nagging, often unquenchable worries of parenthood: How good will my child’s teachers be? Teachers tend to have word-of-mouth reputations, of course. But it is hard to know how well those reputations match up with a teacher’s actual abilities. Schools generally do not allow parents to see any part of a teacher’s past evaluations, for instance. And there is nothing resembling a rigorous, Consumer Reports-like analysis of schools, let alone of individual teachers. For the most part, parents just have to hope for the best." read the full article here:

The Way We Live Now - When Does Holding Teachers Accountable Go Too Far? -

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bill Gates Favorite Teacher

Is it only a matter of time before the walls of our schools are knocked down by technology, experience and innovation? Bill Gates thinks so. From