Monday, April 14, 2014

Fwd: Thank you for making the 33rd Annual Conference a success.

-- Gary Ackerman, Ph.D.

Begin forwarded message:

From: Karin Wilmarth <>
Date: April 14, 2014 at 1:49:42 PM EDT
To: "" <>
Subject: Thank you for making the 33rd Annual Conference a success.

Thank you, Thank you, for making the 33rd NELMS Annual Conference a success. Your part in celebrating and recognizing the "Magic in the Middle" is important and valuable. We appreciate it. We hope you took new ideas, strategies, and energy back to your school. Your feedback on the evaluation form was helpful and will be used in future planning.


We know schools are continuing to face financial challenges and at times it is also difficult to get release time to attend professional development opportunities. As you know middle level education is critically important but at times vulnerable.  We need to collaborate and join forces to insure our young adolescents are receiving the quality and type of instruction they need. In that light, please continue to give us feedback to insure we are meeting the needs of educators. You can also be helpful by reaching out to colleagues to join you next year at the conference. It is not too early to make plans to continue the magic March 23 & 24, 2015! Attending with a team can be particularly effective so you may want to start to organize a group.


We still have "Magic in the Middle" t-shirts, polo shirts and fleece jackets available for sale. Please contact Karin Wilmarth at about ordering.


We appreciate the difference you are making by continuing professional development, expanding your instructional practice and understanding the importance of student engagement. You are a core of "Magic in the Middle".


See you at an upcoming PD event:


ª  Keys to Literacy, Argument Writing (April 30, Enfield, CT)


ª  1:1 Digital Learning Institute (June 26-27, Kennebunk, ME)


ª  SUMMER NELMS (July 28-29, North Conway Grand Hotel, North Conway, NH)  "Learn from the Best to Become the Best"


ª  Rick Wormeli (September 23-24, location TBD)


ª  Celebrate the Magic of the Young Adolescent (Oct. 10, SERESC, Bedford, NH)


ª  34th NELMS Annual Conference (March 23-24, 2015, Providence, RI)



Have a great day,                                                                

The NELMS Board and Staff


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Fwd: Nominations for VT Scholar Leader Dinner just over 4 weeks away

-- Gary Ackerman, Ph.D.

Begin forwarded message:

Date: April 10, 2014 at 11:07:29 AM EDT
To: "Dr. Gary L. Ackerman" <>
Subject: Nominations for VT Scholar Leader Dinner just over 4 weeks away
Reply-To: NELMS <>

VT Scholar Leader Info
nelms logo

Don't forget to send in your VT Scholar Leader Nominations! Deadline is just over four weeks away!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Plumley Armory, Norwich University, Northfield, VT

Registration/Nomination forms are due on May 12, 2014! Don't delay! Get your completed nomination/registration form mailed or faxed in today!

For more information and registration form about the Vermont Scholar Leader Dinner: Click here.




Writing Institute-Keys to Argument Writing
Holiday Inn Springfield/Enfield, Enfield, CT
April 30, 2014

1:1 Digital Learning Institute
Middle School of the Kennebunks, Kennebunk, ME
June 26 & 27, 2014

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Fwd: What's up at NELMS 4-9

-- Gary Ackerman, Ph.D.

Begin forwarded message:

Date: April 9, 2014 at 11:09:52 AM EDT
To: "Dr. Gary L. Ackerman" <>
Subject: What's up at NELMS 4-9
Reply-To: NELMS <>

April 9, 2014 - Weekly update from NELMS
nelms logo

magic in the middle image



Thanks to all who made the 33rd Annual Conference a success

Don't forget you can continue the magic by attending these upcoming events.




Keys to Argument Writing

April 30, 2014
Holiday Inn Enfield/Springfield–Enfield, CT

For more information and/or to register click here.

Here is what attendees were saying after the "SOLD OUT" January 9 - Key Writing Routine event:

The quality of the presentation was excellent and provided clarification of many critical issues surrounding argument and its implementation.

This was the best PD I've ever attended. More "take-away" than I've ever experienced.

Plethora of strategies, usable templates, activities, and ideas I will definitely use. Shauna was an excellent presenter! Relevant examples and great analogies. Evident she is knowledgeable and in classrooms.

Shauna is the most effective presenter I have seen. She provides relevant examples and answers questions. She gave quality suggestions and has the ability to control a group well. She has made me interested in what else "Keys" has to offer.

Excellent support materials. This is the first PD where I am starting to understand argument writing.


The 4th Annual Essential Adolescent
Literacy Conference

Friday, May 9, 2014
SERESC Conference Center, 29 Commerce Drive, Bedford, NH 03110

NELMS is a co-sponsor of this event along with SERESC, Keys to Literacy, and Wilson Language Training.
To learn more and/or to register please click here


To learn more about this conference download the complete flier by clicking here. acrobat logo
To download bios of presenters click here. acrobat logo
To download a registration form click here. acrobat logo

Scholar Leader Dinners

Plan now so that your students can participate in this wonderful event! If you have not received information about Scholar Leader Dinners by now please contact the New England League of Middle Schools at (978) 557-9311, or by e-mailing NELMS. You might also find information you need by clicking here.


NELMS Summer Institute coming in July

This year's NELMS Summer Institute will be held at The North Conway Grand Hotel in North Conway, NH on July 28 & 29, 2014. The theme of this year's conference is "Learn from the Best to Become the Best". For more information please go to


Plans for Scheduling Workshop

NELMS is planning a Middle Level Scheduling Workshop. Interested in attending? Please e-mail at

Have you remembered to renew your NELMS Membership?

Whether you would like to renew your NELMS membership or join NELMS for the first time you can get the information you need by clicking here!





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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Fair Use Evaluator

A colleague has been working with his students on a research project... he has been working with students on understanding fair use as a part of the copyright laws that permit use by scholars and students and teachers for some purposes, but not every purpose.

We found the Fair Use Evaluator which helps students understand some of the issues surrounding fair use:

Monday, April 7, 2014


Oppia came through my inbox last week. At first it looked like another tool for teachers that would be interesting but little used. Then, over the weekend, I looked closer an found it much more intriguing.

In a nutshell: a teacher (or anyone else) creates a step-by-step exploration (their term). When authoring, one has an html editor to compose contents (and insert images, embed video, and other elements). After the contents, the author adds questions.

The 21st century educator has access to vast resources, including many to present information to students. We are concerned with the efficiency of instruction today also, and I can imagine using Oppia for many of the simple information dispensing activities still necessary today.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Bring on the Virtual Classrooms

One of the great advantages of attending conferences (such as the just-ended NELMS conference) is talking with teachers about the great web sites they have found that provide educationally useful functions.

  • We hear about sites for blogging, creating wikis, and discussion boards to support interaction.
  • We hear about sites where teachers create assignments and students upload files (complete with date and time stamps so there is no question about when it was submitted and there is no risk of the teacher loosing the paper). 
  • We hear about sites where teachers create tests and quizzes that are completed online and that can be scored immediately (a great tool for formative assessment). 

 When one returns home from a conference and begins exploring these, it quickly becomes apparent that there are many many tools that provide essentially the same function. Different tech-savvy teachers are very likely to find and use different tools that provide the same function. As one becomes a tech-savvy teacher and collects accounts on these sites, one is faced with a large and increasingly unmanageable collection of usernames and passwords.

If students are to use the resources their tech-savvy teachers discover and integrate into classrooms, then they have a similarly large and unmanageable collection of usernames and passwords. Many school and technology leaders are reasonably concerned about using sites that require usernames and passwords in light of schools’ responsibilities for protecting students’ privacy.

 For all of these reasons, I am increasingly convinced that essential technology infrastructure in schools now includes access to a virtual classroom for every student and teacher. Just as every teacher should expect the school to provide a modern computer with broadband Internet access, updated productivity software, printing, and publishing access to a web server (all provided and maintained by the school); they should expect the school to provide and maintain access to a virtual classroom.

 Virtual classrooms provide several advantages over the chaotic collection of sites commonly encountered in classrooms:

  • All of the functions (tools for interaction, assignment submission, online tests, rubrics, and almost every other tool) are provided in one place. 
  • If the same tools are used by all of the teachers in a school, then the system will be easier for students to use as they are familiar with it. 
  • The school can manage users and limit the access by and to outsiders through by managing the users in the system that they control. 

In the past, the one obstacle to providing virtual classrooms has been the expense. Proprietary systems (e.g. Blackboard) were expensive and open source systems (e.g. Moodle) were free to obtain, but expensive (in human resources) to install and manage. Recently, however, options for providing virtual classrooms at unimaginably inexpensive prices have become available. (I have obtained access to an essentially limitless Moodle installation for less than $50 per year including the domain!)

Educators have come to understand the usefulness of cloud computing and its value for teaching and managing classrooms. They are facilitating social learning through document sharing and collaboration. They are helping students perceive online space as an arena for meaningful dialogue and discourse, not just “posting silly stuff.” They are moving academic learning into the 21st century. It seems to me the next reasonable step in this process is the wide-scale adoption of virtual classrooms so that every in-person classroom is extended to an online space.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Maintain the Magic in the Middle

I am just back from the 33rd edition of the NELMS Annual Conference. As usual, it was two days of ideas, reflection, energy, and fun.

Here is what participants were saying during the conference: