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Newsworthy Notables: Students Weigh in on Slenderman Sacrifice

Estabrook_Woods,_Concord_MABy Sabrina Bong – As a counselor, several things have scared me: having a girl who had just tried to overdose on pills come and tell me to call the hospital; hearing one of my students talk about the abuse going on in his family; and having a parent yell at me for the first time.

But truly, nothing compares to the fear I experienced when I first heard about the Slenderman case.

If you are not familiar with this case, let me explain: two middle school girls took a classmate of theirs out to the woods. Once there, the two girls stabbed the third several times and left her to die. The girl managed to crawl onto a bike trail, where someone found her and rushed her to the hospital. When the police asked the girls why they had stabbed the third, they explained that she was supposed to be a sacrifice to this fictitious character named Slenderman. They had hoped that, by sacrificing this girl, they would be able to join Slenderman’s followers.

My first reaction to hearing about this story was absolute shock. What could have compelled these girls to believe that A. Slenderman was real, and B. That stabbing their classmate was even an option? As these questions began to sink in, I realized I also felt horror. These girls were the same age as my students. This could have been any of them.

Though our school has not formerly addressed the Slenderman case, I have discussed it briefly with some of my students. One of the small groups I run thought it was something worth talking about during lunch. One of the boys began by explaining what Slenderman was: a character created by someone on a website. He explained that this person had written horror stories and drawn pictures of what Slenderman looked like and did. He described it all as a “cult-like following,” saying that hundreds of people were logging in and commenting on the stories. He said people also were submitting their own drawings and pictures of Slenderman.

This led to a discussion between all four of the boys: What would cause someone to believe in this character? As one of the boys jokingly described it, “It’s like Ms. Bong telling everyone that she’s engaged to the quarterback of the Packers!” And they came up with many ideas as to why this occurred: Some people just have different ideas of what is real and what isn’t; the girls were convinced he was real because of older siblings; they were lonely and wanted a friend. But the one thing they all said was that they hoped no one at our school would ever be a victim of an act like this.

I worry about this case so much not only because of the age of the girls, but the implications this holds. If they were convinced that Slenderman was real, how many others are there? Are there students who are walking through the halls of the school, so convinced that no one loves them and so desperate to be a part of something, that they are willing to sacrifice the life of another student? At what point do we, as adults, need to sit down with our students and explain the difference between fantasy and reality?

My students can laugh and roll their eyes at me all they want, but I have decided that I am going to host a group on social media. A part of this is going to be discussing how not everything on the Internet is real, or true. At this age, they are still learning about being skeptical and not accepting everything as fact. I hope that my students take these lessons and use them well. I encourage parents, guardians, and other responsible adults to take the time to sit with their children and go over these facts as well. Together, we will be able to raise well-educated, savvy students!

Tuesday Trivia: October 28, 2014

How much do YOU know about Marquette University and the College of Education?
Test your knowledge (and win cool prizes) every Tuesday!



In light of All Hallow’s Eve this Friday, COED Trivia is testing your holiday spirit…

How many pounds of candy do Americans purchase for Halloween each year?



Claim your chance to win by leaving the correct answer in the comments section below anytime today between 7am – 11pm. And don’t be afraid to play, even if someone has already posted the right answer! One winner will be randomly selected from ALL correct answers and announced the following day.  The winner will be posted on our Facebook page and notified by email.  Please note that you must have a valid email address listed in your comment or WordPress profile to win.

A New Set of R’s

0404ingred_hBy Peggy Wuenstel –

The right regime  for education success should include adequate sleep, high quality nutrition, skill practice, preventive and restorative health and dental care, regular positive interactions, a safe place to call home,  and access to reading materials.

I am struck by how much of our focus is on outcomes is this new age of instruction. That is undeniably good, but not unless it is paired with some attention to what we are investing in that success. We are constantly asking students, and by extension their teachers, to get good results without paying any attention to what we are putting in.

The most wonderful recipe, from Emeril, Jaime Oliver,  or old school Julia Child has no chance of turning out right if the proper ingredients are unavailable. Quality and quantity both matter, but somehow we ignore this when planning how we will achieve desired educational results. Our efforts for improving the quality of public education, student outcomes, and the future of society need to begin at a much more fundamental level if we are to leave no child behind.

The right room – Education should happen in an environment that says “I care about you, and your comfort, needs and success are important to me”.

We don’t need a luxury resort, but crumbling infrastructure with exposed pipes, unsafe conditions and makeshift furniture should be seen as a travesty. This is especially important for those kids who come from homes where this is what they open their eyes to everyday.  The dress code phenomenon, where requiring a coat and tie, or a minimum level of formality changes the behavior of those who patronize an establishment is utilized by the business world. It also creates a sense of “I belong here”. I am not an advocate of school uniforms. But it starts with the establishment not the patrons. The environment also changes behavior. Are we going to offer casual or fine dining? Are we serving up offhand or committed learning?

The right relationships are key to student success. Study after study reports that this is one of the most important variables in student performance. Relationships take time. Teachers need the moments to connect, small group opportunities, preparation periods that facilitate student contact, Students need mentor relationships and coaching models rather than data collectors. Perhaps we need two layers of professionals in our schools; those whose love of students drives them to teach, and those whose understanding of data and love of the display of them draws them to the analysis.

Maybe this needs to be two people instead of one. Our desire to use the multi-leveled Show, Do, Assess, Refine  model of learning requires the time to observe and adapt as well as present a prepared lesson. Moving through multiple stages of understanding (I do/you watch, We do together, You do/ I help, You do/I watch and assess, followed by We modify our learning based on what we learned together) can only happen when student and teacher have the relationship that allows for the back and forth of responsibility for outcomes. We are often only doing steps one and there because there is not time for steps two and four. Like the development of play skills in very young children, we accomplish the parallel “I” steps and never get to the cooperative “we steps”.

The GIGO  (garbage in garbage out) acronym for the digital world also applies to the analog world of student performance. When asked to re-imagine public education this is what came to mind. We seem to be focusing all of our efforts on the outcomes – the tests, and in some sense even the standards do this because they imagine the end point. I do understand the logic of this.

If you don’t know where you want to go, there is only a remote change that you will actually arrive at your chosen destination. If you show up at an international airport without a ticket and you are randomly assigned a destination, it is unlikely that you will be prepared for that travel experience. You can’t possible have packed the right clothing and footwear for every eventuality. You might not speak the language and you won’t have the currency to spend when you arrive. This is, in a sense, what we ask students to do. We have to be the tour guide, the travel planners that make these trips possible.

Look how many places we as educators get to go if we accept this kind of challenge.  Sometimes we have to punt, but shouldn’t that be the exception rather than the rule?  I truly detest the commonly used metaphor of building the plane while you are flying it. Why would any rational human being commit to flying on a plane what was not yet finished?  The FAA would never allow it. We put students into this kind of provisional situation every day, not knowing where we are going, but trusting somehow we’ll get there. Maybe the fourth new R needs to be a road map or at the very least a GPS satellite signal that floats above us, getting us back on track when we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory. Making sure we have the hardware, the software and the signal strength to connect are all requirements of this new era in teaching.

It is the journey that is the learning, not the outcomes or the destination. All aboard!

My Multiple Intelligences

multipleintelligences2By Amanda Szramiak – I have always thought of myself as a visual learner.

When preparing for tests, I find it beneficial to handwrite my notes over and over again. Well not over and over again, but I do rewrite my notes. In my previous education courses, I always identified with the linguistic, intrapersonal, and spatial intelligences.

When I we were learning about Multiple Intelligences in my learning and assessment course two weeks ago, my teacher strongly encouraged us to take some Multiple Intelligence tests. I am not that great of a test-taker, and my teacher’s proposal got me thinking. I began to wonder if I was actually a linguistic and spatial learner.

Had I been going about learning the wrong way?
What if my average ACT scores could have been improved if I knew exactly what kind of intelligences I possessed?

Fearing I had been doing school wrong for the past twenty years, I began the tests.

I took three different Multiple Intelligences tests, and the results varied to a certain extent. The common denominator in all three tests was that I possess the intrapersonal intelligence. I like to think of myself as an out-going introvert, and I enjoy time to myself just as much, if not more, than with other people. I never realized the role this intelligence played into my learning. I rarely study with music, and if I do, I listen to the Beethoven Orchestra Pandora station. I am always studying in the library because noise is extremely distracting. I also think this intelligence speaks volumes about my learning habits because it utilizes the notion of knowing one’s own strengths and weaknesses. Some may say I am brutally honest with not only others, but also myself. Being aware of my limitations as a learner allows me to focus on my strengths.

I think being familiar with Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences and my very own intelligences will help me as a teacher. Knowing the variety of ways students learn is imperative to having a successful classroom. I look forward to finding ways to incorporate all intelligences in my classroom so all students equipped for success.

Marquette Basketball: Bleeding Blue and Gold

20140212-catch-imageBy Aubrey Murtha – That delightful time of year is quickly approaching, my friends.

It’s the time when amped up Fanatics across the country sport their blue and gold on game days, when Marquette alums dress their babies in miniature cheerleader uniforms and commute back to their old stopping grounds for the festivities, when freshmen get excited to see anyone that exceeds six foot on campus in hopes that they may be engaging in a real life encounter with an MU basketball player.

That’s right, Marquette basketball fans.  It’s game time.

Sports analysis is not exactly my forte, that’s for sure.  I will leave that job to the Peter Fiorentino’s and Grant Becker’s of the Marquette student body—those guys are going to be ESPN legends someday, I swear it.  However, I do know a thing or two about school spirit, and I think it is safe to assert that Marquette is not lacking in that area.

I don’t know what it is that keeps Marquette basketball fans so dedicated to their team, but I could venture a few educated guesses.

First, I think basketball may hold a special place in our hearts since we are football deficient.  Instead of forcing ourselves to live vicariously through our friends at large state schools with successful football programs, we save up all of our fanatical energy for basketball season.

Second, what would the Wisconsin colligate sports scene be without a heated basketball rivalry between the Badgers and the Golden Eagles, two of my very favorite woodland creatures (although one is clearly more majestic than the other).  We’ve got to be a powerful fan base for Marquette when our boys go up against schools with student bodies that drastically outnumber ours.  Marquette fans must stand their ground and support their crew.  And we do—every single game day.

Finally, Marquette basketball builds community, unifying current MU scholars with their learned faculty, connecting perspective Golden Eagles to successful Marquette alumni, bonding our beloved Jesuits to the very men that don our Marquette name on their jerseys and take to the court every game day.  Sometimes it takes something as seemingly arbitrary as the game of basketball to establish an unbreakable tie between individuals from all walks of life, with varying connections to and affiliations with our university.

I would argue that MU basketball teaches us to win honorably and lose graciously, to adjust to transition and succeed when the deck seems to be stacked against us, to learn from defeat and flourish in the wake of failure.  For these life lessons, I thank thee, Marquette basketball program, on behalf of your dedicated fan base.

Let’s go Marquette.  We’ll be rooting for you.

We are Marquette basketball.  We are Marquette.

Tuesday Trivia: October 21, 2014

How much do YOU know about Marquette University and the College of Education?
Test your knowledge (and win cool prizes) every Tuesday!

In light of All Hallow’s Eve this Friday, COED Trivia is testing your holiday spirit…

What is the top selling candy in America during Halloween?



Claim your chance to win by leaving the correct answer in the comments section below anytime today between 7am – 11pm. And don’t be afraid to play, even if someone has already posted the right answer! One winner will be randomly selected from ALL correct answers and announced the following day.  The winner will be posted on our Facebook page and notified by email.  Please note that you must have a valid email address listed in your comment or WordPress profile to win.

Teachers: Don’t Overlook Your Most Important Allies

pinkslip-1By Nick McDaniels – As the pressure cooker that is public education turns up, we are forced to face the facts that we, as individual teachers, can all lose our jobs if our number gets called.

Very few, if any of us, can, in the conditions we face, meet the standards of the metrics designed to measure us. So many of us choose to align ourselves with those who control the metrics, or some input thereof. We know these teachers, the butt-kissers, the principal’s pets. These folks, as annoying as they can be, might have the right idea.

We watch as somehow, in systems designed to make teachers look equally as bad as it has made kids look for years, these folks manage to rise above the line of professional casualty.

So you have to ask yourself, is that where you want to be? Do you want to work yourself to the bone doing everything your boss asks you to do and then beg her to be merciful at the end of the year when it comes time to decide what numeric score (and perhaps compensation) you should receive for your performance? Does that plan align with why you got into this business to begin with?

If you are here for the paycheck, then maybe it does. If that is your modus operandi, I’m not here to knock your hustle.

But I am not, nor have I ever been, about that life. When push comes to shove, I’m going to ally myself with my students, with their needs, with their wants, with their hopes, dreams. And if that is contrary to what the Secretary of Education or the Superintendent wants, then that is a conversation that needs to be had with me AND my students.

Students have long known that the era of “prep and test” driven by corporate education reform has been shorting them on their education, but fortunately, they have had great, stubborn teachers who have refused to wholly conform and still provide for students meaningful skills and experiences. What students are now starting to sniff out is how their favorite teachers are being chewed up and spit out by a system that is supposed to “improve educational outcomes for all stakeholders.”

I was inspired to see students rally to the side of embattled Mass. teacher Robert Moulton, whose sharing of a personal, albeit profanity-laden, story to his AP students may be costing him his job. In a 2014 version of the Dead Poets Society “O Captain, My Captain” scene, Moulton’s students electronically stood on their desks in defiance of a system built on censorship and conformity in a nation built upon anything but.

So at the end of the day, knowing that no matter how good we are, all of our jobs are in jeopardy because of a system that has long treated students like products and now treats teachers like assembly-line machines, I am much happier to know that where I have made allegiances with bosses is has been because bosses have in those moments had the best interests of students in mind, and where I have made allegiances without wavering, is with my students, in good times and in bad. They are why I come to work anyway.

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