Tag Archives: 7th Grade

7th graders at @The_School are in a Google Hangout with Kashmira Sheth, author of *Keeping Corner*

Albert deGrasse, 7th grade English teacher here at The School at Columbia University, arranged for a Google Hangout with Kashmirah Sheth, author of Keeping Corner!

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Creating faux profiles of mathematicians in 7th math with Sabrina Goldberg:


Dr. Sabrina Goldberg is the extraordinary 7th grade math teacher here at The School at Columbia University. It’s about that time of year for Sabrina’s students to embark on the Great Mathematician Project (GMP). Each student is assigned a mathematician to explore deeply. They learn about that person’s history, education, skills, interests, life-work, and contribution to mathematics and beyond. Later, students write a research paper and eventually participate in a GMP Expo where they make a large informative poster, set up experiments, dress up in costume, and interact with their audience of students, teachers, and parents.

A few years ago, Don Buckley had the idea to use our in-house social network (powered by Elgg) to create fake profiles for these mathematicians. This gave students an opportunity to learn about how to fill in an online profile, connect with others, blog as their person, and locate commonalities amongst their mathematicians. Yesterday, I created accounts for each of the mathematicians. Today, students started fleshing out the profiles with an image, an image citation, a list of skills and interests, and a bit of background bio in the “About Me” section. We discussed how a social network is where people share who you are, who are your friends, and what do you do. I reinforced that we archive the previous year’s social network and use a blank social network every year. Thus, they see that a social network is empty and full of nothing until users willingly populate it with information. I quoted Danah Boyd a lot.

The students have had great success with the GMP over the years. Recently, Sabrina wrote a scholarly article about the GMP, and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) chose it as their cover story for the December’s Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School journal.

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Our new and improved Independent Reading Site is up and running at @The_School thanks to @finlaycm.

Cristina Martinez-Finlay is the Network Manager (and ever so much more) at The School at Columbia University. Last year, she decided to embark on a personal journey to revamp our beloved but kinda ugly Independent Reading Site which had been a labor-of-love Google Site that Marisa Guastaferro Mendez and I launched in 2007. We even won an award for it back in the day.

Marisa wanted an internal space for kids to keep track of their independent reading, post book reviews, and social network about literacy. We examined GoodReads, Shelfari, and other sites before deciding to just have an internal Google Site that anyone in our school community could access and edit. The site was alive and kicking and heavily used for 6 years. Then last year, Cristina showed me her pet project. She used Drupal to build the site (because, lordy, that woman knows Drupal), and she built up a site that is internal, robust, and legitimately way more attractive to use. The kids love it.

Today, Eve Becker (8th grade English) and I reminded the kids how to navigate the site, add books, join groups, post reviews, and comment on other people’s reviews. Cristina was there to answer questions too, and I’m glad the kids had a chance to appreciate her to her face.

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Who’s down with RUP? (Yeah, you know me.)


It’s that time of year again. I went over our Responsible Use Policy with the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, and they were tasked with returning a signed copy before they can access and use their school laptops.

I always reinforce that everything they put online is public, permanent, and traceable. Plus, I remind not to imagine they have privacy online. Rather than public versus private, I say public versus less-public.

I also implore the middle schoolers to locate at least one person, preferably a grown-up and possibly me, who they can approach if they feel unsafe or uncomfortable as a result of someone else’s behavior (be it physical or virtual). My sister sent me a link to an article about a 12-year old girl in Florida who recently took her own life after being severely bullied in-school and online. It’s so incredibly depressing and pointless and horrible.

We crafted our Responsible Use Policy here at The School to cover behavior that occurs both on-campus and off-campus. The policy includes the following points:


• I will always use school technology with consideration and respect for others and myself.

• I will not eat food or drink beverages while working with electronic devices.

• I will be responsible for my device’s whereabouts at all times. If I am not using my device, I will return it to a charging station or its proper place.

E-mail and Communication

• I will use electronic mail only for school-related purposes. I will never use abusive or profane language in public or private messages.

• I will not access my personal e-mail account, social networking sites, or personal instant messaging software from any school computer.

• I will not use others’ names or passwords.


• I will ask a teacher for permission before I download or install anything from the Internet.

• I will keep my network and electronic mail account passwords private.


• I will use teacher-approved software when given permission at appropriate times.

• I will not illegally copy or download software or media (games, MP3s, etc.)


• I will not shop online or make any purchases using a school device.

• I will not visit inappropriate websites. Teachers and administrators will determine appropriateness.

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