Requiring all Researchers to Consider Quantitative Information



Over the last years I have begun to really encourage the integration of quantitative information into the research paper.  I believe that, by considering the numeric side of a topic, it really rounds out the information that is provided to the reader.

First, we teach students how and where to locate statistics.  During this process, we have begun to ask most classes to create an  Infographic that aligns with their research. (here is the InfographicsRubric)  We decided to do this after being inspired by Allison Burley

Second, we teach the students formally how to write with statistics.  My writing rules are basically to turn a graph/chart into text which, in a formula, would consist of three sentences (and synthesize naturally and properly into the flow and transition of the information provided in the body of the text):

Sentence 1:  Write a sentence which makes the reader care about the statistic (develop the human aspect/story of the number which you will present)

2.  Provide the number in a digestible format to allow for seamless reading/comprehension (ideally two ways: example 8.3 million, or 76% of the population)

3.  Offer your reader context to compare the number to either another number (statistic from previous year) or to something that they are familiar with (the country is the size of Texas OR the death toll was similar to the death toll during 9/11)

By asking students to intentionally locate quantitative information which supports their thesis statement, students who are researching will begin to lay the groundwork in preparation for college –level writing.  It also helps broaden the research process making them more intentional than haphazard.

Here is the page for statistics on our Google Site

Image citation:

Geralt. “Statistics Chart Graphic Bar Symbol Arrow.” Pixabay. N.p., 29 Jan. 2013. Web. 7 Apr. 2014. <

Questions for Students Learning about the American Dream (plus a tiny Of Mice and Men tie-in)

Here are the questions from our Twitter Chat on the “American Dream” and Of Mice and Men (which was given the hashtag #OMMAD)  Many of these questions were prepared prior to the chat or emerged during the chat.  The discussion centered around the “American Dream” (sometimes abbreviated as TAD) with a minor focus on John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men in relation to the “American Dream.”

The American Dream questions:

  • What is your American Dream?

  • Are your dreams different from your friends’ dreams?

  • What in popular culture exemplifies the American Dream?

  • Is the American Dream altered by celebrity statuses in life? Is that what our society’s goal is as of now?

  • Are big houses and money goals to value?

  • How do we create equal access to the American Dream?

  • Respond to the statement from the picture: I did nothing today and still got paid.

  • Do you think the American Dream can be achieved without hard work or do you need to be 100% on top of the progress of your dream?

  • Do you feel many of us in America spend on what we want versus need? How might we combat that behavior and addiction?

  • Sometimes the priorities of my American Dream become skewed when I try to “keep up with the Joneses” I, then, feel bad about myself.  Do you think that my bad feeling caused by keeping up with the Joneses is dangerous to me, my family, my society?

  • What does “cost” mean? Is it more than a financial cost?

  • Can the dream be based upon character and behavior? Do we lose these while trying to climb the ladder?

  • Can we successfully create a personal American Dream based upon character and behavior?

  • Must we keep changing our American Dream as we grow?

  • Do you have to “keep check” on our dream to live a satisfied life?

  • Is there really an American Dream, though? Because if you’re living the dream it’s not really a dream anymore..

  • It is getting progressively harder to fulfill the dreams most Americans have? Will we always get our dreams?

  • Analyze this quote: “America is a tune, it must be sung together”

  • How many people today can say they are actually living TAD?

  • What defines happiness?

  • TAD is real b/c anyone can dream.  But is TAD a tangible achievement?

  • Do we really ever achieve our American Dream?


Of Mice and Men specific questions:

  • How might one character’s American Dream in Of Mice and Men differ from your own and why?

  • How does the farm serve as a metaphor in the novel Of Mice and Men?

  • How much do you think the American Dream would cost in the 1930’s? What does “cost” mean? Is it more than a financial cost?

  • How hard do you think people had to work for the American Dream in the 1930’s versus now?

  • Why did George “have to” kill Lennie? Was it a fair decision to end his life?

  • Since Lennie’s dream was different from George’s, considering the simplicity, does the American dream depend on who you are?

  • Lennie was content with rabbits but George wanted to live comfortably. Are your dreams different from your friends’ dreams?

  • Because this time period (Great Depression) is a prevalent idea for many novels, how is Steinbeck’s portrayal so significant?

Storify (versus GrabChat)

I recently posted about, but once I put into use for archiving a Twitter conversation, it turned out that it was finicky with my hashtag.  I remembered a friend suggested Storify and I tried it.  At first, Storify was not user friendly to me (but I think I was simply rushing and not clicking the right area to search)

Step 1:  First, you want to choose which site you want to grab information from (my arrow points to where I selected Twitter from the multiple choices)


Step 2:  Next, you want to type in your keyword (in this case I use the hashtag #f35)


Step 3:  To search, you actually have to physically hit that magnifying glass on the search bar to search (I kept pressing enter and seeing nothing happen and must have been too busy to consider that hitting that magnifying glass might actually work!)

Step 4:  When you get your results, it only shows 20 at first.  To get more, link where the arrow indicates:


Step 5:  You now want to select which results you want to save for yourself (you can drag and drop specific ones (to the clipboard that will be on the left) that you have selected or add them all)


Step 6:  Finally, you just save the items on the clipboard for yourself or publish it to share with others!


Bottom line:

I have a new favorite for both archiving a Twitter Chat and following a hashtag for Twitter research (in lieu of opening a Twitter account)  It is Storify!  I’m sure that there are many other cool ways to use it!  If you use Storify in cool ways, let me know!

American Dream Twitter Chat

On 2/21/2014 Miss Alfredo’s English and Mr. Reilly’s Technology classes at Palisades High School conversed with students from five other schools throughout Pennsylvania to discuss the concept of the American Dream along with its ties to John Steinbeck’s novel Of Mice and Men.  

Link here for a  Storify transcript of the chat that took place (it is in reverse order)  You will need to go through approximately five pages of chat transcript to arrive at the beginning.

In addition to the preparation shared here (which were slightly adjusted as time went on), we also came up with student roles for such a chat (see below).  Due to our own issues with schedule interruptions from bad weather this winter, our students did not actually fulfill these roles. Even so, they have been created to encourage use of the roles for the future.

Student Roles:

FACILITATOR (the host):

“Welcome!  Today we will be discussing the American Dream and  John Steinbeck’s novel, Of Mice and Men.  We look forward to learning more about the novel by discussing it with other students.  Please use the hashtag #OMMAD whenever you participate in our conversation today.  We will now begin with our first question: … (adjust all to 140 characters)

Facilator will:

  • lead conversation following pre-determined schedule

  • identify when think time should occur and for how long

  • generate conversation when lagging by utilizing sub-questions

  • share resources (may be interactive board or outside resource on the topic)

  • welcome people as they arrive

  • follow up comments with supportive/positive reaction to tweets (make chat feel like family)

  • thank people for participating and making our conversation powerful which has increased everyone’s understanding the concept or novel.


The communicator’s role will be:

This is very rare, but it is important that if negative or inappropriate comments occur they should be dealt with immediately.

Please say something like “@___________ twitter etiquette dictates negative comments and conversations move to a different medium. We welcome  differing points of view but want to  keep it positive and productive in our forum!


The role of the archivist will be to:

  • prepare with a test run of Storify

  • Run Storify with event, paste it into desired space (most likely public Google Doc) and clean it up.

  • Indicate to teacher when it is ready to be shared.

So What is our Reaction to the Chat?

It was fun; It felt alive; It was energizing to chat about a concept/novel we studied with others who were doing the same!

The downside:  it was random and loose and hard to follow.

My response:  sharing the archive will allow teachers to dissect the content and utilize as needed.  I also would like to organize some of the main questions into a blog setting (which is a little more static) for classes to interact with in the future.  I believe this was a great springboard!

A HUGE Thank you!!!!!! to Robin Burns, Allison Carpenter, Dawn Cunningham, and Patty McLain, and Dan Newman for joining us with your classes!



I have found this cool new site called  It allows you to enter a hashtag from Twitter and grab the html code to allow you to paste the hyperlinked thread onto a blog or website.

This would be useful if you want to archive a Twitter conversation or if you have students who want to use Twitter for Research yet do not want to create a Twitter account.

Image citation:

Nemo. “Light Electric Bulb Idea Electricity Domestic.” N.p., 24
Apr. 2012. Web. 20 Feb. 2014. <

Helping Struggling Students


I find that, when I formally instruct students, most fall into one of four categories.

First, there is Group A:  This is the group of students that TOTALLY get what you are saying and understand how your lesson helps them in their life.  They readily pick up where the resources are housed for their future reference and they are likely to use the resources often.

While the group above might live in every teacher’s dreams, a complete class of them would really be reminiscent of the Stepford movies (and we all know how dangerous that is!)  …Plus, there is benefit in struggle (perseverance, modesty, etc.) and there are lessons in mistakes.  We truly do not want a class complete of Group A.

Next there is Group B:  This is the group which understands the reasons for the lesson and appreciates them; they record where the resources are housed; yet they just needs to get their “sleeves rolled up” and dig into the work.  When the teacher checks in on them, they need very little (if any) assistance.

Group C follows:  These students need the teacher after the formal lesson.  When the teacher swings by, it may be a matter of the teacher modeling how to get started or having the student navigate to the resources which will help the students throughout the project.  After this little bit of work, this group of students can get started.

Finally, we have Group D:  I find myself working with these students regularly and the work is varied to their various needs.  Our school has our teachers record our “intervention” work with these students and I have created a template that aligns with large research projects.  Please feel free to use this template in your own work with your “Group D” students.

Student Name:


Classroom Teacher:  

Special Education co-teacher/Instructional Assistant (if applicable):  

Date of Reference:




Research Topic:

Thesis Statement:


Possible challenges (bold all which apply):

  • nonfiction reading comprehension

  • vocabulary development needed

  • modeling of task completion needed (resource location, notetaking, organization, etc.)

  • QuickStart Guides needed

  • Graphic organizers needed

  • conceptual assistance needed

  • writing skills assistance needed

  • assignment modification needed

  • presentation skills assistance needed

  • “dry run” of presentation needed

  • time management assistance needed

  • lack of motivation

  • easily distracted

  • student becomes frustrated

  • absenteeism

  • resistance to additional support


Actions (record challenge intervened upon, date, and content of each intervention):


Notes on resources student is consulting:

  • books from our print shelves

  • books from other libraries

  • ebooks

  • websites

  • scholarly journals

  • Twitter or Google Alerts

  • quantitative research (statistics)

  • comprehensive and specific research sources to main topic and subtopics within

  • Primary sources consulted

  • highly analytic secondary sources

  • varied viewpoints (cultural, political, religious, personal opinion)

  • copyright pertinence


Notes on student organization methods:

  • Google Site (optional)

  • Diigo (optional)

  • other (specify method)

  • Noodletools (required)


Notes on task/deadline completion:

  • thesis

  • outline

  • notecards

  • annotated bibliography

  • rough draft

  • presentation



  • communication with classroom teacher

  • communication with special education teacher

  • communication with teaching assistant


Results (list goal and data to support achievement of goal):


Student Facilitated Twitter Chats

I have been working on developing an assignment where students facilitate Twitter chats related to what they are reading in English class.  This will allow the students to not only deepen their understanding of the literature unit that they are on, but also to understand the technology and purpose of Twitter discussions.  Below is an overview of the project along with notes on our student’s goals and advice from Jerry Blumengarten!  Planning this event is shockingly easier than some other technology applications have been (which makes it ripe for revisiting during future units versus experiencing the dread of thinking about doing it again!)

Please feel free to join us or to plan similar events (and feel free to use my notes as a guide to get you started!!!)


An English and Technology class at Palisades High School have been collaborating and anticipate that they will be hosting two Twitter Chat events during the week of February 3, 2014 (snow days have changed the dates to Feb 19 and 21).  One chat will be centered around the novel Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and the other chat will focus upon the concept of the American Dream.  Broad questions to begin to generate a conversation in relation to the American Dream will be:

1.  What does the American Dream look like?

2.  What in popular culture exemplifies the American Dream?

3.  Is the American Dream a myth?

Our students will be facilitating the conversations that will begin at 9:45 a.m. on a date to be determined (week of February 3, 2014).  They will be required to refer to and identify a few textual passages from the novel and popular culture during the Of Mice and Men event and from multiple novels and popular culture during the American Dream chat.  The groups have also been charged with developing additional questions to generate discussion.

Please share this with your English teachers and anyone else that would be interested in participating in either event (feel free to share this widely with anyone who may be interested).  Please contact Karen Hornberger at should you want to participate in order be emailed with further detail and to get the assigned hashtag (also to be determined) or watch for advertisements for the events during the week of January 27-31.

Additional Information:

Goals for our Technology class

Pre-assess (and teach):

What is a Twitter hashtag?

What is the purpose of a Twitter hashtag?

What is the benefit of a well known Twitter hashtag?

What is the benefit of a little known Twitter hashtag?

What is the difference between a Twitter hashtag and a Twitter event related to a hashtag?

How do you get people to participate in a Twitter chat event?

How do you access a Twitter chat transcript?

example transcript:


  • educate students as needed based upon the pre-assessment

  • have kids search #AmericanDream on Twitter and #OfMiceandMen to see what Twitter activity exists

  • have them decide whether use a hashtag that is so unique that only participants can find or to use a broad hashtag?

  • Create a class Twitter account (to avoid usage of personal Twitter accounts during a school project)

  • Determine who is going to participate and in which role (need archivist if we will be archiving transcript, need students participating in discussion, need facilitator who is charged with leading discussion and redirecting as needed)

  • Determine what the group who is not presenting/facilitating is going to do (watch, learn, and evaluate or participate)

Advice from Jerry Blumengarten (facilitator of the popular weekly #edchat events:

I would suggest a common unique hashtag for the chat.

It would be wise to come up with about six or seven questions that all the participants would know in advance.

You will need to time the questions and have students tweeting out the questions at the appropriate times.  Have some students repeat the question.

Have you seen the following page?

My How to Moderate a Chat page

On that page I have suggestions and ways to archive the chat.  Most moderators use Storify.

I would suggest doing a sample chat with some of your students and then Storify it to see how it works.

Goals for our English Class:

PHS Library resources (print and eBook) students can consult:

Bloom, Harold, and Blake Hobby. The American Dream. New York: Bloom’s Literary Criticism, 2009.

Burns, Kate. Is the American Dream a Myth? Detroit: Greenhaven, 2006.

Haugen, Hayley Mitchell. The American Dream in John Steinbeck’s of Mice and Men. Farmington Hills: Greenhaven, 2010.

Karson, Jill. Readings on of Mice and Men. San Diego: Greenhaven, 1998.

King, Martin Luther. I Have a Dream. New York: Schwartz & Wade, 2012.

Perez, William. We Are Americans: Undocumented Students Pursuing the American Dream. Sterling: Stylus, 2009.


  • Begin to answer American Dream questions

  • Begin to develop additional American Dream questions that facilitate conversation

  • Begin to develop Of Mice and Men questions that facilitate conversation

  • Consider creation of interactive graphic organizer