MSP:MiddleSchoolPortal/Make the Most of MSP2

From Middle School Portal



What’s what on MSP2? There’s a lot of information on MSP2 and many ways that you can participate in the creation and sharing of resources and ideas. So, where do you start? Let's look at the homepage (left side, center, and right side and then the tabs) and get an idea of what all is available. For each section, we'll provide ideas on how folks can participate!

Left Side of Home Page

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The first chunk of information on the left side of the MSP2 homepage includes links to the content the MSP2 project staff have written and content in the National Science Digital Library (NSDL).

Youth Resources: SMARTR is a collection of virtual learning experiences for middle grades students.

MSP2 Digital Library: You can search the entire MSP2 collection of digital resources for middle grades STEM educators. This collection of about 3,200 online resources has been specially hand-picked and cataloged.

MSP2 Wiki Pages: These links connect to wiki pages written by MSP2 staff and hosted by the National Science Digital Library (NSDL). Because they are wiki pages, users can add content and can also have discussions at each page.

  • Math Resource Guides and Science Resource Guides. High-quality teaching resources include background information, standards-based lessons and activities, correlations to National Science Education Standards (NSES), and links to digital resources for teachers and students. We've also embedded learning progression Strand Maps from the American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS) Benchmarks for Science Literacy.
  • Webinar Archive: Recordings of MSP2 webinars, along with resource lists and links.
  • Getting Grants: Grant information appropriate to middle grades STEM education.
  • Teacher Opportunities and Student Opportunities: Professional development and enrichment opportunities for teachers and for students.
  • Cool Tools: Listing and links of digital tools for teaching and learning.

The next sections on the left side of the main page are--

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Blog Posts: These blog posts are from MSP2 members. Members can choose whether or not to have posts show up in this space. Blog posts can be private (only viewable by "friends") or public. Public posts are listed according to most recent activity.

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Latest Activity: Check out the most recent activity on the site. If you like to be in on things as they're happening, this is the place to go!

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Teacher Leaders: There are 8 teacher leaders here on MSP2. These are folks who either are or have recently been in the middle school classroom. The teacher leaders serve as facilitators on the site, bloggers, support folks, webinar presenters. They can also help you find middle grades STEM resources. The teacher leaders are digital explorers, so are happy to engage in conversations about integrating technology in the classroom.

In the Middle of the Home Page

Picture of the Day (smack dab in the middle of the page, above the fold). This photo and accompanying commentary changes daily and is delivered via RSS from the Science360 News Service. Science360 gathers news from wherever science is happening, including directly from scientists, college and university press offices, popular and peer-reviewed journals, dozens of National Science Foundation science and engineering centers, and funding sources that include government agencies, not-for-profit organizations and private industry. One teacher projects the Picture of the Day in class and uses it as a warm-up, writing prompt in her classes.

The 10 most current Forum conversations are listed under the Picture of the Day. Click on any one and join the discussion. You don't have to craft lengthy responses. Ask a clarifying question, make a resource suggestion, affirm or acknowledge someone's comment, offer another idea. The more that you engage, the more you and the community will benefit. Forum also shows up as a tab across the top of the Main Page.

Groups with the most recent activity show up next.
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Join any groups with which you identify to get to know and collaborate with members there. Groups also shows up as a tab across the top of the Main Page.

Events: Click on any of these to find out more information. Events also shows up as a tab at the top of the Main Page.

A sampling of MSP2 Members appears next. The only information made public about individual members is the title that best describes a person's position (e.g., teacher, principal, curriculum developer), the subject area the individual teachers, and the topics with which the individual is willing to help.

Right Side of Home Page

The first area on the right side of the site is specific to you, as a member, and lets you know if you have any messages or alerts. You can also click to invite people to join you on MSP2 or send messages to your MSP2 friends. Click on the Settings link to go to pages where you can manage your profile and your notifications (how often, for what purposes, what kind).

Below the member space are blog posts from a variety of content producers. RSS feeds deliver the latest content from these blogs.

  • Resources for Math and Science Teachers
  • Free Technology for Teachers
  • Today in STEM History
  • NYT Science and Technology
  • MSP2 Badge



Tabs across the top of the Home Page help you navigate quickly to key areas of the site

  • My Page takes you directly to your personal page. The information here is what other MSP2 members see about you and your activity on MSP2. Take time to customize the page, add Apps, elaborate your profile and share information that would help others "get to know you."
  • Members page is where you can see all MSP2 members. You can sort the list alphabetically or search for members according to their location, position, subject disciplines, and areas of need and expertise.
  • Events takes you to the MSP2 Events calendar where conferences, meetings, and webinars are listed.
  • Groups is where you can browse all of the Groups inside of MSP2. You can join as many or as few groups as you want, or none at all!
  • About provides background information about the MSP2 project.
  • Search the MSP2 collection of resources in the National Science Digital Library. Looking for something on teaching statistics? Plate tectonics? Math literacy? Cooperative learning? Type in the search and explore the available resources.
  • Forum is where you can search the Discussion Forum on MSP2.
  • Blogs takes you to a page where you can search Blogs by tags and activity level and date.
  • Leaderboards is the page to go to to see top content and activity on the MSP2 site.

What Can You Do?

You are more than welcome to search, lurk, and pull from MSP2. But your contributions to the site increase its value to you, to other MSP2 members, and to the larger community of STEM educators. In other words, we encourage you to participate and contribute to this community, to its activities, and its resources.

Participate in existing conversations

Do you find a blogpost provocative? Does a Forum discussion open new ideas to you? Has someone posed a question in a Blog or on a discussion Forum to which you have an answer? Then share, speak out, lend a hand!

To follow a discussion or comments on someone's blog without having to remember to go and check each day, simply click the Follow link at the bottom of that blog or discussion page. If there is an MSP2 member whose blogs you would like to follow, click Follow at the bottom of that member's blog page.

Initiate and cultivate conversation

There are several ways to initiate conversation.

  • Write a blog post. You can write a blog from any one of several places:
    • Your profile page
    • The Blogs tab across the top of the MSP2 Home Page takes you to a page with all of the MSP2 blogs. In the upper right corner of the frame, is a button that reads, + Add. Click and write!
    • On the Left Side of the MSP2 Home Page, at the bottom of the list of Blog Posts there is a link, +Add a Blog Post. Click and write!
  • Start a discussion either through Groups or in the Forum.
    • For any Group in which you are a member, simply click on the + Start Discussion in the Discussion Forum box on that Group's page.
    • There are two ways to initiate a discussion in the Forum:
Click + Start Discussion at the bottom of the list of Forum Discussions listed on the MSP2 Home Page.
Choose Forum from the tab at the top of the MSP2 Home Page. Once on that page, either start a discussion related to an existing topic, or start a new topic discussion by selecting + Add from the top right-hand corner.

Consider what you can do to cultivate conversations, as well! For example,

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  • Participate in an existing conversation (either through a Group or a Forum Discussion). Your participation does not have to be lengthy. An affirmation, "I agree. Thanks for sharing," means a lot to a writer. But if you have a question, an idea, a resource to share, add it.
  • Comment on a blog. Again, an affirmation is a great encouragement, and questions, ideas, and resources help everyone.
  • Share the discussion. At the bottom of each blog and discussion are the following links: Share, Twitter, and Facebook. Clicking on any of these makes it easy to tell others about a conversation and invite friends to join in. You can share with friends and colleagues who are on MSP2 and with friends and colleagues who are NOT on MSP2.

Develop your profile page: My Page

Tell us a little more about yourself. What are your favorite subjects to teach? How long have you been in education? What are some of your favorite lessons or activities with your students? What motivated you to join MSP2? What are you hoping to learn/glean/contribute to MSP2?

You can Apps to My Page. The list of possibilities includes--

  • Google Services
  • Gmail and Yahoo mail apps
  • YouTube sidebar widget
  • Your own RSS feed
  • My Friend Map and MapSearch apps


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You can share blog posts, forum discussions, and information about MSP2 events with your friends and colleagues inside and outside the MSP2 community. When you hit the Share button, several options appear to make it easy to share the particular page with your friends and/or network.

You can share via pre-set links to social networking services (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, You can send the page directly through email or send a message through your own MSP2 friends. Selection More Options allows you to import addresses from a mail account.

Author and Copyright

Mary Henton is the MSP2 Project Director at the National Middle School Association.

Please email any comments to Connect with colleagues at our social network for middle school math and science teachers at

Copyright February 2011 - The Ohio State University. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0424671 and since September 1, 2009 Grant No. 0840824. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.