Most Clicked MiddleWeb SmartBrief Stories


1. Teacher uses gamification to motivate students

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 21, 2015

A Minnesota science teacher has turned his classroom structure into a dice game to motivate his seventh- and eighth-graders to work hard and complete assignments. Students earn dice rolls by completing learning tasks -- with extra rolls awarded for standout work -- and then gain points for their teams by playing a dice game. Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.) (04/19)


2. Classes, projects are part of Pa. middle school's STEAM program

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 24, 2015

A Pennsylvania middle school features a science, technology, engineering, arts and math curriculum, including a dedicated STEAM elective for seventh-graders. The school also plans to expand the curriculum next year to include coding instruction and a multimedia production class. In the STEAM class, students select their own projects and create items such as a golf-playing robot or a mobile-device holder using software and a 3D printer. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (04/24)


3. New free math curriculum aims to inspire students

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 23, 2015

A new, free math curriculum combines videos and positive messages to help teachers engage students in fifth through ninth grades in lessons. The "Week of Inspirational Math" program, aligned with Common Core State Standards and developed by a Stanford University professor, provides lessons in key areas including geometry, algebra and patterns. T.H.E. Journal (04/20)


4. How should students be graded in PE?

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 21, 2015

Physical-education classes are focusing more on teaching students how to exercise and live a healthy lifestyle, rather than competitive fitness tests. In a Florida school district, teachers determine to what extent students' athletic abilities should influence grades, while the state uses PE tests to judge teachers and schools. Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville), The (04/18)


5. Study: Extra reading class may not improve all students' scores

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 23, 2015

More may not be better when offering additional instruction to some students who score below the 60th percentile on literacy assessments, according to a recent study. The study -- focused on students in a large, urban district -- revealed that an extra literacy class did not result in gains for black students. Study author Shaun Dougherty offers possible reasons for the trend. Education Week (tiered subscription model) (04/22)


6. Build your own utopia: A project-based unit on "The Giver"

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 23, 2015

ELA teacher Amber Chandler describes a project-based learning unit, built around the dystopian novel, "The Giver," that takes her eighth graders deep into the book's ideas by having them design their own ideal communities. Along the way, she says, they learn more about the meaning of "unintended consequences." Chandler includes tips, handouts, and student work samples. Read more.


7. Middle-school class provides real-world civics lessons

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 23, 2015

An elective class at a Colorado middle school is connecting sixth-graders with the real-world applications of civics by having students research local school budgets and develop plans to boost education spending. Students presented ideas to their school board and will do another presentation at the state Capitol. Brush News Tribune (Colo.) (04/21)


8. Teacher: Give students time, choice as writers, readers

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 21, 2015

The most powerful classroom innovation of her 40-year career is not about technology, teacher Nancie Atwell writes in this commentary. Instead, Atwell -- who won the $1 million Global Teacher Prize given last month -- said giving her students time and choice as writers and readers is motivating and has a difference in her classroom. Washington Post (tiered subscription model), The (04/16)


9. Study: Students struggle to evaluate credibility of online sources

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 21, 2015

Middle-school students in the U.S. struggle to critically evaluate online information about science. University of Connecticut researcher Elena Forzani found that less than 4% of seventh-grade students who participated in a recent study could identify the author of an online source, evaluate that author's credibility and determine whether the source was reliable. Education Week (tiered subscription model) (04/17)


10. Is it better to teach history thematically or chronologically?

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 21, 2015

What do middle-school students miss in a thematically designed history class? What do they gain? Teacher Sarah Cooper, author of "Making History Mine," relays her experiences with both thematic and chronological approaches, finding strengths in both kinds of teaching, even as national standards shift from facts and dates to skills and big questions. Read more.




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