MiddleWeb Association News


Review: What does it mean to teach in middle school?

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Jan 20, 2017

Principal Joseph Eidson's "Called to the Middle" is a primer for anyone trying to decide whether they are made for the challenges of middle level teaching. Linda Mancia, a 24 year middle school veteran, says Eidson's enthusiasm for and understanding of adolescents comes through his relaxed writing style, but she notes some editorial shortcomings. Read more.


Review: Soft skills are secret to raising successful children

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Jan 20, 2017

"Becoming Brilliant," written by two psychology professors, is less about intelligence than about helping children grow "soft skills" and become collaborative, creative, competent, and responsible. Teacher-librarian Rita Platt notes with dismay the authors' blanket view that public schools are failing to keep up. Read on.


Review: Ideas and mentor texts to support narrative writing

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Jan 20, 2017

Sean Ruday's practical ideas and teaching strategies in "The Narrative Writing Toolkit: Using Mentor Texts in Grades 3-8" should reduce the stress levels of writing teachers, says consultant Anne Anderson. To speed things along, Ruday has included excerpts from the mentor texts he uses to examine engagement, orientation, transitional language and much more. Read more.


An activity to help middle-schoolers learn about civil discourse

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Jan 19, 2017


A 3-pronged approach to teaching logical reasoning

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Jan 19, 2017

Math and critical thinking consultant Tammy L. Jones proposes a three-pronged approach to supporting students in their daily journey through the content they are learning: (1) Using questioning effectively; (2) Integrating authentic opportunities for writing, and (3) Providing a bridging structure for students to use as they encounter new situations where critical thinking is required. Learn more.


Media literacy: Have students explore the art of movie making

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Jan 19, 2017

Some middle-grades educators may be surprised to learn that common core ELA standards specifically address the importance of teaching film techniques and the decisions made by filmmakers. In the first installment of a new MiddleWeb blog, "Close Reading the Media," media literacy consultant Frank Baker reflects on the art of movie making and shares key resources. Read more.


MATH: A great way to launch middle-grades geometry lessons

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Jan 17, 2017


Ideas and apps to ignite student learning in the first 5 minutes

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Jan 17, 2017

To improve student outcomes, writes teacher educator and tech integration expert Curtis Chandler, it's important to invest extra time planning for the first five minutes of class. Chandler shares a variety of tech (and non-tech) ideas that can boost student interest and energy for whatever else is to follow. Read more.


Introducing new concepts? Here's how to make sure they stick

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Jan 17, 2017

Middle-grades teacher Cheryl Mizerny's favorite way to introduce new concepts engages her students in "sticky" inductive reasoning and group investigations. Based on Bruner's Concept Attainment research, the strategy can work in any subject. Mizerny offers several examples from her own classes. Read on.


Review: Help for cooperating teachers working with pre-service educators

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Jan 13, 2017

"The Cooperating Teacher Series" includes three small, easy-to-read books on preparing for, coaching and evaluating student teachers. Retired principal and university supervisor Mary Langer Thompson says the books can help standardize practices for the crucial-to-success classroom experience of the student teacher, although she disagrees with some recommendations. Read more.


Review: 300 writing strategies you can use right now

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Jan 13, 2017

In "The Writing Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Writers," Jennifer Serravallo shares 300 useful writing strategies and lessons, coordinated by grade, genre and point in the writing process. Serravallo's well-organized and easy-to-use resource is sure to come in handy right away, says sixth-grade teacher and Writing Project leader Kevin Hodgson. Read on.


Review: Teaching life science with high interest picture books

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Jan 13, 2017

In "Perfect Pairs" Melissa Stewart and Nancy Chesley champion the use of fiction and nonfiction life science picture books to promote inquiry learning in grades 3-5. The book's 20 richly detailed, standards-aligned lessons can help even science-shy teachers engage students in exploration, fact-gathering and scientific deduction, writes fourth-grade veteran Linda Biondi. Read more.


10 signs that a school has its act together

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Jan 12, 2017


Searching for a better way to assess student listening skills

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Jan 12, 2017

Recognizing the need for a reliable, research-based method to test listening comprehension skills, former public radio reporter Monica Brady-Myerov, now CEO at Listenwise, has worked to bring an easy-to-use method to the classroom -- drawing on curated NPR content to engage students with important nonfiction stories. Learn more.


A schoolwide resource for STEM, science & making

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Jan 12, 2017

Why use a PBL approach when designing STEM lessons and programs? The answer may be obvious to PBL champions but for the rest of us, Christa Flores' exploration of science and STEM teaching in a "making" classroom proves a valuable resource, says STEM author and curriculum expert Anne Jolly. Read more.


Method, not magic: 5 critical school leadership practices

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Jan 10, 2017


Is letting students "buy back" test points a good practice?

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Jan 10, 2017

Eighth-grade teacher Amber Chandler is pondering testing. Not big league, high stakes exams but the run-of-the-mill, end-of-unit kind, she says. When 20% of her students stumble over literary terms on her "The Giver" unit test, she opts for a flexible (but controversial) "point buy-back" offer. Read on.


How to help students create dreams of success

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Jan 10, 2017

Helping students believe in themselves is a critical part of teaching. Consultant Barbara Blackburn shares strategies to encourage students to reach beyond the limitations they sometimes feel and pursue their dreams. One idea: Write a personal "theme song." Blackburn shares more.


Review: Up-to-the-minute middle school math strategies

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Jan 06, 2017

In "Strategies for Mathematics Instruction and Intervention Grades 6-8," Chris Weber, Darlene Crane and Tom Hierck provide many charts, examples and resources that can be instantly adapted or enhanced for a school or district RTI process. Instructional coach and grades 6-12 interventionist Kim Schneider finds lots to use and offers high praise. Read more.


Review: Mentor texts to celebrate Latino culture

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Jan 06, 2017

"Equal parts how-to and shopping list," teacher Amy Estersohn believes Ruth Culham's "Dream Wakers: Mentor Texts That Celebrate Latino Culture" will help any elementary or middle school ELA or social studies teacher looking to add more Latino voices and mentor texts -- especially in classrooms with a writer's workshop teaching approach. Read on.


Review: How to reach and teach students on the Autism Spectrum

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Jan 06, 2017

In the second edition of "Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Inclusive Classroom," Barbara Boroson provides a comprehensive, summative guide with positive and proactive strategies. Essential reading for educators who are not familiar with or may not be comfortable yet working with students with ASD, says special education and co-teaching veteran Carrielynn O'Reilly. Read more.


How school-based leaders can grow a positive culture

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Jan 05, 2017


3 ideas to deepen our connections with students

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Jan 05, 2017

As Michelle Russell revisits her start-of-school teaching goals, she decides to focus the New Year on building deeper connections with her math students. Her three strategies include using interest surveys as the basis for personal chats; spending time gleaning more insight from parents, and conferring individually with students to set challenge goals. Read more.


Using multimedia writing projects to heighten engagement

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Jan 05, 2017

When students blend multimedia elements into their writing projects, interest and engagement will zoom, writes teacher Sean Ruday, author of "The Multimedia Writing Toolkit." Ruday highlights a five-step process he uses in PD workshops to help teachers make tech enhancements meaningful -- not maddening. Read on.


MiddleWeb's top 16 posts about teaching during 2016

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Jan 03, 2017


Teacher devises "Scrooge-free" plan for her New Year classroom

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Jan 03, 2017

Making the usual New Year resolutions to do better can bring out her "inner Scrooge" says veteran middle grades teacher Mary Tarashuk. After reflecting on nearly two decades of classroom wonder and success, she decides to opt for her "inner Frosty" instead. Read on.


Getting organized: The 5-tray filing system every teacher needs

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Jan 03, 2017

Now that the blizzard of late semester papers has (probably) diminished, do you feel the need for a quick fix to your class organization regimen? Author and teaching consultant Roxanna Elden avoids "excessive precision" in structuring a practical 5-tray process to get you started. Read more.


Review: The Marzanos examine the inner world of teaching

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Dec 30, 2016

Drawing on three decades of research on the operations of the human mind in "Managing the Inner World of Teaching: Emotions, Interpretations, and Actions," Robert and Jana Marzano help teachers understand how and why they and their students react in specific situations. It's well worth the challenging read, says teacher Ashley Pursley. Read more.


Review: Boost your Twitter know-how and build your PLN

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Dec 30, 2016

Educator Laura Von Staden believes every teacher can gain innumerable resources and make valuable connections through using Twitter. She recommends basic and advanced Twitter tips in "140 Twitter Tips for Educators: Get Connected, Grow Your Professional Learning Network, and Reinvigorate Your Career" by teacher-experts Brad Currie, Billy Krakower and Scott Rocco. Read more.


Review: School leadership begins and ends with relationships

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Dec 30, 2016

Sandra Harris's new edition of "BRAVO Principal! Building Relationships with Actions that Value Others," with its reflection questions and support exercises, is an effective resource that keeps school leaders centered on what matters most to promote the success of every student, writes middle school principal Dennis Schug. Learn more.


Teaching strategies to help combat "learned helplessness"

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Dec 29, 2016


Standing up for our students in the new year

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Dec 29, 2016

It's time for co-teachers to take a strong, visible and audible stance on behalf of those students "who have been on your mind every day since school began," writes instructional coach and special-education advocate Elizabeth Stein. She describes why co-teachers need to be social justice leaders and how they can act effectively to resist "ableism" in the classroom. Learn more.


MiddleWeb's 16 most popular posts of 2016

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Dec 29, 2016

During 2016, each of these featured MiddleWeb posts enjoyed at least 10,000 reads by middle grades educators. Some were perused by as many as 60,000 visitors. We're sure you'll find something useful here as you "learn forward" and prepare yourself for the new year. Read more.


A Winter Break Reader: Thinking Back & Looking Ahead

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Dec 27, 2016


How a cross-curricular team is learning to share literacy teaching

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Dec 27, 2016

More and more, state and national standards call on all educators to become "teachers of literacy" and achieve cross-curricular collaboration. ELA teacher Kevin Hodgson shares how he and his 6th grade colleagues in science, social studies and math are figuring out what this will mean in their classrooms in the years to come. Learn about their progress so far. Read more.


Democracies need skillful, creative and discerning readers

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Dec 27, 2016

Before middle school students can become lovers of stories and savvy assessors of fake news and false claims, they must be creative readers who comprehend texts at high levels and can empathize with characters and people. Literacy advocate Laura Robb calls on teachers to push back for what they know is right, including support for rich reading programs. Learn more.




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