MiddleWeb Association News


How to ignite student learning in the first 5 minutes of class

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 25, 2017


Teach students to set a purpose for reading

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 25, 2017

Many students over-annotate nonfiction text to the point that they are noticing *everything* but not determining what's MOST important. Literacy consultant Sarah Tantillo shares classroom-tested strategies to help students detect "the purpose of reading," including her What's Important Organizer (free download). Read more.


What Spirit Week can mean to middle-schoolers

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 25, 2017

Fresh from her middle school's Falcon Pride Day, Amber Chandler celebrates the joy of a pre-Spring Break event that's one-part competition, one-part team building, and one-part controlled chaos, noting that kids' social-emotional needs are at least as important as the curriculum. "This is what middle school is all about." Read on.


Review: Ideas and advice for new middle school ELA teachers

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 21, 2017

Anna J. Small Roseboro's "Teaching Writing in the Middle School: Common Core and More" can serve as a practical handbook to support the work of beginning English Language Arts teachers. Literacy coach Cynthia McKenzie writes that those new teachers will find many helpful ideas in the year-long guide. Read more.


Review: Using teacher portfolios for evaluation and professional learning

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 21, 2017

In "Handbook on Teacher Portfolios" Pamela D. Tucker, James H. Stronge, and Christopher R. Gareis, longtime educators and educational researchers, present a comprehensive case for using teacher portfolios for teacher evaluation and professional learning. Highly recommended by retired teacher and regional National Writing Project director Diana Grady. Read on.


Review: Experiencing mathematical thinking through body movements

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 21, 2017

Malke Rosenfeld's "Math on the Move: Engaging Students in Whole Body Learning" can help change students' mindsets about math and the patterns associated with mathematical thinking. Fourth-grade teacher Linda Biondi finds it packed with classroom tested activities, coaching tips, video clips and research to have students "dancing in the aisles"! Read more.


Amber Chandler: Tackling debate in the middle level classroom

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 20, 2017


Rethinking what's an "appropriate" education for students with disabilities

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 20, 2017

Noting the recent Supreme Court decision affirming high expectations and educational opportunities for all students with disabilities, author and instructional coach Elizabeth Stein looks at what's needed in the co-taught classroom to ensure an enduring commitment to inclusion in the future. Read on.


Current events: Helping students discover how the world works

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 20, 2017

Bit by bit, during each Friday's 43-minute current events session, Sarah Cooper's eighth-graders come closer to a democratic classroom culture that students really own. Through deep debate and discussion, sharing their ideas and their questions, they explore how the world works. Read more.


10 Cool Ways to Teach with Word Clouds

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 18, 2017


Avoiding the reefs as students navigate testing season

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 18, 2017

Without turning his classroom into "test prep central," teacher Kevin Hodgson is working to anticipate what his state's evolving standardized tests will contain and how best to help his sixth-graders prepare themselves with plenty of reading and writing strategies. How does your approach compare with his? Read on.


4 ways to integrate social-emotional learning

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 18, 2017

Integrating achievement-enhancing Social Emotional Learning requires educators to broaden their school goals beyond pure academics. Author and consultant Debbie Silver shares four tips for teaching "Thrive" skills that help lay the foundation for healthy, centered, and successful young adults. Read more.


Review: Meeting the challenges of being a principal

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 14, 2017

Want to know more about the "cart of good and evil" (Tip #153)? Former principal Mary Langer Thompson finds lots to like in the second edition of Franzy Fleck's "What Successful Principals do! 199 Tips for Principals." Quotations and research support the tips, and Thompson offers a rich sample. Read more.


Review: Math projects accompanied by weak lessons

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 14, 2017

State math consultant Sara Schafer is often asked for rich math projects at the elementary school level. While some of the projects in "10 Performance-Based Projects for the Math Classroom, Grades 3-5," by Todd Stanley show promise, the lack of mathematically robust content in the book disappoints Schafer. Learn more.


Review: A thorough guide to supporting student creativity

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 14, 2017

In "The Myth of the Muse: Supporting Virtues that Inspire Creativity," education researcher Douglas Reeves and actor son Brooks Reeves invite K-12 educators to help students experience creativity by incorporating experimentation, evaluation, and follow-through in the classroom. Pre-service teacher and theater major Sophie Cameron finds much of value in the book. Read more.


Turn geometry into a playground of ideas for middle-schoolers

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 13, 2017


How to overcome seasonal teacher fatigue

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 13, 2017

When spring fever rises and summer still seems far away, newbie and veteran teachers alike may feel they're losing their focus and their students are beginning to drift. Check out Elyse Scott's tips to regroup and re-energize for the final weeks of school. Read more.


5 ways to strengthen student resilience

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 13, 2017

Resilience is the ability to effectively handle pressure and to overcome failure. It's a characteristic that many of our struggling students do not bring to the classroom, yet it is one that we can teach. Barbara Blackburn shares five strategies that can help. Read on.


Leadership: How to get school projects and tasks "unstuck"

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 11, 2017


It's time to get beyond student learning styles

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 11, 2017

Stressing learning styles and multiple intelligences has limited value in understanding what kids *need* to learn, says award winning teacher Dr. Curtis Chandler. He suggests several strategies that emphasize a systematic focus on readiness and helping students to become metacognitive thinkers. Read more.


Make poetry studies fun with these 10 teaching ideas

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 11, 2017

Over the years, Cheryl Mizerny has crafted poetry experiences that her students really enjoy. Her reading and writing ideas enable kids to explore and understand poems without dreading the annual "poetry unit" she herself disliked as a tween. Mizerny shares 10 of her favorites, including creating found, book spine and redacted poetry! Read on.


Review: An essential guide to becoming an ELA teacher

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 07, 2017

Leila Christenbury and Ken Lindblom pack voices of teachers and students, activities, stories, recommended reading, and rich references into the journey they lay out for new and novice ELA teachers. Forty-year veteran Linda Biondi recommends "Making the Journey: Being and Becoming a Teacher of English Language Arts" without reservation. Learn more.


Review: Boosting learning through constant innovation

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 07, 2017

In "Courageous Edventures: Navigating Obstacles to Discover Classroom Innovation," Jennie Magiera urges teachers to pursue innovations that boost student engagement, build class culture, differentiate, promote digital citizenship and more. Laura Von Staden also likes Magiera's fresh and plentiful ideas about professional learning. Read more.


Review: Bring the excitement of real life to math class

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 07, 2017

Pre-service teacher Emmy Avery Witham didn't look forward to teaching math. But reading the engaging, real-world strategies in Tracy Johnston Zager's "Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You'd Had: Ideas and Strategies from Vibrant Classrooms" has boosted her confidence that she'll be able to help her students become successful mathematicians. Read on.


Nonfiction Writing: How to Build a Quote Sandwich

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 06, 2017


What middle schools can do to help girls be STEM-strong

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 06, 2017

Now's the time to empower middle grades girls with an understanding of their own STEM skills, strengths, and potential. STEM author and consultant Anne Jolly says hands-on projects, teamwork, and critical-thinking challenges are the best ways to assure girls of future success in engineering, life sciences and more. Read more.


Re-energize your classroom for the run to summer

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 06, 2017

As spring temperatures rise (and testing begins) students and teachers start to get antsy. What can we do to make end-of-year at school more productive and enjoyable while also saving our sanity? After 17 springs in the classroom, Amber Chandler has three ideas that may help ease the jitters. Learn more.


"What I Learned By Recording My Daily Teaching"

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 04, 2017


How instructional rounds can lead to equity and engagement

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 04, 2017

Using their own version of observer-centered instructional rounds, teachers at Mrachek Middle School in Aurora, Colo., are focused on surfacing the best personalized methods to engage every student equitably and effectively. After two years, the effort is producing solid results and "some epiphanies." Two leaders of the effort, assistant principal Colin Hynes and consultant Yemi Stembridge, tell the story. Read on.


Happy birthday, Ponyboy: Why kids still love "The Outsiders"

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Apr 04, 2017

If bibliotherapy is an effective way to ease the growing pains of adolescents, writes 7th-grade ELA teacher Laurie Lichtenstein, "The Outsiders" seems like the gold standard of therapy in middle-grades literature. The 50-year-old book, written by a teenage girl, is the only whole-class novel she teaches each year. And kids still love it. Read more.


Review: A year in search of thriving public schools

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Mar 31, 2017

On a leave of absence, teacher David B. Cohen traveled to 70 California schools to meet inspired teachers who experience autonomy and opportunities to lead. "Capturing the Spark: Inspired Teaching, Thriving Schools" shares his personal journey. Though his visits lack the rigor of balanced research, Mary Langer Thompson says the book helps show readers what's good about public schools. Read more.


Review: A refreshing approach to teaching essay writing

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Mar 31, 2017

In "The Journey is Everything: Teaching Essays that Students Want to Write for People Who Want to Read Them," Katherine Bomer provides concrete suggestions that help teachers move away from formulaic essay teaching while helping young writers name and revise their thinking, reveal truth and weave in other voices as they draft, fine-tune and revise, says Brian Kelley. Read on.


Review: Help students confront social cruelty & injustice

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Mar 31, 2017

Rosalind Wiseman's "Owning Up: Empowering Adolescents to Confront Social Cruelty, Bullying, and Injustice" takes on the ambitious task of talking to middle-school students about some of the complex social situations adolescents encounter. Maeghan Warburton highly recommends the 17 flexible lessons addressing bullying, social cruelty and injustice. Read more.


Leadership: Tips on growing a positive school culture

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Mar 30, 2017


Inclusion: How to be the ripple effect in your school

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Mar 30, 2017

Instructional coach Elizabeth Stein calls on co-teachers to create powerful ripple effects throughout the nation's classrooms, using positive actions to strengthen inclusion and every student's sense of achieving their best. She offers six jumping-off places to start the wave, including pushing back on "ableist" words and actions. Read more.


What one teacher learned by watching her own teaching

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Mar 30, 2017

When math educator Michelle Russell made videos of her own teaching, reality turned out to be much different than what she had imagined was happening. In a refreshingly transparent voice, Russell describes what she's learning by examining herself and her students at work -- and what she plans to do to improve her practice. Read on.


How would Madeline Hunter do it?

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Mar 28, 2017

At the recent ASCD Empower17 conference, MiddleWeb blogger Mary Tarashuk received the annual Educators' Choice Content Award for her Kids on the Cusp blog post "Teaching By Doing Something Meaningful." In a new article, Tarashuk recalls Madeline Hunter's simple teaching wisdom and considers the learning power that derives from daily writing with her students. Read on.


How to Help Students Brainstorm an Essay

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Mar 28, 2017


Blending cinema, media literacy and STEM/STEAM studies

MiddleWeb SmartBrief | Mar 28, 2017

As moviemakers transition from analog techniques to ever-advancing digital technologies that meet the expectations of 21st-century audiences, it's a perfect time to consider blending cinema, media literacy, and career-oriented STEM/STEAM studies. Movie production expert Frank W. Baker explores the possibilities in this new post at his "Close Reading the Media" blog, offering a selection of teaching ideas and resources. Read more.




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