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February 1, 2013
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All About the Middle Grades

  Teaching in the Middle 
  • How projects that make a difference can motivate students to learn
    Technology alone may not motivate students, but projects that allow students to utilize technology to make a positive difference in the world can entice them to both work and learn, teacher Bill Ferriter writes in this blog post. With the Common Core State Standards in nonfiction in mind, Ferriter had his students research the soda ban in New York City and create a blog for tweens about making healthy food choices. "They are also learning about the role that graphics can play in changing minds, learning about convincing statistics and reliable sources, and learning that learning can ACTUALLY be fun," Ferriter writes. Teacher Leaders Network/Tempered Radical blog (1/29) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • 8 tips for using brain research in the classroom
    This article offers eight suggestions for using neuroscience research to improve learning from a presentation given this week by educational consultant David Sousa at FETC 2013. Among his tips are using movement and music -- such as rap lyrics that explain how to find the perimeter of an octagon -- to help students remember concepts, and discouraging multi-tasking while doing schoolwork. T.H.E. Journal (1/31) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

Shake up your writing instruction. In Renew! literacy specialist Shawna Coppola provides a framework for rethinking how we teach the writing process, the tools we use, how we assess student writing, and our roles as writing teachers. A provocative, inspiring, and motivating read. Preview the entire book!
  Tweens & Young Teens 
  • Should teachers take the lead in addressing students' mental health?
    The tragic school shooting in Newtown, Conn., demonstrates the need for "mental-health literacy" and expanded mental-health services in schools, writes Laura C. Murray, a doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, in Philadelphia. In this commentary, she writes that, among other things, schools and teaching colleges should train educators to meet students' mental-health needs and identify students who need services. "With proper and ongoing training, teachers can become adept at identifying children who need services while also promoting mental health throughout the school community," she writes. Education Week (premium article access compliments of (1/30) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
Implementing A District-Wide Science Success
Veteran education leader Mike Dillon has helped his school district continue on a steady path of success in science. The Smithsonian’s Science and Technology Concepts program and kits, available through Carolina Biological, have ensured that an entire district maintains a culture of high academic achievement. Read the case study.
  Classroom Innovation 
  • How to tackle the Super Bowl in the classroom
    With Super Bowl fever taking over ahead of Sunday's big game, Matt Davis, editorial assistant at Edutopia, shares seven resources in this blog post to help teachers include the game in classroom lessons. Resources include a video explaining the science behind football; ideas for using the game in math, statistics, history and writing lessons; plus a website that offers 12 Super Bowl-related activities for students. Davis' blog (1/29) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Social studies unit takes Ill. 7th-graders back to colonial era
    Seventh-grade students from Geneva Middle School North in Illinois recently donned costumes and took on the roles of famous and not-so-famous colonial-era Americans as they wrapped up a unit on the time period. In the school gym, students played roles as merchants and customers conducting transactions with crowns and shillings, while a student portraying George Washington gave a speech to inspire the troops. "We wanted to have one day to pull everything together they have learned," said social studies teacher James Cook. Chicago Tribune (tiered subscription model) (1/31) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Technology & Connected Learning 
  • Learning to "think backwards" when integrating technology
    Educators need to stay focused on learning while integrating technology in the classroom, teacher and consultant Kristen Swanson writes in this blog post. Swanson suggests beginning the process by learning to "think backwards." First, identify goals based on learning outcomes -- not technology tools -- and establish the way those goals will be measured, then consider which technology tools will help achieve those goals. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Education (1/29) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Tweets that changed one educator's week
    In this blog post, Lisa Noble, a teacher in Ontario, Canada, describes how her week was affected by Twitter. First, she and hundreds of others were able to subscribe to a Twitter feed of a reporter covering an important labor issue, giving them access to timely updates. Next, Noble writes how her students are benefiting from the tweets of a Canadian astronaut, who is providing updates of his mission and experiences at the international space station. Lastly, Noble writes that a tweet of her own provided needed help from her professional network. Powerful Learning Practice/Voices from the Learning Revolution blog (1/29) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Middle Grades Leadership 
  • Experienced teachers share what they wish they'd known earlier
    Experienced teachers think back on their careers and offer advice for others in this blog post compiled by Judy Willis, a neurologist and teacher. Included in their advice about goals and resources, as well as words of warning, is a suggestion from Georgia middle-school teacher Amy Fanusi to feel comfortable sharing ideas with colleagues and trying something new. Educators also urge new teachers to consult their colleagues on best practices but also keep in mind the importance of confidentiality in some cases. Willis' blog (1/30) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
  MiddleWeb Recommends 
  • Common core help: Teaching argument vs. evidence
    With the ELA Common Core State Standards moving up from the back burner, teachers are looking for all the help they can get. In this MiddleWeb guest article, Sarah Tantillo, author of The Literacy Cookbook, addresses a challenging task -- sifting out argument vs. evidence. Her six-step process can bring all students to the learning table. Read more. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • 2 Teachers in the Room: What Kids Say about Inclusion
    Readers of our MiddleWeb blog have heard a lot about co-teaching from the perspective of professional educators. But what do the kids think? Special educator Elizabeth Stein asked the general education students in her 7th grade study hall what they think about their co-taught classrooms. The answers are revealing. Read on. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat."
--F. Scott Fitzgerald,
American writer

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