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December 7, 2012
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All About the Middle Grades

  Teaching in the Middle 
  • How teachers can use grades to motivate students
    Grading practices can be used to motivate students, eighth-grade language arts teacher Ryan Kinser writes. In this opinion article, Kinser offers several suggestions, including giving ungraded feedback, allowing students to fail and try again, giving some leeway on deadlines, and giving students credit for completed classwork but grading tests based on correct responses. He also suggests grading student participation and giving students some ungraded free-play time. Education Week Teacher (premium article access compliments of (12/4) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • 7th grade is seen as pivotal year for math students
    Students who struggle with math in seventh grade should be steered toward a comprehensive pre-algebra course in eighth grade before they try taking Algebra I in ninth grade, according to a recent report on math achievement in the schools by WestEd's Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning. Seventh-grade math performance was noted as a strong predictor for future math success or struggle, and researchers found that sending students into Algebra I without a strong foundation can result in ongoing academic problems. EdSource (12/6) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
Improve Reading and Writing in Content Areas
Developed for middle and high school teachers, the classroom-ready lessons in this practical guide will help strengthen students' reading comprehension and written expression so they can master academic content. Learn more about this research-backed guide by downloading your free chapter today!
  Tweens & Young Teens 
  • PE classes are used to teach students healthy habits
    A middle-school physical-education teacher in North Carolina is working to transform his district's PE curriculum. Andrew Cambruzzi teaches students about the importance of exercise and healthy eating habits -- helping them to develop good habits early. He also assigns homework to students, such as taking a walk with their parents or preparing a healthy meal at home. "I understand the value of the core classes," he said, "but a healthy body equals a healthy mind." The Charlotte Observer (N.C.) (12/7) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

"Like having a literature expert and master teacher at your side all year long."Linda Hoyt. The new edition of Mentor Texts helps students become confident, accomplished writers by using literature as their foundation. It's filled with classroom examples, new "Your Turn" lessons, and a completely updated "Treasure Chest" of annotated book suggestions. Preview the entire book!
  Classroom Innovation 
  • The pros and cons of a flipped-classroom approach
    In this blog post, sixth-grade language arts and social science teacher Josh Stumpenhorst explains that he does not consider the flipped-classroom approach as "sound practice," in part because it mandates learning outside of school. However, the model has helped some educators improve their teaching by focusing more on problem-based learning turning their video lectures into supplemental classroom materials, Stumpenhorst notes. "They are simply evolving their teaching to meet the needs of the individual learners and are using a plethora of tools and resources to do so," he writes. Stump The Teacher blog (12/3) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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.
  Technology & Connected Learning 
  • Duncan: Connected educators find success, challenges
    The connected educator movement may be relatively new, but it has great potential to guide the future of professional development for teachers, Education Secretary Arne Duncan writes in this blog post. He also writes about the challenges faced, including the need for online professional learning to count toward professional development and for there to be greater support for online social learning and problem solving among teachers. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Education (12/7) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • How teachers can create a PLN to improve their practice
    A true personal learning network consists of more than simply following other educators on social media and sharing links of interest, author and Powerful Learning Practice CEO Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach writes in this opinion article. Nussbaum-Beach offers a number of suggestions on how to develop a thriving PLN, which can help transform a teacher's practice, she suggests. "PLNs are the do-it-yourself piece in the 21st-century professional development menu," she writes. Educational Horizons magazine online (11/30) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
  Middle Grades Leadership 
  • Should principals return to classrooms to update their ideas?
    Educator Pernille Ripp in this blog post considers whether principals should have limited leadership terms before being sent temporarily back to the classroom to refresh their knowledge of teaching. Ripp first thought of the idea when noting how her own practices -- and ideas about education -- have changed significantly during the five years she has been in the classroom. "After all, there are only so many conferences, articles, discussions you can experience and even those will never add up to more classroom experience," she writes. Blogging through the Fourth Dimension blog (12/2) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Facilitation tools for teacher teams
    Transformational leadership coach Elena Aguilar offers three steps that she and coaches she works with use to facilitate and guide teams of teachers and administrators. For example, Aguilar writes, facilitators need to structure meetings to counter any power dynamics that would make someone less likely to participate. "We want to ensure that all voices will be heard and will have equal access to decision-making and input," Aguilar writes. Aguilar's blog (12/5) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
  MiddleWeb Recommends 
  • Teaching about faith-based holidays
    When it comes to holidays in December, public school teachers may wonder: what's legal, what's district policy, what's fun? In this MiddleWeb Resource Roundup, we follow the lead of Edutopia blogger Anne O'Brien who considers First Amendment issues, suggests homing in on local policy and emphasizes educating over celebrating. Our post is also packed with lesson plans and activities to engage children of all backgrounds. Read on. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Fearless planning for co-teachers
    If the search for a perfect co-planning relationship frustrates you, Elizabeth Stein shares three "simple mindshifts" that have made her a fearless co-teacher in every unpredictable planning situation. First shift: "Rather than wasting my energy on wishing for and trying to make consistent and meaningful common planning time (it just won't exist, for a variety of reasons), I take and make what time I can get." MiddleWeb's Two Teachers in the Room blog. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it."
--Charles Buxton,
British brewer, philanthropist, writer and legislator

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