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April 23, 2013
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All About the Middle Grades

  Teaching in the Middle 
  • Teacher: Why schools need more problem-based learning
    The best education reform is shifting instruction away from single-answer responses to messier problems for students to solve, with multiple answers and no single method to find an answer, educator Tim Holt writes in this blog post. "We cannot in all honesty think that students can possibly be prepared to solve life's messy problems when for years all they have been taught to do was look for the single best answer on the standardized test," writes Holt, a veteran educator in Texas. Powerful Learning Practice (4/19) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Minn. district transforms junior highs into middle schools
    Six junior high schools in Minnesota's St. Paul School District are being transformed into middle schools as part of a plan to improve school culture and raise academic achievement among students. The district is overhauling the middle grades as the six schools in the fall will be adding sixth-graders who will be supported by orientation and mentoring programs, and by teachers who collaborate in grade-level teams. Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.) (4/20) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Ohio middle-school students to learn to research, write papers
    Northwest Local Schools in Ohio has created a separate middle-school course, called Fifth Core, by adding 30 minutes to English courses. Developed in response to the Common Core State Standards, the course will be taught by English, social studies and science teachers, with a focus on teaching middle-school students how to research and write papers. "These new standards require our kids to do research, to look up sources and think about them, make an opinion and put it in writing in a clear way," said Mark Farmer, assistant superintendent. Cincinnati Enquirer, The (tiered subscription model) (4/19) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Tweens & Young Teens 
  • Md. middle school will offer summer camp to incoming students
    Charles Carroll Middle School in New Carrollton, Md., will offer three one-week camps this summer to acquaint its incoming sixth- and seventh-graders with the middle-school structure. The camp will focus on organizational and time management skills and is being paid for out of Title I funds. "There's an expectation [in middle school] to manage notebooks or class assignments from four or five different teachers, while they've usually only dealt with one teacher in elementary school," principal David Curry said. The Gazette (Gaithersburg, Md.) (4/22) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News

Rubrics. Test questions. Tiering assessments. Grading effort. Redos. Report cards. In his thoroughly revised edition of Fair Isn't Always Equal, Rick Wormeli provides a thorough guide for teachers and administrators to tackle challenging and controversial assessment and grading practices in the differentiated classroom. Preview the entire book!
  Classroom Innovation 
  • Busting myths about project-based learning
    There are a lot of misconceptions about project-based learning, writes Andrew Miller, who serves on the national faculty for the Buck Institute for Education and ASCD. In this blog post, Miller seeks to dispel some of those myths, including what types of projects are included in project-based learning, how much time is consumed by project-based learning and that students will copy work from other students. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Education (4/19) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Stocks game gives students a taste of real-world investments
    Students enrolled in an accelerated math class at a Pennsylvania elementary school are playing the market through the international The Stock Market Game and getting a feel for real-world investments. The curriculum teaches students about math, economics and social studies, and allows them to grow $100,000 in investments, researching, plus buying and selling stocks -- all using up-to-date market prices. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (4/18) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
  Technology & Connected Learning 
  • Initiative to provide free online classes for STEM educators
    The HP Catalyst Academy -- a collaboration between the International Society for Technology in Education, the New Media Consortium and HP -- will release a series of short online professional development classes in June. Course titles include Connecting Students to their World, Game Design for Learning and Weaving Social Media into STEM Teaching. T.H.E. Journal (4/18) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
Dynamic Vocabulary with Wordly Wise 3000® Online
Students can now enjoy the beloved Wordly Wise 3000® program in a new dynamic online format. Keep students engaged with interactive activities as they master critical grade-level vocabulary and improve reading comprehension. The program includes full audio support and features robust progress monitoring reports. Learn more and watch a sample lesson online.
  Middle Grades Leadership 
  • Educator: Defining good teaching
    While presenting workshops recently, education consultant and award-winning teacher Nancy Flanagan asked educators to describe what good teaching looks like. Teachers gave various answers, such as not lining desks in rows and ensuring the teacher is circulating and maintaining a dialogue with students. Missing from the conversation, Flanagan writes in this blog post, was "what the teacher was thinking -- and how he made decisions as the lesson unfolded. Whether the teacher had clear learning goals, and if her goals were important and worth pursuing." Education Week Teacher/Teacher in a Strange Land blog (4/19) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  MiddleWeb Recommends 
  • All About Rubrics: A Classic MiddleWeb Resource Roundup!
    Each month hundreds of educators try to reach pages on MiddleWeb's original website (phased out in 2012) where we once featured some of the most popular articles about rubrics on the Web. So we figure it's time to update those still useful posts and create a place for them at our new home. While we're at it, we've also pulled together a selection of excellent contemporary resources about effective use of rubrics in your classroom. Read more. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • What students like about STEM lessons
    STEM curriculum writer Anne Jolly spent a week in math and science classrooms with students, testing teachers' STEM lesson ideas through the engineering design process. The student feedback not only improved the physical science/math projects, but Anne was able to gain new insight into the conditions that make STEM lessons appealing and exciting for middle graders. Read on. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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The fear of being laughed at makes cowards of us all."
--Mignon McLaughlin,
American author and journalist

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