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January 11, 2013
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All About the Middle Grades

  Teaching in the Middle 
  • Taking a new approach to students who challenge us
    Educators might be best able to reach difficult students -- and in turn become better teachers -- by changing their attitude toward those students, educational consultant and author Allen Mendler writes in this blog post. Mendler proposes an experiment where a teacher thinks of how they treat their best student when they do well or make a mistake and then maintain a similar attitude toward their most difficult student as well. "We are much more likely to influence change in others when we treat them as we want them to be rather than as they are," Mendler writes Mendler's blog (1/10) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Texas teacher favors learning that tackles problems
    Tasking students to solve a real-world problem, especially one with an ethical dilemma, gives children the skills that employers are looking for, writes Tim Holt, instructional-technology director of El Paso, Texas, Independent School District. "We need to start thinking about ways of flipping the classroom that truly means flipping the way we teach -- not just having kids watch videos at night," Holt writes in this blog post. Powerful Learning Practice (1/10) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

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!
  Tweens & Young Teens 
  • Should the common core include social, emotional learning?
    Common Core State Standards do not represent a whole-child approach to education, write Howard Adelman and Linda Taylor, co-directors of the Center for Mental Health in Schools at the University of California, Los Angeles. Instead, they write in this blog post, some districts are seeking to fill the void in the new standards by expanding the curriculum to include a focus on social and emotional learning and the challenges many students face such as learning disabilities and poverty. The Huffington Post/The Blog (1/8) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • How to help students take ownership at school
    It is important for students to demonstrate ownership over their learning communities, writes Jennifer Barnett, a veteran teacher and technology integration specialist. In this article, she offers seven ways educators can help students take ownership at school. Among the ideas are to give students the freedom to imagine possibilities, invite students to help craft the school's identity, allow students to host visitors at school and give students more information than they may need rather than too little. Education Week Teacher (premium article access compliments of (1/8) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
  Classroom Innovation 
  • Mass. students use family histories for school project
    An art and writing workshop at Green Meadow School in Maynard, Mass., has grown into a way for students and their families to learn more about themselves. In putting together books called "Family Stories Through Art," Sharon Santillo asked her students to research their families and, in some cases, parents discovered information they never knew before from other relatives. Students illustrated the stories about their family members, who were labor leaders, immigrants and entertainers. Wicked Local/Stow, Mass. (1/8) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
  Technology & Connected Learning 
  • Tech developers are recruited to boost middle-school math scores
    New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Dennis Walcott have launched the App Gap Challenge, in which software developers create applications aimed to help middle-school students learn math. "Students who fall behind in middle school math are likely to remain behind through high school and less likely to graduate ready for college," Bloomberg said. (New York) (1/7) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Middle Grades Leadership 
  • Connected approach is used to help develop teacher-leaders
    One teacher trainer is looking to change the way teachers learn by helping them connect and collaborate with each another. Digital-learning advocate and teacher trainer Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach says the transformation of professional development in her approach involves connected educators collaborating in professional learning communities -- often online. However, Nussbaum-Beach says she prefers more meaningful connections, as opposed to Twitter. T.H.E. Journal (1/8) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Helping teachers implement common core
    Common Core State Standards may require teachers to make changes in how they teach, but coaches can help them get there by taking small steps, transformational leadership coach Elena Aguilar writes. She suggests school leaders help teachers identify their current skills and additional skills needed, then provide appropriate professional development. "It's daunting and scary and has potential for improving learning outcomes and experiences for children, as long as we map the journey that our teachers will need to take in order to fulfill this potential," Aguilar writes in this blog post. Education Week Teacher/The Art of Coaching Teachers blog (1/8) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  MiddleWeb Recommends 
  • A new literacy: Teaching visual media
    Engaging students in creating and analyzing still images and films is a key strategy for teaching the 21st-century skill of visual media literacy. In the first segment of a two-part MiddleWeb article, professional development consultant Frank Baker relates the story of a fourth-grade class that researched, wrote and produced public service announcements and deepened their understanding about the language of film. Next: Visual media & the Common Core. Read more. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • 2 Teachers in the Room: When students are struggling
    It's the time of year when some students "are falling apart," writes Laurie Wasserman at MiddleWeb's Two Teachers in the Room blog. "The reality of their academic struggles is like getting into a cold car on a winter morning. It's a wake-up call: we need to warm things up by making a plan for them and for ourselves." Wasserman begins a five-part series of posts with ideas about helping students strengthen their organizational skills. Read on. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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--Thomas Jefferson,
3rd U.S. president

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