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January 18, 2013
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All About the Middle Grades

  Teaching in the Middle 
  • Why not let students use their smartphones for learning?
    Middle-grades educator Heather Wolpert-Gawron in this blog post suggests that schools should allow students to use the smartphones they are already bringing to class for learning. Even those students not otherwise seen as "responsible" are keeping track of their own devices at school, she notes. "If our job is to help bridge the gap between school life and real life, let's stop blocking students from using that which they already own, use, and respect," she writes. (1/17) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • How do teachers' expectations affect student achievement?
    Professional development on how teacher expectations and preconceptions affect student achievement should be a part of all teacher training, especially for new teachers, according to a recent report from the Education Commission of the States. The recommendations come as part of a research review done by the organization, showing that 5% to 10% of the achievement gap might be related to teacher expectations. The group also recommends that teacher evaluations include measurements of teachers' expectations and perceptions of students. Education Week Teacher/Teaching Now blog (1/16) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Persuasive writing lessons are planned for English-language learners
    Middle-school students with a moderate understanding of the English language soon will be taught persuasive writing as part of a test unit that uses complex works, such as the Gettysburg Address, education reporter Lesli Maxwell writes in this blog post. Developed by Stanford University's Understanding Language team, the unit is expected to determine the resources, teacher knowledge and instructional supports required to teach a rigorous, Common Core State Standards-based curriculum to English learners. The unit will be tested by as many as 10 teachers in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., Chicago and Denver school districts. Education Week/Learning the Language blog (1/16) 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 
  • How to set students on path for success in the new year
    Avoid the trappings of New Year's resolutions that are unsuccessful by helping students make plans for short-term successes, writes Maurice Elias, a psychology professor at Rutgers University. In this blog post, Elias suggests asking students to write two learning goals they wish to accomplish during the next three weeks and share their goals with a classmate. Their peers, Elias writes, can help students establish plans for success and keep them on track. Elias' blog (1/16) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Classroom Innovation 
  • Mass. fourth-graders study genetics of zebrafish
    Fourth-graders at two Massachusetts schools recently participated in university-created program called BioEYES in which they mate zebrafish -- which have a quick gestational period -- to study and predict the genetics of their offspring. As part of the weeklong program, students studied the embryos under a microscope, and wrote and drew their observations in booklets. "I think the kids are really starting to think concretely about science, and they really want to see it in action," Williams College neuroscience professor Martha Marvin said. (North Adams, Mass.) (1/16) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Spreading lessons about viruses and the flu
    Teachers can integrate topics related to the flu, which has reached epidemic levels this year, in classroom lessons, write Katherine Schulten, Suzi Boss and Jennifer Cutraro. They suggest several resources that provide background on the flu, viruses and vaccines, as well as lesson plans in which students work with data related to the flu. Lessons also can allow students to role-play as public-health experts, running scenarios in which they seek to curb the outbreak. The New York Times (tiered subscription model)/The Learning Network blog (1/16) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
  Technology & Connected Learning 
  • Google offers tool for teaching digital literacy
    As educators struggle with how to teach students to conduct proper online research, Google's Search Education is a free resource that offers lesson plans and activities designed to teach digital literacy. To help students develop their online-research skills, the source offers free instructor-led courses on top searching techniques, "A Google A Day" challenges and live training. EdTech magazine (1/14) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
  Middle Grades Leadership 
  • A do-it-yourself approach to professional development
    School leaders should abandon the traditional professional-development model in favor of more user-generated learning, writes Lyn Hilt, an elementary-school principal and technology integrator/coach. That approach, Hilt writes in this blog post, includes learning that has active curation, reflection and contribution, as educator and founding member of Edcamp, Kristen Swanson, describes in her book, "Professional Learning in the Digital Age: The Educator's Guide to User-Generated Learning." Powerful Learning Practice (1/15) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  MiddleWeb Recommends 
  • Great resources for Black History Month
    When Carter G. Woodson established Negro History Week in the 1920's, Africans Americans were facing severe repression and discrimination. Each February we remember, reflect and create more forward momentum during Black History Month. This MiddleWeb Resource Roundup brings together collections of primary resources and interactive websites to help the history of Black Americans come alive for students. Read more. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • It's time for a midyear co-teaching check up
    The winter break is over and the rhythms of school life have resumed, writes special-education teacher Elizabeth Stein. It's the perfect time for co-teachers to do a mid-year check up. Stein's review includes a classroom management "reality check" and the all-important (if more unsettling) "co-teacher role check." At MiddleWeb's Two Teachers in the Room blog LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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If I had my life to live over, I would perhaps have more actual troubles but I'd have fewer imaginary ones."
--Don Herold,
American humorist, writer and cartoonist

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