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March 5, 2013
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All About the Middle Grades

  Teaching in the Middle 
  • How organization gives meaning to classroom work
    How a teacher organizes a course -- from the pacing to the order of lessons -- has an impact on students' perception of their learning experience, middle-grades educator Ariel Sacks writes in this blog post. Each experience in the classroom from small assignments to larger concepts must seem connected and part of a larger curriculum for students to feel like the teacher is "organized" and the subject is "important," she writes. TransformED (3/4) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • A TV-inspired outline for improving school curriculum
    The Food Network show "Restaurant Impossible" offers insights that could help educators upgrade their curriculum, suggests Mike Fisher, an educational consultant and instructional coach. He writes in this blog post that, like on the show that focuses on turning around struggling restaurants, teachers should focus on what's working and what's not, prioritize improvements, gather a team, budget resources and make a plan to sustain the improvements. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Education (3/1) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News

Do you feel overwhelmed? Practicing Presence is the book you need to take care of yourself as a teacher. Veteran educator Lisa Lucas supports you with ideas, exercises, checklists, anecdotes, and simple practices you can use to establish a mindset that will enhance your focus and engagement in the classroom. Preview the entire book!
  Tweens & Young Teens 
  • Efforts ramp up to stop cyberbullying
    The cyberbullying epidemic increasingly is affecting students -- on social media and beyond -- with about one-quarter of teenagers reportedly having experienced cyberbullying at some point, according to one researcher. Experts and advocates recommend keeping a record of online bullying and showing evidence, such as an e-mail or Facebook communication, to a trusted adult. The organization also provides a place where victims of bullying can connect, find resources and share their stories. CNN (3/3) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Classroom Innovation 
  • Calif. school incorporates design thinking in every class
    At Nueva School in Hillsborough, Calif., design thinking is part of the curriculum for all students in grades K-8. For example, fourth-graders were asked to design new LED lamps based on which of their family members they observed needing a new light source. The projects weave together many goals of the Common Core State Standards and incorporate service to others, says Kim Saxe, director of Nueva's iLab. "Our faculty loved that design thinking increased student empathy. We always have them designing for a classmate or someone in the community rather than just themselves," Saxe said. blog (3/4) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • How nonfiction teaches scientific problem-solving
    Nonfiction works written by scientists can help illustrate the process of inquiry, problem-solving and discovery for students, and satisfy common-core goals, educators Myra Zarnowski, Marc Aronson and Mary Ann Cappiello write. They offer examples of book titles and questions to pose when discussing books they consider "literature of inquiry." "Teachers have reported that when students closely follow an unfolding inquiry, they feel as if they are accompanying the scientists on their journey," they write. School Library Journal (3/4) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Technology & Connected Learning 
  • Why online classrooms need virtual "hangouts" for students
    Teachers creating online classrooms of videotaped lessons and supplemental materials should include a virtual "student lounge" to allow students to collaborate and socialize, educator Heather Wolpert-Gawron writes in this blog post. Wolpert-Gawron offers ideas to engage students and suggests software programs for creating the space. "Students have an interesting way of sharing online fascinating facts about themselves and their thoughts about lessons in a way that sometimes doesn't come out in the traditional classroom," she writes. Wolpert-Gawron's blog (3/1) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
  Middle Grades Leadership 
  • Calif. district uses "teacher specialists" to implement common core
    The Santa Ana Unified School District in California is using a team of 44 "teacher specialists" to craft lesson plans to align with Common Core State Standards and to coach other teachers on literacy instruction. Teacher specialists, for example, may suggest historical material to use in a language arts lesson. The district has piloted common core literacy instruction at some elementary schools, and 92% of 720 teachers have reported the standards as being "effective or very effective," said Michelle Rodriguez, the district's common core implementation director. The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.) (2/28) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  MiddleWeb Recommends 
  • Resources for National Middle Level Education Month
    March is Middle Level Education Month, and we've pulled together resources and activities from a variety of organizations that support the education of young adolescents. The beginning of spring is a great time to celebrate tweens and young teens, who are (as NASSP put it) often misunderstood and even maddening, but also magnificent. We point to copious background materials that can help middle grades educators promote their schools and their important work all month. Learn more. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • 6 world-saving STEM challenges for middle-schoolers
    Science educator and MiddleWeb blogger Anne Jolly highlights six global engineering challenges that can produce "real problems" for middle grades students to address through STEM lessons & projects. They're drawn from the 14 Grand Challenges identified in 2008 by the National Academy of Engineering. Anne offers some ideas about ways to engage adolescent minds as they grapple with elements of the world's most difficult STEM-related dilemmas. Read on. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun's rays do not burn until brought to a focus."
--Alexander Graham Bell,
Scottish-born American inventor

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