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December 14, 2012
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All About the Middle Grades

  Teaching in the Middle 
  • How to use TED Talks to create a lesson for deeper learning
    Middle-grades educator Heather Wolpert-Gawron in this blog post describes a project she has created to provide deeper, differentiated learning for students involving communication skills. As part of the project, aligned to the Common Core State Standards focus on argument, Wolpert-Gawron uses TED Talks speeches to help students become content experts on various subjects. Then they each choose a particular subject to advocate for -- eventually coming to a consensus as part of a group -- and use tools, such as websites and podcasts, to communicate their ideas. Wolpert-Gawron's blog (12/13) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Teacher: Use "learner-centered" assessments
    Dolores Gende is evolving as a teacher -- from one who uses a teacher-focused model to a model that is "learner-centered." Gende writes in this blog post that part of that transition this year includes a change in the way she conducts assessments. She writes about her use of authentic assessments, in which students are asked to make real-world connections to academic lessons, and complete performance task assessments "where they were presented with context rich scenarios that required a meaningful application of the concepts." Powerful Learning Practice (12/11) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

"Shows teachers how to bring history alive within their classrooms...a wonderful resource." —Ken Burns. Take the Journey gives you engaging, classroom-tested lessons focused on the 180-mile National Heritage area from Gettysburg to Monticello. Use the teaching strategies to explore historical places in your own community. Preview the entire book!
  Tweens & Young Teens 
  • Role-playing exercise teaches middle-school students about poverty
    Sixty middle-school students from Yavneh Day School in Los Gatos, Calif., spent part of a recent afternoon figuring out how to make ends meet in a month in the life of a family living in poverty. Broken into groups of three to five, students were given a scenario, such as being a single parent and a high-school dropout, and had to make decisions, such as whether to pay a utility bill or buy clothes for a child. "I realized how important it is to be thankful for what you do have," sixth-grader Shira Fishbin said. San Jose Mercury News (Calif.) (free registration) (12/10) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Classroom Innovation 
  • Gift-buying project offers lessons in money matters for N.C. students
    About 120 Apex, N.C., sixth-graders set out to buy $100 in presents for three boys and three girls as part of an Angel Tree project. Teachers, however, used the opportunity to teach the students about calculating discounts, taxes and other money-related matters. "Each student was assigned a role: team leader, map reader, calculator, checker or timekeeper," said math teacher Karla Mullen. The Cary News (N.C.) (12/11) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
  Technology & Connected Learning 
  • All Internet access is not created equal
    In this blog post, technology teacher Mary Beth Hertz writes that a recent push for universal Internet access is not sufficient for bridging the digital divide. She writes about the limitations of accessing the Internet using mobile devices and suggests that the focus should be on ensuring that students not only have access to the Internet but sufficient tools. One solution, she writes, is for schools to beef up technology courses and integrate technology education throughout the curriculum. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Education (12/12) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
  Middle Grades Leadership 
  • Good coach-teacher relationship leads to purposeful planning
    Better lesson planning and troubleshooting instruction are what a Chambersburg, Pa., sixth-grade English language arts teacher Kristy Bankert says she gets from her weekly meetings with literacy coach Cynthia Henry. Calling it purposeful planning, Henry works directly with Bankert to address student needs. "That is a definite added bonus to having a coach. That has really driven my instruction this year -- just knowing I have that support and someone who's going to help me," Bankert said. Public Opinion (Chambersburg, Pa.) (12/7) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Giving teachers support, training pays off in Boston
    Students' test scores have risen at six struggling Boston schools participating in a program in which teachers are given additional training and support, as well as greater opportunities to take on leadership roles, according to a report. The T3 Initiative program, a collaboration between Boston Public Schools and the nonprofit Teach Plus, showed greater rates of success than other turnaround schools that adopted other strategies, including staff changes and longer school days. The Hechinger Report (12/11) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  MiddleWeb Recommends 
  • MiddleWeb's Top 12 Resource Roundups!
    Resource Roundups are among MiddleWeb's most popular website features. Co-editor Susan B. Curtis, who's been both a middle-grades teacher and a reference librarian, produces these theme-based, resource-laden essays several times each month. Here are a dozen reader favorites from our first six months -- just in time for browsing over the winter break! Read on. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Co-teachers working on grade-level teams
    At special-education teacher Laurie Wasserman's middle school, co-teachers work as members of grade-level teams. In this new post at MiddleWeb's Two Teachers in the Room blog, Laurie shares some of the ways she and her colleagues work together collaboratively -- including ideas to increase classroom fun and engagement while keeping the learning going for everyone. Read more. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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The best preparation for tomorrow is to do today's work superbly well."
--William Osler,
Canadian physician

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