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March 1, 2013
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All About the Middle Grades

  Teaching in the Middle 
  • Why teachers should share their ideas with peers
    Sharing success stories allows teachers to get new ideas and to revive the passion of the profession, middle-grades educator Susan Lucille Davis writes in this blog post. Comparing it to Show and Tell in elementary classrooms, Davis offers suggestions to facilitate idea exchanges, such as giving colleagues 5 minutes to present a lesson or a new online tool from their classrooms. "In the end, it also places a high value on self-directed learning by asking us to be accountable for our time and to our colleagues," she writes. Powerful Learning Practice (2/28) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • N.J. middle school adjusts schedule to boost literacy
    A Jackson, N.J., middle school will pilot a block schedule next year that will devote 90 minutes to literacy and split science and social studies into single-semester courses. Students will have fewer class periods, which will be extended to 67 minutes from 45 minutes. "I just feel this is something that will not take away from homework, will not take away from tests, but will allow students to focus more on the classes they have instead of spreading themselves very thin," principal Robert Rotante said. Asbury Park Press (Neptune-Asbury Park, N.J.) (2/28) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News

"Wakes us up and challenges us to infuse new life, depth, and joy into the warm-up segment of our math block."Lucy West. Number Sense Routines for grades 3-5 shows how routines like Today's Number, Quick Images, and Counting Around the Circle can help students learn to think in more sophisticated ways. Preview the entire book!
  Tweens & Young Teens 
  • Reading program aimed at teaching leadership, diversity
    Two Catholic schools in St. Louis have partnered to send African-American middle-schoolers to read to students at a mostly white elementary school as part of a mentorship program that school officials say promotes literacy as well as diversity. "A lot of students value leadership opportunities, but more often than not, they are on the receiving end of some generous cause, and that is not particularly empowering to them," said Bryan Sokol, who runs the Center for Service and Community Engagement at St. Louis University. St. Louis Post-Dispatch (2/26) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Classroom Innovation 
  • Educator shares nondigital introductory lesson on infographics
    Middle-grades educator Bill Ferriter shares in this blog post a lesson he and other language arts teachers developed to introduce sixth-graders to infographics, without using computers. Ferriter describes assembling facts and statistics on California condors and a kit of pre-made paper content, such as titles and sources, glue and butcher paper to make a massive graphic. Students will be required to make choices about the design of the project, he writes. TransformED/Tempered Radical blog (2/26) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Does multiple choice work for reading tests?
    Multiple-choice questions typically found on standardized tests do little to evaluate students' reading skills, writes middle-school English teacher Ariel Sacks. In this blog post, she writes that she prefers many informal and authentic assessments using observation and discussion, rather than multiple-choice questions that blend reading skills and logical reasoning. Teacher Leaders Network/On the Shoulders of Giants blog (2/25) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Technology & Connected Learning 
  • How to use cellphones to engage parents in education
    Four free, easy-to-use resources can help educators engage with parents via cellphones, writes Lisa Nielsen, a public-school educator and administrator. Among Nielsen's suggestions in this blog post are to use mass-texting services that allow for safe, one-way communication for reminders and announcements and to use Twitter to relay information to parents. Other recommended tools include ClassPager, which allows parents to respond to polls and questions using their own devices, and Poll Everywhere, which gives parents a chance to relay their opinions. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Education (2/27) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
  Middle Grades Leadership 
  • Improve professional development by helping each other
    Peer coaching is a way to help teachers grow and improve through professional development, National Board Certified Teacher Anthony S. Colucci writes in this blog post. Among the benefits, he notes, is that peer coaching revolves around the teacher, allows educators to collaborate as part of a team and allows teachers to take on leadership roles without leaving the classroom. The method also provides opportunities for the coach to grow and learn as well, he writes. TransformED (2/26) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  MiddleWeb Recommends 
  • Digital math tools to support the common core
    In a sequel to his popular MiddleWeb post recommending digital tools to support deeper student learning on the ELA Common Core standards, teaching consultant Michael Fisher identifies three presentation tools (all free in the Cloud) that teachers are using to help students think harder about math concepts and procedures. Included: Seven examples of student work from middle school classrooms. Read on. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Interview: Anne Beninghof talks about effective co-teaching
    In an interview with MiddleWeb blogger Elizabeth Stein, co-teaching pioneer Anne Beninghof makes the case that inclusion classrooms can become exemplary models of differentiated instruction when general and special education teachers "don't take turns, but teach together." Read more. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius."
--Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,
Scottish-born writer

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