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November 9, 2012
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All About the Middle Grades

  Teaching in the Middle 
  • Investigating how students learn through design-thinking
    An initiative called Project Zero -- a partnership between Harvard University researchers and a number of Oakland, Calif., schools -- is aimed at discovering how students learn through designing and creating projects. "It's not a lesson plan; it's not a curriculum; it's a way to look at the world," project coordinator Jennifer Ryan said. As part of the project, teachers take a broader approach to assessing student work instead of judging it based on a criteria developed at the start of a lesson. blog (11/7) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Are "old school" teaching methods still relevant?
    Author Annie Murphy Paul suggests in this blog post that "old school" learning methods such as memorizing math facts, cursive handwriting and argumentation should not be discarded as teachers adopt more progressive instructional methods. For example, she cites research that shows students made more errors on complex math problems when they could not automatically recall their math facts. The key is to use the older methods, such as memorization, as the foundation for higher-level thinking, she writes. blog (11/8) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
Dynamic Online Vocabulary Program - Enter to Win!
Students can now enjoy the beloved Wordly Wise 3000® program in a new dynamic online format. Keep students engaged with interactive activities as they master critical grade-level vocabulary and improve reading comprehension. Includes full audio support and robust progress monitoring reports. Enter to win a 1-year subscription! Includes 25 student seats with teacher & administrator access.
  Tweens & Young Teens 
  • Study: Adversity in childhood can leave its mark
    Adversity in childhood -- often brought on by poverty and challenging home lives -- is likely to harm students' long-term learning and well-being, according to recent research. The study shows the difference between positive stress, such as a spelling bee, and negative stress, such as a dysfunctional home life. "What happens in childhood, like a child's footprint in wet cement, leaves its mark forever," said Dr. Vincent J. Felitti, director of the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study. Education Week (premium article access compliments of (11/7) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

Shake up your writing instruction. In Renew! literacy specialist Shawna Coppola provides a framework for rethinking how we teach the writing process, the tools we use, how we assess student writing, and our roles as writing teachers. A provocative, inspiring, and motivating read. Preview the entire book!
  Classroom Innovation 
  • How to use exit slips as tools for student-centered learning
    Besides giving teachers a quick snapshot of students' understanding of a lesson, exit slips can be used as a launching point for another day's activities, educator Rebecca Alber writes in this blog post. For example, the slips, on which students quickly write down what they know about a topic, can be given back to students to use as starting points for a formal essay. "The beauty of the exit slip is that it puts the learning in the students' hands," Alber writes. Alber's blog (11/8) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Presidential race spurs civics lessons in middle school
    Teachers at a New Hampshire middle school began social studies lessons on Wednesday by discussing the results of Tuesday's presidential election. Leading up to the election, teachers also planned a series of election-themed lessons on topics such as the Electoral College and political advertisements. The presidential election also came the day after the school's elections, in which 23 students ran for six school-council seats, and students were asked to vote for president along with their school representatives. SeacoastOnline (Portsmouth, N.H.)(tiered subscription model) (11/8) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
Hands-on science in a digital world
Science education is no longer confined to the pages of a textbook. Students are interacting with science concepts through physical objects and digital platforms, and using this knowledge to solve real-world issues. Get insights for making this work in your classroom in this SmartFocus on Hands-on Science.
  Technology & Connected Learning 
  • Educator offers advice for teachers just getting started on Twitter
    Educator Bill Ferriter offers tips in this blog post on how teachers should spend their first weeks on Twitter to build their network faster. Among his suggestions are for teachers to use hashtags, which are short identifiers for conversations, in their postings and use them to sort through, plus comment on, other teachers' messages. "Spend time each day and/or week sifting through the streams of messages being shared by people that you are following and find ways to lend a hand," Ferriter writes. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Education (11/6) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • More schools reach out to parents via social media
    A growing number of school districts nationwide are using social-networking websites and other digital tools to engage parents in their children's education. In New York City, parents can subscribe to text-message alerts in either English or Spanish, and Fairfax County, Va., schools have amassed thousands of subscribers to their Facebook and Twitter pages. To help all parents access this information, some districts also are providing technology training and resources. Education Week (premium article access compliments of (11/7) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
Build a content-rich ELA curriculum
Knowledge-building has become lost in today's standards-driven K-5 environment—to the detriment of young learners. Without this information base, skill development suffers. Get ideas for implementing an English Language Arts program that builds a knowledge foundation in this SmartFocus on ELA curriculum.
  Middle Grades Leadership 
  • How to be an effective teacher leader
    Teacher leaders discover how to speak to all teacher leaders but not spend time in the teachers lounge, writes José Vilson, a middle-school math teacher and coach. Vilson writes in this blog post that transformative teacher leadership means spending time in the classroom with students but not become isolated. He also suggests teacher leaders show others how to become leaders, but he advises against pushing them too hard.é Vilson's blog (11/7) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
  MiddleWeb Recommends 
  • The power of what teachers say
    In a MiddleWeb guest article, Debbie Silver, author of "Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight: Teaching Kids to Succeed," draws a distinction between teacher comments that encourage students toward self-motivation and self-efficacy, and words that "let students off the hook." Effective feedback, she says, starts with words that are honest, specific, nonjudgmental and chosen to help students figure out how to get better. These words "should inform them about their progress. They should not judge, label, accuse, excuse, or even praise." Read more. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Secrets of strong co-teaching partnerships
    In co-teaching terms, special educator Laurie Wasserman says, developing a strong partnership between general and special education teachers means finding balance, sharing responsibilities, planning together and developing mutual respect. Wasserman, who blogs at MiddleWeb's Two Teachers in the Room, reflects on each of these partnership aspects through the lens of her own experience. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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--Mark Twain,
American writer

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