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March 8, 2013
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All About the Middle Grades

  Teaching in the Middle 
  • 8 ideas for celebrating students in the middle
    In recognition of National Middle Level Education Month, held in March, the writers of this blog post suggest several ways to celebrate middle-level students -- those ages 10 to 15. Patti Kinney, a veteran educator, and Dru Tomlin, director of Middle Level Services for the Association for Middle Level Education, suggest, among other things, that teachers give students the opportunity to write about their lives as middle-school students, encourage them to keep a journal of their health habits and allow students to express themselves creatively and artistically. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Education (3/5) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Strategies for teaching and assessing creativity
    Creativity is an essential skill that can be taught and assessed in student projects, according to education consultant Andrew Miller. In this blog post, Miller offers four indicators of what creativity in learning looks like, and suggests a number of ways these indicators can be included in projects or lessons. "If we want our students to be creative, we must give them not only the opportunity to do so, but also the finite skills and targets to be able to do so," Miller writes. Miller's blog (3/7) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
Teach about the Holocaust Using Visual History Testimony
The leading Holocaust education program, Echoes and Reflections includes a comprehensive curriculum with over two hours of visual history testimony from survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust, interactive digital activities on IWitness, and a dynamic professional development program that has reached over 17,000 educators. Sign up today!
  Tweens & Young Teens 
  • Should students take more responsibility for learning?
    Teachers and parents should allow students to experience the effects of making academic mistakes such as not completing homework on time instead of having parents sign off on every assignment, educator Nancy Flanagan writes in this blog post. "A useful framework for teaching middle schoolers -- one that I came to understand only after years of experience -- is the deep conviction that we don't give them enough real work and responsibility," she writes. Education Week Teacher/Teacher in a Strange Land blog (3/6) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

"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!
  Classroom Innovation 
  • A lesson on teaching students to assess themselves
    Teaching students how to assess their own learning in class can help build their confidence as learners, middle-grades teacher Bill Ferriter writes in this blog post. Ferriter shares one exercise in which he had students review past tests and assignments to identify patterns in their mastery. "If my students are TRULY going to reflect daily on their progress towards mastering essential outcomes, they HAVE to become skilled at spotting trends in their OWN learning," Ferriter writes. TransformED (3/5) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Mo. fifth-grade students go presidential for history lessons
    Presidents, first ladies and one first daughter (Harry and Bess Truman's daughter, Margaret Truman) recently were portrayed by fifth-graders in teacher Jenni Halley's social studies class at St. Gregory's School in Maryville, Mo. It was part of the annual "living history" program, in which students spent weeks studying the presidency, then made a drawing of the president, first lady or family member they had selected. They then made a presentation to parents, grandparents and younger classmates. Maryville Daily Forum (Mo.) (3/4) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
  Technology & Connected Learning 
  • Is the role of the teacher changing?
    At the recent SXSWedu Conference and Festival in Austin, Texas, the changing role of teachers as facilitators of classroom learning was a primary focus, SmartBrief senior education editor Melissa Greenwood writes in this blog post. Among the suggestions offered by speakers were to teach students to use technology to find answers on their own, put context before content and approach learning in a less formal way. Other ideas included educators acting as "spark igniters," who help students discover what drives their own passion for learning, and allowing students to help craft curriculum. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Education (3/6) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Middle Grades Leadership 
  • 6 tips for giving constructive feedback to teachers
    Giving feedback is "tricky," but offering constructive pointers will help teachers to grow, transformational leadership coach Elena Aguilar writes in a blog post. Aguilar offers six tips for giving feedback such as highlighting only the classroom issues that meet the overall improvement goals for the teacher or school. "Delivering feedback is an art that takes coaches many years of practice," she writes. Education Week Teacher/The Art of Coaching Teachers blog (3/6) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • N.C. teachers become principals through internship program
    Counties in North Carolina are using a $6.1 million Race to the Top grant to train teachers without an administration degree to become principals in one year by shadowing and interning with mentor principals. Upon completion from the Sandhills Leadership Academy, teachers receive 18 graduate credits toward a degree and a state principal license. "This is definitely a grow-your-own program," Executive Program Director Donna Peters said. The Fayetteville Observer (N.C.) (3/4) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
  MiddleWeb Recommends 
  • Laboratories for thinking, innovation and intellectual work
    Reviewer Elisa Waingort says teacher-carpenter Ron Berger's "An Ethic of Excellence: Building a Culture of Craftsmanship with Students" (2003) is both an emerging classic of professional literature and a piece of contemporary iconoclasm. Waingort highlights Berger's ideas about creating an environment that honors students' struggle for excellence. His strategy, she says, "would make schools and classrooms real laboratories for thinking, innovation, and intellectual work that also consider the emotional investment of a culture of excellence." Read more. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • A struggling teacher gains insight into the lives of struggling students
    Special educator and co-teacher Laurie Wasserman gained new insight into what it means to be a struggling student when she joined a STEM professional development project well outside her comfort zone. "I realize that the most valuable lesson I've learned from this STEM grant," she writes, "wasn't how to use the laptop, or navigate the math; it's how I can better approach my students whose behaviors affect their classroom performance." Two Teachers in the Room. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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Hope never abandons you, you abandon it."
--George Weinberg,
American psychologist, writer and activist

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