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December 4, 2012
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All About the Middle Grades

  Teaching in the Middle 
 
  • Middle-school program helps struggling students catch up
    The Gwinnett County school system in Georgia has created an accelerated one-year program, called STEP, to help overage eighth-graders gain a year in school and get back on track to on-time graduation. Modeled as an academy on middle-school campuses, the program has students using a combination of traditional and online learning to conquer the eighth- and ninth-grade curricula in one year. "They're generally students who really can achieve but who have not been able to find that real-life connection they need," Sweetwater Middle School Principal Georgann Eaton said. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (12/2) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Field trips teach Texas students about Native American history
    About 1,400 Fort Worth, Texas, fourth- and fifth-grade students have been learning about Native American history on field trips organized by the school district and the nonprofit Imagination Celebration of Fort Worth. Students have been able to view historical artifacts, photos and rare objects while learning about such things as a tribal leader's feather bonnet. "Hollywood has called it a 'war bonnet,' " said Alice Barrientez, liaison for Fort Worth schools' American Indian Education Program. "But this is a leader's bonnet. This is a ceremonial piece. This is a crown." Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Texas) (11/28) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
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  Tweens & Young Teens 
  • Md. middle school combines academics with service
    Eighth-grade math teacher Matt LaCorte at Hammond Middle School in Maryland, combined raising funds for an Ethiopian charity with lessons about the needs the charity aims to fill. Through the service-learning project, students raised funds and participated in an Accelerate Ethiopia Fun Run/Walk, which helps pay for cataract surgeries and supports educational programs in the impoverished country. "That's really powerful to me. ... It feels really tremendous that we can help," said eighth-grader Kevin Baker, who made a documentary about cataracts and Ethiopia. The Baltimore Sun (12/3) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
  Classroom Innovation 
  • Educator eases her math students into PBL
    Math teacher Marsha Ratzel experimented with a lesson on square roots to bring her math class closer to problem-based learning. Ratzel writes in this blog post that before teaching her students about square roots, she presented problems and had them research online and in class everything they could find about the function and discussed their findings. "And they really loved it. ... [T]hey argued and wrestled with all the info they collected and then built their conjectures," Ratzel writes. Reflections of a Techie blog (12/1) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
 
  • How "whole novel" lessons help readers at all levels
    Having students read an entire novel on their own before discussing it in class helps readers of all levels grasp the material and be more prepared to talk about it, educator Ariel Sacks writes in this blog post. With input from her co-teachers Daniel Brink-Washington and Marcia Stiman-Lavian, Sacks writes that the "whole novel" approach helps students with disabilities and those who read below grade level to go at their own pace. More advanced students can reread for deeper understanding or read other books by the same author, Sacks writes. Teacher Leaders Network/On the Shoulders of Giants blog (11/30) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Technology & Connected Learning 
  • Ideas for using video games in STEM lessons
    Professionals who work in science, technology, engineering and math often work in programming, so educator Shawn Cornally writes in this blog post that he incorporates games in his classroom as a segue into programming. Cornally offers lesson suggestions for two popular games, Mindcraft and Portal 2, as well as ideas for teaching students to write their own computer code. For example, Cornally writes, he has his students figure out if the actions in Portal 2 violate the laws of physics. Edutopia.org/Shawn Cornally's blog (11/30) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
 
  Middle Grades Leadership 
  • How to identify a coachable teacher
    Teachers must be coachable in order to reach their full potential, writes instructional coach David Ginsburg. In this blog post, he writes that a primary indicator of coachability is how teachers react when they are struggling. Coachable teachers, as he demonstrates by using two videos, will take ownership of their weaknesses rather than blaming issues on outside factors. Education Week Teacher/Coach G's Teaching Tips (11/30) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
 
  • Teachers' role in defining the profession
    The teaching profession is changing, writes middle-school teacher Heather Wolpert-Gawron. In this blog post, she urges teachers to be part of that transition by helping to define the profession and direct its future. For some, she writes, their contribution could come outside of the classroom, as they explore other roles in education leadership. Edutopia.org/Heather Wolpert-Gawron's blog (11/29) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
 
  MiddleWeb Recommends 
  • Review a professional book during the holidays!
    Since we began our MiddleWeb book review program in July, we've posted nearly 60 reviews of professional books of interest to middle-grades teachers and school leaders. Who's writing the reviews? Middle-grades educators themselves. Who knows better what colleagues want to hear? If you're interested in reviewing, what better time to start than the winter holiday season, when you may find some extra hours to read and reflect. Find out how to become a MiddleWeb book reviewer here.   LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Girls and Dreams and STEM
    Bill Ivey, Middle School Dean at all-girl Stoneleigh-Burnham School in Massachusetts, reflects on a recent survey of attitudes about traditional "boy careers" among Girl Scouts in his state. Ivey's school is making STEM education a priority for students in grades 7 and 8, when girls are most likely to develop a career interest in science, math and engineering. Among other findings, the study reported that girl-centered organizations can help young women resist cultural pressure for career conformity. MiddleWeb's STEM Imagineering blog. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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  SmartQuote 
It is astonishing what force, purity and wisdom it requires for a human being to keep clear of falsehoods."
--Margaret Fuller,
American journalist and women's rights activist


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