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February 15, 2013
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All About the Middle Grades

  Teaching in the Middle 
  • How the common core can support student-driven learning
    A student-centered classroom culture will address and be supported by many goals of the Common Core State Standards, middle-grades educator Marsha Ratzel writes in this blog post. For instance, lessons that guide students to identify real-life problems and find solutions, are aligned with the common core's math standard of finding the meaning in a problem. "As teachers gain experience in the CCSS standards that apply to their grade level, they will identify places where there are opportunities to put student questions at the forefront of their lesson plans," Ratzel writes. Powerful Learning Practice/Voices from the Learning Revolution blog (2/14) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Teacher: Avoid my-way-or-the-highway classroom management
    Teachers who do away with rules and consequences in the classroom have an opportunity to focus more on cooperation and engaging activities, writes Mark Barnes, a veteran classroom teacher. In this blog post, he suggests teachers alter their my-way-or-the-highway method of classroom management and instead adopt the Results Only Learning Environment, a student-centered approach in which students and teachers work collaboratively to improve learning. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Education (2/11) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Tweens & Young Teens 
  • Debating dress codes and inner beauty with middle-school girls
    The rapidly changing bodies of middle-grades girls makes enforcing dress-code rules a "nightmare," educator Jessica Lahey writes in this essay. While debating the merits of relative skirt length to arm length, Lahey writes that she worries about her female students and tries to let them know she respects them for their minds and character. "And for as long as I have been a teacher, I have worried that my female students are so concerned with their newfound sex appeal that they forget to appreciate all the other gifts they offer to the world," Lahey writes. The Atlantic online (2/14) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
  Classroom Innovation 
  • Teaching the power of writing through persuasive essays
    Middle-school students can be asked to write persuasive essays about various complaints -- including school rules they believe are unfair -- retired educator Kathy King-Dickman suggests in this blog post. Letting students choose topics that matter to them can boost both their enthusiasm and motivation, King-Dickman writes. "Whether it comes from a second-grader pleading for a later bed time or a ninth-grader asking the world to not pollute, students feel the power in exercising their right to write," she notes. Education News Colorado/Voices blog (2/14) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Building a love of reading among students
    Educators in all subjects need professional development to deliver reading strategies that allow students to access the different types of text used across all classes, transformational leadership coach Elena Aguilar writes in this blog post. Aguilar offers nine other strategies for teachers to grow a love of reading in students, such as organizing a read-a-thon, inviting authors into the classroom and being readers themselves. "We must give them the skills to read at the same time that we cultivate an attitude," she writes. Aguilar's blog (2/13) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
  Technology & Connected Learning 
  • Online finance lessons teach students where their money goes
    Students at an Ohio middle school are learning about budgeting, salary, taxes and other financial lessons through the online personal finance course, Banzai. As part of the lesson, students are given mock paychecks and shown the amount taken out for taxes and how much money must be set aside to pay for expenses, such as food and rent. Students also are taught about the risks of online scams and about the safe use of social-networking websites. The Blade (Toledo, Ohio) (2/12) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • The right and wrong ways to use technology in the classroom
    Teachers should regularly allow students to use cellphones, flip cameras and other tools to record lessons and classroom exchanges, but avoid relying too heavily on technology and online polling programs that provide shortcuts to check for understanding, writes high-school teacher Paul Barnwell. In this commentary, Barnwell offers some advice to help teachers navigate the complicated field of classroom technology. Other suggestions include encouraging students to make phone calls when conducting research, but not rely on texting and e-mail. Education Week Teacher (premium article access compliments of (2/12) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Middle Grades Leadership 
  • Why one-size-fits-all professional development does not work
    It is time to change the way schools approach professional development, elementary-school principal Peter DeWitt writes in this blog post. DeWitt cites author Jim Knight, who supports a collaborative, partner-driven approach that includes involvement from all stakeholders and the empowerment of teachers, who have a choice in what they are learning. It also gives time for reflection and dialogue. Education Week/Finding Common Ground blog (2/14) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  MiddleWeb Recommends 
  • Review: A middle grades friendly book on authentic assessment
    Our teacher-reviewer, Tracey Muise, says "Authentic Assessment: Active, Engaging Product and Performance Measures" by Susan Schorr (AMLE, 2012) exemplifies the four essential attributes of effective middle schools defined by the Association for Middle Level Education: they will be challenging, empowering, equitable, and developmentally responsible. "The book is clearly written with both teachers and students in mind," Muise concludes. "It reads quickly, is well organized, and provides lots of hands-on, ready-to-implement ideas." Read on. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • How to Make Co-Teaching Work
    MiddleWeb blogger Elizabeth Stein shares highlights from a recent daylong learning session with Anne Beninghof, author of "Co-Teaching That Works." After framing the shared work of general and special education teachers with this observation, "Effective co-teaching can be compared to synchronized swimming -- teammates must carefully coordinate, not only to win but to avoid drowning," Beninghof focused on solutions. Two Teachers in the Room. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal. Not to people or things."
--Albert Einstein,
German-born theoretical physicist

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