October 26, 2021
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Teaching in the Middle
Mass. middle-schoolers paint the town for contest
For middle-school students in Great Barrington, Mass., participating in the town's annual Halloween window painting contest is part of the transition to the greater independence afforded in high school, says art teacher Katie Malone-Smith. This autumn rite of passage, now in its 72nd year, has area middle-schoolers join local high-school students in covering the windows of downtown shops with fall-themed murals.
Full Story: The Berkshire Edge (Great Barrington, Mass.) (10/25) 
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5th-graders creatively transform plastic bags
Teacher Heather Whitley's fifth-grade students read "One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia" to learn the story of a student who kicked off a recycling program that created items such as wallets and bracelets from plastic bags. A teacher in North Carolina, Whitley says in this interview that students collaborated and used problem-solving skills -- and touched on science and math -- as they created their own patterned jewelry.
Full Story: WGHP-TV (High Point, N.C.) (10/25) 
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A Pandemic-Fueled Digital Transformation
COVID-19 has forced many US public schools to embrace remote learning. As such, schools, and educational institutions in general, have been forced to engage in some type of digital transformation. This SmartFocus explores the technological changes and advancements that have taken place in the educational space. Download Now!
Tweens & Young Teens
Using wraparound services for students' mental health
Stephanie Taylor, clinical director of psychoeducational services at PresenceLearning, writes that wraparound services -- often used with students with physical disabilities -- should be used for students with mental health issues as well. With increased virtual learning and telehealth, educators can help coordinate whole-child services with doctors, therapists, parents and social workers, Taylor notes.
Full Story: SmartBrief/Education (10/21) 
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Accelerating Credit Recovery in Education
The sudden shift to remote learning caused by the pandemic has left many students struggling academically, and is even more concerning among districts with existing inequities. Implementing a credit recovery program that supports both students and teachers can offer a path to success. Here's how.
Classroom Innovation
N.M. school takes learning outside
(Greg Doherty/Getty Images)
One of several new outdoor wooden structures, costing about $5,000 a piece, is home base for a Foundations class, where seventh-grade students tend to a Santa Fe, N.M., school's community garden and get "integrated into their bodies" after months of home-based learning, teacher Kari Hagel says. Head learner Zoe Nelsen says the school expects to add some tables soon to the chairs and whiteboards in the structures, so math and English can be taught outdoors, too.
Full Story: The Santa Fe New Mexican (tiered subscription model) (10/24) 
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SmartBrief Education STEM Pathways Summit
Join us on October 28 for our annual SmartBrief Education STEM Pathways Summit when we explore the intersection of STEM and social-emotional learning. Don't miss this opportunity to get fresh ideas, hear about new programs and talk with your peers in STEM education. Register today.
Technology & Connected Learning
Navigation tech credited with keeping school buses on road
The Melissa Independent School District in North Texas is crediting technology with keeping its buses on the move. Drivers are using a tablet-based navigation system to streamline their routes with turn-by-turn directions, and the system syncs with student ID cards to monitor each student's journey.
Full Story: KDFW-TV (Dallas-Fort Worth) (10/21) 
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Why Education Leaders Need Coaches, Too
Teachers and staff carry an ever greater responsibility for student success. And if there was ever a time when leader coaching and professional development were needed, it's now. Read this SmartFocus to make sure your leader PD and coaching has the potential for greatest impact.
Middle Grades Leadership
3 questions to help evaluate state test results
(Gabriel Kuchta/Getty Images)
Many factors may have affected state test results in the previous school year -- some of which may make the results meaningless -- experts say. This article examines testing during the pandemic and suggests three considerations about testing data: whether students took exams remotely, whether new tests were used and how many students -- and which ones -- took the exams.
Full Story: Education Week (10/21) 
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Connecting to Tech Industry Professionals Matters.
Students with STEM career knowledge are more likely to choose a STEM career, according to the International Journal of STEM Education (2018). Amazon Future Engineer offers virtual career talks and panel events with Amazon engineers, designers, interns and more.
MiddleWeb Recommends
Using daily warm-ups to spark math engagement
If you're looking for a way to engage your students in deep mathematical thinking as soon as they walk into class, give math warm-ups a try. Middle grades teacher Mona Iehl lays out the elements of eye-catching warm-ups and how to make them work for your kids. Read more.
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The gradual release of responsibility is a partnership
Throughout the gradual release of responsibility we want students to be in control of their learning. Each phase is a partnership, with teacher as facilitator and student as agent. Literacy coaches Sunday Cummins and Julie Webb show how this works to produce an instructional journey with maximum benefit. Read on.
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