# Blogs on Middle (6-8)

Ben JohnsonMarch 17, 2014

Like magic, the fish turn into birds and then back into fish. M.C. Escher's tessellations have a way of grabbing your attention and forcing your mind to make sense of the impossible figures on the paper. The Merriam dictionary describes tessellations as, "a covering of an infinite geometric plane without gaps or overlaps by congruent plane figures of one type or a few types." A geometry book I have on hand describes tessellations as geometric forms that make use of all available foreground and background space in two dimensions by repeating one or more different shapes in predictable patterns.

José VilsonMarch 13, 2014

A few years ago, Indira Gil, friend and math educator in Miami, Forida, asked me the following:

"Why do we call pi irrational when it's clearly the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter?"

Of course, I agreed. Such a pithy thought has swum around my ear for as long as it has because we've come to no resolution on it. For decades, we were always told to truncate pi to 3.14 or 22/7. The geeks might get a few digits deeper (3.1415926535. . .), but generally, this was a given fact and, like many things math, we didn't have to wonder because all the wondering had been done for us.

Years later, I rebuke all of this.

Leah HirschMarch 11, 2014

For 12 weeks, sixth graders in my class embark on a learning adventure based on the misadventures of a fictional character called Dr. Smallz. The class is a hands-on, inquiry-based, integrated science and math course. Students get a chance to be scientists, designers, makers and players as they learn all about human body systems, cellular functions, and the ability of the human organism to maintain dynamic equilibrium. The Dr. Smallz Mission is a great example of the type of game-like learning experience that creates a powerful "Need to Know" in students, leaving them hungry to learn more.

Sarah Wike LoyolaMarch 5, 2014

I am embarrassed -- no, actually I would go as far as to say horrified -- that I spent ten years of my career teaching students about the Spanish language. I actually felt proud when they could fill out grammar worksheets with precision. Now, you may be thinking that, as a Spanish teacher, this is my job, but since my enlightenment, I understand that it decidedly is not. I am now certain that teaching them to communicate well in the language is my job. Honestly, who cares whether students can conjugate verbs correctly if they can't tell someone what they need? Getting to this point has required a colossal teaching philosophy transformation, but I've never been more proud of the work that I'm doing.

Matt LevinsonMarch 4, 2014

After a two-week winter break, one of my eighth grade advisees returned to school and demonstrated his newfound skill of juggling. He was able to juggle with four balls, go behind his back, and under and through his legs. Quite simply, his demonstration was remarkable and earned the praise of his peers and advisor. We were all curious to learn how he had acquired this skill in such a short span of time, because we recalled that before the break, he was struggling to get even three balls going.

He replied, "I found this great guy on YouTube, and I watched a lot of YouTube over break."

In other words, he was self-taught. He had an interest and a passion, and he put in the time and commitment to master a skill.

Dave GuymonMarch 3, 2014

Increasingly, educators are acknowledging and welcoming the relative advantages of social media into the teaching and learning process. From creating school Facebook pages to connecting students with experts via Twitter, social media has taken root as a legitimate classroom learning and communication tool. The highly linguistic nature of social media allows us to create and consume ideas and information unlike ever before. Much attention has been given to composing an articulate blog post and condensing our messages to 140 characters or less. However, effective use of this 21st century technology requires that we not only become proficient in textual communication, but also in our ability to express ourselves and interpret others' ideas through visual literacy.

Joshua BlockFebruary 21, 2014

This post represents the work of a group of educators and education activists who wanted to help educators help students process the verdict in the Jordan Davis murder trial. Many of us wrote from our experiences both in and out of the classroom, and as such, many of us used "I" statements in talking about these ideas. The writers are Melinda Anderson, Joshua Block, Zac Chase, Alexa Dunn, Bill Fitzgerald, Matt Kay, Diana Laufenberg, Chris Lehmann, Luz Maria Rojas, John Spencer, Mike Thayer, Jose Vilson and Audrey Watters. You can also link to the Google Doc or download the whole thing as a PDF. Everything written below is collaborative. This document is Creative Commons -- Share Alike.

As educators, we believe that we have a responsibility to use our classrooms to help young people grapple with and address the messiness of the world around them. In collaborating on this, what we know to be true is that there is more than a single lesson plan here. The issues raised by the Jordan Davis murder trial touch deeply on issues of race, law, and social justice, and any and all of these issues could be a course of study. What we hope to do is offer a number of ways for teachers and students to think about the case while knowing that no one way, no one day can possibly speak to all of the challenges this case represents.

Suzie BossFebruary 21, 2014

At the end of a project-based learning (PBL) experience, students typically share what they have learned or discovered with an audience. Depending on the project, students might publish their work online, make presentations at a public event, or pitch their ideas to a panel of judges.