Blogs on Middle (6-8)

Blogs on Middle (6-8)RSS
Stacey GoodmanApril 18, 2014

"The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious." -- John Scully

"Looking up gives light, although at first it makes you dizzy." -- Rumi

Can you teach students to be visionary? Can visionary thinking even be taught? Most of us might believe that being able to imagine possibility in the way that moves and inspires people is a mystical or unknowable human quality. Yet, by helping our students see themselves as agents of imagination and members of communities larger than themselves, teachers can create a foundation for a visionary curriculum.

Read More
Brian SztabnikApril 17, 2014

Clarity. It is what we long for when we travel through a student's essay. Yet our struggling writers make us wander through a cluttered maze of thoughts, leading to dead ends.

We want an awareness of purpose. We want ideas to progress in logical order. We want sentences to be fluid and confident, not stuffed with words desperate to impress. We want so much because good writing is multidimensional. So how to encourage this? Rubrics are uninspiring and often contain too much information for students to digest. The question remains: how do we give students guidelines without glutting their minds with a 50-item checklist?

Read More
Homa TavangarApril 11, 2014

During the first Earth Day in 1970, tens of thousands of Vietnam War protestors took to Central Park in New York and Fairmount Park in Philadelphia calling for peace on earth. Today, the movement has grown substantially and quietly, shifting attention toward the science documenting alarming global environmental degradation and offering young learners a platform for supporting the planet's physical health, ensuring a home for their future.

Read More
Junaid KhanApril 8, 2014

The creative potential of LittleBigPlanet 2 (LBP2) is evident as soon as the PlayStation console is turned on. The game opens with a colorful video that exposes first-time users to an amazing storyline, a host of characters and -- most importantly for teachers -- an endless variety of spaces in which creativity and collaboration are the theme and focus of the gameplay.

Read More
Julie CoiroApril 7, 2014

An essential part of online research is the ability to critically evaluate information. This includes the ability to read and evaluate its level of accuracy, reliability and bias. When we recently assessed 770 seventh graders in two states to study these areas, the results definitely got our attention. Unfortunately, over 70 percent of their responses suggested that:

  • Middle school students are more concerned with content relevance than with credibility.
  • They rarely attend to source features such as author, venue or publication type to evaluate reliability and author perspective.
  • When they do refer to source features in their explanations, their judgments are often vague, superficial and lack reasoned justification.

Other studies highlight similar shortcomings of high school and college students in these areas. From my perspective, the problem is not likely to go away without intervention during regular content area instruction.

Read More
Beth HollandApril 2, 2014

What if Dead Poets Society were set in modern times? Would Mr. Keating (Robin Williams' character) tweet Walt Whitman?

I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world. #significantquote #carpediem

Would the students have created a Facebook group rather than sneak off to a cave? Or would Mr. Keating have told the students to turn off all devices and leave them in their bags, maintaining the traditional classroom setting? I think it would be more of the former.

Read More
Matthew FarberMarch 28, 2014

All games tell stories. Unlike other media (books, television, film), the interactivity puts the player in the role of protagonist. Writing games can be quite complex and involve more than characters and dialogue. To get a better understanding, read this article by Darby McDevitt, lead writer of Assassin's Creed. He explains the prewriting and production process. Students should be surprised (as was I!) at how sophisticated game writing is.

Read More
Brian PageMarch 28, 2014

My oldest son is in middle school. He earns an allowance and is always trying out his entrepreneurial skills. What my son and his friends seem to have in common is that they want . . . everything! He's eager to learn about money management because he views it as a means to an end. So my suggestion to you is focusing on teaching middle school kids the concepts that will naturally engage them, because they're meaningful right now.

Read More
Heather Wolpert-GawronMarch 28, 2014

I think when we talk about using music or art or theater in the Core classes, there is still this persistent suspicion that a teacher who plays music in the classroom must be too "soft" or "granola-y." Don't get angry; I'm just stating an observation of perception, not a fact of truth. I would push back, however, that using the arts in the core subject-area classes is far from fluffy.

Read More
Jennifer GonzalezMarch 24, 2014

So. You've tried flipping your class, and it didn't go well. Or you've heard about flipping and want to try the approach, but you're pretty sure it won't work in your school. Don't give up yet -- with a slight twist, flipping might be possible for you after all.

Read More