Category Archives: Middle School

View a clip from our Webinar Series with Colleen Cruz

Our first live webinar session with Colleen Cruz was packed with thinking about a mindset for teaching writing, strategies to guide repetitive student writing, mirror writing, and more!

In this clip below, you'll hear Colleen give advice for helping students move past the same old writing and launch an exercise with webinar participants as they dig in to student writing to problem solve together.  

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Teaching Middle School Reading Units of Study: Tips from the Authors

Teaching Middle School Reading Units of Study: Tips from the Authors

Written by Anna Gratz Cockerille

Teachers of middle school reading have their own, unique set of challenges. On the one hand, there is the pressure to get middle schoolers ready for high school. In high school, the demands will be high, to say the least. Students will be expected to wrestle with complex texts with minimal help. They’ll be expected to read and digest information quickly, and to write well about what they read. The inclination for many middle school reading teachers is to prepare students for a high school curriculum by angling their own curriculum toward what will come in high school. On the other hand, most middle schoolers still need plenty of instruction in reading skill work, and many are not quite ready for the high levels of text complexity of whole class novels. So what is a middle school teacher to do? 

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Using an Editor’s Mindset: An Origin Story

Back and Forth: Using an Editor's Mindset to improve Student Writing

In her new book Back and Forth: Using and Editor's Mindset to Improve Student Writing, Lee Heffernan encourages teachers to go from giving writing feedback to students as their teacher, to giving feedback as students’ editor. Here, excerpted from her introduction from Back and Forth is the origin story of her thinking:

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Upcoming Webinar Series: Reading Conferences

"Researchers have calculated that teachers engage in literally thousands of oral interactions with children every day. What we say and the way we say it shapes children's understanding more than any other pedagogical tool we use."

Ellin Keene in To Understand: New Horizons in Reading Comprehension (2008)

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Facilitating Generative Student-to-Student Talk in the Science Classroom

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The Following is adapted from The Stories of Science: Integrating Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening into Science Instruction, 6–12 by Janet MacNeil, Mark Goldner, and Melissa London.

Inquiry science entices students to think deeply about what they’re observing and to ask questions. How do we help students develop and deepen those questions as the core of their science stories? One effective way to do this is by facilitating student-to-student discussions, giving them the time and space to explore their ideas and to probe each other’s thinking.

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Confronting Shame In The Math Classroom

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In his latest book, Embarrassment, And The Emotional Undelife of Learning, Tom Newkirk digs into the roots of what inhibits us as learners in and out of the classroom and offers strategies and practices that help kids and teachers alike develop a more resilient approach to embarrassment. Tom says "I contend that if we can take on a topic like embarrassment and shame, we can come to a richer, more honest, more enabling sense of who we are and what we can do." The following is adapted from Tom's chapter on shame in the math classroom.

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When I mentioned the title of the chapter, “Math Shame,” to a fellow editor, she replied, “Actually I feel no shame at all. I’m just not good at math and I’m fine with that.”

 

There is probably no other required subject area, that we so regularly divide into the haves and have-nots—the ones good at math and then the rest of us. Math class is the motherland of the fixed mindset. For most of us, math never becomes a language, something that we can be fluent in. I suspect that for proficient math students equations must feel like sentences, as if there is a ready and seemingly natural syntax at their disposal.

Students may feel anxiety when the dial is turned to pure mathematical formulation too soon. And it occurs when the goal, always, is getting the exact right answer— when a good approximation will do.

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