Teaching and learning in grades 4-8

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Are We Data-Driven If We Ignore Half the Data?

Principal Matt Renwick says our definition of data has to broaden substantially if we expect to paint a complete picture of student learning. Renwick describes how two middle grades teachers are using technology to help meet the qualitative assessment challenge.

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PAIRing with Parents to Improve Student Learning

Want to improve relationships between families and school? Teachers benefit when learning is reinforced and supported from home. Consultant Barbara Blackburn has tips on how to PAIR with parents and avoid school-side mistakes that weaken engagement.

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SmartNotes for Better Independent Reading

Despite its title, “Independent Reading in the Age of the Common Core” has a narrow focus – a note-taking strategy to strengthen independent reading instruction. Reviewer Tyler McBride plans to implement several of the teacher-authors’ 25 mini-lessons.

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Using Grammar to Build Better Writers

In “Grammar Matters,” Lynne Dorfman and Diane Dougherty make the case for embedding grammar in Writing Workshop and across the curriculum. Our reviewer recommends this hands-on exploration of mentor texts and engaging instruction and its many useful resources.

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Annotation in History: Reviving the 5 W’s

Reading comprehension is a primary goal in Aaron Brock’s middle school history classroom. Building on last year’s annotation experiments, Brock has adapted the familiar 5 W’s strategy to help students pay closer attention to the meaning behind the words. It’s working.

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Meet Writing Challenges in All Content Areas

With Common Core discussions as a sturdy frame, Heather Wolpert-Gawron provides solid commentary about how writing and literacy relate to all curriculum areas, says reviewer Kathleen Pham. Central to the sample lessons: project based learning.

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Campaign Ads: Helping Students Find the Truth

If politicians have a “license to lie” in campaign advertising, how are our students going to know who and what to believe? Critical thinking skills are paramount, says media literacy consultant Frank Baker, who shares insights and resources tied to Common Core and social studies standards.