Fireside Reads: 20 Favorite MiddleWeb Posts


Among the 800+ articles MiddleWeb has shared since the summer of 2012, some have extra-special staying power and continue to attract new readers month after month. With the winter “read by the fire” season in full force, we offer a selection of 20 posts that have garnered thousands of views apiece. They represent the wisdom and expertise of middle grades educators with a wide range of teaching experiences. Our thanks to the many talented writers!

Four Critical Co-Teacher Conversations
You may be surprised to learn that this is the most-read MiddleWeb article we’ve ever posted, with close to 30,000 pageviews over two years. Then again you may be nodding your head if you teach on either side of the co-teaching relationship. Inclusion coach Elizabeth Stein obviously has valuable advice to share. Read more of it at her blog Two Teachers in the Room – another top MiddleWeb destination.

10 Ways to Sabotage Your Classroom Management
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You know the basics: Establish clear rules and consequences, be consistent, keep students engaged. But even with all that in place, the small things you do could be wreaking havoc on your whole classroom management system. Former MS teacher and teacher educator Jennifer Gonzalez shares alternatives to those less-than-helpful habits in this recent very popular post.

What an Effective Teacher’s Classroom Looks Like
When we published this short excerpt from the new edition of 7 Simple Secrets by Annette Breaux and Todd Whitaker, our site traffic meter practically exploded. The popular pair of teaching experts drew on their thousands of hours in hundreds of schools to come up with two simple lists: What effective (and ineffective) classrooms seem to have in common.

New Teacher 911: Aid, Comfort & Good Advice
No one who’s been a new teacher (or lived with one!) will be surprised to know that this rich collection of help for novice teachers and teachers new to the middle grades is a highly popular landing spot in the months between Independence Day and Christmas each year. You can smile now!

12 Steps to Great STEM Lessons
MiddleWeb is proud to be an early leader in providing ongoing practical advice for creating and sustaining authentic STEM programs in the middle grades. Our blogger Anne Jolly is an award winning science educator and NSF-supported STEM curriculum writer. Here’s one of her most-read posts.

Five Special Strategies for Teaching Tweens
The developmental needs of tweens are unique, and flourishing as a middle grades teacher requires special skills. Middle level expert Rick Wormeli offers five customized strategies that are attuned to the particular requirements of the adolescent brain

How to Close Read the Language of Film
When students are challenged to “close read” a movie, they must not only learn how to deconstruct the story, they must also understand the many techniques that are used by filmmakers to create the total effect, says media literacy expert Frank Baker.

The 10-Minute Vocabulary Lesson
Marilee Sprenger loves to write about the brain and learning, and she taps her deep knowledge of the subject here with some simple and highly effective ways to integrate vocabulary instruction into content-area lessons.

How to Stage Socratic Seminars in the Middle
This how-to article about Socratic Seminaring is adapted from a chapter in Sarah Tantillo’s 2012 The Literacy Cookbook. Sarah generously provided our readers free access to the Socratic Seminar materials at her subscription website, which may help explain the 12,000+ visits so far.

Four Myths about Parent Involvement in Middle School
We’ve all heard that the parents who loved to volunteer and support teachers in the early grades seem to disappear when adolescence rears its head and kids aren’t so keen to see mom and dad at school. Education researcher Katie Wester-Neal debunks some myths in this favorite article.

Five Rules of School Engagement
Barbara Blackburn is best known for her series of books on introducing “rigor” into daily learning. That’s a scary word to some, but as you’ll learn in this popular piece, she means it in a nice way. Here Blackburn sets out to dispel the myth “that as children grow up, they should be less involved in their own learning.”

Confronting My Flipped Classroom Bias
If you browse MiddleWeb’s Future of History blog, you’ll see why it was a finalist for a 2013 EduBlog Award. In this much-read entry, co-contributor Jody Passanisi combines reflection with examples of her flipped classroom work-in-progress. Another popular post: Project Learning in History Class.

Digital Tools for the Common Core
When Mike Fisher transitioned from middle school teacher to literacy and technology integration consultant, educators gained an important voice advocating for 21st century approaches to Common Core-aligned teaching and learning, as this popular post shows.

Smart Homework: 13 Ways to Make It Meaningful
In the most popular of a 3-part series on Smart Homework, teaching consultant Rick Wormeli provides a succinct set of do’s and don’ts that can help teachers create homework challenges that spark deeper learning in and out of school

Inclusion: Cultivating a Growth Mindset
Vast numbers of teachers across America are challenged to serve students inclusively in their classrooms. This high-traffic post by teacher and inclusion expert Elizabeth Stein makes the connection between the “growth mindset” research and success for all students.

Looking Ahead to the Last Weeks of School
If you’re reading this in the months before spring, the last days of school may seem an impossible distance away. Bookmark it for later use. It’s our second most visited post ever, a resource-laden article written by MiddleWeb co-editor Susan Curtis who remembers those very weeks from her own teaching career.

Writing 6-Word Memoirs With a Comics Twist
Kevin Hodgson assumed his sixth grade students would enjoy writing Six Word Memoirs, particularly within the comics site Dream Scenes. What he didn’t expect was their level of enthusiasm, as even struggling writers dove into the project, creating a wide range of (very) short stories. From his Working Draft blog at MiddleWeb.

The Joys of Reading Aloud Closely
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Continuing a long tradition, Mary Tarashuk reads a novel aloud to her fourth graders after lunch each day. This year, in pursuit of “close reading,” she tries out several graphic organizers to help them probe deeper into the dramatic novel Red Kayak. Find more humor-sprinkled posts at Mary’s MiddleWeb blog, Kids on the Cusp.


A MiddleWeb Classic: Exploring Rubrics
The origins of this resource track all the way back to the last century, when this article first appeared at MiddleWeb. Since then we’ve added and refined the material many times. When we launched our new website in July of 2012, we started the counter again, and so far this page has been visited more than 10,000 times. We promise you’ll learn something new about rubrics, no matter how long you’ve been using them!

Selections based on Google Analytics data,, July 2012 – December 2014



MiddleWeb is all about the middle grades, with great 4-8 resources, book reviews, and guest posts by educators who support the success of young adolescents. And be sure to subscribe to MiddleWeb SmartBrief for the latest middle grades news & commentary from around the USA.

2 Responses

  1. MiddleWeb says:

    We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention a very recent post that has already exceeded 10,000 reads. Jennifer Gonzalez writes insightfully about the unique attributes of young adolescents that impact teaching and learning in the middle grades. Eight Things I Know for Sure about Middle School Kids

    Middle School Kids

    • Trish says:

      This is only my second year in a middle school and I think this should be required reading for everyone going in! :)

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