Our 15 Most-Read Articles During 2020

Browse our 15 most-read articles of 2020 and see what you might have missed. Some (no surprise) address the unique circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Others are perennials that teachers discover or return to year after year. You can keep up with all our new weekly content by subscribing to MiddleWeb SmartBrief.


5 Virtual Teaching Strategies We’re Using

With the increase of schools worldwide offering distance learning or virtual schools in response to the COVID19 outbreak, middle grades teacher Tan Huynh detailed how his international school developed one-to-one online learning for students at the pandemic’s start.

8 Strategies to Quickly Assess Prior Knowledge

This always-popular post gained extra attention in the pandemic. Teaching consultant Barbara Blackburn provides 8 simple strategies to help you gain an understanding of what your students do and do not know before launching into a lesson.

Students’ Journals Could Become ‘Primary Sources’

The global pandemic “will be in the history books, won’t it?” Absolutely, eighth grade teacher Lauren Brown told her students. She devised a simple home assignment – students create a ‘primary source’ for future historians by jotting down their questions, concerns and observations. Her suggested prompts helped get kids started.

10 Ways to Sabotage Your Classroom Management

Even with all the usual basics in place, the small things teachers do could be wreaking havoc on the whole classroom management system. Middle school veteran and Cult of Pedagogy founder Jennifer Gonzalez identifies unproductive habits, along with more effective alternatives.

Why I’ve Stopped Using Teachers Pay Teachers

Online teacher marketplaces may seem harmless, but when sellers offer materials that violate copyrights and ignore intellectual property rights of original creators, they set a poor example for kids and the profession, says teacher Brent Gilson, a “reformed” TPT vendor. Comments galore.

7 Skills Students Need for Distance Learning

As middle grades kids were about to return to school in the fall of 2020, middle school leader Jody Passanisi gathered her staff to discuss the distance learning knowledge students would need “but mostly don’t have yet.” Here Passanisi shares the strategies they came up with to build 7 essential skills.

3 Vocabulary Strategies Help Decipher Unknown Words

Vocabulary knowledge is the heart of reading comprehension and academic achievement, says literacy consultant Brenda Overturf, “and it means way more than just learning words.” Students must have the tools to decipher unknown academic words. She shares three of the best.

5 Reader Activities That Invite Higher Thinking

You’ve taught students to read closely, to annotate, to discuss – now what? Teacher/writer Marilyn Pryle shares five reader-response activities she uses to help students interact with texts in creative ways, inviting higher levels of thinking and understanding.

Remote Teaching with Engaging Infographics

Jeremy Hyler likes the power of infographics to engage students and differentiate instruction in science and ELA classes. Drawing on his recent book Ask, Explore, Write! An Inquiry-Driven Approach to Science and Literacy Learning, Hyler shares some remote teaching ideas and links to other resources.

Kids: 5 Things to Know about Middle School

Do kids read MiddleWeb articles? They sure read this one by former AMLE teacher of the year Amber Chandler’s (then) 7th grade daughter Zoey, who shared “five things I wish people told me about going to middle school.” Perspective is everything, as Zoey demonstrates, offering advice she urges sixth grade teachers to share with their new students.

Teachers: Watch Out for Unintended Microaggressions

Racial “microaggressions” do harm to students’ self-image and health, says teacher Cheryl Mizerny, who has spent a decade studying this common teacher behavior and how to avoid it. Learn ways to recognize these often unintentional slights and better support all students.

First-Week Activities My Math Classes Loved

Michelle Russell’s first week back in math class went great. Learn how she launched her classroom communities, thanks to teachers whose activities and ideas she scouted out online. Michelle has included all the students’ favorites in case you’d like to try some yourself!

4 Vocab Steps Help Kids Grasp Information Text

Understanding concept words like ‘innovative’ can help students make sense of complex sources. Teacher Britany Harris and consultant Sunday Cummins share a four-step process to introduce a few new vocabulary words before reading an information text and then focus on them as kids read, talk and write.

Teaching ELLs with Short Animated Videos

Short animated videos are excellent for supporting literacy skills while making learning fun (and great during remote learning). For English learners they can serve as a scaffold when studying story elements. Valentina Gonzalez shares a multi-day video plan and lots of films, including some award winners.

Why Our Students Need Black History All Year Long

The Chicago district where Lauren Brown teaches has wrestled with issues of equity centering around race with new urgency in recent years. Amid the pandemic and the rising Anti-Racist Movement, she believes part of the answer is deepening curriculum and teaching Black history throughout the year.

That’s our Top 15 list for 2020, but it barely scratches the surface. GO HERE to browse every article we posted during the strangest of all education years. And you can follow our list of monthly favorites and see our compilation of all-time top reads at the Most Popular Articles page.

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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.

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