18 of Our ‘Long Reads’ You Probably Missed

By John Norton & Susan Curtis
MiddleWeb Co-Editors

“No way I have time for that!” Did the sheer exhaustion of teaching in 2020-21 cause you to take a pass on some good but long MiddleWeb articles? Here are 18 insightful posts you might want to look over in the calm before the next storm.

Quick Surveys Can Help Us Teach and Lead

Using homemade surveys can help you become a better teacher and leader. They can boost understanding of student, parent and staff perspectives on issues that impact teaching and learning. Principal and NBCT Rita Platt shares ways she uses them – with tips, tools and resources.

Book-in-a-Bag Talks Let Kids Tout Books They Love

This post reaches back to April 2020 – but you were stressed then too. Add dimension to student book talks with Lynne Dorfman’s version of the Book-in-a-Bag project. And it works in your classroom OR online, as students introduce their books by sharing a paper bag covered in images they recreate from fiction or nonfiction and by pulling out representative objects.

Other Ways for Kids to Show What They Know

There will always be learning goals that call for written responses. But if we aren’t careful, we can end up turning our checks for understanding into tests of writing. Teacher educator and former Kansas TOY Curtis Chandler shares tools and strategies he uses to make sure every student shows what they know.

10 Actions That Put Student Writers First

How do we put our young writers first? We seek to develop a mindset and actions that provide opportunity, dignity, and encouragement, says literacy expert Regie Routman. Then we carefully tailor feedback that celebrates strengths and boosts each and every writer’s confidence.

Exploring the Human Impact of Climate Change

Examining the human impact of climate change through texts allows students to connect climate science to the human cost of climate change, develop empathy for communities impacted by climate change, and discover more about climate justice, writes ELA teacher Kasey Short.

SEL & the Brain: Every Student Has a Story

For those with positive stories, social-emotional learning helps reinforce the skills they need to succeed. For those with stories of trauma, SEL can help balance negative experiences with positive ones. Author-educator Marilee Sprenger shows how brain research can help classroom teachers blend SEL concepts into instruction.

Reading for Pleasure Helps Keep Us Healthy

The positive physical, cognitive and mental benefits of reading for pleasure might convince overworked educators that diving into your favorite fiction or hobby books can be guilt free – even therapeutic! Stephanie Affinito, author of Leading Literate Lives, shares the research, the rationale, the method and the fun.

Help Language Learners Overcome 3 Math Myths

Many myths surround math instruction and language learners. Dr. Jim Ewing singles out three that often hold language learners back from high levels of achievement in math class. In his recent talk with Tan Huynh, Ewing described a framework for success that Tan shares here.Boost Literacy Learning with Podcasts Kids Love

Similar to the benefits of class read-alouds and independent reading, podcasts can be incorporated as a way to increase students’ understanding of stories and information, with kids often making “text to self” connections. Middle grades teacher Kathie Palmieri includes sources and favorites.

Systems Thinking Helps Students Make Meaning

If we want kids to transfer and integrate their learning, they need thinking strategies they can apply in many situations. In her school, writes Megan Kelly, as students acquire ‘systems thinking’ skills, they begin to discover interconnectedness everywhere they look. In this helpful how-to post, Megan walks us through examples from her own classroom.

Bring Geography to Life by Tracking Hurricanes

Nearly 20 years ago Jennifer Smith began having her fifth grade social studies students track hurricanes as part of their geography unit. Middle grades kids are excited to learn material that impacts their daily lives and spurs a sense of service and empathy for victims.

Teaching Kids to Ask Questions That Matter

What’s the best way to boost student success and excitement for learning? Jackie Walsh has published a half-dozen books on classroom questioning. She believes the answer is to develop kids’ capacity as questioners by strengthening their specific skill set and setting the stage for learners to experience the thrill of asking questions that matter.

Our Vulnerable Learners Need Our Best Supports

Every child wants to be successful, but school can be a tough place for vulnerable students. To pull them into the success loop requires both an understanding of their plight and a willingness to fully support them with targeted strategies, writes Suzy Pepper Rollins.

Every Student Has an Epic Hero Inside

Focusing on the elements of the epic hero, this SEL-friendly activity from author and 2019 PA TOY Marilyn Pryle helps students learn about literary elements while reflecting on their own lives, goals, and obstacles as they consider the hero’s backstory, good qualities, flaw, and quest.

Approaching Discipline with a Teaching Mindset

Student discipline is high on the job description of most assistant principals. After three years as a school administrator, here’s what former teacher and instructional coach DeAnna Miller has learned about this essential aspect of working with kids: (1) use it as a teachable moment, (2) make it fair, and (3) love them anyway.

Teaching U.S. History in Turbulent Times

The antiracist protests occurring across the country since the killing of George Floyd have led Lauren Brown and Sarah Cooper – two white female middle school social studies teachers – to consider even more deeply “how best to teach U.S. history.” Join the conversation. Their three-part conversation starts here.

Help Students Make the Most of Interviews

Similar to reading, listening to what we hear during an interview requires comprehension and the active construction of meaning. Elizabeth Hagan, Lisa Friesen and Sunday Cummins share action research on ways to prepare students to conduct interviews they’ll enjoy and learn from.

3 Pandemic Practices I’ll Be Taking Forward

In this pandemic year Katie Durkin adopted 3 new practices she’ll be carrying forward: going paperless; slowing down the curriculum to provide more feedback to students; and using the Flipped Classroom model.

This curated list is – yes, we’ll say it – the tip of the content iceberg. Scroll through our master index of articles, blogs and reviews, starting on our homepage. We’ve made it easy to browse with 10 post summaries per click (down at the bottom). Happy exploring!


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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.