A Few of Our Favorite Things from 2012

Here are a few of our favorite MiddleWeb posts from 2012. Although we have only six months of content to choose from (we launched the new site in late June), we still had a difficult time selecting only 10 from among our MiddleWeb blogs, guest articles, interviews, book reviews and resource roundups. Consider this a small sample of some great fare.

We hope you’ll come across something here that you enjoy reading and find helpful in the New Year.

1. The Essentials of Teaching Tweens & Young Teens – Interacting with young adolescents has its special challenges and rewards, says Education Week blogger and national teacher leader Nancy Flanagan. In this thought-provoking article, Nancy asks and answers four questions, revealing the essentials of excellent teaching in the middle grades. Learn more.

2. Book Review: Put the Fun Back in Your Classroom – Reviewer Sandy Wisneski, a charter school lead teacher, says Jill Spencer’s 2008 book Everyone’s Invited! Interactive Strategies That Engage Young Adolescents can spark a learning party in your classroom. You’ll discover lots of fun activities and adaptable ideas that will inspire student creativity and problem solving. “You’ll find that your guests may not want to leave,” she says, “and that’s a sure sign of the best kind of celebration of learning.” Learn more.

3. Tempered, with an Edge: An Interview with Bill Ferriter – North Carolina teacher Bill Ferriter has emerged from his sixth grade classroom into the worlds of teacher leadership, book and magazine publishing, and social media influence. His popular blog The Tempered Radical offers an engaging and provocative mix of commentary on his classroom practice and critiques of national education policy. Bill’s fourth book, Making Teamwork Meaningful, was published this month. From our interview: “We CAN be powerful change agents if we are willing to elbow our way into the important conversations happening online.”  Learn more.

4. Learn Like Luke Skywalker – Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach is a professional learning leader and prominent advocate of the radical notion that teaching and learning should be driven by the passions and interests of students, at every age. In this MiddleWeb article, Sheryl uses the example of her first grandson, Luke Skywalker Walblay, to make her case that we won’t improve schools until we treat students as fellow learners. Learn more.

5. Twelve Steps to Great STEM Lessons – Anne Jolly, author of MiddleWeb’s STEM Imagineering blog, is under no illusion that teachers have all the time and support they need to plan deeply engaging and challenging STEM lessons. But she sees value in laying out the 12 planning steps used by teachers in Mobile’s successful middle grades STEM program. School and system leaders, pay heed! Learn more.

6. My Fourth Grade Global Classroom – Patti Grayson is filling her upper elementary classroom with globe-trotting Skype adventures. In this helpful post, she shares the excitement of mystery Skyping, international book discussions, a Mardi Gras adventure and a celebrity visit during Anti-Bullying Month. Helping students connect with the outside world via video and the Internet “is becoming a routine part of being an effective 21st century teacher,” says Patti. Learn more.

7. Resource Roundup: Student Motivation – MiddleWeb co-editor Susan B. Curtis takes an in-depth look at the best web resources to help teachers and schools increase student engagement and motivation. In her link-filled article, you’ll find blog posts, interviews and studies centering on some of the year’s best commentary about intrinsic and extrinsic sources of motivation. She’s also included plenty of solid research and practical advice. Learn more.

8. Four Key Conversations for Co-Teachers – Elizabeth Stein, co-author of Two Teachers in the Room, our blog about co-teaching, believes that the best co-teaching partnerships grow out of discussions of “difficult truths” about personal goals and teaching philosophies. In this widely read post, Elizabeth suggests four places where co-teachers can begin these uncomfortable but critically important conversations. Learn more.

9. Book Review: Inspiring the Adolescent Brain – Sixth grade teacher Diane Horban has taught regular and gifted classes across the middle grades. She says Inspiring Middle School Minds: Gifted, Creative & Challenging is not just about the gifted kids but “a book about brain development in ALL students at middle school.” Author Judy Willis, an M.D. and experienced middle school teacher, tells how to use brain research to design effective classroom lessons. “It was a fascinating read!” Learn more.

10. Common Core: Take a Deep Breath – Feeling the need for a break from all the CCSS talk? Be our guest! But when you’re more rested and ready to take a dip, you’ll find there’s a difference between our resource collection around the nation’s #1 education topic and most others: We don’t take sides. You’ll find plenty of supporting articles, plenty of critics, and fair number of experts who are of two minds. Take a few deep breaths and dive in for a look. Learn more.


– More Choices? –

All of Our Book Reviews

All of Our Guest Articles

All of Our Interviews

All of Our Resource Roundups

Our STEM Imagineering blog

Our Two Teachers in the Room blog



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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