The MiddleWeb Blogs
In addition to our weekly flow of new guest articles, MiddleWeb supports “named blogs” by teachers and leaders who commit to writing regularly throughout the year. Click on the boldfaced links to see an annotated index of each blogger’s contributions.
Class Apps captures the passion of former Kansas state teacher of the year Curtis Chandler for free digital tools that make teaching and learning easier and more successful. Curtis, now a teacher-educator at BYU-Idaho, became a regular blogger after several years of contributing occasional tech-oriented articles to MiddleWeb. His practical articles always include a focus on best-practice research and helpful teaching tips.
Megan Kelly loves innovation and that’s the focus of Wide Open Learning, launched here in the fall of 2018. Megan has been teaching internationally since 2003, most recently in Singapore. She has a Master of Arts in Teaching and is passionate about literacy and learning through play. We asked Megan to join us as a regular after she wrote a series of very popular guest articles full of fresh teaching ideas. You can find them here!
New Teacher Tips is our second blog created by Dr. Curtis Chandler, a teacher educator at Brigham Young University-Idaho and a former Kansas State Teacher of the Year. His practical novice-teacher advice combines his extensive research into good practice, his personal experiences as a teacher and new-teacher mentor and his fascination with digital teaching tools. Also see his MiddleWeb blog Class Apps.
Our Meaningful Math blogger, Michelle Russell, brings her experience as both a middle and high school math teacher to her articles, always with the middle level in focus. She began writing for us in the summer of 2016. Watch for her monthly articles about her own restless search for the most effective teaching practices.
STEM by Design blogger Anne Jolly began her career as a lab scientist, caught the teaching bug and was recognized as a state teacher of the year. As a curriculum consultant for an NSF-supported project she helped develop standards-based STEM modules for middle school curricula. Her book STEM By Design: Strategies and Activities for Grades 4-8 (Routledge/MiddleWeb, 2016) sparked a companion website packed with free resources. Anne’s recent work with a business-industry consortium developing STEM curricula for both middle and elementary school gives her unique insights into the knowledge-and-skill expectations of employers.
The Unstoppable ML Teacher references the shift to “multilingual learner” and aims at the broad audience of educators teaching English learners in their self-contained and subject area classrooms. Valentina Gonzalez has been a classroom instructor, an ESL coach, and district-level leader for EL/ML professional development. Her posts for us are rich in tips and strategies. In 2019, Valentina was joined by Tan Huynh, a global educator and podcaster who specializes in language acquisition and supporting multilingual learners. Tan is now “chief blogger,” sharing his action-oriented summaries of interviews with global thought leaders, as well as strategies from his own teaching and coaching.
Dina Strasser‘s title – I Will Screw This Up – references Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk About Race and underscores Dina’s focus on social justice and anti-racist education. After a first career teaching English, reading and ESL, Dina spent six years at EL Education (home of Ron Berger and books like Leaders of Their Own Learning) and is co-author of Management in the Active Classroom (EL Education, 2015). She’s since returned to a New England classroom working with English learners in middle and high school.
Dr. Jackie A. Walsh is the nation’s leading expert on classroom questioning and formative feedback and the author of nine Corwin and ASCD publications on those topics. In addition to writing numerous solo articles for MiddleWeb, Jackie joined two Texas school-based educators to write a blog series Making Questions Count that offers both a researcher’s expertise and the perspectives of front-line educators in today’s classrooms.
Letting Go Is Messy shares the fruits of a collaboration involving two outstanding literacy educators – Dr. Sunday Cummins and Dr. Julie Webb. In a year-long series aimed at teachers across the curriculum, Cummins and Webb write about the most effective ways to assure a Gradual Release of Responsibility. Learn how to achieve the tricky balance between scaffolding and support and student ownership of learning here!
My AP Life brings a school leadership voice to MiddleWeb. DeAnna Miller joined us in the fall of 2020, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, to write about the unique challenges and opportunities experienced by assistant school principals. DeAnna is an AP at a K-6 public school in Alabama, an Army veteran, a former middle school teacher and instructional coach, and a self-confessed introvert who gives some extra attention to all those quiet kids who often get overlooked.
Now more than ever, Close Reading the Media is essential for tweens, teens and adults alike. After contributing more than three dozen articles since 2012, media literacy expert Frank W. Baker agreed to begin a monthly blog for MiddleWeb, tapping the name of his latest book project. Frank reveals just how broad a topic media literacy can be, writing on subjects as diverse as movie-making, commercial advertising, political campaigning, and the news media. The common thread: an urgent need for students to hone their critical thinking skills.
The Future of History blog shares articles contributed by five social studies teachers with middle grades experience since its 2013 launch. Lauren S. Brown taught U.S. history, sociology and world geography in public middle and high schools, supervised social studies pre-service teachers, and has now returned to the middle school history classroom. She also blogs at U.S. History Ideas. Sarah Cooper is a history teacher and instructional leader in La Canada, Calif. and author of Making History Mine and Creating Citizens: Teaching Civics & Current Events in the History Classroom. Our earlier contributors included California educators Jody Passanisi (author of History Class Revisited) and Shara Peters, Jody’s long-time writing colleague. Aaron Brock, a history teacher at inner city Compton CA USD, contributed regular articles during 2013-15.
Heart of the School was teacher-librarian Rita Platt‘s title choice when we invited her to blog for us in 2017, reflecting her work as a librarian and media specialist and her advocacy for teacher leadership. In her long career, Rita has also taught English learners and served as a literacy coach. In 2018, Rita became principal of her Wisconsin school and her blog broadened to include a school leadership focus. Her first book, Working Hard, Working Happy: Cultivating a Culture of Effort and Joy in the Classroom, was published in July 2019.
It’s Not Easy Being Tween taps into the knowledge and experience of Cheryl Mizerny, a 20+ year veteran who has spent most of her career in middle level classrooms and now teaches sixth grade English Language Arts. Cheryl combines her practical classroom insights with expertise in the fields of special education and educational psychology, where her Master’s degree studies focused on understanding the individual learner as a whole person: cognitively, emotionally, and socially. Also see her other articles at MiddleWeb.
Kids on the Cusp focuses on teaching in the early middle grades – fourth and fifth. Our blogger, Mary Tarashuk, has experience in both those grades and currently teaches a self-contained 4th grade class in an eastern New Jersey public school. Mary is a second career teacher with nearly 20 years’ experience and a flair for writing (she’s a budding novelist). In 2015 she was recognized for education writing with a SmartBrief Annual Editor’s Choice Award for her post “Teaching by Doing Something Meaningful.” In 2019 she added teaching coach to her responsibilities.
Two Teachers in the Room is one of the few blogs on the Web dedicated to exploring the co-teaching experience. It’s written by Elizabeth Stein, a middle grades special education teacher, author, and SpEd/UDL instructional coach and new-teacher mentor in New York. Two Teachers champions balanced partnerships in inclusion settings and the potential of the Universal Design for Learning.
The Flexible Classroom riffs on the title of middle-level teacher Amber Chandler‘s 2016 book, The Flexible ELA Classroom: Practical Tools for Differentiated Instruction in Grades 4-8 (Routledge/MiddleWeb). Readers of her MiddleWeb blog can expect plenty of cutting-edge teaching ideas, with an emphasis on differentiation, SEL, and student-centered project learning. Amber has been contributing popular articles to MiddleWeb since 2014.
Teaching with a View. Brent Gilson subtitled his blog “Middle School in a Rural Setting” — a small community in southern Alberta, Canada. This year (2019-20) Brent is teaching English Language Arts to grades 7-9, but his experience reaches back all the way to grade 3! He’s a “voice and choice” educator committed to student-centered literacy instruction, a favorite topic in his Twitter stream where he co-hosts the #G2Great chats.
Jeremy Hyler‘s column Create, Compose, Connect riffs on the title of his first book and shares his forward-thinking teaching philosophy. He is a Michigan middle school teacher with an English language arts/Science background and currently teaches 7th grade ELA classes. Integrating technology and digital tools into literacy instruction is his special passion. His latest book (with Troy Hicks) is From Texting to Teaching.
To augment our great coverage of STEM topics (see above) we invited science teacher, content expert and coach Kathy Renfrew to become The Science Lady and write about general science topics from her perspective as a veteran middle grades teacher and early advocate for the Next Generation Science Standards.
For Working Draft we were fortunate to convince sixth grade ELA teacher and writing champion Kevin Hodgson to share his thoughts and his classroom life. Kevin, who tweets @dogtrax and maintains a popular personal blog, Kevin’s Meandering Mind, loves to create graphics and audio to go with his posts. Among his many topics: reluctant writers, visual literacy, games and learning, and teaching 6th grade in elementary school.