As many of us find ourselves thrust into the realm of distance learning, PA TOY Marilyn Pryle outlines how she uses two online platforms, Edmodo and Flipgrid, for intellectual and social/emotional learning, since any tool is only as effective as how it is put to use.
Guest posts by expert educators
For teachers to help students not only survive but also thrive through this frightening pandemic, we need to underscore both their and our fundamental need for kindness and gratitude. Author-educator Dr. Debbie Silver shares the science of anxiety and lots of options to help.
Middle school teacher and dean Bill Ivey shares the story of his 7th graders, gathering online for the first time. “So much going on around us is frighteningly uncertain. How we go about schooling right now is far more important than the what. Familiarity. Flexibility. Agency. Community.”
Middle schools and their students are special. By design 6-8 grade schools are intended to be communities, organized in houses or teams as the kids are exploring themselves and their world. All this helps in the leap to online school, says teacher Laurie Lichtenstein.
The global pandemic “will be in the history books, won’t it?” Absolutely, 8th grade teacher Lauren Brown told her students. She’s devised a simple home assignment – students create a ‘primary source’ for future historians by jotting down their questions, concerns and observations. See her suggested prompts to get kids started.
Developing a schoolwide culture of reading, like any change initiative, takes commitment, leadership, collaboration, communication and consistency. Literacy leaders Laura and Evan Robb describe a model middle school that is “full of reading” and share 10 starter ideas.
Math teacher Robert Kaplinsky wanted his students debating about the best way to solve a problem, using strategic thinking and not just the formula. He also wanted to know when students had misconceptions so he could reshape his lessons. His solution? Open Middle Math.
Should culturally responsive teaching include “pop culture” as a unifying interest in multicultural classrooms and schools? A.P. Andrew Canlé makes that argument, singling out online competition-based gaming as his example of the engaging pedagogy Generation Z wants.
Understanding concept words like ‘innovative’ can help students to make sense of complex sources. Britany Harris and 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.
Are students who increasingly communicate through bits of digital text missing the chance to develop live conversation skills? In her middle grades classroom, Nancy Costanzo has crafted strategies to help kids both deepen their understanding and become skilled conversationalists.