What if students could find a way to overcome their fear of speaking, learn storytelling, and become more confident public speakers? Teaching these skills to middle graders using stand up comedy can lay the groundwork for greater success, writes actor-educator Kevin Flynn.
Novels about school are rare and often feature a lone heroic teacher defying the odds. Instead, NBCT Roxanna Elden’s fictional account of life at a struggling urban Texas school – “Adequate Yearly Progress” – is funny, often moving, and always authentic. Read Chapter 2.
Rather than approaching differentiation as “making it easier” for some, Barbara Blackburn suggests a strategy that assures lessons will be rigorous while also giving struggling students the supports they need. Her example involves an informational reading lesson.
Marilee Sprenger shares the “break-up letter” she read to her middle school students to help them become aware of their emotions and find strategies that will work for them and their individual experiences. She includes follow-up activities to build SEL skills for all.
Whether they are fiction or nonfiction, the best stories are told through mood as we react to events, people and emotions. For students, identifying, tracking and exploring moods in stories and images is an easy way to enter into text. Teacher Trevor Bryan shares his approach.
Giving students tools to slice into a text and formulate specific thoughts backed with evidence has transformed NBCT Marilyn Pryle’s classroom discussions. “Instead of tentative guesses from a few, we now have detailed conversations that draw the whole class in.”
Respectful, fruitful collaboration among students is not “nice” for kids to master before they make their own way in the world – it is absolutely necessary. It’s especially needed when problems arise. Dina Strasser suggests co-creating norms that serve the whole child.
Systemic change is still needed to shift stereotypes and achieve equity and equality in STEM fields, writes middle school science educator Cristina Veresan. But educators can make a difference by exposing students to “everyday” science superheroes who defy typecasting.
No single practice stops cruelty, but a combination of proven strategies used by committed staff trained in anti-bullying will maximize impact. Michele Borba outlines six rules that can help defeat the culture of bullying and replace it with the power of character.
When it comes to learning new words, a few minutes goes a long way, says author-consultant Pam Koutrakos. Teachers can jump-start word study at any point in the year. Use her “cycle” strategy to fit vocab into the daily lesson flow and build students’ curiosity about words.