If demoralizing teachers worked, then our educational system would already have reached a state of perfection. Instead, says reviewer Jenni Miller, policymakers can find a true roadmap for change in Richard DuFour’s “In Praise of American Educators And How They Can Become Even Better.”
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The difficulty students have in writing clearly can be traced to many factors, says literacy consultant Sarah Tantillo, from muddled pre-CCSS standards to weak teaching practices. Here she offers concrete suggestions to correct persistent writing problems in the secondary grades.
Educators may be reluctant to try memoir writing with middle grades students, but the rewards are considerable, says 8th grade teacher-author Jake Wizner. He shares three insights that can help guide teachers as they enrich the student writing experience.
Knowing how television programming is funded can help students understand what is available to view. Media literacy expert Frank W. Baker links to sources of advertising data and suggests activities to build student savvy about the genres that fill their screens.
Guest expert Dr. Susan Pruet stresses the need to stretch beyond simple arithmetic to incorporate more challenging math content in STEM lessons. Pruet also cites the supports middle grades math teachers will need to spark student engagement in STEM careers.
In today’s budget-conscious and time-stressed schools, virtual field trips are a great way to excite students without leaving the classroom. Teaching expert Barbara Blackburn shares a sample lesson idea and some good places to hunt for relevant field trips.
Dialogue circles can facilitate brain function and help “increase generosity, trust, intrinsic motivation, social connection, and cooperation so students can work together for a common purpose,” writes inner-city middle school principal David Palank.
Karen Chace knows storytelling can build literacy as well as joy. In Story by Story she explains in detail how to develop students’ storytelling skills and how to gain support for storyteller festivals. Reviewer Kevin Cordi especially values her reports of student engagement.
Nancie Atwell’s passion for adolescent reading and writing permeates every page of In the Middle, says reviewer Jenni Miller. Reworked with over 80% new material, this classic leads teachers through the intricacies of reading and writing workshop.
CommonLit.Org is a nonprofit organization building a growing collection of supplemental texts, curated by teachers, for teachers, writes founder Michelle Brown. The free and open resource is cross-curricular, organized around themes and essential questions.