How to Conference Well with Student Writers

Long-time middle grades teacher Mark Overmeyer brings his techniques for successful student writing conferences – one-on-one, peer, and small-group – to “Let’s Talk.” Drawing on the modeling Overmeyer provides, Tyler McBride plans to launch regular conferences this fall.

Respect Grows When We Value Kids’ Ideas

For years Mary Tarashuk engaged her students in a rule-making exercise that felt democratic but produced her desired outcomes. Now her strategy is to help kids think more deeply about respect and have them use their insights to guide the classroom community.

Beyond Tech: Learning into the Future

“Future Wise: Educating Our Children for a Changing World” by David Perkins zeroes in on curriculum, pursuing “lifeworthy” learning pursuits, fresh approaches to content and less preoccupation with technology. Principal Matt Renwick likes Perkins’ flexible outlook on the “what” of teaching.

Close Reading for the Whole Class

Close Reading for the Whole Class is easy to follow and designed for “real life classrooms.” Research based and with practical lesson plans, the book takes the angst out of close reading. Great for individual or group study, says reviewer Linda Biondi.

Bring Word Nerdiness to the Middle Level

A multitude of authentic classroom examples and strategies make “Vocabularians” a must-have book, says ELA teacher and word nerd Amber Chandler. Author Brenda Overturf also provides realistic ways to bring schoolwide vocabulary immersion to the middle grades.

Using Dystopian Fiction to Explore Citizenship

In his ELA classroom, David Sebek focuses on four aspects of what it means to be a “good citizen” – truthfulness, justice, equality and responsibility – and uses whistleblower stories and dystopian fiction to explore the elusive definition of citizenship.

Crafting a History Skills Scope & Sequence

If you could design your ideal social studies curriculum for middle school, what would it look like? After surveying area high schools, Jody Passanisi and Shara Peters decide to focus on skills development. Here’s their draft scope & sequence for grades 6-8.