From our newsletter: Bring Balance to Your Day • Xs & Whys of Algebra • Oral Strategies Reinforce Learning • Whither Weather? • Why Value-Added Evaluation Fails • Game Design & Education • Billy Collins Gets Animated • Math the Write Way • ED: Racial Disparities in Schools • Quick Links (free subscription)
Bring Balance to Your Day
About this time of year, we may find ourselves so busy that it seems hard to find time to re-energize and reclaim balance. Mike Anderson, a consultant and educator, lists some traps we can fall into and offers strategies to meet them head-on. Among them: act now, exercise in found time, use your own deep breaths. Things we may know but need to be reminded of. As Anderson points out, maintaining a healthy balance is part of the job. His piece is one of several dealing with stress in the March 15 issue of ASCD Express.
from Stenhouse Publishers
All teachers of algebra should have The Xs and Whys of Algebra at their fingertips during planning and instruction. This handy 84-page flipchart cuts through the confusion to help you prevent common misconceptions. 30 modules focus on key standards with instructional strategies, activities, and reproducibles. Click here for details.
Teacher Language Matters
What does it look like in the classroom when kids are understanding deeply, especially in science, social studies and other content areas? What helps "understanding" have some staying power? That's the essential question literacy expert Ellin Keene set out to answer as she visited a diverse set of classrooms across the US. In this interview at Choice Literacy, Keene describes what she found, including "particular ways that (teachers) could adjust or modify our (spoken) language" to promote understanding that sticks. Sophisticated vocabulary and varied sentence structure can help.
Washington, DC’s cherry trees are blossoming ahead of schedule this year. Forsythia is blooming in Connecticut. So why did the eastern US have such a warm winter after last year’s record breaking snow? What can we expect from such early plant growth? This NYT Learning Network lesson has students look into interactive weather data across the U.S. Kids can also examine the weather impact of bodies of water and landmasses. ALSO: Register now to participate in National Environmental Education Week April 15-21. This year's focus: Incorporating environmental studies and STEM, as students learn about climate and develop hands-on projects in their school yards and communities. Don’t miss the middle level resources.
Why Value-Added Evaluation Fails
Assessing teaching using value-added test data has its uses, but the data is not an accurate measure of individual performance. This recent post summarizes findings by Linda Darling-Hammond and others (published recently in Kappan magazine) on the shortcomings of using value-added scores to rank and reward teachers. Darling-Hammond and her colleagues also suggest strategies for achieving accurate and equitable evaluations.
Game Design & Education
Last fall, researcher James Paul Gee explained to a Buck Institute for Education audience how elements of game design can bring pedagogy into the 21st century. In this Edutopia blog, two BIE leaders talk about Gee’s ideas. For more about how gaming comes alive in schools, see this TED Talk by 7th grade world history teacher Aran Levasseur -- and read his recent article for PBS’s MediaShift, where he highlights the potential of digital games to promote innovative thinking and career role-playing.
Billy Collins Gets Animated
Math the Write Way
How can you build the benefits of writing into math class? In ‘Using Writing in Mathematics to Deepen Student Learning,’ McREL consultant Vicki Urquhart outlines the research that supports writing about math and offers strategies for adding free writing, biographies, word problems and more. Though the booklet was written for secondary educators, most of its suggestions should be useful to upper elementary students, too.
ED: Racial Disparities in Schools
Black and Hispanic students face harsher discipline and increased retention rates, and have less experienced teachers, according to data in the latest U.S. Department of Education Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), collected in 2009-10 from schools serving 85% of US public school students. An OFCR press release provides key findings on discipline and retention as well as teacher equity, bullying and harassment, and other issues. Educators can access school and district specific data or visit a CRDC summary.
MiddleWeb's Quick Links
Didn't find quite what you need? Here's a quick look at some other resources of interest.
• Access New Deal Works Progress Administration posters on war, health, consumer concerns, theater and more. From the Library of Congress.
• Kids will enjoy celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day (Thurs, April 26) during National Poetry Month. Read Write Think has suggestions.
• Find an overview of the April 4, 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and video clips of his speeches at History.com.
• For a quick view of the flipped classroom, past and present, visit this Knewton infographic.
• MS teacher Laura Coughlin uses YouTube videos and song lyrics to spark interest in standardized test review.