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Of Particular Interest

Inviting Students to Learn

In "Reflections of a Dance School Dropout," National Teacher of the Year finalist Cindi Rigsbee recalls a recent experience growing out of her New Year's Resolution and shares some thoughts about student engagement and invitational learning. Cindi's essay was a favorite in ASCD SmartBrief recently. In difficult times, educators are eager for positive stories about classrooms and kids.

The Case for Slow Reading

Why would anyone encourage students to read slowly? English prof Thomas Newkirk recalls his own unrushed reads and suggests that today's timed reading assessments and "most books read" contests can rob kids of the pleasure and understanding to be found in less frenetic reading. Among Newkirk's recommendations: encourage students to pay close attention to the beginning paragraphs of a story; teach them how to annotate a favorite page; let them search for and share a savored passage. From Educational Leadership.

10 Tips to Improve PB Learning

Edutopia has an engaging new teacher guide that can help teachers design and assess project-based learning. The Top 10 Tips, presented in a colorful PDF you download at the site, are organized to follow the arc of a project. First comes the planning, then the launch into active learning, ultimately leading to a culminating presentation. Reflection is the critical final stage. The guide also includes a bonus tip: How to assemble your own PBL toolkit.

Find the Perfect Quotation

We know teachers love great quotations. How? We get lots of teacher emails that close with thought-provoking (and sometimes funny) quotes. So we figure a resource pointing to the best websites for locating memorable sayings will be a hit. Fortunately, teacher & Web king Larry Ferlazzo has done the work for us. “I’ve searched and searched, and I still I’ve only found four sites that consistently provide sources for quotes and have a decent searchable database,” Larry says. He also includes a smart tip for sourcing unattributed quotes. And in another post, he offers a nice collection of education quotations.

Math: What's the chance?

Probability offers one of those rare intersections where classroom mathematics crosses the experience of students in the middle grades, says this great resource from the Math Portal at Ohio State University. "The problem scenarios investigated at this level often start with a game," and students "find that many of the phenomena they encounter in game playing have predictable outcomes." The activities, lesson plans, and project ideas in this teacher guide can help students generate data, note patterns that emerge, and compare their results with those predicted by probability.

"Movin' Up to the Middle"

Teacher-author and long time MiddleWeb friend Rick Wormeli has some excellent advice about supporting young adolescents as they “move up to the middle.” In his article, published in the April issue of Educational Leadership (theme: The Transition Years), Rick identifies five mindsets that he believes are key to designing successful transition programs. He also shares 20 “double duty” strategies to make sure all students feel ownership — and includes a half-dozen substantive tips that will help ensure great transitions.

Visual learning: the Infograph

"Using infographics is a great way to present information or data in a unique, visual way," says middle grades teacher J. Bartlett. "An infograph can convey information in way that can be quickly understood and absorbed." It can also "emphasize certain points from a lesson or allow content to 'hit home' when students see it visually." Barlett points us to the great blog Free Technology for Teachers where the infographics tag reveals lots of examples across the curriculum. Other resources: The New York Times is famous for its infographics and is teacher-friendly. And for sheer awesomeness, see this infograph on the impact of mobile tech on our lives and these 10 jaw-dropping graphics about education.

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April 6, 2011 (419)

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In this issue:

Student engagement

Slow reading

Project-based learning

Finding good quotes

Math: Chance lessons

Moving up to middle school

Visual learning

From Stenhouse: Well-Spoken: Teaching Speaking to All Students

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