- Conferences & Seminars
- Sponsors & Exhibitors
- Awards & Recognition
- School Assessment Programs
- Teacher Resources
- Parent Resources
- State & National Links
- NELMS .21
- Center for Database Educating
An annotated list of current events & issues related to the middle level
Be sure to check back each week for a new article of interest.
This week's featured article is:
Trim Recess? Some Schools Hold On To Child's Play
It's recess time at Ruby Bridges Elementary School and a third-grader is pummeling a plastic tetherball with focused intensity. He's playing at one of more than a half-dozen recess play stations on the school's sprawling cement playground — there's also wall ball, basketball, capture the flag, sharks and minnows, a jungle gym and tag.
The kids at this school in Alameda, Calif., a city on a small island near Oakland, get recess-time help from coach Kenny Wong. Wong is an employee with Playworks, a nonprofit that works with low-income area schools in California and across the country.
They Loved Your G.P.A. Then They Saw Your Tweets.
At Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Me., admissions officers are still talking about the high school senior who attended a campus information session last year for prospective students. Throughout the presentation, she apparently posted disparaging comments on Twitter about her fellow attendees, repeatedly using a common expletive.
Perhaps she hadn't realized that colleges keep track of their social media mentions. "It was incredibly unusual and foolish of her to do that," Scott A. Meiklejohn, Bowdoin's dean of admissions and financial aid, told me last week. The college ultimately denied the student admission, he said, because her academic record wasn't competitive. But had her credentials been better, those indiscreet posts could have scuttled her chances.
NY Times 11/9/13
For The Tablet Generation, A Lesson In Digital Citizenship
Parents pack into a gym at Cahuilla Desert Academy, a middle school in the southern California city of Thermal. The near triple-digit daytime heat of the Coachella Valley, southeast of Palm Springs, has given way to a cool evening. It's iPad information night.
Before addressing the crowd, Principal Encarnacion Becerra talks up the district's ambitious new iPads-for-all initiative with the fervor of a Silicon Valley entrepreneur.
Concussions and the Classroom
Because of heightened awareness about the hazards of sports-related concussions, many states have implemented standards determining when an injured student may resume playing contact sports. But only a few states have begun to address how and when a student should resume classwork.
NY Times Blogs 10/27/13
Dodge Ball: Causing Harm Or Teaching Resilience?
A New York school has taken soccer balls, footballs — and maybe even the fun — out of recess. Officials say hard balls are a safety concern, but critics say they're being too cautious. Tell Me More's parenting roundtable weighs in .
Overscheduled Children: How Big a Problem?
Now that the school year is under way, my wife and I are busy managing our children's after-school schedules, mixing sports practices, music lessons, homework and play dates. It can be a complicated balancing act for our elementary-age daughters, as some days end up overstuffed, some logistically impossible, some wide open. Still, compared to when we were children, the opportunities they get to sample on a weekly basis is mind-blowing. .
NY Times 10/11/13
American Adults Below Average on Global Test
It's long been known that America's school kids haven't measured well compared with international peers. Now, there's a new twist: Adults don't either. In math, reading and problem-solving using technology — all skills considered critical for global competitiveness and economic strength — American adults scored below the international average on a global test, according to results released Tuesday.
ABC News Online 10/8/13
At SREE, Researcher Calls for Better Measures of Student Competencies
Modern careers require more multifaceted competency, but education researchers still have few ways to identify, measure, and improve noncognitive and even some cognitive skills, according to James Pellegrino, co-director of the Learning Sciences Research Institute at the University of Illinois-Chicago, in a conference keynote speech given Saturday in Washington.
Blogs at EdWeek 9/28/13
Middle school recognized with prestigious award
A Spotlight School banner will be proudly hung for all to see in the Somersworth Middle School cafeteria. The middle school was officially awarded the New England League of Middle School's prestigious Spotlight Award at an assembly early Friday morning. Students and faculty gathered, all wearing their signature Tough Toppers T-shirts, in the school gymnasium to recognize their achievement and aspirations to reach even greater milestones.
Can Emotional Intelligence Be Taught?
One day last spring, James Wade sat cross-legged on the carpet and called his kindergarten class to order. Lanky and soft-spoken, Wade has a gentle charisma well suited to his role as a teacher of small children: steady, rather than exuberant. When a child performs a requested task, like closing the door after recess, he will often acknowledge the moment by murmuring, “Thank you, sweet pea,” in a mild Texas drawl.
NY Times 9/11/13
Primary, Middle Level Students Show Gains
U.S. elementary and middle-school students have made notable gains on national math and reading exams since the early 1970s, while high-school students have made none, according to data released Thursday by federal education officials.
Wall St. Journal Online 6/27/13
Young Students Contribute to Study of Elephant Behavior
A recently published research paper on elephant behavior has all the hallmarks of academic literature — plentiful references, detailed methodology — until the reader looks more closely at the authors.
Thirteen contributors are students from the East Side Middle School in New York, and their participation marked one of the first times that teenagers have co-authored a scientific article alongside researchers with advanced degrees.
NY Times 8/18/13
Changing school culture can end bullying
When a wave of immigrant families settled in Bucyrus, Ohio, the schools faced a clash of cultures. Some 96 percent of the city’s 12,000 residents identify as white. In one classroom, a teacher instructed the class that Mexican immigrants were to blame for drug trafficking in the United States. Following his comments, a Mexican American fifth-grader was targeted with racial slurs, harassed and then suspended for misconduct.
Washington Post 8/11/13
Camp Combines Sports and Math to Engage Students in Learning
In a relay race, is it faster to hand off the baton while looking back at your teammate, or looking straight ahead?
That's what a group of 8th grade students in Illinois were trying to determine at a scientific sports camp, organized by the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, which uses sports to teach science and math concepts that go beyond teamwork or physical fitness.
The students, who tested their hypothesis at the Belle Valley School track field in Belleville, Ill., concluded that looking back at your teammate yielded a faster time than looking straight ahead during a relay race, according to the Belleville News-Democrat.
EdWeek Blogs 8/9/13
iPads for middle school
All Memorial Middle School students will have iPads next school year, according to Superintendent Kathleen Tyrell. The district piloted the idea with sixth-graders in the 2012-2013 school year, and “it was so successful we are expanding it to the entire middle school,” she said.
Jeff Bridges: I dream of a United States with 'no kid hungry'
Jeff Bridges has worked for more than 30 years on issues concerning childhood hunger here and abroad. He founded the End Hunger Network in 1983 to organize the entertainment industry around this cause. Since 2010, Jeff has been the national spokesperson for Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry® campaign to end childhood hunger in America.
Surviving middle school - again
About a year ago, I sat in the auditorium at South Orange Middle School in suburban New Jersey and listened to the cheerful principal prepare the incoming sixth-grade parents for what would lie ahead. The big, bad dreaded middle school years were upon us. After the principal posted his Twitter handle so we could get his feed on our digital devices, he then tried to assure the jittery crowd that middle school isn't as awful as it used to be.
How to Start a School Newspaper in Middle School
So, you want to start a school newspaper? If you do, then this is the article for you. Starting a school newspaper can be a great learning experience and is an awesome thing to put on a resume in the future as it shows your interviewer your leadership skills and that could very well help land you the dream job for your future. Being part of the school newspaper will give you a good idea on other people you barely know and also it will give you a chance to learn what goes on in the school, that you never know about.
New Legislation Proposed for Expanded and Out-of-School Learning
According to the Afterschool Alliance, positive news is in store for after-school and out-of-school programs in several states—Illinois, Texas, and Massachusetts—which recently passed bills aimed at creating, maintaining, or increasing funding for extended learning opportunities.
In Illinois, the state legislature passed and Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law a new $10 million funding stream to support after-school programs, as well as increased and maintained existing out-of-school dollars, according to the Alliance. Texas has created its first expanded learning task force, which will examine how the state can better serve students in out-of-school programs and through extended days. And in Massachusetts, funding was increased for a state after-school grant for local programs by 15 percent, the first increase since 2009.
Education Week Blogs 6/19/13
White House Guidelines: Don't Arm Teachers
Yesterday, the Obama administration released the comprehensive emergency guidelines for school districts it had first promised after the school shootings in Newtown, Conn. this winter.
The guidelines were written jointly by the U.S. departments of Education, Homeland Security, Justice, and Health and Human Services, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and contain lessons and suggestions from each. They deal with prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery from technological, human-caused, natural, and biological threats. The document is quite thorough, touching on everything from school design and storm shelters to planning emergency drills to balancing privacy and safety.
Education Week Blogs 6/19/13
Thousands of New York middle school students to see school day extended as late as 6 p.m.
Thousands of middle school kids will be toiling in classrooms as late as 6 p.m. as of this fall as part of the city’s effort to extend the school day.
Twenty middle schools will add an extra 2.5 hours of daily instruction for 2,000 sixth-graders under a program announced by city officials Monday.
NY Daily News 4/29/13
Roosevelt Middle School and the recipe for a good education
What is the recipe for a good education and a great school? That is the question that drives Oakland Public High School Principal, Cliff Hong.
Hong is at the helm of Roosevelt Middle School in the San Antonio neighborhood of Oakland, which has about 650 students.
Mills College student and KALW reporter Karen Gordon met Hong a year ago, when he was in his second year as principal of Roosevelt Middle School.
So Bake Sales Are Taboo? Try Selling Hand Sanitizer
Lynn Carlson, who teaches law and history at a Queens public school, could once count on bake sales and candy drives to raise thousands of dollars for her annual trip with students to Washington or Boston.That was before the New York City Department of Education, as part of an anti-obesity drive, began restricting what could be sold in machines and in fund-raising events held in schools. Out were brownies; in were granola bars. Out were chocolate chip cookies; in were gummy fruit snacks. Bake sales began to seem like little more than trips to a nutritionally correct vending machine.
NY Times 5/26
Parents Get Crib Sheets For Talking With Kids About Drinking
Parents often dread talking to tweens and teens about alcohol. So the government is here to help. Really.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration launched a campaign today that aims to get parents talking with their children about alcohol as early as age 9.
Age 9? Eek!
Rifts Deepen Over Direction of Ed. Policy in U.S.
In statehouses and cities across the country, battles are raging over the direction of education policy—from the standards that will shape what students learn to how test results will be used to judge a teacher's performance.
Students and teachers, in passive resistance, are refusing to take and give standardized tests. Protesters have marched to the White House over what they see as the privatization of the nation's schools. Professional and citizen lobbyists are packing hearings in state capitols to argue that the federal government is trying to dictate curricula through the use of common standards.
Education Week 5/13
School Climate Matters
It really, really does.
That's the conclusion of a massive new review of research by experts at the National School Climate Center and Fordham University, both in New York City.
Distilling more than 200 studies and literature reviews, they concluded that "sustained positive school climate is associated with positive child and youth development, effective risk-prevention and health-promotion efforts, student learning and academic achievement, increased student graduation rates, and teacher retention."
Education Week 5/8/13
Education Schools Innovate to Supply STEM Teachers
Biologist Kaleigh LaRiche spent most of her first two years after college working in wildlife education at the Akron, Ohio, zoo. Today, she's a first-year science teacher in a Cleveland middle school.
LaRiche, who earns her master's in education from the University of Akron this spring, thanks the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship for her confidence in the classroom. The two-year master's program recruits accomplished science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) college graduates, as well as career changers like LaRiche, and puts them through their paces in preparation to work in high-need schools.
US News Education 4/8/13
More Than 50 Years Of Putting Kids' Creativity To The Test
Let's start with a question from a standardized test: "How would the world be different if we all had a third eye in the back of our heads?"
It's not a typical standardized question, but as part of the Next Generation Creativity Survey, it's used to help measure creativity a bit like an IQ test measures intelligence. And it's not the only creativity test out there.
So why bother measuring creativity? James Catterall, a psychologist and director of the Centers for Research on Creativity in Los Angeles, says the simple answer is that if society, business and education demands it, then we need to know when it's happening; otherwise, we're just guessing when it's there.
He says, "Measuring is an important aspect of knowing where our investments pay off."
How to talk to children about deadly Boston Marathon bombings
This is the third time in less than a year and a half that I am running this post. The first time was during the saturation media coverage of the Tucson shooting rampage that left six people dead, including a 9-year-old girl born on Sept. 11. The shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. in December, in which 20 young children and six teachers were killed, made it relevant again. And now, sadly, the bombings at the Boston Marathon on Monday, in which several people were killed — including an 8-year-old boy in the crowd — and scores seriously wounded, including the boy’s mother and sister.
Washington Post 4/16/13
Recalled frozen food may have ended up in schools
Hundreds of thousands of pounds of frozen food recalled amid an E. coli scare may have been served in schools, according to the company that manufactured the items.
Buffalo, N.Y.-based Rich Products Corp. has over the past two weeks recalled 10 million pounds of frozen food items after 27 E. coli illnesses in 15 states were linked to their foods. Of that, the company estimates that about 3 million pounds may still be in the marketplace and approximately 300,000 pounds may have ended up in school lunchrooms, a company spokesman said.
Study: Middle School Algebra Push Yields Minimal Performance Gains
Many states are pushing students to take Algebra 1 in middle school to prepare them for advanced math in high school. A new analysis, however, suggests that increased enrollment hasn't led to higher math performance for states on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
Your Kids' Brains On Touch-Screens
Hanna Rosin of The Atlantic, a mother of three, wondered what all the easy access to smartphones and tablets was doing to her kids' brains. So she talked to developers of children's media and researchers to find out. Host Rachel Martin speaks with Rosin about her latest article, "The Touch-Screen Generation."
In Common Core, Teachers See Interdisciplinary Opportunities
Educators around the country are exploring innovative ways to teach the new common-core literacy standards, and some are calling attention to an approach they say is working well: interdisciplinary thematic units..
Education Week 3/13/13
Commission Calls for 'Radically Different' Tests
Emerging technology and research on learning have the potential to dramatically improve assessments, if educators and policymakers take a more balanced approach to using them.
That's the conclusion of two years of analysis by the Gordon Commission on the Future of Assessment in Education, a panel of top education research and policy experts that was launched in 2011 with initial funding from the Educational Testing Service.
Education Week 3/11/13
Gym Class Isn’t Just Fun and Games Anymore
On a recent afternoon, the third graders in Sharon Patelsky’s class reviewed words like “acronym,” “clockwise” and “descending,” as well as math concepts like greater than, less than and place values.
During gym class..
How Parents Can Learn To Tame A Testy Teenager
If you're the parent of a teenager, this may sound familiar: "Leave me alone! Get out of my face!" Maybe you've had a door slammed on you. And maybe you feel like all of your interactions are arguments.
Kim Abraham, a therapist in private practice in Michigan, specializes in helping teens and parents cope with anger. She also contributes regularly to the online newsletter Empowering Parents. Abraham says, for starters, don't take it personally.
Boston Leader Connects Parents to Learning
Michele Brooks | Assistant Superintendent Office of Family and Student Engagement, Boston Public Schools The day Michele Brooks "lost it" as the frustrated mother of a Boston high school student became a moment that transformed her life forever. That was 20 years ago, and today Brooks works inside the Boston school system as the assistant superintendent in charge of the district's office of family and student engagement.
Theater Education Programs Are in Demand for Workforce Creativity
Imagine a group comprised of accountants, tech executives, actors, corporate CEOs, playwrights and theater directors engaged in an urgent conversation. These rather divergent personalities are all discussing the state of theater education in America and its impact on our country's economy, culture and future. They all agree that our nation's future workforce can't afford a curtain call on creativity.
Conn. group starts anti-violence effort
Parents of children slain in the Connecticut school massacre called for a national dialogue to help prevent similar tragedies as New York moved to become the first to state to pass stricter gun control laws and politicians worked to confront gun violence.
Members of the newly formed group Sandy Hook Promise spoke out Monday, saying they want to have open-minded discussions about a range of issues, including guns, mental health and safety in schools and other public places.
Ergonomic Seats? Most Pupils Squirm in a Classroom Classic
Education trends come and go: Mandatory pledges of allegiance, the new math, forcing left-handed children to write with the right hand.
And then there is the classroom chair. In New York City public schools, a top chair of choice since the mid-1990s has been the Model 114, also known as the “super stacker,” 15 pounds of steel, sawdust and resin that comes in 22 colors and has a basic, unyielding design little changed from its wooden forebears.’
NY Times 1/4
Sandy Hook students, teachers head back to school
Since escaping a gunman’s rampage at their elementary school, the 8-year-old Connors triplets have suffered nightmares, jumped at noises and clung to their parents a little more than usual.
Now parents like David Connors are bracing to send their children back to school, nearly three weeks after the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. It won’t be easy — for the parents or the children, who heard the gunshots that killed 20 of their classmates and six educators.
‘‘I'm nervous about it,’’ Connors said. ‘‘It’s unchartered waters for us. I know it’s going to be difficult.’’
U.S. Students Still Lag Globally in Math and Science, Tests Show
Fourth- and eighth-grade students in the United States continue to lag behind students in several East Asian countries and some European nations in math and science, although American fourth graders are closer to the top performers in reading, according to test results released on Tuesday.
The NY Time 12/11