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Assessment Refresh

Christy Rush-Levine considers how her rubrics do not acknowledge different levels of support some students need to accomplish tasks. She rethinks her rubric design to include support, and in the process fosters more independence and reflection in students.

Daily Reflection Rubric

Mark Levine always has a few students each year in his middle school classroom who are stunned by their poor grades, even when they clearly aren't meeting expectations. He develops a rubric to enable students to monitor and reflect on their learning behaviors daily.

Eighth-Grade Conference: Empathetic Reading

Christy Rush-Levine confers with eighth grader Julian about his strengths as an empathetic reader.

Reflecting on the L

Mark Levine wonders if his middle school students are spending enough time reflecting on the L in K-W-L, so he creates a form to help.

Sketching Your Way to a Big Idea

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills work with eighth graders who struggle to articulate big themes in literature. A breakthrough comes when they have the option of sketching their thoughts.

Push Pause: Dealing with Failure in the Midst

Christy Rush-Levine discovers it’s important to “push pause” to deal with failure in the midst of teaching.

Balancing Reading and Talk

Mark Levine finds that the best way to deal with controversial topics like slavery in his middle school classroom is with open and focused whole-class discussions.

Sharing and Celebrating Summer Reading

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share how they use the first days and weeks of school to celebrate summer reading and build a classroom community.

#bookaday in Middle School: Nuts and Bolts

Jillian Heise shares advice for teachers who want to try a #bookaday challenge of sharing at least one picture book each day with older students. She gives criteria for book selection, as well as examples of books to read at the start of the school year.

Building Community with a Shared Text

Christy Rush-Levine finds a community of new teachers bonds over a text highlighting addiction struggles. The experience leads her to think through what elements are essential for whole-class texts in her middle school classroom.

#bookaday in Middle School

Jillian Heise rises to the challenge of reading a new picture book to her seventh and eighth graders each day all year long.

Practical Ways to Connect Students and Goals

Kate Mills and Tara Barnett provide some practical tips for connecting students and goals.

Consistent Feedback in Writing Workshop

Carly Ullmer assesses how she can give consistent and meaningful feedback to every one of her many middle school students at least once a week.

Expert Students

Christy Rush-Levine uses a quick assessment during writing workshop conferences to connect expert students with peers who might need assistance. She includes a video example of the practice.

Literary Analysis: Tone and Scholarly Writing

Christy Rush-Levine shares how to help student writers understand and develop a scholarly tone. The feature includes a video example of small-group instruction.

Monday Headlines

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills use Monday Headlines to energize students after the weekend, and get a peek into what’s going on at home.

Literary Analysis: Counterclaims

Christy Rush-Levine shares how to present counterclaims, as well as a video example of a small group exploring counterclaims.

Using If I Stay to Model Literary Analysis

Christy Rush-Levine uses the mentor text If I Stay to model literary analysis, building on her middle school students’ interest in the recent movie.

“Old Age Sticks”: Choral Reading and Reflection

Christy Rush-Levine leads her eighth graders in a choral reading and analysis of the E. E. Cummings poem "Old Age Sticks." This is the second video in a two-part series.

Student-Generated Vocabulary Discussions

Tara Barnett and Kate Mills find the key to middle school students attending to new vocabulary during read-alouds is to have students choose the words.

Fact or Fiction? Introducing the Task


Christy Rush-Levine has her middle school students complete a fun and sophisticated reading activity using Muse magazine to sort through what might be fact or fiction. The piece includes a video excerpt from the group discussion.

Fact or Fiction? Discussion

Christy Rush-Levine has her middle school students complete a fun and sophisticated reading activity using Muse magazine to sort through what might be fact or fiction. In this second installment of the video series, students discuss the articles they have read.

Creating Curiosity with Story

Mark Levine finds that the secret to engaging students in what might be perceived as dry historical topics is to create curiosity with story.

The Daily Record

Mark Levine uses the “daily record” to encourage reflection throughout each day’s workshop in his social studies classroom.

Tracking Student Goals

Carly Ullmer transfers a messy goal-setting protocol to her seventh graders, and in the process finds they take on more accountability for individual success.

Student (and Teacher) Risk-Taking

Carly Ullmer ponders what it means to take risks in her middle school classroom as she and her students experiment with different response options.

Book Talk: Boy21

Christy Rush-Levine piques interest in Boy21 through a book talk to her middle school students.

“Old Age Sticks”: Poetry Analysis in Eighth Grade

Christy Rush-Levine leads her middle school students in a choral reading and analysis of "Old Age Sticks" by E.E. Cummings. This is the first installment in a two-part series.

Beyond the Comfort Zone: Books for Our Times

Christy Rush-Levine explains why she stocks some books in her middle school classroom library that can provoke concerns from families, and how she deals with conflicts.

The Pocahontas Ewww: Writing and Inquiry for Context

Mark Levine finds his middle school students are appalled by some of the cultural differences from times gone by, and shares how he fosters more understanding.

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