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TEACHING STRATEGIES FOR SCHOOL TEACHERS

Guiding Middle Grades Curriculum Decisions -- The first three guides (language arts, math, and science) in the Education Development Center, Inc. series, "Guiding Middle-Grades Curriculum Decisions," are available at MiddleWeb at no cost. The series, developed with support from the Edna McConnell Clark and W.K. Kellogg Foundations, is designed to assist middle-grades educators as they help young adolescents to achieve high standards. Each guide addresses the content of the curriculum and how it is taught; how the curriculum can engage all students in learning and meet the developmental needs of individual students; and what is required for successful curriculum implementation.

Great Teaching Strategies -- We never cease to be amazed by the efforts of some teachers with a knack for the Web and an urge to share. This website maintained by a California high school English teacher has much to offer to middle grades teachers, too. Digital pictures illustrate various concepts used in Jim Burke's classroom, including notetaking strategies, graphic strategies, discussion strategies, and teaching strategies. A second page on "note-making" (beyond "note-taking") includes visuals of many techniques, PDF versions of handouts, and more. And don't miss the English Companion homepage!

Meet Me in the Middle -- Rick Wormeli is a National Board Certified Teacher at Rachel Carson Middle School in Herndon, Virginia, and a columnist for Middle Ground magazine. In this new book (available as a free PDF download at this link), Wormeli draws on the wisdom of educators, researchers, and 20 years of experience in the middle school classroom to lay out "a clear vision of what responsive middle-level teaching can be." Subtitled "Becoming an Accomplished Middle-Level Teacher," this is both a "how-to" book and a thoughtful narrative on important topics, offering successful strategies for addressing key middle-level teaching challenges. A great gift for new teachers.

Graphic Organizers: Some Great Resources -- This collection of links at "ABC's of the Writing Process" allows teachers to select a specific graphic organizer to suit specific needs. The list is divided into three sections: "Explanation of Use of Graphic Organizers with Examples;" "Print and Use Graphic Organizers," and "Examples of Graphic Organizers in Use." This page, supported by the Edmonton Canada Public Schools, includes many other links to resources about the writing process, applicable across the curriculum.

Here are some other sources for printable graphic organizers:

http://www.teachervision.com/lesson-plans/lesson-6293.html

http://www.sdcoe.k12.ca.us/score/actbank/torganiz.htm

http://www.smcps.k12.md.us/mbms/writing/graphorg.html

http://www.graphic.org/goindex.html

http://www.venndiagram.com/

PEN'S Resources for Cutting-Edge Middle Grades Teachers -- These downloadable resources, developed by the Public Education Network for the Chase middle grades "active learning" program, are aimed at teachers who are ready to lead their own school improvement efforts. This link leads to an introductory page with links to other resource pages about "The ABCs of Assessment," "Using in Integrated Curriculum," "Effective Middle Schools," Action Research," "Program Evaluation," "Involving Families," "Connecting Standards to Middle School Classrooms," "Harnessing the Learning Power of Technology," "Motivating Students to Achieve," and more.

Free online workshops at "Concept to Classroom" -- Well-done online professional development produced by WNet13 and the Disney Learning Partnership. Topics include multiple intelligences, constructivism, teaching with standards, cooperative and collaborative learning, inquiry-based learning, curriculum redesign, webquests, family/community connections, interdisciplinary learning, and after-school programs, with more to come. You can even earn credit.

Using the "Jigsaw" in Middle School -- This article at the Education World website describes how sixth-grade teacher Ellen Berg (one of our MiddleWeb diarists!) used the "jigsaw" technique to deepen her students' understanding of the origns and purposes of fairy tales. Includes students' reactions and tips for using the jigsaw technique. Very useful! Also see Ellen's #14 and #15 diary entries about this project. Also see The Jigsaw Classroom and learn the 10 steps necessary to use the "jigsaw" technique with students (or adults) and explore the history and utility of the jigsaw teaching tool.

Helping Students Ask the Right Questions -- Brenda Dyck, our favorite middle grades web surfer, recommends these two webpages (toolkit and telling), produced by Jamie McKenzie. "His ideas continue to challenge me," says Dyck. "McKenzie believes teachers need to ask questions that will cause students to separate meaning out of all the 'blather' (empty talk, idle speeches, ranting and raving) found on the Web. He also believes that our role is to teach kids how to ask good
questions -- that their learning depends on it."

Increasing Time on Task -- Here's a brief but thought-provoking web page offering ideas and tools for improving students' "time on task." Includes a description of the "Student Engagement Rate Instrument," a form for collecting objective data to find out who is engaged in learning during instructional time.

Research: Critical Friends Groups -- One of several Phi Delta Kappa research bulletins available on-line, "Critical Friends Groups: Teachers Helping Teachers to Improve Student Learning," reports on a two-year study sponsored by the Annenberg Institute to determine the effectiveness of the CFG professional development model.

How to differentiate instruction -- This tutorial at the "Teach-nology" website offers a brief exploration of differentiated instruction, with links to appropriate resources on the Web. Teachers can also find tutorials that will help them integrate technology into their daily lessons.

Overview of differentiated instruction -- Developed by ASCD, based on the work of Carol Ann Tomlinson. Includes several examples and resources.

Differentiated Teaching in a Sixth Grade Classroom-- "What would it be like to teach in a general education classroom using the strategies and techniques I was using with gifted children?", Carol Horn asked herself. "In my new heterogeneous classroom of sixth graders, I first presented a more challenging curriculum for all students, and then adjusted and differentiated as needed in order to accommodate a variety of readiness levels. . .I found that all students thrived on and were motivated by a challenging and complex curriculum." (Classroom Leadership On-Line, September 2000)

ALPS - HARVARD'S TEACHER LAB -- Examine the creative teaching of three middle grades teachers at Harvard's ALPS (Active Learning Practices for Schools) website. ALPS allows teachers and teacher support staff to collaborate with educational researchers and curriculum designers working at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education and Harvard's Project Zero. A Year of Teaching 7th Grade English. A Year of Teaching 8th Grade Science. The Colonial Biography Unit for 7th Grade History. The site includes model lesson plans and activities; curriculum design tools; online educational publications; interactive forums, workshops and conferences; and teacher journals refecting on practice. The site is built around three themes: Teaching for Understanding; The Thinking Classroom; and Education with New Technologies. This hands-on, how-to website is mportant for everyone interested in improving teacher practice.

New York Times Learning Network -- This free service will send lesson plans; written by Bank Street College; via email. We'll let MiddleWeb diarist and technology coach Marsha Ratzel writes: "In the last few days, the lessons have been outstanding, in my opinion. Sometimes they are little too advanced for middle schoolers, so I adjust. The lessons usually come with links to credible sites that provide more info. Last week a mom called me. She had learned so much from her child that she wanted to read them on her own."

Strategies for Raising Student Achievement -- The ASCD book, "Teaching What Matters Most: Standards and Strategies for Raising Student Achievement" (by Richard W. Strong, Harvey F. Silver, Matthew J. Perini) draws on 10 years of research in more than 300 schools to lay out a blueprint for curriculum, instruction, and assessment that includes "four clear and manageable standards that help students meet the standards in any content area and grade level." Read selections from the book and learn how to order it.

Project Learning -- Each week, the Teachers College Record features selections from its printed journal. This week's collection (9/11/01) draws on the Symposium on The Project Method and includes six articles on "Dangers and Difficulties of the Project Method and How to Overcome Them." Access to the weekly articles is free but first-time users must register and obtain a password.

A Backward-Design Middle Grades Unit -- "What if Rip Van Winkle and I Were to Awaken in 2025?" is the title of this curriculum unit, created using a backward-design process that identifies essential questions and includes a culminating activity that assesses student learning. The unit provides tasks for students in 8th grade Language Arts to focus on "Will our natural resources, along with technology, sustain us in the future?" Adaptable for grades 6-8, this model of the backwards-design process is based on a curriculum design rubric at the Education for a Sustainable Future website.

Middle Grades Crime Investigation
Everything you need to know to set up a crime scene investigation in your classroom! Teacher Eileen Bendixson writes: "I've done crime scenes with my seventh and eighth graders for years. I presented workshops as well and had such positive feedback that I placed all of the information on my classroom website. There are student reports as well as scenarios and different investigations you can have the students do." A good back-to-school starter-upper.

Tale of a remarkable teacher -- "When most students step into Rafe Esquith's fifth-grade classroom...they take a leap into another world," begins this story at the Education World website. "Many of the students, almost all from low-income, immigrant families, study advanced mathematics, often coming to school at 6:30 a.m. to do so. In class, youngsters read books, including The Autobiography of Malcolm X. They have seen actor Hal Holbrook portray Mark Twain in their classroom. During free periods and after school, they learn to play classical guitar. Esquith's students have performed Shakespearean plays under his direction at the Globe Theatre in London and delivered a recitation on U.S. history at the U.S. Supreme Court." Read the whole story at this link.

The Joy of Inquiry-Based Teaching -- Sixth-grade language arts teacher Ellen Berg describes a successful foray into inquiry-based teaching and shares the enthusiasm of her students as they explore fairy tales through a "jigsaw" process that produces real learning. She writes: "It is not enough for us to tell children, 'Because you will need this when you grow up,' or 'Because it is good for you,' in response to their question, 'Why do I have to learn this?' In fact, perhaps our true goal as educators is to create a need-to-know environment where that question is never even asked."

Using Concept Maps to Build Understanding -- What can teachers do when students are not making the needed connections with "big ideas" in the curriculum? In their article "Concept Maps," two biology teachers describe how they helped students link concepts together using a form of graphic organizer that visually represents ideas and connections. The teachers include examples, some "potholes" they ran into, and suggest next steps. This approach is well-suited to the "Inspiration" software program, by the way. Find out more about Inspiration (and download a free trial copy).

Take My Teacher -- Please! Humor in the Classroom -- Tired of spending time after school in detention with students, a teacher decided to give "accordions" to those who acted out in class. An accumulation of three "accordions" would require the offending student to stay after school for a 10-minute session of the teacher practicing "Lady of Spain" on,--what else?-- her accordion. Humor in the classroom, says this article in ASCD's "Education Update" (August 2001), can be an effective social tool that builds bridges with students and relieves stress, say educators and experts alike. But creative teachers need to know how far to go, when to use humor, and how to avoid being hurtful.

Inquiry and assessment in middle grades science -- Vermont sixth grade teacher Graham Clarke says "teaching science was a challenge because each unit was unexplored territory. This was especially true of the physical science content I was supposed to cover, since I had never learned much of it in the first place!" Clarke, who received the 1997 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching, recounts how he became a proponent of "continuous assessment" in science and offers several examples.

Using Student Work to Improve Teaching (PDF File)-- "What Story Does the Work Tell?" offers tools to help teachers look critically at student work, including a set of guidelines developed by teachers. Middle grades math teachers may have a particular interest in "Developing Geometry Skills through Manipulatives," which includes both a student work sample and a commentary (with rubric) by a middle grades math teacher.

How well do teachers provide feedback on student writing?-- Researchers from CRESST (the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing) looked at the feedback provided to students by 22 elementary and middle grades writing teachers. "Instructors tended to focus most on standardizing their students'written output, with measurable success. Student papers received little feedback about content or organization, and these qualities generally did not change over successive drafts." (Summary, link to report.)

Journal Writing Every Day -- Subtitled "A Painless Way to Develop Skills," this curriculum article at the Education World website describes various ways teachers can use daily journal writing to promote student learning. Based on interviews with teachers, the article includes "writing motivators that work from teachers who use them!"

educ8r.net -- This new, high-quality resource site invites teachers to share ideas, lesson plans, and test questions. Teachers can browse through the resources on the site, which are separated into major-disciplines and subjects to make searching that much easier. Teachers are invited to rate the posted lesson plans. Includes form-based editing tools for creating lessonplans, tests, and lesson packages.

GEM: The Gateway to Educational Materials -- With its Gateway to Educational Materials, the US Department of Education aims to make the Web "a more friendly place for teachers." GEM evaluates resources from federal, state, university, nonprofit, and commercial sites and compiles a database of lesson plans accessible through a simple search. There are currently over 140 organizations supplying over 7,000 documents to the database. This site can serve as a source of good ideas for supplementary activities in a well-designed and implemented curriculum. Searchable by subjects, keywords, grade levels, etc.

Quality assignments and quality student work (PDF File) -- The material in this issue of "Focus," the newsletter of the Boston Plan for Excellence, borrows heavily from the Consortium on Chicago School Research, with good reason -- it's excellent. The text exploring "The Quality of Intellectual Work" is illustrated with more than two dozen examples of teacher assignments and student work -- many from the middle grades. Also includes "Six Reasons Why Instruction Slows Down." Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader to download, but worth the bother.

Integrating Math and Science in the Middle School --This hypothetical story offers a rich, anecdotal description of one way math, science, and technology teachers might work together to develop curriculum in the middle grades. Includes resources for interdisciplinary collaboration. Also read an interview with Barbara Reys, director of the Show-Me Project, a National Science Foundation program supporting the implementation of standards-based middle grades mathematics curricula. At the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse.

A Math/Science Inquiry Project -- How might inquiry look in a real classroom? In this activity, science and math concepts are "rolled together" through a problem-solving activity with toy cars. Students are given a question that gives the rationale for the investigation. The students are expected to first decide how to investigate the question, then design the experiment themselves, ask for any equipment they may need, collect the data they consider relevant, and, finally, present their results. This is decidedly not guided discovery but open inquiry! (Lesson plan at Eisenhower National Clearinghouse site.)

NCTM: Middle School Case Studies -- The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics reports on the results of two case studies involving curricula based on the NCTM mathematics standards. Select from a list of schools. Perhaps more useful: NCTM's Illuminations website, where you'll find many resources tailored to the middle grades.

Focus: A Magazine for Classroom Innovators -- This on-line magazine published by the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse targets mathematics, science and technology instruction, with original articles and selected resources. See, for example, this article on interdisciplinary collaboration in the middle grades and a special issue on math and science literacy.

Teach Students to Question One Another -- A veteran teacher shares her "socratic" technique, which has been featured in an AFT documentary, "Teaching Children to Think." You don't have to be a math teacher (or a high school teacher) to make use of these excellent teaching strategies.

20 Ways to Foster Creativity -- Good ideas from a new teacher. Example: "Model asking questions that are open-ended, such as 'Let's make a list of different sources of light.' Help students learn to phrase their own questions in an open-ended manner."

Project-Based Learning With Multimedia -- Support site for a pioneering program in schools in California's San Mateo county. The information on the site is designed to support schools locally but is useful to a much wider audience. Excellent description of what project-based learning with multimedia is all about, with important resources for maintaining such a program.

Improve Your Middle Grades Projects -- KidsEnergy ProjectPower is an interactive online platform that enables teachers and students to find projects by browsing libraries of assignments created by and for educators. You can edit project assignments to meet specific classroom needs, do the projects on or offline, share project ideas with other educators and students and link project work to learning standards, automatically. This subscription-based service is worth exploring!

Best Teaching Practice in the Middle Grades --The Maryland State Department of Education has developed a series of webpages where teachers can link to resources about best teaching practice. This section focuses on the "middle learning years" includes brief materials on homework, abstract concepts, praise and rewards, student accountability, organizing and presenting instruction, goals and purposes, monitoring student success, meaningful school and community participation, rules and rountines, managing disruptive behavior, learning skills, student team learning, setting high expectations, and more.

The Power of Project-Based Learning -- Stories at the George Lucas Educational Foundation site describe different ways schools and teachers are using project-based learning, including middle schoolers in Massachusetts who test water and report to town officials.

Teaching Worth Celebrating -- Whether children find learning a joy or a drudgery often depends on their teacher's repertoire of strategies, says teacher researcher Patricia Wasley in this Educational Leadership article (May 1999). And whether a teacher develops those strategies depends on professional preparation and a support system. "Faced with an unprecedented teacher shortage, with daunting statistics about the need for new and well-qualified teachers, and with new sources of federal and state assistance, educators are thinking about how we might support emerging teachers to encourage...inventiveness and commitment...."

The Power of a Multicultural Curriculum -- How can education reflect all voices in our history? Can multiculturalism reunite our fragmented society? Educator and historian Ronald Takaki discusses the power of a curriculum that mirrors many ethnic perspectives. Interview published in the April 1999 issue of Educational Leadership.

Helping Your Students With Homework: A Guide for Teachers -- Homework is a source of frustration for many teachers. That's why Nancy Paulu of the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Educational Research & Improvement (OERI) produced this site. Filled with ideas from teachers for helping make homework effective, the site is organized around 18 tips for getting homework done. Also see our MiddleWeb Listserv chat about homework.

Filling the Tool Box: Classroom Strategies to Engender Student Questioning -- The authors suggest ways in which teachers can involve students in developing key questions around curriculum content -- by tapping into their curiosity. Teacher-developed strategies to focus students on problem solving and deeper thinking. Part of Jamie McKenzie's work, this material takes you through the creation of a unit from start to finish.

Module Maker -- Guides teachers through the process of creating online research modules for their students. The research model includes advice on asking good questions, scaffolding the assignment to direct student efforts, and setting up the online module in stages. Includes examples and templates to help teachers get started. Emphasizes higher level learning skills.

ThinkQuest Winners - Examine the work of student winners of the ThinkQuest and ThinkQuest Junior competitions. The ThinkQuest library is a rich resource for teachers in all disciplines where they'll find student-friendly text and collections of links on history, English, science and math topics. And don't miss the ThinkQuest resource page.

10 Critical Qualities of Student Work -- In an interview in the NSDC Journal of Staff Development, Phil Schlechty recalled 10 qualities of student work he described in his book "Inventing Better Schools: An Action Plan for Educational Reform." Here's an excerpt of his comments and a capsule description of the 10 qualities. See more at the website of Schlechty's consulting group, the Center for Leadership in School Reform (link provided on this page).

Lessons learned from a middle grades "MicroWorlds" project -- Paper describes a collaborative project of O'Farrell Community School (6-8) and San Diego State University. Author Bernie Dodge, a national expert on web-based education, offers some lessons learned from this four-year effort, which invited students to create "micro-worlds" in the form of historically-based adventure games. ALSO SEE Dodge's article about scaffolding on the Web.

The Annenberg Teachers' Lab -- Experiment with new teaching and learning ideas and identify activities you can use in the classroom. This site features labs based on the professional development series and workshops broadcast on the Annenberg/CPB Math and Science Project Channel. Each Lab combines online activities with background information and interactive polls or worksheets participants can use in their classrooms, plus links to related Web sites.

ENC Focus Magazine -- The issues of FOCUS, published by the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse, are worth perusing if you're a middle grades science or math teacher. Examples of ideas developed in classrooms by teachers.

Teaching with Standards in the Middle School -- Seventh-grade English teacher Jill Barnes describes how she began to move her classroom towards a standards-based model in this 1997 article in "Basic Education" magazine. "Many teachers cringe when hearing the term standards, but most already teach the content in these standards. In a middle-school English classroom, it's hard to teach something that is not covered by one or more standard. I have not considered my classroom standards-based, however, because there was no conscious effort on my part to align standards with learning."

How to Teach the Adolescent Brain! -- New knowledge in neuroscience is redefining possibilities for education. There are five critical variables in the brain's learning process: neural history, context, acquisition, elaboration, and encoding. To find out where neuroscience and the classroom link up, Eric Jensen describes the neurological development of 15-year-old "Julie." (Educational Leadership, November 1998) ALSO SEE: An on-line discussion about learning and the brain at the ASCD website. And these resources developed for a MiddleWeb listserv chat.

Scaffolding for Student Learning -- "Scaffolding" is a teaching strategy that "provides the support and structure necessary for students to learn new information or complete assigned tasks successfully." This presentation for the 2001 NECC conference, developed by Greenville (SC) Schools instructional coach Toni Norris, has a middle grades focus.




PBS Teacher Source
Includes more than 1,000 free lesson plans, teacher guides and online activities--and you can explore these resources by subject or grade level or with keywords. The site includes information about how teachers and media specialists can legally tape the PBS shows for classroom use. We tried the search for 7th grade algebraic concepts and ended up learning about the PBS series "Life by the Numbers" and how it matches certain state and national standards. The site also includes advance schedules and info about ordering PBS videos.

Scavenger Hunts
Scavenger hunts can help students explore a topic while they sharpen their web-searching skills. This site at a South Carolina school district offers a rationale, some templates, and general instructions. Other sites of interest: Here's a rubric to evaluate students' web-searching skills.



Jack Whitehead's Action Research page -- English education professor shares action research projects of his graduate students. Includes a handbook for student teachers and others who are just beginning to experiment with action research methods. Makes the case for teacher-researchers.

Exploring Multiple Intelligences -- Exploring Multiple Intelligences is a web site about Howard Gardner's revolutionary theory of eight different forms of intelligence and/or learning modes. The site has descriptions and lesson plans for each intelligence as well as articles, links, and a list of books and audio-visual resources. The site uses dynamic html and requires a browser such as Netscape 4.0+ or Internet Explorer 4.0+. The colorful site features RealAudio clips.

Howard Gardner and Multiple Intelligences -- See this special issue of Educational Leadership (Sept 97) on multiple intelligences, including "Getting Specific about Multiple Intelligences." Also see this EL article from March 1997, "How Teachers Interpret MI Theory." Also, here's a collection of resources on Howard Gardner's theories, developed by teacher Janet Young. Good place to start.

Teachers' Meeting -- Middle school teachers will find interesting chat opportunities at the Teachers.Net Chat Center. Also check out the archives, which feature earlier chats with authors and also recount discussions about special topics. Free, no registration.

The "Talents Unlimited" Curriculum
Talents Unlimited is currently focused on grades K-6 that improves student's critical and creative thinking skills within the framework of a regular classroom curriculum. Visit a national demonstration site in Mobile, AL. Also read how a 30-year-old strategy from the British Isles, The Scottish Storyline, is helping at-risk kids learn English and life skills. And if you're pretty sure you can't teach higher order thinking with a can of Spam, read this!

Designing Performance Tasks -- Teachers, principals, and others anxious to explore performance assessment will be delighted to find "Designing an Effective Performance Task for the Classroom." These web pages, prepared by the Kentucky Department of Education, are tailored to Kentucky performance standards but will be useful (and useable) by any educator. The material includes six middle school performance tasks. The math activity, "The Storage Area," focuses on a Kentucky "space and dimensionality" standard. The American history activity, "Museum in a Box," addresses historical perspective by having students prepare permanent resources for the school library around key topics like "Manifest Destiny."

Socratic Seminars -- The Socratic Seminar is "a method to try to understand information by creating a dialectic in class in regards to a specific text. In a Socratic Seminar, participants seek deeper understanding of complex ideas in the text through rigorously thoughtful dialogue, rather than by memorizing bits of information." Here are basic guidelines for the Socratic Seminar, followed by an example of a seminar about Stephen Crane's "The Open Boat." Also see this article from Educational Leadership. And this commercial site offers additional insights and bibliography. If you'd like to chat with some middle grades teachers who have used Seminar, join our listserv!

Making Homework More Meaningful -- Tips for Teachers -- "Homework," says Eleanor Dasenbrook, a sixth-grade social studies and reading teacher in Virginia,"is one of the biggest challenges and concerns I continue to face after more than two decades of teaching." The U.S. Department of Education has assembled a 40-page teachers' guide with tips from educators who are using homework assignments effectively.

"What Happens Between Assessments? -- In this article from the January 1997 issue of Educational Leadership, Maryland education reformer Jay McTighe says that "not only assessment needs to change, curriculums and instructional strategies, too, must reflect a performance orientation." He offers seven principles for performance-based instruction. Complete text of article. Also see McTighe's article "Working Smarter Through Collaboration." He is the co-author of "Understanding by Design."

Real Life Problems and Real-World Connections -- This helpful article about problem-based learning appeared in the Summer 1997 issue of ASCD's "Curriculum Update" newsletter. Find out about a PBL middle school project that involves all 8th graders and 15 teachers from various content areas, including English, math, physical education, science and social studies.

The Learning Strategies Database --represents a computerized version of information on learning strategies compiled by the Center for Advancement of Learning (CAL) at Muskingum College (Ohio) over a ten-year period. The strategies information derives from a number of sources, including books, professional journals, and presentations from professional meetings. This is a huge database -- one of the best we've seen. Includes both general-purpose and content-specific learning strategies.

Becoming a student-centered teacher -- A veteran teacher describes her odyssey.

Strategic Teaching and Reading Project -- NCREL, the North Central education laboratory, says schools can improve student learning "without overhauling your curriculum" using STRP -- a research-based instructional improvement and professional development project "that measurably improves student reading comprehension." According to NCREL, "the project is effective for improved teaching and learning in all content areas when the following conditions are in place: willingness of the school staff to implement it, support and active participation from the administration, and sustained professional development opportunities.

How some teachers teach controversial books -- Any teacher who's faced the decision about whether and how to teach a controversial book will be interested in these stories from the Christian Science Monitor. Read the main story, "Teachers Tackle 'Uncomfortable Books Head On," and several accompanying stories: "Controversy Can Work - When Well Managed," and "Books That Have Been Challenged."

Innovative math and science teaching that also assures equity -- This Web site has been developed by the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse to provide math and science resources "for educators who are concerned about creating equitable conditions in which every child can succeed at school." Includes profiles of innovative programs and vignettes that illustrate particular equity issues. The site also includes three case studies about student-centered assessment.

What works best in reading instruction? -- Read this excellent series of articles by former California state superintendent Bill Honig and others on the converging research about reading. At the AASA website.

Talent Development Middle Schools -- Find out more about this comprehensive school improvement model, which has been extended to the middle grades.

Integrated Teaching -- The Appalachian Educational Laboratory has sponsored a teacher's e-mail discussion about integrated teaching since 1995. All the e-mail is archived and can be searched. Also see AED's other resources about interdisciplinary teamed instruction.

WebQuest -- This matrix of WebQuest lesson examples have been evaluated by a California professional development team for quality. You'll find a variety of interactive middle grades projects in several subject areas. The web links "cleared" by educators as OK for students. Excellent resource!

Interdisciplinary Teaching May Not Improve Learning -- In a research article in the August 1997 issue of The American School Board Journal, "Branches of Knowledge," research consultant Susan Black concludes that while interdisciplinary teaching is popular with students and many teachers, there's little empirical evidence that it improves learning. Read a summary of the article here and find out how to subscribe or obtain a copy of this issue here

Filamentality-- This interactive web resource allows teachers and alert students to design curriculum. "Filamentality helps you pick a topic, provides Web searching tips, lets you use "fill-in-the-blanks" to gather good Internet sites, guides you with interactive pages that help you shape your ideas around whatever specific goal you have, and then, presto change-o, gives you your very own Web page on the Internet."

Harnessing the Power of the Web -- This guide will help you to understand collaborative, project-based learning on the Internet. Global Schoolhouse uses the term NetPBL (Networked, Project-Based Learning) to describe this kind of learning. "These resources will help you introduce your students to powerful educational experiences grounded in student-centered, project-based learning well-supported in the literature. Whether you're just starting out or ready for advanced levels, this guide will help you."

Online Student Research Project for 7th graders --The Bellingham (WA) public schools have developed a high-quality who must answer the question: "Which disease is most deserving of our research dollars?" Although the activity makes use of some "pay-for-service" information (EBSCO and Electric Library), it's worth your review. Also see the online staff development modules that show how to build these kinds of activities.

"The Flood of '97" -- Here's one veteran teacher's early experiment with authentic assessment, including student assignments, a description of the standards covered, a scoring guide, and an example of student work.

Index of Engaged Learning Projects -- from the Lederman Science Center. Strong assessment, standards orientation. Not just for science teachers. Scroll down for middle level projects.

The Big List for Project-Based Learning -- Use the Force, Luke! The George Lucas Educational Foundation has a great website. Here's there remarkable selection of PBL resources.

Field Studies -- The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development's Winter 1997 curriculum update describes how teachers can conduct effective field studies and let "learning thrive beyond the classroom."

Scaffolding on the Web - SDSU professor Bernie Dodge helps teachers use "scaffolding" to improve students' thinking and communications skills.

The "Here and Now" as Curriculum -- Writer and former teacher Marion Brady longs for a time when schools routinely integrate curriculum with the real world.

Collaborative Learning -- Find out more about real collaborative learning and how it differs from cooperative table work.