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Bill Ferriter

May 6, 2008

On middle grades education

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I've spent the better part of the past few weeks wrapped in thought about whether or not my middle grades classroom meets the developmental needs of the preteens that I teach.  My struggles started when I sat down with the National Middle School Association's This We Believe—a document outlining the characteristics of highly effective middle grades learning environments. 

The first challenge to my classroom practices started with this quote:

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Ariel Sacks

April 27, 2008

Assessment in the pocket?

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Perhaps the most difficult piece of teaching for me has been grading.   Every teacher I know has his or her own method.  These are often influenced by school-wide grading policies, tempered by each teacher’s priorities and garnished with tricks that ensure a reasonable pass (and fail) rate.  For example, in the middle school where I taught for my first three years, teachers were encouraged to use this simple grading schema: 20% homework, 20% class note

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JohnNorton

April 21, 2008

Stealing online minutes for learning

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No one will ever suggest that TLN Forum member Bill Ferriter has a thready voice. He's a robust kind of guy. Voice threads, on the other hand, definitely fit our Bill -- as you'll learn in this new feature story at the Edutopia website, highlighting his Web 2.0 teaching strategies.

The story describes the active learning going on in Bill's sixth grade classes using the free Voicethread web software. If you haven't had a chance to play around with it, here's how the story's author sums up its functions.

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Bill Ferriter

April 20, 2008

Two critical tips for classroom blog projects

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Not long ago, a reader named Fred left the following question for the TLN blog team: 

I've been reading with interest many of the discussions about the 21st century classroom. A question about student blogging -- how much emphasis should be put on maintaining a higher level of spelling and grammar while still encouraging students to be active users of the blog?  Is there a declining need for correctness as long as the ideas flow? 

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Bill Ferriter

April 10, 2008

Statistically speaking. . .

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As I prepare for a presentation to my school faculty on why digital tools matter for our kids, I put together a document summarizing the results of a recent survey that I completed of the 120 students on my sixth grade academic team. 

I figured you might be interested in the results---the handout can be downloaded at the bottom of the post. I thought the student comments about learning with technology (found after the statistics shared) to be particularly interesting, and think they paint an articulate vision for why technology matters in their eyes:

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JohnNorton

March 27, 2008

Finally, the faculty room conversation you've been wishing for

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They’re having way too much fun in The Faculty Room at Grant Wiggin’s Authentic Education site. The creator of Understanding by Design has a fascinating group blog underway. Every couple of weeks, Wiggins poses a big-tent question and a dozen regular bloggers are invited to offer commentary. Readers can add their thoughts (and do) on any of the entries.

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