Middle School

Why Are Hackers Targeting Young Students?

When Celeste Gravatt first heard about a data breach in her kids’ school system in February 2023, it sounded innocuous. “I didn’t really think anything of it at first,” Gravatt says. Officials at Minneapolis Public Schools called it a “system incident,” then “technical difficulties,” and finally, “an encryption event.” She says it was only when she checked social media that she realized the true extent of the attack, and what it could mean for her…

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When Students Study Why They Failed

For a few weeks in the spring of 2016, nearly all the eighth grade students at a small public school affiliated with Columbia University agreed to stay late after school to study math. They were preparing for a critical test, the New York State’s Regents examination in algebra. Half of the kids came from families that lived below the poverty line in Harlem and upper Manhattan. They attended a selective middle school and were advanced…

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The 5 Stages of Childhood Friendships

When your child is younger, you as a parent have a lot of control over his social life, selecting whom he should interact with, the length of the interaction and where the interaction takes place. That changes when your child reaches school age. Suddenly, these decisions about friendships— with whom to be friends, how much time to spend with a friend and how to spend that time together — are made largely on his own…

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Pandemic Learning Impacts Are Going Nowhere

Kids around the country are still suffering academically from the pandemic, but more than three years after schools shut down, it’s hard to understand exactly how much ground students have lost and which children now need the most attention. Some new reports offer some insights. All three were produced by for-profit companies that sell assessments to schools. Unlike annual state tests, these interim assessments are administered at least twice a year and help track student…

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Talking Math With Middle Schoolers

Is a dump truck a vehicle? What about a skateboard? An elevator? A hamster wheel? These are some of the questions math educator Christopher Danielson has asked — or been asked — while playing a reasoning game he calls “Is It or Not?” The game began with a debate between another math educator, Kassia Wedekind, and her six-year-old daughter, but Danielson has played it with children of all ages, including his own. “It was a…

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Understanding Middle School Friendships

Think about how crushed young teens can feel when a formerly close friend becomes distant or the shame that can follow disclosure of sensitive information to a mere acquaintance. Knowing what studies show—for example, that humans tend to have frenemies and we often confide intimacies in people we aren’t that close to—can assuage adolescents’ fear of being abnormal. Frank discussions about middle school friendships like these are important to have at school, since parents of…

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Supporting Students’ Multifaceted Reading Lives

When teachers familiarize themselves with students’ reading lives and histories, they may uncover reading trauma — moments when students had a negative experience with a peer, teacher or librarian that turned them off of reading. Students with reading trauma associate reading with painful feelings of shame or stress and doubt their reading abilities, said Boston-based educator Kimberly Parker in a recent webinar organized by the Texas A&M Collaborative for Teacher Education. Take reading logs, for…

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Here’s Why Middle School Recess Is Important

In Fairfax County, Virginia, thousands of middle school students experience what most of their peers leave behind in elementary school — recess. The break is only 15 minutes long, but at Rocky Run Middle School (about 25 miles west of the nation’s capital), the seventh and eighth graders make the most of one of the few stretches of time in school that they can truly call their own. Fairfax County schools, a district of around…

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Dear Math Letters Can Help Overcome Math Dread

Many students fail to understand the value of math, and some grow to hate it. 15-year veteran math teacher, Sarah Strong, and her high school student, Gigi Butterfield, strove o discover the root of this problem by addressing concerns about negativity around teaching and learning math and why kids hate math (at least some of them). Digging into the feelings math evoked in hundreds of middle and high school students—that math is unnecessary, oppressive, and…

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The Impact of Reading Struggles on Older Students

When students get to middle and high school without strong reading skills, the results can be devastating. In response to a recent survey about reading struggles, dozens of parents and educators described secondary students who refuse to read out loud for fear of being teased, who can’t understand math word problems or science vocabulary, and gradually give up on school altogether. They worried such students face poor job prospects and bleak futures, not to mention…

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