The Monday Minute

March 1, 2021 Indiana Middle Level Education Association


Katie Powell from Southmont Jr. High took up our challenge and wrote about some of her successes in the past year. She also changed her profile picture on Twitter in honor of Middle Level Education Month to show what she looked like at this age. She wins a copy of The Successful Middle School, and we get to learn from her experience.

We’re coming up on a year. One year of teaching differently. One year of teaching within COVID restrictions. For many of us, that has meant a combination of virtual and in-person instruction. It’s been a challenge to keep things fresh, to equally engage learners joining as a little icon on a screen and those sitting in the seats of our classrooms. Over the course of the last year, I’ve tried a number of strategies and tools in an effort to keep that engagement and participation up. Here are a few of my current favorites:

  1. Quiz Games. Gimkit and Blooket are our current faves. Gimkit. A recent Gimkit update now allows the host to choose from a variety of game modes. My students are OBSESSED with the Trust No One mode, a mode inspired by the popular Among Us game. Note: I do find this mode takes a while, often 20 minutes or more. Blooket is another online quiz game that is growing in popularity. My students like the Battle Royale mode. We’ve also really enjoyed the new Tower Defense mode.

  2. Choice Boards. Choice is powerful. Choice boards can be as simple as a list of activities for students to pick from. I’ve found a selection of carefully curated options, both digital and analog, keep engagement high and help fight that screen fatigue.

  3. Alan Gratz novels. Gratz writes historical fiction that is incredibly engaging. We’re currently doing a historical fiction novel study, and many students are reading Alan Gratz novels. One of my main goals every year is that every student falls in love with a book at some point during the school year. Alan Gratz has done that for many of my students. If you’re looking for a place to start, Projekt 1065 is very popular in my classes.

You can find even more ideas on Katie's blog, Teach Beyond the Desk. You could be our next winner: Share your ideas with Susie Highley to be our next feature.


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Middle Level Educators deserve their special month! AMLE is offering prizes for those who tweet with #MLEM21AMLE; the hashtags #MLEM21 and #mschat are also good ones to follow. Many educators are sharing their own middle school photos as well. NASSP has some suggestions for ways to celebrate and elevate middle schools this month. From AMLE:

Enjoy a 20% off coupon (code: MLEM21) at the AMLE store where shipping is always free for AMLE members. And, to get you ready for the celebration, starting today and during the entire month of March all orders will receive a bonus FREE copy of The Successful Middle School: This We Believe.


My daughter asked me if I had seen the story about Jason Smith, principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township in Indianapolis. She had seen it on television-- in Philadelphia! The story below is from a station in St. Louis and includes an interview with Smith.


March Book Madness is an online bracket-style tournament that matches books in one-on-one "games." Many librarians create their own brackets (often with Young Hoosier Books) or join an international effort created by Tony Keefer and Scott Jones from Ohio, started in 2015. If you join theirs:

The games will be decided by a simple vote on a Google Form (the forms do not collect any personal data). You can have students vote individually or you can have a class vote. After each round of voting the bracket will be updated and the next round of voting will begin.

Book vendor Follett has released editable brackets you can use to create your own. (See below to download in Powerpoint or link here to copy and edit in Google Slides.)


Like many events, the North Texas Teen Book Festival has gone virtual-- and free! Friday, March 5 is even being called "School Day" with a schedule of live and on-demand events planned. You can share any of these links with students and watch as a class, individually, even asynchronously. The list of authors is phenomenal! (And, yes, Jeff Kinney of Diary of a WImpy Kid fame is included.)

Spread the Word Awareness Campaign (formerly known as R-word Campaign)

Respectful and inclusive language is essential to the movement for the dignity and humanity of people with intellectual disabilities. Join the #InclusionRevolution to bring awareness and take the pledge to promote INCLUSION. Thank you for participating.

• Encourage your entire school community to be involved, from students, administration, staff and the community.

• March is Disability Awareness Month. Spread the Word day is Wednesday, March 3. Many schools have students sign pledges/banners this day.

• While most activities are centered on or near that annual day in March, you are encouraged to spread the word throughout your community and school year-round.

More information is available in the document below. Questions? Contact Tori Batson at Special Olympics Indiana.

Learning Opportunities (all times EST, Free Unless Noted)

MARCH: Women's History Month, Middle Level Education Month, Disability Awareness Month

March 1: Deadline to Apply for NEH Summer Seminars & Institutes

March 3: Spread the Word Day

March 3: Using Kahoot for Assessment, 3 pm

March 4: AMLE Webinar Series on The Successful Middle School Begins, 4:30 pm (Free to AMLE Members; Subsequent times vary)

March 4: Teaching Effective Listening Skills for Equitable Learning, 5 pm

*March 5: North Texas Teen Book Festival ("School Day")

March 5: Leslie Fisher with Gimkit Inventor Josh Feinsilber, 7 pm

March 6: North Texas Teen Book Festival

March 8: Developing & Using Success Criteria to Maximize Teaching and Learning, 6:30 pm

March 9: Keep Indiana Learning: The SEL Journey through the Lens of Two Indiana Districts, 11:30 am

March 9: KIL: Teaching SEL in a Jam-Packed Curriculum, 4:30 pm

March 9: AMLE Webinar, "Revolutionary Love in the Classroom: Critical Consciousness for Crucial Times," 6:30 pm

March 9: Keep Indiana Chatting (on Zoom)- Share Your Favorite Tools in a "This or That" format, 7 pm

March 11: AMLE Webinar, "From Surviving to Thriving, Strategies for Educator Wellness," 4:30 pm

March 14: Pi Day (More next week)

*Includes (or aimed at) Students


Keep Indiana Learning Live Events, Archived Events

PATINS Trainings for Accessibility for All

Corwin Monday Afternoon Webinar Series

Indiana eLearning Lab (Must Register to See Live Schedule; Tutorials always available. This week's sessions- Seesaw and Career Awareness )

Leslie Fisher Webinars-This week: Gimkit!

Teachers First/OK2Ask Webinars

That's All for Now!

You can access past Monday Minutes via this link on our webpage, and you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter; we will be posting there more frequently. Principals and others: Feel free to forward this newsletter to your staff, and email us at any time.

And don't forget, you can join both IMLEA and AMLE in a joint membership!