A ‘fitbit’ to remind us to talk less

How much of your class time is teacher talk? How much is student talk? I noted in my book, Beat Boredom, that less than 2 minutes of a typical 60-minute English class is spent in genuine student-to-student discussion. That’s deeply concerning because students are better engaged and learning more when they are talking. Did you…

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What would teenagers want to learn, if we let them choose?

While I was researching for my book, Beat Boredom, a few years ago, I visited a high school that prides itself on student-directed, project-based learning. I was excited to see it, and after talking with the school’s passionate leader, I was predisposed to be impressed. But when I got there, instead of seeing energized students…

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Let’s show teens we value sleep

This year, my school district pushed back the high school start time from 7:25 a.m. to 8:35 a.m. in response to community pressure and research showing positive results from later starts — such as fewer tardies/truancies, higher grades, fewer car accidents and better mental health. The underlying goal, of course, was to get teenage students…

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Second chances do have a downside

I saw a graphic on Twitter earlier this week that said something like: “There is no downside to giving a student a second chance. Zero, zilch, nada.” I scoffed and passed over it, but it kept nagging at me. I went back to find it later, and of course I couldn’t. So you’ll just have…

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Time to stop believing education myths

One of my sons gave me a book called 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology for Christmas. It was a perfect gift — he knows how much I love reading about flaws in “common sense” and popular opinion.  This is one of those books you can flip through and read in any order, so I…

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Not sure ‘rigorous’ is what we want

We use the word “rigorous” a lot in education — as in, “our students take rigorous courses” or “we have rigorous standards” — but what exactly does it mean? Is it a good thing? I looked up rigorous in a few dictionaries today, and among the definitions were words like “harsh,” “strict” and “severe.” Also,…

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We spend billions on ed tech; let’s work on making better use of it

Note: I have teamed up with Andrea Wilson Vazquez (master of makerspaces and coding) to offer Make Tech Matter design-thinking workshops with a tech focus. Interested in scheduling one for your school or organization in 2019? Email me at Martha.Rush@neverbore.org. What is one critical problem facing your community? My colleague, Andrea, and I led a…

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Proficiency-based grading: Still more questions than answers

Every time I think I’ve wrapped my head around proficiency-based grading, I encounter a new question, and I’m lost all over again. At my school, we’ve had a training session and a few meetings since I last blogged about my personal transition (What is a 3, anyway?). During staff training, we all read a blog…

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Why high school seniors should take hybrid courses

At a time when high school parents (and teachers) are doing more and more hand-holding and college deans are doing more and more hand-wringing over incoming students’ lack of efficacy, hybrid courses can fill a critical gap. In my opinion, every college-bound student should take at least one. By hybrid (also called blended) courses, I…

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Got a teacher on your list? Try a time-turner

In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, you might remember, Hermione had a time-turner that basically let her be two places at once — so she could take even more classes. That would be so convenient, especially during passing time in a public high school. What are teachers expected to do during this frantic…

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