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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AP can be about more than just tests

At the end of one of my design thinking workshops this fall, a participant said she found it strange that I present workshops to promote divergent thinking and classroom innovation, then turn around and present AP workshops for the College Board. She asked: Isn’t this kind of teaching exactly the opposite of what AP requires?…

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What is a 3, anyway?

In the world of standards-based grading, a 3 means proficient. Does that means it’s kind of like a C? Or more like a B? Don’t tell me it doesn’t matter. It does. It has to go in the gradebook. In late August, I wrote this post about my first foray into the world of proficiency-based…

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Have you done your homework on homework?

Take this quick True/False quiz: T/F Homework in high school should be limited to 10 minutes per night, per class. T/F Most high school students do about two hours of homework per night. T/F Research has found no correlation between homework and achievement. T/F Homework is always beneficial to students. T/F Homework is never beneficial…

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Will later start times = more sleep? We’re going to find out.

Will a later start time help our high school students get more sleep, foster better academic performance and reduce rates of anxiety and depression? I think so. But a few weeks ago, I was championing our school’s new start times — the first bell now rings at 8:35 a.m. instead of 7:25 a.m. — and…

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Time to assess this new grading system

At my high school, we’ve changed our grading practices at least six times in recent memory. It all started with requiring common assessments and grading scales for each course. Then came a school-wide grading scale, with 93% for an A. Then we removed behavioral and other non-academic considerations from grades. That meant even truant (or…

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‘I don’t know this word’… Why student knowledge and context matter

My friend Mary, a bookseller in Chicago, told me I need to read Educated, a memoir by Tara Westover. Westover was was raised by American survivalists, and her story explains how she broke with her family’s extremist ideology and left home to seek her education, culminating in a Ph.D. from Cambridge. The part that stuck…

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