Like so much that’s worth learning, trade is complicated

Teachers spend a lot of time trying to break down difficult concepts and make them easier for our students to digest, but what about when the truth is just complicated? How can we combat the crisis of oversimplification in this country and get our kids to muddle around in complexity? This weekend, I taught my…

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‘Flush with funds’ sounds nice

My school district spends about $13,000/student each year. President Trump’s children went to private schools that cost $30,000-$50,000. Baron’s elementary school in New York charges $47,000 per student this year. So I wonder what our president means when he says our public schools are “flush with funds”? I wonder what it would be like to…

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Learning history in the present

Women marched peacefully on Saturday to demonstrate pride and autonomy — and to let President Trump know they won’t stand for any rollback of women’s rights. Or, women marched and destroyed property Saturday to whine about losing the election. Or, women marched Saturday as dupes of outside forces, including radical Islam. Which version do you…

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The elusive promise of ‘choice’

School-choice advocates are cheering the nomination of Betsy DeVos to head Trump’s Department of Education, while public school proponents are worried about what her leadership would mean for the future of public education. What is it about charter schools and voucher systems, which DeVos unabashedly supports, that makes them so divisive? Why do many conservatives…

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83% get a diploma, but what is it worth?

What should a high school diploma mean? What should 12 years of public education add up to? In my view, it should mean you are ready for a job or for general postsecondary training. It should mean we have given you the appropriate skills for your next academic step. Not every graduate needs to be…

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‘Common sense’ is failing us

Which is a better way to prepare for this week’s Psych test? Dedicate three solid hours to reviewing the textbook, notes, and practice questions, as well as quizzing yourself with flashcards. Spend 30 minutes writing a test for yourself over the content. Take a nap, eat a snack, do your math homework. A few hours…

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Make time in class for what’s happening outside

ABC News How do you react when events outside the classroom are clearly affecting students inside? Do you take time to let students talk about their opinions, experiences, and questions? Or do you do what most of us do — stick to the lesson plan? Years ago, Mary Dilworth and Carlton Brown interviewed urban teenagers…

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Please say class isn’t about tests

Parent: “What’s the main thing you want students to get from this class?” Teacher: “Test-taking strategies and study skills.” My reaction: That sounds boring — and not relevant to anything outside of school. Can you guess what class this is? No, not a Kaplan ACT Prep class. It is AP World History. This exchange was…

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Teach the election – and critical thinking

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the challenges of teaching the 2016 presidential election. I’ve thought about it a lot since then and developed a lesson that I hope will enable students to openly discuss and critically evaluate the candidates and issues. In the lesson, each student is randomly assigned a role, as a voter…

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Teaching this election won’t be easy

Yesterday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump renewed his pledge to build a wall at the Mexican border, deport 11 million illegal immigrants and suspend immigration from countries like Libya and Syria. In our public school classrooms, we have students who would be deported — or at the very least harassed about their immigration status —…

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