Why err on the side of a noisy classroom

I’ve always felt a little embarrassed about my classroom management style. I know if many of my colleagues walked in during class — especially at the beginning — they would be appalled. It doesn’t look like I’m running a tight ship. They would probably wonder: Why aren’t those kids in their seats when the bell…

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If you have an idea, don’t let it go

You’re back from summer break, energized for the new school year. You read a great book on writing workshops this summer, and you are excited to implement a new strategy this fall. You propose it to your Professional Learning Community (PLC), and the response is … silence. No one else wants to do it. Sounds…

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Replace teachers? I’ve heard that one before

Last week, Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson riled a lot of teachers by suggesting that students learn more from Ken Burns documentaries than they do in history class. (See this article.) More videos, fewer teachers! Never heard that one before. Except perhaps when Thomas Edison said: “It is possible to teach every branch of human…

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All kids deserve to compete

Taking my students to competitions — like the Junior Achievement Student Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. this week — is rewarding because they work hard and perform well, and sometimes they win. It’s also humbling because I get to see how much energy teenagers will devote to an activity they love. In class, kids might…

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No right answers here

There are few things hard-working high school students dislike more than ambiguity. We’ve taught them to master “right” answers, and it frustrates them terribly when there isn’t one. For the past week, I’ve been preparing my econ students for something called the International Economic Summit, which is a one-day Model UN style event (created at…

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Bored? Yes, it’s a problem

There’s a running joke in my family about a niece who, as a young child, complained that she was “bored” whenever she was tired, hungry, angry, or dissatisfied for any reason. On one memorable car ride, when she forgot to wear her hat and wasn’t allowed to go back and get it, she whined loudly…

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Small effort, big impact

Earlier this semester, in her regular economics class at Tartan High School, teacher Lori Raebel enlisted three students to act as workers in a brief simulation. In the lesson, each worker can pick one unit of carrots, but they can pick different amounts of apples — one, three or five units — depending on their…

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