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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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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When to cold-call? Today.

When is the best time to start cold-calling students? The first day of class. There are plenty of reasons not to. We have to “get through” the syllabus. We don’t know the students’ names yet. We haven’t built a relationship yet. The students haven’t learned any of the material yet. But I’m going to argue…

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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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Survival tips for first-year teachers

It’s fun to see colleagues around the country sharing their “teacher stats” as this school year kicks off. Here are a few of mine: 23rd year of teaching – 20th at Mounds View HS 3 schools: Wilbur Middle School, The Independent School and Mounds View HS Grades taught: 8-12 Favorite grade ever taught: 12 Subjects…

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Is the teacher supposed to get it wrong?

Oops. Nothing feels worse than making a mistake that could confuse your students for days, if not weeks. Today, in a summer course for new econ teachers, I drew a graph wrong. That really shouldn’t happen at this point — I’ve done this for years, and I know how to show firms shifting production from…

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Technology we need in our classrooms

In just the past two weeks, I have read about Apple’s new technology that could be used to disable iPhones from photo and video recording during concerts as well as neoprene pouches, produced by a startup called Yondr, that are already being used to lock up smartphones during concerts. Why do we need these expensive…

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Summer: A time to balance work and play

Summer break: three glorious months to relax, unwind, reflect on the school year and… feel restless? I remember back in elementary school how the promise of three months of nothing-to-do enthralled me. I couldn’t wait for the moment when I could pick up my report card, hug my teacher goodbye and run home to the…

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Would you teach your own kids?

Friends and colleagues are often surprised when I tell them I taught my own kids — not once, but three times each. Not only that, but I taught many of their close friends, and they took classes from some of my close friends. If you think it all sounds a little too cozy (or awkward),…

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My journalism chapter is ending… and I’m ready

After 20 years, my run as a student newspaper adviser has come to an end. No more helping students craft editorials on sensitive topics, like transgender bathrooms, bullying and discipline policies. No more showing student editors how to gently communicate honest feedback to new, easily discouraged reporters. No more lying awake in bed wondering if…

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