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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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 —…

Read More

Missing my students during a teachable moment

The big news this week is the Brexit — Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. I wish they hadn’t voted to leave, but if they were going to do it, I wish it would have happened while school was in session. This is an incredible teachable moment. In almost any class — but particularly…

Read More

What is your purpose?

Over the weekend, I bumped into the same three words – “sense of purpose” — everywhere I went. I read about new research showing that people with a sense of purpose are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, even if their brains develop all of the signatures tangles and plaques. A sense of purpose is also…

Read More

It’s cool when learning applies to life

Last week, Jessica, one of my seniors in AP Macro, sent me an email boldly titled:  “THE BIG SHORT WAS SO GOOD.” In it, she explained that she had rented The Big Short from Red Box on my suggestion, and she was proud that she was able to make sense of it. The movie explains…

Read More

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…

Read More

Advice students don’t want to hear

“If a student got 100% in your class by delegating all his tasks/homework and papers to a virtual assistant and spent under $20 for the entire semester, is that bad? … Because in the real world, you are the most efficient employee of all time.” Will Tjernlund, a former student, posed this question to me…

Read More

Why teenagers are bored by civics

Most American teenagers don’t talk about politics — not at home, not with their friends, not even at school. Nowhere in their daily lives do they engage in substantive discussions about critical issues like immigration reform or trade protection, or even hot button issues like gay rights, gender equality or police brutality. Last week, Prof.…

Read More