‘Cold-calling’ — done right — is an effective way to build classroom participation

Presenting in front of the class makes me uncomfortable. If the teacher calls on me, I tense up and can’t speak. Running in phy ed makes me self-conscious and ashamed. There are a lot of things we ask of students that they don’t want to do. Does that mean we should stop asking? Earlier this…

Read More

Let’s do what works, not what’s easy

This week, I posted a new article to my blog at NeverBore.org about why critics denounce interactive teaching — and why they are wrong. I’ll be posting there once a month on topics related to my book, Beat Boredom, my curriculum products, and the topic of interactive teaching. I’ll continue to use this MarthaRush.org blog…

Read More

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…

Read More

Relationships: Necessary but NOT sufficient for student learning

“They don’t care what you know until they know you care.” “No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship.” “Great teachers focus not on compliance but on connections and relationships.” “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.” It’s that time of year when the teacher-web is heating up with inspirational reminders that we have…

Read More

Our students want to do work — when it’s work that matters

I love this story from last week’s Minneapolis Star-Tribune about North High students presenting research on social issues at a recent University of Minnesota symposium. One student presented his research on police brutality. Another her work on disparate maternal mortality rates for black women. Other topics included domestic abuse, poverty and immigration. The students surveyed…

Read More

Letting go of lecture

AP Macroeconomics is the most traditional class I teach. Still too teacher-directed, still too organized around lecture-practice-homework. I know better — yes, I’ve written an entire book on active learning strategies — but it’s been hard to let go. Macro is a difficult subject, and it’s a lot of content for high school kids to…

Read More

Forgetting is part of our nature

You didn’t tell us to read that chapter. I didn’t know there was a test today! I was supposed to take out the garbage? How often do we share an important piece of information with our students — or children or colleagues or friends, for that matter — and find the next day, they’ve completely…

Read More

Can’t we be just a little bit funny?

  In the past few weeks, I’ve been reviewing textbooks and educational videos for a couple of different companies. Sounds fun, right? Not really. The biggest shortcoming of most of these materials is that they aren’t funny. At all. You won’t even crack a smile looking at them. They’re so completely devoid of humor that…

Read More

Sleepless in Psych

Yesterday in AP Psych, I tried to illustrate the difference between “effortful” and “automatic” processing by asking a student what, if anything, he ate for breakfast. Normally, that’s a pretty easy question. No one has to intentionally encode it. No flashcards required. He looked at me, a little confused, and said, “I’m so tired, I…

Read More

What makes teams work? Ask Google

Google has spent 1000s of hours trying to figure out how to make people work better in teams. The answer? Teams are most effective when there is “psychological safety” — in other words, everyone feels safe contributing ideas, questioning others (even the boss), and sharing problems. In the best teams, people feel free to offer…

Read More