When model students become the teachers…

Were you the kind of high school student who always did your homework? Who always studied for tests? Who came to class prepared? Or were you kind who procrastinated? Who scraped by on what you could pick up in class? Who was too busy or distracted to pick up a book or notebook at home?…

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High-engagement activities make for a strong end to the school year

What do you do with your class after an AP test? Amuse the students with movies and games Engage the students in a high-interest project or lesson Count down the days till school is over Nothing at all Some AP teachers are done teaching on test day, thanks to their schools’ mid-May graduations. But for…

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Schoolwork deadlines: Are they valuable, or just arbitrary rules?

Few issues spark more disagreement among teachers than late work. On one side: The real world has real deadlines. High school students need to learn this lesson now. On the other: Grades should reflect what students know — not their ability to meet arbitrary deadlines. Both sides have good points. The real world does have…

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Memorization isn’t understanding, but that doesn’t mean it’s all bad

Now that we can google every fact, formula, date, direction, definition and synonym, many of us deride memorization as a pointless exercise. Instead, we focus on building understanding, developing critical thinking and scaling Bloom’s Taxonomy. To a large extent, I agree with this shift. I think our students are far better served by learning to…

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Five questions for parent conversations

For teachers, parent nights and parent phone calls are often a deep source of stress. It’s never fun to be the bearer of bad news — and there will be some difficult conversations when students are struggling. We want to communicate with our students’ parents, but we don’t want to say the wrong thing, and…

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You can’t teach entrepreneurship unless you’re truly willing to learn from failure

Note: This post was originally published on Quarter Zero’s Idea Board. As Chief Educator-in-Residence for Quarter Zero, I’ll be posting there every 2-3 weeks. I’ll also continue to post to this blog and NeverBore.org, but possibly less frequently. Five years ago, my high school student entrepreneurship program nearly folded. We’d had a lot of failures…

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What would teenagers want to learn, if we let them choose?

While I was researching for my book, Beat Boredom, a few years ago, I visited a high school that prides itself on student-directed, project-based learning. I was excited to see it, and after talking with the school’s passionate leader, I was predisposed to be impressed. But when I got there, instead of seeing energized students…

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Let’s be honest about the struggle — with our colleagues and with our students

Last week, I was talking with a friend who started a new teaching job this year. I was reminiscing on my first few years in the classroom — mostly the frustrations, tears, and rough days — and she seemed surprised. She said, “It seemed like you’ve always known what you were doing.” Nope. Our conversation…

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Time to stop believing education myths

One of my sons gave me a book called 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology for Christmas. It was a perfect gift — he knows how much I love reading about flaws in “common sense” and popular opinion.  This is one of those books you can flip through and read in any order, so I…

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Why high school seniors should take hybrid courses

At a time when high school parents (and teachers) are doing more and more hand-holding and college deans are doing more and more hand-wringing over incoming students’ lack of efficacy, hybrid courses can fill a critical gap. In my opinion, every college-bound student should take at least one. By hybrid (also called blended) courses, I…

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