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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AP can be about more than just tests

At the end of one of my design thinking workshops this fall, a participant said she found it strange that I present workshops to promote divergent thinking and classroom innovation, then turn around and present AP workshops for the College Board. She asked: Isn’t this kind of teaching exactly the opposite of what AP requires?…

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Just tell me what to do, please

(Photo by https://todaytesting.com) Two years ago, when I was deep into the writing/editing phase of my book, Beat Boredom, I received a very disheartening email from my editor. She said, basically: This isn’t what we want. Try again. You can image the emotional turbulence. I was frustrated. And angry. And exhausted.   And I wanted…

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