Category: The Teachers’ Lounge

Celebrate Learning!

In the 1960’s World of Inquiry School #58 opened as a progressive, inquiry-based school in the Rochester City School District, and for years parents lined up to put their children’s names on the waiting list. Yet over time the school began to lose its original identity. Parent involvement dwindled, discipline problems increased, student performance declined, …

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Deeper Understanding Through Art: the ‘Word’ in ‘Flesh’

When I was in the classroom I liked to challenge students to create images to represent an idea. Equally challenging, to look at images and infer the ideas they represented. Class discussions (remember to use protocols!) often yielded a deeper, nuanced understanding by thinking in pictures and picturing thoughts. Adults too! I participated in a …

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Socratic Seminars and Student Anxiety: The Naked Truth

“I felt naked.” Those were the words of one student after leading her classmates in a discussion on the previous day’s reading. “My dad told me if I get nervous talking in front of others, I should picture everyone else naked. That didn’t work. I was the one exposed, not them.” While she was prepared, …

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Are Your Students Crew or Passengers?

We are Crew, not Passengers. This is the motto of the organization I worked with for 20 years, Expeditionary Learning, now called EL Education. It comes from Kurt Hahn, the fonder of Outward Bound (the taproot of EL Education), and refers to people gathered together for a long boat journey where everyone is needed to …

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Grace This Time

When Ms. Lang mentions the grape–the one that was flung into a circle of girls–Jackson’s face goes red. “Yeah, that was me,” he admits with a sheepish grin. “Jackson, you know that throwing food in the cafeteria is an automatic detention, don’t you?” His voice falters now: “I was just teasing; I wasn’t trying to …

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Attitude Germ: Releasing the Hold

If Kelsey likes the learning activity, it flies. If she doesn’t, the lesson bombs. Daniel carries the same sort of influence in his classroom. As soon as he disengages, the others shut down, too. If students disrupt class with silly comments, they turn to check if Daniel is laughing. “Attitude germ” is a condition that …

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Attitude Germ and How to Treat It

I call it “attitude germ” because of the way it proliferates. Similar to colds or the flu, the bug disperses through social contact: children with large social networks transmit it more readily than those who keep to themselves. How would you know if an outbreak has occurred? Check for a general loss of appetite for …

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Stop Your Attitude!

Cole’s yawn from the back row is loud enough for everyone to hear, but Audrey ignores it for now. She’s got to choose her battles, and this disruption isn’t worth a showdown. After a moment, Cole leans back and rests his feet on the desk. Students nearby smile, eager to watch the situation play out. …

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Where Do the Subjects Come From?

I always scheduled a parent evening about 3 ½ weeks into the school year. Two things were happening by then. One, parents were thrilled that when they asked their children, “How was school today?” they didn’t get the usual, “Fine.” “OK.” The kids had all kinds of interesting stories to tell.  Parents liked that. The …

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Opportunity Costs of the Common Core, or Any System of High Stakes Test Accountability

One of the highlights for me in my work with EL Education is our annual national conference, and the highlight of the conference was always the keynote presentation from the students. Over the past few years we were enthused by 6th graders in Rochester, NY, with their proposal to revitalize the city by rewatering the …

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