Integrating Games as Extended Metaphors

I am not a big fan of most educational games. They seem to suffer from the Jeopardy Disease, which is to say they require students to recite disconnected facts with the goal of earning points. Don’t get me wrong, this might be fine for review purposes. However, I’ve had some success in using games to […]

it's more like C-SPAN than Dancing with the Stars

I only watched Dancing with the Stars for a brief moment. I couldn’t believe that Adam Corrola could do ballroom dancing, so I tuned in to see it for myself. The show is all glitz and glamour and cheers and flowers. I’m not entirely sure, but I imagine the winner earns a prize, perhaps a […]

The Vinyl Paradox

The most relevant trends right now seem to be those that are least relevant. I can’t count the number of women (okay, and men) I know who have taken up knitting and crocheting. Most of my friends who own homes also have gardens. I can count about ten people I know who roll their own […]

Creating an Island of Misfit Toys

I assigned the students a project called, “United by Borders.” Here, each child wrote about personal borders that they have attempted to cross. Some students described reading the eviction notices and going through the ritual of packing quickly as they jumped from apartment to apartment. Others wrote about the literal border, the behemoth monster that […]

what Michael Scott can teach you about classroom management

Michael Scott has many flaws. For one, he has a penchant for saying, “that’s what she said,” after anything with the slightest off-color connotation. I can’t imagine a teacher wanting to emulate that. Also, he can err on the side of fun and fail to inspire his workers toward challenging work. Moreover, he can be […]

three pundits every new teacher needs

In an ideal world, every teacher would have a mentor like Terri Gross from NPR; someone who would listen before speaking. Each mentor would ask insightful questions followed occasionally by a few witty insights. On a tough day, all new teachers could have someone who would sit and explore the day in-depth Fresh Air style. […]

What-if Wednesday: What if schools learned from extra-curricular activities?

A group of nine students gather in my classroom after school to glue various hues of purple on the remaining sunset of our Paper Border project.  We discuss the current controversy surrounding a child’s decision not to opt for chemotherapy and the ethical quandries surrounding it.  We discuss whether a Latina Supreme Court Justice might […]

the problem with being relevant

“Towns turn into motels, people into nomadic surges from place to place.”“The bigger the market, the less you handle controversy.”“It didn’t come from the government down. There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship to start with, no! Technology, mass exploitation, we did it to ourselves.” Those are some of the phrases that popped out […]

the value of humor

I just finished watching an episode of Daily Show and I’m continually shocked about how much better they do at telling the news than anything else on television.  At first I used to say, “It’s great they could be so profound despite being humorous.”  Now, I’m beginning to wonder if they can be profound because they are so […]

Acoustic Classroom

When all the kids in our neighborhood memorized the words to “Beat It” and “Thriller” and “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” I sat in front of the record player to hear “Sweet Baby James” (before James Taylor had become the staple music for grocery stores) or “It’s a Wild World” (before Cat Stevens had become […]