Educators’ Blog

A blog for teachers who are dedicated to the mission yet overwhelmed with the job.

Useful Grading Rubric For a Mock Trial

      Doing mock trials in humanities classes is one of the very best ways for students to experience real learning that lasts.   Sending text messages back and forth will never improve their pubic speaking and critical thinking. But taking the witness chair in a murder trial and fending off hostile cross-examination in front of a room full of….Read more

A Simple Reform to Improve the School Day (VIDEO)

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As teachers, we were hired to teach a curriculum, some field or discipline. Yet the schools are social institutions as well. Schools serve an important socializing function for young people.  They should. We think that the problem arises when school as socializer undermines its other mission, imparting knowledge and skills that stick. Ask any teacher who has received an email….Read more

Engaging Distracted Students (VIDEO)

If you’re a teacher you know the distraction I’m talking about here.   Even if you’re not a teacher, you’re probably aware of how difficult it is to compete with the allure of technology. Using their phones gives your students a hit of dopamine, so it’s no wonder they resist putting them away.   We love what technology has brought….Read more

Why Merit Pay Is a Merit-less Idea

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          It sounds so logical: Run teaching as if a school were a business. Use merit pay to get better performance out of the nation’s teachers. Why should automatic salary increases be part of any profession?     Why not dangle a $20,000 bonus out there within a school faculty? So, the very best teacher gets the extra dough. And….Read more

Why Grade Inflation Affects All of Us

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We recently posed the hypothetical question of a high school senior who earned a 78% at report card time in late October. “Kevin C” requested another chance to get his average to 85 or greater so he could qualify for an Early Action decision from his first-choice college. He wants spend the weekend writing a research paper to boost his grade. It’s….Read more

The Yugely Teachable Moment Provided by Donald Trump

      As 2017 begins, it looks as if the ship of state will tack in a totally different direction. An historic moment that’s also a potent opportunity for American history and other humanities teachers to capitalize on the teachable moments offered by the upcoming presidency of Donald Trump.   Theoretical issues come alive   It was always challenging to teach political abstractions. Some….Read more

VIDEO: Grading Hacks for Better Teaching

              Grading papers doesn’t have to be a demoralizing task that takes over your teaching and home life. In another grading post, I explain how representative sampling in grading can help you take a kid’s temperature, academically. Here I offer more general grading hacks.   Here are five tips that have helped me to improve….Read more

Grading Papers: Scaling Down the Mountain

The History Dr knows what it’s like to face a mountain of paperwork that never seems to go down. Yet grading papers doesn’t have to weigh you down. Here’s why.   Sometimes Less Can be More Some of your assumptions about the right way to grade papers may not necessarily be accurate. I’ve created this video to explain some useful sampling strategies….Read more

A Grading Dilemma: Answering Kevin C.

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    Imagine that you teach Advanced Placement History at Monticello High School in suburbia, USA. It is your third year on the faculty.   Kevin C. is a senior in your class, and he is a bright, strong and healthy young man. But as a student, he has poor habits. His concentration is weak, he doesn’t take notes in class and….Read more

5 Tips for Teachers During Parent Teacher Conferences

    After about 10 weeks of school and first report cards come parent teacher conferences. These conversations can be immensely productive, but there are some pitfalls we want to help you to avoid so you can shine.     Let’s get the housekeeping out of the way     Follow all procedures from your principal. You will be judged on….Read more