hot topics


Understanding by Design (UbD) is a powerful but potentially daunting approach to planning curriculum. I’ve invited Jennifer Martinez, of everything just so, to share how she went from dreading UbD to allowing it to transform teaching and learning in her classroom. Jennifer, who’s from Columbus, Ohio, taught for nine years and spent a year writing curriculum for the NEA Master […]


overcoming special education stigmas

I’ve invited Nashima Harvey to share some tips for helping teachers remove the stigma from special education through building positive relationships with students and families. Nashima is a New Jersey certified educator with over 20 years experience working with kids and families. She’s the founder of the Little Green House LLC, global awareness learning collective that helps build a bridge of 21st Century learning […]


how to tell if a product is ccss-aligned

You’d think this would be old news by now, right? I can’t think of an education company out there that doesn’t purport to have CCSS-aligned products. And yet just last month, EdWeek reported that 17 out of 20 math series that claimed to be aligned to Common Core still fail to live up to their […]


I used this form a few times a week to assess the work students did independently. It makes it super easy to correct any misconceptions right away, plan the rest of the unit  based on how well the class understands the current skill, and assign differentiated follow-up tasks for every student.

Many of us educators are keeping a little secret about differentiating instruction. We believe it’s a good idea in theory, we try to do it when we can…but we really don’t have any workable system for differentiating. No one really knows how it’s supposed to be done, and the only ideas we’ve had so far are […]


How to foster gratitude and teach kids to be thankful (classroom ideas)

Every year, it seems like the grumbling grows louder about the next generation’s sense of entitlement. People say they want things handed to them. They’re not appreciative of what adults do for them. They complain when teachers give them things (“Is that all you’ve got?”) and ask “What do we get for doing this?” before completing […]


If you agree with this statement, it

A teacher recently asked me the following question: How do you know when it’s time to find another career? I’ve been at this for a couple of years and tried switching schools and grade levels to see if that helped, but watching the kids learn and grow just doesn’t do it for me. I feel like the kids are supposed to be […]


working memory games for kids: executive function practice

Are there kids in your class that struggle with multi-step directions and need frequent reminders about what to do? Or students who lose their place in texts, struggle to copy information and take notes, and forget what they were just taught? If so, there’s a strong possibility that the issue might be something that you […]


How to make time for relationship building, establish a rapport with students who don't like you, and more

So the 2×10 “miraculous” behavior management strategy really resonated with a lot of teachers. It’s a simple method for making the nebulous goal of relationship building much more concrete and achievable—simply spend 2 minutes a day for 10 consecutive days talking with a challenging student about anything she or he would like. Though many people indicated […]


If this article doesn

I’m not usually the type of person who tells other teachers what they MUST and MUST NOT do. This post is pushier than usual, because I’m more passionate about this topic than usual. Being a connected educator has transformed my teaching and added so much joy to my life that I want every discouraged and […]


dealing with parents who want to transfer their child to another teacher's room

Having a parent ask to move a child to a different classroom can be a huge blow to a teacher’s confidence. And it’s an issue that nearly every educator will face at some point–if not at multiple points–in their career. Sometime parents don’t like the fact that you are forcing them to address issues they’ve tried to […]


highly decorated classrooms study

You’ve probably read some version of the study that went absolutely viral on social media: Heavily Decorated Classrooms Disrupt Attention and Learning In Young Children. But have you seen the classroom used for the study? The bottom image shows the researchers’ idea of “highly decorated,” which looks like a pretty typical elementary classroom to me. The picture […]


Take the one question survey and share your opinion, plus see how other educators voted.

One of my favorite things to do on the blog is to pose questions about various issues in education, including controversial topics, and read the viewpoints of teachers from across the world. Over the years, we’ve talked about whether teachers should complete school work during holidays, use collective punishment, and sell the materials they create. We’ve discussed when does […]


summer break countdown

I rarely have any idea how many days are left before a special event. I’m just not the kind of person who likes to countdown to anything, from days until a family vacation to days before a holiday. Though some people find it motivating to know how many days they have left, the countdown mentality just hasn’t served […]


alternative careers for teachers who want to use their education degree and do work that matters

You love to teach and you love making a difference for kids. You can’t imagine working in any other field but education. But what happens when you start to feel burned out by the profession or want a different challenge? What other meaningful careers exist in education besides classroom teaching? I’ve created this list of […]

Spread the word to students that they are more than a test score

The following true story made the rounds in social media this fall, but I wanted to share it with you now in the spring as so many of us suffer through “testing season” and anxiously await the return of standardized test scores. An elementary school principal sent this message to all her students during the week […]


psychology of pverty

One of my first teaching experiences, over a decade ago, was in a HeadStart program located in a dense urban area. I loved working with my students’  families and became pretty friendly with a parent who would often confide in me about personal and financial issues. She told me how she had trouble paying her […]


understanding introverts

I’ve insisted on having some quiet time built into my day for as long as I can remember. I’d drop the class off at P.E. and retreat to my classroom, breathing a deep sigh and reveling in the silence. I always built down-time into our daily schedule, following up an intense period of direct instruction […]


Sunday Night Blues

Have you ever wasted half the weekend worrying about the week ahead? Even if you love your job, you might still wake up on Sunday mornings with a feeling of dread and spend the evening in a total state of anxiety simply because there are so many pressures associated with teaching. Here are 7 tips […]


lesson planning on the weekend

I was going to write about a post about how teachers should relax, enjoy the Thanksgiving break, and not think about school even once. Family is more important than work, and ultimately, taking a break from school stuff can make you a more relaxed and energized teacher. But, there’s a problem. Choosing not to grade […]


Taking notes with camera phone

What’s your first impression of this image? When I shared it on Facebook recently, some pretty passionate responses were sparked. A number of teachers thought that students taking notes with phone and tablet cameras was a useful strategy, but they were far outnumbered by dissenters. Some commenters viewed it as evidence of bad teaching, kids’ […]