Looking for new ways to grab students' attention in the classroom? Use your smartphone to snap pictures of parts of the discussion as part of the documentation! This is a simple way to make discussions count and to make lessons more engaging. Click through to get more information about this teaching technique!

Spring is in the air (despite the need for sweaters in mid April), and the students are feeling it. They may be feeling it a bit more this year because of our lack of an actual spring. Something magically happens to their already abbreviated attention spans after spring break come rain, sleet, snow, or sunshine.
Looking for new ways to grab students' attention in the classroom? Use your smartphone to snap pictures of parts of the discussion as part of the documentation! This is a simple way to make discussions count and to make lessons more engaging. Click through to get more information about this teaching technique!

But we still have six weeks until summer break. Six weeks that can be long and excruciating, or six weeks that can be engaging and productive. Each year, I count down to summer break by looking for strategies in an attempt to steer my classroom along the second route.

My past series have focused mainly on tech tips. This year, I'm looking into simple, engaging strategies that may or may not involve tech. But hopefully, these are ideas that will be easy for you to implement and will help hold your students' interest until the bitter end.

So here is Simple Spring Engagement # 6:

Use Your Smartphone to Make Discussions Count

Looking for new ways to grab students' attention in the classroom? Use your smartphone to snap pictures of parts of the discussion as part of the documentation! This is a simple way to make discussions count and to make lessons more engaging. Click through to get more information about this teaching technique!This is an insanely simple strategy to implement in the age of Smartphones. Seriously, if I wanted to take pictures in class, I used to have to check a camera out from the media center. Now, I always have one in my pocket.

Our students are native documenters--they are constantly snapping selfies and posting to social media. So when having a simple classroom discussion, a great way to get students engaged and to give an otherwise mundane activity a sense of importance is by documenting it (almost) just like they document every aspect of their lives.

What you need to make this happen:

1. An optional homework assignment to provide students with background knowledge for the discussion.

I am using a lesson my student teacher implemented as an example here. We were going to discuss Machiavelli's ideas about leaders the next day in class, so he assigned students an excerpt from The Prince and an APPARTS (primary source analysis graphic organizer). There is a social media activity that accompanies this activity that he assigned for homework AFTER the class discussion. You can preview the assignment here.

2. A discussion topic with an "activator," such as a KWL chart to get the conversation going.

My student teacher wanted to have a discussion over Machiavelli's ideas about leadership. He drew a chart on the board asking for types of leaders, characteristics of good leaders, and ways for leaders to get things done. Students could approach the board and write their answers. Conversely, they could "shout out" their answers, and he would write them on the board.
Looking for new ways to grab students' attention in the classroom? Use your smartphone to snap pictures of parts of the discussion as part of the documentation! This is a simple way to make discussions count and to make lessons more engaging. Click through to get more information about this teaching technique!
Wishing I had taken a minute to clean the board....
3. A Guiding Presentation so that the discussion doesn't wander out into the springtime courtyard.

He created a PowerPoint Presentation with selected quotes from The Prince. He also put each quote into his own words (to make them easy for students to understand). He put students into pairs, and they were instructed to discuss the quote and decide whether they agreed or disagreed with Machiavelli's assertion about leadership, and to explain why or why not.

4. Mini whiteboards, scratch paper, or 1:1 devices with a whiteboard app (I discuss a free site here that can be used on any device). Employ the Think-Pair-Share strategy:

He gave students a couple of minutes to individually write their responses on their mini whiteboard. Then they had to discuss their opinions with their partner, come to a consensus, and write their consensus on one of their whiteboards. Then each pair shared their response with the class.

5. The camera on your Smartphone to "make it count."

My student teacher and I decided which response was the most well-thought-out and clearly explained. I snapped a picture of that pair holding up their whiteboard. This immediately grabbed their attention. They loved posing for the picture. We added an extra dimension to this by awarding XP (experience points for my gamified classroom). If you don't gamify, extra credit or candy has a similar motivating effect.
Looking for new ways to grab students' attention in the classroom? Use your smartphone to snap pictures of parts of the discussion as part of the documentation! This is a simple way to make discussions count and to make lessons more engaging. Click through to get more information about this teaching technique!
An added benefit of the camera is that it offers paperless reinforcement and accountability.
Looking for new ways to grab students' attention in the classroom? Use your smartphone to snap pictures of parts of the discussion as part of the documentation! This is a simple way to make discussions count and to make lessons more engaging. Click through to get more information about this teaching technique!
Preview them HERE.
6. An Exit Activity, such as an exit ticket or poll, to encourage students to reflect over the activity.

Classroomscreen.com has a basic exit poll (here's my tutorial). Also, Poll Everywhere has an add in for PowerPoint. We just pulled one of my digital exit tickets from here.


7. Butcher Paper to "publish" your photos.

On planning the next day, I got a piece of butcher paper from the media center. I uploaded the pictures I had taken to my computer. I opened PowerPoint and inserted the pictures to make a collage. Then I pulled a speech bubble in from the "shapes" feature in the "insert" toolbar.

Looking for new ways to grab students' attention in the classroom? Use your smartphone to snap pictures of parts of the discussion as part of the documentation! This is a simple way to make discussions count and to make lessons more engaging. Click through to get more information about this teaching technique!I copied and pasted Machiavelli's quotes from my student teacher's PowerPoint into speech bubbles. I then typed snippets from my students' whiteboard pictures into speech bubbles with their pictures next to their quotes.

It took about thirty minutes to put together, but the students loved seeing it hanging in the room. It added a sense of importance to an otherwise normal classroom discussion.

How do you make discussions count in your classroom? Leave a comment below to let us know! And I'll see you next week for another Simple Spring Engagement idea.






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Classroom management can be made so much easier with technology, and thankfully, a teacher in the Netherlands made a tech tool to help simplify classroom management to a single screen! This post tells all about Classroom Screen and the many different ways it can be used for classroom management. Click through to read more!

I am the type of teacher who is always willing to try new technology in the classroom. Latest tech tip? I'll give it a go. Shiniest new app? I like shiny things. Pixels on the screen configured to grab my students' attention? Well, okay--that's a hard won thing.

The trouble is, I find myself going from app to app and website to website. It's often worth it, but what about for the really basic, useful, classroom management tools?

Classroom management can be made so much easier with technology, and thankfully, a teacher in the Netherlands made a tech tool to help simplify classroom management to a single screen! This post tells all about Classroom Screen and the many different ways it can be used for classroom management. Click through to read more!Case in point--when I want to use a timer, I typically Google one. Then when I want to roll digital dice for random selection, I do the same. I Google yet another website to visually monitor student volume, and to jot info down, I walk over to my whiteboard (or pull up a separate program on my Promethean Board).

None of this is taxing, but if it could all be in one place, displayed simultaneously, that would seriously streamline things. And when transitions are shorter, students have less time to get off task. I've wondered how to make this happen on numerous occasions, but I'm just not the genius to figure out how to make all of this happen.

But, fortunately, someone else is. AND he provides it online for FREE. He is a teacher from the Netherlands named Laurens Koppers who, like me, wanted to have all of these tools available in one place. So he made a simple tool that brings a lot of management tools together all on one screen.

Classroom management can be made so much easier with technology, and thankfully, a teacher in the Netherlands made a tech tool to help simplify classroom management to a single screen! This post tells all about Classroom Screen and the many different ways it can be used for classroom management. Click through to read more!






His website is classroomscreen.com. Go ahead and click on it and play around with it. Here are the things it will enable you to do (again, all on one screen), and be sure to check out my video demo below:

1.Generate a QR Code for your students to scan.
Classroom management can be made so much easier with technology, and thankfully, a teacher in the Netherlands made a tech tool to help simplify classroom management to a single screen! This post tells all about Classroom Screen and the many different ways it can be used for classroom management. Click through to read more!
It can stay on the screen while you write in whiteboard mode or use any of the other tools.

2. Create a random name generator (select random students).
Classroom management can be made so much easier with technology, and thankfully, a teacher in the Netherlands made a tech tool to help simplify classroom management to a single screen! This post tells all about Classroom Screen and the many different ways it can be used for classroom management. Click through to read more!
You can save the list to your computer once you type it, and then re upload it for the next time. 

3. Roll digital dice.
Classroom management can be made so much easier with technology, and thankfully, a teacher in the Netherlands made a tech tool to help simplify classroom management to a single screen! This post tells all about Classroom Screen and the many different ways it can be used for classroom management. Click through to read more!
This is great for games and random number selection.

4. Upload images and type in a text box.

5. Use a countdown timer.
Classroom management can be made so much easier with technology, and thankfully, a teacher in the Netherlands made a tech tool to help simplify classroom management to a single screen! This post tells all about Classroom Screen and the many different ways it can be used for classroom management. Click through to read more!
It even has a looping function so it will reset and continue after it goes off (perfect for stations).

6. Display a sound level tracker.
Classroom management can be made so much easier with technology, and thankfully, a teacher in the Netherlands made a tech tool to help simplify classroom management to a single screen! This post tells all about Classroom Screen and the many different ways it can be used for classroom management. Click through to read more!
If class volume gets too loud, students have a visual reminder.

7. Draw or write on a virtual whiteboard. Keep all of the other tools you are using up while you do this.

8. Display a traffic light for visual cues.

9. Display work symbols for visual cues.

10. Split the screen to provide instructions for two different groups working on different tasks.
Classroom management can be made so much easier with technology, and thankfully, a teacher in the Netherlands made a tech tool to help simplify classroom management to a single screen! This post tells all about Classroom Screen and the many different ways it can be used for classroom management. Click through to read more!
Add different information on each side. The traffic lights and work symbols are shown.

11. Change the background. 

12. Select your language of choice.

13. Push out an exit poll.

Be sure to check out the video DEMO:





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Do you have a copy limit at your school? This is a common obstacle for teachers, so this blog post provides a tutorial for how to make your worksheets work digitally. The steps in this post share how to turn printables into PDFs so students can edit them digitally. Click through to get the tutorial!
I realized an important truth recently--I have been hopelessly spoiled for the past sixteen years. I did not have a copy limit in my school system. It took moving to a school system with a strict copy limit for me to realize the unabashed luxury of my former situation.

I call this an important truth because overindulgence, and well, waste are often byproducts of luxury and being spoiled rotten. I hated making copies, but I never truly tried to conserve them.

I've written a lot about going 1:1 and blending my classroom, but I would sometimes make copies because they were there and it was easy. Now I truly have to live up to my own advice, "If paper works best, use it. But all things being equal, choose digital."

I love the SAMR model for adding technology. What I'm going to discuss today is straight up step 1--substitution, something I didn't do a ton of in the past but that copy limits have forced me to increasingly do. So, here's how I

Make My Worksheets Work Digitally

Do you have a copy limit at your school? This is a common obstacle for teachers, so this blog post provides a tutorial for how to make your worksheets work digitally. The steps in this post share how to turn printables into PDFs so students can edit them digitally. Click through to get the tutorial!1. All you need is to have your worksheet in PDF format. You can do that with phone apps that enable you to take a picture of a sheet of paper, save it as a PDF, and email it to yourself. You can also do this by scanning your worksheet. Most school copiers these days also have a feature that enables you to scan a worksheet and send it to your email as a PDF.

2. Once your worksheet is in PDF format, you will need to visit the Google Chrome Store and pick up the free DocHub app. Have your students add DocHub to their Chome accounts, as well.

3. Assign your students the worksheet via email or an online platform (if you use Google Classroom, make sure to select "make a copy for each student," they will open the PDF in Classroom with DocHub).

4. With DocHub, students can write, draw, and insert images onto a PDF. They can save it, and share it with you.

Do you have a copy limit at your school? This is a common obstacle for teachers, so this blog post provides a tutorial for how to make your worksheets work digitally. The steps in this post share how to turn printables into PDFs so students can edit them digitally. Click through to get the tutorial!

Do you have a copy limit at your school? This is a common obstacle for teachers, so this blog post provides a tutorial for how to make your worksheets work digitally. The steps in this post share how to turn printables into PDFs so students can edit them digitally. Click through to get the tutorial!
Download the Cheat Sheet HERE
PDF from THIS Package
As a side note, if you are using a PDF with fillable text boxes, they can use the text boxes for typing, but if there is a button on the PDF to insert an image, that won't work. No worries, though. They can insert an image in DocHub from the toolbar. 

Don't forget to download the Cheat Sheet!

And check out the video tutorial:



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Technology is an amazing educational tool, but not all students have access to it outside of school. This blog post describes one way to level reading passages for students of various ability levels and allow them to work offline in Google Classroom. Click through to learn how!Some of you know that I have spent the past few months in a new school system. I've gone through the process of going 1:1 once, and now it's happening again. Of course, I'm thrilled that I now have a Promethean Board, and my school will be adding one Chromebook per student very soon.

I am also thrilled to be on the 1:1 implementation committee at my school (that's right, I just used the words "thrilled" and "committee" in the same sentence--it must be getting very cold in a traditionally hot place, either that, or large, pink farm creatures are sprouting wings and frolicking in the clouds).

But I LOVE using technology in the classroom. I like the traditional stuff, too, (blending is best) but technology opens so many doors that are otherwise unavailable. For example, using Google Expeditions, I can take my students on a tour of Hadrian's Wall--that would be really expensive from a traditional classroom.

From this, I can hope that 1:1 has the potential to literally open up new worlds to my students.

But there is an inequitable side to technology (at the moment, anyway). Not all students have access
Technology is an amazing educational tool, but not all students have access to it outside of school. This blog post describes one way to level reading passages for students of various ability levels and allow them to work offline in Google Classroom. Click through to learn how!to the internet at home. My fix for that when I've assigned homework digitally has been to send home a textbook and have the student complete a comparable activity using the book--not ideal, but workable.

Today, at a "committee" meeting, an ESL teacher asked a question that gave me pause: "When we go1:1, that's great, but how will students with no internet access at home complete their assignments?" Some students need leveled readings.

She uses ThinkCerca, which is a great program that levels reading based on Lexile. But the program needs the internet in order to actually work. That makes it no good for some of her students at home.

Of course, the ultimate work-around here is a solution: provide affordable internet to everyone, or at least allow students without internet to check out hot spot devices (is this the correct terminology?).

But until that day comes, here's a suggestion.

We all know that the internet provides an abundance of articles on relevant issues that paper textbooks cannot match.

1. Pick an article you want your students to read.
2. For the students who have no internet access, copy and paste the article and your comprehension questions into a Google Doc.
3. Have students set their Google Drive to "work offline," so that they don't need internet access.
4. Simplify the text for students who need it simplified, using rewordify.com.
5. Copy and paste that text into a Google Doc to share with those students.

Technology is an amazing educational tool, but not all students have access to it outside of school. This blog post describes one way to level reading passages for students of various ability levels and allow them to work offline in Google Classroom. Click through to learn how!

Technology is an amazing educational tool, but not all students have access to it outside of school. This blog post describes one way to level reading passages for students of various ability levels and allow them to work offline in Google Classroom. Click through to learn how!


They can now complete a leveled reading offline and digitally at home.

This is not the perfect solution, but at least all students of differing ability levels can be on the same page during a class discussion about a particular article. Lack of internet access should not prevent that.

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QR codes are a really fun and surprisingly easy tool to use in the classroom. Click through to read my post about how you can review for exams with a QR code scavenger hunt.
As a huge proponent of the blended classroom, I like to mix things up. Last week, I wrote about super-quick low-tech reviews. This week, the exam review in my classroom is all about that tech.

Just like the next person, I have my favorites that I tend to overuse, and I've written about them on several occasions (QuizletLive, Kahoot!, edpuzzle, learning apps, Google Apps, etc.). But when you hear the Kahoot! music coming from the room across the hall and your students are mindlessly singing along, that might be a sign that it's time to throw something new their way.

And when you have students who get fidgety after 10 minutes in their seats, it's imperative to try something new.

So this week, I'm going to write about one really cool and simple tech review that will get your students out of their seats and engaged. This one is truly blended, folks.

Have a QR Challenge Scavenger Hunt

QR codes are a really fun and surprisingly easy tool to use in the classroom. Click through to read my post about how you can review for exams with a QR code scavenger hunt.I try to get students up and moving whenever I can. It's great for kinesthetic learners and, truly, it's good to throw a curve ball at everybody every now and then. Simply visit QR Code Treasure Hunt from classtools.net (there's lots of fun stuff here). You will enter questions and answers that you want your students to review.

Only instead of printing out a boring worksheet, this site generates QR Codes for you--they don't lead to a website--they pull up the text of the question. So, you can print the QR Codes, scatter them around your room or the school, and challenge students to find them, scan them, and answer them in a set amount of time.

I know, I know, QR Codes are so 2015, but you have simply got to give this one a try. Students are racing to answer questions--finding that QR Code and scanning it adds that treasure hunt element that makes it fun.

I'm going to show you how to create one of these scavenger hunts, how to implement one in your classroom, and, finally, how to trouble shoot potential issues (do not skip this part--the new IPhone update can cause a potential issue if you don't prepare).

Here's How You Do It:

QR codes are a really fun and surprisingly easy tool to use in the classroom. Click through to read my post about how you can review for exams with a QR code scavenger hunt.


QR codes are a really fun and surprisingly easy tool to use in the classroom. Click through to read my post about how you can review for exams with a QR code scavenger hunt.

Be sure to download the Cheat Sheet so that you can do this with your students. :)

What do you think? This is the boring study guide that's not so boring--a wonderful mix of technology, movement, and challenge. If you give it a try, be sure to let me know how it goes in the comments below. And check back in next week--I plan to discuss one more exam review that has been a life-saver for my exhausted students.

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If you're a secondary teacher, then you know exams are not so fun. However, these three review games for exams can be done in 15 minutes or less! Click through to read how to review for exams with these activities.
It's that time of year. The time of year that is met with dread by students and teachers alike. The time of year that, in the winter, we need two weeks to recover from, and in the spring, at least eight.

It's Exam Time. Again.

Exams give me a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach that can only be induced by--exams.

The source of the uneasiness? Perhaps it's the echo of the test anxiety I felt as a student reverberating through my mind's locker. Perhaps it's the undue amount of emphasis we place on tests, or the undue amount of weight we give to test results in teacher evaluations (but I've written about that stressor elsewhere).

Whatever the cause of this anxiety, I know exams are right around the corner. I know I have to get to a certain point in the curriculum by then. I know students need to review. And I know we don't have the amount of time to review that we need.

If you're a secondary teacher, then you know exams are not so fun. However, these three review games for exams can be done in 15 minutes or less! Click through to read how to review for exams with these activities.So my mission this week is to talk about quick and easy review strategies that will take no more than 15 minutes either at the beginning or the end of class, so that we can review and continue to learn new material right until the bitter end.

1. 5-5-5 Study Guide

Never heard of it before? Well, okay--I made it up, but it works with my students, so I'm thinking it might work with yours, too.

You know those study guides that we would have killed for when we were in school? The ones our teachers never made? The ones our students never answer?

Yes, those.

Go ahead and devote 15 minutes at the end of class to forcing students to examine this gift horse full on. It goes like this:

-Instruct students that they have five minutes to work on their study guide all alone and quietly. They should go through it and answer all of the questions they can off the top of their heads. Then they should look up questions they don't know the answers to using their notes. Set your timer for five minutes.

-When the timer goes off, pair students with the person next to them. Explain to them that they will have five minutes to discuss answers and help each other out. Set your timer for five minutes.

-When the timer goes off, tell students that they have five minutes to ask you questions. The time limit ensures that the majority of them pay attention to questions asked and answered and that you aren't answering study guide questions repeatedly and indefinitely. Set your timer for five minutes.

2. Study Guide Scrammble


If you're a secondary teacher, then you know exams are not so fun. However, these three review games for exams can be done in 15 minutes or less! Click through to read how to review for exams with these activities.

Answer the study guide yourself, and then delete the questions, and mix up the answers. Place students into groups of three or four. Instruct them to place the number of the question on their study guide next to the answer it best goes with.

I make this quick by turning it into a challenge. The first group that gets all of the answers correct, wins. I give them XP (points for my gamified classroom), but candy and extra credit are also great incentives.

To make checking their answers go as quickly as possible, be sure to make a key with the study guide question numbers next to the answers.

3. Face the Class

This is another one I made up, but with the help of tried and true games like TABOO and the once popular app, HEADS UP.

For a 15 minute Review:
-Type one vocabulary, concept, person, etc. word onto a single PowerPoint slide. Fill up as many slides with one word as you plan to review.
-Divide your class into two teams.
-Have one student stand in front of the class with his/her back to the board.
-Students from his/her team give clues without saying the actual word that is projected.
-If the student guesses the word correctly before the timer sounds (set a timer for one minute), his/her team gets a point.
-The team with the most points at the end of the game wins (XP, a piece of candy, extra credit...).

If I ever have a few minutes left at the end of class, I call one student up to "Face the Class." The entire class gives clues without saying the word. If the student guesses the correct answer before the timer goes off, he/she gets a piece of candy and selects the next student to "Face the Class."

I used this method once before when I was being observed and had 5 minutes left with nothing to do, and the administrator was quite impressed!

I made a PowerPoint game template of this with a built in timer and a scoreboard that you can type on in present mode. You can preview it HERE.


If you're a secondary teacher, then you know exams are not so fun. However, these three review games for exams can be done in 15 minutes or less! Click through to read how to review for exams with these activities.
Get it HERE!

What are your quick, go-to reviews that take 15 minutes or less? Leave a comment and let me know.

And check back in next week when I talk about the three best super quick reviews using technology--perfect for the 1:1 classroom!



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There are a lot of events happening in the world today that give people cause to complain. However, what's more productive is to offer solutions with those complaints. In this blog post, I talk about how to teach students to engage in civil discourse as a means of resolving conflict and finding real-world solutions. Click through to read the whole post and download a free lesson!
What is talking about a problem without offering possible solutions? Complaining.

Sometimes, it's okay to complain. It can be cathartic, and it's okay to talk through our disappointments, but if complaining is all we are in the habit of doing when faced with a problem, then nothing ever gets solved.

I've been hearing a lot of complaining lately about riots, violence, terrorism, natural disasters--all things we should be complaining about.

But my contention is that we need to guide our students to kick complaining up a notch and learn to offer solutions for their complaints. This is called problem-solving, a vital skill that can help transform feelings of helplessness into something more productive. I have a free lesson below for you that I'd really like your help with. What would you add, keep, and how did it work in your classroom? We had AMAZING discussions in my class, but that's a small piece of the puzzle.

In order to become adept problem-solvers, our students need to be willing to listen to opinions that conflict with their own. But this seems to be very difficult for everyone, adults and young people alike.

There are a lot of events happening in the world today that give people cause to complain. However, what's more productive is to offer solutions with those complaints. In this blog post, I talk about how to teach students to engage in civil discourse as a means of resolving conflict and finding real-world solutions. Click through to read the whole post and download a free lesson!The students of today have come of age along with social media. Social media offers us a chance to be heard and to connect with others on a scale unimagined by previous generations. Social media has rendered C. Wright Mills's "Power Elite" virtually obsolete (the government officials and corporations who had the loudest voice in the past).

Revolutions have begun as a result of social media--think the Arab Spring (withholding comments about its outcome). Citizen reporting has become a thing because of social media--think Periscope and Facebook Live.

But there is a dark side to social media--a tendency to be exposed only to opinions that perpetuate our own. We don't get the whole picture that way. We begin to see individuals as the sum of their views. That is, if somebody holds an opinion contrary to our own, they are the "other"--untrustworthy, evil.

It's no mistake that this has happened. It's not a vast Orwellian conspiracy leading us all down these blissfully narrow paths. It's simple economics.

Social media outlets are not charitable organizations, but corporations whose primary concern is the bottom line. That bottom line is met through advertisements. Advertisements are targeted at social media users. If we don't visit their platforms, advertisers stop giving them business. If advertisers stop giving them business, they lose money (the new power elite?).

So, in order for any social media outlet to make money, we have to keep coming back to see their ads. We are more likely to return if what we see reinforces our existing views. They know what our existing views are because of our posts, likes, shares, and those very un-delicious browser cookies. Therefore, they have developed algorithms to ensure that our existing opinions pop out at us the most when we visit their sites.

Whenever conflicting opinions pop up, they have typically already been harangued and vilified by others of our mindset. And so confirmation bias sets in. And so we keep going back to Facebook, Twitter, Snap Chat, Instagram, whatever.

That is great for social media corporations, but disasterous for our democratic-republic.

Students need to be aware of this issue. They need to understand that conflict is a vital part of life--it introduces us to new perspectives. It allows us to grow. If we shield ourselves from conflict, we are also shielding ourselves from knowledge, from relationships, and from citizenship.

Opening ourselves up to conflict is important but so is our response to it. We must truly listen to opposing sides. Then we must counter (if we choose to do so) with logic, reason, and civility. Vitriol doesn't change minds, it leads to defensiveness.

Do I advocate moral relativism? Not remotely. Do I advocate standing up for your beliefs in the face of obvious injustice? Absolutely.

There are a lot of events happening in the world today that give people cause to complain. However, what's more productive is to offer solutions with those complaints. In this blog post, I talk about how to teach students to engage in civil discourse as a means of resolving conflict and finding real-world solutions. Click through to read the whole post and download a free lesson!
GET THE LESSON
But there is a civil way to do it. A way that employs logic rather than name-calling. A way that acknowledges the dignity we all possess as humans and is founded on the principle that we are more than our political views.

The lesson I use to introduce these ideas is simple. It takes two traditional periods or one block class. I used it as a unit challenge for my gamified classroom, but it makes a good mini lesson for any social studies or ELA class (change the unit topics to ones from, say, a novel).

You can grab an example of it HERE (feel free to customize for your classroom), but it basically goes like this:

***NEVER show film clips without previewing them first to make sure they are appropriate for your class.***

Day 1:
1. Bellringer: What rights are we guaranteed under the First Amendment? Explain which right you
believe is the most important.
-Discuss, and then project THIS summary of the First Amendment on the board. Show Clip 1 and Clip 2. Discuss whether or not either of those instances are examples of an expression of or a violation of the First Amendment.

2. Read the handout as a class and go over the rubric. Make sure the students understand that there is no right or wrong answer here. They are problem-solving and being creative. So that they feel free to explore, I don't make this a major grade, nor is there a product attached to it. They are simply discussing, writing their thoughts in an organized fashion on notebook paper, and then sharing with the class.
There are a lot of events happening in the world today that give people cause to complain. However, what's more productive is to offer solutions with those complaints. In this blog post, I talk about how to teach students to engage in civil discourse as a means of resolving conflict and finding real-world solutions. Click through to read the whole post and download a free lesson!
GET THE LESSON

Day 2:
1. Bellringer: What is the biggest problem facing our society? Explain why you think so.
-Discuss, and then listen to THIS interview. After it's over, ask students what they thought about it, what stood out to them the most, and how it's an example of bravery and civil conflict in action.
2. Give each group a few minutes to share and discuss their answers from the previous day with the class.
3. Closing: Have students complete the exit ticket about civil conflict and problem-solving.

This isn't a glitzy lesson--there are no bells and whistles. But it is a lesson that asks students to think about problems, offer solutions, and to also consider that individuals are more than their political opinions.

What do you think? How do you get your students to problem-solve, interact, and express compassion? Please let me know in the comments below--I'd love some new ideas!

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