Thursday, September 19, 2019

Mindfulness Tips: Timeboxing and Monotasking

Recently we subscribed to Fast Company, a great media company, for our Entrepreneur Program. I loved this article so I am sharing it with our students who have access to the magazine as part of our subscription!

Monday, September 16, 2019

Parental Screen Time Tips

As a father of three youngsters, I am always looking for tips to get my girls to put their phones down and go outside. Here are steps from CommonSenseMedia to help kids be more mindful. 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

NYT Personal Narrative Contest & 500+ Writing Promts

The NY Times Learning Network has two writing posts you should know about: (1) a personal narrative essay contest and (2) 550 writing prompts for teachers. Both links are below!

Personal Narrative Essay Contest for Students: Tell a Short Story About a Meaningful Life Experience

We invite students to submit 600-word personal narratives, and we have many resources to help. Deadline: Oct. 29, 2019.

550 Prompts for Narrative and Personal Writing

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

OER Resources for NextGen Science Standards

We're always looking for free, high-quality Open Education Resources (OER) here that we can use with our students. That is why I found this ED Weekly post so promising. It seems that the OpenSciEd curriculum is for middle school, but they will be expanding into high school courses soon. Check it out below!

Monday, September 9, 2019

Teaching About Slavery & American History

As a young child, I learned American history around two dates: 1492 and 1620. We did crafts that focused on Columbus and Pilgrims, but we definitely never learned about 1619 -- the year slaves were first brought to what is now the United States. 

That's right, 1619, one year before the pilgrims arrived, and yet that part of our history is quickly skimmed over, probably because it makes many of us uncomfortable. Fortunately, many organizations like Teaching Tolerance are using the 400th anniversary of American slavery as an opportunity for us to get it right.

Today, let's focus on the NYT's 1619 Project, a major initiative that they "aim to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are."

My favorite piece in the 1619 Project? A new literary timeline of American history by acclaimed African American poets and writers!

This online platform -- articles, podcasts, and visuals -- can easily be incorporated into your classroom. You can find curriculums, guides, and activities for students developed by the Pulitzer Center at And it’s all free!

Additional Stories about the Advent of Slavery in America, Its Continuing Controversy & How to Teach It

WaPo "They were once America’s cruelest, richest slave traders. Why does no one know their names?" September 14, 2019

WaPo "The missing pieces of America’s education -- Five essays discuss what isn’t being talked about in classrooms" August 28, 2019

WaPo "As plantations talk more honestly about slavery, some visitors are pushing back" September 8, 2019

WaPo "A symbol of slavery — and survival: Angela’s arrival in Jamestown in 1619 marked the beginning of a subjugation that left millions in chains." April 29, 2019

Honor Code Related Articles

The MLHS faculty has been planning an update to our Honor Code. This past weekend, I read a New York Times article, "An Industry of Ghostwriters Pens College Students’ Essays,"and I was shocked at how "global" cheating has become. I guess, it is a small world, after all.

That piece reminded me of a USA Today article that Kevin shared with me over the summer. This article, "Students are still using tech to cheat on exams, but things are getting more advanced,is copied below in its entirety.  

Please give it a read prior to your first test of the year. After all, it might be a useful vehicle of discussion with your students when discussing the importance of our Honor Code. 

In many ways, cheating on high school and college exams used to be a lot harder than it is nowadays. 
What used to take an elaborate plot to discreetly spread answers across a classroom can now be done with a swipe on a smartwatch. You used to have to steal the answer key or have a cheat sheet hidden around your desk.

Scary Stories About Vaping Dominating the News

Over the past few weeks, there have been daily news stories demonstrating two things about vaping: (1) it's dangerous and people are getting sick, and even worse, (2) no one -- not even scientists or doctors -- know what the long term effects are! And yet, so many of our teenagers are continuing to vape.

This week I sent the students an email with some of the most startling articles I've read over this time period. The following articles are from the NYT, the WSJ, and other major national news outlets. 

This is the second outreach to our students about vaping. During Freshmen Orientation we had county health officials on hand to talk with our youngest students. Our coaches have mentioned it in the summer when the season started, and we will be holding an assembly in the first week of November. During Wellness Week in October, we will also tackle this important topic. 

Monday, August 26, 2019

Recent Articles on Vaping (Summer 2019)

This summer there have been several new articles about vaping including the first vaping-related fatality. 

Below you can find several links and then after the image you can scroll down to read the entire article about the specific NJ lawsuit by a teen against Juul. 

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Resources for Post-El Paso America

In this blog, we promote many resources that foster empathy and tolerance for our students. 

Based on what we have just seen with the unfortunate murders in El Paso, I would recommend the two websites Tolerance.Org and FACING History that have great K-12 materials for our students to learn about immigration, diversity and the unfortunate history of discrimination in America. 

Funded by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Tolerance.Org site has these three great features:
  1. The Perspectives for a Diverse America Literacy Platform. The free online K-12 literacy curriculum helps young people learn about themselves and others. The text anthology reflects diverse identities and experiences. Moreover, teachers get free lesson plans and materials for each text. The Perspectives program supports differentiated instruction and the modular design allows for maximum flexibility so you can use the whole thing or just "plug in and play" with one poem to support the book you are already teaching! All you have to do is to (1) select an essential question aligned to your instructional goals, (2) browse through the various age-appropriate readings, and (3) assign the reading and use the tasks and strategies to build the literacy skills and active citizenship designed to help students deeply engage the text.
  2. Teaching Tolerance Magazine & WebsiteTeaching Tolerance brings you the latest thinking in social justice and anti-bias education, along with actionable tools, strategies, and lessons you can try tomorrow. As one reader said, Teaching Tolerance is “a groundbreaking voice in raising important issues within schools and connecting diverse groups with similar interests to one another.” And the best part? It’s ALWAYS FREE for educators. Subscribe today to make sure you’re getting all the goods from every magazine. Teaching Tolerance is released only three times a year (twice in print, once online), so you don’t have to worry about a cluttered mailbox. Subscribe now and never miss another issue. 
  3. FREE Film Kits. We have used these films at both Briarcliff & MLHS before. Order free materials using this form. There is a new documentary, Outrage, that is on lynching that is quite powerful. 

Sunday, August 4, 2019

LREP2020 - Fostering Resilience in Students

Our LREP goal includes student wellness so I found this MIND/Shift post interesting. Author Elena Aguilar hopes that when educators build their own resilience they'll not only continue teaching, but they'll have more energy to change the systems that are depleting them. 

She offers a series of reflections and activities that teachers can do together throughout the year can build habits that cultivate resilience. You can find the article here, or click READ MORE below. 

Thursday, August 1, 2019

New Google Tools to Explore this Summer

Google just sent out some new resources for educators that you might find interesting including coding and digital literacy products for students and parents!

G Suite Certification for Students
We recently announced the first G Suite certification for students 13+. The certification is a new way for students to demonstrate proficiency in Google tools to help them advance in school and in the job market, and you can administer the certification from the comfort of your own classroom. Sign up at

Check out the six new media literacy activities that teach students how to evaluate what they see online in Be Internet Awesome. Use our new printable activities, as well as our Interland for fun and educational online safety content at your local library, classroom, summer camp, or other org to help teach kids how to be safer and smarter online this summer.

Learn about resources to help parents and guardians aid students’ digital wellbeing, as well as enable parents and guardians to have visibility and participation in the classroom, strengthening the connection between the home and the classroom.

The Teacher Center, which includes our library of free online trainings for educators, is growing. We’ve added courses for Expeditions, Docs, and Slides to complement the existing trainings on Classroom, Forms, and Jamboard for teachers getting started with our tools for the first time.

To help you get ready to bring coding to your classrooms this fall, we just announced Code with Google - our new educator resource, bringing together Google’s free curriculum and programs that build coding skills to help students succeed. We believe that training, resources, and community for teachers are key to improving equity in CS education; you can explore our programs here.

Encourage students to keep up with regular reading practice throughout the rest of the summer by downloading Rivet, a free, fun reading app for K-3rd graders with 3,000+ free, leveled books.  The library includes titles from categories like animals and science, and reading support is available on every page, which lets kids practice with confidence. Rivet is available on Android smartphones, tablets, iPads, iPhones and Chromebooks.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Amid Blowback, Juul CEO Apologizes to Parents

For the past year, we have focused on vaping among our students and we shared numerous resources with our parents.  That is why I found this USA Today article, "Juul CEO tells parents 'I'm sorry' amid teen vaping 'epidemic'," worth sharing.  You can click on the link for the article or scroll down to read it below in its entirety.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

NJ Passes New Law on Teaching LGBTQ History

Earlier this year, the NJ Legislature passed a bill mandating the inclusion of LGBTQ history in Social Studies classes grades 6 - 12. As resources become available, we will make sure that teachers get access to them. The law goes in effect for the 2020-21 school year

For now, you may consider using the incredible resources at the Teaching Tolerance website. Below you can find their unit on the Stonewall Uprising, a seminal event that is being commemorated this year for its 50th anniversary. 

For those curious about the bill, I found this NJ Spotlight editorial from a former New Jersey student enlightening. 

Stonewall 50th Anniversary: Why It Matters
Fifty years ago, LGBTQ protesters at the Stonewall Inn stood up against a system of oppression and dehumanization. While the uprising was a critical moment in the fight for civil rights, it wasn’t the beginning of LGBTQ activism as we know it. As this important milestone in American history approaches, learn how you can teach the truth about Stonewall no matter the time of year.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Debate on the New SAT "Adversity Rating" & 504 Testing Times

Last week the CollegeBoard announced that the SAT, according to the New York Times, "will for the first time assess students not just on their math and verbal skills, but also on their educational and socioeconomic backgrounds," by including "a new rating, which is widely being referred to as an 'adversity score,' of between 1 and 100 on students’ test results. An average score is 50, and higher numbers mean more disadvantage. The score will be calculated using 15 factors, including the relative quality of the student’s high school and the crime rate and poverty level of the student’s neighborhood." 

This was the second article in two weeks that focused "over the fairness of high-stakes testing," including the Wall Street Journal article revealing that more affluent students gain preferential treatment like extended time over students who live in poor rural and urban settings.  

Regardless of how we feel about these developments, it is important to learn about these cases, especially since our students are so focused on these tests. That's why I highlighted some interesting perspectives from various websites about these developments. (READ MORE