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You'll find practical classroom strategies and tips from real educators, as well as lesson ideas, personal stories, and innovative approaches to improving your teaching practice. If you have any thoughts or comments about these blogs, please don't hesitate to let us know.

Elena AguilarFebruary 26, 2014

Instructional Rounds are a process for school improvement that are based on the Medical Rounds model. It brings groups of educators together to look at what is happening in their schools, develop a collaborative learning environment, and improve student learning. This year, the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) where I work has taken Instructional Rounds to scale: Every school in the district will host two Instructional Rounds, over 800 classrooms will be visited, and the learning experience of some 10,000 children will be observed. The broad focus for Rounds this year is on academic discussions.

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Ben JohnsonFebruary 26, 2014

Have I let "instructional weeds" infest my classroom?

I went out into my backyard today and was astounded about its condition. The hibernating Bermuda grass was yellow-brown as it should have been, but salt-and-peppered throughout the yard were bright green dandelions with the "I dare you to stop me" fluffy white seed flowers that had not been there in the fall.

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Mark PhillipsFebruary 25, 2014

I love movies and have always envied Academy Award voters. So here's my chance! I am giving out my own Edutopia version of the 2014 Academy Awards for Educational Documentaries.

And since this is the first time I'm doing this, I'm taking the liberty of extending eligibility to 2012 films as well. It seems unfair to bypass recent excellent films still playing in 2014.

Following are my Educational Documentary Academy Awards for 2014. I've watched over a dozen this year, a comment itself on the proliferation of educational documentaries. These are my favorites.

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Bob LenzFebruary 25, 2014

Each January, I have the opportunity to facilitate a course in Leading and Managing Technology for the Educational Leadership Program at the Kalmanovitz School of Education at Saint Mary's College of California. We organize our learning by exploring the question, "Is educational technology worth the hype?" Together we read Michael Fullens' book Stratosphere, interview school leaders, explore educational technology tools and follow and comment on education blogs.

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Nicholas ProvenzanoFebruary 24, 2014

Too often, I've heard teachers talk about how helpless they feel when it comes to reaching out to their students. The days of being the person whose job it is to exclusively provide students with an education -- and nothing more -- are long over. Honestly, some will say those days never existed. I've never wavered in my belief that teachers are much more than people passing out curriculum. For some students, school is the best part of their day because it offers an escape from their life at home. As teachers, it's important for us to understand that there is so much more to students than the life they lead in class, and it is important to show interest in a student outside of the day's homework. Here are three simple things a teacher can do to connect with students and let them know there is more to school than just a report card.

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Russ SkibaFebruary 24, 2014

Disruptive behavior continues to be one of the most challenging issues that schools face today. Even one seriously incompliant student can threaten teaching and learning for the rest of the class. And though exceedingly rare given the large number of schools throughout our country, incidents of deadly violence shake our confidence in school safety.

In the 1990s, amidst similar circumstances and fears, schools adopted "get tough" philosophies of discipline: increased suspensions, expulsions, school arrests and zero tolerance. By cracking down on all transgressions, school leaders hoped to send a message to students that misbehaviors would not be tolerated, and also make classrooms safer for learners that remained.

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Homa TavangarFebruary 24, 2014

For many of us, Oscar week can serve as the annual reminder of how many great grown-up films we have yet to see, and how many kids' movies we've already seen -- over and over and over. Next time you're faced with indoor recess or a snow day, movie night or a free period before a holiday, resist the temptation to pop in Finding Nemo or Shrek (though I love these, too), and use the opportunity to take a journey around the world. Of all the great global learning tools out there, films from diverse countries are among of my very favorites.

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Joshua BlockFebruary 21, 2014

This post represents the work of a group of educators and education activists who wanted to help educators help students process the verdict in the Jordan Davis murder trial. Many of us wrote from our experiences both in and out of the classroom, and as such, many of us used "I" statements in talking about these ideas. The writers are Melinda Anderson, Joshua Block, Zac Chase, Alexa Dunn, Bill Fitzgerald, Matt Kay, Diana Laufenberg, Chris Lehmann, Luz Maria Rojas, John Spencer, Mike Thayer, Jose Vilson and Audrey Watters. You can also link to the Google Doc or download the whole thing as a PDF. Everything written below is collaborative. This document is Creative Commons -- Share Alike.

As educators, we believe that we have a responsibility to use our classrooms to help young people grapple with and address the messiness of the world around them. In collaborating on this, what we know to be true is that there is more than a single lesson plan here. The issues raised by the Jordan Davis murder trial touch deeply on issues of race, law, and social justice, and any and all of these issues could be a course of study. What we hope to do is offer a number of ways for teachers and students to think about the case while knowing that no one way, no one day can possibly speak to all of the challenges this case represents.

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Matt DavisFebruary 21, 2014

March is Women's History Month, and International Women's Day, March 8, is also a part of the celebration each year. For educators and students, the month provides a wonderful opportunity to dig deeper into women's contributions, struggles, and triumphs throughout history.

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Suzie BossFebruary 21, 2014

At the end of a project-based learning (PBL) experience, students typically share what they have learned or discovered with an audience. Depending on the project, students might publish their work online, make presentations at a public event, or pitch their ideas to a panel of judges.

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