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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.

Brett VogelsingerMarch 20, 2014

Ever since Billy Collins introduced the concept of Poetry 180: A Poem A Day for American High Schools over a decade ago, I've wanted to make a "poem a day" routine in my classroom a reality. This year, I took advantage of a change in grade levels to finally take the plunge. Poetry is short enough to afford us opportunities for close reading every day, varied enough to resonate with different groups and individuals throughout the year, and complex enough to propel them to comprehension of more complicated syntax.

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The breakthrough happened after the student took the Bartle's Gamer Profile Quiz and we found out that he was a "killer." Off-the-charts killer, but achievement meant nothing to this student. Just like grades.

No, we haven't identified the next school shooter, and I sure wish that Bartle hadn't named one of the four gamer profiles "killer" -- but nonetheless, this student identified with this profile. Jane McGonigal mentioned it in her Gaming Can Make a Better World TED Talk when she discussed an epic meaning. My so-called "killer" student (and we really should rename this when applying it to education!) simply saw things as a battle between good and evil and wanted to fight on the side of good in an epic quest to make the world a better place. Points don't matter in gameplay, and grades don't matter, either. But when we tweaked the kinds of work he was doing in our Gamifi-ED project to focus on "world-changing games," he was suddenly engaged. Now his face lights up when he sees me. He's one of the first kids to class. He's an engaged gamer and, finally, an engaged student.

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For the last ten years, we've worked one-on-one with students from elementary school through graduate school. No matter their age, no matter the material, when you ask what they're struggling with, students almost universally name a subject: "math," "English" or, in some instances, "school." Doubting that all of school is the issue, we then ask to see their last test. After some grumbling, the student digs down, deep into the dark, dank recesses of his or her backpack, and pulls out a balled-up, lunch-stained paper that, once smoothed out, turns out to be the latest exam.

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Andrew MarcinekMarch 19, 2014

The term professional development (PD) has taken on many incarnations during the time I've been involved in education. When I first starting teaching, professional development was constructed in a very traditional format. It usually came in the form of a speaker, and the staff listened. More often than not, PD was an extremely passive experience.

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Chris Hare, PMP, CSMMarch 19, 2014

This question -- "Mom, what is project management?" -- was posed to me by one of my sons last year. It's a simple query, but crafting the answer to accommodate a child's lens of my career was a bit more challenging. So here was my response:

"It's the profession of planning, organizing and managing many things, including people and projects, for example."

A follow-up question by my other son within earshot was, naturally, "What's a project?"

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Ben JohnsonMarch 19, 2014

After a hard day of teaching, I often plop down on my desk chair at home and gaze up at a framed drawing hanging on the wall above my desk that a dear friend of mine gave me. It is a detailed depiction of a pair of wood ducks serenely floating on a calm pond. One of the ducks is male that has brightly colored feathers and beak; the other is female that is plain gray and nondescript. Yet both are at peace and comfortable with each other.

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David WestMarch 18, 2014

"School is boring." There is no place for that statement when teachers are creative, engaging and promote genuine learning. But how do teachers make their classes the opposite of boring?

When I began teaching high school business courses four years ago, I was just 23 years old. Because I had recently lived through traditional high school and college instruction, I knew there had to be a different way -- a better way.

Inspiration struck one night, months into my first year of teaching, while watching what was then a new TV show called Shark Tank. Here, entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to millionaire and billionaire investors in the hope of securing funding to start, grow or save their business. When I showed my business students one episode, they begged to watch more. At that point, I knew I had something. So, to capitalize on my students' enthusiasm, I created a project out of it.

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Elena AguilarMarch 18, 2014

During the month of March, in many educational settings, women's history is addressed. Images of famous female leaders are pulled out to decorate walls; special assemblies are held; picture books are read; girl power is acknowledged and celebrated. This is all good, but there are some next steps that educators (both men and women) need to take if we're going to truly empower girls and set them up for leadership roles. We need to offer expanded definitions of leadership, take on the "Lean In" vs. "Recline" debate, and walk the talk.

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Josh WorkMarch 18, 2014

After participating in an exciting webinar on Libraries, Technology, and Implementing Common Core provided by AASL, I began to think about how the role of the school-based media specialist is evolving. The implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and rapid integration of technology in schools around the country has created a shift in instructional design and practice. I have found the most valuable school-based resource for brainstorming, discussing, planning and implementing anything to do with technology has been my school's media specialist. Following are a few ways that your media specialist could help you, and how the CCSS has impacted their roles.

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Stacey GoodmanMarch 18, 2014

Recently, I showed a group of students in my high school art class a film called Ma Vie En Rose (My Life in Pink), about a seven-year-old boy named Ludovic who identifies as female. Ludovic has an active imagination, but is bullied by both adults and other kids who are unnerved by his desire to wear dresses and play with dolls. The film challenged my students to broaden their understanding of gender and identity and led to a discussion about ways in which our imaginations are limited when we are forced to be who we are not. It also reminded me of other examples in which character is forced to choose an identity, such as the movie Divergent, based on the popular trilogy of novels by Veronica Roth.

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