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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.

Ben JohnsonMarch 14, 2014

I was reading the book The Smartest Kids in the World by Amanda Ripley and couldn't help wondering what our schools would be like today if we were forced to teach without the technology (including copy machines). She describes three school settings in South Korea, Finland and Poland as being devoid of the technology U.S. teachers take for granted, and how, especially in math and science, their best students outperform our best students by a wide margin. I agree with the premise of her book: good teaching and high expectations make the difference, and technology is icing on the cake. My concern is that we are at a point where our students spend more time using technology and less time actually learning.

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Tom WhitbyMarch 13, 2014

Editor's note: This post draws from World's Simplest Online Safety Policy, coauthored with Lisa Nielsen in April 2011 and appearing on Tom Whitby's bog.

Where are we today with banning the Internet in schools? It was all the rage about three years ago. It would seem that technology has taken us farther away from the dark ages of the scary Internet. Mobile devices have underscored the fact that people have access to the Internet almost anywhere and at any time. Social media has gained a much larger acceptance with the public. Learning through social media has achieved a legitimate place among educators. Even the airlines have revisited their policies on in-flight Internet access. It is becoming more and more apparent to educators and parents that kids can gain access to the Internet without the help and guidance from schools.

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Nicholas ProvenzanoMarch 13, 2014

Forgive the pun in the title of this post, but I couldn't help myself. The temperatures are starting to rise, and teachers need to shake off the winter weariness to make it through to the end of the school year. I've got some great tips on how you can inject some much-needed energy into your teaching and end each day with a smile on your face.

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José VilsonMarch 13, 2014

A few years ago, Indira Gil, friend and math educator in Miami, Forida, asked me the following:

"Why do we call pi irrational when it's clearly the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter?"

Of course, I agreed. Such a pithy thought has swum around my ear for as long as it has because we've come to no resolution on it. For decades, we were always told to truncate pi to 3.14 or 22/7. The geeks might get a few digits deeper (3.1415926535. . .), but generally, this was a given fact and, like many things math, we didn't have to wonder because all the wondering had been done for us.

Years later, I rebuke all of this.

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Elena AguilarMarch 12, 2014

Harriet Tubman Day was this week, March 10, and it's the date that marks her death in 1913. Although it is speculated that Tubman was born in the early 1820s, neither her birth day nor birth year are known since the births of slaves were not recorded. This is a time we can reflect on a fascinating and fierce woman, on different styles of leadership, on a kind of resilience that is hard to imagine and deeply inspiring, and on the telling of stories -- whose histories do we know? Whose get told?

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Becky Mladic-MoralesMarch 12, 2014

Children's books with multicultural settings and characters can transport us on a global adventure, dispelling negative stereotypes, teaching tolerance and respect, encouraging pride in kids' cultural heritage, and showcasing universal human emotions and feelings. When paired with extension activities, quality multicultural literature teaches kids about the world beyond our communities while sharpening their critical thinking skills.

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Donna Wilson, Ph.D.March 12, 2014

Editor's note: This post is co-authored by Marcus Conyers who, with Donna Wilson, is co-developer of the M.S. and Ed.S. Brain-Based Teaching degree programs at Nova Southeastern University. They have written several books, including Five Big Ideas for Effective Teaching: Connecting Mind, Brain, and Education Research to Classroom Practice.

Incorporating exercise and movement throughout the school day makes students less fidgety and more focused on learning. Improving on-task behavior and reducing classroom management challenges are among the most obvious benefits of adding physical activities to your teaching toolkit. As research continues to explore how exercise facilitates the brain's readiness and ability to learn and retain information, we recommend several strategies to use with students and to boost teachers' body and brain health.

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Monica BurnsMarch 11, 2014

Poetry can take so many forms, and sometimes it's hard to know where to start when planning a unit of study. You might focus on figurative language with third graders, you might want seventh graders to look at rhyme sequence, or you might simply want to introduce classic pieces to high school students.

There are some great tools on the web for teachers gathering resources to use with their students. Here are a few worth checking out.

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Andrew MarcinekMarch 11, 2014

There is no doubt that finding the time to integrate technology is an overwhelming task for anyone. Throughout the course of a day, teachers find themselves pulled in many directions. However, technology is already integrated in nearly everything we do and nearly every job our students will encounter. So how do educators find an ideal balance for learning about and eventually integrating technology? It begins with a focus followed by good instructional design -- but ultimately, a healthy balance.

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Leah HirschMarch 11, 2014

For 12 weeks, sixth graders in my class embark on a learning adventure based on the misadventures of a fictional character called Dr. Smallz. The class is a hands-on, inquiry-based, integrated science and math course. Students get a chance to be scientists, designers, makers and players as they learn all about human body systems, cellular functions, and the ability of the human organism to maintain dynamic equilibrium. The Dr. Smallz Mission is a great example of the type of game-like learning experience that creates a powerful "Need to Know" in students, leaving them hungry to learn more.

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