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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.

Brian SztabnikApril 17, 2014

Clarity. It is what we long for when we travel through a student's essay. Yet our struggling writers make us wander through a cluttered maze of thoughts, leading to dead ends.

We want an awareness of purpose. We want ideas to progress in logical order. We want sentences to be fluid and confident, not stuffed with words desperate to impress. We want so much because good writing is multidimensional. So how to encourage this? Rubrics are uninspiring and often contain too much information for students to digest. The question remains: how do we give students guidelines without glutting their minds with a 50-item checklist?

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Every year, the stress of school reaches a fever pitch during standardized-testing season. Whether it's the SAT, APs or end-of-grade testing, teachers race to re-impart all the knowledge covered, parents dump boulder-sized practice books onto the dining room table, and students who were happily coasting along become acutely aware that the academic equivalent of Judgment Day is nigh.

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Vincent A. MastroApril 17, 2014

Critical thinking is the means by which we objectively analyze the pros and cons of a situation in order to make informed decisions. It is a fundamental skill that is of such importance that many colleges and universities require their freshman students to complete an introductory course. The Common Core Standards also recognize the value of critical thinking, declaring it as one of the explicit skills children are to learn. This leaves teachers with the difficult task of teaching this complex skill to elementary school children.

How will children learn critical thinking? The answer is: "It depends."

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Elena AguilarApril 17, 2014

Over the last decade, increased attention has been paid to the social and emotional learning (SEL) needs of children. This area of learning is necessary and essential to address -- for children and adults. It's time that schools take responsibility for meeting the entire range of learning needs that educators have -- the need to use new technologies, to understand and implement new standards, to use new assessment strategies, and their needs to attend to their own social and emotional learning.

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Joshua BlockApril 16, 2014

I remember the first time we put a brush in my then two-year-old daughter’s hand. Perched on the edge of tiny a red chair at her wooden table, she quickly realized she could use the blueberry juice we had placed in a cup to create unique marks on the page. It was inspiring and moving to see my high-energy child sit, entirely absorbed and focused, as she discovered and explored this new ability.

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Steve GardinerApril 16, 2014

Watching a classroom of students working is fascinating. There are students who are engaged, who focus on the task and forge ahead. They get the job done on time, every time. There are other students who start working but get distracted. They work briefly, but as soon as the work becomes difficult or challenging, they give up. They look for help, or they refuse to even try.

What is the difference?

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Patrick Cook DeeganApril 15, 2014

All of us are reliant upon the sun for energy, the earth for food, trees for air, and water for drinking. But when we go about our busy lives, it is easy to take the water, air and plants around us for granted. The practice of mindfulness takes us off autopilot, allows us to pause, experience the present moment and give gratitude for all the elements of the natural world that support our daily lives.

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Andrew MillerApril 15, 2014

Standardized testing is one of the "lighting rod" issues in educational policy debates. Whether it's a group of teachers boycotting a test in Seattle, districts across the United States tying teacher evaluations to test results, the new PARCC or Smarter Balanced Assessments being implemented, the ranking countries with PISA scores, or the SAT trying to revamp itself, the debate and topic of standardized testing simply will not go away. So what is an educator to do? With all these forces in play, whether at the district or federal level, it can be disheartening and daunting for an educator to create learning in the classroom. With all the changes, there is always pressure to teach to the test. But I think we can do better.

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Margaret ReganApril 14, 2014

All good teaching originates from the motive of generosity. To help others understand history, literature, mathematics or science is the ground upon which all learning stands. Fundamentally, education is the transmission of wisdom from one scholar to another.

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Matt DavisApril 14, 2014

Earth Day 2014 is right around the corner, and this year the theme is "Green Cities." Are you planning on incorporating the annual event in your classroom?

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