The Silent Debate: getting quiet as a strategy for speaking up

Teaching argument in the high school classroom is pretty much a ‘must,’ right?  

Somewhere between core learning standards in academics and an increasing need for critical thinking and problem-solving in the real world, the-art-of-argumentation-as-unit continues to gain its momentum (and rightfully so!)

In my own classroom, just before my students launch into arguments of their own, I take the opportunity to first explore some of the greatest debates of all time.

We peer into those monumental court cases, from Brown v. Board of Education (1954) to Texas v. Johnson (1989), but we also highlight those issues so near and dear to students’ interests, such as New Jersey v. T.L.O. (1985) and Board of Education v. Earls (2002).

If there’s a Constitutional right my students most fervently have something to speak up about,’s Amendment 1 (see how I did that?!).

Cases like Tinker v. Des Moines (1969), Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier (1988),...

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The Brainstorm Artist: Color Carousel Brainstorming

remix archives Feb 26, 2019

The following is part of the 'Remix Archives', a catalogue of articles I'm 'recalling to life' from my days of blogging over at the Global Pen (circa 2012!). Specifically, this archive involves those posts my audience has known and loved over the many years we've been colleagues and friends, so consider these ones 'back by popular demand'! Enjoy!

The original version of this post was published on: April 8th, 2015 @ the Global Pen.

Talented writing teacher that you are, you've been hand-picked to host our Global Gallery exhibition!  In this post, ideas will be brought to life, arguments will be expressed in-living-color, and the final product will be showcased for all to admire!

That's right, we're mixing the written word with some colorful creativity to make our masterpiece.  Our muse?  The globally-issues essay prompt. Our canvas?  The brainstorm sheet.  Our masterpiece?  A finely crafted judgment.

Just as any Gallery Owner knows, it's...

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Breaking the ice: an assessment tool + culture creator for the high school classroom

remix archives Jan 28, 2019

The following is part of the 'Remix Archives' from my days at the Global Pen (circa 2012, friends!). This archive involves those posts my audience has known-n-loved over the many years we've been colleagues and friends, so consider these ones 'back by popular demand'! Enjoy!

The original version of this post was published on: JULY 25th, 2012 @ the Global Pen

Raise a digital hand if you've every subscribed to the maxim that teachers shouldn't crack a smile until December (or October, at least) in an effort to establish authority and coax learning.

I'm literally cringing at the thought. Not because I'm judging you, but because I've actually been guilty of some variation of this 'maxim' during my early years as a teacher.

So if you're raising that digi-hand, I'm (embarrassingly) with ya, pal...

Seriously, I want to know who came up with this nasty, little lie so I can take their teaching certificate and rip it into tiny shreds (Ugh!).

*teacher-blogger laughs in jest*


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A 'Handy' Brainstorming Strategy for Secondary ELA Writers

If there’s one thing our writers tend to invest in the least (ahem, besides revision!), it’s brainstorming.  To them, generating ideas for an essay or a project usually conjures cold memories of a threateningly blank piece of paper or a blinking cursor -- and that can be *really* intimidating. 

Meanwhile the benefits of brainstorming (in the classroom and in the real world) are countless.  It helps creators:

  • Gain a sense of vision surrounding a task
  • Organize thoughts into more manageable and meaningful chunks
  • Move forward in a designated direction and stay on track
  • Iterate on/elevate ideas further; innovate

Yet our learners largely lack an idea generation system that’s structured enough to actually support them and 'speak back' inspiration…that is, until now.

  • Whether you’re a teacher who’s brainstorming plans for this year’s curriculum, or you’re co-creating classroom content with your learners; 
  • Whether...
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