Mind Shift

Why Debate May Be the Best Way to Save Constructive Disagreement

Julia Dhar claims: “My mission in life is to help people disagree productively, to find ways to bring truth to light, to bring ideas to life.” And as a former debate star, she thinks the skills she learned debating could be the key to help everyone find some common ground.

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How Parents Can Create a Nightly Homework Ritual for Reluctant Children

By Heather Miller
It’s hard to fault the child who resists doing homework. After all, she has already put in a long day at school, probably been involved in afterschool activities, and, as the late afternoon spills into evening, now faces a pile of assignments. Parents feel it, too — it’s no one’s favorite time of day.

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What Giving Students Choice Looks Like in the Classroom

Excerpted from “Just Ask Us: Kids Speak Out on Student Engagement” by Heather Wolpert-Gawron.
Read the companion piece, “Why Choice Matters to Student Learning,” for more about the research on student engagement and choice.
By Heather Wolpert-Gawron

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Dropping Out and Coming Back: Stories of Persevering for a Diploma

On a sunny day in early June, 12 young people received their high school diplomas at a moving ceremony at the Oakland Museum of California. Graduations are always full of emotion and excitement, but this one was a little different because these young people dropped out of high school, but came back to get their diplomas. The friends and loved ones gathered to celebrate their achievement knew exactly how hard they had worked for this moment and the obstacles they’d overcome.

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Why Choice Matters to Student Learning

Excerpted from “Just Ask Us: Kids Speak Out on Student Engagement” by Heather Wolpert-Gawron. The following is from the chapter “Give Us Choices.” 
By Heather Wolpert-Gawron
In 1971, Starbucks opened in Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington. Since then, according to recent math, Starbucks now offers up to 87,000 options for your sipping pleasure (“Starbucks Stay Mum on Drink Math,” 2008).

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Different Definitions of Personalized Learning Conflict, Cause Confusion

If you do a Google image search for “classroom,” you’ll mostly see one familiar scene: rows or groups of desks, with a spot at the front of the room for the teacher.

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A Grading Strategy That Puts the Focus on Learning From Mistakes

Teachers know that students learn a tremendous amount from scrutinizing their mistakes, but getting them to take the time to stop and reflect is a challenge. Some teachers have stopped giving grades altogether to try to refocus class on learning instead of on grades. For others, that’s too extreme.

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Helping Families Ask Questions Could Be Your Most Powerful Engagement Tool

Fifth-grade teacher Deirdre Brotherson has been teaching long enough that she knows how parent-teacher conferences will likely go. Parents will come in feeling uncomfortable and a little ill at ease; she’ll have a general conversation with them for 15-20 minutes; and they’ll leave. Neither party will get much useful information about the student out of the conference, although it’s a good relationship builder either way. She knew this precious face-to-face time with parents could be so much more.

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Changing How Educators See Negative Experiences in the Classroom

Excerpted from The Trauma-Sensitive Classroom: Building Resilience with Compassionate Teaching © 2018 by Patricia A. Jennings. The following is from Chapter 8: “Compassion.” Used with the permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Co.
By Patricia A. Jennings
Overcoming the Negativity Bias

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Peers Are Powerful: Using Positive Social Norms to Tackle Unhealthy Behaviors

No one ever shows up at brunch and says, “Oh my gosh, I was so sober last night!”
Risky behavior draws attention. As a result, people tend to assume that everyone else is doing it more than they really are.
But, over the last two decades, research on college campuses has shown that giving students the real facts about their peers reduces unsafe drinking. This approach is called positive social norms. It works because of a basic truth of human nature: People want to do what others are doing.

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