By its very nature, history opens the door to questions about morality and ethics—questions about justice, about what is right and what is wrong; questions about how apply our understanding of the past to today and to the future. In their article, “Enriching Ethical Judgments in History Education,” authors Andrea Milligan, Lindsay Gibson, and Carla L. Peck explain that the majority of historians today view ethical judgments as a critical part of history teaching.
Lesson Planning to Support Students’ Argumentation Skills and Learning Outcomes
We want students to participate in class. We want students to share their ideas and opinions. We want students to be able to justify their viewpoints with credible supporting evidence. We want students to engage in meaningful argumentation. To help students do this, authors Antonia Larrain et al. find that it is not enough to simply have class discussions. The design of the lesson plan matters.
How Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District (2017) Changes IEPs: A look at IDEA for General Education Teachers
Most general education teachers receive training on education law in their credential programs, where they learn about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), student Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), and teacher responsibilities for working with students with special needs. However, authors Michael A. Couvillon et al. argue that education law is an area in which teachers should receive ongoing training provided by school districts: “Special education law is one area of information that should be included in staff development activities of public school teaching and administrators; unfortunately, it is frequently overlooked” (1).
How Controlling Teaching Styles Affect Student Motivation and Sense of Self-Worth
Enter middle school. New teachers. New peers. New pressures. New challenges. In middle school, students experience numerous intellectual challenges and changes. And academic motivation is one of them. Many students who were motivated and curious during elementary school may find themselves less engaged as middle school progresses. Researchers Kimberley J. Bartholomew et al. note that for many students, “the adolescent years mark the beginning of a downward spiral in school-related motivation and engagement that often leads to academic underachievement” (50). While student family-life and physical changes may play a part in students’ changes in motivation during these years, Bartholomew et al. argue that teachers’ instructional styles also significantly influence student motivation and behavior. In particular, their paper, “Beware of your teaching style: A school-year long investigation of controlling teaching and student motivational experiences,” examines how students’ perceptions of controlling teaching styles is linked to not only a decrease in student intrinsic motivation, but also to student behaviors that hurt their academic performance.
In many traditional classrooms, teachers deliver lectures and students then work on problems or skill-building outside of school. The idea of flipping the classroom turns this structure around. In a flipped classroom, students watch lectures outside of the classroom and then engage in collaborative problem solving or critical thinking in the classroom. In their paper, “Applying ‘First Principles of Instruction’ as a Design Theory of the Flipped Classroom: Findings from a Collective Study of Four Secondary School Subjects,” authors Chung Kwan Lo et al. present empirically tested design methods for running a successful flipped classroom.
They look like pens. They look like USB drives. Some even look like small, slick classroom remote devices. But they’re not used to record or transmit information. These devices are used for vaping.
Over the past five years, vaping—using e-cigarettes—has become increasingly prevalent among both teens and adults, and teachers have no doubt heard students discuss the topic, either in their classrooms or in the hallways at school. But many teachers may be unaware of the statistics about teen vaping and vaping’s link to future marijuana use.
Developing Students’ Intrinsic Motivation to Write
Today, the Common Core standards in the United States call for an increased emphasis on student writing in multiple subject areas. Some students may welcome more writing opportunities at school, while other students may dismiss writing as frustrating and burdensome. In their article, “The Bright and Dark Side of Writing Motivation: Effects of Explicit Instruction and Peer Assistance,” authors Fien de Smedt et al. explain that student motivation to write plays an important part in students’ actual writing performance. Previous studies have shown that students who have stronger beliefs in their own writing abilities and who are motivated to write actually have better writing performance (1). In contrast, students who have weaker beliefs in their own writing abilities and who are less motivated to write often display a dislike of writing in school (1). The question for De Smedt et al., then, is: How do we increase students’ motivation to write, and thus help them become more willing and better writers?
How Mentors Help At-Risk Students Find Confidence in Themselves and in School
Every school has some population of at-risk students. These students often struggle to maintain passing grades, have truancy records and discipline problems, and are indeed at-risk of losing enrollment in their current schools. Importantly, at-risk students also often have difficult home lives and may experience one-parent households, difficulties associated with poverty, inconsistent adult role models, and insufficient quality time and care from adults.
In their paper, “Making a difference with at-risk students: The benefits of a mentoring program in middle school,” authors Suzanne F. Lindt and Cody Blair note that over the past 20 years, mentoring programs have been increasingly used as a way to support at-risk students. Mentoring programs such as Big Brothers, Big Sisters, TEAMmates, Study Buddies, and The Mentoring Project have been shown to not only support students’ socio-emotional wellbeing, but also their academic standing. Lindt and Blair remark, for example, that previous studies have shown that mentored students felt more confident about schoolwork and were significantly less likely to be truant compared to their non-mentored peers (35).
Teaching Social Studies in the Era of “Alternative Facts”
In his article, “Fake News, Alternative Facts, and Trump: Teaching Social Studies in a Post-Truth Era,” Wayne Journell paints a clear picture of how the current government leadership and the American media have together birthed the era of “fake news” and “alternative facts.” It is in this era that American citizens can willingly “disregard verifiable facts as fake simply because they contradict their agenda” or their own worldview (8). It is in this era that American citizens can turn to media outlets of their choice to hear news and ideas that only reinforce their own viewpoints. It is in this era that Social Studies teachers are needed more than ever. Journell remarks that “both political thinking and media literacy are skills that need to be taught and practiced over time” (10). While teacher training and education research will continue to address these topics, Journell offers some guidance for Social Studies teachers in the meantime.
Increasing Student Engagement in Small Groups: The Role of Knowledge Diversity
When it comes to small group work, teachers approach grouping students differently at different times. Sometimes students may choose their own groups. Sometimes students are randomly assigned to groups. And sometimes teachers carefully choose group members. For authors Jian Zhao et al., an important aspect for teachers to consider when designing groups is the distribution of prior knowledge among students. In their paper, “Students’ engagement in a science classroom: Does knowledge diversity matter?,” Zhao et al. investigate how mixed-prior-knowledge grouping affects student engagement and group performance. They find that when a group has even one knowledgeable student, group members are more behaviorally and emotionally engaged in the task (6).