the innovative educator

10 tips for talking about news, politics and current events in schools

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In schools everywhere, students are deeply affected by current events. Certain policy changes and related commentary can cause children to experience fear, confusion and anxiety. For example, some kids might fear deportation. Others might be upset about hurtful generalizations they hear regarding their cultures and countries of origin. A lot of kids might fear the loss of rights.

Teachers around the world have shared that having conversations about these topics is challenging, and sometimes they end up avoiding these conversations altogether. So how might teachers facilitate a classroom discussion that allows students to express their perspectives and work through their emotional distress? It’s important to note that an emotionally charged conversation requires a different set of skills than leading an academic class discussion. Here are 10 tips for success:

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1. Come up with class norms. It is hard to have a spontaneous conversation about a controversial issue. Classroom procedures for conversations and discussion can help your conversations go smoothly. At the beginning of the school year, establish guidelines for class discussions with your students’ input. What are the qualities of a good listener? How can students feel heard and understood? What happens if someone becomes overly emotional? Post the guidelines in your classroom, review them periodically, and stick to them during discussions. If you have guidelines in place, students won’t feel singled out if you have to give them feedback about their style of participation.

2. Make sure everyone has the same basic background information. Not all students are politically minded or have access to news media. Before starting a class conversation, provide a basic summary of events. Students are less likely to tune out if they understand what the conversation is about.

3. Provide explanations and clarifications. Sometimes students’ emotions are rooted in confusion, fear, and misinformation. Students look to teachers for information and clarification, so don’t forget your role as an information source. Even if you don’t have an answer, you can search for it alongside your students. If fake news seems to be at the root of the problem, empower your students to evaluate news sources. PBS has an excellent lesson plan for that here.

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4. Avoid debates. There will likely be a variety of viewpoints in your classroom. Debates can be a constructive activity in the context of an organized, structured lesson. Yet when students are emotionally charged, debates can often devolve into arguments and personal attacks. Shift the focus from changing minds to exchanging ideas. Frame the conversation as an opportunity for understanding and empathy.

5. View yourself as a facilitator. If you view yourself as a facilitator, you can provide a comfortable space for students to express themselves and develop their own opinions. Your role is not to persuade students of a particular point of view. Instead, you are providing a safe, structured space for students to work through a specific topic.

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6. Reflect what you hear and encourage students to do the same. Simply repeating back what you hear can be tremendously helpful. It can help students understand their emotions and thoughts about particular issues and events and it can help deescalate emotionally charged situations by showing that you have heard and understood your students. Model this technique for your students and encourage them to repeat back what they have just heard before they respond to a classmate.

7. Provide space for students to experience their feelings. If students are experiencing strong emotions, that is OK. Oftentimes, adults try to cheer kids up when they are angry or sad. This can send the message that they need to suppress their emotions so that the people around them aren’t uncomfortable. Acknowledge their emotions and encourage classmates to do the same. When students judge each other’s emotions with comments like, “You have no right to feel that way,” encourage them to recognize the emotion of their classmate instead. Remind them that people do not all have exact same experience. When you establish your classroom norms, this can be an important point to cover. Brene Brown’s video resource on empathy can help show the importance of allowing others to experience their emotions.

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8. Provide time for independent reflection. Give students some time to write (or create an audio file, drawing or other product) independently so that they have a chance to process the conversation. Let students know that this isn’t a graded assignment, and that you are open to feedback about ways to improve the classroom discussion.

9. Check in with distressed students. If a student is particularly anxious or upset, check in with that student privately. If you are worried about a student, avail yourself of other resources in your building and district so that students get the support they need to function well during the school day.

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10. Consider a class project related to the discussion. A class project can help build cohesion and a sense of community in your classroom. It can also show that even in the midst of controversy and disagreement, people can work together for a common goal. The project does not have to be complicated or expensive. For example, TED-Ed Innovative Educator Kristin Leong created Roll Call, a project that highlights the commonalities between students and teachers.

Author bio: Dani Bostick is a writer, teacher, and TED-Ed Innovative Educator in Virginia.

anonymous asked:

Do you think the dislike Snape/Harry had for one another (although mostly due to their hostile history and interactions of course) was further reinforced by a slight jealousy of the other's relationship with Albus? An almost sibling rivalry if you will? Albus' seemingly absolute trust for each seemed to annoy the hell out of them both!

Yes, yes, yes - I’m a big believer in this.

Harry’s side is very simple in these circumstances - Dumbledore is the embodiment of all that is wonderful in the wizarding world.  He’s powerful, impressive, intelligent - and he seems to really love Harry.  For a boy who is utterly starved of emotional affection when he arrives at Hogwarts, to be liked and mentored by a man of Dumbledore’s standing is a heady feeling.  It’s no wonder that Harry shows Dumbledore such loyalty when in the Chamber of Secrets, for example.

But the flip side is, Harry despises Snape.  He doesn’t simply dislike him - he outright hates him.  Snape has unfairly picked on him from the moment that he arrived in his Potions classroom.  Throughout the series, even when presented with evidence to the contrary, Harry is convinced that Snape is a terrible man, and it must be a source of constant frustration to him that Dumbledore - wise, intelligent, savvy Dumbledore - has been taken in by a man who Harry is convinced is evil.

Out of all of the characters, Harry’s devastation at Snape’s betrayal is raw.  Unlike McGonagall and Slughorn and Hagrid et al, Harry is not devastated at the betrayal, because he didn’t believe that Snape was a good man.  Harry is devastated at Dumbledore’s fallibility.  Harry is devastated that it was so obvious to him that Snape was a bad man, and almost-perfect-wizard Dumbledore completely missed it.

Snape’s side is a little more complex, and his reaction is probably stronger than Harry’s.  We don’t know much about Snape’s time at Hogwarts as a student, but it’s plausible that he didn’t have much of a relationship with Dumbledore; I even think it’s fair to argue that he had a negative perception of Dumbledore, given the werewolf incident, the Gryffindor/Order aligned Marauders, and the fact that he was growing up in Slytherin, a pro-Voldemort environment.

When Snape defects, Dumbledore tells him that he’s disgusted with him - and you can’t imagine that Snape brushes it off that easily.  He pledges to be Dumbledore’s spy, and not only stays loyal to Dumbledore for the rest of the war, he then commits to stay true for many more years.  He stays at Hogwarts as a teacher, and seemingly becomes respected by his fellow staff members.  I think it’s fascinating to think about how Snape changed over those years, and how Dumbledore saw him grow from being the angry youth who aligned himself with the Death Eaters into a young man who his fellow teachers respect and accept as one of them.

I know fandom is rather split on Dumbledore’s attitude towards Snape, but the vital part - to me - is that Snape believes that his word has some sway with Dumbledore, even though we see in Harry’s years that he rarely gets his own way.  Snape isn’t shy at speaking his mind, whether in public or in private, and Snape clearly values Dumbledore - we can see this in how quickly Snape leaps to defend him on more than one occasion.  It is possible that Dumbledore didn’t have quite the affection for Snape that Snape had for him, but I think it’s important that Snape really does admire Dumbledore.

…and then in walks Harry.  Snape clearly antagonises Harry during their first lesson, and then their dislike never abates.  Harry sometimes behaves in a way that would be determined, from Snape’s perspective, as being outright malicious and disrespectful, even if the reader knows that wasn’t Harry’s intent.

And I wonder at how hard won Snape’s friendship with Dumbledore was.  For a boy who perhaps rarely had contact with the Headmaster during his student years, or who felt utterly maligned by the Headmaster following the Marauders’ antics, it must’ve been somewhat galling to see James Potter’s son seemingly following in his footsteps, getting away with murder and being liked and adored for it.  Snape, in comparison, spends years convincing the Headmaster that he’s not a lost cause, and is worthy of his time and praise - and Harry, who Snape sees as being lazy, arrogant and reckless, is immediately the Headmaster’s favourite for no apparent reason.

Fuelling this even more is Snape’s fury at Harry’s apparent failings.  There is truth in Snape’s words in Spinner’s End when Snape suggests that Harry has prospered through pure luck and more talented friends; to Snape, who values education, innovation and talent, Harry appears to coast through life without applying himself.  He doesn’t study hard, he doesn’t invent spells, he doesn’t research - and I think Snape is left stalking his dungeon and wondering how this useless boy is going to defeat the Dark Lord when Dumbledore…Albus Dumbledore…cannot.  I do not think it is a mistake that we witness Snape’s disdain at Harry’s retort at ‘ghosts are transparent’ - it is a key moment in Snape being burdened by the truth that Dumbledore has to die, Snape has to go undercover, and The Chosen One can barely explain the definition of a ghost.

When Snape demands answers of Dumbledore a short time later - when Snape seemingly erupts in a jealous fit in the forest at the end of Half Blood Prince and wants to know what Dumbledore is telling Harry but isn’t telling him - I am certain that Snape is confident that Harry will fail in his quest to defeat the Dark Lord.  When that happens, with Dumbledore long dead, Snape needs to know what to do to pick up the pieces and defeat Voldemort in their absence.  

Frankly, both of those scenes (Snape’s demand, and Dumbledore’s reveal) are criminally under analysed in fandom.

Interestingly, Snape and Harry go on slightly different journeys at the end of Half Blood Prince.  Harry is wrapped up in the idea of Dumbledore being wrong, and Snape betraying him.  Snape is wrapped up in the way that Dumbledore treated Harry, and how it was apparently fake.  No longer does Snape feel that Harry has usurped his place as the favoured son, but Snape now believes that both he and Harry have been misled and lied to all along - that the affection that Dumbledore showed Harry, that the love that Snape wanted that seemingly Harry got instead was…well, apparently not legitimate.

Of course, the reader later learns that Dumbledore did love Harry, and that Dumbledore’s presentation to Snape was merely a case of keeping Harry safe - of giving Snape enough information so he didn’t desert his duty whilst ensuring that the real truth was kept silent.  

But it adds another beautifully complex layer to that final year.  There is also a horrible irony that Harry believed that Snape had betrayed Dumbledore, and Snape believed that Dumbledore had betrayed Harry…but the stark truth - that nobody realises until the very final moment - is that the real betrayal was Dumbledore’s betrayal of Snape.  Poor Severus indeed.

In ten years most people say “I see myself happily settled down with a family and kids”

In ten years I say “I will help thousands of lives, be a leading integral member of Florida’s Stem Cell Surgical Network, have several publications and publish a book or 2. And if I have a family, that’s cool too.”

If you want to be ‘excellent,’ you have to have vision that doesn’t let you be anything less than that which you aspire to be. Whether it’s being an excellent mother, father, teacher, nurse, doctor, etc. have goals and a vision; you’ll be surprised at how much you can accomplish.

ID #51276

Name: Anouk
Age: 19
Country: The Netherlands

Hello wonderful people! I am a creative, curious, bubbly girl from Europe! People generally say I am always busy with something and they aren’t wrong. I guess you could say the word no isn’t written in my dictionary. Focusing on just one thing is incredibly hard since I simple like too much :s My life is basically an organized chaos.

 I am currently in the second year of the study industrial engineering and management, but besides that I do a lot of projects that have nothing to do with my study such as theatre, volunteer work with refugees and statusholders, following extra lectures and joining brain storm sessions about the innovation of the educational system. Besides school I have two part time jobs: a very exciting job at the supermarket and at my own school for promotion things.

In the free time I have left I like to write in my journals: from stories about daily life to poetry. My journals are the place for my overload of thoughts and basically tell my life story. I like to watch series such as NCIS, Elementary, Dr Bull, Bones & Castles. Besides that I like reading. Reading for me is entering another world and forgetting everything that is happening around you. Music is a thing I can’t live without: it gives me the words I can’t find myself. This means that I always have my earphones with me and that it’s seriously a disaster when I don’t have them. 

 I am a huge culture and language lover. I am fascinated by all the different cultures that live together on this world and I wish to discover this by traveling. My native language is Dutch and I am quite fluent in English. My German and French are okay and I am learning Portuguese. I am literally open to every language. I see a language of a piece of art: each language is unique and has its own story.

I am looking for a penpal to talk about anything and I generally write a lot so long letters/messages are very welcome. I try to give my letters a special touch by adding little gifts, dried flowers, postcards and fun lists. If you didn’t fall asleep yet reading this terribly long post (I am a bit sarcastic from time to time too) shoot me a message :)

Preferences: Let’s say around the age age of 16-21 and if you want to write letters preferably from Europe since snailmail hasn’t always worked out for me outside Europe, but we can always try. In september I am perhaps going to study in Denmark for a half year, so if you are from Denmark, definitely shoot me a message then ^^

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Moments of joy #family #OMNIWITS @ #ukge #ukgamesexpo #ukgamesexpo2017 #ukge2017
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Reviving #traditional #play #boardgames.
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~ #Philanthropy #London #UK #brightside #family #youth family #ethical #evolutionary #games #boardgame #bgg.
~ #startups #diversebunch #innovation.
~#chess #football #play #education #blogger#bloggermom #journalist #news. (at London, United Kingdom)

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17/5/2017: Queen Rania visited the Eureka Tech Academy, during which she emphasized the importance of investing in hands-on learning and reassessing the current methods used in teaching the sciences.

Her Majesty had a meeting with the Academy’s team members, beneficiaries, and parents of enrolled students. She discussed the contributions of the Academy to discovering the talents of public and private school children, and making them more involved in producing technology rather than merely consuming it. She also listened to feedback from attending parents and browsed the students’ projects before proceeding on a tour of some of the classes that were in session.

The Queen first dropped in on a Pneumatics class where six to ten year-olds from the Little Innovators program were learning about the application of gas and pressurized air to engineering. Her Majesty also stopped by the Electronics and Internet of Things class, where a group of eleven to sixteen year-olds were learning how to build electronic circuits and program micro-controllers.

The Eureka Tech Academy is an organization specialized in the education of innovation and engineering. Eureka is considered a local and regional pioneer in the development of children’s capabilities in the fields of technology and engineering. The Academy aims to teach its students the basics of engineering and invention in order for them to transform their ideas into functional products and services. (Source: Petra)

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