Super Bowl Lesson Ideas

January 29, 2015



Below are ideas on how to make the Super Bowl relevant to your curriculum. Courtesy of the


History and Civics:

  • The First Super Bowl: Read the original Times article about the first Super Bowl in 1967. Compare it to an article reporting on a recent Super Bowl, then create an infographic — perhaps a Venn diagram or a timeline — showing how the event has changed over time.
  • Sports and Leadership: Use sports to help students think about leadership with our Super Bowl lesson from 2001, in which students answer questions like “Why do you think the success of a sports team has such an impact on the city it represents?” and “What is ‘morale’ and what do you think leaders can do to ‘boost’ it? (Our recent piece on Teaching the Penn State Scandal also poses questions about leadership.)
  • A Museum of Athletes: Have students reflect on the qualities that make an exceptional athlete, then design museum exhibits celebrating their achievements, using our lesson plan “The Sporting Life.”
  • New Orleans Super Bowl History: “Super Bowls in the Crescent City were often as spicy as the Cajun food,” reports Dave Anderson in a story about “unusual subplots” that have surfaced in New Orleans during past games. Students might use this piece as inspiration for delving into local history in their area through the lens of a sport or hobby that interests them.

Language Arts:

Media Studies:



  • Data and Statistics: In a recent lesson plan, Put Me In, Coach! Getting in the Quantitative Game with Fantasy Football, students use statistical analyses and quantitative evaluations to get the edge in fantasy football. By looking at data, measuring match-ups and making projections, students put their analytic skills to the test.
  • Determining “Greatness”: Use sports statistics to create graphs. In this lesson, students explore both the objective and subjective criteria used to determine the ‘greatness’ of a person or team. Students create graphs comparing sports statistics and argue the need for other criteria to adequately judge whether a person or team is ‘the best’ in their profession.


Click on the link to read Teacher Encourages Students to Plot Her Death

Click on the link to read The Questions that Great Teachers Ask Every Day

Click on the link to read Learning as an Experience

Click on the link to read I Love it When Teachers are Excited to Come to Work

Click on the link to read Every Science Teacher’s Worst Nightmare (Video)

Teachers Don’t Get Any Better Than This!

January 29, 2015


If I had to nominate the teacher I look up to the most, it wouldn’t take me very long to answer. Rafe Esquith is the mentor I have spent countless hours with, yet never had the pleasure to meet. I have devoured all his books and tinkered with my style to accord with his advice. I hope you enjoy this speech as much as I did. I recommend, if you haven’t already, that you search for a teacher who can take your own teaching to a whole new level like the great Mr. Esquith has done for me.



Click on the link to read The Remarkable Way A Teacher Brought a School Together (Video)

Click on the link to read Teachers Know How to be Generous

Click on the link to read I Just Love it When a Teacher Gets It

Click on the link to read The Teacher as Superhero

Click on the link to read I Wish All Principals Could Be Like This

The Remarkable Way A Teacher Brought a School Together (Video)

January 27, 2015


I love this video. It is not just about changing the common perception of school as a dreary, cold place, but a way of uniting a student population for a common purpose.




Click on the link to read Teachers Know How to be Generous

Click on the link to read I Just Love it When a Teacher Gets It

Click on the link to read The Teacher as Superhero

Click on the link to read I Wish All Principals Could Be Like This

Click on the link to read The 6 Most Inspiring Teachers of 2013

Another Day, Another Assaulted Teacher (Video)

January 26, 2015


The penalty for assaulting a teacher should be greater than for assaulting a stranger on the street corner, because our education system is doomed unless teachers are given unprecedented protection from harm. I want the coverage of this student’s punishment to be just a prominent as his gutless body slam.  Look at how vulnerable the teacher is. If he defends himself in any way he would have risked losing his career. What is a teacher supposed to do when they are being violently assaulted? Personally, I would let my student beat me up. My job is worth more to me than my medical record.  I want every impressionable student to watch such offenders get significant sentences for their inexcusable crimes:


A YEAR nine student in the US has been arrested after he allegedly slamming his teacher to the floor during class — over a mobile phone.

Police said the New Jersey high school physics teacher confiscated the student’s mobile phone during class which led to the attack.

The attack, captured on another video phone, shows the teen wrapping his arms around the 62-year-old teacher and pushing him into an empty desk.

The exchange quickly escalated when the boy wrestled the man across the classroom and slammed him to the floor.

In the video, the teacher initially tries to continue talking to the class but is later heard yelling what sounds like, “Let me go”.

Other students in the class move out of the way but do not intervene and finally yell for security once the teacher is on the ground.




Click on the link to read The Plot by Fourth Grade Students to Kill Their Classroom Teacher

Click on the link to read We Are Not Doing Nearly Enough to Protect Teachers

Click on the link to read Teacher Forced to Defend Moving a Child to the Front of the Class

Click on the link to read 10 Tips for Teachers on how to Improve Their Work/Life Balance

If We Cannot Offer Teachers Performance Pay, Then Let’s Scrap Best Teacher Awards

January 25, 2015



I am one of the few teachers who isn’t afraid of promoting the concept of performance pay. Those that are against the idea claim that it is too difficult to properly assess a teacher’s effectiveness because such an evaluation is deeply subjective. If that is the case, then why is there almost universal support for giving teachers awards?

Here is yet another example (I have covered countless other cases) of a teacher winning a prestigious award, only to be exposed as a total fraud:


A WOMAN who won her school’s ‘best teacher’ award has been arrested for allegedly having sex with a teenage student.

US high school teacher Elizabeth Scroggs, 32, was charged with sexual assault after a “sexual relationship” was uncovered between the teacher and an 18-year-old male student the Whitfield County police department said.

The relationship, which reportedly occurred just last month, was discovered by police after an anonymous phone call.

The student is believed to be a willing participant, but was charged under laws prohibiting people with supervisory or disciplinary powers over another to have a sexual relationship with that person.

Scroggs was arrested and is being held at the Whitfield County jail in Georgia.

The popular teacher began her career in 2006 and had been teaching at Coahulla Creek High School since 2010.

She was a three-time nominee for a local teaching award, the Dalton Daily Citizen reports, and in 2010 won the county’s ‘Best of the Best’ award.

Superintendent for Whitfield County Schools Judy Gilreath said she was “shocked”.

“The teacher has a good reputation, has a good report with the students and was well thought of at the school,” she said.

“We don’t deal with this type of situation very often, if ever.”

Ms Scoggs is due to appear and could face jail time.

She has been suspended from all teaching duties.


Click on the link to read The Things Some Teachers Think They Can Get Away With

Click on the link to read I Would Like to Write “Fired” on This Teacher’s Forehead

Click on the link to read Hugging Students Should be a Crime Not an Excuse

Click on the link to read PE Teacher Caught on Camera (Video)

Redirect Your Frustrations About Common Core

January 23, 2015

common core

Whilst the Common Core and standardised testing may grate, they owe their existence to the need for teachers to do their job satisfactorily. Instead of branding such initiatives as “child abuse,” consider that horrible teachers who are not held to some basic standards also perpetrate a form or “child abuse”.  As much as I can’t stand our standardised testing policies, I see it as an opportunity to showcase my students’ knowledge and ability to perform under pressure.

Shirking the issue altogether is simply not workable:


An 8th grade science teacher at a Long Island, New York public school is refusing to administer Common Core tests, comparing the state-mandated exams to “child abuse,” The Long Island Press reports.

Comsewogue School District teacher Beth Dimino belongs to the “Teachers Of Conscience Movement,” founded by a group of public school teachers in New York City who identify as “conscientious objectors” and say they’re concerned about “‘market-based” education reform and the “standardization of public education,” according to the Press. The Common Core sets national standards for maths and English and involves a series of mathematics and English language arts/literacy tests at the end of each academic year.

The standards have been controversial both for their perceived infringement on states’ rights by the federal government, which established the Common Core, and their implementation. Critics say the standards use confusing language and overly complicated methods to teach students.

“I believe that it is child abuse. I believe that giving these tests to my students makes me culpable in the abuse of children and I can no longer do that,” Dimino told the Press.

The local newspaper reports that Dimino has the support of Comsewogue superintendent Joe Rella, who also opposes the Common Core tests. Here’s why the two educations are fighting back against the state-mandated standards, according to the Post:

Dimino and Rella harbour a host of reasons why they’re so opposed to Common Core, ranging from what they deem as a lack of focus and an erroneous substitution for actual hands-on, in-the-classroom, traditional teaching, to myriad issues with the actual exams themselves, which utilise problem-solving and reason-centric approaches to not only answering but understanding subject material questions.

In a position paper — formatted as an open letter to New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña — the Teachers of Conscience echo many of the complaints Dimino and Rella make about the Common Core:

We have patiently taught under the policies of market-based education reforms and have long since concluded that they constitute a subversion of the democratic ideals of public education. Policymakers have adopted the reforms of business leaders and economists without consideration for the diverse stakeholders whose participation is necessary for true democratic reform. We have neglected an important debate on the purpose and promise of public education while students have been subjected to years of experimental and shifting high-stakes tests with no proven correlation between those tests and future academic success.

What seems to be at the heart of the teachers’ opposition, though, is the sense that they were not included in the design of the Common Core standards, a subject they should arguably know more about than any other group.

“I’m not telling you that I’m opposed to raising standards, or making standards better,” Dimino said to the Press. “What I’m opposed to is not having any educators be part of the process of making those standards better.”


Click on the link to read Perhaps There Should be a Standardized Test for Teachers

Click on the link to read Reasons Why I am Forced to Teach to the Test

Click on the link to read There is Nothing Wrong With Testing Young Children

Click on the link to read The Negative Effects of Standardized Testing are Exaggerated

The Rampant New Trend of Bullying Red Headed Boys

January 21, 2015

red head


Bullying in all shapes and forms is inexcusable but I particularly hate to see people being tormented for the colour of their skin, the country their country of origin or the in vogue tradition of victimising boys with red hair:


Without warning, a boy in uniform is pushed.

But it’s soon clear, this is no schoolyard tiff.

After being grabbed and pummelled, the victim is thrown to ground and swiftly kicked in the head.

Four left fists follow before a second kick, and a third to finish him off.

The young thug then adjusts his cap as he coolly walks away.

The unprovoked attack at Ringwood Station was carried out last October by a 15-year-old boy, who can’t be named for legal reasons.

He pleaded guilty in a children’s court and was sentenced to 12 months probation.

The violent teen is the son of a prominent AFL player – but instead of using his skills on the sporting field, the boy is getting his kicks by preying on others.

While the boy hasn’t been named, 7News understands teenagers know who he is and several have also been harassed or assaulted by him but have been too frightened to come forward.

Psychologist Dr Simon Kinsella says such aggression in young males is all too common.

“Very often they’re trying to maintain their reputation amongst their peers as being a tough person, a tough guy, and they don’t give any real consideration to what impact it might have on the victim,” he told 7News.

The victim’s parents hope their son’s courage will encourage others to go to police.

They are considering legal action against the attacker’s family.


CCTV footage of the incident is available here



Click on the link to read 8 Methods to Stop Your Child From Being a Bully

Click on the link to read High School Bullying Victim Gets Even! (Video)

Click on the link to read Police Charges for Teen Bullies is More than Appropriate

Click on the link to read African Children Bullied at School Because of Ebola

Child Given a Bill for Missing His Friend’s Birthday Party

January 20, 2015



Remember when a child’s birthday party was a simple and innocent affair?


Two mothers became embroiled in a bitter Facebook battle over an invoice handed to one of their sons for missing the other’s birthday party.

Tanya Walsh and her partner Derek Nash were appalled when their son Alex, five, arrived home from school with a £15.95 bill for missing his classmate Charlie Lawrence’s big day at a local ski centre.

After refusing to pay, Alex’s parents were threatened that they would be taken to court. 

Since then Miss Walsh and Charlie’s mother Julie Lawrence have become entangled in a war of words. 

‘I messaged Julie on Facebook to say sorry and let’s resolve this amicably. And she said: “The amicable way I believe is for you to pay me the money. And let that be a lesson learnt,’  Miss Walsh, 30, said. 

‘The next thing I heard she was taking us to small claims court. My partner went to see her and it ended in an argument. She shouted down the street: “Don’t mess with me”.

‘Every time I spoke to her previously she was always very polite,’ Miss Walsh added. 

All of this is very shocking.’ 

‘Julie could have tried to contact us before issuing the bill. If she had spoken to us we would have considered paying it.

I could totally understand her point. It is not about the money for us and we did not mean to let them down. It is the way she has gone about it.’

But Mrs Lawrence said in a statement: ‘All details were on the party invite. They had every detail needed to contact me.‘ 

Alex’s father however said he had no means of contacting the woman, resorting to trying to find her at the children’s school gates to apologise. 

‘My partner looked out for [Mrs Lawrence] to apologise for Alex not showing up to the party, but didn’t see her.

‘But on January 15 she looked in Alex’s school bag and found a brown envelope. It was an invoice for £15.95 for a child’s party no-show fee.’

Click on the link to read Tip for Getting Your Kids to Open Up About Their School Day

Click on the link to read Study: Smartphones are a Bigger Concern than TV

Click on the link to read What Kids Really Wanted for Christmas (Video)

Click on the link to read Young Girl Pens Angry Letter to Tooth Fairy

Click on the link to read Gift Ideas for Children that Are Not Toys

Teacher Encourages Students to Plot Her Death

January 19, 2015

Patricia Lorenzen


I am a big advocate for finding new and engaging ways of teaching the same skills. Having said that, I don’t think I would go this far:


If students were going to die of boredom in an English class it wasn’t going to happen on Patricia Lorenzen’s watch.

Last November, the Maryland English teacher decided to set an unorthodox assignment asking her students to describe how they would kill her.

The story had to include at least three gerunds, three infinitives and three participles and was an attempt by Ms Lorenzen to engage students while teaching them grammar.

However, parents were not so keen on the idea and many voiced concern over the content of assignment.

It was only after she received some complaints the Ms Lorenzen realised not all the content of the stories would be PG-rated.

Ms Lorenzen ended up writing a letter to parents apologizing for setting the task.

“I was trying to create an assignment that would be an engaging way to review some grammar concepts, but it was not appropriate and should not have happened,” she wrote.

The school’s principal told The Washington Post that this is the first time the school has received complaints about Ms Lorenzen.


Click on the link to read The Questions that Great Teachers Ask Every Day

Click on the link to read Learning as an Experience

Click on the link to read I Love it When Teachers are Excited to Come to Work

Click on the link to read Every Science Teacher’s Worst Nightmare (Video)

Try Sitting Still as Much as the Average Student Has To

January 19, 2015


If you want to improve the behaviour of the classroom you could do worse than treat your students the same way as you wish to be treated. Just like I find sitting on the mat utterly uncomfortable I try to minimise the amount of time they are on the mat. Just like I can’t sit still for too long before feeling under duress, so too I allow my students to experience active lessons that mixes learning with some movement.

The truth of the matter is that kids are bound to their seats or the mat for way too long. It is unhealthy and bad for the brain. Don’t take my word for it. Read this wonderful piece by pediatric occupational therapist Angela Hanscom:


Except for brief periods of getting up and switching classrooms, I’ve been sitting for the past 90 excruciating minutes. I look down at my leg and notice it is bouncing. Great, I think to myself, now I’m fidgeting! I’m doing anything I can to pay attention – even contorting my body into awkward positions to keep from daydreaming. It is useless, I checked out about forty-five minutes ago. I’m no longer registering anything the teacher is saying. I look around the room to see how the children a few decades younger than me are doing.

I’m immersed in a local middle-school classroom environment. I quickly realize I’m not the only one having a hard time paying attention. About 50 percent of the children are fidgeting and most of the remaining children are either slouched in the most unnatural positions imaginable or slumped over their desks. A child suddenly gets up to sharpen their pencil. A few minutes later, another child raises their hand and asks to go to the bathroom. In fact, at least three children have asked to go to the bathroom in the past twenty minutes. I’m mentally exhausted and the day has just begun. I was planning on observing the whole day. I just can’t do it. I decide to leave right after lunch.

There is no way I could tolerate six hours of sitting even just one day, never mind every day – day after day. How on Earth do these children tolerate sitting this long? Well, the short answer is they don’t. Their bodies aren’t designed for extended periods of sitting. In fact, none of our bodies are made to stay sedentary for lengths of time. This lack of movement and unrelenting sitting routine, are wreaking havoc on their bodies and minds. Bodies start to succumb to these unnatural positions and sedentary lifestyle through atrophy of the muscles, tightness of ligaments (where there shouldn’t be tightness), and underdeveloped sensory systems – setting them up for weak bodies, poor posturing, and inefficient sensory processing of the world around them.

If most of the classroom is fidgeting and struggling to even hold their bodies upright, in desperation to stay engaged – this is a really good indicator that they need to move more. In fact, it doesn’t matter how great of a teacher you are. If children have to learn by staying in their seats most of the day, their brains will naturally tune out after a while – wasting the time of everyone.

Are these teachers clueless to the benefits of movement? No. Most teachers know that movement is important. And many would report that they are downright and overwhelmingly frustrated by their inability to let children move more throughout the day. “We are expected to cram more and more information down their throats,” gripes one middle school teacher. “It is insane! We can no longer teach according to what we feel is developmentally appropriate.” Another teacher explains, “due to the high-stakes testing, even project-based learning opportunities are no longer feasible. Too many regulations, not enough time.”

They go on to explain that recess has been lost due to lack of space and time as well as fear that children will get injured. “Too many children were getting hurt,” says a teacher. “Parents were calling and complaining about scrapped knees and elbows – the rest was history.” Even their brief break from instruction during snack time is no longer a reality. These few minutes of freedom are now replaced with a “working snack” in order to pack in a quick vocabulary lesson. Physical education is held only every sixth day, so technically this isn’t even a weekly affair.

The children line up for lunchtime. “Come watch this,” a teacher yells over to me. The children line up in pairs and are told to be quiet. Once everyone is quiet, two teachers (one in front of the line and one in back) escort the children down to the cafeteria. The thought of prison inmates quickly comes to mind, as I watch the children walk silently, side by side down the corridors of the school hallway. I’m told they are to remain quiet and seated throughout the lunch period. “I feel so bad for them,” exclaims the teacher. “They are so ready for down time during lunch, but are still required to sit and be silent!”

Many parents are also becoming increasingly unsatisfied with the lack of recess and movement their children are getting in middle school. One mother states, “Middle school kids in particular are just coming out of the elementary school environment, consisting of multiple breaks throughout the day. These kids are still young, and depending on the district, could be just 10-years-old going into middle school. They are experiencing a great change already in the transition alone. A break during the day is what they need to re-group.”

This same parent contacted the district’s school board members who ultimately make many of the decisions regarding school policies. She also met with the principal and deans and created an online petition consisting of a strong parent community advocating for more movement in school. The results? A brief five to ten-minute walk outdoors after lunch, which the teachers explain is really half a lap around the building and back indoors they go. “It may not be recess–but it’s a good start,” this mother states. “However, I still believe it’s necessary to make it school policy that all kids get a longer break.”

I ask the teachers what kids do when they get home from school. “About 60 percent of them are over-scheduled. The other 40 percent have no one home, so they do what they want – which often relates to playing video games,” a teacher complains. “I’d say we have only a handful of children that go home and find time to play.” Both teachers try to keep homework meaningful and under an hour, knowing kids need time to release after a long day of school.

Even middle-school children need opportunities to play. This past summer, a teacher at one of our TimberNook camps brought along his 12-year-old daughter, Sarah as a “co-counselor.” Sarah was excited about being a counselor alongside a college student for their small group of five children. In the past, she had simply been a camper. However, as soon as the group set out into the deep woods, dispersed, and started to play,  she quickly switched roles. She instantly forgot about her new status and jumped wholeheartedly into the pretend world, alongside the younger children. What took place next, was quite remarkable.

Sarah climbed high onto a fallen log that ascended to the very top of their newly designed teepee, donned with fresh ferns to camouflage their rustic “living quarters.” She wore a brightly colored feathered mask on top of her forehead. “Listen,” she said to the group of children gathered around her. “We need to get ready for the opposing team’s attack.” She took the time to look each of the children in the eye. “You,” she said to one of the bigger kids in the group. “You are now appointed as top commander.” “Julie,” she said to a girl that is known to be one of the fastest runners in the group. “You are going to be our top spy.” She proceeded to roles for each of the children to play.

Her age, strength, and intelligence made her their natural chosen leader and the children respected her decisions. She played just as hard as the other children. She forgot about her new role as co-counselor for the rest of the week, except to occasionally lead a group song or chant during morning meeting. The fun of being a camper and free play trumped all responsibility. She was still a child. She was not ready to give up her right to free play. Who could blame her?

Why do we assume that children don’t need time to move or play once they reach sixth grade, or even fifth grade? They are only children! In fact, I would argue that we all could benefit from opportunities to play, even up through adulthood. Everyone needs downtime. Time to move our bodies. Time to get creative and escape the rigors of reality.

What can we do for our middle-school children? I asked Jessica Lahey, a middle school teacher, contributing writer at The Atlantic, and author of the upcoming book, “The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed,” to give her opinion on the matter.

“Teachers are often afraid that if they let children move, it will be hard to get them to settle back down again. This shouldn’t stop us from providing them with the necessary movement children need in order to learn. Middle-school children can always benefit from recess! Also, when I taught for Crossroads Academy, we had some great nature trails behind our school through the woods. I would often take my whole English class for walks. I’d give them a topic to ponder and then we’d walk for ten minutes to think about the question. We’d huddle and discuss the topic. Then, I’d throw out another question and we’d start to walk again.”

Jessica explains that this is also true for schools in urban regions. Children can walk to museums or local parks to explore and learn. They can bring along their writing journals and assess the world and culture around them. Learning doesn’t have to be done in a chair. Jessica goes on to tell me that one time, she had her middle-school children practice public speaking by taking turns standing on a small bridge over a rumbling brook. They had to learn to project their voice over the babbling brook in order to be heard by the rest of class. “It was a good practical lesson and there is something about nature that grounds the child, taking away the anxiety that typically comes with public-speaking,” Jessica reports.

All people in decision-making positions for school policies should be required to sit through at least one school day and experience first-hand what is required of children today. Then they will have a better idea of what is appropriate and what isn’t. Then they will start to think about what their decisions mean for real children in real schools. Maybe then, they will begin to value children’s need to move, need to play, and the need to be respected as the human beings that they are.

Middle school-age children need to move – just like everyone else!



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