Your Mission: Teach Kids to Debate, Rather than to Diss People on Social Media

Love him or hate him, it’s hard to argue that the president sets a great example of social media use for kids.

In her breakout book, Hacking Digital Learning Strategies: 10 Ways to Launch EdTech Missions in Your Classroom, internationally-renowned presenter and education technology consultant Shelly Sanchez Terrell demonstrates precisely how to teach students to debate issues appropriately, rather than disrespect people on social media.

Here’s most of Shelly’s Teach Kids to Debate EdTech Mission from her new book, reprinted here with permission from Times 10 Publications.


Lately, the news has featured the long-standing Twitter feud between President Donald Trump and the media. The public has criticized both sides for their behavior. At one point, the argument escalated and the President tweeted a GIF of himself symbolically body-slamming CNN.

The news media took offense, claiming the GIF encouraged violence toward reporters; the Office of the President and Twitter disagreed. Tensions continue to rise.

This incident exemplifies the nature of many online arguments.

Children to adults share their opinions openly on social networks but are offended when others disagree with them. They react with aggression or resort to personal attacks. All involved seem to overlook the true issues, and all parties leave the conversation upset, learning nothing new about the topic and missing a powerful opportunity for debate to open our minds and elevate our thinking.

We need to transform the digital debating mindset and help students see debate as a vehicle to strengthen their intellect and character.

The way schools teach debate doesn’t align with how our learners conduct arguments in real life. Traditionally, we teach students to debate by writing argumentative or persuasive essays.

While this is important, our digital learners need to engage in online debates.

They need the opportunity to draft shorter arguments to share with the public, as well as practice in responding intelligently to those with opposing views. Our students may regularly debate or argue on social media, yet schools rarely afford them the opportunity to acquire respectful debate skills as part of the curriculum.



In Missions 2 and 3, your students gained confidence in defining their digital identities and became aware of how their posts and shares impacted their digital reputations.

Those first steps laid the groundwork for this mission to participate in a respectful and thought-provoking virtual debate. Rich debate keeps the conversation going, celebrates differences of opinions and perspectives, and values well-constructed arguments.

All involved realize how a strong opponent opens their minds, challenges their beliefs, and improves their critical thinking skills. Additionally, healthy debate fosters peace, promotes democracy, and builds community relationships.

First, our digital citizens will learn how to craft clear, persuasive, and compelling arguments for an online forum. Their argument will state their positions, help their peers understand the reasons and logic behind their positions, and back up their views with support and evidence.

Then, classmates post respectful and logical counter-arguments, which further the dialogue. Students read these counter-arguments with an open mind and revise their initial arguments with new insights.

They develop strategies for dealing with abusive and hurtful comments, and learn how to passionately argue while keeping their emotions in check so they don’t personally attack peers, but instead argue points of contention.


As we know, online debates escalate quickly and bring out the worst in people. Young people may question the value of spending their time listening to beliefs and opinions different from their own, and they may attack the individual instead of logically rebutting specific points.

The activities below prepare learners to approach varying opinions with an open mind and focus their arguments on the issues.

Confront fears, myths, and intolerance: Anonymously poll students on their attitudes toward participating in respectful debates. Find a list of possible questions for the poll in the Mission Toolkit (Find the Toolkit in the Appendix section of Hacking Digital Learning Strategies). Present the poll results and host a discussion about tolerance, open-mindedness, and how differences help us grow and progress.

Grab Mission Toolkit 5 in Hacking Digital Learning Strategies

Play the agree/disagree warm-up: Students must take a stand on issues to be skilled debaters. Use masking tape to create a line on your classroom floor. Line students up on the left side of the tape, facing you. State a claim, such as, “Dogs are better pets than cats.” Instruct students to remain standing on the left side of the line if they agree and to move to the right side if they disagree. Students then face their peers. Starting on the left, each student gives one reason to support the claim. Then students on the right give reasons that dispel the claim. Continue this activity with safe topics and coach students to handle increasingly intense topics.

At various intervals, share rules and guidelines for building a safe environment to share opinions: Record these guidelines and tips to review later. For example, before students share their reasons why dogs are better pets than cats, state the rule that all must respect the listener. Elicit examples of how we show respect to foster understanding of the rule. After the first sharing of reasons, guide a group discussion to identify the components of strong reasoning.























  • Identify the guidelines for fostering a good online debate: As a class, evaluate how online debates differ from face-to-face debates. Present the class with the guidelines they came up with for respecting each other during the warm-up. Determine which guidelines work for fostering a good online debate, and add additional guidelines to complete the list.

Improve online arguments: Show the class an example of an online argument that went awry. The initial opinion should be strong and exemplify good writing techniques, before the conversation descends into an argument within the string of comments. Reddit’s Change My View forum has great examples of strong arguments followed by good and bad counter-arguments. The arguments and comments must meet strict criteria, and the moderator pulls any comments that violate the rules. Have the class analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments and come up with guidelines for their own arguments. Then have the class analyze the counter-arguments and identify the most compelling ones. They should identify what makes the counter-arguments strong and come up with guidelines for their own.


Step 1: Focus arguments with a specific claim.

Instruct students to jot down ten strong, evidence-supported belief statements or viewpoints. The warm-up may inspire ideas. Have them cross out any ideas that they are tied to emotionally, that they don’t care enough about, or that promote violence, hate, or discrimination.

Students choose one of the remaining statements as their topic for the online debate. Help them transform their statements into specific claims that focus their arguments.

Step 2: Outline six valid reasons.

Review the qualities of strong support delineated by the class in the warm-up. Students outline a minimum of six reasons to support their claims based on these qualities and conduct a quick search of each reason to ensure its validity. They show a few peers their reasons and ask them to choose the three most persuasive and interesting before deciding on the three reasons they will include in their arguments.

Step 3: Survey people to gather insight and evidence.

Students create a survey with at least five questions to gather insight and evidence to support their claims and reasons. Help students draft clear, short, specific, and simple questions that will elicit meaningful feedback. Ask them to opt for multiple choice, open-ended, or ranking questions – and to avoid only yes/no questions.

I recommend Google Forms as a tool for students to create surveys. You can learn more about teaching with Google Forms in Hacking Google for Education.

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Step 4: Post arguments and create counter-arguments.

Students post their arguments in a designated online platform. Note that the idea isn’t to post a five-page argumentative essay with scholarly resources. Think of this as a precursor to these types of essays.

These online arguments should consist of three paragraphs or less in simple language, with logic, reasoning, and evidence. The idea is to spark debate, which means the arguments must appeal to their peers and be easy to digest. Your young debaters should begin to prepare their counter-arguments.

Step 5: Counter-argue and refute the counter-arguments.

Once students post their arguments, other students post counterarguments. The counter-arguments should challenge one or two ideas made by the author and provide reasoning and support for their contentions.

Writers should check the forum and refute all counter-arguments. These counter-arguments must be respectful and address the contentions with well-thought-out reasoning.

Encourage students to concede on certain areas of agreement. The idea isn’t to win the argument, but to refine belief systems and values. Additionally, conceding on specific areas moves the conversation forward to debate other areas of the issue, which leads to a broader understanding of the topic.

Step 6: Introduce a troll.

After a few days of healthy debate, announce to the class that a troll has snuck into their forum in an effort to thwart their missions. Trolls are individuals who target an online group and post inflammatory or off-topic messages to provoke a reaction or start quarrels. The troll doesn’t want your students to gain the skills to promote healthy debate, because he wants them to join him in spreading chaos on the internet.

Shelly Sanchez Terrell

EdTech Missions Creator Shelly Sanchez Terrell

The troll joins the group for a day or two, and only after your students have engaged in healthy debate. Set up an account with the username Troll, and wreak havoc in all threads so no one feels singled out. Your class troll will not name call, use inappropriate language, bully, or do anything that would hurt your relationship with your students.

Instead, the troll might make outrageous claims about the argument, post the same message multiple times, ask silly questions, or spam the thread with nonsense.

Step 7: Come up with strategies to end the troll’s havoc.

Students must come up with strategies to effectively handle the troll and limit his destruction. Allow students to search the web for tips using the query, “deal with trolls” and test these strategies.

Often, trolls suffer from mental illness and the best way to deal with them is to limit engagement. Other tips include reporting them, blocking, and muting. Eventually, the troll gets bored and moves on to the next victim.

Step 8: Reconstruct arguments with new perspectives.

Students use the Final Post Template–available in Kit 11 of the Mission Toolkit–to complete their final posts, and highlight three or more peer statements that made them think deeply about their topics. (Find the Mission Toolkit in the Appendix section of Hacking Digital Learning Strategies.)

They should identify statements that incited them, challenged their thinking, pointed out ideas they didn’t address, directed them to interesting research, or introduced them to a new experience. The students quote each peer’s statement and describe what they learned from it. Finally, they conclude their post by revisiting their initial stance and describing what has changed….

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Don’t miss the Mission Obstacles and how to overcome them and the Mission in Action for this chapter, along with Shelly Terrell’s powerful Mission Toolkit.

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cold calling

How teachers get cold calling right

Let’s begin a discussion about cold calling (on students, that is) with a couple of disclaimers:

One: Students with medical accommodations must be respected. If these accommodations include specifics about speaking, then ideas in this post may not apply. 

Two: Those situations aside, it’s healthy for students to feel on-the-spot. Healthy discomfort leads to growth. This post explores how to push students to participate even if they’re shy in September.

Now, let’s get to it, starting by defining the term: Cold calling is when a teacher asks students to participate, hand up or not. This is powerful, but it usually stirs negative emotions: fear, anxiety, embarrassment.

This connotation comes from practices, discussed below, that teachers use. These practices work against us.

Used with care, cold calling can:

  1. Build confidence: as I said, it can help to get shy kids talking
  2. Maintain accountability: through the year, students learn that everyone speaks
  3. Assess learning: the responses are a random set of student thoughts (not just outgoing kids)
  4. Improve conversations: the class hears all voices 
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If your students are anything like mine, some are shy but full of ideas. Others work slowly. Others get distracted. This is a lot to consider.

Two cold calling scenarios that hurt discussions

One: calling on students when they’re not paying attention. This is a way to assert dominance through embarrassment. The goal is to have students learn from this bad feeling and remain focused in the future.

That doesn’t happen. Cold calling as punishment breeds resentment. Plus, other students laugh. Now, the student further disrupts class for revenge. This erodes the classroom community.

Two: the initiate-respond-evaluate (I-R-E) discussion. You know the technique: Teacher asks the question, one kid answers, teacher says “wrong” or “right”…next question. This is brutal for everyone.

If the question has one right answer, students can read it or hear it from the teacher.

To recap, cold calling does more harm than good when it is a gotcha technique. And, it is a waste of time if there is only one answer.

So, what’s good about cold calling?

Quick reminder: With care, cold calling (1) builds confidence, (2) keeps students accountable, (3) assesses learning, and (4) improves conversations.

At this point, you may be concerned about how shy students will react to cold calling. If they don’t have an answer to your question, they’ll feel embarrassed. If they feel that their answer is not good enough, likewise.

You may worry about letting kids “off the hook” if they don’t want to speak. You don’t want to force kids. These are reasonable concerns.

To address those, make one change: Don’t use cold calling as a one-and-done event. Instead, use it as the last step in a process.  The process of asking good questions, giving time to think, and eventually hearing all student voices.

The foundation of effective cold calling is asking good questions

The description of a good question is probably up for debate. It might be better to describe the bad questions. Everyone has been asked one of those. If you’ve sat through a class, a meeting, or a sermon, you’ve heard a bad question from a  speaker. Some examples:

  1. A fact-based recall question with one right answer
  2. A yes or no question with one right answer
  3. A question about the reading, when the teacher knows that students ignored the reading homework
  4. When you ramble on, adding lots of extra, ya know, descriptive phrases and modifiers, and what you actually mean, might be a good question, but you have to circle back around and make sure you clarify your point, and then at the end you say, so what I’m getting at here is, when your question is too long

My recipe for a good question contains three ingredients: short, open-ended, interesting. You might say, what about Bloom’s Taxonomy? What about that PD session I sat through?

You’re probably right that I’m oversimplifying this. But those three terms are my parameters for good questions.  I also use the questions from the three-part lesson that works with any text.  My overall point here is that no number of great discussion techniques will help if the question asked is a bad one.

Now that the foundation is built with good questions, we can get students thinking, and cold call to hear what they have to say.

Move + cold call

This one is so simple. I love it, though. It goes like this:

Ask all students to move to show that they’ve made a choice. After everyone picks, students talk about their choice. This can be in pairs or small groups. The last step is the cold call. The teacher selects students at random. These students share their choice. Additionally, students share the ideas behind a classmate’s choice.

Here’s an example you might hear in my class:

From a scale of 1-5, 1 is low and 5 is high, how strong is Leonard Pitts Jr.’s argument in this piece? Put up 1-5 fingers. Remember, index finger for number 1. (This covers outstanding grudges.) Find at least one quote to prove your choice.

Please turn and talk with the people at your table. Tell them why you picked that number. Give an example from the editorial to support your choice. In three minute’s I’m going to ask three people at random to report on your conversation.

Students have two steps for preparing here. They make a choice and show me when they are ready by holding up a number of fingers. Then, they do an intellectual rehearsal in small groups before I cold call.

You can also have students move to sides or corners of the room. One side is agree and one side is disagree, for example.

Another awesome rapport-builder

An alternate version of this is the Take a Stand strategy.

Confer + cold call

Listen in or speak with students during a turn and talk session. When their idea is valuable for the whole class to hear, ask them if they’ll share it, like this:

That’s a great point, Kaitlynn. Do you mind sharing that with everyone in a moment?

If she says yes, then I’m meeting one of those objectives of cold calling discussed at the top of the post.

If Kaitlynn says she would not like to share, then I might say:

Ok, understandable. Do you mind if I explain the idea to your classmates?

So, Kaitlynn’s idea is still validated in front of the class. Hopefully that nudges her more towards saying “yes” to sharing during a future discussion and then participating on her own volition.

Quick write + cold call

After giving students time to process their thoughts with a 1-2 minute quick write, I’m comfortable with asking a few students to share a single line of their writing.

I’d most likely tell students the whole process when giving them the quick write instructions:

In a moment we’ll do a 90 second quick write. Remember that this is a first draft for everyone. After we finish writing, I’ll ask three people to read or paraphrase their writing.

There’s no “gotcha” here because students can read ideas they already have on their paper.

For a shy student who resists, I may suggest that a classmate reads their writing or I read it.  Then, I’ll still ask them to add any details we missed or clarify something.

More great writing practices

This, again, encourages the student to eventually participate without this prompting.

Notice that some writing lends itself to this type of sharing more than other kinds. I use my best judgement here when asking students to share personal writing as opposed to argumentative, for example.

Turn and talk + cold call with options

These are beginning to sound like clips from a football playbook. This is my most used and favorite cold call technique because it leads to organic discussion. (Organic discussion: when students continue the discussion with little/no facilitation.) Here’s how this would sound:

I want you to talk to the people at your table for two minutes about the way the character in your independent reading book relates to or differs from Holden Caulfield. Afterwards, I’ll ask three people to report back.


Ok,…Alex, Sarah, and Shreya. Share what you said or what you heard a classmate say.

This is my favorite because students can share the things they found most interesting in their conversation. Shreya says:

Well, I heard Andrew explain that Holden seems kind of stuck because he doesn’t do anything about his pain but the character in Andrew’s book is starting to act out in school because of it.

Then I follow up and ask Andrew to fill us in on the details.

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Then, the process continues with Alex and Sarah commenting, too.

Because students can choose to share the ideas of their classmates, those classmates are more likely to enter the conversation. If the student needs to clarify or expand upon what the original speaker said, all the better.

Summing up

  1. “Gotcha” cold call
  2. I-R-E cold call
  3. Move then cold call
  4. Confer + cold call
  5. Quick write + cold call
  6. Turn and talk + cold call with options

These techniques give students an intellectual rehearsal before they speak in front of the class. Instead of shaming or boring students, we can lead students toward speaking with confidence.

Are you cold calling on students? Why or why not?

Here are some comments from Twitter (all made from public profiles to my public profile) to get this conversation started:


Please add your thoughts in comments below, or on our Facebook page, or on the #HackLearning Twitter stream.

How to Be the Best Teacher Every Day

In Episode 81 of the Hack Learning Podcast, Mark Barnes shares a heartfelt story from James Sturtevant about being the best teacher you can be.

Look for What You Can Do Tomorrow below the story.
Listen to “81: How to be the Best Teacher Every Day” on Spreaker.

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Taken from the new Hack Learning Anthology: Innovative Solutions for Teacher and Leaders

“Good Luck,” by James Sturtevant

Bleak news greeted me in the summer of 2010. I was five years from retirement. While I had always enjoyed teaching, part of me was ready to commence a new chapter in my life. Thirty years is a long time to do anything. But thirty years doesn’t come close to representing the average American life span. I’ve never permitted my job to define me, so I was looking forward to spending the next five years planning my next professional excursion.

On our teacher workday that fateful August, the day before the students arrived, I learned that the State of Ohio’s Public Employee Retirement Systems had been devastated by the Recession of 2008. The upshot was my October 2015 retirement target would be undermined. I’m a positive person, but it was like being informed in the last few miles of a marathon that the race would be extended.

The next twenty-four hours were painful. I felt like I’d fulfilled my part of the obligation to the good people of Ohio. I like having a plan, and this development really shook me. As has happened frequently in my career when I’ve been confronted by significant personal challenges, all those feelings of turmoil evaporated at 7:30 a.m. the next day–the first day of school. A sweet fourteen-year-old girl marched up to me, smiled, and raised her right hand. I looked at her quizzically, but then I instinctively raised my right hand too. Then I caught on and we high-fived one another. She said, “I’m so glad you’re my teacher. I’ve heard awesome things about you.”

I thanked her and then quickly shuffled down the hall to the small men’s room in the faculty lounge. I shut the door, locked it, rotated to a corner, and broke into passionate sobs. It was so intense, so unexpected. It suddenly dawned on me how selfish I’d been. I remembered what an awesome privilege it is to help kids blossom.

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I composed myself, blew my nose, stared at myself in the mirror, and thought If you’re going to be a teacher for the foreseeable future, be a great one.

In August of 2016 I’ll begin my thirty-second year of bonding, encouraging, and learning from youngsters. And there’s no end in sight. I’m grateful for my experience in 2010. It shamed and inspired me. Since then, I’ve become a much better teacher. I’m the old guy in the building who’s not afraid to try things. I’ve recommitted myself to compassionate teaching. I love learning new tactics from younger tech-savvy colleagues. As a result, my students have thrived.

The past five years in the classroom have been magical. I published my first book. I’ve made amazing friends with podcasts and on Voxer. And now, I’m so excited to offer this book, which wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for a sweet and tender compliment offered by a child on a late summer morning. Maybe I can be that motivating force for you.

This book is stocked with ideas that can transform your class. If you had the commitment and fortitude to purchase and then read these pages, your heart is in exactly the right place. This disposition is the most important part. The rest is just trial and error. Take the hacks in this book and give them a shot. Who knows? The next five years could be magical for you.

Good luck with engaging your students.

What You Can Do Tomorrow

Take on a passion project — Try something new that is in some way related to your career. Sturtevant wrote two books and produces a weekly podcast. This work helps him share new practices and give students a voice. Passion projects help you love your work more than you may realize. Learn more about Passion Projects in this episode.

Reflect — Consider all you do that is good. It’s human nature to dwell on the negative rather than to accentuate the positive. Think of the good you do each day for kids. These reflections will drive you to continue to be the best your can be daily.

Cry — In the story above, James Sturtevant explains how, overcome by emotion, he cried. After the tears, he reflected on what was amazing about teaching, and he rededicated himself to being the best teacher he could be every day. Don’t be afraid to cry.

For more great ways you can always be your best, check out Hack Learning Anthology: Innovative Solutions for Teachers and Leaders.

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How to tell kids their teacher has cancer - Hack Learning Podcast

How to Tell Kids Their Teacher Has Cancer

Listen to “75: How to Tell Kids Their Teacher Has Cancer with Justin Birckbichler” on Spreaker.

Justin Birckbichler is 25 years old. He teaches fourth grade in Virginia, and he recently learned that he has cancer.

What is he doing about this horrendous news? A more appropriate question might be: What is Justin not doing?

He’s not screaming, “Why me?” and “Life’s not fair!” He’s not crying, even though there would certainly be no shame in shedding a few tears. He’s not feeling sorry for himself or blaming anyone. And he is definitely not hiding his illness.

Justin Birckbichler is taking action. He’s talking about his cancer. He’s telling his family, friends, and thousands of people who follow him on Twitter.

And, get this, he’s even telling his students.

How to Tell Kids Their Teacher Has Cancer

Justin blogs about how he told his students, for parents and other interested stakeholders to see:

I shared that I would be a little slower in my movement but the cane was helpful. Brian and Laura walked in and took a seat. It was go time.

“So I wanted to tell you more about my surgery. The whole reason I had to have surgery is because I have cancer.” Somehow, being on the other side of those words didn’t make it any easier.

Instant tears from some. Bewildered looks from others. Awkward glances from most. I continued.

“The important thing for you to know is that this is curable. I will need chemotherapy, which is a form of medicine that will kill all the cancer. I need to do this so I get better. I don’t know how long I will be out, but you will be taken care of. Mr. Fitzgerald, Mrs. Hoover, the fourth grade team, and all your old teachers will support you.

You have each other. I know it is not easy to hear that your teacher has cancer. I want to answer any questions you have.”

Hands shot up….

Read more

Chronicling Cancer

Justin told his students and their parents about his cancer because he doesn’t want them to be afraid. He wants them to be part of his journey and to lend him the support that he knows he needs during his treatment and time away from class.

Justin Birckbichler

Justin Birckbichler

But this courageous teacher isn’t stopping there. He’s telling the world in his serious, yet light-hearted blog, A Ballsy Sense of Tumor, an appropriate title since Justin has testicular cancer.

I was diagnosed with Stage IIB Nonseminoma cancer in November 2016. It’s a form of testicular cancer that had spread to my lymph nodes. I had surgery to remove the original mass on October 28th and will be beginning chemotherapy on November 28th to get rid of the remaining cancerous cells.

Naturally, my first priority after hearing my diagnosis was to tell my friends and family. However, after everyone in my life had taken care of when it came to knowing what was happening with my health, I wanted to keep going. I went semi-public with my diagnosis by sharing it on Instagram in early November.

However, I had yet to share my news on Twitter. My Instagram account is private and largely comprised of friends from high school and college and distant family members. I only have about 100 followers, but on Twitter, I have more than six thousand. This is a huge reach and could have a real impact. I began thinking about using this reach to spread awareness about testicular cancer, a topic that is rarely discussed, as is men’s health in general.

The decision to potentially tell six thousand people is terrifying. While I have no problem Tweeting about my opinions on homework (it’s in how you use it), my stance on standardized testing (it’s too much), or my feeling on GSuite (I love it), letting people in personally would be a new order. I also didn’t want cancer to become my only identity.

Read more

What You Can Do Tomorrow

Justin Birckbichler suggests these strategies for facing cancer at home and in the classroom:

  1. Be open and honest: Justin suggests telling students, so they have all the details from the source, rather than being confused by rumors.
  2. Conduct regular self-checks: Justin felt a lump during a routine, regular self-check. This simple practice most likely saved his life.
  3. Seek support: Justin actively sought the support of his principal, guidance counselor, and colleagues before telling his students. Now, these people are more than just stakeholders; they are his support team. Justin also asks parents who know teachers with cancer or other major illnesses to lend support, because they need it.

Follow Justin’s Journey

Connect with Justin Birckbichler on Twitter @Mr_B_Teacher. Read and share his cancer treatment and recovery updates at To speak with Justin or show him personal support, email him here or send him some love in our comment section below or on our Facebook page here.

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Hacking Whole Child Education with a SAAC

Listen to “73: Hacking Whole Child Education and Student Advocacy with Valerie Lewis” on Spreaker.
Whole child education is often missing from our classrooms. Teachers are so consumed by curriculum and standards that they sometimes miss important opportunities to engage students in real-world activities that meet the individual needs of each child.

Georgia teacher and well-known connected educator Valerie Lewis has formed a unique organization in her school district that builds important relationships with stakeholders on the local, regional, and sometimes national levels. These stakeholders unite to bring real-world learning into the school, both in person and through cyberspace.

In Episode 73 of the Hack Learning Podcast, Valerie discusses this powerful group that ultimately becomes an advocacy and advisory council for both teachers and students.

The Problem

Schools and teachers work in isolation, often overlooking the impact other stakeholders can have on improving learning environments and pedagogy.

The Hack

Build a School Advocacy & Advisory Council (SAAC) — partnerships with multiple stakeholders outside the school, so we can better meet the needs of all learners. SAAC members can be people in your community who have skills or knowledge that might create opportunities for additional learning and/or chances for students to collaborate with professionals. Council members can be friends from your local church or community center, people you meet on social channels like Twitter, or even a family member.

What You Can Do Tomorrow

  • Teachers and school leaders need to collaborate on a shared vision that will meet the needs of all learners.
  • Identify key business leaders, nonprofits, local colleges and university systems to build an advisory council and partners that will help develop the whole child.
  • Pinpoint stakeholders that interest students (entrepreneurs, engineers, game designers, music producers, fashion designers). This becomes more meaningful than schools creating glorified lists of partners that may not add value for students (our #1 priority).

If you want to create a whole child movement that builds real-world relationships in and around your community, start building your School Advocacy & Advisory Council (SAAC) today.

Inside Hacking Homework, coming October 2016

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Georgia teacher and PassTheScopeEDU founder Valerie Lewis

Valerie Lewis is a 16-year veteran teacher in Gwinnett County, Georgia and the founder of EdObstacles and PassTheScopeEDU — organizations that promote whole child education and professional growth for educators around the world. Her philosophy is that every child can learn through relationships built and through a curriculum that reflects their interests authentically. LearningLearning, according to Valerie, cannot be a mold where one size fits all. It should always be transformational and appeals to the individual soul; smash boxes and create your own lane that will influence how you meet the needs of your students and naturally lead other educators. 

Connect with Valerie Lewis on Twitter at @iamvlewis or through her blog.

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