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Monday, February 20, 2017

Digging In: Embedding SEL into the Curriculum

For months I've been working with a team of researchers and writers to pen a book about how to embed social emotional learning (SEL) into the curriculum by matching SEL activities and focus to both broad and specific curriculum standards. We are now at the final stages of the book, a book that will be published and released soon. It has been a deep, challenging endeavor and one that I'll dedicate the day to. When we near the release date, I'll share more information, and hope that many of you will find the book useful as you work to elevate your students' ability to access social emotional skills, content, and knowledge to learn, live, and contribute well.

We the People: Civics Education

Do we make the time to teach with depth and focus with regard to civics and our nation's laws. I've been thinking a lot about this as the Trump Presidency prompts me to do considerable research in light of challenging words, policies, plans, and interpretations of the law.

There are a number of ways that we can forward education in this respect with the following actions:

The Right to Vote Upon High School Graduation
I believe that all students who pass a well orchestrated, broad, detailed, and truthful civics course should be able to earn the right to vote upon high school graduation. This kind of high school course would welcome all citizens into our voting community and democracy.

Watch Local Governing Boards' Meetings
I believe that every middle school student or high school students should have the obligation to watch, discuss, and perhaps even participate in local and state board meetings. I watch our school committee meetings regularly and learn so much about our democracy and our school system by watching these meetings.

Read Relative and Founding Government Reports and Documents
Students should have the chance to critically read and respond to current and past government documents of interest and importance. It's important that all students have a chance to understand how to read and decipher the meaning in these documents. I just read the Intelligence departments Russian Hacking document--that would be a great report to tackle with a high school class.

Understand the Workings of Our Government
All students should have a chance to understand and interact with the workings of our government.

I know that many schools pay good attention to the topics above, and our current national situation leads me to advocate for even greater attention to meaningful, well-informed learning experiences that make all Americans keenly aware of our democracy and democratic proces. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Reading the Fine Print: Russian Hacking

Today I read through the unclassified document from National Intelligence related to the Russian hacking of the 2016 Presidential election. It was a good read--a read that made me realize just how much Russian is involved in our social media interaction and our media actions in general

It was interesting to note that the President's claims about the media's unfairness were actually started by the Kremlin's news agency RT much before the President's latest discussion and comments about the topic.

It was disappointing to note the time and money RT invested in demeaning the reputation of Hillary Clinton.

I was left with a number of questions:
  • Of the Trump voters, how many regularly watch shows or read news that originates in the Kremlin sponsored news agency, RT.
  • Of those of us who use social media, how many of us are regularly and unknowingly interfacing with and influenced by Russian tweets, blog posts, news reports, and more. 
  • In the face of this impact on our national voting system and democracy, what can we do to eliminate or at least lessen this influence as we think about the future of our country.
There's a lot to know out there and the worst thing any of us can do is to stay mired in the simple speak, read, and finger pointing instead of going deeper, discovering the details, and working for a better America.