Pop Links 10.30.14: Teachers Treated Like Pro-Athletes; Teacher Walks in Students’ Shoes; Kindergarten Film Stars; Make Infographics

By |October 30th, 2014|Pop Links|0 Comments|

5 Ways to Bring Climate Activism into the Classroom


(Photo Credit: Dave Gingrich)

In the near future, climate realities will affect the livelihoods, health, and happiness of our nation’s students.

I am an apprentice at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, and I study Climate and Society at Columbia University. I am also a 2012 Greater New Orleans alum, and miss the joy of being with students every day. Through both my research and experience in the classroom, I’ve come to believe that our teachers must prepare students to adapt to the impending climate changes, and more importantly, to step forward as leaders in this world.

With this in mind, I have drafted 5 concrete and no-fail ways you can bring climate activism into your classroom and prepare your students for our changing society.

1. Take small steps to create a more sustainable classroom.

There are many low-hanging fruits you and your students can go after to easily reduce your classroom’s carbon footprint. For example, preference technology over printing, allow students to wear jackets instead of using unnecessary amounts of heating, use natural light or ask administration to switch to LED light bulbs. These are all simple ways to create a lower-carbon classroom environment.

2. Get kids involved.

Teaching students about ecofriendly systems will help them contribute in a more sustainable way to the small steps your class is taking together. Many people don’t know the difference between items that can be recycled and items that must be trashed. This is just one example of a simple barrier that could confront your students’ ability to participate in climate solutions. Combat this by having students create a sign to show the differences between various types of recyclables or come up with a slogan that helps them remember.

3. Explicitly teach the “why” of energy conservation methods.

Make sure to back up all of your classes’ hard work by informing your students about the facts associated with worldwide climate change. NASA’s climate literacy pamphlet breaks down the issue of climate change in understandable terms. Other resources can supplement this information source (Bell Museum has a cool and informative animation), so students really understand the carbon cycle and how humans have altered it.

4. Incorporate environmental themes into classroom units.

There are many authors who deal explicitly with topics that help us realize why it is important to maintain the integrity and beauty of natural systems. Some powerful examples of works centered on these themes include Wendell Berry’s poem, “The Peace of Wild Things” and Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma: Young Readers Edition. Additionally, you can introduce students to environmental leaders such as Van Jones and Lisa P. Jackson through literature.

5. Celebrate students’ use of sustainable practices at school and at home.

Have students make monthly goals to become better at eco-friendly practices, and invite them to work on these at home as well. Find ways to celebrate their carbon-saving lifestyles in and out of the classroom.


To read more about climate change and the future of our world, click here.

Pop Links 10.28.14:Segregation in NYC Schools; LGBT Students Situation Improving; Search Ed Content on Twitter

  • Reports indicate that New York is home to the most segregated education system in the nation. NYC schools are taking an intensive look in the metaphoric mirror to find out the extent of their segregation problem.
  • Students who identify as LGBTQ still face many obstacles in school. However, a new report shows that while the situation is bad, it is improving.
  • Hidden among endless selfies and hastivism that define Twitter is wealth of valuable information for teachers. Find out how to best search Twitter for educational content.
  • TFANet Resource: Writing
By |October 28th, 2014|Pop Links|0 Comments|

Your Relationship with Alcohol Part 2: Positive and Negative Coping

bottle        (Photo Credit: Tim RT)

Last week’s post addressed how to determine whether you or someone you know might has a problematic relationship with alcohol. This week, we want to discuss alcohol use within the larger context of coping.

Coping is anything we do to manage stress. There are positive coping mechanisms and negative coping mechanisms. Positive coping lands us in a better place to address the problem at hand. Negative coping strategies, on the other hand, are those that don’t address our stressor in any way.

How does alcohol fit into this? What’s tricky about alcohol is that, like most things, it has both positive and negative effects.

What are the negative effects?
• Excessive alcohol intake is an established risk factor for several cancers.
• Alcohol is addictive. A recent study of addictive substances showed that alcohol is less addictive than nicotine, crystal meth, and crack, but more addictive than heroin, intranasal amphetamine, cocaine, and caffeine.
• Alcohol disrupts sleep. It can help you fall asleep, but alcohol increases the incidence of sleep disruptions.
• Alcohol promotes bad eating. Everyone who’s ever gotten at least a buzz from a glass or two of wine or a mixed drink has felt the often irresistible urge to snack.
• Alcohol is a depressant. This means that even though we often turn to alcohol for a boost, it actually depresses our body and our mood.

What are the positive effects?
• Numerous studies show that moderate drinking can have positive effects on heart health.
• A drink before a meal can improve digestion.
• The social and psychological benefits of alcohol can’t be ignored: it can be a soothing end to a stressful day and the occasional drink with friends can be a nice way to socialize.

So where does this leave us? The bottom line is that it is important to ask yourself which function alcohol is serving for you. Are you drinking moderately and engaging in activities that are rejuvenating for you? Or is alcohol helping you avoid your stressors? Alcohol can be a really nice addition to our lives or it can have pretty devastating consequences. It is worth considering whether we are using it for positive or negative coping.

Motivation Monday: Get It Done


By |October 27th, 2014|General|0 Comments|

Pop Links 10.23.14: “Dear White People” College Movie; Poor Students in College; Free Tech 4 Teachers Newsletter; Guide to High School Slang

  • Being a black student at a majority white institution comes with unique challenges. A new movie, Dear White People, satirically plays on this experience. To check the accuracy of the movie, NPR got reactions from Harvard University students who recently gathered to watch the new film.
  • The Washington Post explores the difficulties low income college students face which make them significantly less likely to graduate college than their more affluent peers.
  • Keep up to date with the most practical Ed-Tech tools that can help you in the classroom. Sign up for the Free Tech 4 Teachers newsletter which promises to simplistically curate the best of Ed-Tech information available.
  • Finding it hard to keep up with the latest student lingo? One TFA alumnus has compiled a guide to high school slang referencing the most popular terms among students at his school. What would you add to his list?
  • TFANet Resource: Writing
By |October 23rd, 2014|General|0 Comments|

Zombie Army Burns Bridges & 6 Spooky Writing Starters

train crash 3

We’re trick or treat-ing you to some wicked ideas! Happy Halloween!

Without a doubt, it’s an exciting time of year to be a kid. But Halloween is a great opportunity for teachers to connect with students and have some fun as well with a few spook-inspired lessons!

In running the Poet Warriors Project, TFA’s initiative to publish our students’ voices across the country, I’ve come across thousands of powerful student poems aimed at creating change. However, one of my all-time favorite submissions is actually one that just playfully indulges in ghoulish imagining and is perfect to revisit this time of year.

“Train Crash” was penned and published by Kydell Begaye, a 7th grader in Ms. Katrina Turner’s (New Mexico ’13) ELA classes. It is an abbreviated Civil War epic that follows a silver train’s untimely fall into hell at the hands of a bridge-burning zombie Confederate army. Amazing. I know. “Train Crash” is republished below, and is a good reminder that creativity thrives this time of year with the help of some inspiration and a cool teacher.

This Halloween, I want to urge all teachers to try a creative lesson with their students. The holiday lands nicely on a Friday, and I’ve written six spooky starters to get your kids’ brains brewing that morning. Please feel free to share more ideas in the comments section!

  1. My heart races as my feet pound on the dirt road. I look back, and see a hand reach out of the open grave…
  2. I wake up on the pavement, and feel the two deep bite marks on my neck…
  3. It’s just past midnight, when I hear her howl…
  4. I tighten the last bolt on the monster’s neck, take my lab gloves off, and step back…
  5. I take a deep breath, and begin interviewing the ghost of my great great great grandmother…
  6. From behind the bushes, I see him stir the boiling cauldron, and throw in the last few ingredients…

Don’t hesitate to get in contact with me if you’re interested in getting some of your kids’ creative responses published on our site, or if you’re interested in running our usual Poet Warriors curriculum.

Train Crash
by Kydell Begaye

On a cold night,
a steam train loaded with silver
going to Gettysburg.
80 miles away,
the wheels roll,
the loaded silver train runs to Gettysburg.

Union Soldiers fight with the Confederate.
But don’t know
they’re fighting with the undead.

The engine steam puffing to
40 miles per hour.
Heading over a dam,
the undead soldiers burn
down the bridge to flames.

One-by-one cars uncouple
from falling rails. The engine
moves faster, 10 feet away
from the cliff. The rails
snap causing the engine
to slip. The heavy tender
of coal pulls back the Engine.
The engine falls into the fire of

The silver makes it to Gettysburg.
The train
loaded with silver was loaded
with sandstone.

Pop Links 10.21.14: Chances for Rich vs. Poor Students; Teachers Lives After School; 100 Year Old Teacher; Create Timelines

  • The Washington Post explains why the hardest working students from low income communities will mostly never be as successful as the most troubled rich children.
  • What do you do in the hours when you are not “Ms./Mr. [insert last name]”? NPR’s new Secret Lives of Teachers project highlights some of the interesting pastimes of some of the nation’s educators.
  • Age ain’t nothing but a number for one special New York math teacher! At 100 years old, the vibrant math teacher continues to train young elementary students at a New York City school!
  • Creating timelines can be a fun and creative way to help students better engage with class material. Have students use this site to create free stylish multimedia timelines that can feature content from sites such as YouTube and Twitter!
  • TFANet: Compare and Contrast
By |October 21st, 2014|Pop Links|0 Comments|