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I am a history teacher at a 1,800-student high school in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Our schools closed for the year on March 13th. In the subsequent weeks, many of our students lost contact with their teachers and the school community. A group of teachers decided to use gamification to find a way to motivate our students to return to us.

While we are at the very beginning of this effort, I wanted to broadcast what we are doing so that others can try it out. By using some apps in Google Suite for Education, anyone with an intermediate familiarity with…


In response to my post about cheating, some readers have addressed the inherent lack of authenticity in multiple choice assessment. I absolutely agree that other activities and assessments create higher quality learning.

I attempted to minimize the impact of Multiple Choice, but it turned out that my students did not have a thick enough skin for it, even as just practice that barely counted for grades. While Multiple Choice Questions were never more than 10% of a Quarter grade in my classroom, the students got such an emotional slap from those scores. A low score, such as 5/15 on a…


Some Republican politicians have concluded that their constituents support the changes wrought by Trump’s “zero tolerance.”

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This week, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and archbishop of Galveston-Houston in Texas, condemned the effects of the new “zero tolerance” policy toward migrants at the border. He emphasized that family separation uses the children as a weapon against their own parents and against other adults for whom the policy intends to act as a deterrent.

In an editorial today, the conservative, Republican-leaning, National Review argues that Congress should fix the problem immediately, but accepts the interpretation that the crisis originated from an Executive Branch policy change.

A story on Politico today identifies several…


A white teacher confronts the big fear and confronts racism.

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One of my students accused me of racism. As a well-intentioned white person, I put a lot of work into demonstrating that I’m not a racist. I have done my fair share of virtue signalling. But I’ve still been called a racist. The media storm regarding the current debate about free speech, and the fiery criticism of “political correctness,” highlights the fact that this topic packs a massive emotional punch. It’s painful to be accused of racism. When someone accuses me of being a racist, they associate me with some of the worst of humanity and assert that I’m part…


Social media that feels uplifting: crowdfunded, with non-binary likes, and no ads

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For several years, I have thought about blogging on topics such as teaching, education policy, Netflix series, and literature. Every time I thought about blogging on a personal website, I agonized at the idea of the vast amounts of time required for outreach. How on earth would my individual website ever get attention in the cacophony of the Internet? Writing blog entries felt like writing to no one and wasting time.

I joined Facebook in 2005, shortly after its release to the general public. Initially, Facebook functioned as my 10-year high school reunion. Posting on Facebook, however, always felt smarmy…


The Relationship Between Rigor and Academic Dishonesty

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At the start of this school year, I thought I’d solved the problem with cheating. Oh, how wrong I was.

During the summer, I had reflected long and hard about a cheating scandal that disrupted my class in the previous year. The 2016–2017 school year was my seventh year as a full-time classroom teacher. Over the years, I tried to develop the best accountability measures to motivate students to complete their homework. I assigned textbook chapters and historical documents as required reading, designed group work tasks that would induce peer pressure for getting the reading done, and gave quizzes that…


A famous 20th century novel of ideas provides unexpected illumination for the early 21st century.

Photo by Rafael Lodos on Unsplash

Originally published in 1984, Milan Kundera’s most famous book, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, examines how a police state gnarled the existentialist journey of its main characters. After Soviet troops crushed the 1968 Prague Spring, the newly emboldened Communist Party of Czechoslovakia imposed a new regime of conformist irrationality. Politics lost all authenticity. Decades after the fall of Communism in Europe, here are six reasons the book applies to our time.


Underneath its intended nihilism, a deeper layer lurks.

‘Hard Sun’ promotional image (www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05pc0xs)

It’s not enough to have the sun turning red giant which, in a matter of some years or months, will engulf Earth in colossal fire. No, the ever-expanding genre of apocalyptic fiction now requires additional twists to keep viewer’s interest for such a banal event as Earth’s destruction. To satisfy demand, ‘Hard Sun’ includes: conspiracy carried out by government intelligence services, police corruption, Russian mafia, extramarital affairs, mental illness treatment controversies, patricide, gender nonconformity, post-racial society, unexpected gay masculinity, motifs of hard-boiled noir, and the middle class parenting challenges of digital devices. I suppose that a sociological state of play…


Do not underestimate the strength of the school script.

“An audience member raises his hand during a music performance” by Greyson Joralemon on Unsplash

In my AP World History class, I teach many students who approach the AP level with anxiety. I encourage them to give this tough class their best. If they lack confidence, I ask them to trust me — after a year of practice, they will be ready for the AP Exam. In the Fall, I introduced the Document-Based Question and provided tips for how to write an essay response to it. After a few practice rounds with pieces of the overall process, I gave the students a sample DBQ. I said, “Try this one on your own, from beginning to…


Anyone who dismisses them is married to failure.

“A group of people protesting and demonstrating in Washington” by Jerry Kiesewetter on Unsplash

Today, as students across the country participate in the National School Walk Out event organized by a Women’s March subgroup, Youth Empower, we should remember that the young give us a view of what’s possible unencumbered by the scars of experience. Whether you agree with them or not, you should recognize the vitality that youth activism brings to a democratic future.

Who is naïve?

The largest youth protest action in history occurred almost fifty years ago, in Paris, in May 1968. In coordination with workers strikes across the country, the protesters and workers created an entirely new ethos for French politics and society…

Jonathan Seyfried

History Teacher in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Author of the Time Riven speculative fiction series.

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