Marieke van Woerkom
During the last few weeks of school, we and our students often struggle to stay focused. And yet there is still work to be done. Try these steps to keep students engaged (and yourself sane) as summer approaches.
Senior trainer Marieke van Woerkom offers a collection of strategies, from bringing plants into the classroom to mindful breathing, to help us and our students cope with the pressures of testing season.
A Courtside Confrontation and Its Aftermath
This is Part 1 of a two-part lesson that has students consider a confrontation between NBA player Russell Westbrook and a white fan and the public discussion that ensued about racism in the NBA and society at large. Part two of the lesson has students discuss an essay stemming from the controversy, by white NBA player Kyle Korver, which focuses on white privilege.
An Essay about White Privilege
This is Part 2 of a lesson that has students consider a confrontation between Russell Westbrook (a Black NBA player) and a white fan, its aftermath, and the public discussion that ensued about racism in the NBA and society at large. This lesson, part two of the series, has students read and discuss an essay stemming from the controversy, by white NBA player Kyle Korver, which focuses on white privilege.
Young people across the country are taking legal action to defend their right to a stable climate and healthy environment. In this activity students learn about the pioneering lawsuit Juliana v. United States, and discuss a short documentary about youth climate activists.
Students look at photos, read about, and discuss some of the climate crises in 2018, then survey a range of actions being taken to address it.
Three simple steps to help us calm our brains — and our classrooms.
Now might be a good time to review what has happened over the past year,both in our lives and the wider world. In this activity, students share reflections with the help of a short video and consider a next step.
The holidays can be a stressful time. Here are some simple steps to help us and our students handle heightened emotions - now or any time.
Students share their thoughts and feelings in the wake of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre, view and discuss a video about hate crimes, and hear the voices of religious and community leaders who are standing up against hate.
By examining and discussing text, tweets, and images, students consider why a caravan of people are leaving their homes in Central America and heading north.
Students read one high school senior’s perspective on what teenagers are learning from the Kavanaugh hearings, and share their own perspectives.
Students consider the term "Ubuntu," and the ways in which we are all connected, then discuss some of the news this summer (via tweets), and how these events affect us.
Students discuss Aretha Franklin, the "Queen of Soul," listen to her recording of the song "Respect," and consider how to ensure that everyone is respected in the classroom.
A restorative conversation can turn a student’s problematic behavior into a teachable moment.
In communicating with students, focus on the behavior you want to see and encourage, not the off-task or disruptive behavior you want to stop.
Students view and discuss the viral video of two black men being handcuffed and walked out of a Philadelphia Starbucks by six police officers in April 2018. Students consider the accounts of eyewitnesses, as well as an account by the two men who were arrested, and discuss what "racial profiling" means.
Edna Chavez, a 17-year-old senior from South Los Angeles, made an impassioned speech about gun violence at the student led March for Our Lives in March 2018. In this lesson, students learn some background about South L.A. and consider Chavez's speech, which puts gun violence in a larger societal context.
How can activists - including young people who are organizing against gun violence - sustain themselves for the long haul? In this activity, students consider quotes from activists of all ages about their self care strategies.
In small and large groups, students read media quotes and reflect on some of the successes that young people have booked in building a movement to end gun violence.
In this activity, structured as a circle, students reflect on memories, quotes, and photos from the massive student-led March for Our Lives on Saturday, March 24, 2018.
Students explore the connections between young people in Florida campaigning for gun reform and youth leaders in Black Lives Matter – and consider why the media has focused so much less attention on the latter.
In this activity, students construct a timeline of youth activism, and consider how the students who are organizing against gun violence in the aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are part of a long history of youth organizing for justice, including for civil rights and immigrant rights.
After 17 people were killed in a school shooting in Parkland, FL, students turned their grief over the loss of their classmates into actions that galvanized the nation. In this activity, participants hear the voices of the Parkland students, and consider the variety of ways they are trying to make change.
Students learn about a few of the thousands of people who have fled Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. In small groups, students discuss their stories and consider how they may be feeling about what has happened. This companion lesson has students explore the climate refugee crisis worldwide.
This activity uses a circle format to engage students in sharing their thoughts and reactions to the Weinstein case, using tweets from a variety of sources. A backgrounder and optional student reading helps inform the discussion.
Students hear the performance of Lin–Manuel Miranda's song "Almost Like Praying," a benefit for the people of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. Students discuss the song, see a video about how others have responded to the ongoing crisis in Puerto Rico, and consider how they might use their own talents and strengths to help.