The Chalk Blog

This is US.

Celebrating Black History Month, Year-Round

Scrubbing the oatmeal from the blue enamel pot in my kitchen sink, I looked up when I heard, 

“It’s a story we need to tell.  
Not just in February--the coldest and shortest month,
but every day of the year, because this is our story.  
It’s not “us and them, it’s February so we’ll take some time out and do this.” 
It is every single day.  
This is the story of us.  
And, guess what? There’s no “them,” which is what we all try to make up.  
In the U.S., it’s us. Not them.” 

These words are from Ken Burns, the well-known documentarian. He’s discussing his film project, “Baseball,” which tells the story of the Negro Baseball League and baseball great Hank Aaron. Burns uses the film to demonstrate how far we have come, yet how far we still have to go. 

Films, books, movies and experiences teach. Since I have a lot to learn, I decided to watch, read, ask, and attend so I could more fully understand our nation’s history.  

Our history. 

The story of us.  

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Topics: diversity, Black History Month

No More Sick-Day Stress

Swap Your Sub Plans for Digital Student Plans

Writing substitute teacher plans can put teachers into full on panic-mode. Who needs the added stress when you’re already feeling terrible?! Wouldn’t it be great if you could quickly put together an easy-to-follow lesson plan for your students in your absence? Rather than trying to cram all of the notes and directions for the sub into a coherent doc, create a step-by-step plan for your students to follow. Instead of sub plans, write student plans! With readily available technology, students can work through your digital lesson independently. The benefits are countless:

  • Create digital plans quickly from home using digital resources.
  • Keep students on track with the scope and sequence of the curriculum. No more busy work or time fillers!
  • Eliminate substitute teacher confusion and misunderstanding.
  • Allow the substitute to simply monitor student work time and focus attention on behavior supervision.
  • Review submitted student work from home to prepare for your return back to work. 
Convinced? Here are 4 great tips for going digital with your "student plans”: 
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Topics: Teaching with Technology, Substitute Teachers

Four Helpful Tips to Stop Students From Vaping

Educate, Listen, Look, and Learn

Growing up in the 70’s, I am acutely familiar with cigarettes. Slogans and smoking campaigns like You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby, Winston Tastes Good Like a Cigarette Should, The Marlboro Man, and Joe the Camel were used to make us believe smoking was safe, even  glamorous. As a 6th grader at Fuller Elementary School in Minneapolis, I remember feeling stunned by a woman, a former smoker, who used an electrolarynx to speak to our class about the dangers of smoking. If you’ve never heard a person speak using an electrolarynx, watch Tips From Former Smokers from the Centers for Disease Control.

As I look back, I can still see a floor full of mesmerized sixth graders sitting “W” style, listening to the “Look-At-What-Smoking-Did-To-Me” speaker holding the electric-razor-like device to the hole in her windpipe to speak. The goal, I know now, was to “scare us straight,” and keep us away from cigarettes and the diseases doctors were discovering they caused. But, with our youthful sense of invincibility, before we knew it, we, too, were sampling those--as advertised--“slender, sexy, cool” cigarettes.

Today, a new delivery system of cigarettes with different names are on the market and, once again, young people are being coerced into using them. Juul and other e-cigarette companies calculatingly changed the verb from smoking to vaping, giving the impression that what we are inhaling is a water-like substance.


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Topics: Positive Behavior Supports, Vaping

New Technology Courses for 2020

Introducing Our New ISTE Approved EdTech Courses!

Technology changes in the blink of an eye so keeping up can be challenging! With a seemingly constant flow of new apps, programs, devices, and strategies to wade through, teachers often settle for what’s most comfortable and easy-- low tech or no tech! To help you navigate the waters, our writing team at Learners Edge has developed 5 brand new, top-notch courses for better tech integration. We’ve sifted through the latest in edtech research, and searched for the best resources to provide just what you need for continued professional learning in tech integration. So without further ado, here they are! 


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Topics: Technology, Courses

5 Ways to Avoid Burnout

Self-Care... Even in February

Ah, February: the shoulder season between winter and spring, and the month that Hallmark and Russell-Stover make a killing. It’s also, for some reason, one of the most difficult months for teachers. The holidays are over, but spring break is still weeks away- and the energy for outdoor activities is waning. Even if it’s not teeth-rattling cold where you are, it’s hard to rev up during the toughest months of the year 

If March would only get here already. 

Fortunately, time continues, and eventually all will be ok. Until then, here are some ways you can be nice to yourself (and keep your sanity) in February, or any month that feels burdensome. 


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Topics: educator wellness, Self-Care

10 Google Slides Hacks for Teachers

Become a Pro in G Suite!

Known as the “swiss army knife of Google tools,” Slides is the most versatile application in the G Suite. In addition to presentations, slide decks can be collaborative spaces for learning, interactive lessons, or even a digital notebooks. The possibilities are endless!  

We’ve put together a list of our favorite hacks to help you get the most out of this “anything is possible platform,” including video tutorials to amp up your teaching with Google Slides. 


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Topics: Teaching with Technology, Instructional Strategies, Technology

Positive Parent Partnerships

The Importance of Building Parent-Teacher Relationships

My first year as a teacher, I was terrified of parents. Phone calls, emails- all communication with them terrified me. Looking back, my reasoning was limited: I was always afraid that if they were contacting me, it was because of something I did wrong. I taught at a well-known private school, and the stories about parents from veteran teachers in the building were elaborate and brutal.  

few years into my teaching tenure, I began to realize how incorrect my perception was. Sure, there were parents who wanted to challenge me, but in general, I found that parents were often my first line of action when I wanted to help, nudge, or connect on a different level with a student. 

I went through some trial and error before understanding how to work with parents, and the following is what I’ve learned along the way...I share it in the hope that it will help you too: 


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Topics: Teaching Excellence, Parents

Self-Care is Not Selfish

How Taking Care of Yourself Supports Advocacy

This blog comes from Colleen Schmit at Taylor and Francis.

It may not seem like the two should go together but self-care and being an advocate for education go hand-in-hand. Self-care includes prioritizing your health, happiness, and well-being. Self-care is liking yourself enough to place yourself on your to-do list. The old saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup” applies when we think about taking care of children. If you aren’t taking care of yourself (mentally, emotionally, and physically) you are not going to be a strong voice for children. Working in the field of education includes advocacy. You must be an advocate for children, for other teachers, and for yourself. Without self-care, this becomes an even bigger task than it already is. 

One of my favorite things to discuss with educators is self-care (or our lack thereof). I can articulately and passionately talk this talk. As of late, guess what I am not good at…walking the self-care walk. Summer is here. My kids are at home. Life has become both slower and busier all at once. I have let myself become overcommitted, stressed, and last (once again) on my to-do list. UGH! I am writing this blog right now on day 3 of dealing with strep throat. I had let myself get so run down that it eventually led to me getting sick. If anything, writing this blog is a great reminder for not only YOU reader but for ME as well. Below are the warning signs of when self-care is lacking and the steps take to get back on track with taking care of yourself.


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Topics: Teaching Advice, educator wellness

5 Ways Educators Can Support Each Other

I’m concerned about the wellbeing of teachers. The fact that we, Learners Edge, have a course category called Educator Wellness indicates that my worry is valid. The fact that we need to encourage teachers to learn about happinessresilience and recharging tells me many teachers are sad, burned out and tired. I’ve read articles lately questioning whether teacher burnout or demoralization is the reason for good teachers leaving the profession. Or maybe it’s secondary traumatic stress. There are numerous reasons teachers are struggling with wellbeing, but regardless of the reason, I’m concerned.


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Topics: Teaching Advice, educator wellness

New Courses for the New Year!

Summer Session Registration is Now Open!

Our Curriculum and Instruction Team has put together nine new and exciting courses just for you! Click on the courses below to learn what we have to offer, or to register now.


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Topics: Learners Edge News, Courses

Learners Edge is passionately committed to providing you with continuing education coursework, materials, and tools that will help you succeed in your classroom and in your career.

Offering more than 100 print-based or online courses for teachers, you can earn the graduate credit you need for salary advancement and meet your professional development needs. Contact us today to get started!

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