Validating Student Identities

Validating student identities is inarguably a critical dimension of classroom management. In order for meaningful learning to occur, students must feel comfortable in their environment. Given that each student is remarkably different, a couple of questions arise: how do we, as educators, make sure we are legitimately validating student identities? and How can we (again, as educators) incorporate individual student experiences into the classroom in such a way that is genuine and promotes mutual respect amongst students? Classroom equity and the development of self-identity are two topics of particular interest to me; thus, I am always intrigued when I comes across an article that touches upon anything remotely close to either of these topics. Recently, I stumbled upon an article from Red Orbit, entitled “Cultural Identity of Students: What Teachers Should Know.” While the article does not delve into too much detail, it is well worth the read. Below is a three-item takeaway from the article that highlights some of the fundamentals when it comes to demonstrating respect for individual student identities:

What is it that teachers should know? 

* Our students need to belong, to be valued, and to be appreciated on a daily basis. 

* Students’ cultures have value in the classroom, and these cultural identities must be validated through lessons and teaching practices. 

* A philosophy that demands high expectations of all students is the beginning of empowering students for success. 

The teacher’s ability to identify with students or understand the cultural identities of students is necessary for addressing the needs of every student. Therefore, teachers must learn as much as possible about their students so that they can structure activities, build curricular materials, and tap into resources that will help all students be academically successful.

Check out the whole article here.

Scholastic Presents: 6 Online Research Skills

After a several month hiatus, I am back with a cache of articles! This piece in particular — “The 6 Online Research Skills Your Students Need” — addresses how we, as teachers, can help facilitate opportunities for students to strengthen their online research skills. Going beyond some of the more common adages like “Wikipedia is not a credible source,” this article addresses six specific areas where students often struggle with online research. More than addressing these areas, this article from Scholastic – Teacher also offers solutions for remedying these common research hurdles. Breaking each research skill down into three components — the skill, the challenge, and the solution — I found this to be a quick read with some solid information that could be applicable to a wide age group (grades 6-12)!


Looking for fun ways to incorporate music into the K-12 classroom? Check out Flocabulary! This website contains educational hip-hop for the four core content areas: math, social studies, science, and language arts. In addition to songs and videos, Flocabulary also offers reading passages to correspond with specific songs. The website itself offers free videos, as well as premium options for those interested in signing up for a yearly subscription.

John Hattie

John Hattie has done some tremendous research into classroom learning environments. In 2009, Hattie produced Visible Learning, a compilation of meta-analyses centered around academic achievement in school-aged children. From Hattie’s work, I find that my teaching has been directly inspired by two things:

  • effect size
    • From his vast research, Hattie has compiled a visible chart that ranks the effectiveness of various strategies, practices, and other factors that impact student achievement. This visible tool has already proven immensely useful in creating units that are rooted in purposeful, engaging approaches to interacting with content.
  • Hattie’s 8 mind frames for teachers
    • With this, Hattie explains the potential impact schools and teachers can have on student success. By adopting these eight active mind frames, teachers and schools alike stand a much greater chance of positively impacting student achievement. In essence, each mind frame encourages teachers and schools alike to be not just active, but interactive, as well as responsible for and responsive to student learning and success.

Overall, I think the research Hattie has done and continues to do is critical to truly understanding student success. For any teacher needing inspiration or looking for novel, effective ways to help their students succeed, Hattie is an invaluable resource.


Available both online and as an app, Newsela contains a wealth of articles for students that address both past and present events. Articles have a broad scope, ranging from science and math to arts and culture, world history, geography, religion, and so forth. Some other perks of Newsela include:

  • Filter articles by. . .
    • Grade
    • Reading Standard
    • Subject
    • Language
  • Text sets
  • Create binders for specific classes
  • A fantastic section on primary sources

If you are looking for a student-centered news site, Newsela is terrific. It offers students the chance to interact with credible materials that may be easily adjusted to fit the individual needs of students.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

For anyone looking to learn more about UDL, the the UDL Center is an incredible resource. UDL, or Universal Design for Learning, is essentially a set of three guiding principles that offer a framework for developing curriculum that meets the needs of all students. Ranging from research data to teacher friendly examples of implementation and a state by state breakdown of UDL activity, this site is extensive, fairly easy to navigate, and is an overall fantastic tool for someone looking to bring UDL into their classroom.
Below is an image found on the UDL Center’s website that summarizes UDL’s three principles and their functions: