5 Ways Students Can Participate in Activism in High School

Group of people marching with a banner and signs, image for Robert Peters educator blog on how to encourage activism in high school students

No matter what school district you work in, there are going to be students who care about issues affecting the world. Student activism is becoming increasingly common, particularly on college campuses, but it’s also popular at the high school level. If you have students who are passionate about specific causes, support their interest and help them become more active in working to better these causes. Whether they’re passionate about the environment, civil rights, animal welfare, helping children, or something else, provide them with the knowledge and tools they need to make a difference.

Educate yourself & others

The first step high school students can take to becoming more involved in their chosen type of activism is by educating themselves and others. If they truly want to make a difference, taking the time to be informed on issues and understand the context is important. Read up on recent news and related websites or blogs in order to learn everything possible. Then, share this newfound knowledge with others through conversations or posts on social media. They could even start a blog and talk about the issues they care about.

Find local organizations

If you live in or near a city, there are bound to be many organizations focusing on a variety of issues. Most organizations allow teenagers to help out if they’re under 18, as long as they have parental permission. Teach your students about these resources and let them know that their time and help is valuable.

Start a fundraiser

If your students cannot give significant time to an organization or cause, starting a fundraiser at school and in the local community could be a good solution. Whether it’s a drive for needed items or just for funds, whatever is raised can then be sent to the organization or cause the students support.

Create a school club

If there isn’t currently an organization at your school that focuses on the student’s chosen issue, they can certainly start one. It’s common for specific causes to be represented at schools and then regular fundraisers and events are organized. For most districts, creating a club is fairly straightforward and encouraged by schools. It’s a fantastic way for your student to become more of an activist and raise awareness of an important issue.

Connect with people

A final step students can take to become a young activist is connecting with other people. Whether in the community, at school, or across the country, there are other people who share the student’s interest in a particular issue. Students can also attend events, such as larger fundraisers, protests, marches, or lectures on the issue. As they begin talking with others and forging new connections, writing a petition or contacting those holding public office is also a great option.

3 Ways to Prevent Bullying in Your Classroom

legs of students walking around and talking in a classroom, legs of desks visible, image for Robert Peters educator blog on preventing bullying

Bullying can happen at any time and in any place. Because it is something that could escalate into a very unfavorable situation, it shouldn’t be written off as simply childhood teasing. As educators, we need to take bullying seriously and take measures to prevent it. Bullying could be detrimental to one’s emotional health, mental health, and physical health. It could even threaten a life.

While no one can be around every student at every moment of the day, there are a few key things that can be done to better ensure that bullying is minimized in the classroom. Controlling bullying is as simple as knowing what it is, how it looks, and where it happens.

Know what bullying actually is

Bullying shouldn’t be written off as teasing. While teasing is done merely to irritate or annoy another individual, bullying is much different. According to Sweeting and West, bullying happens when there is an imbalance of power.

Bullying can be excessive teasing, threats, or name calling. It could also be anything that makes an individual feel uncomfortable going where he needs or wants to go. Bullying can be verbal, nonverbal, or physical. If a students seems hurt or uncomfortable with something another student student did or said, ask them about it. If the student is seriously upset and you feel the need to intervene, do so. However, it may be better to first address the situation with the upset student.

Know the warning signs

Children who are being bullied often show signs. While no child exhibits the exact same signs as another, educating oneself in the signs of a person who is being bullied could prevent further bullying. It is also helpful to know the common signs of an actual bully. Knowing what to look out for could prevent a child from being bullied or from bullying others.

Children who are being bullied often have random bruises. They could also have low-self esteem, a decreased interest in school, or could be getting their personal belongings damaged. Children who bully others often get into a great deal of fights or have friends who are bullies. There are lots of other warning signs to watch out for, so educate yourself.

Know where bullying happens

Statistics show that most bullying happens in areas where adults aren’t usually present, such as on the playground, on the school bus, and in hallways. Bullying can also occur when kids are walking to and from school, in the cafeteria, and online.

Staff should do their best to monitor these locations. However, since it is impossible to keep an eye on all students at all times, it is critical that it is communicated to students the importance of reaching out to an adult when he or she is being bullied or suspects bullying. Remember to educate your kids on the seriousness of bullying and where they can go for help if they’re a victim of bullying or witness it happening.

5 Skills to Teach Your Students They Won’t Learn in School

Student sitting behind a high stack of books, image used for Robert Peters educator blog about life skills to teach your students

Teaching in and off itself is a challenging profession. For some students, you’re the first adult that’s really cared about their life or been interested in their future plans. In the United States, education is required up to a certain age, so you’ll work with students from all walks of life. Some want to be in the classroom and others hate it. However, one day your students are going to face the world outside of school and be completely responsible for themselves (if they aren’t already). Having a well-rounded education is important and you need to focus on the subject you’re teaching them, but it’s also vital that students learn necessary life skills as early as possible. Here are some simple skills you can teach your students and incorporate into your classroom, no matter what subject you’re usually teaching.


This skill is one I’ve addressed previously, highlighting ways you can instill a sense of professionalism in your students. No matter where they go in their future careers, being able to carry themselves in a professional manner is invaluable. Teach your students to successfully interview for a job and they’ll already be ahead of many others.

Resume writing

While this topic is related to professionalism, it’s also worth mentioning on its own. Even in high school, many students are applying and working jobs in order to gain some income. If they apply for college or a job right out of high school, having a resume, or at least a record of jobs and volunteer work, is incredibly beneficial. Teach them how to format it correctly and what kind of language to use to create a solid resume.

Personal finance

This topic could be a class all on its own, but teaching students basic personal finance skills is important. Teach them about a credit card, how to open their own bank account, about interest and loans. Most students come out of high school with zero knowledge about personal finance, which can severely impact them as they move through life. Knowledge of how to manage personal finances helps students avoid making bad financial decisions and getting into overwhelming debt.


Students are often stressed out and rarely know how to manage these emotions. Teach your students about self-care options, such as how to calm themselves down, who to talk to if they’re experiencing a crisis, and other useful resources. Letting them know about local clinics they can visit or methods to use during times of stress can help immensely.

Healthy lifestyle

For students, health concerns may not be common. However, it’s important for them to be mindful of their health as early as possible. Let them know the importance of getting enough rest, eating nutritious and balanced meals, and getting regular exercise. They’ll be grateful for this advice as they get older.

How to Keep Your Students Focused During the Holidays

Student sitting at a desk with a computer and notebook open in front of them, image used for Robert Peters educator blog on how to keep students focused during the holidays

The holidays can be a wonderful chance to indulge in festivities, cultural experiences and more, but it can be difficult to keep your students focused on learning with all this excitement and their anticipation of the holidays. Many times, students of all ages and grade-levels are starting to tune-out and look towards the coming holidays and having some time off of school. These feelings are totally natural; you’re probably looking forward to the holidays too.

It’s important to remember that your students are children and budding young-adults, not robots. By recognizing this fact, and accepting that you cannot change it, it becomes much easier to instead tailor your teaching and lessons to this development. Now, let’s talk about some ways you can use the holiday spirit to keep your students engaged, focused, and progressing in their educations.

Maintain classroom structure

Don’t throw your rules and established expectations out the window. You can’t expect your students to not be distracted during the holidays, but students thrive on stability. Everyone, yourself included, performs better when previously established norms are followed.

Continue to assign your regular weekly or bi-weekly assignments, have homework due at the normal dates, etc. Don’t abandon classroom structure you’ve established, use it! Keeping with the same routine can help students stay focused because they know what’s expected of them.

Tailor your lessons to the season

The easiest way to keep your students focused and working hard is to tailor your lessons to the holiday at hand. Don’t ignore the fact that Christmas is right around the corner, embrace it!

Regardless of your subject-matter, you can find a way to tie it into the season’s festivities into at least some lessons. Your students will appreciate the much-needed break from “hard content”, and the creativity these assignments usually employ. Try to incorporate some fun activities that are relevant to the holidays that the students will enjoy while also learning something new.

Keep your pace, don’t overwork

It’s important to continue teaching at your normal pace. Don’t suddenly pile on two-weeks worth of work and expect your students to actually do it over their winter break — it’s called a break for a reason. They’ll only be miserable before and after break and you’ll have to deal with this attitude.

Keep this idea in mind during the rest of the school year. Make sure you get through key chapters and lessons with enough time to spare so you’re not cramming before the holiday!

A final word on holidays

Remember that holidays are a special time in every culture. Embrace this, and use it as a break from the factory-like routine of schooling. Enhance your lesson plans, ask your students what their plans are and share yours, and remember – you deserve a break, too. Use this time to recharge and revitalize, the year isn’t over yet!

5 Ways to Involve Your Students in Philanthropy

Textbook open to a page that has a chapter titled "we care", image used for Robert Peters educator blog on how to get students involved with philanthropy

Philanthropy is very important to creating a better world, so it’s vital that we teach children the importance of helping others. While most schools push this mindset by teaching children not to bully one another and by periodically hosting fundraisers, there usually isn’t a lot of discussion about philanthropy, its importance, and how young people can get involved in meaningful ways. Young people spend so much of their time in the classroom, that it’s a great place to start teaching them to develop a philanthropic mindset. Here are some great ways you can help students pursue philanthropy.

Start a classroom project

While your school may participate in some kind of fundraiser or philanthropic event each year, it can be beneficial to do something within your classroom as well. Even if you’re just raising money to donate to a specific cause, you’re helping students get involved with philanthropy. However, it’s important to teach them that philanthropy isn’t just about donating money. Consider choosing a cause that lets you make something, such as cards for people in the hospital or an activity that raises money. If you can take your students somewhere to volunteer, definitely do it! It could be something like cleaning up a park or visiting the elderly, just make sure you meet any standards set by your school district for trips.

Teach a lesson on philanthropy

If you can’t actually do something with philanthropy, just teaching students about it can make an impact. Teach them the difference between philanthropy and charity, talk about the history of philanthropy and its prevalence in society today, discuss the ways philanthropy can significantly impact someone’s life; any of these topics can lead to rich discussions and learning experiences for students.

Plan a career day…with well-known philanthropists

Typically, career days involve local adults coming in to speak with students or students dressing up as the career they’d like to have. Consider adding a philanthropic twist to this traditional event by having students research well-known philanthropists and then give presentations on these individuals. You could also have local philanthropists visit your classroom and talk about how they’re involved with philanthropy and why they do it.

Get parents involved

Ultimately, the people who can influence your students the most to participate in philanthropy are their parents. Send home handouts with a list of ways children can get involved with philanthropy and also highlight the benefits, for students and those who are helped through philanthropies. If parents understand the importance of philanthropy, they’re more likely to continue encouraging students to pursue philanthropic endeavours.

Offer outside resources

Like sending a handout home to parents, giving students the resources they need to participate in philanthropy is incredibly helpful. Provide them with a list of suggestions on how they can participate in general philanthropy, like picking up trash or helping out other people in their daily lives. Also consider handing out information on local philanthropies, such as their locations and contact information along with a little blurb about what the organization does. Give students information about community volunteer days as well.

Creative Ways to Encourage Students to Write

Notebook with blank page and two crumpled up pieces of paper on top of it with a pen, image used for Robert Peters blog on creative ways to motivate students to write

One of the most difficult challenges educators face is encouraging students to write. Whether it’s writing in class or at home, most students just do not enjoy the prospect of writing, especially if it’s for an assignment. However, writing is a vital skill for the real world and being able to communicate through writing is an incredibly valuable trait. Even if you can’t motivate students to write in class, but they do decide to write on topics unrelated to classwork, you’re helping their education because studies show that any form of writing can improve overall writing skill.

Use relevant writing prompts

Kids feel more motivated to write if they can relate to the prompt. If they are interested in the topic they’re writing about, they’ll enjoy the writing more. Make the topics about hobbies, local events, or their families and friends. When the topics are something they feel a connection to, your students will put more effort and detail into their writing and actually be interested in what they’re writing about. Depending how old the students are, you can have them debate issues they feel strongly about, such as a school dress code or local community issue.

Encourage them to share

For most students, they enjoy being able to share their work with one another, their teacher, or even their families. Encourage sharing because it’ll motivate them to write better and actually listen to the input they receive from others on their writing. However, if a student is really shy and reluctant to share, do not force them to read their writing out loud or show it to another student. Ask if you can see it and give them your feedback or even encourage them to write for themselves without sharing their work with others.

Teach them anyone can write

The problem most students face is that they do not believe they can actually be talented writers. They’ve either never been told their writing is good, believe it’s not something they can learn, or have never been given instruction on how to write. Give your students examples of great writers who met failure time and time again or teach them simple tricks to improve their writing.

Do not demand perfection

Writing can be daunting for students because they believe what they write should be flawless for it to be considered “good.” Teach your students it’s okay to make mistakes and they can always ask for advice or input on their writing. If their grammar or plot development isn’t perfect, gently offer them advice on how to improve, but also look for aspects to compliment so they don’t feel discouraged.

Celebrate their writing

Any student likes compliments and receiving positive attention. Find something in each student’s work to celebrate and show them that they’re making progress. It’s important to offer constructive feedback, but it’s also vital that you avoid giving a student the impression their writing is bad and cannot be improved.
Check out even more ways to inspire students in their writing!

Technology Resources to Use With Students

Image for Robert Peters's blog about technology resources to use to educate students in the classroom

Technology has become more prevalent in our world than ever before. Now, nearly every person has a smartphone and understands how to use a computer. This flourishing of technology has been seen in schools as well. Most students have personal cell phones and can navigate a school computer with ease. It’s a common experience for teachers to struggle with trying to get students to pay attention in class instead of to their smartphones. Instead of forbidding the use of technology in the classroom, here are some great resources teachers can use that combine technology and learning.


This site offers students a chance to publish their own writing of any kind and then receive feedback from other students. They can also comment on and discuss others’ writing that’s posted on the site, though it’s important to note that not all the content is appropriate for school or all ages, so you might want to check it out yourself before using the site. There are all types of writing on this site, so you may want to encourage young writers in your class to check it out.


Students can create their own interactive posters on any topic and customize them as they see fit on this site. It can be used online as well as with a mobile app. Your students can easily add text, links, audio, video, and images to their Glogster and play around with the many features the site offers. It gives them a chance to be creative, while also creating an educational tool for a presentation or project.

CNN Student News

CNN offers informative news clips that cover current events and are only ten minutes long. You can start the day with watching the daily clip with your students and then have discussions about the events or ask a few questions about what they learned.

Free Rice

This website is a fantastic way for students to review different topics and also help out a good cause. FreeRice.com donates 10 grains of rice to the hungry for every answer you get correct when using the site. And yes, it’s legit. You can choose from math, humanities, English, chemistry, geography, sciences, and even various languages. It’s a great way to give students some downtime while also having them work on something relevant to class, but also fun. You might want to offer some kind of prize to the student who has the highest amount of rice at the end of the week or month.


Students can learn more about topics they’re interested in and also discover new passions through this site. It allows them to complete challenges and earn badges and can also be connected to an adult account so a students’ parents and teacher can follow their progress. The environment is completely safe and gives students the chance to learn more about themselves and what they want to do in the future. After students complete a challenge, you can have them create a tutorial or short presentation on what they learned.

Check out this list for even more technology resources for your classroom.

7 Habits of Effective Teachers


Playtime May Become Part of Curriculum in Early Childhood Education

children-playing-329234According to Ali Ingersoll of ABC news, 90 percent of development happens during the first five years of our lives. The more children are exposed to quality care and learning during their early stages, the better the child’s cognitive skills are in his, or her, later educational years. However our focus on educational “needs” may be misconstrued. More and more studies show that early childhood education should be balanced between work and play. Focusing solely on the school work, and ignoring emotional and physical development may be indeed missing the mark for childhood development.

Lynn Pullano, CEO of Child Care Resource Network believes that child development depends largely on playtime as much as “work time” Playtime brings with it an array of benefits for child development. “At those earliest ages, we’re really missing the mark if we’re not engaging the child physically as well as emotionally and mentally in learning. We do have to be careful not to expect from children things beyond their age,” says Pullano. Children must be allowed to use their imaginations and creative abilities. Playtime in certain activities can provide just the right amount of frustration and experience needed to develop cognitive abilities such as problem-solving and task management.

So, what kind of skills are children learning during playtime? For starters, playtime stirs motor skill development. This includes better hand-eye coordination, visual tracking, and muscle development which are used in physical activity. Playtime also allows for social learning. Cooperative play where children play amongst each other helps develop important social skills such as decision making, communication, negotiation, and conflict management. Of course, cognitive skills such as creative thinking, as well as problem solving, are also put into practice in cooperative play.

According to the Urban Child Institute, play also encourages language development. “Parents can encourage language development during play by speaking in longer sentences and introducing new vocabulary to describe play and toys.”

If you found this read useful, and would like to read more on children’s education and development, check out my blog here. Thanks for reading!

5 Practices To Avoid Misbehavior

child-433877_1280Misbehavior can lead to uncomfortable and tense situations, but these situations can also be revealing about underlying conflicts. Whether we like it or not, misbehavior is a form of indirect communication. For all people it’s a form of relaying to others that things are amiss. Acting out is a defense mechanism to avoid feeling vulnerable, embarrassed or betrayed. While misbehavior is frowned upon, it is also healthy, and normal. Misbehavior is a reaction to unfavorable circumstances, which breed negative emotions. While misbehavior should not be rewarded, is it seldom without cause. Misbehavior in the classroom should not be simply dismissed as the result of a bad attitude. We need to recognize the possibility of being the source of this misbehavior. It’s possible that we are creating the negative circumstances to which he or she is reacting. Admitting this does not make you a bad teacher, nor does it take the fault away from the student. To help a student work through their negative behavior, you need to avoid provoking them. Some of our day to day actions could be inciting misbehavior. Again, this isn’t a reflection of your teaching abilities, but instead a call action. To avoid provoking your students, you should avoid these common practices:

1) Do not highlight differences in ability.

It goes without saying that students certainly do not enjoy feeling stupid. While our intention isn’t to make them feel this way, our actions can inspire this feeling. Praising students for their intelligence rather than their effort is an example. Avoid highlighting some students by removing the significance of these differences. Do not attach value to them and avoid using them to rank your students, do not pit students against each other.

2) Do not grade practice work.  

Practice work is assigned to develop new skills and make the newly-learned knowledge stick. The key word is practice, and if we assign grades to this work, then we penalize a student’s attempts to comprehend the material. Do not grade work until students have shown that they understand the material.

3) Avoid having ambiguous and arbitrary norms.  

Avoid arbitrary and ambiguous norms, because students will be unsure of the boundaries in the classroom. Instead, recruit your students in helping you define and establish classroom norms. Everyone will be clear about what’s expected of them, and what will not be tolerated.

4) Do not let students pick seats.

In school, students are often battling the pressures of fixed social hierarchies and peer rivalries. The opportunity to select your seat presents a false sense of autonomy, and students then face the challenge of picking a seat among bullies, cliques, and crushes. Assigning them a seat provides them with a space that is theirs, and avoids enhancing the dynamics at play.

5) Stop using old scripts.

Using the same old lectures signals to students that their experience isn’t unique. Each act of misbehavior is unique instance, and should be handled as such. Please see the ASCD to read more about misbehavior in the classroom.