Quickwrites Are For All

Guest post by Laura Steinbrink, @SteinbrinkLaura

posted in education

Ever find yourself looking for a quick activity that has value for your learners but doesn’t require a lot of prep or extra work on your part? I think most educators find themselves in this position occasionally, whether it is an activity to kick off the class period, the learning session, or the conference workshop. A powerful but often overlooked tool in our arsenal is the quickwrite. Some of you are already thinking, that’s great, but I don’t teach English. I know, but the quickwrite is a flexible tool that all subjects, except maybe physical education (PE) and fitness/conditioning, can use daily, weekly, or periodically. Here are a few ways to make use of it regardless of the learning management system (LMS) that your district uses. While most of those listed on the graphic I created for a recent AVID presentation are self-explanatory, there are a few that will benefit from a closer look.



All three of these can be rolled up into one fabulous quickwrite activity. When used as a bell ringer, simply give students a prompt that they must respond to in a short amount of time (that’s the “quick” part of the “quickwrite”) in a sentence or more, depending on the age group of students. When students are writing, they are thinking. By using quick writes in the classroom, we provide students with opportunities to write to learn, to show what they know, to process information, and to stimulate their thinking. A bell ringer quickwrite can be used to access or assess prior knowledge before starting a new unit. You, the teacher, are in charge of what students write and think about during this activity, so using it to see what your students already know about the new unit is a great way to get double the value out of this powerful learning activity.



Brain dump, also called “free recall,” is a cognitive strategy based on decades of research that can take 5 minutes or less of class time and requires minimum prep by you, the teacher. It is a great way to implement retrieval practice, a strategy for helping students get out or “retrieve” the information they are receiving from instruction. The more students retrieve the information, the better chances it has for transferring from short-term to long-term memory. There are several ways to use this at different stages of the lesson. This quickwrite can be a “stop and jot” where you simply stop the lesson or activity after a few minutes and have students jot down everything they can remember up to that point. Continue your lesson or activity after the allotted time for the quickwrite. When using this type of quickwrite at the beginning of the lesson, have students write down as much as they can remember within a short time frame about what was covered, learned, discussed, or practiced in class yesterday. Adding in spacing or the passage of time between what is learned and retrieving that learning does increase the impact on student learning. If you want to use this type of quickwrite as an exit ticket, then simply have students write down everything they can remember from what you covered during the class period or lesson. This should be done individually, and it should not be graded. For the added benefit of students practicing academic conversations, allow partners to share their quickwrites with each other occasionally in order to provide timely feedback for students. (Click here for more information about retrieval practice and brain dumps).



A great way to use quick writes is to combine them with the power of nonlinguistic representation. Give students an image and minimal directions so that students have multiple correct responses and must make multiple decisions over what they write. This type of assignment ups the level of student engagement because they are able to make personal choices about what they write or how they write. The teacher can provide the image and have students generate text, or teachers can provide text that students then use to express ideas in a way that goes beyond the use of words. Students may express ideas about the text through diagrams, pictures, 3D models, movement, demonstrations, role-plays, simulations, or mental images. Math problems can be represented by cartoon characters instead of numbers, for example. Any time there are multiple ways to respond to or solve the problem there is more depth or critical thinking involved for the learner. According to an article by Robert Marzano via the ASCD website, there are five points to keep in mind about nonlinguistic representations:

  • come in many forms
  • must identify crucial information
  • students should explain their representations
  • nonlinguistic representations can take a lot of time
  • students should revise their representations when necessary

Marzano further points out that nonlinguistic representations are a powerful technique and fresh approach that is available to classroom teachers that have a positive effect on student learning as well as provide diversity in the way students process information.



This may seem different from a pure quick write, but quick notes can function as one. There are many ways to do this in the classroom, and it can be a great way to start class by preparing students to “get their thinking on.” To help students start the notetaking process, give them a choice from a few pre-printed or digital generic graphic organizers. By generic, I am referring to one that does not have explicit directions or labels that might direct how a student uses the organizer. If those are all you have, then just make a copy and delete the labels or directions prior to making copies for the students or delete them digitally before placing the organizer in your class Learning Management System (LMS) for students to access. Provide either printed material or digital content for the students to take notes over, and explain to them what you want them to look for and the amount of time they have to do that. Since this is quick, you will want to keep the time you give students to complete it on the short end. Instruct students to use the organizer how they see fit, giving them autonomy over their notetaking process. When students become adept at taking quick notes (or notes in general), the graphic organizer may not be needed, but at first, it serves as a scaffold to help students get started. A blank piece of paper or digital document can be intimidating, but the graphic organizer immediately helps students begin planning where to put their information, and can also help them determine how much information to include, depending on the shapes present on the graphic organizer.

Graphic organizers also tap into the power of dual coding, which is when text and images related to the text are combined to help the brain encode the information in two ways. It helps make the learning sticky. The shapes on the graphic organizer can act as the image for each chunk of text placed within them, helping students move that information from their short-term memory to their long-term memory. If quick notes become your routine for starting class, students can work on the same article or chapter for several days in a row, like a jigsaw activity but completed by the same student over a span of a few days. Day one can cover section 1, day 2 section or paragraph 2, etc. This concept can be similar to a close reading, where students look for different things each time they read. With this activity, they might look for the same things but over different parts of the text each day. What students focus on and for how long they have for taking notes is within the control of the teacher. How students take their notes should be within the control of the student.



Listicles have become an established genre of online writing. A listicle is an article written in list format. Each list item typically includes a few sentences or multiple paragraphs, and a listicle is meant to either educate or entertain readers, such as The Top 10 Songs of 2022, or a more informational one, like 5 Steps to Building Classroom Culture. Assignments for listicles can fit any subject or content area, and most grade levels. It is a great way to: do a quick write or longer research project, assess/access prior knowledge, have a fun or more engaging exit ticket, and the list of classroom applications for the listicle goes on and on. For example, if you are working with new vocabulary words, have students create a listicle of the Top 3 or Top 5 Vocabulary Words (or come up with a more creative title). Students can choose from their list and create an informative listicle over their chosen vocabulary words. To also qualify as a quick write, be sure to require only the number of words that students could list, define, and use in a sentence within the amount of time you plan to give them for the quick write. Listicles can also be used in summarizing content, and if used for a quick write, again be conscious of the amount of content you expect within the time constraints. (Click here for more information or ideas on how to use listicles in your classroom).

There are many more ways to utilize quickwrites in your classroom, but I hope these ideas help you get started using this powerful tool with your students.


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SEL in the Classroom: Strategies

Previously written and posted on EverFi

While we cannot predict with certainty the types of jobs that will exist in the future, we know that today’s students will need a variety of SEL skills, whether referred to as “21st-century skills” or “future-ready” skills, they need to be flexible to adapt with change. 

The Importance of SEL in the Classroom

As we have seen and experienced, there has been an increased focus on the mental health and wellness of our students and ourselves. Dealing with the changes in our schools and in the world, we’ve all had to make adjustments and develop or enhance our social-emotional skills to work through the challenges that we faced in our personal and professional lives. The way that we handled these challenges and worked through stress was important as we are modeling for our students. What are the best ways to provide all students with ​authentic, ​​​unique,​​ and innovative learning experiences that will foster the development of these essential skills? How can we prepare students for jobs which may not exist yet in our ever-changing world?

To best prepare students for the future, we need to help them develop the essential SEL strategies that will enable them to adapt as they work through potential challenges they may encounter in the future. With learning and preparing for the future comes additional challenges and stress related to the work we do. To prepare students, we need to design experiences that will best support them on their journey and this means helping them to become future-ready by developing essential social-emotional learning (SEL) skills.

What are social-emotional skills and why do they matter?

Social-emotional learning or SEL has five competencies: self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, and relationship skills. SEL matters because there is a direct correlation between social-emotional learning and the skills that students will need for future employment. Being “future-ready” means possessing the essentials like collaboration, communication, decision-making, problem-solving, and teamwork, which are a few of the future-ready skills listed by the World Economic Forum. 

Research shows that by regularly addressing the five competencies of SEL in our curriculum, we will positively impact and see an increase in student academic performance. To learn more about SEL, I recommend that educators check out the resources available from CASEL, the Collaborative for Academic, and Social and Emotional Learning.

Teaching Social-Emotional Skills through the 5 Competencies

In our work, we need to promote the future readiness of our students, and the five SEL competencies directly correlate to the social-emotional skills students need. The five competencies are:

  1. Self-awareness: Being self-aware helps students to understand where they are during the learning process and identify their skills and interests as they continue to learn and evolve as learners.
  2. Self-management: Students develop the skills to deal with any emotions or stress experienced during the learning process. In building self-management skills, students focus on setting goals and dealing with any stress they experience. Through learning activities that are scaffolded or promote independent learning, students will see learning as a process, rather than a final product as they develop their own personalized work plan. Developing skills of self-management is essential for the future.
  3. Social awareness: Students develop an understanding of others’ perspectives and different cultures. The development of compassion and empathy are important for students as they learn to interact with others and build interpersonal skills.
  4. Relationship skills: As employers seek skills such as teamwork and leadership qualities, providing opportunities for students to build supportive relationships will help them to feel confident in asking for help and working as part of a team. Developing relationship skills will best prepare students for future workplace success.
  5. Decision making: Students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, learn to process information, and find solutions. By providing students with learning activities that promote higher-order thinking and collaboration, for example, we will empower students to make decisions about their own personal growth and develop social-emotional skills that will transfer to whatever they decide to do when they leave our classrooms.

How to Implement SEL in the Classroom

Finding ways to bring SEL strategies in the classroom is not meant to be something extra or time-consuming. There are many ways to weave SEL activities into what you are already doing. Social-emotional learning programs can promote student engagement and help them to develop the essential SEL skills to best prepare them for the future.

  1. Digital tools. There are digital tools that can help educators to create spaces for students to build self-awareness and self-management. Using tools that promote reflection or check-ins are good options for helping students to gauge their understanding and check their progress in learning.
  2. Digital portfolios. Creating evidence of learning is important for students. Using a digital portfolio is an option that can help students develop self-awareness and self-management as they reflect on their growth and set new goals for their learning journey.
  3. Collaborative spaces. Using online collaborative spaces is beneficial for fostering a sense of community, in particular, useful for when students are learning from home rather than in the classroom and good preparation for future work.
  4. STEM activities. With the variety of options available, STEM can promote the development of SEL and empower students with new ways to create, innovate, iterate and reflect, all of which help to develop SEL skills. EVERFI has a variety of programs and resources that can provide students with access to learning about STEM careers, business planning, and career readiness.
  5. Inquiry methods. Methods such as project-based learning (PBL) promote the development of SEL and self-efficacy through a student-directed, independent learning experience. We want to promote student agency and PBL helps students to work through challenges, decide how to balance their work and come up with their own workflow. PBL promotes critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving, and enhances the learning potential of each student as they design their own learning path. Students need more real-world experiences, where they can assess needs in their community and brainstorm ways to effect changes that will positively impact others beyond their classroom walls.

Benefits of SEL for the Future

With more social-emotional awareness, students will be better able to evaluate their skills and set goals for the steps they need to take in order to continue to grow as learners. As for long-term benefits, teaching SEL in the classroom positively impacts the future success of students whether in college or in the workplace. 

If we provide ways for students to learn and explore the world, they will build skills in communication, collaboration, problem-solving, resilience, and others that employers seek. Students will have the right skills, real-world awareness, and flexibility that will best prepare them for a constantly evolving world and changing work environments.

Rachelle Dené is a Spanish and STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology Teacher at Riverview High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle is also an attorney with a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. Rachelle is an ISTE Certified Educator and serves as the past president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network. She was named one of 30 K-12 IT Influencers to follow in 2021.

She is the author of six books including ‘In Other Words: Quotes That Push Our Thinking,” “Unconventional Ways to Thrive in EDU”, “The Future is Now: Looking Back to Move Ahead,” “Chart A New Course: A Guide to Teaching Essential Skills for Tomorrow’s World, “True Story: Lessons That One Kid Taught Us” and her newest book “Your World Language Classroom: Strategies for In-person and Digital Instruction” is now available.

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Close Your Eyes

Guest post by Brian Kulak @bkulak11

It’s a short list, but the older I get, the longer it becomes. 

Jeff Buckley’s “Last Goodbye.”

Pearl Jam’s “Release.”

James’s “Out To Get You.”

Regardless of where I am (except in the car; I’m not a lunatic) or what’s happening in my life, there are certain songs that make me close my eyes. A reaction both genuinely involuntary and intimately purposeful. A strange, dichotomous shutting off of one sense in favor of another, telling our eyes to sit this one out while our ears do the heavy lifting. 

And then there’s the goosebumps. The sensation, dubbed frisson, is triggered by a dopamine flood measuring 4-5 seconds associated with seeing, hearing, or experiencing something that triggers an emotional response. Interestingly, the brain elicits the same reaction to fear. 

I like to think about it as moment recognition. My conscious decision to dim everything else in an effort to brighten the experience of a deeply personal, infinitely resonant moment in my life. But in order for it to take hold, to really matter, I have to remember that moment, often at a random, unrelated or loosely connected time. 

So I do. 

And it works. 

Now, while I don’t walk around my school, eyes shut, meditating on moment recognition, the practice itself has made its way into my leadership. Instead of song lyrics, however, it’s small moments with kids, staff, and community. 

When a kindergartener found out he would be repeating this year, he said, “it’s okay. I love kindergarten, and Mr. Kulak is my best friend.” 

When I responded to a Twitter question about leadership catchphrases, a teacher chimed in that I often say, “I trust you” and don’t even realize it. Now, I do. 

During the promotion, a Tatem OG, whose final child was leaving, approached me sheepishly and asked for a hug. I told her to bring it in, and she cried while we hugged. 

Education, unlike any other profession, is a mosaic of these experiences. Without the predictability or isolation of other fields, we have daily opportunities to create and store these brief moments of zen. And the best part? They will always include other people.

So do it. Find small moments for which you close your eyes, literally or figuratively, and store them up. There will come a time, and it might be soon, when you want to close your eyes because of frustration or fatigue, and when you do, behind your eyelids and just within reach will be these moments of frisson. 

Close your eyes. 

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Creating a Learner-Centered Classroom

Guest blog by Kellie Bahri @Kbahri5

As a teacher in elementary school, I’m passionate about making the classroom a fun and engaging place where students can take charge of their own learning. The Learner-Centered approach puts students in the driver’s seat and encourages them to be more involved in their own education. This type of classroom is designed to fit each student’s needs, interests, and abilities.

Student-centered learning empowers students to take control of their own education by allowing them to explore topics, generate questions, and find answers on their own. This type of learning helps students develop critical thinking skills and encourages them to take an active role in their education. When students are given the freedom to direct their own learning, they are more likely to be engaged, motivated, and develop a deeper understanding of the material.

It has been demonstrated through research that a Learner-Centered Classroom can significantly enhance the motivation, engagement, and success of students. By adopting a student-focused approach, educators are able to facilitate the development of important skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and self-reflection in their students. With this student-centered approach, students will become more confident and empowered learners.

The implementation of seven key strategies can help the transformation of a conventional classroom into a student-driven learning environment, in which students are equipped with the skills necessary to take a lead role in their education.

Student-led discussions

I encourage my students to lead discussions in class by sharing their ideas and perspectives. I use strategies such as Think-Pair-Share or Socratic Seminar discussions to facilitate student-led conversations. During these types of discussions, students are given the opportunity to share their thoughts and engage in active listening with their peers. This type of student-led discussion promotes critical thinking and helps students develop strong communication skills.

Collaborative learning

 I encourage my students to work together in small groups or pairs on projects, assignments, or activities. Collaborative learning helps students develop important skills such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving. I use techniques such as Jigsaw or Group Concept Mapping to encourage my students to collaborate and share ideas and I use online collaboration tools such as Google Classroom or Schoology to allow my students to work together on projects from anywhere. This type of learning not only promotes social and emotional growth but also helps students understand and retain information better through shared exploration and discussion.

Choice-based learning

 I believe in offering my students a range of learning options, allowing them to choose activities that interest them and align with their learning styles and passions. Choice-based learning is a student-centered approach that empowers students to take the lead in their learning. I use centers, stations, or choice boards to provide my students with a variety of options and let them choose what they want to work on. This type of learning creates a more engaging and personalized learning experience for each student and enhances student’s’ organizational skills. 

Inquiry-based learning

 Inquiry-based learning is a student-driven approach where students are encouraged to ask questions and engage in their own investigation to increase their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. I use prompts such as “I wonder…” or “How can we find out…” to support inquiry-based learning, and provide opportunities for students to engage in hands-on activities, simulations, and experiments to support their investigations. And to make the process even more meaningful, I encourage students to keep a student inquiry journal where they can jot down all their curious questions about the world around them. This journal not only helps them keep track of their progress, but it also gives them a sense of ownership over their own learning journey.

Project-based learning

Project-based learning, a hands-on method of education where students engage in real-world projects that showcase their knowledge and skills, can lead to a deeper understanding of the material and increased engagement in the learning process. By working on challenging projects that require critical thinking, problem-solving, and application of knowledge, students can see the relevance of their education and make connections to the world around them. This approach aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as it promotes active, meaningful learning and the development of skills that are essential for success in the 21st century. Examples of project-based learning activities may include creating a podcast, designing a website, or constructing a model of a historical landmark.


I encourage my students to reflect on their own learning process and to think about how they can improve. This type of self-reflection helps students to understand their strengths and weaknesses and to set goals for themselves. By regularly reflecting on their own learning, students can better understand how they learn and how they can become more effective learners.I use online journaling tools such as Flip, SeeSaw, or Kidblog for students to document and reflect on their learning experiences.

In-class projects

I assign in-class projects that allow my students to apply the concepts and skills they have learned in class in a hands-on and engaging way. These projects can involve independent or group work and can be used to reinforce the material covered in class. For example, a student might create a poster or model to demonstrate their understanding of a particular subject. In-class projects give students the opportunity to be creative and to showcase their learning in a tangible way. This type of project also helps students to develop important skills such as research, collaboration, and presentation skills.

Imagine being in a classroom where the focus is on you and your learning journey. It’s all about empowering students to make the most of their education, and helping them understand the importance of what they’re learning. That’s what makes a Learner-Centered Classroom so special. A learning space for students to actively participate and be engaged is key to inspiring students and sparking a lifelong love for learning.

Kellie Bahri is an experienced instructional specialist, teacher, and children’s book author. With over a decade of experience in education, she has successfully implemented innovative instructional strategies resulting in improved student performance and engagement. As Elementary Teacher of the Year for 2020-2022, her dedication to education and creative teaching methods are highly regarded. Kellie also uses her writing talent to inspire a love of learning in young readers through her children’s book. Her goal is to make a positive impact on children’s lives and help them reach their full potential.

About the Author

Kellie Bahri is an experienced instructional specialist, teacher, and children’s book author. With over a decade of experience in education, she has successfully implemented innovative instructional strategies resulting in improved student performance and engagement. As Elementary Teacher of the Year for 2020-2022, her dedication to education and creative teaching methods are highly regarded. Kellie also uses her writing talent to inspire a love of learning in young readers through her children’s book. Her goal is to make a positive impact on children’s lives and help them reach their full potential.

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ChatGPT for Spanish Classrooms 


¿Amigo o Enemigo?

Guest post By Nicole Biscotti, M. Ed. @BiscottiNicole

The short answer: Don’t fight progress – embrace it, learn how to better prepare kids for their future with AI, AND use it to save yourself time with a few important caveats

ChatGPT is free, works in English and Spanish, and generates text on any topic in seconds.  You can use it to generate readings, sample readings, explanations of grammatical concepts, lesson plans, songs, poems, narratives, and the list goes on. ChatGPT frees me up to focus more on the aspects of teaching that make a difference for my kids – building relationships, differentiation, formative assessment, instruction design, being present and less stressed out…you get the idea. 

Integrating ChatGPT also benefits students in the long term because it prepares students for success in the job market that they will enter. ChatGPT will likely become increasingly relevant because its user base, accuracy, and capabilities are increasing exponentially and rapidly. Students’ competitiveness in their careers will depend partially on their ability to be productive with this tool. Unlike most AI, ChatGPT is expected to shake up the landscape for white-collar workers in industries as varied as healthcare and computer science (Lowrey, 2023).

Personalized Learning

Back to the classroom. ChatGPT is just what the busy Spanish teacher necesita – no wasted time searching for the perfect “lectura” (text). Effective language instruction is coupled with learning about culture and now I’m able to generate texts in seconds AND I can even center them around a Latin American country, cultural point of interest, holiday, grammatical structure, etc.  Differentiation and personalized learning, those lofty teaching ideals that can feel a bit heavy when you mean well but have 35 kids in your room, have become that much easier to attain with ChatGPT.  It’s possible to generate texts about diverse aspects of culture in seconds and make adjustments for interests, length, rigor, etc. (Kuo & Lai, 2006) (Salaberry, 1999; Rost, 2002).

Flexible Texts for Creating Lessons That Address ACTFL Standards

ChatGPT effortlessly generated texts about the pre-Columbian cultures of Peru, Mexico, and Puerto Rico respectively that used the subjunctive mood for my classes.  Additionally, ChatGPT was kind enough to make comprehension questions for each reading as well.  ¡Muy buen amigo indeed! All I had to do was type in “preguntas de comprensión sobre culturas pre colombinas de Perú” and I had seven great questions for each reading. Students learned about the products and practices of indigenous cultures of Latin America directly through these readings which could be used as an integral part of an endless list of interpretive, interpersonal, or presentational activities.

The possibilities for quickly generating texts about any aspect of culture using any grammatical structure with ChatGPT to address World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages from the American Council of Foreign Language Teacher’s (ACTFL) are seemingly endless.  As an example, students could use the texts below to form comparisons between pre-Columbian cultures and identify intercultural influences in an interpretive activity.  In small groups they could engage in an interpersonal activity to support a subsequent presentational activity comparing and contrasting the indigenous cultures. Mi amigo ChatGPT kindly provided me with a list of prompts for students to use in guiding them with comparing and contrasting as well (ACTFL, 2022).

Engaging Grammar Instruction

With mi amigo ChatGPT I have access to texts and comprehension questions about almost any topic that highlights any grammatical structure in Spanish so my students have more frequent opportunities to use text to identify and explore the uses of grammar in context. Research shows that students are highly motivated to learn grammar through the tasks of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. While reading and learning about culture, students are exposed to the subtleties of the use of grammar and gain a better understanding of the nuances of the language (ACTFL, 2022). 

ChatGPT’s Limitations

Interestingly, I was not able to ask ChatGPT to create an essay comparing and contrasting pre-Columbian cultures using the subjunctive tense because each time it wanted to compare and contrast the use of the subjunctive tense in the respective cultures.  This is actually not even a valid discussion given that pre-Columbian cultures didn’t speak Spanish.  The description of why the subjunctive would be used was accurate however the premise of the ChatGPT’s essay was that the Aztecs and the Mayan spoke Spanish.

“El subjuntivo es un tiempo verbal que se utiliza para expresar acciones inciertas o deseos. En las culturas precolombinas, el subjuntivo se utilizaba a menudo en los rituales religiosos para expresar deseos o peticiones a los dioses. Por ejemplo, en la cultura azteca, se utilizaba el subjuntivo en las oraciones de ofrenda a los dioses para pedirles prosperidad y buenas cosechas.”

“Otra cultura precolombina que utilizaba ampliamente el subjuntivo era la maya. En esta cultura, el subjuntivo se utilizaba en los textos jeroglíficos para describir eventos futuros o inciertos.”

This could be user error because I may not have known how to ask mi amigo ChatGPT the right way to elicit the correct response. However I think it’s safe to say that at a minimum it’s not easy to figure out how to create a cultural comparison with the subjunctive mood in Spanish – at least for now.  

Cheating or Opportunity to Analyze Texts?

Only one kid so far tried to pass a paragraph written by ChatGPT by me and honestly I could tell even though I was not using any software to monitor his computer.  I didn’t need Edward Tian’s GPTZero app either.  I’ve been a teacher and a mom long enough to recognize vocabulary, verb conjugations, and style that is unusual for teenagers to use. Also he seemed to know a lot about the topic for someone who wrote the paragraph in about five minutes.  

In the sample texts that ChatGPT generated for me about pre-Columbian cultures you’ll notice similarities in style and depth.  First of all, the wording is very similar, as is the paragraph length, sentence structure, etc.  Another noticeable attribute is how general the information is.  

Since the likelihood of the student not using ChatGPT on another assignment again in any other class is pretty low, I decided to illustrate a point to him about the tool. I told him that the information lacked depth and sources.  We looked over it and agreed on specific places where more information would be important to the reader and which insights it would provide in the overall cultural context of his topic.

When he finished finding sources and editing his work, he presented a much more robust discussion.  We discussed the differences in the two writing pieces and he admitted to using ChatGPT for the first one.  We then talked about the differences in his experience as a learner from writing the first to the second piece and also about how ChatGPT might change writing academically and professionally given its capabilities and limitations.  As ChatGPT improves undoubtedly it will become harder to spot so easily but like everything about technology we’ll learn how to work with that as it comes.


Although there are benefits to the classroom, this tool can only be used in compliance with the law and its terms of use by teachers.  There are legal issues with minors using ChatGPT so for at least the short term it’s best used by adults for the classroom.  ChatGPT collects information such as users’ IP addresses, interactions, country, etc. that is prohibited under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 for children under the age of 13.  Although ChatGPT doesn’t allow minors to open accounts according to their terms of use; however it doesn’t verify the age of its users (Claybourn, 2023). 

Spontaneous Classroom Connection & Fun

When one of my students wondered aloud what rap in Spanish sounded like I casually offered to write a rap about the subjunctive. That definitely got their attention and quickly became a challenge that I confidently accepted knowing that I had an amigo who could help.  The rap was actually a really great explanation of the subjunctive and was pretty catchy. A comment from a student quickly turned into kids making beats and rapping about the subjunctive in Spanish. It was a great learning moment and maybe most poignantly, technology-facilitated spontaneous fun and connection in my classroom.

I’d love to hear how it’s going in your classroom with ChatGPT. Please comment below. 

American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages. (2022). Teach Grammar as a Concept in Context. ACTFL Language Connects. Retrieved January 20, 2023, from https://www.actfl.org/resources/guiding-principles-language-learning/grammar-concept-in-context 

American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages. (2022). World-readiness standards for learning languages – ACTFL. World Readiness Standards For Learning Languages. Retrieved January 20, 2023, from https://www.actfl.org/sites/default/files/publications/standards/World-ReadinessStandardsforLearningLanguages.pdf 

Claybourn, C. (2023, January 18). CHATGPT in classrooms: What to know | high schools | U.S. news. ChatGPT in Classrooms: What to Know. Retrieved January 21, 2023, from https://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/articles/chatgpt-in-classrooms-what-to-know 

Kuo, M.-M., & Lai, C.-C. (2006). Linguistics across Cultures: The Impact of Culture on Second Language Learning. Journal of Foreign Language Instruction, 1(1). 

Lowrey, A. (2023). The Atlantic. How ChatGPT Will Destabilize White-Collar Work. Retrieved January 20, 2023, from https://apple.news/ArNwgCNfBRA6Y9xCCQp5G2g 

Rost, M. (2002). New Technologies in Language Education: Opportunities for Professional Growth. Retrieved October 12, 2006 from http://www.longman.com/ ae/multimedia/pdf/MikeRost_PDF.pdf

Salaberry, R. (1999). CALL in the year 2000: still developing the research agenda’. Language learning and technology 3/1: 104-107

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Preparing Today’s Students for the Future Workforce


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Sponsored by @x2VOL

Today’s high school students are the future of our workforce. Before long they will be in college or starting full-time jobs of their own. But how are today’s students preparing for their futures? What will the workforce look like when these students move on to the next stage of their lives?

Schools, districts, and even state education departments provide various programs for students to gain relevant work experience and gain necessary skills outside of the classroom.

What Are These Programs? There are a number of school-based programs that support student growth through work such as:

  • Work-based learning programs 
  • Internship programs 
  • Cooperative Education programs 
  • Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs
  • Job Shadowing 
  • Apprenticeships 


Why are These Programs Important? These programs allow students to have more than just a part-time job after school. These programs are focused. They are designed to assist the student in gaining the most out of their experiences. Students aren’t just working and then signing off that they did the work… they are working, meeting certain criteria, and reporting back on what they learned in their job at their apprenticeship or from their internship. They are being observed and critiqued on if they are showing up to work on time. Are they following instructions? Are they taking advantage of leadership opportunities? Are they communicating well?

These programs are focused and designed to engage each student in their area of focus or their job to ensure they are reflecting on their experiences and learning from them.

What are students learning?

Through these programs, students are learning valuable life and work skills – skills they might not learn in the classroom. They are being assessed, their progress toward certain goals is being monitored, and they are self-reflecting on the things they are learning. Many WBL and CTE programs track the development of skills such as:

  • Basic work skills
    • Showing up on time 
    • Completing assigned tasks 
    • Collaboration
    • Time management
  • Specific industry skills
    • Abilities needed for a certain job
    • Tasks required for certain areas of work
    • Certifications needed for certain roles
  • Soft skills
    • Leadership roles
    • Communication
    • Personal accountability
    • Responsibility
    • Critical thinking skills

How does this impact their future?

These programs prepare students by giving them opportunities to learn skills they will inevitably need as they enter the workforce. Academics provide them with knowledge and work and service programs provide them with the skills they need. 

Student Outcomes After high school, some students move on to community college or a four-year university. Other students move straight into the workforce. Other students move on to trade school and then into the workforce in a trade of their choice.

The skills they learn through these high school programs, however, set them up for success. They aren’t learning these skills while they are in college or in their first job. They learn them early on in programs designed to help them identify areas of growth and then succeed in those areas.

For example, work-based learning programs allow students to work a part-time job after school. Students will record their hours and experience and often report back to their coordinators on what they learned or what skills they utilized during their shifts.

CTE programs provide opportunities for high school students to focus on a trade and spend time learning specific skills necessary for that trade. Students can then move on to trade school after high school already prepared with the basic skills they will need. Introducing trade schools as an option for students at an early stage provides students with more options after high school.

Related article: Is Gen Z Interested in Trade Work?

Job shadowing programs are excellent ways for young students to get a glimpse into potential careers. There’s value in discovering what they like and don’t like and what they have natural talents for or things that might not be their cup of tea. Job shadowing provides a look into the real workforce for students by seeing what someone in that profession experiences on a daily basis. These real-world experiences provide such valuable insight for students by taking concepts of what a job might be and seeing the reality of the work.  

Resources to support student work programs

These programs are excellent opportunities for students to gain knowledge and skills, but administrators need support in sustaining these programs day to day. That’s where x2VOL comes in. Click below to download our e-guide and learn more about how x2VOL supports the facilitation of hours and development tracking for student work programs.

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The MTSS Series: Part 3

Guest post by Bonnie Nieves, in collaboration with Class Composer

Now that you have become more familiar with MTSS in my prior blogs, hopefully, you have a better understanding of the tiered supports and are ready for some next steps. Let’s take a look at some instructional methods that can be used in the classroom to foster the development of essential SEL skills and help educators to best provide for each student’s needs.

When we have a variety of methods that we can share with colleagues, it helps us to better provide for students and also to build our library of resources to become more comfortable with MTSS.

This is the time to revisit the inventory taken at the beginning of the adoption process and consider building a resource library. You may find that current instructional methods require only slight modifications to be considered Tier 1 and Tier 2 practices. We have many options and sometimes by taking the time to share ideas, whether through grade-level planning or PLC time, we can build our resources together in less time.

Below are some instructional methods suggested by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning CASEL.org. It is likely that many teachers already use similar strategies; making these a comfortable entry point where people can gain traction and buy into your MTSS roll-out.

  • Co-construct classroom community agreements for behavior, and how to treat one another.
  • Design learning activities that empower students to explore issues that are important to them and co-create solutions to improve the classroom, school, or community.
  • Make connections between SEL and academic instruction; initiate reflection and discussion.
  • Guide students through the process of setting goals, encourage and commend academic risk-taking, and incremental progress. Frame productive struggle as part of the learning process; coach students on how to correct mistakes and recover from setbacks.
  • Balance class time with periods of direct instruction, student cooperative work, and time to work/reflect alone.
  • Elicit student thinking by asking open-ended questions and encouraging students to elaborate on their responses.
  • Provide opportunities for students to reflect on cooperative group work and what made that work successful and/or challenging and plan for improvement.
  • Affirm students’ diverse identities and cultures through activities and interactions.
  • Provide space for students to share and learn about each other’s lives and backgrounds.

Tracking student progress and implementing strategies

These strategies can be easily included in meaningful ways with minimal disruption to existing classroom routines or additional prep time. Consider asking faculty to share examples of what these look like in their classrooms. our MTSS resource library now contains relevant, peer-reviewed practices! Leverage the tools available to share ideas and monitor the progress of your students with Class Composer.

Integrating activities that focus on academic content AND behavioral/social-emotional instruction at the same time elevates the importance of non-academic performance. Viewing traditional academic instruction through behavioral and social-emotional lenses helps to incorporate them into current routines. Check-in / check-out, think-pair-share, reflection prompts, and goal-setting are examples of tier-1 instructional methods for academics. To add a behavioral/SEL component, consider prompts that elicit student dispositions such as resilience, independence, creativity, and self-motivation.

Sharing information through Class Composer

Class Composer enables all teachers to access the information they need about each individual student when they need it. It makes it easy to track and record student growth toward individualized goals. With Class Composer, it facilitates how you manage all the assessment data collected in a streamlined way! Depending on the strategies that you use, there are many ways to gather data on student growth and help students to build skills in a variety of ways.

Some successful examples from my classroom are visible thinking and retrieval practice activities listed here.

What Works Clearinghouse has a wide variety of evidence-based programs and strategies to explore. The resources can be sorted by grade level and content area.

According to CASEL.org, the most effective behavioral and SEL instruction is SAFE (sequenced, active, focused, and explicit). Their guide will help when you are ready to select an SEL program that will work for your school community. Aside from adopting a full SEL program, purposefully choosing activities from research-based organizations such as FacingHistory.org, Along.org, Everfi.com, and CharacterLab.org can be a way to build behavioral and SEL routines that provide common, informal assessment data.

Next, align instructional tools with CASEL competencies and use proficiency scales to document student progress and to monitor the need for movement between tiers. Balance formal and informal assessments with observed behaviors to identify patterns. Faulty and staff who interact with students on a daily basis are indispensable in the monitoring of behavior trends and changes.

Hidden curriculum, how educators model and respond to behavior, accounts for as much as 90% of students’ learning experience according to Frontiers In Education April 2022. The way that adults interact with one another and with students makes impressions and has a long-lasting impact on relationships and learning outcomes.

(I wrote about a similar idea in this blog).

Lesson examples

Curriculum for Teaching Emotional Self-Regulation

Additional Resources

Click to access Classroom_Activities_Handout.pdf

Click to access COOR-79l-2016-03-CWT-lesson-plans.pdf

When it comes to the tools we use, having a streamlined and unified space where we can access the information we need to best provide for students is essential. Take some time to explore Class Composer today using their sandbox. You will experience a simpler, more streamlined experience when in the easily accessible, data-driven platform that promotes student academic achievement and the development of essential SEL skills.

Head to Class Composer to learn more!

Bonnie Nieves is the author of “Be Awesome on Purpose” and has over a decade of experience as a high school science teacher. She has a Master’s Degree in Curriculum, Instruction, and Educational Leadership. Her passion for creating immersive and authentic experiences that fuel curiosity and creating student-centered, culturally responsive learning spaces that promote equity and inclusion has led her to establish Educate On Purpose Coaching.

In addition to being an award-winning educator, Bonnie works to ensure equitable and engaging education for all through her work as a copy editor at EdReports and Classroom Materials and Media reviewer for The American Biology Teacher journal. She serves on the MassCUE board of directors and enjoys connecting with educators through social media, professional organizations, conferences, Twitter chats, and edcamps. Bonnie is a member of the National Association of Biology Teachers, the Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science, and the National Science Teaching Association. She encourages you to connect with her on Twitter @biologygoddess, Instagram @beawesomeonpurpose, Clubhouse @biologygoddess, and LinkedIn.

Please visit www.educateonpurpose.com for information about her current projects.

**Interested in writing a guest blog for my site? Would love to share your ideas! Submit your post here. Looking for a new book to read? Find these available at bit.ly/Pothbooks

************ Also check out my THRIVEinEDU Podcast Here!

Join my weekly show on Fridays at 6pm ET THRIVEinEDU on Facebook. Join the group here