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Help wanted: Teaching respect/Social change for kids


1) What suggestions do you all recommend for a high school class that has issues with negative behaviors. The teacher says the problems are generally instigated by two guys who say they understand the need to learn the material, but don't care. One of them lives independently. The negative behavior from those two spreads throughout the class so that no one is listening to the teacher and no one is learning.

2) Another teacher has a whole bunch of students in in-school detention. They're in there for more than two weeks at a time! That's two weeks of lost instruction! She escorts the students down from the suspension room to attend her class, but the other teachers don't. As a result, the students spend almost the entire day reading ESPN magazine. She's looking for alternative reading material and activities that deal with social change, malleable intelligence, etc., for the students to read. Any suggestions?


ISS is supposed to be a place where the students are keeping up with their classwork on their own. They should have assignments. Something is wrong here.

As for the 2 disruptive boys, you need to enlist them as your class leaders and give them responsibilities. You said one lives independently. That child has been through some hard times and shown he is a survivor. Then he comes to school and is considered a child. Treat him like an adult and he is more likely to act like one. You might want to conference with these two and ask them what needs to be done to make the class better and then have them help you incorporate their ideas.

Google Positive Peer Culture, a mostly intrinsically based therapeutic milieu program. Students in group self-report daily on the ten most frequent inappropriate behaviors, discuss root causes, set goals, and celebrate success.

Some great authors that don't often make it into classrooms but should are Walter Dean Myers, Angela Johnson, Sharon Draper and Sharon Flake. I've watched books by all of these authors hook many of my students who were adamant that they didn't like reading. For your two boys, I especially recommend "The First Part Last" by Angela Johnson about a teenage boy dealing with very grown up issues and struggling with taking responsibility for his life.

Thank you for your suggestion, Ava!

Reading aloud is so powerful. For the ISS students, I wonder about borrowing or renting some audible books by authors likely to spark interest, like those suggested above. (My TFA stint was a very long time ago, but all of my 7th graders, ages 11-16 loved Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.) This could be particularly powerful when followed by a stack of available library books by the same author. On the plus side, it's great that your teacher is collecting the students for class, and is allowed to by school policy. Go relentless pursuit!

Reading aloud is a great idea. I agree with Ava, that Walter Dean Myers work is a great resource for all students. Slam, Monster and 145th St Short Stories are great for emerging, yet mature readers.
Journaling through pictures and words is also powerful, putting disposable cameras in the hands of young authors and then asking them to write about what the have shot is also a great activity.

In detention class, esp. in high school, it's best for kids to work quietly. Some good supplies to have on hand:

Packets of outlines of countries, continents, states, etc. kids label country, state and capital cities; kids label mountain ranges, oceans, continents, etc.

Key to...series packets. Can span from Key to Fractions, Key to Percents, Key to Decimals, Key to Measurement to Key to Algebra (10 packets...for long term Detention-ees), Key to Geometry. These packets are easy to use, and help develop kids skills in math. Packets are inexpensive and for teachers who are math phobic, each set has an answer packet.

Good Anthologies, with effective questions. There are many wonderful anthologies containing selected writings from great people.

Selection of well illustrated science books for interest; all the DK books are great.

lists of Writing prompts for kids to answer.

When kids are in detention, each teacher assigning the kids to detention should be providing work for the student to do while there.

Regarding putting kids who are trouble makers as 'class leaders': sometimes this works in reverse. A student who is unable to control his or her behavior should not be rewarded with designation of leader. Rewards need to be earned before they have any meaning.

Also, one last idea: having kids tape the people in their world as an audio profile of the life they know. The cameras and/or video camera idea is great, but costly unless you write a grant for the purpose (which is a great idea). Tape recording is effective though, and easier for the kids to do. They need to be sure to get a signed release from their interviewees if the tape is to be published or played publicly.

Some of the regulars who get placed in ISS or AE or whatever the school happens to call it, like going there because they don't have to do what their classmates are doing. My experience with ISS or AE has been that kids just continue the behavior in there that they were exhibiting in the classroom. Those students should be given the exact same assignments that their classmates are given in class and be expected to finish them. The teacher in ISS or AE should be a certified teacher who can tutor the students and assist them in completing their assignments otherwise I think these settings are a waste of time.

People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid. Soren Aabye Kierkegaard (1813-1855)

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Recent Comments

  • Tom Kupferberg: People demand freedom of speech to make up for the read more
  • Jane: Some of the regulars who get placed in ISS or read more
  • Goldie: In detention class, esp. in high school, it's best for read more
  • CJV: Reading aloud is a great idea. I agree with Ava, read more
  • Cricket: Reading aloud is so powerful. For the ISS students, I read more




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