EdCampNJ 2017

Thanksgiving is this Thursday. That means that another EdCampNJ was held on Saturday at New Brunswick High School. One of the reasons I was so excited about it was to see if our mission of reaching out to New Jersey and New York educators of color was going to make a difference. To paraphrase the great Maha Bali educators of color need to not only be invited to the table, they need to make the table and set the table. It was clear that our organizing team reflected the mission of EdCampNJ. Would the crowd be the same?

The answer was an overwhelming yes! With the help of Newark Public School, EdCamp Brooklyn, EdCamp Urban, and word of mouth the crowd was filled with a beautiful mix of people. We accurately reflected the rainbow of teachers that teach the students in the great state of New Jersey.

I personally spent the day in lovely room G 108. The NJ AHPERD was kind enough to lend us the Revo Labs UC 1500Revo Labs UC 1500. This allowed us to mic the room up so we had people from Texas, Las Vegas, Qatar, and Arizona join us via audio and video.

The first session held in the room was Social Justice. The conversations were amazing. We were able to honestly speak about race in an environment that was supportive and encouraging. I personally enjoyed the discussion when someone says they don’t see race. The gold nugget from this session was when Cory Radisch stated that some teachers are punishing their students for their disabilities. I was a tad upset that we did not utilize an LGBTQIA expert in the room or address intersectionality. I would highly encourage everyone to watch or listen to the session here. The session notes are also attached at the bottom of the video.

The second session was all about Tech Tools. This was a cool session because it was more like a demo slam. Everyone in the room was able to talk about any tech tools they wanted. There were definitely some experts in the room who chimed in a lot but that was needed because others in the room were there to hear about some of the newest tools available. I would highly recommend you check out the session notes or watch the video by clicking here.

The third session titled Social Emotional Learning was facilitated by @Bond007Laura (Laura Bond). We talked all about the whole child and also how we sometimes forget the teacher needs to take care of themselves as well. Lavonna Roth’s new Ignite Your Shine lessons were being lauded to the room. I would recommend checking out the notes and either watching or listening to the session by clicking here

The final session was run by Josue Falaise. The session was all about PLC’s. What I found interesting is how well Josue was able to handle the room. There were a ton of people there but not many knew or wanted to talk about PLC’s he had to do most of the heavy lifting during the conversation. He was able to answer questions and give everyone an idea of what PLC’s should look like. My gold nuggets from this session were the idea that PLC’s should revolve around solving a problem and that there need to be norms created and followed. Brian Costello told a hilarious story about how everyone has yarn balls and if the meeting starts to go sideways they have a quick indoor snowball fight than they get back on track. Check out his session here.

As always I have a list of grows and glows for the (un)conference.

Glow: Bibiana Prada @bookgirl614 ran a great EdCamp 101 three times before session 1.

Glow: New Brunswick High School. The internet was awesome and so was the facility and parking.

Glow and Groan: The prizes were numerous. There was a line at the end to receive them that held a lot of people up.

Grow: There was no real ending to the day.

Glow: Dan Borghoff and Meredith Martin doing their maker thing.

Glow: The diversity of the crowd.

Overall the day was a huge success for the participants. I only heard great things about the day and really felt like educators were able to learn about a variety of subjects. If you attended I would love to hear your thoughts!!



Sherri Spelic recently wrote this blog post about whiteboards. I agree with her that projectors and whiteboards are fantastic tools that are essential in the gym

stock-photo-empty-whiteboard-magnetic-board-isolated-on-white-208699177or the classroom. I use mine and find it an awesome teaching tool.

I would like to talk about the other whiteboards though. The ones that look like the image on the left. These whiteboards are quickly becoming one of my favorite forms of assessments.

My parents are always complaining that I use too much technology in my class. I poll my students often for feedback and they universally agreed this was true. The turning point for me was that the students said they would rather use paper and pencil for their reflections than using their Chromebooks. Using their feedback to change my teaching practice forced me to figure out new ways to have them reflect without technology. Hence the personal whiteboards.

My students will be given multiple tasks to do in class. One of them is to grab the whiteboard and answer some sort of reflection question. They write their name on the bottom and put the whiteboards on the side of the gym. I then take a picture of each whiteboard and upload it to their Seesaw account. This allows me to have evidence of their learning as well as continuing to inform their guardians about what we are learning in class. This has cut down on the amount of time that students are on technology during my class.

A fourth-grade teacher commented on how he liked this idea and gave me some information about evidence and elaboration stems. I created these two posters and display them using my projector.

Evidence Stems Elaboration Stems.jpg









As with everything else in my teaching. I will continue to tweak this and use the feedback from my students to improve their experience in my class. If you do anything similar please share with me on Facebook or Twitter!

Social Justice “Miseducation” In Our Schools

This blog post is a response to the article Social Justice Miseducation In Our Schools written by J. Martin Rochester who is a professor of political science at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Mr. Rochester starts out his article by stating:

As I wrote in my book, Class Warfare “there has always been the temptation to use schools for purposes other than schooling, for proselytizing and other ends, since children are the ultimate captive audience.”

I would argue that not only has there been the temptation it has occurred since the inception of schools. We have taught our students a false narrative about Christopher Columbus, Thanksgiving, the Civil War, patriotism, and a multitude of other subjects. We haven’t just “stuck to the facts” because history has always been told through the eyes of the victors. The facts we use to teach are biased.

Mr. Rochester goes on to state:

First, schools should mainly stick to what they are uniquely entrusted to do—teaching math, physics, English, and other subject matter and, beyond that, a love of learning. Schools should not aspire to be churches or social work agencies. In an already overcrowded school day in which our schools struggle to find the time to get students to become proficient in “the three R’s,” social justice training can be a huge distraction.

Schools are not entrusted to just teach the cognitive piece of the child nor should they be. One of the aims of schools is to produce well-rounded citizens. To ignore the affective part of the child is a mistake that far too many teachers and administrators have made. It is one of the main reasons that students hate school and don’t identify with the material that is provided for them. This idea of just the facts is why testing is out of control right now.

In addition to the social and emotional part of the child, we return to that same pesky idea that what is being taught in schools now is already highly biased toward the white majority of the country. Why else do we have arguments that the Civil War was fought over state’s rights or ignore how the War on Drugs was really a war on urban youth? The idea that teachers need to stay in their lane is how we continue to hide the troubled history of our country.

J. Martin Rochester believes, “It is sheer hubris for teachers to bring their own personal political agenda into the classroom. What happened to free inquiry?” He goes on to state that he brings in a broad range of views from right to left in his class. Teaching facts is not a political agenda. Teaching our students that the indigenous people of our country were murdered time and time again breaking numerous treaties and agreements is not a political agenda any more than stating 2 plus 2 equals 4. In a world of “alternative facts” (lies) we can no longer allow school systems to lie to our students. This is not a right or left issue. It’s a lie vs truth issue. We need to stop lying to our students.

I am all about the students finding their own path toward truth but only providing the whitewashed information that our public schools currently do is a travesty of education for our Students of Color.

Here is where things get really interesting.

Educators for Social Justice talk a lot about diversity, but do they promote the most important type of diversity—diversity of ideas? Contrary to their claim that they celebrate “disagreement,” they seem to promote only a politically correct, left-leaning perspective. What are the chances they would have their students read analyses about poverty and race written by conservative writers such as Charles Murray (Coming Apart), Thomas Sowell (Wealth, Poverty, and Politics), and Walter Williams (Race and Economics) or—relating to the Stockley verdict and policing—the scholarly work of Heather MacDonald (The War on Cops), which shows “systemic police brutality” to be a false narrative?

I agree with the author here. We should always present multiple sides to an argument. This is where critical thinking has to be taught.  Students need to see what the counter-arguments to their thoughts are. Some may have validity others may not. Either way, you need to know all the facts before you make up your mind. Right now the facts presented to us are not diverse nor do they encourage critically viewing the actions of our country in the past.

This brings up the point of how we present all the sides of a discussion now in schools. The author must think we do this well because he writes this:

Educators for Social Justice are disingenuous in posing as facilitators of student-centered learning, when as teachers they have largely foreclosed the discussion or at least steered it toward a preferred outcome.

Right now I can say that 99% of teachers are doing this on the opposite end of the spectrum. How many teachers will be talking about what really happened during Thanksgiving and what happened directly after it? Where is the talk about institutional racism? We talk about the Civil War and Jim Crow laws and act like everything post-1954 was all good. These discussions aren’t being had in our classes. We have sanitized Dr. King’s work. Do we ever mention how he stated this:

“Urban riots must now be recognized as durable social phenomena,” he told the assembled crowd of mostly white doctors and academics. “They may be deplored, but they are there and should be understood. Urban riots are a special form of violence. They are not insurrections. The rioters are not seeking to seize territory or to attain control of institutions. They are mainly intended to shock the white community. They are a distorted form of social protest. The looting which is their principal feature serves many functions. It enables the most enraged and deprived Negro to take hold of consumer goods with the ease the white man does by using his purse. Often the Negro does not even want what he takes; he wants the experience of taking.” (link)

That is steering our student’s learning towards a preferred outcome.

Mr. Rochester finished his article up with the most asinine argument ever:

I would argue that, if you want to teach social justice, it should be taught not only through reading about poverty in America but also by modeling it first-hand—say, penalizing students who do not complete their homework. Aside from teaching individual responsibility, this gets classmates to understand the concept of fairness, treating all students with the same expectations rather than privileging some by cutting them slack.

How many issues are wrong with that above statement? Social justice is not simply about poverty it is, “…justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society”. (link) Secondly, equality is not the same as equity so to bring up the idea of punishing students for homework equally as a way to model social justice is a horrible idea.

We have to do a better job of really understanding what our country is and is not. Our country provides massive opportunities to some but not all. Our history is one of domination and colonialism. We need to be honest with ourselves and our students. This is not about brainwashing a captive audience. It is about teaching what really happened in our order for our country to grow and flourish. It is time that we acknowledge the good, the bad and the ugly. We have become one of the greatest countries by exploiting groups of people. This has been done through slavery, colonialism, and systemic racism. That is what our students need to understand so we don’t repeat the same mistakes now and in the future.

In conclusion, this article reeks of privilege and elitism. When I take a look at my social media timeline it is striking how many white men cherry pick the one salient point about diversity of ideas and skip the 99% of the refuse that is the rest of this article while the Educators of Color I am connected to all feel that this article was heinous and privileged. Which side of the argument do you fall on?


EdCampNJ­ is a user-generated conference, commonly referred to as an “unconference.” This unconference event is organized by groups o­f K-12 educators and administrators, specifically designed to create a participant-driven, fun-filled day of professional development. EdCamps are free for all who attend! Attendees include administrators, parents, students, teachers, board of education members, and other educational stakeholders.

Educational technology is a common topic area for EdCamps, as is pedagogy, practical examples in instructional use of modern tools, and solving the problems technology can introduce into the classroom environment. Educators can connect with like-minded individuals, collaborate ideas, brainstorm solutions to common education problems, have group discussions. Sessions at EdCamps are diverse and eclectic because they grow out of the interests and expertise of the participants. Most sessions are informal conversations or demonstrations. It’s common for many different people to take the floor during an event to share an idea, show student work, or ask questions. EdCampers are energized and receive information, tips and techniques that can immediately be applied in the classroom.

This year EdCampNJ will be held on November 18 at :

New Brunswick High School 

1000 Somerset Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901



Please consider coming to this EdCamp. It will be held from 8:30 until 1:00 leaving the bulk of your day intact. It is a cost-free day which I guarantee will push your thoughts of where education currently is and where it is heading. Click this link here in order to sign up for FREE! If you have any questions please email me!


Justin Schleider

Stop Grading Participation

There once lived a young boy who tried really hard. He didn’t master the standards. He didn’t pass the class.

There once lived a young girl who didn’t work hard at all. She mastered all the standards in class. She passed.

Work ethic and participation have no place in a grading policy. A student should be graded purely on whether or not they learned the material required. This can be done via portfolios, tests, quizzes, essays, or a billion other ways. Grading a student on participation does them and you a huge disservice. You are believing the myth that if you work hard enough you can achieve anything.

You also believe that you can see past your own bias and viewpoint. How do you know how much a student participated? Where in the standards is participation? If it is one standard out of 10, 20, or 30 you are grading why is it worth so much weight?

Participation is an expectation.

If students are not participating they cannot demonstrate mastery of the standards. That is the issue. Find out why your students aren’t participating and fix your class, your teaching style, or your content.

How do we know who is participating? Ask them? Ask their teammates? Heart rate monitors? Does that tell the real story? It is a subjective process that is difficult to assess at best impossible to assess at worst.

Please stop telling our students that just doing something is good enough. They have to understand that learning is what we grade. Participation can be discussed and assessed but not graded.



#metoo #IBelieveYou

me tooIf you have noticed the #metoo in your Twitter or Facebook feed it means that the women you consider either virtual or physical friends and family have been sexually harassed or assaulted. Let me rephrase that. The women you value and believe are worth being connected to, have publicly posted that they have either been raped, physically molested, or verbally abused.

My timeline is filled with that hashtag. These women are baring their soul to the world so men like myself can understand just how prevalent this is in our culture. The worst part is there are probably more women who do not want to publicly relive their trauma and are staying silent (for which they should take 0 blame).

Here are what the stats say:

  • On average, there are 321,500 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States. Link

  • Ages 12-34 are the highest risk years for rape and sexual assault. Link

Rape and sexual assault start at 12 years old! We have to use this data to inform our students NOW! This means starting in 5th or 6th grade we have to talk to both our boys and girls about this. There is no time to waste.

  • As of 1998, an estimated 17.7 million American women had been victims of attempted or completed rape. Link

  • 82% of all juvenile victims are female. 90% of adult rape victims are female. Link

  • Females ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. Link

  • Women ages 18-24 who are college students are 3 times more likely than women in general to experience sexual violence. Females of the same age who are not enrolled in college are 4 times more likely. Link

There is no question that women are the most vulnerable to rape and sexual assault. No one deserves this. Not a female wearing a short skirt or one wearing a parka. You can not ask to be sexually harrassed or sexually assaulted. When we teach our girls that wearing certain clothing will bring unwanted attention what we are really saying is that men can not control themselves so you have to make sure not to draw their eyes on you.

  • As of 1998, 2.78 million men in the U.S. had been victims of attempted or completed rape. Link

  • About 3% of American men—or 1 in 33—have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. Link

  • 1 out of every 10 rape victims are male. Link

Although #metoo is about women who have been sexually abused or sexually assaulted it does happen to men too. I am not writing this to derail nor detract from the hashtag at all. We do have to understand though that it does happen to men against their will. We have to get rid of the men can’t be raped culture.

21% of TGQN (transgender, genderqueer, nonconforming) college students have been sexually assaulted, compared to 18% of non-TGQN females, and 4% of non-TGQN males. Link

You see the stat. It needs to be addressed in our schools so our students who are TGQN and go to college understand the risks they are facing.

  • 94% of women who are raped experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during the two weeks following the rape. Link

  • 30% of women report symptoms of PTSD 9 months after the rape. Link

  • 33% of women who are raped contemplate suicide. Link

  • 13% of women who are raped attempt suicide. Link

  • Approximately 70% of rape or sexual assault victims experience moderate to severe distress, a larger percentage than for any other violent crime. Link

This affects women for the rest of their lives. One of my friends told me she can recall every detail of her ordeal that was almost 20 years ago.

We could go on and on about how women who have been sexually harassed and assaulted have higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse, lower life expectancies, and poorer job performance. It destroys women’s lives. We need to address this in schools. One way to do this is to show this video called Tea Consent. It really hammers home what consent is taking that abstract concept and putting it as concretely as a cinder block for our students. Charlie Rizzuto also just shared this rap about consent from Andy Horne. If you want more ideas about how to teach about consent, sexual abuse, and sexual assault I would recommend getting in touch with High School National Health Teacher of the Year Andy Milne (@carmelhealth). He has a million resources and a couple of blog posts he can link you to.

Finally, I would like to thank Steve Isaacs who credits Christina Marie with the idea of the #IBelieveYou. The statistics are out there. We need to start supporting the women who come out and report the sexual abuse and sexual harassment they are receiving when they report it. It’s time that we stop pretending that the .0000001% chance of someone lying is enough to wait until the evidence comes in. At the very least we need to stop victim blaming and worry about what they were wearing, what they had to drink, or why someone went to a hotel room. All of that is immaterial. The only time someone should drink tea is when they choose to. (watch the video)

To all the women who have had made the public sacrifice to step forward with your story #IBelieveYou.