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Posted by on in Teens and Tweens

teenage girls

"You've been getting messages since you were a baby. Messages about who you are and what you're good at, about how the world sees you and what you should do if you want to succeed ... They said you need to be thin and beautiful ... They warned you if you're strong, opinionated, or take control, you'll be shrill, bossy, a ballbreaker. They asked you why you can't take a joke ... Well,[ f**k] that. I'm here to tell you something else."

So begins Laura Bates' Girl Up, an unsentimental and honest follow-up to Everyday Sexism that works as an introduction to feminism and as a guidebook for young women navigating the realities of misogyny in  the digital age. Bates offers advice on a range of issues from staying safe online and understanding the differences between sex and porn, to speaking up in class and challenging authority.

Girl Up starts with an examination of sexism in social media in which Bates clarifies many double-standards with which many young women are already acquainted:

Step 1: Select your avatar

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Posted by on in Teens and Tweens

a1sx2_Original1_Not-Just-Any.jpg

Jordan knew the moment she sat down to take the test, that her life would never be the same. This little test that they wanted her to take, was to see if any of them had the "aptitude to further their education in a stimulating environment that was able to better help students reach their full potential."

Or in other words, was there anybody smart enough to go to the rich kids private school?

They would have three hours to complete the test. She opened the thin booklet and skimmed the pages that were about to change her life. After quickly glancing at the first few pages she closed the booklet and put her head down on the desk.

Jordan are you okay?

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Posted by on in Teens and Tweens

Don’t worry, they aren’t hoarders.

You may be relieved to hear that it’s very common for young people to collect things. Starting from about age 7 through to about age 14 or 15, collecting is a popular pastime for many young people. What did you collect?  One thing I collected was stickers. I still have my sticker books and–believe it or not–30+ years later those smelly stickers are still smelly. (Probably not organic.)

In addition to collecting things, many young people also take up hobbies, focusing their attention on learning a new skill or learning all they can about someone or something. What was your obsession?  Did you attempt to master a musical instrucment?  Did you dedicate hours to the basketball court or hockey rink?  Did you read everything from a particular author or spend hours absorbing the music of a particular singer or band? 

Collections and hobbies are features of the imagination and important learning tools.

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Posted by on in Teens and Tweens

My dream has always been to have kids talk about what they are learning outside of class, at the dinner table, on the bus.  To be so passionate about what they are learning that they go home and watch a documentary, binge onNetflix, or continue reading more books about what we are learning long after the curriculum has asked us to move on. Sometimes that happens, and sometimes it does not. I have grown to learn that when they do continue their learning outside of the classroom, it is almost always when they are captivated by people's stories.  Whether it be Andrew Jackson's childhood, Samuel Cloud on the trail of tears, or Emmanuele who became a child soldier in the Republic of Congo and was the same age as my students. We need to focus on stories in class.  We need to tell those stories with the heart that they deserve.

I believe that great classrooms can change the world.  When classrooms include powerful  stories, when those stories are told with heart the way they deserve to be told, kids thought patterns can change, they can be moved, fires are lit, and they will be inspired.

Great classrooms just don’t just focus on content.  They use the content in their course to deliver a story that has heart.

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Posted by on in Teens and Tweens

teens and tech

The innovative age of technology continues to inspire youth, both teenagers and children. This technology, however, may be causing serious health problems across young generations as well.

And teenagers are embracing technology more than any other age demographic. According to statistics portal Statista, smartphone users between the ages of 18 and 24 spend over 90 hours per month on apps. Some would even argue technology has become an addiction among teenagers and children.

It may even be shrinking the brains of youth. Astudy published in academic journal PLoS ONE (2011) found that Internet addiction might result in brain alterations and chronic mental dysfunction.

Could innovative devices such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets beharming the health of teenagers and children? From text neck to hearing loss, technology may not be so innovative after all. 

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