Here are some interesting articles we received and discovered this past week…


White People Need to Understand That Helping Is Not the Same as Controlling

Quote from Article:

A few weeks ago, I attended a conference called Educator Summit in Philadelphia. I’m not much of a conference attendee and didn’t know exactly what to expect.

I stood in the back of a dimly lit ballroom, waiting for an address from a man named Howard Fuller, a name that rang familiar, but of whom I had little real knowledge.

From the moment Dr. Fuller took the stage, I was transfixed by his words, his passion and his fearlessness to speak truth to power. At the end of his talk, I plucked up the courage to approach him and ask him a question that’s been on my mind for a good long while: What should White, anti-racist co-conspirators say to other White people?


Dr. Fuller, who I later learned was the distinguished professor of education and founder/director of the Institute for the Transformation of Learning at Marquette University and author of “No Struggle No Progress,” answered me with patience, kindness and unwavering honesty.

He told me that White people need the humility to understand that helping is not the same as controlling. Not only should we not assume the lead, we must also possess and exercise the humility to be told what to do, what is best, what is right—and what is wrong.


We need to help support communities gain the power to control their own destiny, not “help” them by assuming that control for ourselves.

And we need to be honest.

If who we truly are does not allow us to teach, support, care, love and fight for Black and Brown kids, then we need to go do something else.


So often, we White people look outward when we want to be agents of social change. We look outward when we want to be anti-racist co-conspirators. We look outward when we want to be so-called progressives at the forefront of social justice.

We are so quick to laud the virtues of grit, self-control and growth mindsets; to tell families in Black and Brown communities that their children need grit, that their children need self-control, that their children need growth mindsets.

But what about ourselves? What about our children? 

Do we really value kindness if it is more important for my child to get a 5 on her AP test than it is to be decent?

Do we really value growth mindsets when we just assume some kids can’t read, or can’t do math or that some families don’t care? 

Do we really have the gall to tell Black and Brown communities that their kids need grit when their children likely have more grit in one fingernail than we may have in our entire bodies?

District Deeds Synopsis:

What an enlightening article!

The interview provides a large number of valuable insights for “White People” who try to assist in fighting racism with the best of intentions but are not participating and contributing in the best possible way.

District Deeds as “White People” have done our best to support and advcate for educational equity for all students but, based on this article, we are sure that we have not fully understood the best possible way to support students and families of color.  This article gave us a new perspective on how we can be more helpful and supportive of social justice through empowerment of communities of color rather than direct leadership.

A very instructive article we strongly recommend to our readers!

5 Ways Technology Is Making Students Anxious

Quote from Article:

Psychological well-being as measured by self-esteem, life satisfaction, and happiness suddenly decreased amongst students after 2012. This decrease in psychological well-being and increase in anxiety levels are linked to the advent of smartphone technology and screen time.

A new study that involved more than a million American high school students, found that adolescents who spent more time on screens (e.g., social media, the Internet, texting, gaming) and less time on non-screen activities, experienced lower psychological well-being. Adolescents who spend little time on electronic communication were the happiest.

In short, technology makes teens unhappy, but why? What is it about technology that makes people unhappy? Psychologist, Dr. Ellen Hendriksen, puts forward five ways technology exacerbates anxiety in people.


1. Technology insulates us from small uncertainties, leaving us vulnerable to real-life situations

Hendriksen explains that uncertainty is the root of anxiety. To some degree, technology takes a lot of the uncertainty away by answering our many questions instantly. Google maps will take you to your destination directly; if you need to find out the latest tips to ace a job interview, Google will tell you. You can even practice interview questions.

So, why are we still anxious? The thing is, technology provides answers to questions about things to do, not about life as it happens. Glassdoor can’t really prepare you for an interview in an unsettling environment, you have to deal with it as it happens.

“Because technology has lessened our experience handling uncertainty, we’re less prepared to deal with ambiguity when it arises,” explains Hendriksen.


2. Technology allows us to avoid people (and the negative emotions that go with people)

Features and apps are absorbing and allow us to avoid other people – we can simply order a pizza instead of standing in line for one. The only problem is that when we start to habitually avoid interaction with others in this manner, we forget how to interact and we lose our confidence.

Hendriksen points out that what we are really avoiding is the uncomfortable emotions that go with interacting with people, like awkwardness, anxiety, boredom and self-consciousness. Avoiding these situations means we never get an opportunity to handle them and grow in maturity.


3. On-screen communication is not the same as face-to-face communication

When we send a text message on our phone or write an email, we have time to compose, edit, and perfect our communication, whereas face-to-face communication happens unedited in real-time.

When we’re used to taking our time to think of exactly what we want to say, it becomes difficult to respond in a spontaneous way when facing another person. And again, if we don’t have enough experience of talking to another person, when we have to, we don’t have the confidence to do it, which makes us anxious.


4. Social media is judgment in public

Social media is public. Whether you admired or despised, the comments are there for everyone to see. How damaging that can be we know from a number of very public suicides, even by children.  Social media is a cruel minefield for young people.

Says Hendriksen: “Social anxiety is a fear of being revealed and judged as somehow deficient. And social media pushes all those buttons perfectly.” So we put a lot of effort into curating a perfect image of ourselves but in the long run it’s not a strategy that can stand the test of time. In the end, the gap increases between what we project and who we actually are and we become anxious about being found out.


5. The “compare and despair” trap

Life, as depicted on social media, can look picture perfect and enviable and it’s hard not to compare and end up feeling inadequate or inferior, which again, adds up to social anxiety. You tell yourself that this woman with this perfect body lounging in the latest designer sofa, also has problems she’d rather the world doesn’t know about, but still, you’re green with envy. Comparing ourselves to others always leads to unhappiness.

The solution? Don’t let technology rule you. Realize that it’s addictive and that you can take action to break the cycle. Here is a good online resource to get you started.

District Deeds Synopsis:

As a parent experiencing our own kids transformation into the social media age via their smart phones, we recognized many of the symptoms described in this article.  The journey through puberty for all kids is a very challenging time and the addition of self judgement through social media makes it much more stressful.

This article helped us to better understand what our kids went through in puberty with the smart phone effect and to identify ways that we can help them as they grow into adulthood.  Our first step was to show them this article and discuss it together.

We wish that we had this article available 6 or 7 years ago and excourage our readers with kids in elementary, middle and high school to read it.

School is already tough enough for kids without the “smart phone effect” and maybe this article will help!!!

Why Students Plagiarize

One teacher addresses plagiarism by examining the underlying causes such as a lack of confidence or time management skills.

Quote from Article:

In 20 years of teaching, I’ve found ways to decrease plagiarism, but I have yet to eliminate it. Plagiarism frustrates me not only because it is cheating but also because it makes me feel as though my teaching has fallen short.

The Council of Writing Program Administrators identifies causes of plagiarism, including students’ fear of taking risks in their writing, having poor time management skills, and viewing the assignment and standards for documentation as unimportant.

Addressing plagiarism requires building students’ confidence in their writing, developing skills to navigate school stress, fostering investment in the assignment, and creating understanding of plagiarism and attribution. As a teacher, I have agency to address these issues. My response to plagiarism addresses four forces that lead a student to plagiarize.



Students are sometimes maddened by the lumpy, inelegant sound of their writing. They read the words of someone with years of experience that sound so much more fluid.


I tell my students that they have to write like a ninth grader before they can write like a tenth grader. The trick is to keep writing, in their own voice and with their own words. There are no shortcuts.


If I praise my students and use gentle methods to nudge them along, I hope they will trust themselves as writers.



The task of stringing one’s thoughts together can be daunting—especially if students aren’t invested in their thoughts initially. The Council of Writing Program Administrators argues that when presented with “generic or unparticularized” assignments, “students may believe they are justified in looking for canned responses.”


In their book Beyond Literary Analysis, Allison Marchetti and Rebekah O’Dell assert that students’ analyses are more vibrant and authentic when the students are driven by the passion and authority that come from writing about their own areas of expertise.



In discussing the why, we focused on the roadblocks the student perceived. I gave him a mini-lesson on summarizing, and he practiced it right on the spot. We discussed attribution, and brainstormed attributive tags. We talked about ways to address the pressure of facing past-due assignments, and when he suggested “ask for help” I cheered his answer. He offered to rewrite the summary.



There are times students may not understand how writers use others’ ideas and words. Understanding attribution and citation is an important skill for avoiding plagiarism. A colleague asked students to draw a map for the setting in To Kill a Mockingbird. A student painstakingly redrew one she found on Google, not understanding that she was to devise the map from textual evidence in the book.

Particularly in this age of rapid-fire reposting and image sharing, our students’ perception of copying might not match ours. In “Of Flattery and Thievery: Reconsidering Plagiarism in a Time of Virtual Information,” education professor P.L. Thomas writes that helping students understand plagiarism requires outlining a framework for defining terms, developing guidelines, and establishing consequences.

District Deeds Synopsis:

Dealing with plagiarism in the classroom is a very delicate task for every teacher.  Our kids had a couple episodes of accused plagiarism.  In one case the accusation was accurate, in another case it was not.

In the case that it was not plagiarism, the accusation was from a Teacher with one of my kids in an english class.  My child was identified for Gifted and Talented Education but was an underachiever in certain classes.

This underachievement led the Teacher to accuse my child of plagiarism because the assignment far exceeded the performance in other class assignments.  Through investigating further we discovered that the reason that the assignment was of such high quality was because it was about a subject that my child had enjoyed since early elementary school.

Hopefully this article provides some hints and tips for Teachers to address plagiarism in their classrooms in a positive and nurturing way.

Now for our Quote of the Week:

“If you steal from one author it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many it’s research.”  – Wilson Mizner


Have a great week!!!



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