VariQuest Blog

Cooperative Learning: A Social Activity

Posted by Margo Ensz on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 @ 10:00 AM

"The best way to learn is to teach.” As Robert Slavin puts it, this is “the secret behind cooperative learning.” So, what is cooperative learning? It is a form of classroom group work that educators deem extremely effective. Instead of competitive or independent goals in group work, cooperative learning emphasizes working together.

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Topics: Differentiated Instruction, Character Education

Grades 6-8: Debating Election Issues

Posted by Julia Cremin on Tue, Oct 28, 2014 @ 02:55 PM

With Election Day around the corner, now is the time to get students involved in how the election process works and informed about why it is important for them to be voting citizens.

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Topics: Lessons/Activities/Templates, Poster Maker 3600, Guest Edu Bloggers

Awesome Poster Alert! The Bones of a Good Essay

Posted by Margo Ensz on Sat, Oct 25, 2014 @ 09:30 AM

This week We Are Teachers released this cool and seasonal poster--"The Bones of a Good Essay." Here's what they had to say:

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Topics: Lessons/Activities/Templates

Synonyms and Antonyms Apple Cutouts: Grades 1-5

Posted by Margo Ensz on Wed, Oct 22, 2014 @ 11:30 AM

Synonyms and antonyms are a vital part of a student's understanding of figurative language, and of words' relationships to each other. Learning the basics of synonyms and antonyms will give students the ability to express themselves more clearly, expand their vocabulary, and add emphasis to their speech and writing. 

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Topics: Lessons/Activities/Templates, Common Core

The New CTE

Posted by Margo Ensz on Thu, Oct 16, 2014 @ 03:30 PM

What comes to mind when someone speaks of Career and Technical Education? What connotations does that phrase hold in the education world? Are students eager to enroll CTE programs, or do they hesitate, wondering if CTE will help with college readiness?

Enter the new players in Career and Technical Education, those who understand the rapidly evolving and complicated choices students will face, and the equally evolving and complicated industries they will enter. Enter high-quality CTE.

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Topics: Professional Development, Career & Technology Education (CTE)

Understanding the Maker Movement: A VariQuest White Paper

Posted by VariQuest Visual Learning Tools on Mon, Oct 13, 2014 @ 08:00 AM

Did you see our last post on the Maker Movement? Still wondering what it is and what the movement's implication is for education? We created our newest white paper to answer these questions and more. 

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Topics: VariQuest Product Updates, Maker Movement

Setting Goals for Student Growth

Posted by Julia Cremin on Sat, Oct 11, 2014 @ 11:20 AM

Whether we like it or not, high stakes testing has arrived. One of our main responsibilities as educators is to prepare students for success on these tests. For students to succeed, we must get students’ buy in on the importance of these tests. If students own their growth in their test scores, they are more likely to take the test seriously. They are also more likely to invest time into their education, which is what we ultimately are trying to achieve.

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Topics: Character Education, Guest Edu Bloggers

Welcome Back to the Future: Meeting the Needs of Common Core

Posted by Margo Ensz on Tue, Oct 07, 2014 @ 07:00 AM

VariQuest's blog is open to educators across the country who are interested in sharing their ideas, stories and opinions with our network of teachers, administrators and more. If you have something you would like to share, please let us know! Email your ideas to 

Charlie Brown’s teacher in the Peanuts comic strip is always represented with the phrase “Wah, Wah, Wah, Wah, Wah.” Even when Charlie answers, her retort is still the same. For many years we had a “sit-and-get” environment, teacher speak/student listen, drill and kill, skills-based learning for the knowledge and comprehension of the learning.

Meeting the goal of 60% student engagement in the classroom for Common Core seems daunting, and many teachers are fearful of the Common Core approach. I am a teacher of the 70’s and 80’s. We taught the learning by embedding the skills and comprehension into the instruction through:

  • Concept development
  • Problem-based learning activities and simulations
  • Inquiry method using Junior Great Books
  • Requiring students to explain and demonstrate understanding of the critical details of what was learned
  • Puzzles that made students analyze the features of the project to formulate the correct responses
  • Show don’t tell method
  • Taxonomy levels of learning
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Topics: Common Core, Guest Edu Bloggers

Creating a Culturally Responsive Classroom

Posted by Margo Ensz on Wed, Oct 01, 2014 @ 07:00 AM

Students perform better when they feel like they are a part of a classroom and school community. Use culturally responsive practices to create a learning community where all students are engaged.

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Topics: Student Engagement, Guest Edu Bloggers

Creating Meaningful Context for The Scarlet Letter with Pinterest Boards

Posted by Margo Ensz on Sat, Sep 27, 2014 @ 10:30 AM


When you teach Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, high school students aren't exactly sitting on the edge of their chairs. In fact, they can be downright bored and frustrated.

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Topics: Lessons/Activities/Templates, Student Engagement, Poster Maker 3600

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