5 Tips for Teaching Effective Discussion

5 Tips for Teaching Effective Discussion


Teaching today’s youth to be effective communicators can seem impossible at times. We have a generation of vocal, opinionated individuals who often lack the ability to eloquently discuss their thoughts and ideas. While teaching effective discussion skills may not be easy, it’s certainly an important part of developing a working classroom community, allowing your students to absorb knowledge in different manners, and preparing them for their future as successful adults. Teaching effective discussion should be an ongoing endeavor - begin in your back to school preparations, establish guidelines on the first day of school, and continue the learning experience throughout the school year. These skills are building blocks for a strong foundation of learning, and forgoing this study will disadvantage your high school and middle school students.

These 5 tips for teaching effective classroom discussion will help you get started off on the right foot at the beginning of the new school year. Start back to school with a great foundation for yourself and your students. Teaching basic skills and discussion fundamentals in the first few class periods can help to set the foundation for your entire year and will help students get a strong footing in your subject area study. #teaching #socialstudies #history #lessonplans #teachinghistory #teachingsocialstudies #lessonplan #backtoschool #middleschool #highschool

Using these 5 great tips for teaching effective discussion in the classroom, you’ll be establishing clear and manageable guidelines for your students to maintain throughout the remainder of the school year and onward. Effective discussion comes naturally to some; others may need much coaching and advising. Use these tips for teaching effective discussion to make it more approachable for the growing needs of your high school and middle school students. Teaching effective discussion in the classroom isn’t easy but it’s necessary to establish a good learning foundation from the starting gate. Provide your students with the advantages of effectively discussing their opinions, thoughts, and knowledge, while maintaining order in your classroom, with these 5 great tips.


Basic Learning Skills
While these may seem rudimentary, your students (especially incoming sixth graders and freshmen) may benefit from a refresher course in basic learning skills. Establishing this clear baseline will be advantageous to your students who are seeking knowledge throughout the year. Ensure your students understand how to be prepared, sit for success, be attentive, question, speak up, listen patiently, include everyone, and stay on topic. Not only will these skills promote effective discussion, but also a respectful and successful classroom community.



Reading Strategies
Using three divisions of reading strategies, including pre-reading, during reading, and post-reading strategies, you will help your students understand how to effectively break down text in order to effectively communicate it and discuss with their classmates. By previewing the text, determining its type, gathering background information, setting a purpose, and making predictions during the pre-reading phase, students will begin reading prepared and informed. Then, if they read at an appropriate rate, use background and contextual clues, and check for understanding, students will continue their digestion of the text, better preparing them to discuss effectively with others. Lastly, by summarizing effectively, evaluating the information, drawing conclusions, and forming examples, students are able to tie their knowledge together, efficiently producing talking points to be effectively discussed with others.



Text Reading Skills
By testing accuracy in informational text, making connections with informational texts, identifying key terms, making connections with biographies, evaluating the author in biographies, and testing accuracy in biographies, students are able to approach often-unapproachable, “boring” texts with the foundation to effectively digest the information and then share it effectively in a discussion forum.

Response Group Prompts & Guides
Using response group prompts and assigning literature circle roles, group performance in textual reference becomes seamless and enjoyable for your students. Encourage students to use “I” statements or analytic statements, like “I wonder,” “I think,” “I felt,” and “The author meant.” These statements will help further understanding so they’re able to fully communicate their newfound knowledge.

Discussion & Notes Organizers
Using different notes organizers and note-taking methods, your students are able to better understand the key concepts found within the text, lecture, or presentation of information. Teach them proven methods like KWL, Venn Diagrams, Topic Maps, Sequential Organizers, and Biography Organizers to ensure a full understanding of the concepts at hand. By correctly incorporating these organizers and methods, students are able to effectively discuss the information learned without frustration or confusion.


While teaching effective discussion concepts in the classroom may seem daunting, there are many resources available both online and in print to help ease your class into regular and easy discussion in the classroom setting. By furthering these skills throughout the year and adding onto the building blocks of knowledge established on the first day of school, students will be able to use these effective discussion skills well into their adult and professional lives. Use these 5 tips to teach effective discussion, and pick up these ready-to-print Effective Discussion Posters to ensure your students are consistently using these skills.


Happy Teaching!






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Michele Luck
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5 Great Tips for Teaching Social Studies

5 Great Tips for Teaching Social Studies



When we are teaching courses in the Social Studies department, it is often challenging to find the most effective way to introduce students to the course and the content. Teaching skills and Social Studies fundamentals in the first few class periods can help to set the foundation for your entire year and will help students get a strong footing in your subject area.

These 5 tips for teaching Social Studies will help you get started off on the right foot at the beginning of the new school year. Start back to school with a great foundation for yourself and your students.  Teaching skills and Social Studies fundamentals in the first few class periods can help to set the foundation for your entire year and will help students get a strong footing in your subject area study.  #teaching #socialstudies #history #lessonplans #teachinghistory #teachingsocialstudies #lessonplan #backtoschool #middleschool #highschool

From organizational guides, discipline study, and reinforcing key terms, there are many great tips for teaching Social Studies to your middle school and high school students. Follow these five great tips for teaching Social Studies and you'll start your school year on the right foot!

Teach an Organizational Guide

Organizational guides like SPRITE (Social, Political, Religious, Intellectual, Technological, Economic) and GRAPES (Geography, Religion, Achievements, Politics, Economics, Social Structures) help your students to dissect masses of information about geographic or period study.

With these acronyms, basic skill development in cause and effect for content organization, and use of an Interactive Notebook, students are able to keep content in order, ready and accessible when they need to review.

Introduce Bloom's Taxonomy

Bloom's Taxonomy is an organizational model that breaks down learning objectives by skill level. The Taxonomy includes the following classifications: Create, Evaluate, Analyze, Apply, Understand, and Remember. 

By introducing these skills, students can tackle previously-unapproachable content with confidence.

Define & Examine Social Studies Disciplines

Define and Examine the Social Studies Disciplines, including History, Government, Geography, Economics, Psychology, and Sociology. 

Encourage your students to embrace the connections between disciplines by examining, comparing, contrasting, and exploring history, government, geography, and more. Interconnected, these disciplines are omnipresent and beneficial in helping your students understand the content.



Reinforce Social Studies Key Terms

A basic understanding of key terms like cause, effect, social, and significance is critical for your students furthering their Social Studies education.

Explain these terms by applying them in your lessons. Introduce, define, and provide context for these terms in Social Studies in general, as well as with specific applications in the discipline/course. 

Help students to correlate information by explaining when and where they will see these key terms again.

Provide Social Studies Tips

Build a strong foundation for your students by stressing the importance of studying for the course. 

By providing them with clear-cut tips, goals, and instructions, your students are more likely to embrace their study instead of dreading it. Use classroom rules applied to the specific topic of study, and use rubric tools to help correlate tips.



Using these 5 great tips for teaching Social Studies, your students will become more engaged with the lessons, will retain more content, and will enjoy learning Social Studies! For even easier application, printable Social Studies poster sets are available to display these critical tips in your classroom.

These 5 tips for teaching Social Studies will help you get started off on the right foot at the beginning of the new school year. Start back to school with a great foundation for yourself and your students.  Teaching skills and Social Studies fundamentals in the first few class periods can help to set the foundation for your entire year and will help students get a strong footing in your subject area study.  #teaching #socialstudies #history #lessonplans #teachinghistory #teachingsocialstudies #lessonplan #backtoschool #middleschool #highschool

Happy Teaching!

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Michele Luck
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5 Strategies for Building Classroom Community

5 Strategies for Building Classroom Community


Just as a sense of community is vital in the real world, developing a strong and productive sense of community in the classroom is critical. Though your students may encounter challenges throughout the year, the partnership and support of a classroom community can help resolve conflict, motivate students, and maintain your sanity as a teacher! Effective classroom management isn't easy but it's necessary, and integrating community building strategies into your lesson plans, back to school curriculum, and interactive classroom techniques will ensure easier classroom management, better behavior, and a more successful school year for all.

 Start teaching with organized strategies to help create the ideal classroom community for your middle or high school students. Building a classroom community can help all students find greater success. #tpt #socialstudies #classroom #communitybuilding #students #teaching #teachers

When you think about building a strong sense of community in your classroom, you may consider group work as the main, and perhaps only, method. Many teachers may shy away from collaboration in the classroom because they fear classroom chaos, discipline issues among students, and disorder in their classes. However, group work, among other classroom community building strategies, does not equate to chaos. 

There are many acceptable resources online to help with building classroom community, but these 5 incredible strategies for building classroom community are sure to construct a strong foundation for the upcoming school year. Classroom community building strategies can perpetuate a strong sense of order, encouraging students to embrace learning while also utilizing the skills of their peers and classmates. Together, the class can succeed! Using these 5 incredible strategies for building classroom community, you're sure to find success in your classroom as well.

5 Incredible Strategies for Building Classroom Community

1. Cooperative Learning Activities

As Helen Keller once said, "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." Collaboration is the main component of building a strong classroom community. Utilizing group-centered activities like walking tours, response groups, and jigsaw activities allows your students to move through the curriculum in an engaging manner, alongside peers who can bolster one another, and many of these collaborative activities are ready-made and available online, making lesson planning easy and painless. Check out these gallery walks and group response activities ready for download!

2. Silent Lessons

Silent Lessons are just that - activities that are done silently and individually, but are then used group-wide. Students can compare and contrast answers, read one another's comments and respond accordingly, and complete portions of an activity, to be later combined with the classroom whole. As they must rely on one another's cooperation, these silent lessons strengthen your classroom community. Silent timelines are a great example of these collaborative silent lessons.

3. Current Events Discussion

Current Events are more than just a headline. To be social and culturally aware, students must engage in current events study, which will help teach inclusiveness, appreciation for diversity, and empathy for those suffering. Doing so will expand both their ability and desire to form a strong classroom community. Utilizing trusted new sources to study current events can open your students' minds exponentially. This strategy works best when preceded by this FREE credibility and reliability experiential exercise on news sources.

4. Collaborative Game Play

Who doesn't love games? You may be teaching middle and high school students, but they are never too old for engaging, exciting game play. Games involving trivia, quick recall, group collaboration, and a healthy dose of competition are great for building classroom community, especially if your groups must work together to earn points. You can really adapt pretty much any game to compliment your lesson plan, or you can try these established game ideas from TeachHub.

5. Set the Stage

Every successful community has community leaders who take a stand, share their knowledge, and inspire the rest of the community. Using interactive presentations, debates, and open discussion, you enable students to take responsibility for disseminating knowledge to their classmates and inspiring interaction among their peers. Setting the Stage builds student voice, confidence, and public speaking skills, all while enriching the classroom community. 

These 5 strategies for building classroom community are a great foundation for growing the sense of community in your classroom. You can find further resources and strategies on the Facing History and Ourselves website; these can help to build classroom communities while also improving student empathy, cooperation, and preparing your kids to be successful adults and community members in the future. Also, check out the Classroom Organization Bundle that will make building classroom community a breeze in your back-to-school preparations! You can find more teacher tools and classroom management resources available on Michele Luck's Social Studies.


Start teaching with organized strategies to help create the ideal classroom community for your middle or high school students. Building a classroom community can help all students find greater success. #tpt #socialstudies #classroom #communitybuilding #students #teaching #teachers
Happy Teaching!
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Michele Luck
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5 Strategies for Teaching Student Responsibility

5 Strategies for Teaching Student Responsibility


As middle school and high school teachers, our classrooms are full of young, budding students who are adjusting to a mature school career in which teachers don't hand-hold, emphasize syllables in a verbal spelling test, or allow attempt after attempt on a failed assignment that the dog ate. It isn't easy! It is our responsibility as teachers to develop lesson plans that not only teach content but also responsibility, accountability, career skills, people skills, and more. Focusing on academic knowledge alone gets the job done, but we are still failing our students by forgoing life skills and responsibility in the classroom. Fostering these "non-academic" skills will not only produce a student with good grades, but with well-rounded life skills as well.

Start off the new school year with great strategies under your belt for teaching student responsibility. Helping your middle or high school students learn about responsibility and accountability can help them better prepare for their careers or their futures. #teaching #responsibility #lessons #lessonplans #tpt #students #teachers

While teaching life skills, responsibility, and accountability to our students is necessary, it can be difficult. Using these 5 incredible strategies for teaching student responsibility will help teachers to integrate lessons on responsibility into their regular content-centered lesson plans. As the old adage goes, give a man a fish and he eats for a day, but teach a man to fish and he eats for life. Teaching your students responsibility will not only make your job and their studies easier, but will also set them up for success in life. 

5 Incredible Strategies for Teaching Student Responsibility

1. Keeping & Organizing a Class Notebook or Interactive Notebook

When combined with other engaging lessons, including components below used to foster responsibility, an Interactive Notebook can be a great tool for teaching student responsibility! If used correctly, the IN encourages mind mapping, provides clear expectations for classwork, and requires students to remain responsible and on-task throughout the semester.


2. Classroom jobs

Classroom jobs are elevated beyond elementary ideas of line leader and door holder. You can teach responsibility to your students by delegating jobs like taking attendance, managing classroom supplies and books, controlling external distractions, keeping the class on task, and assisting the teacher. 


3. Homework

Homework buzzes continuously as a hot topic in the teaching world, but the truth remains. Assigning homework, and expecting students to actually complete it thoroughly and on time, instills a sense of responsibility. Don't allow your students every excuse in the book to miss deadlines or turn in half-completed assignments.


4. Group Leadership & Collaboration

One of the most sure-fire methods to encouraging responsibility is to make a student responsible for the success of others. Using these group leadership and collaboration tactics can ensure the growth of student responsibility in your classroom.

Café Conversations
By highlighting conflicting opinions in a small group setting, students are provided with a perspective on a topic or lesson that differs from their own. This teaching strategy works well when the teacher assigns perspectives that will open a dialogue and encourage students to consider the information they must present from an unbiased point of view.

Human Timeline
Bring a boring, two-dimensional timeline to life by assigning content and dates to each of your students and having them physically stand in chronological order. Not only will this engage students and get them out of their seats, requiring cooperation and collaboration among them, but it will help retention of "boring" dates.

Graffiti Boards
Graffiti may be illegal on the streets but it's quite beneficial in the classroom. Graffiti boards are a central place for student collaboration. Students write questions or comments on the graffiti board, allowing others to take responsibility and provide answers, ask follow-up questions, or consider new perspectives and opinions.

5. Presentations

Just as the pieces of a puzzle fit together perfectly, providing the viewer with a complete picture, your students can become the pieces of a figurative jigsaw puzzle in your classroom. Have each student learn about a certain topic or sub-topic and then collaborate with the rest of the class, disseminating the information to their classmates. Having students become an authority on a specific idea or topic instills in them the gravity of their participation for the success of their friends and classmates.


Bonus Resources!

For more ideas, check out Teaching Students Responsibility, Teaching Strategies that Instruct Responsibility and Getting Students to Take Responsibility for Learning! Also, encourage your students to take an active part in their learning experience, which will further foster responsibility, by taking a Student Survey.

Also check out the Facing History website for more teaching strategies that can foster student responsibility and other critical classroom skills!

There are unlimited resources online that can help to build student responsibility in your classroom, but the greatest indicator of a successful classroom is commitment from both the teacher and students. Teaching your students the importance of their responsibility and then incorporating these requirements into your curriculum will ensure that your students will be more responsible by year's end. Use these 5 strategies for teaching student responsibility to foster a sense of class-wide responsibility. 



Start off the new school year with great strategies under your belt for teaching student responsibility. Helping your middle or high school students learn about responsibility and accountability can help them better prepare for their careers or their futures. #teaching #responsibility #lessons #lessonplans #tpt #students #teachers
Happy Teaching!
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Michele Luck
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5 Classroom Management Books Every Teacher Should Read

5 Classroom Management Books Every Teacher Should Read


Historian Henry Adams said it best, stating that “Unity is vision; it must have been part of the process of learning to see.”  As ideal as it would be to begin each school year in a state of perfect order, teacher and students hand-in-hand, united in a blissful exploration of knowledge, it’s not realistic. Our classrooms take work – continuous, fluid, hard work – and good classroom management methods can turn even the most disorganized and mismanaged classroom into a successful learning environment.
Whether you are a new teacher or you've been in the teaching profession forever, these classroom management books are the perfect summer reads to help you start off the new school year on the right foot with your classes. I'm really partial to the last one! 

Classroom management can be a comprehensive collection of methods, skills, and recommendations, but seeking proven methods from valid sources can weed out the misinformation and help you build a solid classroom management toolbox, easily accessible and tailored to your teaching styles and classroom needs. These 5 classroom management books every teacher should read are great for building that solid foundation of critical classroom management methods for new teachers and tenured teachers alike. Teaching your class without classroom control is a recipe for disaster, but embarking on a quest for classroom management knowledge with these 5 classroom management books every teacher should read will guarantee a better, more orderly, outcome.

5 Classroom Management Books Every Teacher Should Read

1. Real Talk About Classroom Management: 50 Best Practices That Work and Show You Believe in Your Students - A Corwin Teaching Essentials book by Serena Pariser, Real Talk About Classroom Management presents fifty proven methods for efficient and effective classroom management. Alongside anecdotal evidence, these tips provide a solid foundation for starting the school year right, developing relationships with students, maintaining a sense of order and discipline in your classroom, and managing your own emotional state and work-life balance.

2. THE Classroom Management Book - The title says it all; this Wong and Wong guide to classroom management is THE book to begin your study in classroom management skills and methods. Offering practical solutions to real-life problems in the classroom, Wong and Wong address adaptable classroom management skills that are easy to implement and necessary in a well-managed classroom.

3. Classroom Management Success in 7 Days or Less: The Ultra-Effective Classroom Management System for Teachers - Resource book 1 of Needs-Focused Teaching, Classroom Management Success by Rob Plevin delivers an easy-to-implement 6 part plan. Plevin also includes additional downloadable resources to provide a more comprehensive coverage of the topic. 

BONUS! Pick up Plevin's free Needs-Focused Teaching resources to reinforce concepts discussed in his Classroom Management Success book!

4. 199 Mistakes New 7th-12th Grade Teachers Make and How to Prevent Them: Insider Secrets to Avoid Classroom Blunders - From the same Atlantic Publishing Group as 199 Mistakes Teachers Make and How to Prevent Them: Insider Secrets to Avoid Classroom Blunders, this 7th-12th Grade special edition highlights skills to form stronger, yet appropriate, relationships with your students, coworkers, and other district employees, while highlighting common mistakes teachers make to allow classroom disorder and how to regain order again.

5. Classroom Management Matters: The Social-Emotional Learning Approach Children Deserve - By Gianna Cassetta and Brook Sawyer, Classroom Management Matters provides a developmental approach to ensuring classroom management by fostering healthy relationships with students, assessing development and adjusting your teaching style to ensure student progress, maintaining boundaries, and responding appropriately to classroom conflict.

BONUS! Learn more about Social-Emotional Learning from the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)!

SUPER BONUS! The classroom management chapters in A Lesson Plan for Teachers, New or Old (Experienced, that is!) Guidebook also present easy-to-implement, proven methods that provide a down-to-earth approach to classroom management!

You can realize your vision through unity in your classroom, just as Henry Adams expressed. Using these 5 classroom management books for teachers will arm new and experienced teachers with the classroom management skills to effectively manage your classroom and lead your students on a path to academic success. Unpreparedness in your classroom can be detrimental; using these proven methods, anecdotes, and suggested responses, you can prepare for almost anything that will come your way during this school year. Maintaining a sense of order in your classroom is vital and these 5 classroom management books are sure to provide a solid foundation of knowledge for teachers. 
 
Whether you are a new teacher or you've been in the teaching profession forever, these classroom management books are the perfect summer reads to help you start off the new school year on the right foot with your classes. I'm really partial to the last one!

Happy Teaching!

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Michele Luck
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5 Professional Development Books Every Teacher Should Read

5 Professional Development Books Every Teacher Should Read


Being a middle school or high school teacher in today’s world is hard enough, but keeping current with lesson plans that are both relevant and engaging can be daunting. Teaching should be a rewarding and exciting career, but it isn’t without its difficulties. Keeping up-to-date with professional development can make your job less intimidating, but you aren’t limited to the boring professional development curriculum of the past.  Instead, there are many modern and out-of-the-box curricula, instructional aides, texts, and lesson plans that can elevate the professional development for new teachers, senior teachers, and administration alike.

Whether you are a new teacher or you've been in the teaching profession forever, these professional development books are the perfect summer reads to help you start off the new school year on the right foot. I'm really partial to the last one!

Using these 5 professional development books every teacher should read, professional development becomes engaging, educational, and inspiring, creating just the right spark to make it through a challenging school year. Lacking professional development is no longer a valid excuse for diving into a new school year unprepared – there are many sources to help advance your educational knowledge. Professional development using these 5 books every teacher should read will provide an exciting and new approach to standard professional development.


5 Professional Development Books Every Teacher Should Read

1. Fish: A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results, Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul, and John Christensen - About the Seattle Fish Market, Fish analyzes the rehabilitation of a dreadful, morale-lacking business environment and how the Fish Market provides a striking contrast of fun and excitement. Lundin makes comparisons between the Fish Market and "stuffy" workplaces, and the comparisons that he draws can easily be applied in a classroom setting, both among staff, and among students.

2. 10 Mindframes for Visible Learning: Teaching for Success, John Hattie and Klaus Zierer - Hattie and Zierer aim to provide a strong foundation for maximizing success in classrooms. By highlighting mindframes such as assessment, feedback, collaboration, success criteria, and communication, 10 Mindframes for Visible Learning provides beneficial professional skills for both new and seasoned teachers.

3. Teaching: Level 1: Everything I wanted to know when I started out as a teacher, Sergio Travieso Teniente - Broken into six sections, Teaching: Level 1 takes plenty of personal experience and organizes it into a visceral guide to teaching. Teniente discusses teachers, content, presentation, preparation, the classroom, and the student, while providing real-life examples and advice.

BONUS! Another great account of teaching struggles is See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers, by Roxanna Elden. Elden shares entertaining and insightful experiences from hundreds of teachers and offers up advice on challenging scenarios.

4. Teach Like a Champion 2.0: 62 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College, Doug Lemov - Following first edition Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College, Teach Like a Champion 2.0 discusses teaching strategies, classroom modeling, sample lesson plans, and other techniques that will help your high school students prepare for higher education.

BONUS! Get the Teach Like a Champion Field Guide 2.0: A Practical Resource to Make the 62 Techniques Your Own to accompany the text!

5. Teach Like a Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator, Dave Burgess - Accompanied by Lead Like a Pirate: Make School Amazing for Your Students and Staff, and Learn Like a Pirate: Empower Your Students to Collaborate, Lead, and Succeed, Teach Like a Pirate applies concepts of seminars of the same name by providing new techniques and inspiration to increase student engagement, boost your creativity, and transform your life as an educator. 

SUPER BONUS! Check out A Lesson Plan for Teachers, New or Old (Experienced, that is!) Guidebook. Written with first-hand accounts and struggles of a young teacher, this read is sure to provide beneficial advice, or at least make you feel a little less crazy as the year progresses!

With these 5+ engaging professional development books, the challenges and struggles you are faced with throughout the school year will seem conquerable and commonplace. No one ever said teaching would be easy. They only said it would be worth it. Proper preparation, commitment, and the right attitude can take your teaching career a long way, and these professional development books are crucial resources for teacher survival. Check out further professional development resources at the Facing History Professional Development website.


Whether you are a new teacher or you've been in the teaching profession forever, these professional development books are the perfect summer reads to help you start off the new school year on the right foot. I'm really partial to the last one!
Happy Teaching!
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Michele Luck
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