Peace-Building Essay Contest

Since 2015 the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) has partnered with the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) on its annual National High School Essay Contest. The contest engages high school students in learning and writing about issues of peace and conflict, and encourages appreciation for diplomacy’s role in building partnerships that can advance peacebuilding and protect national security.

In a 1,000- to 1,250-word essay, students identify two cases—one they deem successful and one they deem unsuccessful—where the US pursued an integrated approach to build peace in a conflict-affected country. They should analyze and compare these two cases, addressing the following questions: (a) What relative strengths did members of the Foreign Service and military actors bring to the table? What peace-building tools were employed? Ultimately, what worked or did not work in each case? (b) How was each situation relevant to US national security interests? (c) What lessons may be drawn from these experiences for the pursuit of US foreign policy more broadly?

The winner of the contest will receive a $2,500 cash prize, an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC, to meet leadership at the US Department of State and USIP, and a full-tuition-paid voyage with Semester at Sea, a multi-country study abroad program, upon enrollment at an accredited university. The runner-up will receive a $1,250 cash prize and a full scholarship to participate in the International Diplomacy Program of the National Student Leadership Conference. A freely downloadable Study Guide includes the essay questions, prizes, and rules for the contest; an introduction to foreign policy tools; key terms used in the field; examples of coordination in practice; and a list of other useful resources.

Deadline: March 15, 2019, for submission of essays

ClassTag – Your New Communication Tool

ClassTag is a free communication tool very similar to Remind but the one big difference between the two is that ClassTag brings in free supplies for your classroom. Along with sharing photos, events, and messages, you have the ability to schedule Parent Conferences.

With notices of Remind wanting to charge Verizon customers, maybe it’s time to explore something else and go with something a little more robust. Give ClassTag a look and see what you think.

  • Direct messaging by email and text
  • Class-wide announcements
  • Photo and video sharing
  • Signups + conferences
  • Events and activities
  • Newsletter

Be Internet Awesome

February 5th is recognized as Safer Internet Day. Google partnered with experts from to develop a curriculum that teaches digital safety and citizenship fundamentals for elementary students. Topics include:

  • SMART – Share With Care
  • ALERT – Don’t Fall for Fake
  • STRONG – Secure Your Secrets
  • KIND – It’s Cool to be Kind
  • BRAVE – When in Doubt, Talk it Out

Curriculum Resources
Interland – Adventure-packed Online Game

Resource link to Interland can be found on the student menu on the intranet site.

Indoor Recess Ideas for K-5

Physical movement, STEM challenges, arts and crafts, games, and old-time favorites; this post from WeAreTeachers lists 40 ideas for keeping kids engaged on those inclement weather days.

If you are familiar with GoNoodle for physical activity, then perhaps you have heard of Cosmic Kids Yoga. If not, it’s a source made up of 10-15 minute videos that incorporate stories, music, and characters to make yoga fun. Try it with your students and check out all the other ideas.

Become a Better Writer

Storybird offers free courses and prep courses for becoming better writers from essential skills needed in school to creative writing careers. Courses are led by expert instructors and seasoned teachers having great success over the years.

Boost your skills and learn writing tricks in focused areas like media literacy, point-of-view, pre-writing tips, or literary arguments. These prep courses are suited for students in grades 3-12. Courses are free. View a listing of courses here.

Post as an assignment in Schoology for students to work on when they have finished their daily work. Avoid being asked, “What do I do now Ms. Yonkin?”