The 6Cs of Virtual Learning: Part Two (Communication, Check-In, Consistency)

By Richard M. Cash, Ed.D., author of Self-Regulation in the Classroom: Helping Students Learn How to Learn
Part of our Cash in on Learning series by Richard M. Cash, Ed.D. Click to read other Cash in on Learning posts.

Last month, I wrote on the first three of the six Cs of virtual learning (connect, confidence, chunk). In this post, I will share the remaining three Cs (communication, check-in, consistency). The six Cs of virtual learning are adapted from The Science of Learning, a summarization of the cognitive science on how people learn.

The 6Cs of Virtual Learning: Part Two (Communication, Check-In, Consistency)

Communication

Learning has not changed even though the platform has. Students need effective feedback communication to acquire new knowledge and skills. An essential characteristic of quality feedback is that it is clearly stated and focused on the task rather than the student. In other words, it is descriptive.

Here are some additional suggestions for providing descriptive feedback:

  • Feedback should be an ongoing process throughout learning.
  • Use student-friendly language in your feedback.
  • Direct the feedback toward the learning objectives. (“Your use of descriptive language helped me clearly see your characters.”)
  • Use the “sandwich” model for providing feedback: the first comment is positive, the second tells where the student needs to apply effort, and the third tells what the student is doing well overall.
  • Focus on improvement. (“Consider using more figurative language in this next section.”)
  • Provide examples of exemplary work so the student can see how it looks in comparison to their work.
  • Give feedback in small chunks or brief comments—too much may overwhelm the student.
  • Use affirmative language—positive remarks are more helpful—even when pointing out a mistake.
  • Do not compare one student’s work to another student’s work.
  • Eliminate the fear that some students have of assessments and evaluation by making your comments to students as conversational as possible. Keep the focus on the work rather than the child.
  • Make comments that are focused on growth mindset. (“I was impressed by how hard you worked on this essay.”)
  • Provide resources, websites, descriptive rubrics, or other materials from the beginning of the learning all the way to the final product. This can help alleviate the stress on students and parents alike.

Especially in the virtual learning world where we may not have as close contact with students as we would in the classroom, immediate and specific feedback is extremely important to bridge this divide.

Check In

Practice is an important part of the learning process, but not all practice is equal. In Part 1, I discussed the need to chunk lessons in the virtual setting. Typically, your lessons will start with a mini-lesson on what will be learned. This mini-lesson should last no longer than 10–15 minutes. After the mini-lesson, you can allow up to 15 minutes for practice time. During practice times, you will want to check in on how students are progressing.

Here are some ideas for checking in on students during practice times:

  • Space practice sessions over periods of time, reviewing and reinforcing what has been learned across weeks and even months, so students continue to recollect what has been covered in the past.
  • Memory is enhanced when students are asked to remember things over time. Use low- or no-stakes quizzes during learning time, or provide students with self-tests to help strengthen their memories.
  • Use different types of practices throughout the learning time. The Science of Learning gives this example: “[I]f students are learning four mathematical operations, it’s more effective to interleave [alternate] practice of different problem types, rather than practice just one type of problem, then another type of problem, and so on.”
  • Interact personally with your students on a regular basis via email, text, chat, phone, or video conferencing.
  • Interact with parents and caregivers as well. All adults in students’ lives have taken on the additional task of supporting them during virtual learning. Check in on how your students’ parents and caregivers are doing emotionally as well as how they are doing in supporting their child’s learning.
  • Be sure to offer office hours or check-in times for your students and their parents and caregivers. Check-ins can either be by appointment or drop-in. They can be for 1:1 time, small group time, or larger group time. Make checking in as easily accessible as possible.

Consistency

Students are more likely to be motivated, engaged, and successful when they know what to expect. Consistency not only includes consistent times of lessons and learning, but also the mood in and management of the virtual setting.

Here are ways to ensure students feel a consistent sense of safety in the virtual setting:

  • Set norms for large group discussions, group work, and independent work in which all students’ ideas are valued and intellectual risk-taking is encouraged.
  • Be sure to apply classroom/virtual rules or norms equally and equitably. In Part 1, I shared the need to set rules or norms for the virtual setting—now it is important to reinforce their use so that all students feel secure.
  • Refer to your essential question and lesson objectives at the beginning, throughout, and at the end of the learning time. This will keep you and students consistently moving in the right direction.
  • Make sure your emotional responses are kept in check. Be even-keeled when dealing with the stress and anxiety of the virtual setting. When you encounter disruptions, show students how to deal with them in a calm manner.
  • Stay organized yourself. Students need to see you with your materials ready, your background decluttered, and your space cleared.
  • Provide your students with tips and ideas for how to be ready for each learning session. At the end of every lesson, give your students a preview of what’s to come in the next period. Give them a list of materials and resources they will need. Being ready can help your students reduce stress and increase confidence.

There are many things we have learned over the past few months about learning in the virtual setting. Some of what we have learned has been the challenge of not having the physical closeness we had before. We also learned that not everything translates from our classroom practices to the virtual setting. However, some things continue to stay the same before, during, and after this change:

  • Students need to be connected to the learning.
  • They need to feel confident to take control of their learning.
  • Instruction needs to be chunked for better learning.
  • Students need us to check-in on them routinely.
  • We need clear lines of communication to support student learning.
  • Students need consistency in their lives.

Please share your ideas for how you are making the best out of virtual learning.

Richard M. Cash, Ed.D., writes the monthly Cash in on Learning blog posts for Free Spirit Publishing. He has given hundreds of workshops, presentations, and staff development sessions throughout the United States and internationally.

Free Spirit books by Richard Cash:

Self-regulation Advancing Differentiation Revised and Updated Edition

Differentiation For Gifted Learners


We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.


FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2020 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved. The views expressed in this post represent the opinion of the author and not necessarily Free Spirit Publishing.

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Enter to Win Award-Winning Gifted Education Books!

Enter to Win Award-Winning Gifted Education BooksThis month we’re giving away The Cluster Grouping Handbook: A Schoolwide Model and Start Seeing and Serving Underserved Gifted Students: 50 Strategies for Equity and Excellence. Two lucky readers will win these award-winning gifted education books!

To Enter: Leave a comment below describing how you help gifted students succeed.

For additional entries, leave a separate comment below for each of the following tasks you complete:

Each comment counts as a separate entry. Entries must be received by midnight, November 20, 2020.

The winner will be contacted via email on or around November 23, 2020, and will need to respond within 72 hours to claim their prize or another winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way affiliated with, administered, or endorsed by Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Winner must be a US resident, 18 years of age or older.


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FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2020 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved. The views expressed in this post represent the opinion of the author and not necessarily Free Spirit Publishing.

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Educators: How Do You Create Work-Life Balance During the Pandemic?

Finding work-life balance is tough in normal times. When you add in a pandemic that has blurred the lines between work and home, the struggle is real. But you’re not alone—we’re all in this together. We asked the Free Spirit Advisory Council for their best piece of advice for drawing boundaries for work-life balance during distance learning.

You’ll find that many council members offered similar suggestions, like disconnecting when the workday is done. But you’ll also find some new advice, like stopping every hour to blow bubbles. Here are their responses.

Educators: How Do You Create Work-Life Balance During the Pandemic?

Delineate your workspace and time within your home:

  • Set up a workspace—if it has to be in the midst of other activity, cover it or hide it when it is not work time.
  • Dress for work—not for relaxation.
  • When the workday is done, let the work emails and texts go, and take care of yourself and your needs.

Gail, district quality compensation program coordinator/instructional coach


Only do work on your work device. Use your school computer for all work-related emails, meetings, and documents. When you’re finished, put that work device away! Shut it down, put it in your bag, etc., and then spend time with your family, go on a walk, cook, watch tv, anything but work. Also, keep your personal cell phone for personal use only. While it may seem convenient at first to put your work email on your personal cell phone, resist the urge. It will save you time and stress in the long run!

Nicole, 6th grade school counselor


  • Work your contract hours no matter your location and set your (at-home) classroom work area up somewhere you can walk away from and not look at all the time.
  • Add in your email signature line and your voicemail greeting that if the message is coming to you outside of school hours, you will answer during school hours the next day or within 24 hours (or 48 if you are comfortable with that).
  • Give yourself and others grace as we manage these schedules/workloads and new routines.

Shannon, special educator teacher


As an administrator, I’m on call 24/7, but I do use my out-of-office reply for weekends sometimes, when I have plans with family. Another thing I’ve learned to do is tell someone that I will not get back to them until the following day if I get a call or question after 12:00 p.m. That way I don’t feel like I need to step away from personal time in the evening to get the information or answers to everyone. It’s always a boost when the other person is very understanding and gives me the time to disconnect from work, knowing that they will have a response the following day.

Andrea, assistant head of school


For me, it has worked best to focus on one week at a time. To not try and look too far ahead into the future because things change so frequently. Additionally, if you can, try and carve out at least 30–60 minutes a day doing something that brings you joy. Walking the dog, watching a show on tv—whatever fills up your bucket.

Christine, college instructor and mentor manager


My best piece of advice for creating and maintaining boundaries is to have a routine. This will help everyone know how the day and week will progress. We keep a large whiteboard with daily tasks, appointments, and whatever needs to be done. Get up at the same time each day, and exercise, read, and do computer work all during dedicated times for fewer distractions. Consistency is challenging when we are monitoring our own clocks from home. Opening up the blinds and letting the light in helps set the morning mood (of course, with coffee) for another day indoors.

—Deborah, educator


Some of the best advice I have for maintaining a work-life balance is to turn off email notifications on my phone during non-work hours. During distance learning, it can often feel like we are working 24/7. Taking intentional or scheduled breaks is imperative to a healthy body and mind. Take a walk, schedule outside time, or ensure you are getting exercise daily.

Ashley, school counselor


I set boundaries for myself by removing my work email and the Schoology app from my phone. Before I did that, I was constantly on my phone checking and answering things up until bedtime. I also let students know that I stop checking and responding to emails at a set time each day (4:00 p.m. in my case); they are free to email me at any time, but should not expect a response until the next day.

. . . one thing I wish I had never done was share my cell number with my admin. Oops.

Leona, English teacher


There are a couple of things I do to set the boundary between work and home. The first thing I do is set a timer for every hour. And when that timer goes off, I get up and leave my desk. I go outside and blow bubbles. That’s right, soap bubbles. If I don’t do that, I find that ten hours have gone by without me noticing.

I have a school computer, and I turn it off and 4:00 p.m.—that’s the time I would normally leave school. I don’t turn it back on until 8:00 a.m.—the time I would normally get to school. That’s a huge boundary for me.

Nancy, 8th-grade online teacher (math and science)


I work from school but without students in the classroom. I leave my laptop in the classroom from Monday morning until Friday afternoon, taking it home for the weekend to do any catch-up, but this means I don’t work when I arrive home after the workday. I can walk the dog and focus on my kids, who have been distance learning at home.

I also commit to one yoga class and a 45-minute cardio class weekly. I do these no matter what.

I also say “one day at a time” and will not stress over planning out more than a quarter. There are just too many unknowns for the academic year.

Freda, teacher


The best piece of advice (which I need to take as well) when drawing boundaries for a work-life balance during distance (and in-person) classes is to ensure your notifications are not turned on, as your time is precious and valuable. Do not take your worries into your bedroom with you . . . which also means leaving the electronic devices in another room/space or silencing them. My other piece of advice is: Flip how we as educators usually care for others and our environment first before ourselves. We typically come last in our care plan, but through this pandemic I have learned to fill my bucket first, take care of myself, then take care of others, and then our environment. How to care for self? Breathwork (breathing) and stretching. I also suggest a good long bath. Bonus: chamomile tea.

Jill, teacher


As educators, we often allow ourselves to stay in our classrooms a bit longer, extend our lunches to help out students, or just come in a bit early to “get a few things done.” All of that comes to an end with virtual/distance learning. We can still go the extra mile and be of help to our students and our community, but when so much more of our time is spent in front of a screen—we need to keep to boundaries for our own health. A few suggestions:

  • Arrange meets with student, staff, or colleagues during scheduled hours of work, not after or before.
  • Use emails or school messaging systems to communicate outlines for upcoming meets or discussions.
  • Make your planner your new best friend! Keep your planner out and close by throughout your day to jot down notes, reminders, appointments, etc. Scan through your planner at the end of the day and review it first thing in the morning (as you begin your workday).
  • Use your breaks wisely! Get up, do some stretching, have a snack, gaze out of a window, pet Fido or take him for a short walk, try chair or floor yoga, get some tea or water . . . basically, be AWAY from your screen. Use your breaks to give your eyesight a new view!

Tara, educator of 19 years


You create the tone! You must establish rules and boundaries about your availability. If you don’t want to read emails on the weekend, then don’t send or reply to them on weekends.

Donna, speech pathologist


I believe clear expectations and agreements need to be shared with your team. A team needs to set work hours and script out what the expectations are during those hours. I plan my day and then shut the laptop when I’m done and focus on what I and my family need. I found that if I don’t do so then I keep thinking about what more I could do (which is not helpful) and take energy away from myself and others.

—Debbie, early childhood educator


I have the choice (per my district/union agreement) to work in-building or remotely. I have chosen to work in-building because it helps me have clear boundaries between work and home. It is my form of self-care!

Emily, school counselor


My biggest advice for drawing a boundary for work-life balance is to have a cut-off time. Working from home can exhaust a person if there is no happy medium; one must disconnect at a set time.

Bianca, residential services supervisor


I find this very hard myself with the pandemic and working from home. My only answer is you must be very conscious and set boundaries. This is a very hard thing to do.

Jeni, director of an early learning center


Unfortunately, this is a tough one . . . everything seems to blend together, and we create our own 18-hour workday. I have heard, from colleagues who are in the same boat, that setting aside an end time, and marking it with a beverage (of choice), is a good way to signal the end of the workday.

The technique that I have found to work, for me, is to shut down the laptop, store it away, and turn off email alerts on my phone. Out of sight, out of mind works every time.

—Michele, educator


Over the years, educators’ work hours have become more blurred as parents and administrators communicate through emails, texts, and phone calls during off hours, at night, or on the weekends. This grey zone of communication has now become even more complicated. Many parents are reaching out to teachers with technology questions to help navigate their students to a new online learning experience. In order to preserve my home time and keep it separate from work time, I try hard to carve out certain hours. I let my students’ families know what my schedule is and when my office hours or drop-in Q&A times are in Google Classroom. This reminds students and parents that there are designated times for communication.

Jenny, elementary school psychologist


My biggest piece of advice is DO NOT bring work home. If you have to work, do it at school, even after hours. There should be a break between work and home life. I did not start out this year this way, and it caused me to miss three weeks of school because of illness. As much as we do, we really need to take care of ourselves, or we will be no good to others at school or at home.

Dana, high school English teacher


To create a work/life balance, set a time limit for how long you will work. Once your time is up, put work items away and focus on your family.

—Melissa, voluntary pre-kindergarten teacher


Divide your to-do list into four quadrants:

  1. Urgent and important: Prioritize getting those things done each day and feel successful after completing them all.
  2. Important but not urgent: Make a plan for completing these tasks and put them on your calendar to hold yourself accountable.
  3. Urgent but not important: Delegate this task to someone else!
  4. Not urgent and not important: Cross this off your list and let it go!

—Allegra, director of special education


I am working currently in a remote environment at home. The best piece of advice that I can give is to keep your work time and leisure time separate. Set your schedule and adhere to it. Make sure to take breaks during the day. Allow yourself 5–10 minutes every hour to use the restroom, stretch your legs, or get a snack. Get up from the computer during your break. Take a lunch break every day and walk to the kitchen to prepare your food. Make your lunchtime screen-free. Allowing some time away from the computer is just as important as getting the work done.

—Gina, music teacher


  1. There have been massive amounts of phone calls/messages from parents this year—some as late as midnight. I had to stop replying after 4:00 p.m. to maintain sanity.
  2.  I do things I enjoy in the evenings, such as watch favorite reruns with my husband to unwind. Read, walk, play with pets—do what makes you feel relaxed!
  3.  Leave work at school if possible—stop carrying home loads of things to do! I’ve made myself do this at least three nights per week.

—Sabra, teacher


To allow yourself breaks is most important. This can mean taking a short walk, putting your head down and relaxing after you set a timer, eating a snack, or just getting outside!

Students need to know your availability for office hours and when you will respond to email.

Most of all, be early for class with the students. The ones who sign on early usually want to chat!

—Cindy, educator 


Maintaining a work/life balance while working from home is so hard but so important! Students (and colleagues) contact you at all hours of the day and night and it can feel like you HAVE to respond right away. But setting boundaries and walking away are necessary. My number-one tip is to maintain a schedule. Start and end your workday when you typically would if you were going to work in person. Try not to check emails or messages when your day is done. Also, get dressed. Just like putting on work clothes can help motivate you to get to work, wanting to get into these sweats at the end of the day helps to wind down and switch gears!

—Jacklyn, school counselor 


Stick to working during your workday and being with family when the workday ends. Make your boundaries firm so that you can channel both your work hours and family time to make the most of each.

—Adria, director of curriculum development


The best way for me to draw boundaries is to turn off my cell phone and emails when my workday is over.

—Deb, sexual assault program manager


Remember that just because you can be accessible 24/7 doesn’t mean you should be. A silver lining of the pandemic is that we have learned how to use technology tools such as Zoom and Meet to stay in touch when we can’t be in person with our colleagues, students, and families. A negative side of this is we may get requests from those people well after hours, and we may feel like we can’t say no. One thing you can do to set a boundary around this is to set an automatic reply to let people know that, while their message is important to you, you won’t be checking your email until the next day. You could make it a habit to enable this setting at the end of your workday and on weekends.

—Lauren, school counselor


The Free Spirit Advisory Council of Educators is a group of professionals who provide feedback that helps make Free Spirit books even more beneficial for kids, teens, and the adults who care about them. Interested in becoming a member? Recruitment is ongoing! We are especially looking for elementary and middle school teachers. For more information about the benefits and responsibilities of membership, download our Free Spirit Advisory Council flyer and our Free Spirit Advisory Council application.


We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.


FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2020 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved. The views expressed in this post represent the opinion of the author and not necessarily Free Spirit Publishing.

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They/Them: How to Create an Environment Where Personal Pronouns Are Shared and Respected

By Afsaneh Moradian, author of Jamie and Bubbie: A Book About People’s Pronouns

Respecting the fact that many people use they/them/their as their personal pronouns does not mean that everyone is accustomed to or in the habit of using the singular they. The following activities are meant to help create environments where everyone’s pronouns are respected and where a culture is developed around using the singular they as a default pronoun.
How to Create an Environment Where Personal Pronouns Are Shared and Respected

Introductions

Facilitating activities that encourage children to share their names and pronouns is key to creating safe, respectful spaces. It is easier to share important information about ourselves when everyone else is doing so too.

  • When doing group introductions, go around in a circle and take turns saying, “Hi, my name is ________. My pronouns are ____/____.” The next person says, “It’s nice to meet you, _____,” and shares their name and pronouns. This continues until everyone has had a chance. If you are in a virtual setting, you can assign each student a number so they know the order ahead of time.
  • Make desk plates with names and pronouns. By folding a piece of paper in thirds, children can create their own desk plates. In addition to writing their names and pronouns on the desk plates, children can decorate them in a way that expresses who they are and what they like. As an icebreaker activity, let children present their work to the class. You can do this virtually as well. Most platforms have a username at the bottom of each person’s image. Ask everyone to write the name they would like to be called followed by their pronouns in parentheses.

Storytelling

There are many stories we tell children that include characters with unspecified genders. These can be a useful gateway to using and discussing the singular they.

  • Choose a story such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Read the story using the singular they for the baby bear. This enables children to hear how normal it is to use the singular they with characters and people when we are unsure of their gender. Ask questions related to the story such as, “How do you think Baby Bear felt when they saw that their porridge was eaten?” This type of question not only guides young children in using the singular they in their answer, but also fosters empathy.
  • One fun activity for adults to do by themselves or with children is to see how many popular children’s stories have at least one character that can be referred with the singular they—such as The Ugly Duckling for example.
  • Have children create their own stories (oral or written) that include the singular they. For older children, the stories can be written down, illustrated, or written as short plays and performed.

I hope these activities will inspire you to create many more activities, games, and learning assignments that value and celebrate students of all gender identities. When the singular they is used as the default pronoun, we can create spaces where all children and adults feel respected, valued, and loved for who they are, not who we assume they are or who we are tell them to be.

Afsaneh MoradianAfsaneh Moradian has loved writing stories, poetry, and plays since childhood. After receiving her master’s in education, she took her love of writing into the classroom where she began teaching children how to channel their creativity. Her passion for teaching has lasted for over fifteen years. Afsaneh now guides students and teachers (and her young daughter) in the art of writing. She lives in New York City.

Free Spirit books by Afsaneh Moradian:
Jamie Is JamieJamie and Bubbie book cover


We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.


FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2020 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved. The views expressed in this post represent the opinion of the author and not necessarily Free Spirit Publishing.

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Civic Engagement All Year Round: Ideas for Kids and Teens

By Judge Tom Jacobs and Natalie C. Jacobs, J.D., coauthors of Every Vote Matters: The Power of Your Voice, from Student Elections to the Supreme Court

Civic Engagement All Year Round: Ideas for Kids and Teens

Today, American voters cast ballots for a presidential candidate, US Senate and House seats in Congress, state races, and many local officials throughout the country. They do this in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has turned our daily lives and routines upside down. 2020 has also brought racial inequities and issues to the forefront. The death of George Floyd resulted in millions of people taking to the streets to protest police brutality and systemic racism. Meanwhile, the climate crisis takes a backseat as a public health emergency, the economic downturn, and racial justice activism are prioritized by the media and government action.

For all these reasons, this is a pivotal year to model to our children and teens the importance of being an engaged member of our communities and country. Here are ways that we can encourage students to stay civically engaged beyond Election Day.

Learn More About Issues Impacting Their Communities

Discuss the young leaders of various movements who may inspire students and show that it’s possible to make a difference for a cause no matter your age. For example, John Lewis (civil rights leader who recently passed), Greta Thunberg (17-year-old climate activist who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for two consecutive years already), and the Parkland shooting survivors and gun control movement.

Invite speakers from various nonpartisan groups (such as groups focused on advancing issues like climate action, racial equality and justice, or immigration policies). Students can learn more about the issues and ways to get involved if interested. Countless grassroots organizations are in need of supporters and volunteers.

Bring Civic Engagement into the Classroom

Start a classroom newsletter or blog so students can practice finding and using their voices concerning matters important to them.

Review letters to the editor of a local newspaper and then start a letter-writing campaign. If and when a student gets published, the class may be empowered to continue using their voices through writing.

Check out the resources page at the Civic Engagement Research Group for videos and toolkits concerning civics education. Or use iCivics, a great website focused on engaging students in meaningful civic learning. Former US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is the founder of this useful resource.

Empower Students Outside the Classroom

Our legislators work for us, the constituents, and they care a great deal about what we think. State and federal lawmakers normally hear from a small percentage of the people they represent. If this number dramatically increases, they will be forced to take their constituents’ thoughts and actions into consideration. The earlier teens begin writing, emailing, or calling their senators and other lawmakers, the more likely they will be to continue to express their voices in the future. Students, regardless of whether they can vote yet, can participate in town halls, many of which have gone virtual during the pandemic. Find a meeting near you at TownHallProject.com.

Young activists can also discuss issues that are important to them with family and friends. The more these issues are discussed, the more people will become educated and engaged and ultimately care about what’s happening in Washington, D.C., and beyond.

Tech-savvy students have myriad social media techniques to spread information about their causes and gain support. The Women’s March founders organized via a Facebook group and started a movement that inspired millions. During this presidential election, many teens used TikTok to raise awareness about the issues they’re passionate about.

Judge Tom Jacobs, Free Spirit Publishing AuthorThomas A. Jacobs, J.D., was an Arizona assistant attorney general from 1972–1985, where he practiced criminal and child welfare law. He was appointed to the Maricopa County Superior Court in 1985 where he served as a judge pro tem and commissioner in the juvenile and family courts until his retirement in 2008. He also taught juvenile law for ten years as an adjunct professor at the Arizona State University School of Social Work. He continues to write for teens, lawyers, and judges. Visit Judge Jacobs’s website AsktheJudge.info for free interactive educational tools that provide current information regarding laws, court decisions, and national news affecting teens.

Author Natalie JacobsA former criminal defense attorney, Natalie C. Jacobs works with her father, Judge Tom, on the teen rights website AsktheJudge.info, helping teens and their parents become better informed about youth rights and the laws affecting minors. She has volunteered with the Arizona Innocence Project, which investigates claims of innocence and works to exonerate those wrongfully convicted. Natalie lives in Arizona.

Every vote mattersNatalie and Tom are coauthors of Every Vote Matters.


We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.


FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2020 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved. The views expressed in this post represent the opinion of the author and not necessarily Free Spirit Publishing.

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