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It can feel difficult to engage students in independent work and reading tasks—a challenge that I thought about carefully as I prepared to teach a unit on World War II in my high school social studies course. How can we capture students’ interest and teach them how to read, even in later grades? How could I apply my master’s training as a reading specialist to the history classroom? Could “right fit” narratives tap into students’ intrinsic motivation?

Creating a Classroom Book Study

My book study consisted of seven tables or “stations” of books of all reading levels and formats, from comics to collections of photos, prose, poetry—even picture books. Each table was designated with a specific theme related to the time period—for example, Holocaust, Women, African American, Battles and Tech/Weapons, At Sea, In the Air, and Historical Fiction. I asked students to complete a worksheet, documenting textual evidence or summaries of their learning about each category.

Rather than sitting still and reading only from select books at any one table, I sought to incorporate student movement into the unit, especially given our 80-minute block session. This meant that students cycled through each table, and they reported feeling excited to get to the next table to see what other books were there, especially when they heard other students talking loudly about the books at different tables. 

On students’ book study worksheets, I prompted them to answer reflection questions like these: Describe one image you saw that jumped out at you. Why did you choose this one? If you had to read one complete book, what is the title of the text you’d select, and why would you want to read it? What are three questions you have/want to know more about?

I then invited them to swap papers with a neighbor and write down three things that their peer wrote about that stuck out to them before, finally, suggesting one category I could add to future book studies. Worksheets scaffolded reading, reflection, writing, and small group dialogue, diversifying how students spent their time while interacting with a range of texts.

Modeling Active Reading

Much of my own scholarship and writing is about how to use comics to engage students in the classroom. During book studies, I notice that students often tackle available comic books or graphic novels first, talk about them the most, and then follow up with other types of text. 

In my classroom, I don’t subscribe to Lexile leveling, as I believe that students should be allowed and encouraged to explore the texts that speak to them, no matter if they are below or above their designated reading level. By incorporating student choice intentionally into book study units, I strive to empower students to identify and listen to their literacy needs and follow their interests, making the unit more accessible by complicating what we think of as “worthy” texts.

No matter which texts students select, we talk about important reading skill sets: scanning text and evaluating what books to read, noticing similarities and differences between texts, and identifying and making sense of patterns, among other close-reading skills. 

Cultivating a Reading Culture

I always have a vast classroom library available to students from which they can borrow books to read for extra credit, but I was not having any luck getting students to do so, despite my many book talks.

Book studies solved this problem, sparking student interest that overflowed from our designated time for book exploration and inspired them to pursue more independent reading. Giving students space and time to just sit and read together in class turned out to be exactly what we needed.

Students are often surprised to learn that I have read all the books in my classroom and don’t just have them out for show. Reading is not always the easiest for me, I tell them, but it’s a skill that I practice a lot; through this transparency, and by modeling reading, annotating, and the thinking processes I use as an active reader, I strive to create a culture of learning in which we all engage in authentic literary inquiry.

Leveraging Book Study for Sustained Engagement

At the end of our World War II book study, students told me that I should do this lesson again next year but offer a lot more time for students to read through the books. I was thrilled to hear that they wanted more time to read.

As we delved more deeply into World War II content in the weeks following book study, students made powerful connections between new content and the texts they explored at the start of the unit. And they were better able to retain the information and see the bigger picture by referring back to the texts they explored. 

Building background knowledge through book study proved to be the perfect hook to create engaged thinkers who were able to learn at their own pace and direction. Students will read if we offer them time and choice of materials, and station-based text study lends breadth and context that deepens direct instruction.

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Getting Curious (Not Furious) With Students

I’m not an expert when it comes to identifying trauma in students, but I’ve spent enough time in classrooms to recognize stress- and trauma-related behaviors. During my tenure as a high school teacher, I wanted to better support my students who were struggling emotionally. This prompted me to seek literature and training.

My work now is in teacher education, and I have continued to educate myself in this arena so that I could inform the novice teachers I work with as they bring challenging situations from their own classrooms to our discussions in the university classroom.

Schools and districts are participating in professional development on trauma-informed teaching, as the benefits are clear. According to research conducted by the National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children , here are a few of the key benefits of becoming a trauma-informed school:

As we know, neuroscience is informing the field of education . A good number of us educators as of recent have been reading about what routine distress or trauma can do to the brain and to learning. It basically shuts it down. When we ask students to do high-level tasks, such as problem solving or design thinking, it’s nearly impossible if they are in a triggered state of fight, flight, or freeze. This trauma state may look like defiance or anger, and we may perceive this refusal as choice, but it is not necessarily so.

When their students act out, I propose the novice teachers do the following: Get curious, not furious. Let’s explore what that means. Rather than a teacher resorting to traditional discipline measures, it behooves the student greatly for the teacher to realize classroom outbursts, verbal defiance, or volatile anger can be symptomatic of repeated exposure to neglect, abuse, or violence. Traumatic stress can also manifest as withdrawal or self-injury.

Start Here

As you seek to learn more about trauma-sensitive teaching, you can also explore the curious-not-furious maxim I offer to novice teachers. Getting curious on the part of the teacher looks like this: Why might the student be behaving this way? What might be some contributing factors? Might this be a reaction to fear or insecurity? Might she be scared, hungry, lonely, or tired? Instead of defaulting immediately to a disciplinary measure (detention, off to the principal’s office, a time out), the teacher chooses to first ask the child: How are you? Are you okay today? How can I help? Is there anything you would like to talk about?

Some may be thinking that this isn’t in the job description of a teacher (I am not a counselor or therapist.) But this isn’t about saving anyone, I assure you. In fact, I see teachers burn out, in part, because teachers can get into thinking that they can save troubled students, and when they can’t, they believe they have failed at their job. But here’s an important truth to remember: We can’t heal or save anyone except ourselves.

Creating Classrooms of Care

What is this truly about? It’s about us moving more towards what I like to call classrooms of care — an antithetical turn or very intentional detour from the institution of schooling. When we do this, we humanize ourselves with our students and create spaces for them to do the same, going beyond the singular dimension of “teacher” and singular dimension of “student.” A classroom no longer seems sterile, regimented, or threatening. In this transformation, more and more classrooms become communities of care, discovery, and learning (for students and teachers).

When teachers get curious, not furious, they don’t take the student’s behavior personally, and they don’t act on anger. They respond to student behaviors rather than react to them. They are then able to seek what the next steps might be for supporting a child in distress and emotional pain (a talk after class, arranging a meeting with the school counselor, etc.) According to the research of Adena Klem and James Connell, students who perceive a teacher as caring have higher attendance, better grades, and are more engaged in the classroom and at school.

In my 20 years as an educator, and from observing numerous classrooms and teachers, I do know this: Compassion and care can transform learning spaces. In the words of the Buddhist scholar and meditation teacher, Sharon Salzberg, “Our society tends to dismiss kindness as a minor virtue, rather than the tremendous force it can truly be.”

How To Change Your Grub Background Easily With Grub Customizer

Let’s admit it. When you boot up your Linux computer, the Grub menu looks ugly. Luckily, if you don’t like how your Grub boot menu looks, you can configure it according to your tastes. The most striking change is using a custom background. We’ll show you here how to easily change the Grub background.

Install Grub Customizer

To install grub customizer on Arch, Manjaro, and compatible distributions, use:





On Fedora, you can try:





On Debian, Ubuntu, and compatible distributions, you can bring it on board with:





Afterward, find it among the rest of your installed applications and run it.

Change the Background

Grub Customizer offers many options that allow you to modify your Grub boot menu, from tweaking its entries to configuring its looks.

Go to “Appearance settings.” You will find the option you need there.

Note that if your Grub already has a background defined, you’ll see that instead of “(None)” in this button.

Choose the image file you want to use as a background for your Grub boot menu from the requester that appears.

You can choose files directly in JPG or PNG format.

Grub Customizer will load the image you selected and present a preview of how your boot menu will look. If your wallpaper’s colors render any text unreadable, you can use the rest of the options on the left to change the color of your font and its background, both when unselected and highlighted.

Reboot your computer to see the changes. If the grub menu doesn’t appear, it may be configured to load the default operating system directly. To force Grub to show up, after rebooting and straight after the BIOS/UEFI screen, keep Shift pressed on your keyboard.

If you want, you can dive deeper into Grub and Grub Customizer to make your computer’s boot menu your own. Changing its background and primary colors, though, will probably be more than enough for most users.

Odysseas Kourafalos

OK’s real life started at around 10, when he got his first computer – a Commodore 128. Since then, he’s been melting keycaps by typing 24/7, trying to spread The Word Of Tech to anyone interested enough to listen. Or, rather, read.

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How To Get Rain Sounds On Ios 15 With Background Sounds

With the release of iOS 15, Apple is not only bringing new changes to FaceTime, Spotlight, Notifications, Weather, Safari, Find My, and Photos but is also paying a ton of attention to accessibility features on your iPhone and iPad. To help people avoid getting distracted, overwhelmed, or discomforted by what’s going on around them, Apple is introducing a new accessibility feature – Background Sounds that allows you play a handful of white noise samples one of which are rain sounds. 

In this post, we’ll help you understand what Background Sounds is all about, how you can enable it and use it with ease on your iPhone and iPad. 

What is Background Sounds on iOS?

To help minimize distractions and give its users a better way to focus on work, Apple has introduced Background Sounds on iOS 15. The feature comes as a move to support neurodiversity that is all the differences in an individual’s brain functions. With Background Sounds, your iPhone will be able to play calm soothing sounds like ocean, rain, or stream so that you can rest, gather your calm, and focus on the task at hand. 

Apple says the inbuilt collection of background sounds should help overpower unwanted external noise or environmental sounds around you. The feature is designed to also work with other audio and system sounds on your iOS device. This way, you can listen to Balanced, bright, dark, or natural noise even when you’re playing music or watching videos on your iPhone in a way that comforts you. 

Related: iOS 15: How To Remove Location Icon From Status Bar on iPhone and iPad

What do you need to use Background Sounds on iOS?

Background Sounds is an exclusive accessibility feature that only works if your device is running iOS 15 and iPadOS 15.

How to Enable Background Sounds on iOS

Since ‘Background Sounds’ is an accessibility feature, you can find it inside your iPhone’s Accessibility screen. To activate Background Sounds on iOS 15, open the Settings app on your iPhone/iPad and select the ‘Accessibility’ option. 

Inside Accessibility, scroll down and tap on the ‘Audio/Visual’ option under ‘Hearing’.

On the next screen, select the ‘Background Sounds’ option. 

Inside this screen, toggle ON the switch adjacent to ‘Background Sounds’. 

When you enable this feature, you should start hearing some kind of background noise from your device’s speakers or your headphones (if they’re connected to the iPhone/iPad). 

How to Get Rain Sounds

iOS allows you to choose between six different background sounds for now. We expect more to arrive in the future considering there are more options Apple provides on HomePod devices as part of their ‘Ambient Sounds’ feature. 

Inside Background Sounds, tap on the ‘Sound’ section. You will be taken to a list of sounds that are available currently on the next screen. Select ‘Rain’.

How to Change Background Sounds

You will be taken to a list of sounds that are available currently on the next screen. You can choose any one of the following ambient sounds: Balanced Noise, Bright Noice, Dark Noise, Ocean, Rain, and Stream.

Play each of the sounds and then decide on the one that suits your comfort. 

How to Use Background Sounds on iOS 15

Once you’ve enabled Background Sounds, you can tweak its settings to personalize it in a way that comforts you. You can select any one of the preset sounds that are available to mix them with other external sounds or completely mask the latter by increasing the volume of background noise. You can follow the steps below to get that done. 

How to Increase or Decrease Volume of Background Sounds

By default, the Background Sounds volume is set at 10. You can increase/decrease the volume depending on how much you want these sounds to overpower your surroundings. You may also want to change the volume when using a headphone as external sounds will get significantly muted, meaning you will have to bring the volume of Background Sounds down when your earphones are plugged in. 

Enable Background Sounds when playing media

You can choose to keep Background Sounds running when you’re listening to music or watching a video on your device. By default, the Background Sounds will stop when media is playing on your iPhone/iPad. You can, however, enable it to play in parallel with your media and other apps if you wish to continue listening to the ambient sounds. 

Inside Background Sounds, toggle ON the ‘Use When Media Is Playing’ switch so that the background sounds work in parallel with sounds from other apps. 

You get separate volume slides for when Background Sounds are played with media and you can increase or increase the volume by dragging the slides towards left or right. 

To help you understand how much intense you want the Background Sounds to be, iOS lets you play sample music to help you decide the volume that would suit you. 

How to Disable Background Sounds when iPhone is Locked

While you can decide whether or not iOS plays your selected Background Sounds when some media is playing on your device, you can also choose if you wish to keep it muted when your iPhone locked. If you choose to mute Background Sounds in this scenario, iOS won’t play your chosen Background Sounds for the times when your iPhone screen is off. Background Sounds will resume when you wake up your iPhone. 

To prevent Background Sounds from playing when your iPhone screen is off, turn on the ‘Stop Sounds When Locked’ toggle at the bottom of the Background Sounds screen. 

How to Add ‘Background Sounds’ shortcut inside Control Centre 

While Background Sounds is a brilliant feature for those of us struggling to concentrate or relax, you may find it hard to access or change sounds or volume every now and then because it is concealed inside your iPhone’s Accessibility settings. Fortunately, there’s an easier way to access it – by adding a quick shortcut to the Control Centre. 

To enable a shortcut for ‘Background Sounds’ inside Control Centre, open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad and select ‘Control Centre’. 

Inside the ‘Control Centre’, scroll down and find the ‘Hearing’ option (the one with an ear icon) under ‘More Controls’. You will need to add this control to your Control Centre by tapping the ‘+’ button on the left side of the ‘Hearing’ option. 

When you do that, the ‘Hearing’ control will be added to the ‘Included Controls’ section at the top. 

You have successfully added a shortcut to ‘Background Sounds’ inside Control Centre. 

How to Use Background Sounds from Control Centre

Now that you have added a shortcut to ‘Background Sounds’ inside Control Centre, you should know how you may use the feature on iOS or iPadOS. 

For this, open the Control Centre on your device by following any of these steps. 

On iPhones without Home Button: Swipe down from the top-right corner of your screen. 

On iPhones with a Home Button: Swipe up from the bottom edge of any screen.

Since you added the ‘Hearing’ control to the Control Centre, you should be able to see it when the Control Centre appears. The Hearing control will be indicated by a tile with an ear. To access Background Sounds, tap on the Hearing control from the Control Centre. 

You will now be able to check if ‘Background Sounds’ is running on your device. If the feature is disabled, you should see it marked as OFF under the ‘Background Sounds’ section in the overflow menu and also on the ‘Background Sounds’ button at the bottom. You can turn ON Background Sounds from here by tapping the ‘Background Sounds’ button.

When it is enabled, the button would turn from dark grey to blue color. You can tap on the same button to disable the feature quickly. You should also be able to see what is being played as ambient sound and its volume levels in the overflow menu at the center of the screen. From here you can directly change the volume levels of the sounds by dragging the slider inside ‘Volume’.  

You can quickly select sounds you may want to apply for a particular time by tapping on the ‘Background Sounds’ section inside this overflow menu and then selecting your preferred option on the next screen. 

That’s it. That’s all you need to know about Background Sounds on iOS 15. 


The Art Of Effectively Communicating With Students (And Staff!)

The simplest and quickest strategy for improving student behavior (and staff performance) is through effective communication. Communication is relatively complex and can be used to prevent behavior, start behavior, stop behavior, increase behavior(s) (performance), and decrease behavior. Even your proximity to somebody, the smallest facial expression, slightest change in tone of voice, or tiniest of gestural movements can communicate a large array of things.

One of the keys to effectively influencing behavior through communication is to remember it’s not just “whatcha say”, it’s “howya say it” (and when!). Has anybody ever tried to get you to do something by using a condescending or agitated voice? How did it make you feel? Did you do what they wanted you to do? Did it strengthen your relationship with the person, or make you want to avoid them? If it was your supervisor, were you more likely to work harder for them, or just get the work done when they were looking in order to avoid being reprimanded?

The Relationship Bank

Think about every interaction you have with a person (students and staff) as being a deposit or withdrawal into a “relationship bank”. Try to make deposits in the bank with as many meaningful interactions as you can while correcting behavior in a way that only takes a small withdrawal. The goal here should be 4+ positive interactions to every one corrective chúng tôi the corrective interaction being presented in a way that respects the person’s dignity and helps them to perform better. If your interaction is coercive, it’s akin to taking a major withdrawal from the relationship bank. If you do not have enough positive invested, you will likely incur overdraft fees. In fact, you may go bankrupt! Incidentally, overdraft fees will likely result in more of the very behavior that you are trying to eliminate. Below I’ll briefly discuss strategies that are generalizable to interactions with both students and adults.

Good communication skills can help you in both your personal and professional life. While verbal and written communication skills are important, researchers continue to find that nonverbal behaviors make up a large percentage of our daily interpersonal communication. How can you improve your nonverbal communication skills? The following are some tips for nonverbal communication that will enhance your own ability to communicate effectively with your students and colleagues.

Keep it Short and Sweet

I may be overgeneralizing my own thoughts to the others, but when folks talk too long, I begin to quickly lose interest! In fact, it won’t be long before I begin looking for the quickest escape route. And if I sense that the person communicating to me is attempting in any way to be coercive or condescending, I’m probably not hearing a word they are saying as I’m surely crafting my rebuttal…which will definitely be short, but likely not sweet!

It’s been my experience that brief, meaningful interactions tend to be more effective when attempting to influence behavior, especially when the goal of the conversation is correction.

Body language is also incredibly important. It is very much like a transmitter that is constantly pumping out signals. You must be aware of these signals and understand their impact on the people around you. When my son was young he once asked “Daddy, why do you look angry?” At that moment, I looked into the nearest mirror and realized he was right. I did look angry! The problem is that I wasn’t. I was just in deep thought. I’ll never know how many times people might have thought I was mad when, in actuality, I was just thinking. Behaviors like crossing your arms and knitting your brows are commonly perceived as coercive and can quickly put students or staff on the defensive.

When it comes to correcting behavior, try relaxing your body language and addressing misbehaviors in a business-like manner. Some students (and adults, imagine that!) may actually want to get you upset. I’ve seen this occur when some couples argue, and it is very common with students labeled “defiant.” When they recognize even the tiniest behavioral cues that indicate you are getting upset, you can be sure that they will quickly “push those buttons” to evoke your reaction in the same way they push buttons on their game controllers. I love those little chúng tôi smart. Each time your body language (even the slightest change) communicates that you are on the way to Incredible Hulk mode, they are actually being rewarded for their misbehavior. Neutral and consistent is usually a good idea here. Like the teacher from Ferris Bueller’s Day off: “Bueller… Bueller…”

Incidentally, one of the most powerful interventions for preventing this is by focusing on developing meaningful relationships with your students. Relationships eliminate the reinforcement available for making you upset. In fact, when you have a good relationship, your mild disappointment has great potential to have a major impact on the student’s behavior.

Stay tuned for my next post on the superpower of eye contact and gestures for influencing behavior.

Kensington Sd5700T Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station Review


11 fast ports

180W power supply

Quality build


Upstream port at front

4.5W USB-A ports

Our Verdict

The Kensington SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Dock is a quality Thunderbolt 4 docking station that boasts 11 top-rated ports and a pumped 180W power supply.

Best Prices Today: Kensington SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station

The Kensington SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station is a full docking station with 11 ports, including the latest Thunderbolt 4 and USB4 connectivity standards.

Connect it to your laptop to add this bunch of fast ports for a full desktop experience.

Choosing a docking station that boasts the latest Thunderbolt 4 connectivity standard is a wise choice. It features the latest and fastest 40Gbps bandwidth plus smart device daisy-chaining and super-fast storage connectivity. It also offers Intel VT-d DMA device protection that you don’t get with all older connectivity standards.

Significantly, it is backwards compatible with Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C, so works with older computers as well as the newest, which gives you a level of future-proofing you won’t get from Thunderbolt 3 docking stations or USB-C docks.

Specs and features

The Kensington SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station has one upstream Thunderbolt 4/USB4 port to connect to your computer, and three downstream Thunderbolt 4/USB4 ports to connect other devices, including external displays.

These are rated at Thunderbolt 4’s 40Gbps and can charge devices at 15W each. The upstream port can charge a connected laptop at up to 90W, which is enough for most large laptops.

You can connect displays directly if the monitors have a USB-C connection. If not, you’ll require either a USB-C-to-HDMI or USB-C-to-DisplayPort adapter (not included) to connect to the Thunderbolt 4 ports.

The SD5700T will support two 4K displays at 60Hz, or a single 8K monitor at 30Hz. Note that Apple’s original M1 MacBooks support only one external display – later M1 Pro and M1 Max support multiple displays – although there are third-party software and hardware workarounds that allow M1 Macs to connect to more than one external display.

There are three 10Gbps USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports that can charge devices at 4.5W – some docks’ USB-A ports, such as the Razer Thunderbolt 4 Choma dock, can handle 7.5W, so this was something of a surprise and maybe one of the dock’s few negative points.

On the front is a weaker (for data-transfer) USB 2.0 port, which instead excels at fast 7.5W charging.

The external power supply can provide up to 180W of power for laptop passthrough charging (90W) and connected devices, which is the most powerful TB4 dock supply we’ve tested. See our roundup of the best Thunderbolt 4 docks for comparable products.

Gigabit Ethernet means you can swerve weak Wi-Fi and connect for fast and stable wired Internet access.

On the front, alongside the upstream TB4 port and fast-charge USB-A port, is a fast SD Card Reader (UHS-II, 320MBps) for portable storage, and a combo 3.5mm audio jack.

We also love the lights that show power and connectivity status, plus the On/Off button that will relieve strain on your connected laptop’s battery.

Design and build

The Kensington SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Dock is a smart build that shouts out robust quality. On the side, as you’d expect from a Kensington device, are lock slots for physical security.

The three-year warranty and trustworthy Kensington name are also reassuring.

As with most Thunderbolt 4 docking stations, the upstream port is located at the front of the dock rather than hiding the cable at the back with the power supply, but this unfortunately is quite standard practice. The Caldigit Thunderbolt 4 Element Hub hides its upstream port at the side, but all other hubs and docks we’ve seen stick it at the front.


The Kensington SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station costs $369.99 / £339.99 / €349.99, which is a little above average for a full TB4 docking station, but the three-year warranty and overall quality make this an easy recommendation.

You can buy cheaper Thunderbolt 4 hubs, but these don’t come with Gigabit Ethernet or SD Card readers as standard. The Caldigit Element Hub is our favourite, as it boasts four TB4 ports plus four 10Gbps USB-A ports, although you’d have to use some of those ports for adapters if you require Ethernet or card readers.

Around the same price is the Caldigit TS4, which boasts a mighty 18 ports; read our Caldigit Thunderbolt Station 4 (TS4) review.


The Kensington SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Dock is a top-quality Thunderbolt 4 docking station that boasts 11 top-rated ports and a pumped 180W power supply.

Backwards-compatible and future-proof, buying Thunderbolt 4 / USB4 is a sensible choice for your next docking station.

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