Thanks for visiting! This is a place to find my writing, both education pieces and personal essays. I teach history and do academic administration at an independent school just north of Los Angeles. I’ve also written two books about history teaching, Creating Citizens (Routledge, 2018) and Making History Mine (Stenhouse, 2009), and write regularly for MiddleWeb’s Future of History blog. In my free time, I like to run, cook, play piano, listen to Broadway musicals, search for good bakeries and spend time with my husband and two sons. I’ve also taught English and love young adult fiction. @sarahjcooper01

“The Beauty of Dusk: On Vision Lost and Found” by Frank Bruni, Bookclique

I wanted to read this book not only because Bruni has been one of the most versatile writers in the New York Times over the years (restaurant critic and Rome bureau chief, to name a couple), and not only because I read his book about college, Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be, twice before my older son applied, but also because I had my own brush with vision loss… Continue reading

“18 Ways to Make Social Studies Class More Culturally Responsive,” Education Week

Culturally responsive teaching can take many different forms. An excellent recent EdWeek article defined it as taking into account “students’ customs, characteristics, experience, and perspectives as tools for better classroom instruction.” Although I often feel I’m only partially engaging with students’ backgrounds and experiences in my 8th U.S. history and civics classes, here are a few guidelines I try to follow… Continue reading

“Have We Done Enough?”, Well-Schooled

As my older son heads off to college in a couple of weeks, I’m repeating myself. Even I can tell it’s annoying, but I don’t stop. I tell him: Go to office hours. Get involved in extracurriculars. Don’t skip classes like I did, after finding a boyfriend freshman year. Be curious, find something that interests you, get out to exercise. I’ve told him these things 10 times, 100, and yet I keep saying them like a talisman… Continue reading

“Take My Hand” by Dolen Perkins-Valdez, Bookclique

The epigraph of Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s Take My Hand sets a historical, poignant, and fiercely resilient tone: “Ben, make sure you play ‘Take My Hand, Precious Lord’ in the meeting tonight. Play it real pretty.” – Martin Luther King Jr.’s reported last words, April 4, 1968. The song’s steadfast gospel lyrics equally describe the book’s protagonist… Continue reading

“Advice for New Middle School Teachers from Four Veterans,” Education Week

After more than two decades of teaching middle school, my answer has simplified over time. Twenty years ago, I would have said that you need to keep students busy, change up activities multiple times a period, make sure they’re doing something. Ten years ago, I would have said that you need to see the infinite potential of middle schoolers… Continue reading