Creating classroom fireworks to get students saying WOW!

Engagement is still king in the classroom. If students aren't paying attention, they might as well not be there. (Public domain image via Pixabay.com)

Attention economy is a term that many in business are paying attention to. There’s lots of noise in media and in our everyday lives. Organizations are doing whatever they can to get people’s attention. Social media marketing. Billboards. Emails. Advertising in unique locations. (The ads they stick above urinals in the men’s room are a […]

10 reasons to try Genius Hour this school year

Genius Hour might be the spark your students need to boost engagement and produce independent learners. Here are some reasons to try it. (Public domain photo via Pixabay.com)

For me, my Genius Hour project was learning BASIC. I was in middle school, and this programming code intrigued me. We didn’t have any computer science classes except for a six-week “Introduction to Computers” rotation class. So I started tinkering with it on my computer at home. I found books to learn new commands. Then […]

10 ways to start the school year with a bang

The first days of a school year are an invigorating time. Make the most of them with these ideas. (Public domain image via Pixabay)

The beginning of the school year is such an invigorating time. It’s still so full of potential and possibility. Plus, there’s that joy that we teachers get from new school supplies (something I’m sure is not fully appreciated by most other professions!). As we gear up for the new school year (or have already begun […]

How school can look more like an episode of Phineas and Ferb

Phineas and Ferb are always in search of adventure, creating and imagining. Schools should look a lot like that on their best days. (Disney Television Animation)

With three elementary-aged kids at home, I’ve seen my fair share of Disney Channel shows. It started with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse many years ago and has since evolved to Good Luck Charlie. (I’ll actually get the theme song for that one stuck in my head and sing it all day. Not by choice.) I’ll tolerate […]

Should learning be hard?

Research tells us that effortful learning is more durable. But we want to make it easy for students to learn, right? Should learning be hard? (Public domain image via Pixabay.com)

The Calvin Cycle was the bane of my existence as a high school freshman. I was in a biology class. In the midst of surviving swimming practices, working part-time at Burger King and trying to navigate all of my other classes, I was required to learn the Calvin Cycle, start to finish. (It didn’t help […]

An unknown future? Prepare students with these timeless skills

The future is uncertain for our students. But some skills have served people through the ages. If we can help students develop them, they'll be more prepared. (Sketch by Matt Miller)

The U.S. Department of Labor predicts that 65 percent of today’s schoolchildren will be employed in jobs that don’t exist today. Think of how you would have felt 10 years ago if someone said these would be full-time, paying jobs: Search Engine Optimization Specialist User Experience Manager Social Media Manager Telecommuting Coordinator Online Advertising Manager Medical […]

End of the Year THRIVE-al (Not Survival) Guide

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As I write this, my kids have a little less than three weeks left of school yet. It’s the time of year when attention spans get shorter and countdowns start appearing on white boards in classrooms. There’s this saying in education that I love AND despise (depending on the day): Don’t count down the days. Make […]

Cultivating an Innovator’s Mindset in schools today

The world is changing quickly, and schools must change, too, to stay relevant to their students. Here are ideas from The Innovator's Mindset that inspired me. (Public domain image via Pixabay)

Sometimes, when I get ready to write a new blog post, I have this nervous excitement in my fingertips. When that happens, I know I have something really good to share with you. Today’s one of those days. The world is changing very quickly. Technology is changing. The workforce is changing. Our students are changing, and […]

End the school year with Epic Review Olympics (free templates!)

The end of the school year is high time for review. Make your experience EPIC with the review to end all reviews!

As the school year starts to come to a close, a couple of things are certain. Student motivation will be soaring high. (Not!) Reviewing previous content get more and more important. There are lots of ways to make review engaging, but my students have always responded to review games. They get the competitive juices flowing, […]

10 research-based insights on how the brain learns

What we believe about learning is sometimes totally opposite to how the brain actually learns. Here are 10 insights on how the brain learns. (Public domain image via Pixabay)

I remember struggling with social studies classes in high school and college. The content fascinated me. I loved hearing the stories of conflicts and resolutions. Wars and strategies. Politics and leverage. Power and influence. Plus, I met my wife in a social studies class (Intro to Political Science) as a college freshman, and she’s now […]