The Most Remarkable Thing About Teaching

A blog and podcast episode about what is important

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

I was talking to my mom and my sister today about teaching. Now, all three of us have been teachers at the high school level. However, I’m the one who’s still in the classroom. And as I was talking to my mom, she’s struggling with memory problems but she was a teacher and way back in the late 1980’s she was brought in to teach a bunch of what they called “Bad Boys.” The school administration really thought these kids were not going to graduate without a great teacher. That great teacher was my Mom.

The most remarkable thing

Listen on iTunes

This is a simul-blog post and podcast episode. This blog post serves as the transcript. It has been edited slightly from the audio version. 

What We Remember

So they bought mom in their junior year to teach them a variety of subjects. Several of the teachers had threatened to quit, they said that these were just kids that just didn’t want to learn.

And believe it or not, Mom actually cooked something every day for them. So they would have cake or they would have cinnamon rolls or whatever. And she would say,

“Okay, when we get done with this, this and this, then we’re going to get to eat.”

For these boys, food was about the only thing that worked. Mama doesn’t really remember a lot. But sometimes she’ll look to me with tears in her eyes and say,

“Vicki, do you remember my bad boys? I sure did love teaching those bad boys. They said nobody could teach them but I did. I miss my bad boys.”

Sometimes the harder it is — the happier the memories are of overcoming and the harder we laugh when we think about,

“Oh my goodness I taught that one.”

And we can’t do anything but laugh now. I think I’m going to talk about learning how to collaborate with teachers around the world when I used 128 Kilobit per second modem and took four hours for us to upload a 20-second movie.

I think I’m going to talk about, one day:

  • how we made apps with different classrooms,
  • how I taught my kids how to make video games, even the kids who thought they couldn’t do it – especially the kids who thought they couldn’t do it.

I’m going to talk about:

  • reaching and loving the kid who didn’t like me at first or
  • helping the kids see greatness in themselves who didn’t even like themselves.

And I want to talk about the little girl who loved art and found out she could be a graphic designer.

And I’m going to talk about the kids I loved and the kids who loved me.

Refill the pitcher

But right now it is summer and we cannot pour out of an empty pitcher. It is time for you and I to fill up our pitcher so that we’ll have something to pour out in the fall.

But here’s another thought. I’ve been working on a post today for Edutopia and right now I’ve got 82 different apps in there.

But I was thinking about this — the very best app in the classroom (when it’s fully charged and at its best) is you, and it’s me.

I’m talking about an engine for change, an engine for learning. You can have kids who are really excited about learning but not every teacher offers it. Sadly, not every teacher has become an engine for learning.

But when you’re excited and you’re engaged – you are a better teacher.

That’s why it’s so hard to really trust a lot of the research around education technology because so many times in education technology the teachers are excited when they’re trying something new. And they get excited about it. And when they get excited about it, then everybody else gets excited.

So it’s really hard to control for the excitement of the teacher because how many teachers are truly excited about keeping things the same? I just don’t know.

Looking at Summer

As you plan, as you think about this summer just really ask yourself,

“Am I topping off my pitcher? Am I replenishing myself so that I can be that exciting teacher in the fall?”

Doc the Dog Marks the Passage of Time

And then here’s another thing, it’s always hard because I want to always be up for all of you who listened to my podcast. It’s important to me to bring excitement because we have so many hard things to handle…

Doc the dog has been part of our family for 14 years. His death today has me considering times and seasons and valuing them both.

but today… so I’ve been teaching for 15 years. The summer after my first year of teaching my dad and mom had their puppy or their dog, Doc, passed away and they got a new dog named Doug, a Jack Russell  Terrier. And we’ve had him for 14 years. Well, today we

So I’ve been teaching for 15 years. The summer after my first year of teaching my dad and mom had their dog, Trey, passed away. They got a new dog named Doc, a Jack Russell  Terrier. And we’ve had him for 14 years. Well, today we

Well, today (Tuesday) Doc died.

We said goodbye to goodbye to Doc. I’m a little sad about that because our little furry animals are part of our family.

One time I was at a conference and the person asked, how many of you teachers have pets? And they had us hold up how many fingers. And you know, I have four dogs and two cats, and so many of us are nurturers – a lot of us have pets so we know what it’s like.

Time and Seasons

But it’ll tell you one thing that animals teach me; that life is short, that there’s a season for everything. Even as we said goodbye to Doc today – sweet little Doc – we have a new dog that literally just wandered up just a couple of weeks ago and we’re calling him “Three Spot” because has three spots, nothing original there. But he’s a sweet little dog and we’ve made room for him.

School Years

And every year is different.
Every year has seasons.
Every year has its ups and downs.

Every year has kids that we’re really going to miss and every year has kids that we’re not going to miss. 😉

But as I think about my mom and I think about her talking about the dream she has of teaching those boys and how she misses those days. Sometimes she just says,

“Can I go back and teach those boys? I want to teach again.”

Wake Up and Realize We’re Living the Dream

And that’s her dream.

And you know, I’m living the dream now. And as hard as teaching is – and it’s hard – and as hard as it hurts sometimes, and it does hurt, it’s wonderful.

Teachers, you are the most remarkable app in your classroom. When you get excited when you get encouraged.

So I would just encourage you; take care of yourself, reflect on your wonderful classroom and the things you’ve done and the exciting things that have happened because there’s so many of you who live this every day.

Hard but Worth It

I got a beautiful letter today from a teacher who struggles and she said,

“You know, sometimes I bring food to school because I know that the kids would be hungry and I know that they’re having a hard time and I just love them.”

And we’re all this way, this is who we are.

We sacrifice — really all we have to — to be in the classroom.

The quote I loved from Wonder Woman

And I’m not going to give you any spoilers for Wonder Woman but I did see Wonder Woman. We took mom to see Wonder Woman while dad and my son were burying the dog so that we could kind of get mom away from it.

But there’s a line in there where she’s saving the world and she says,

“I don’t do this because they deserve it, I do it because I believe in love.”

And a lot of times these kids you teach, they don’t’ deserve it.

They’re acting like little turkeys,
or just not acting right
or they’re fussy
or they’re not appreciative
or they don’t know that you spent five hours planning that lesson and then it just crashed and bombed.

They don’t know that you planned something fun and then the teacher down the hall who always does worksheets and never does anything fun criticized you in the teacher’s lounge and kind of took the wind out of your sails.

They don’t know any of that.

And I know my friend, Todd Nesloney says kids deserve it and they do, kids deserve great things.

But sometimes, we don’t give kids what they do deserve — not so nice things — because sometimes they misbehave and sometimes they’re ungrateful and sometimes it hurts.

But I’ll tell you this, teachers, your job is so important.

Blessings of Broken Glass

And as I’m writing this, I am listening to my own son in the kitchen and something very large has just broken and I’m going to go in there.

But you know what? I think tonight I don’t think I’m going to fuss about it because I’m just reminded how short life is and even the broken glass is a blessing because of who’s in my life that broke the glass.

That means my son is home and he’s in the kitchen and he’s there and he can break the glass.

And people are a gift, people are just a gift.

And you’re a great gift to your classroom.

I hope you don’t find this too down, I hope you find this encouraging, I hope that you take some time to reflect and I hope you also listen to me.

Not Rested Yet

I’ve been out for two and a half weeks, I should be much more rested than this. Of course, I did start trying to run two miles again. I ran two miles Saturday and two miles yesterday and two miles today. And I’m completely sore and crazy and insane.

But I’m making forward progress.

But today, I was kind of down. And I decided, you know what, I’m going to get up today and try to help as many people as I can because when I help people I never have time to feel sorry for myself and my own problems and my own struggles and worries.

So I just want to encourage you. You do have a remarkable classroom and you are remarkable.

Heal up this summer,
get geared up,
listen to some old episodes of this podcast,
find some new podcasts,
learn some new things.

I hope some of you are going to ISTE. I hope to see you there.

Let’s just have a remarkable summer. And take some time to ponder on your remarkable classroom because I know and promise you some remarkable things happened this past year.

And if not, then let’s really try to make this fall and this upcoming year the most remarkable year we’ve ever had.

And it starts with you and me. We’re the apps.

And that is the remarkable thing.


[Transcription created by Some additional editing has been done to add grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. Every attempt has been made to correct spelling. For permissions, please email]


The post The Most Remarkable Thing About Teaching appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog

Google Classroom: Top New Features to Learn Over the Summer #gafe

A conversation with Alice Keeler on episode 97 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Alice Keeler @alicekeeler shares the must-try new features of Google Classroom. She also teaches us how we can learn Google Classroom features and hacks over the summer (even without students.) A must listen for people using Chromebooks or Google Classroom.

google classroom top new features to learn over the summer alice keeler

Listen Now


Listen on iTunes

Click the button for iTunes or Stitcher to subscribe to this show

10-Minute Teacher Show Stitcher



In today’s show, Alice Keeler talks about essential features to try this summer in Google Classroom:

  • Some little dots and arrows that you should find right now
  • How Alice finds new features
  • A cool feature that Alice suggested to Google
  • The power of engaging students using Google Classroom
  • How to test Google Classroom without students

I hope you enjoy this episode with Alice Keeler!

Selected Links from this Episode

Full Bio As Submitted

Alice KeelerAlice Keeler

Alice Keeler taught high school math for 14 years and now teaches teachers in the credential program at California State University Fresno. Alice is a Google Certified Innovator and co-author of the books “50 Things You Can Do With Google Classroom,” “50 Things to Go Further with Google Classroom: A Student-Centered Approach,” “Teaching Math with Google Apps,” “Ditch That Homework,” and “Google Apps for Littles.”

Alice has a popular EdTech blog and her Google Classroom posts can be found at

Transcript for this episode

Download the transcript by clicking here

 [Recording starts 0:00:00]

To celebrate the end of the first season of the Ten-minute Teacher podcast on June 16th, we’re running a giveaway – the Dash and Dot Robot Wonder Pack from Wonder Workshop. Stay tuned to the end of the show for how to enter.

Google Classroom. Hot new things to try this summer, with Alice Keeler. This is Episode 97.

The Ten-minute Teacher podcast with Vicki Davis. Every week day you’ll learn powerful practical ways to be a more remarkable teacher today.

VICKI:   Today, we’re talking with my favorite Google Classroom guru, Alice Keeler. @alicekeeler

And, Alice, you know, there’s some features or some awesome things in Google Classroom that teachers really kind of need to get familiar with over the summer. But how do we start? I mean, how do we know what to look for? Because there’s so much in Google Classroom?

ALICE:          There is so much in Google Classroom, and at the same time there is so little in Google Classroom; which is really the genius of Google Classroom is that it’s so simple. So the first thing to look for is three dots. And that’s really true in any practice. I mean, you get excited when you see a tiny triangle or three dots, because that’s going to tell you there’s more features or more things to look at. So when you create an assignment in Google Classroom, one of the things you’ll notice is up in the upper hand corner of that assignment are three dots. Now, this is a nerdy brag. When you click on those three dots, the bottom option on there is to copy link. And that was my idea. And so, of course, I think it’s a really good idea to help explore Google Classroom because it allows you to connect outside of Google Classroom a little bit more easily. If you’re not strictly using Google Classroom, that’s how you can combine, say, Schoology and Google Classroom is by copying the link from the assignment and pasting that link into, say, Schoology or whatever other platform you’re using.


                    Or, when you want to send out an email or invite others to look at it, that copy link is really perfect. And it also loops students right back into like, hey, let’s come back and look at this assignment again.

One of the things that we noticed is that students perceive a lot of their work as busy work. Well, it’s not busy work, but why do they think it is? Because we do the assignment, we get points, and then we move on to something else. And, really, with the logistics of paper, that’s how we had to do it. So when you look at Google Classroom like, how can I keep coming back? How can we make this a cycle of learning, that students feel like they have an opportunity to make a mistake, get some feedback, and come back and work on it some more? Because students really do want to learn. So a great way to do that is to copy the link to an assignment that students have worked on and later ask students to go back and revisit it, now that feedback has been posted. So look for those three dots in Google Classroom as places where you can get more options.

VICKI:          Awesome.

ALICE:          The other thing is in Google Classroom, in the bottom left hand corner is a little question mark. And when you click on that question mark, it says some awesome things. It says, what’s new? That’s the very first thing. So if you want to know new things to explore, Google makes it really easy for you to find some new features and things for your trial. But I have to warn you; a lot of things are kind of hidden and they don’t announce them, and they’re just kind of sneaking a few features here and there. And all the features are always teacher-requested.

VICKI:          Shameless plug here. Tell us where we find out your Google Classroom resources. Because I’m telling everybody they’re awesome, so it’s not a shameless plug; it’s really worth it.

ALICE:          Thank you. Appreciate that. Well, first, obviously, I have books. So if you go on to Amazon and look up either Google Classroom or Alice Keeler, I have 50 Things You Can Do with Google Classroom and 50 Things to Go Further with Google Classroom. But if you just go to my website,, right up at the top, I have a link that will filter for my Google Classroom posts. Or you can go

VICKI:          Cool. Okay, what other features do we need to try out or learn this summer?

ALICE:          I’ll tell you; my new favorite thing, really, is the return count in Google Classroom.


                    Now, it’s been a feature on the app for a little while, but they finally brought it to the desktop version or the Chrome version. And so what you see is it says done and not done when students have or haven’t completed work. But now when you return work, it now shows you the number that you have returned, the number that is done, and the number that’s not done. And why that’s particularly awesome is I don’t use Google Classroom to save trees. I didn’t get into teaching for trees; I got into it for kids. And so what makes learning better is feedback and interacting with students. And the faster I can interact with students, the more motivated they are, the more they care about my class. So when I return work, I know that I’ve looked at it, or I’ve at least seen who’s done something, whether or not I’ve graded it or not.

If students look at it after that point, then it’s marked as done, and it counts on the done count. So I know that those two students, if the number was two for done, need to have that worked looked at. And it’s not mixed in with students I’ve already looked at. That was always a little bit of a frustration; I look at a list of student work, and then I have to try and figure out later, well, who’s done it since I looked at it? So if I return first, I can click on that too and it shows me only those two students who have done it since I last looked at it. And that helps me to respond to students faster. And that makes learning better.

VICKI:          Oh, and it just makes life easier, doesn’t it?

ALICE:          It so does. So when today they ask me, why are you returning this? Because I’m telling you; I have seen it, I looked at it, I care about it, I’m not ignoring it.

VICKI:          Awesome. And then you can have that back in fourth. Because, honestly, I mean, when teachers grade a first draft, I kind of wonder, well, what’s the point? Because the real learning goes on between draft one and draft seven or eight or nine, you know.

ALICE:          So true. Hands down; my favorite feature of Google Classroom is private comments. And I notice a lot of teachers aren’t aware that that’s there.


                    So the way to find it is to click on the assignment title of any assignment, and on the left hand side you’ll see a roster of students, and click on any student’s name, and you’ll see on the right hand side is a place to do private comments. But, Vicki, it’s not a comment; it’s a conversation. And that’s where learning really happens, is when students interact with you. And let’s look at the research. Really, one of the most important and valuable things in the classroom is a highly qualified teacher. And so when you are interacting with students, that is going to be some of those things that really impact learning the most, because, again, it’s a conversation not just a comment that I’m writing on the side of a kid’s paper. And that allows students to say, I don’t understand this, or can you explain this further, or for you to give some really detailed information that students can then build on.

VICKI:          I did not know that feature was there. So do we have any other features that you think they should try this summer?

ALICE:          Well, there’s a new feature that I just discovered. And, again, I’ve mentioned there’s like some little hidden things. So when I go into the question mark and it says what’s new, this is not on the list. In the class comments; so when I post an assignment, what’s really cool is that we’re able to be a community of learners. The burden of feedback is not always on me. When a kid asks a question, he can ask the class. So there’s that class comment on every assignment where students can write a comment or a question or something like that. Now, when you hover over another student’s comment, a little reply swoopy shows up. And when you click on the reply swoopy – I don’t know if that’s a technical word; so it’s called a plus mention. And you can do plus mentions in comments in Google Docs and things you’ve been able to do that. And it’s lesser known maybe in Google Classroom. But it puts plus, and then that person’s email address for you so that the reply is directed towards that specific person who posted the question. Now, it’s always been an awesome feature, but my problem always has been, I don’t have everyone’s email address memorized. So how do I do a plus mention when I don’t know their email?


                    So this has now solved that problem for me so nicely, is when I see a comment, or when a peer sees a peer’s comment and they hover over the comment in the class comments, the reply swoopy will automatically add the plus mention. So another great way for us to continue interacting.

VICKI:          So as we finish up; you know, one of the challenges that teachers have is they want to play with these features over the summer, but they don’t have a class to play with. Do you have a solution for that?

ALICE:          That one is a toughie. But, you know, we all have a hobby or something we’re interested in, and a new feature in Google Classroom is now people can create a classroom with Gmail and people can join classroom with Gmail. Now, that means it’s Even though our school accounts are Gmail accounts, they’re not accounts. So go to and log in and then go to; and if teachers would create a Google Classroom through their Gmail account, they can actually invite peers and friends, just people on Facebook that they know, to say, I’m doing a little training, just trying some stuff out over the summer, who wants to join in.  And so now all their friends can try it out with them in a safe environment, because they’re not damaging kids trying to figure something out. I’m just joking; of course, you wouldn’t be damaging kids by trying something out. Try something out. But you’re not doing grades and some new things on that. So using the Gmail account is a really nice way over the summer for teachers to try out some new assignment types with people they know and love.

VICKI:          So we’ve gotten lots of wonderful ideas of things to try. We’ve got a new resource for you. I’ll put her books in the show notes. Follow Alice Keeler. I learn from her. She’s kind of my Google Classroom go-to person. So we’ve given you lots of ideas for the summer. So get out there, try some new things, and be remarkable.

ALICE:          Absolutely.

VICKI:          On June 16th, we’ll finish up season one of the Ten-minute Teacher. So to celebrate, we’ve partnered with one of my favorite robots for teaching coding – Dash and Dot from Wonder Workshop.


                    Go to and enter to win your very own Wonder Pack from Wonder Workshop. And to learn more about how you can use Dash and Dot to teach programing to kids, aged, kindergarten and up.

Thank you for listening to the Ten-minute Teacher Podcast. You can download the show notes and see the archive at Never stop learning.


[End of Audio 0:10:32]


[Transcription created by Some additional editing has been done to add grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. Every attempt has been made to correct spelling. For permissions, please email]

The post Google Classroom: Top New Features to Learn Over the Summer #gafe appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog

Go Bold School: Old School + Blended Learning

A conversation with Weston Kieschnick on episode 96 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Weston Kieschnick @wes_kieschnick helps us how to go bold school with blended learning. Old school plus blended learning = bold school. Check the show notes for the book giveaway.

go bold school weston kieschnick

Listen Now


Listen on iTunes

Click the button for iTunes or Stitcher to subscribe to this show

10-Minute Teacher Show Stitcher

In today’s show, Weston Kieschnick talks about blended learning and old school teaching:

  • The old school wisdom we should hold onto
  • What to improve
  • Teacher fear about being made to do things that don’t work
  • The mistake of “one size fits all” edicts
  • A bold school pep talk

I hope you enjoy this episode with Weston Kieschnick!

Selected Links from this Episode

Bold School by Weston Kieschnick Book Giveaway

Full Bio As Submitted

Weston Weston KieschnickKieschnick

Weston Kieschnick is a Senior Fellow at the International Center for Leadership in Education. His thought leadership around blended pedagogy has been published in Education Week, Ed-Tech Magazine, and The Learning Transformation: A Guide to Blended Learning for Administrators. He also created and hosts Teaching Keating, an acclaimed podcast where pop-culture and pedagogy collide.

Mr. Kieschnick has worked with teachers and school leaders from every state in the US and more than 30 countries around the world. Districts, where Weston provides keynotes, teacher development, and coaching, have been recognized among the top ten in the country for their work in educational technology. During his tenure in education, Weston has served as an award-winning Teacher, Assistant Principal, and District Level Administrator. Weston resides in Colorado with his wife Molly and his children, Everett and Charlotte.

Transcript for this episode

Download the transcript

[Recording starts 0:00:00]

To celebrate the end of the first season of the Ten Minute Teacher Podcast on June 16th, we’re running a giveaway. The Dash and Dot robot wonder pack from Wonder Workshop Stay tuned at the end of the show for how to enter.

Blended learning in the bold school. This is Episode 96.

The Ten-minute Teacher podcast with Vicki Davis. Every week day you’ll learn powerful practical ways to be a more remarkable teacher today.

VICKI:   Happy Motivational Monday. Today we want to be motivated to have a bold school especially as it relates to blended learning. Now, we’re going to be giving away a book from our author today, Weston Kieschnick, @wes_kieschnick

who has written a book called Bold School. Weston, how can we motivate ourselves to be more bold and how does it related to blended learning?

WESTON:    The iteration of bold school – bold is just a mash-up of the words, blended and old. So my goal in writing Bold School was to inspire teachers to bring their old school wisdom around teaching and learning into the blended learning equation. So often, there are so many teachers out there who are fearful about blended learning and that’s understandable because so many of them fear that the arrival of technology represents the departure of everything they love about teaching and learning.

And the whole idea behind being a bold school teacher and be in bold school is to continue to infuse those things that have always worked about teaching and learning and to bring those into the equation so we’re not just creating all of these isolated sort of flip learning and station rotation drones, but that teachers can hold on to their identity and who they are the great things they love about working with kids while they infuse technology to make their instruction more effective and efficient than it’s ever been before.


VICKI:          Okay. So what’s the old school wisdom we hold on to?

WESTON:    All those things that work with kids, right? And so I think really often about one of my colleagues who I caught with just starting out and he was a history teacher exactly like I was and he was one of those history teaches who could absolutely us stand in front of the classroom, talk about history and make it come alive. He was incredible at direct instruction and at lecturing. And I think about him a lot in the blended space because I know he would be one of those folks who would be resistant to technology and flipping his classroom or station rotation because he would fear it would take away from the things that he knows work with his kids.

What he know is that direct instruction has an effect size of 0.57. (Editor’s note, it looks like the new list has it at .60 see ) It is a high effect size instructional strategy, let’s not take it away from teachers, let’s figure out how to infuse back channels. Things like Todaysmeet,  things like Twitter  Let’s figure out how to infuse formative assessment tools, things like Kahoot  and Google Forms  to elevate a teacher like that. I want to encourage teachers to double and triple down on the things that they do best as long as they are high effect size. And we know that they work with kids, let’s use technology to double and triple down on those things and make them better than they were before. That’s bold school, that’s capitalizing on things that are old school, things like lecturing and direct instruction to make sure that they don’t get lost and that the baby doesn’t get thrown out with the bath water.

VICKI:          So Weston you’re saying that if something works, mess with it, but mess with it to make it better. Is that what you’re saying?

WESTON:    That’s exactly what I’m saying. Let’s not ditch the things that work. Let’s not ditch the things that work just by virtue of the fact that they’re old and we’ve done them for a long time. Okay, now, let’s switch to something that’s completely new and unproven. Let’s figure out how to utilize technology as a tool to make our strategies better. And I think that’s been a point of confusion for so many teachers in the blended space. They look at technology as though it’s the strategy. It’s not.


                    Our strategies are the things that we’ve been doing in classroom often at times since the dawn on the one-room school house. Now, is everything that we’ve done since the dawn of the one-room school house really good? No, of course not. But there are things that we’ve done for a long time for a reason, because they work. And so no the challenge is to figure out how to infuse technology to make those practices even better than they were before.

VICKI:          You know, and the other thing that sometimes we ignore in the research is, for example, I may be horrible at direct instruction and you maybe great at it. So just because overall it’s a great strategy for many people doesn’t necessarily mean it plays to my own strength.

WESTON:    Correct.

VICKI:          So don’t we have to try to look at it? Some people may do well with the back channel, some may not. But don’t we really kind to have of tune in to are students learning and the data of their learning and that sort of thing. But is this working? We’re talking about what works, not making people do what doesn’t, right?

WESTON:    Exactly. And so often, a lot of our teachers are so fearful of being made to do things that don’t work especially when they’ve had success up to this point. And so that’s exactly the kind of mentality we’re trying to capitalize on. So one of the examples that I give in the book is like you wouldn’t take a high school kid who is 5ft 7inc and runs a 4,440 and is just like an unbelievable football player and then all of a sudden try to turn that kid into a college basketball player. Like, no, you want to capitalize on his strengths to make him the best college football player he can be. Now, we’re not going to take a teacher who’s incredible at Socratic seminar and loves it and now try to take this teacher and say, okay, ditch that even though you’ve been hyper successful with it, now, let’s make you the master of station rotation. Like, no, let’s bring that old-school wisdom into the equation and show this teacher how to be effective. But to your point, Vicki, only if it is their gift and only if that particular strategy has a high effect size that we know through formative assessment works with kids.


VICKI:          But sometimes administrators or people have a one size fits all and say, “All my teachers are going to do it this way because this way works.”

WESTON:    You’re 100% right. And it’s so bizarre because the genesis of blended learning was all about providing personalized learning experiences for kids and yet we’re trying to take our teachers and fit them into this one size fits all approach of like, you know I used the phrase like blended learning and station rotations – again, those are great tools and great strategies but at the same time is that what we want for all of our teachers? No. Let’s personalize to meet our teachers where they are relative to their expertise, relative to their wisdom so they can still be at their best for kids.

And that’s what the book is all about. And you’ll see a bunch of examples in the book where we match high effects size instructional strategies. We have a list of them 13 of them and then we show examples. Things that we’ve seen actually in classrooms, when I’ve been around coaching in the 1000 of rooms I’ve been in to say, “Hey, here’s how a teacher takes reciprocal teaching and melts that with these tools to be incredible on the classroom and here’s what he scenario looks like.” And that’s the part that gets me really excited because so often for teachers – and you know this to be true, Vicki, it’s about them being able to see what it actually looks like before they get an understanding. And my hope is that that’s what the book accomplishes.

VICKI:          So Weston, as we finish up, give us a one-minute bold school pep talk so that we can be bold-school.

WESTON:    Step number one to becoming bold-school is heading off this question and this problem at the past. So often what happens with teachers is Chromebooks will arrive in our schools and arrive in our classrooms and we will stop and we will ask ourselves, okay, what am I going to do with Chromebooks today? And that is the moment where blended learning falls apart because, then, it becomes all about the tool. If you want to be bold-school, approach your design methodology through this framework.


                    Step number one, the first thing that we have to do is the thing that we’ve always done, identify our academic outcomes. What is our learning outcome for the day? Step number two is identify the instructional strategy that will allow us to accomplish that objective, that will allow us to cultivate those stills in kids. And then step number three is to ask ourselves, what digital tool will elevate the instructional strategy so then I could meet that academic outcome that we talked about in step one.

And then last but not least, we have to apply a sound instructional framework to figure out whether or not the things that we’re doing with kids are actually any good, whether it’s the SAMR model or the  Rigor Relevance Framework we got to be able to take a good long hard look to say, hey, you know what, what I’m doing falls in Quad D what I’m doing is redefining teaching and learning in the blended space so that if they are, we can replicate those things and if they’re not we can enhance them and make them better.

VICKI:          I just want to go, okay, it all makes sense because all these years’ people want to talk about Ed tech integration. To me it’s like, okay, let’s just talk good teaching, forget technology. It’s just about great teaching and this is just another one of our tools that we have and we should use it because it’s so powerful, it lets us do stuff we can’t do on paper, it lets us do stuff we can’t do other ways. So the book is Bold School. Check out the website for how you can enter to win the book and follow all the resources. Weston Kieschnick has lots of exciting things going on this summer. So take a look and I hope this summer you’ll become more bold school, and I hope I will too.

WESTON:    Thanks so much, Vicki.

VICKI:          On June 16th we’ll finish up Season 1 of the 10 Minute Teacher. So celebrate, we’ve partnered with one of my favorite robots for teaching coding, Dash and Dot form Wonder Workshop. Go to and enter to win your very own Wonder pack form Wonder workshop and to learn more about how you can use Dash and Dot to teach programming to kids, aged, kindergarten and up.

Thank you for listening to the Ten-minute Teacher Podcast. You can download the show notes and see the archive at Never stop learning.


[End of Audio 0:10:15]


[Transcription created by Some additional editing has been done to add grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. Every attempt has been made to correct spelling. For permissions, please email]


The post Go Bold School: Old School + Blended Learning appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog

How I Became More Productive with Post-it® Brand Products #makeitstick

DIY Productivity in Action

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Recently, I shared my 21-day productivity challenge sponsored by Post-it® Brand. To prepare, I took a quiz using the Post-it® Brand Productivity Tool to find out what type of planner I am. In that productivity quiz, I found out I’m a “Mindful Maverick” and need visual cues. So, using their recommendations, I changed my productivity system and added some new hacks. (You can read them here.)

How I Became More Productive with Post-it® Brand

This blog post is sponsored by Post-it® Brand. Regardless, I only recommend products that I believe are good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend.

Take the Productivity Quiz

Now, in this post, I’m going to share three things based on what I’ve learned during the last twenty one days.

  1. Some favorite hacks and tipsI discovered (see the last 5 I shared here)
  2. Why Do-It-Yourself Planning is the only thing that works and why Post-it® Brand Products should be part of it.
  3. What I learned from the 21-day challenge and how it will change my planning going forward

Part 1: My Favorite Hacks

Hack #1: Weekly Task Brain Dump

So, I admit, I blogged about this last time, but I’ve started using the task brain dump as part of my weekly planning routine. While I previously used this technique when I was planning my year or planning a book, now, I’ve discovered how useful it is as part of a weekly routine.

As I watched the four videos from the Post-it® Brand productivity experts including chef Russell Jackson, Teacher of the Year Sia Kyriakakos, fitness artist and spiritual wellness expert, Nicole Winhoffer and health business owner, Anna Young, I was inspired by all of their productivity tips.

The one that stuck out to me the most was Chef Russell Jackson probably because he takes a very creative approach that suits my lifestyle this summer. Summer is when I do my creative projects. Whether it is writing books, catching up with clean up, or getting information technology ready for the fall, I have a lot going on in my head. It just helps to get it out like Chef Jackson does in his planning system.

So, Russell Jackson says that his Post-it® Notes are his “hammer and nail.” I would go as far as to say that Post-it® Super Sticky Notes are my “hammer and nail” of my DIY productivity system. I prefer to use the Post-it® Super Sticky Notes because they stick to everything and let me move them around. (See below.)

How does a weekly brain dump work?

Step 1: Get all the tasks out of your brain. Here’s how I do this. As you can see in the photo below, often I brainstorm at my desk and get everything out of my head. One idea per Post-it® Note. Only one. I stick them to my desk and color code them.

My desk after doing a weekly brain-dump and brainstorming activity. I color code by type of work.

Step 2: Organize and Order. Then, I have this lovely fireplace that is not used in the summertime in my office. (I do live in South Georgia. It gets hot here. 😉 So, I use the mantle as a personal Kanban board of sorts where I arrange the notes in priority and order.

I use the flat surface on the mantle of the fireplace in my office to organize by order and priority. Because I use Post-it® Super Sticky Notes, I can move these around over and over.

Step 3: Work on one at a time. Then, when I’m ready to work, I grab the Post-it® Note I’m working on now and place it on the bottom of my screen. (No surprise, I’m working on this article right now!)

As I had in item #1 of my 21-day challenge, keeping the one task “on deck” at the bottom of my monitor helps me focus.

Hack #2: Have a Creation Station Nearby

As part of this 21-day challenge, I’ve taken the leveled box that used to hold envelopes and loaded it with organizing and creating supplies. I call this my creation station. Of course, my creation station includes Post-it® Super Sticky Notes and Post-it® Flags and Post-it® Tabsas well as a few other supplies I use frequently. Having Post-it® Notes handy in the creation station means I can pick them up and use them anywhere I need in the house.

My creation station including Post-it® Super Sticky Notes and Post-it® Flags and Post-it® Tabs as well as pens and other supplies I need to be at hand. This is to the left of my computer.

Hack #3 Organize on the Fly

When I organize, I try not to rewrite anything. So, I use Post-it® Super Sticky Notes to mark and organize things in a way that works for me. You can see the example below from today when I was organizing our paperwork in the office.

Organizing on the fly with Post-it

Organizing on the fly with Post-it® Super Sticky Notes. I’m organizing everything from files to closets this summer.

Part 2: Why DIY Planning Works and Why Post-it® Brand should be part of it.

As shared in my book Do What Matters, I’ve been making my planner forms since my Dad bought a Mac in 1985. Even people I know who buy commercial planners or use apps have their unique hacks. Our ability to organize hinges upon our habits. One of the biggest mistakes I ever made is when I tried to go paperless and put everything in apps. As a visual organizer, for me, it was out of sight out of mind. I forgot things. Nothing was getting done. Even worse — I had large lists of two and three hundred things!

In the end, our ability to organize hinges upon our habits. One of the biggest mistakes I ever made is when I tried to go paperless and put everything in apps. As a visual organizer, for me, it was out of sight out of mind. I forgot things. Nothing was getting done. Even worse — I had large lists of two and three hundred things! What a mess.

A typical daily form in my planner. Here I show the Post-it® Super Sticky Notes where I’ve picked my “big 3” in each of the categories. On the left is my schedule. Underneath the notes, I keep my log of what I did during each part of the day as a record of what I accomplished.

So, as I was losing my mind, I sat down and talked to Kip, my husband. (He’s kind of like my personal consultant when I’m struggling to keep up.) He asked me what worked. I told him that the only thing that ever worked was when I made my organizational system on paper and customized it. So, I went back to that.

But, even then, it is easy to have too many things on the list. So, I every day take an orange Post-it® Super Sticky Note and put my top 3 things for school. I take another brightly colored Post-it® Super Sticky Note and write my top three things to do at home. I stick these on my planner. (See photo.)

Understandably, we all have different ways that we organize. Each of us has our need. So, part of self-management is knowing your style of productivity whether you are trying to stay organized at work or home. A survey commissioned by Post-it® Brand found that 61 percent of working Americans believe they’d be more productive at home if they used the same organization strategies they use at work.* Something to think about!

I believe that to be most productive, we’re all really “do it yourself” or DIY. All it takes is one look on Pinterest to see just how DIY planners are everywhere. Some people draw in leather bound journals, others make computer forms (like me), and still, others just keep a small list. After all, you’re 42 percent more likely to get something done if you write it down.**

However, whatever you do, there’s always a need to emphasize something. I’ve found in my goal of only writing things one time, that putting important items on Post-it® Super Sticky Notes lets me move them from place to place (see Hack #1 above). I can bring them into my planner or move them from page to page.

Remember to stock supplies of Post-it® Super Sticky Notes to accent your planning system, whatever system you choose. 

Part 3: What I learned from the 21-day challenge

So, to recap, in the 21-day challenge that I blogged about, I agreed to:

  1. Do one thing at a time.
  2. Leave two kind Post-it® Notes a day
  3. List three things I have to do each day – one for school and one for home.

BIG WINS: One Thing at a Time and Keeping a List of Most Important Things. Because I took the challenge at the end of the school year, this is my most stressful time! I can say that this project caused me to be more intentional about my planning. I can’t say I didn’t feel stress because the end of the school year is stressful! I don’t know of any productivity system that can prevent stress, especially for teachers.

Take the Productivity Quiz

But I can say that I was better organized and got all the important things done. Focusing on one thing at a time really helped me. I can also say that in the week and a half that I’ve been out of school that I’ve gotten a tremendous amount of work done at home using this system (and found time for a few naps.)

WILL DO AGAIN: Kindness notes. The area where I fell short was spreading kindness with the two Post-it® Notes a day. I started, but then, the school year ended and I’ve spent much more time at home. This is a challenge I’m going to pick back up in the fall and see how it works. Kindness is contagious.

For me, being organized and productive isn’t for me just about doing more. Being productive is about doing what matters. And I recommend Post-it® Brand because I’ve used them a very long time.

Post-it® Brand Products work. And they help me do what matters and stay productive at the same time.

Did you take part in your own 21-day goal challenge? I’d love to hear how you are making your goals stick using Post-it® Products. Share your own planner type and your goal progress to your social channels using #Makeitstick and #Postit. 

Cited Research

*The 3M Productivity Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research ( among 1,021 nationally representative U.S. adults ages 18+, between March 30th and April 5th, 2017, using an email invitation and an online survey. Quotas have been set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the U.S. adult population 18 and older.

**Matthews, G. (2007). The impact of commitment, accountability, and written goals on goal achievement. Paper presented at the 87th Convention of the Western Psychological Association, Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.”  The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to edit and post it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.) Please also note that all opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of any sponsor or employer. 

The post How I Became More Productive with Post-it® Brand Products #makeitstick appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog

Ideas for Father’s Day

Thank you Mother and Father for all of those diapers – Which is a better deal, cloth or disposable diapers?  How much did you cost your parents in diapers?  In the future how much could your kid’s diapers cost?   Help students realize all that mom and dad went through in buying and changing diapers.

Students will compare the cost of buying disposable versus cloth diapers. They estimate how much they cost their parents in diapers and consider how much they will spend on diapers when they have a baby. This is a great math activity for Father’s Day or during the study of linear equations and introduction to systems of equations.

There is quite a bit of scaffolding built into the activity for students who might have limited experience with linear relationships and equation writing.  Depending on the experience of your students you might reduce the amount of work in the tables or omit some of the questions in this part of the lesson.

This activity gives the opportunity for students to engage in CCSS math practices 7 and 8 (see structure & express regularity in repeated reasoning).  As kids find diaper costs for various months, focus on what math they are doing over and over again, regardless of the time period.

If you would rather make this more of an open ended problem based learning task, simply give students the first page of the activity.  It has all the necessary info, but the path to determining the better deal will be more ambiguous.  By using the activity in this way, students can engage more in MP1, MP2 and MP4.  You can then go back and give some of the follow-up questions later separately.

The original activity was written by and shared with us by Andy Fehlner, 8th grade algebra teacher in Newton, MA. Thanks for sharing this timely activity with us, Mr. Fehlner!

Want to see student work?  The Blog: “Teaching Math Rocks” changed the title of the activity for High School students and they have provided student work samples.


diapers2016.docx       diapers.xlsx        diapers2016-solutions.pdf

CCSS: 6.EE.9, 7.EE.4, 8.F.2, 8.F.4, 8.EE.8, HS.F-IF.8.B, HS.F-LE.2, HS.F-LE.5, MP7, MP8

Or check out:

Father’s Day Blueberry Muffins is a short activity that asks students to change the amounts in a blueberry muffin recipe to multiples of and fractions of a ¼ cup measuring cup (multiplication and division with unit fractions).

from Yummy Math

Saving Water Bottles

In my grocery store they now have these new water bottle refilling stations. You can simply refill your own container with water instead of buying a six-pack of bottled water. Do you think that this is a good idea?  Are they just giving away water?  Is it the same quality of water as bottled water? What if you didn’t bring a bottle or cup? Or if they provide cups, what about the cost of a cup. How many water bottles are they really saving?

This activity attempts to trace the pace of this plastic bottle saving device.  How effective is it and is it worth the trouble?  This is a great task for graphing, fitting lines and solving equations, all in an in important context.

The activity: WaterBottles.pdf

For members we have an editable Word docx, and Excel file of computations and graphs, and solutions with added information.

WaterBottles.docx     ReusingWaterBottles.xlsx    WaterBottles-solutions.pdf

CCSS: 8.F.4, 8.SP2, 8.SP.3, HSF.LE.A.2, HSS.ID.B.6, HSS.ID.C.7



from Yummy Math