Hot Links 1-16-19

“We ask for students to think “critically and creatively” yet score them on how we can move our learners to all think the same. This is one of the biggest challenges education faces right now.” George Couros

Beware of the Test Prep Trap There is more to learn than what’s ‘on the test’.

How Teacher Blogging Aligns with PBL: 5 Tips for Getting Started– One of the best things I done for my personal learning is start a blog. It helps me reflect, process and grow as an educator. Plus, it is formative, and ongoing versus a summative position. I am continually growing, adapting, and refining my craft.

“If You Name It, They Think They Know It” – PBL & Wonder PBL often flips traditional learning on its head. This post discusses the idea of giving a learning event first to spark creativity and curiosity in a student.

3 Reminders for When Challenging Others George Couros suggests some good reminders.

Have a great week.



Podcast- Reading Rewards


Here is the link to my new podcast. This episode I discuss offering rewards for reading and the consequence for not reading- AKA Punishment of reading for not reading. (Particularly as it relates to Accelerated Reader)

Feel free to leave any comments and/or subscribe and share if it is something that could be helpful to others.



Hot Links- 12/7/18

Hey all, be sure to take some time and read these great articles.

Most Misunderstood Math Standards in Grade 3– I know this says Grade 3, but at Achieve the Core, they have posts for other grade levels.

Google Slides sticky note brainstorming: Powerful planning– Cool way to use Google Slides

What’s that you say? Present with captions in Google Slides– Pretty neat new tool. Though I might be afraid of what words show up on my screen that don’t match my verbal words.

But it has a 5-Star rating…– Mr. G is like a Canadian version of myself sometimes, especially in regard to AR. It is often interesting to read what he has to say. He deals with the beast that is Teachers Pay Teachers. He wonders if we will get deeper learning from worksheets, even if they are 5 stars.

Why Do Children Act Silly or Show Off?– I have been real encouraged by much of the stuff from Responsive Classroom.

EDU Blog- Data or Child Driven

This topic has been floating around my mind a lot lately. I have been reading/rereading some posts from George Couros that have been messing with my mind, in a good way.

Here is one of his posts that deal specifically with whether we can be both data and child driven. His short answer is no. In fact, he even suggests that “Data Driven is the stupidest term in education. We are child-driven.”

Part of me just wants to post his whole article to the blog. Now, you will not like this if you really want to be data-driven. (And I remember that was one of the major buzzwords even 15 years ago).

As Couros suggests, data is not horrible, but we should not be driven by it. Student learning is far more important and it is not always measurable.

How many teachers remember a time or two when we have worked with a student and they have that magic lightbulb moment, where, for some reason, the light comes on and they just get it? That is far more exciting than a number on a test. When we are driven by the numbers, it is easy to forget the real life human behind it.

I prefer the term “child-driven, evidence-informed”. The term “evidence” is much more encompassing, not necessarily by definition, but in how we use the words in education. Evidence is that amazing concert, the interaction we see in the hallways, the conversations we have with one another, that can’t be boiled down to a letter or number.  Using that to inform what we do to serve the child is crucial to the growth of the individual, the educator, and the system as a whole.- George Couros

Yes! Behind all data is a child and behind that, a story. If we forget that, we are doing a disservice to our kids. If my kids are growing and learning, even if it doesn’t fit the ultimate data goal, I am happy and proud. These students are my kids, my family, for 10 months out of the year. I will not…I cannot, reduce them to a number.

Learning is not always easily measurable. But it doesn’t mean it’s not happening. The learning and often the things that are most meaningful are not always easily measurable.

I leave you with this from George:

If one day, before you became a teacher, you thought to yourself, “Do you know what I would like to do one day? Test kids.”, There might be something wrong.

It is not always a dichotomy but if you have to choose between the child and the data, choose the child. Between the learning and the test scores, choose the learning.

I have been on an interesting learning journey myself, many years in the making so I don’t say this to say I have made it, but it is increasingly something I am passionate about-student learning. Because that matters far more than a test score.

What do you think?


Hot Links- 11-14-18

Google Slides icon boards for low-prep, visual thinking– Matt Miller has a cool activity that all students can engage in AND doesn’t take the teacher much time.

3 Challenges for the Future of Education– I love George Couros’ idea for his blog. Sometimes it’s just a reflection piece. He does not always suggest he has any answers.

Stop Taking Grading Home– Catlin Tucker shares some thoughts.

HOW TO SURVIVE AS AN INTROVERTED TEACHER– I need all the help I can get.

Should You Enforce A Consequence For Inattentiveness?– Michael Linsin answers this question.

Enjoy your week. Let me know your thoughts about what you read or share a new site/article with me.



Hot Links 10/30/18

A Fun Way To Teach Students How Not To Behave– Michael Linsin offers some fun advice.

Why Picking Your Battles Is Bad Advice– Sometimes consistency is better. Many time, it is. Michael Linsin offers some reasons why he thinks that picking battles could harm your management.

10 WAYS TO INTRODUCE YOUR STUDENTS TO BLOGGING– Some cool ways to get your kids started.

2 Things To Focus On This Year for Elementary Math Teachers– I really like Christina Tondevold. Be sure to check out this post and others from a Recovering Traditionalist.

Accerlerated Reader- What Works Clearinghouse evaluates the studies and claims of AR. This is certainly on the more technical side. Good information.

Have a great week.


Hot Links 10-25-18

Change from “Make a Ten” to “Make it Friendly– Find out why Christina Tondevold thinks it would be more helpful.

3 Simple Ways to Check for Understanding– Michael offers some cool ideas.

How We Stopped Using Accelerated Reader– How one school stopped and what they did instead.

3 Ways Blogging Has Helped Me Grow as a Learner– This is a great post. It has a couple reasons I continue to blog. I like his idea about sharing what you are learning, even if you don’t have it all figured out.

Teaching Math the Right Way- Focus on Content Emphases (At Each Grade Level)– Christina Tondevold gives an idea for when we can’t get through all the math curriculum. How about focusing on the areas that are emphasized?

EDU Blog- Pendulum

If you have been in education for longer than about 5-7 years, you may have seen what is often referred to as the pendulum swing. I am sure this occurs in other areas of work, but it seems to happen a lot in education. The pendulum swings based on what is the major focus of education and it is often associated with the current standards.

I was teaching during the time of high stakes testing, where there was accountability for teachers, which is good, but it was filled with extra pressure because it was tied to testing. If you didn’t get a certain score on your end of year state tests, your job could be on the line, regardless of the truth behind the data. I have had some students through the years that could not give a rip, and my livelihood is on the line? That is not a pleasant work environment. Hold teachers accountable for teaching, yes, that is good. But there is a big component–the kids–that also had a lot to do with the test.

Anyway, another pendulum I grew up with had to do with math fact fluency. In the past, the ONLY way you got fluent was to memorize your facts (add/subtract/multiply/divide). No other way. And if you got it, you were “good” at math and if you didn’t, the implicit message was you were “not good” at math.


Recently, there has been a push in changing our idea about what fact fluency actually means. I will not go too in depth (not enough time with this post), but I actually think the swing of the pendulum in this caseis a good thing. I was ‘good’ at math- real good at memorizing and following directions (procedure). However, recent work I have studied from folks like Jo Boaler, Christina Tondevold, Graham Fletcher have really challenged the notion, in a good way.

The focus is switched from speed to real Number Sense (or a sense of the numbers- crazy, right?), number flexibility and understanding the relationships between numbers. It has been a fun journey to see maths (short for mathematics) in a new way. Understanding that there is more to maths than ‘do these steps’ or ‘memorize this’ is a pretty cool change. I hope it doesn’t go back to the drill and kill I used to know and love (mostly because it was memory)

There are many more areas where we could notice this pendulum. A big pice, in my view, is that we need to be mindful of the changes. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater, but also, don’t just keep doing things because it’s always been done that way. Good teaching and pedagogy is good whether it’s a new strategy or old. Bad teaching is bad whether it’s new or old. Use what is good and try to avoid the bad.

**Also, please get rid of timed math facts tests (Check out Jo Boaler’s work that suggests this is a big cause for math anxiety for many.). There are better ways.

So much more could be said.


Developing the Learner

I ran across this great quote by George Couros’ book, The Innovator’s Mindset

“I believe it’s possible to have kids who are deep thinkers, creators and innovators, and still do well on their exams, but I do not want to forsake those critical elements for the latter. Twenty-first century education is not about the test; it’s about something bigger…What I care about is that kids are inspired to be better people because of their experiences in my school.”