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App Smashing with Kindergarteners #ipadchat

24 May, 2017 - 21:01

A conversation with Carrie Willis on episode 83 of the 10-Minute Teacher

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Carrie Willis @carriewillis18 talks about how kindergarteners in her STEAM lab use their iPads. They use SeeSaw portfolios, green screen videos, and more. She also talks about what the students do and what the adults do.

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In today’s show, Carrie Willis talks about the workflow in her kindergarten classroom with iPads:

  • How they use Seesaw
  • Making videos with green screen
  • What kindergarteners can do thsmselves
  • The challenges of kicking off an ipad lab
  • Workflow with kids

I hope you enjoy this episode with Carrie Willis!

Want to hear another episode on elementary portfolios with SeeSaw? Listen to Suzy Lolley talk about elementary portfolios with SeeSaw.

Selected Links from this Episode

Some of the links below are affiliate links. Full Bio As Submitted Carrie Willis

Carrie Willis is the technology teacher and director at Valley Preparatory School in Redlands, Ca.

Carrie is an Apple Teacher, Microsoft Innovative Educator, DEN STAR, Wonder Innovation Squad member, and all-around techie.

She loves STEAM, PBL, coding, robotics, green screen, app smashing and more. You can follow her on Twitter @carriewillis18.

Transcript for this episode

Click to download the PDF transcript

[Recording starts 0:00:00]

Are you planning your summer like I am? Well I recommend that you get the free video series from my friend Angele Watson. Five summer secrets for a stress-free fall. Just go to

On the last episode we talked about iPads in kindergarten . Well, today we’re talking about app smashing in kindergarten. This is Episode 83.

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:              Carrie Willis @carriewillis18 from California has been app-smashing with her kindergarteners. Oh my goodness, Carrie, what have you done?

CARRIE:       I’ve been having a lot of fun, we have a brand new STEAM lab at our school this year, so that’s science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. And we’ve had all of us students, grades pre-school through 8 come to our steam lab and just kind of partake in some amazing design projects, engineering projects, technology projects. So I’d like to talk about our kindergarteners today with you.

VICKI:          Cool. Yeah, I think I saw you on Twitter and you were talking about how they were using Aurasma . Had done a show recently on Aurasma . But tell us about this project, what did you do?

CARRIE:       So our kindergarten students were taking part in in our international baccalaureate unit on sharing the planet and they had been studying insects and habitats and life cycles and kind of how insects share the plant with humans as well as other living things. So as part of our design and engineering unit in our STEAM lab we had the kindergarteners build different organisms and living things out of K’NEX .


                    And we used a K’NEX for education kit called organisms and life cycles.   And each student was given a different – kind of like an instruction challenge card where they kind of followed the instructions and built their living things. And then after they were finished we studied food web that included all of these different living things they had built out of K’NEX. So it was like a poster that showed all the living things in the K’NEX kit and where they kind of fell in a food web, you know. You know, what they ate and what ate them.

And the kindergarteners got to study this and do a little bit of research and tried to figure out if they had a caterpillar what does this show that the caterpillars eat and what eats the caterpillars. And then we talked about if this particular student had the caterpillar, what kind of habitat the caterpillars lived in. and they kind of wrote down some facts, some things that they learned from this poster, this bit of kindergarten research that didn’t involve any words but just kind of studying a picture.

And then we used our green screen that we have in our classroom and we used the app, Green Screen by Do Ink   which we absolutely love. If you don’t already have that app downloaded on your iPad and you’re a teacher you need. And I don’t work for them, I just love it that much. And so we put the habitat of the particular organism that student had built in the background and the students sit in front of the green screen and explained kind of their organisms place in this food web or in a food chain and recorded a little video and then made the poster come to life by using Aurasma.

And if you’ve never used Aurasma before, it’s an app where you can take a video and overlay it on a still picture, like an actual physical picture. In this case a poster.


                    So we would overlay the video of the student with the caterpillar in front of the green screen on top of the caterpillar image on the poster. So when you hold your phone over the picture on the poster that picture would come to life as a video.

VICKI:          So Carrie, I’m curious, you’ve already blown the minds of many people and you’re talking kindergarteners. How much of this work did you have to do and how much did they actually do?

CARRIE:       So the students built their organism, their living thing from the K’NEX all on their own, most of them did not need any help at all. And then when they were finished building they would go over to this poster that we had and they would kind of study the poster and see if they could kind of track the food web and figure out what their organism ate and what eats it. And this wasn’t hard for them because they have been studying this sort of thing in their classroom already having to do with their insect unit that they had been working on. So they knew what he predators were and what insects have food sources.

So they were able to easily kind of analyze this poster and follow it and then most of them had an easy time kind of being able to come up with what sort of habitat their particular living thing would live in. So these kind of range from – there was frogs, there was tadpoles, there was a bald eagle, there was a crab, fish, different insects, there was a mouse. So it was all different things. So they would say whether or not they thought that they lived in a pond or in the ocean.

VICKI:          So they did a pretty good job with the building of the K’NEX and the describing on the green screen. Now, were they able to actually edit the video at all?

CARRIE:       At this point no, they probably would be able to do that but for time sake we just pulled up and image and we did the filming in this case.


VICKI:          Okay.

CARRIE:       Our kindergarteners actually have done things with video, they’ve used See Saw and Book Creator to kind of record little journals of their caterpillars, fed them and watched their lifecycle as they turned into butterflies and released them. So they chronicled their lifecycle of their butterflies that they patched in their classroom and they did that themselves using SeeSaw and Book Creator to create little video journals of this.

So they have done work with video, they just didn’t in this particular case with the green screen video.

VICKI:          Cool. So you’ve just done this incredible app-smashing project and it sounds like a whole lot of technology but you know the question people always ask is did they learn about habitats and insects better with using the technology than they would have without?

CARRIE:       I don’t know if they learned about it better but I feel like they definitely will remember it better because they will go back and they will watch these videos over and over again. I remember as a child different videos and projects that I did but definitely don’t remember worksheets that I did, I definitely don’t remember chapter reviews from my science book. But I definitely remember when I had to create this video as part of my science class on different parts of the body and different bones and muscles.

I mean, I can recite that back because I remember creating this awesome project. So I think there’s a bit more retention when you do these kind of exciting projects with kids.

VICKI:          So we talked with Carrie Willis about app-smashing in kindergarten, it can be done, you can do some really cool things. And I think that we need to give kids the chance and not be scared of these big long names and just let kids create and innovate using technology. We’ve got such a great example form Carrie today.

CARRIE:       Thank you. And I think it’s important to introduce kids to this technology. We don’t have to expect them to be able to do it at this young age but introducing it to them now, they’ll remember that later when they’re a little bit older, when they are matured enough to be able to use it themselves to create great projects.

VICKI:          If you follow my newsletter or blog you’ve probably heard me talk about Angela Watson’s 40-Hour Work Week.  This program really helps you to be a better teacher, have better classroom management and more organized classroom and so many things. Now, Angela used to be a 5th grade teacher but I’ve actually found a lot of things applicable to my 8th grade and up classroom.

So you can take a quiz to see if this program is right for you. Just go to and learn more about Angela Watson’s 40-Hour Work Week.


[End of Audio 0:09:18]


[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 App Smashing with Kindergarteners #ipadchat appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Take the 21-day Productivity Challenge #makeitstick

23 May, 2017 - 20:45

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

The end of the school year is so busy. Now is the time to get organized. In this blog post, I’ll give you my 1-2-3 steps to stress less and 5 productivity hacks. Many of them involve Post-it® Brand Products. I use them all the time, from storyboarding, to drafting articles, to accenting my DIY planner.

This blog post is sponsored by Post-it® Brand

What productivity type are you? Take the quiz

21-Day Productivity Challenge So, as part of my work with Post-it® Brand, I’ve been asked to design a 21-day challenge to boost productivity. As a teacher, I’ve picked 3 simple things that I know will boost productivity (and my mood) and I’m going to do this for 21 days. I also 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 to use their productivity ideas and tips. 1 – One thing at a time

I keep my current “Big 1” task at the bottom left hand side of my monitor. This is my focal task. I do this at school and home. It helps me focus on just one thing at a time.

Multitasking is a myth. Focus is necessary to get anything done. To keep on track, I am committing to focus on ONE thing at a time. Just one.

To find out what kind of planner I am,  I took a quiz using the Post-it® Brand Productivity Tool. In their research, they found that there are four types of planners. As a “Mindful Maverick” I learned that I need visual cues.


So, I write the current task on the bottom left-hand side of my computer monitor on Post-it® Super Sticky Notes. One task, one at a time. I’ve used Post-it® Notes for years in this way. Seeing the results of the productivity quiz, I now know why I’m always happier when I write down my most important task and keep it front and center. As a teacher, I live in a rushed environment and seeing one task on my computer redirects my attention back to my main task. According to a survey conducted by Post-it® Brand, more than 1 in 4 Americans feel completing everything on their weekly to-do list is harder than running a marathon.*   I think part of the problem is many of us put too much on our list. Another reason might be our lack of focus. Writing my current focal task on a Post-it® Note and keeping it on my computer monitor throughout the day helps me focus. Swapping it out for a new one gives me a sense of progress! 2 – Two kind notes a day

I’m inspired by the wall of kindness that was started with one kind Post-it® Note in the girls bathroom at Principal Will Parker’s school.

Part of my purpose as a teacher is to spread kindness and positivity to my students and colleagues. I was so inspired by what happened at Principal Will Parker’s school this year. One of his students posted a kind Post-it® Note in the girls bathroom. As other students joined in, it grew into hundreds of Post-it® Notes with kind messages. Kindness went viral! “Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” -Scott Adams So, I’ve committed to write two kind Post-it® Notes a day and stick them somewhere in the school to encourage others to make others smile and encourage them to do the same. The teacher’s lounge. My room. The bathroom mirror. Yes, I’m doing this! There have been times I’ve wanted to encourage a colleague. I’d buy their favorite cola or snack and leave it on their desk with a quick anonymous Post-it® Note. It really does encourage people.  3 – Three most important things

In my planner, I keep my “big 3” on Post-it® Super Sticky Notes to make sure they get done. I use the same system for home and work – 3 in each place!

Don’t confuse quality with quantity. Yes, my master list has many things on it. (See below for how I brain dump my list to organize it.) However, this time of year, I just have so much to do that I list my three most important things. No matter what else gets done, these are a must. I’ll admit. I have three things for home and three things for school. The research commissioned by Post-it® Brand found that 61% of Americans believe they would be more productive if they used the same organizational system at home that they do at work.* As a busy teacherpreneur, I work hard to have a flexible but VISUAL system that works for me in both places.  In Summary. The 21-Day Challenge I’m taking is: 1 – I will do one thing at a time 2 – I will leave two kind Post-it® Notes a day to others 3 – I will list three things each day that I have to do at home and at school. That’s it. 5 Productivity Hacks and Tips to Help Get Organized So, now on to some tips/ hacks that I’m using for the organizational system that I use. Note that I’m in the DIY-planning family. (I released a book on it last summer.) DIY means that I make my own planners. 1- Do a Brain Dump

As I worked on my DIY Planning system for the end of school, I got everything out and on Post-it® Notes. Also, I color coded my thoughts, as this helped me figure out the categories for the back of my planner and the unique ways I’m going to use my planner this month.

When I brainstorm, I take each idea and put it on one note and put it on my desk. (see the picture) I like to color code by topic or idea for patterns to emerge. (I do this when outlining the books I write too.)

The productivity quiz from Post-it® Brand I took earlier says that  I need to keep my mind clear by doing a brain dump of all the items on my list. I also need to make sure my to-do items are showing on my calendar. Finally, I need to focus on one thing at a time. This fits with what I already know about myself.

So, as I was working on my planning system for the last two months of school, I put all of the ideas and issues with my planner onto individual notes (pictured to the right.) Then, as I worked on my planner, I used the ideas to make sure my end of school system will support what I need to make it through the end of the school year.

Declutter your mind by doing a brain dump of all that you have to do. Just use Post-it® Notes to make it easy.  2 – Customize Your System Based on Your Location

My home “brain dump” of work for the week is on a top door of my desk. I don’t share my desk at home, so I can do this. At school, I use a brain dump page in the back of my planner for the notes. That way, I can close it and it is private. I don’t want students (who often sit at my desk) playing with or bothering my personal task list.

At home, I brain dump my list on Post-it® Super-Sticky Notes. I have a door on the top of a cabinet that I can use to keep these. That way, I can grab what I’m working on and stick it on my computer monitor.

At school, however, I use a page in my planner designated for “brain dumps.” That is because students sometimes sit at my desk to scan pictures or use my computer and I don’t want them bothering my notes or reading them.

So, as a school teacher, some things need to be adapted to home and school.

Intentionally think about organizing your home and work. You’ll need slightly different systems for both.  3 – Know Your Style

As a “Mindful Maverick,” I’m a visual person. Out of sight, out of mind.

That is why, although I’ve used the Reminders app on my phone some, I have to get it on paper on ONE list. But before I write it down, if I do my brain dump on Post-it® Notes, then I can organize it.

Knowing your style of organizing will help you select the best tools for you. Each person is unique. Each person remembers in a different way. For this reason, I believe that everyone’s system of planning is truly do it yourself.

Do it yourself. Customize. Use colors. Decide what works for you. 4 – Quickly Access Notes

I organize my frequently used items in the back of my planner using Post-it® Tabs. I can move the tabs around or from page to page and color code them as well.

My goal is to be able to access anything within three seconds. Why? Well, my frustration kicks in if I can’t find it before. I admit – this time of year it is hard.

Use Post-it® Tabs to organize the back of your binder so you can put your hands on important items quickly.  5 – Make Things That Change Quickly Easy to Move Around

Also, I use a Kanban board approach which literally has me moving my Post-it® Super Sticky Notes around. (I got lots of ideas for this use from Sia Kyriakakos, 2016 Teacher of the Year for Baltimore City Schools, and art teacher from Maryland.)


When I have things that are fluid I will use smaller 3×3 Post-it® Notes. For example, with my podcast, sometimes events or things that happen cause me to move shows around. So, instead of using dry erase markers, I now use Post-it® Notes. They stick and re-stick so I can easily move them.

I write the guest name and then moving around the calendar as I see fit to determine who’s going to be up at different times.

I also use this method at school. This year, I’m teaching Digital Filmmaking. We have to plan our shooting schedule between two film crews. For the movie projects I’m working on, we write each shot on a Post-it® Note.

We list screenshots for our movie on Post-it® Notes. This makes it easy to grab a photo and go shoot.

Then, students can come in and grab a shot and go do it. Then, they put the shot on a board so the editors know the film is ready to edit.

For projects that are dynamic, you need to use Post-it® Super Sticky notes which will stick and re-stick.   What’s next?

I hope you’ll take the productivity quiz using the Post-it® Brand Productivity Tool on to find what your planner style is.

I also hope that you will get organized for the end of the school year using some of these techniques of brainstorming organizing and just putting everything together.

And I challenge you to either take this 21-day productivity challenge or, create your own challenge.  Share your own planner type and your goal progress on your social channels using #makeitstick.

This is a great time of year to focus on some simple productivity techniques that will give us peace of mind and help us make it to the end of the school year without being so exhausted and stressed. We can do this!

*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. 


Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via 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 Take the 21-day Productivity Challenge #makeitstick appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

iPads in Kindergarten: Creating, Innovating and Learning

23 May, 2017 - 20:41

A conversation with Caitlin Arakawa on episode 82 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Caitlin Arakawa @caitlin_arakawa shares what she learned in her first year with iPads in kindergarten.  Tools. A DIY Soundbooth. Mistakes. Benefits. She shares it all.

Listen Now

Listen on iTunes

  • Stream by clicking here.
  • The transcript will be uploaded and posted right here as soon as soon as it is available.

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



In today’s show, Caitlin Arakawa talks about iPads in kindergarten and shares:

  • Her favorite apps
  • A cool teacher hack to make sound proof booths
  • The best thing about iPads
  • Her biggest mistake
  • Her assessment of the classroom improvements

I hope you enjoy this episode with Caitlin Arakawa!

Want to hear another episode on iPads in the classroom? Listen to Karen Lirenman and Kristen Wideen talk about awesome iPad apps for the elementary classroom.

Selected Links from this Episode

Full Bio As Submitted Caitlin Arakawa

Caitlin Arakawa is a 2nd year kindergarten teacher in Redlands, California. She teaches at an IB PYP school that has a focus in STEAM.

Transcript for this episode

To be posted as soon as it is available. Check back soon!

The post iPads in Kindergarten: Creating, Innovating and Learning appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Learning First, Technology Second #motivationmonday

22 May, 2017 - 21:09

A conversation with Liz Kolb on episode 81 of the 10-Minute Teacher

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Liz Kolb @lkolb talks about how we can put learning first and a very important reason technology should be second. We’re also hosting a giveaway of her new book on this show.

Listen Now

Listen on iTunes

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



In today’s show, Liz Kolb talks about the role of learning and technology:

  • What is the role of technology in learning
  • When technology is a distraction
  • The 3 E framework Liz teaches
  • How we can make technology improve learning and not distract from it
  • A fantastic collaborative idea with parents and students

I hope you enjoy this episode with Liz Kolb!

Want to hear another episode on improving learning with technology? Listen to Eric Sheninger talk about digital pedagogy that improves learning.

Selected Links from this Episode

Enter the giveway

Learning First, Technology Second Book Giveaway Contest

Some of the links are affiliate links. Full Bio As Submitted Liz Kolb

Liz is a clinical assistant professor in education technologies at The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. She authored Toys to Tools: Connecting Student Cell Phones to Education (published by ISTE in 2008), Cell Phones in the Classroom: A Practical Guide for the K-12 Educator (published by ISTE in 2011), Help Your Child Learn With Their Cell Phone and Web 2.0 (published by ISTE in 2013), Learning First, Technology Second (published by ISTE in 2017).

In addition, Liz has published numerous articles and book chapters on new technologies and education in prominent publications such as Education Leadership, School Administrator Magazine, Scholastic, Edutopia, ISTE’s Edtekhub, and Learning and Leading with Technology. Liz has done consulting work and has been a featured and keynote speaker at conferences all over the United States and Canada.

Liz is currently co-chairing an auxiliary committee for the U.S. Office of Education Technology on sustainable professional development in teacher education. She is a MACUL board member and a member of the COSN advisory board for mobile learning and emerging technologies. She is passionate about engaging students in education and leveraging learning opportunity through digital technologies. Liz is also the creator and coordinator of the Triple E Framework, which is an open-source framework for K-12 teachers and administrators to use to assess the effectiveness of technology in lesson plans. Her blog is at

Transcript for this episode

Click to download the PDF copy of the transcript

[Recording starts 0:00:00]

Learning first, technology second. This is episode 81.

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. Liz Kolb @lkolb

is with us today talking about how we can put learning first and technology second. So Liz, this is the title of your book  that has just come out. How do we put leaning first and technology second because there’s so many toys and things we can play with out there? Isn’t it easy to get distracted?

LIZ:              It’s very easy to get distracted. And I absolutely am guilty of being distracted by the technology which is why this book came about. Over the last couple of years many teachers and administrators had come to me saying we now have a one-to-one program, we now have a lot of technology in our school through difference funding sources but now we’re worried about whether or not the technology is actually effective for the learning. We’re using it a lot but we feel as though maybe we’re using it because it is shiny and it looks good and it feels good but we’re not actually impacting learning in a way that is meaningful.

I spent six years looking through the research on what’s effective and ineffective when using technology and learning and I found that there are a lot of things that we know about goof effective instructional strategies with learning that we were leaving out when we were integrating technology. So, things like when we look at engagement, no just looking at whether not the student is using a device individually but making sure that they are having some kind of human-to-human contact co-engaging or what we call joint media engagement and working together with the screens.


This framework came about because of much of this research that I looked at and I originally developed this triple E framework

which is what the book focuses on for my student teachers. They found it to be incredibly helpful, so then I have kind of decided to put it together into this book. The reason why it’s called Learning First, Technology Second is because the framework focuses on the learning goals and the end in mind and thinking about the ways that we leverage technology in order to meet those learning goals rather than focusing on the technology first and the wow of the technology.

VICKI:          So what is the triple E framework? Are you able to give us a quick summary because we’ll, of course, want to point everybody to the book?

LIZ:              Yes. So the E stands for engagement and learning goals, enhancement of learning goals and extension of learning goals. And all three of those were again, informed by the research that engagement does not necessarily mean looking at the device but it actually means what we call high attention as well as high comprehension. So they are not just focusing on the device but they’re actually focusing on the learning goals through the device in some way. And then enhancement looks at how we leverage the learning through technology, how we’re adding scaffolds in support. So is it differentiating learning? Or are we helping students get to those higher order of thinking skills. What is the value added beyond something we would do with traditional tools? There’s no value added, then we should question why we’re using it.

And then the third level is extension which talks about how technology can reach students in their everyday lives and extend learning to the authentic everyday world and make those connections for students. Kind of situating their learning in what they’re seeing in the outside world.


VICKI:          So really we don’t use technology for technology sake, technology has to actually improve learning, right?

LIZ:              That’s our hope. I am somebody who the first time I learned PowerPoint I turned all my lectures into PowerPoint thinking that was the magic snake oil that we needed to have students learn. And what I found was that while they were engaged, they weren’t actually learning more. My few students were still few students. My students who did well still did well. And so, I realized that there’s a lot of ways we use technology because it looks good and it’s kind of shiny, but if we want to look beneath the surface we really want to look at how it’s actually meeting and helping us get to the learning outcomes that we help our students get to.

VICKI:          So, Liz, this is Motivational Monday and I have all of this worry. Like, “oh my goodness.” What does work? Can you point us and motivate us, help us to point towards things that actually do work in the classroom?

LIZ:              Yea, there’s a lot of great things that work with technology. First of all, co-use is very important as I mentioned earlier. Working together on a screen is how students begin to reflect on what they’re doing on a screen. So rather than having students all working individually with headphones on and their own iPads in the classroom, pair them up, have them work together. That can make a large difference in their ability to comprehend what they’re seeing and doing in the classroom.

VICKI:          Also the other thing that we want to think about is how are we able to use technology to connect to everyday experiences. So rather than having them isolated in a piece of technology think about how we can use things like Skype  to connect to other classrooms or something like the Google Expeditions  to experience what it might be like in the artic if we can’t actually get there. So thinking about how we’re using technology to help students experience things that they couldn’t experience and work together.


                    That co-engagement is so key and it’s just a small change that you can make. Pair students up or choose a software like Google Docs that allow students to work with other people through the tool itself in a synchronous way.

VICKI:          So collaboration and working together and co-creation is widely important?

LIZ:              Yes, it is. So skills, those higher order critical thinking skills that we continue to talk about – I know many people talk about the C’s and making sure that that’s actually happening with the technology and it’s not so isolated.

VICKI:          And Liz, you know, you’re speaking my language when you talk co-creation because when we create and we help kids create things that are more than they would have been as individuals that’s when the magic happens, isn’t it?

LIZ:              It is. And it’s so amazing because the other things we do in the classroom, we often have students paired up and working together or we’re working with the students and helping them work through ideas and build knowledge together. Sometimes we put technology in front of them we forget they still need to do that, they still need to have those conversations.

VICKI:          They do. I’m just really excited to hear you talk about co-creation because it’s just not something people talk a lot about. I mean, I think people forget the greatest software every invented is the human brain. And when we truly unleash that collaboration and co-creation is when we see things that we couldn’t do without technology.

LIZ:              Absolutely. And very rarely are the greatest inventions and things we’ve seen in society individually created. There’s always a group of people working together to make that happen. So even if I can give a quick example; in my daughter’s classroom they use Google Docs to write their stories and work on editing. And the teacher actually shares with the parents when they’re going to be working on it so we can log in at the same time that they’re working on it.

And the teacher gives us some scaffolds as supports of what we should ask and how we should ask it and what we should be looking for.


                    So we’re having these conversations to help them build their writing and as a parent I’m also learning how to learn them, so we’re both learning at the same time.

VICKI:          Now, that’s a genius teacher. I hope after the show you’ll introduce me because you have blown my mind. I mean, I know we have helicopter parents and that’s not necessarily a good thing. However, that really is unleashing the power of parenting and partnering with teachers and parents and students, isn’t it?

LIZ:              Absolutely. And parents want to know how to help their children learn. And many times they just don’t know how to do it. So they’ll often just plug their child in front of an app or a computer to do it but in reality if the teachers can get them online at the same time and give them some support and how them how to do it the parents are really excited to do that. And I can’t tell you how excited my 4th grader is to see me logged on at the same time. And all of a sudden she’s really interested in the different forms of grammar and the detail in her writing. And it has exponentially improved her writing and my ability to see those things as well.

VICKI:          My mind is just running and there’s so many ideas with what we’ve discussed. And thinking about co-creating with parents as well as peers is very powerful. So listeners, Remarkable Teachers, we’re going to be hosting a giveaway for Learning First, Technology Second so do check the show notes and enter  to win and take a look at this book. Liz has done so many great things, she’s one of the first people that I read when I really got in to using cell phones in the classroom. She has so many resources for us. But let’s really think about Learning First, Technology second. But also when we’re learning how we can be co-creating ad collaborating. I’m so excited.

Hello Remarkable Teachers, would you please help me do something? I’m trying to help more people find out about the Ten Minute Teacher Show. To do that, if you just could take some time to go to iTunes or to Stitcher or to leave a review. It really does help. Thank you so much.


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 0:10:23]


[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 Learning First, Technology Second #motivationmonday appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

5 Ways to Teach How the Brain Learns

19 May, 2017 - 20:55

A conversation with Ramona Persaud on episode 80 of the 10-Minute Teacher

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Ramona Persaud @ramonap director of the film, Grey Matters, talks about how we can teach kids the way the brain learns.

Listen Now

Listen on iTunes

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

In today’s show, Ramona Persaud gives five tips directly related to how the brain learns:

  • Understanding stress and the brain
  • Relating knowledge to prior knowledge
  • How the brain changes
  • Thoughts on teaching for mastery
  • The proper place of memorization

I hope you enjoy this episode with Ramona Persaud!

Want to hear another episode on brain-friendly classrooms? Listen to Rob Donatelli talk about 5 Easy Brain Breaks for your classroom.

Selected Links from this Episode

Full Bio As Submitted Ramona Persaud

Ramona Persaud is an independent documentary filmmaker and founder of Change the Lens Productions. Change the Lens Productions specializes in social issue documentaries that are both entertaining and thought-provoking, nudging viewers to examine their life, their perspective, and their overall world view in the context of the stories they’ve just viewed.

GREY MATTERS is Persaud’s second film; the first, IT’S A DIFFERENT WORLD, explores the world of autism through the eyes of three autistic children.

The documentary Grey Matters is based on the book “The Brain Targeted Teaching Model for 21st Century Schools” by Dr. Mariale Hardiman. The documentary offers practical, “use right now” information for teachers, that are based on research.

Transcript for this episode

To be posted as soon as it is available. Check back soon!

The post 5 Ways to Teach How the Brain Learns appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Building Your School and Personal Brand

18 May, 2017 - 21:04

A conversation with Trish Rubin on episode 79 of the 10-minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Trish Rubin @trishrubin teaches us the basics of building your school and personal brand. Enter the book giveaway to win a copy of the book, BrandED, that she co-authored with Eric Sheninger.


Listen Now

Listen on iTunes

  • Stream by clicking here.
  • The transcript will be uploaded and posted right here at soon as soon as it is available.

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


In today’s show, Trish Rubin discusses what you need to know about school and personal branding:

  • Defining brand as it relates to education
  • The risks of brand myopia in schools
  • The reason we need to change how we communicate
  • The aspects of building a brand
  • Individual teacher brand

I hope you enjoy this episode with Trish Rubin!

Want to hear another episode on digital schools and learning? Listen to Eric Sheninger talk about digital pedagogy that actually improves learning.

Selected Links from this Episode

Enter the book giveaway contest

BrandED Giveaway Contest

Full Bio As Submitted Trish Rubin

Trish Rubin is an lifetime educator and a “second act” entrepreneur who consults education and business organizations in improved brand communication. She teaches Marketing and Brand Management at CUNY/Baruch College in NYC and consults in K-16 educational professional development and across business, agencies and nonprofit organizations.

With Eric Sheninger, she has co-authored the first complete guide to using brand/marketing as tools for empowering schools in a digital/ social media age.

Transcript for this episode

To be posted as soon as it is available. Check back soon!

The post Building Your School and Personal Brand appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

A Stress Free Plan for Closing Out Your Classroom

17 May, 2017 - 21:09

A conversation with Angela Watson on episode 78 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Angela Watson @angela_watson teaches us a stress-free plan for closing out your classroom. See also her 5 Summer Secrets for a Stress free Fall video series.

Check out the 40-hour Teacher Workweek Club

Listen Now

Listen on iTunes

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



In today’s show, Angela Watson talks about the best way to close down your classroom at the end of the school year:

  • Why taking things down too soon can cause behavior problems
  • How to have students help without chaos
  • A simple system for getting the work done
  • Ending the school year with less stress
  • What you should have students do

I hope you enjoy this episode with Angela Watson!

Want to hear another episode on how to thrive at the end of the school year? Listen to me talk about How to make it to the end of the school year.

Selected Links from this Episode

Some of the links are affiliate links.  Full Bio As Submitted Angela Watson

Angela Watson is National Board Certified Teacher currently working as an instructional coach and educational consultant based in Brooklyn, New York. She has published four books for teachers and has maintained The Cornerstone For Teachers blog since 2003.

Angela is the creator of the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club an online professional development program that has supported teachers with productivity in over 10,000 schools. Her Sunday podcast called Angela Watson’s Truth for Teachers is entering its 6th season, providing motivation and encouragement to teachers on a weekly basis.

Transcript for this episode


Click to download the PDF copy

[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.

Today’s guest is Angela Watson. Check out her free video series, Five Summer Secrets for a Stress-Free Fall. Just go to and enter your email to get this spring series. While you’re there, take a look at the 40-hour work week club. This club has personally helped me a better teacher while working less hours. Yes, it is possible. Now, onto episode 78; A Stress-Free Plan for Closing out Your Classroom with Angela Watson.

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 wonderful classroom Wednesday. Today we’re talking to one of my favorite productivity teaching – just expert at everything, Angela Watson. @angela_watson

And we’re going to talk about a stress-free plan for closing out our classroom. Now, Angela, I have to admit, I’m not very good at this, I end up with a complete disaster in my room and sometimes even during pre-planning I’m cleaning out the mess that I left at the end of the year. Help me please.

ANGELA:     I think a lot of teachers can relate to that. It’s really a struggle and a lot of teachers haven’t been taught a system for it. So, I’m looking forward to kind of breaking that down with you today.

VICKI:          Let’s do it.

ANGELA:     Okay. So, the first thing that I want you to understand is that there’s a difference between deconstructing the room and closing out your classroom. So taking things off the walls and storing these materials away in boxes or covering your shelves make a huge difference visually in your classroom.


                    And it makes it feel like you’ve made a lot progress towards closing things out for the end of the year. But really, it’s the easiest thing to do. And it’s not really moving you forward. It’s so quick that I actually recommend that you don’t even start it until the second to last day of school. So, hear me out on this because I know a lot of people listening are going to be like, “No, way, I could never wait that long.” Here’s the thing, I’ve seen teachers close up their classroom libraries, their centers and pull all these materials away like a full month in advance.

VICKI:          Oh, my goodness.

ANGELA:     Because they don’t want to feel overwhelmed, right? They don’t want to leave all that cleaning and organization and packing up for that last week of school. But what happens is – and you probably know what happens. What happens to the kids when you do that?

VICKI:          Yeah. They misbehave, don’t do it, like you’re asking for trouble. Never, never. I never take my stuff down until school is out, I just can’t.

ANGELA:     Good for you. So, you’re kind of the opposite then. That’s exactly right, it will throw up all your daily routines if they’re put away. And it just ramps kid’s excitement levels up and it just create behavioral issues. So, I’ve experimented with a lot of difference approaches and I can tell you without a doubt that it’s best to have kids help deconstruct the classroom starting from that second to last day.

So, in the weeks leading up to the last day, that’s when you’re going to complete your end-of-year paper work – all those closing out tasks. So you can return materials, you can start de-cluttering, those sorts of things. You do want to get that stuff done in advance but you want to keep the classroom looking exactly the same for as long as possible so that you can keep your regular routines in place. And then on that second to last day of school you can turn your full attention to overseeing the classroom deconstruction. If you try to do it sooner or you try to spread out the task over a week or two it will be very difficult for the kids to concentrate on the academic work because the room is screaming, “we’re done here.”

VICKI:              I do have to admit, I may be biased because I have been doing your 40-hour work week

and I know you cover that in there. So this is just important advice for closing out right and not being done till you’re done, you know.

ANGELA:     Yes.

VICKI:          Okay, what’s next?


ANGELA:     So, here’s what you’re going to do when you’re ready to deconstruct. You could just wait until school is over and the kids are gone and just do it on your own like you’ve been doing. But the thing with that is that then you’re doing all the work. So if you can involve students in it, there’s a way to do that that is not too chaotic. So, here’s what I recommend. I recommend you keep the class engaged in meaningful tasks while a handful of students help deconstruct. So problems with end-of-year close out tasks arrives when the teacher has things to do but the kids don’t have anything to do because kids are really perceptive, they know when we give them busy work, they know when we’re just trying to get them out of hair until we end up spending the whole day trying to keep them on task and then we don’t get out own stuff done.

So what you do instead is keep the class engaged in a really worthwhile learning activity. Something that they enjoy, something that’s going to be fun for them, something that they’re going to stay engaged with naturally. And then while the kids work, you can periodically circulate throughout the room to make sure everyone knows what they’re doing and spend the rest of your time overseeing the students who are sustained with your end-of-year task. So your full attention is with the kids, you’re watching the ones who are at work, you’re watching the ones who are deconstructing you’re not off trying to do your own thing because that’s when it gets chaotic, when they know that you are not present there with them.

VICKI:          Yeah. Because you can be in the room and not really there.

ANGELA:     Exactly. So you’re going to make a list of all the jobs that you can assign to your students, do that in advance. They can take down bulletin boards, pack up books, record text book numbers, label things with your name, make a list of all those things that you need done. I usually had a list about 40 things and I found that my 3rd graders were able to complete every task on the list usually in less than two hours using this process I’m about to explain.

We would start around 10am, we’d be done by noon. Just a handful of things may be done in the afternoon. So, once you know what needs to be done you have this pass listed out, now you’re going to do the final step which is to create an efficient system in which you assign task to pairs of students so you’re going to pair your kids up. I like to think about it in advance, some people just kind of do it just pair the moment and you’re just thinking about student’s personalities, right?


                    Because you want to match up kids who get along well so they can get the task done and they’re not going to be interrupting you constantly to settle arguments between them. So, pair up kids who have similar strengths, maybe your most organized students can do the task like filing and library organization. Pair up the kids who are really active so that they can move the furniture and they can run errands around the school.

If you are the secondary level of you see multiple classes each day, break down the jobs into tasks that can be completed within a single class period. So you may want to consider chunking the job so that each class participates to some degree and the classes with your more responsible students get the most important tasks. So figure out how you’re going to pair your kids up, get the whole class working on that meaningful engaging independent activity. And then you’re just going to call a pair of students over to your desk and you’re going to explain the task that you want them to do. Remember, this is on the second to last day of school now.

So you’re going to explain it to them, make sure they’re confident, they understand what to do, they know what to do, they know now to be successful and then call over another pair of students and assign the next task on your list.

So I usually have about two to five pairs of students deconstructing the classroom at any given time, maybe a third of the class, the other two-thirds are working. And I things start to feel chaotic or they get difficult to manage then you just don’t call any more pairs until another pair has finished.

And then whenever they’re done this is what you need to train them to do, have them go automatically back to completing the whole class assignment until you need them again.

VICKI:          Awesome. That just sounds like a dream, it’s like, “I guess it works.”

ANGELA:     They love it, that’s the whole thing – when you tell them “this is the day.” Because they’re going to see all the other teachers have already started, like, “When are we taking down this room?” We’re doing it today and we’re going to have a system for it. But if it gets crazy in here then you’re not going to be able to help, right?

VICKI:          Yeah.

ANGELA:     So you having them go back to their seats when they’re done and if they’re not able to do the task well, if they can’t stay on task, if they can’t do it quietly, then you just don’t call them to help with anymore – that’s all. And then you just keep rotating through each pair of students as many times as needed until all the jobs are finished and that’s how it works.

VICKI:          That sounds much better than how I’ve done it which is like, write the list of everything that needs to be done on the dry erase board and kids pick tasks.


And you invariably have some kids who picked the task of supervising everybody else which doesn’t work very well. Okay so what is your last piece of this that when teachers are done and the last day of school is done, where will they be with this process?

ANGELA:     So, you should be able to get the deconstruction done on that second to last day of school. And you can adapt this process in any way that makes sense for you. This is just a way that I did it and I recommend other teachers do it, but you can do it however you want it. Just keep those for core elements in place because that’s what makes it so effective. You want to have everything but your room deconstruction done in advance. So to speak to your exact question on the last day of school, almost all the tasks are done, only your last day things are left because you’ve been doing the closeout task for weeks and then that second to last day you have the entire room taken down.

So follow that format, have all your jobs listed out in advance, assign your pairs of students to do each job and get the whole class engaged in a meaningful activity and call pairs of students over to do the task. I teach the members of the 40-hour teacher work week club

to do it this way, I’ve had teachers in every grade level K-12 use this system and they love it, they swear by it now. So I promise it can work in your classroom too. It really does work.

VICKI:          So teachers, we’ll have also a link to Angela’s video series Five Summer Secrets for a Stress Free Fall.

She has so many resources. And if you’re thinking, “Oh my goodness, I really want to hear more about this 40-hour work week club” I know she’s going to have open cart in June and I’ll have links to all this in the show notes.

And we’re also going to have another episode in June where we talk more. So, I highly recommend following all that Angela does. I just learned so much from her on a daily basis. And Angela, I just appreciate all you do for all of us teachers because I learn a lot from you.

ANGELA:     Thank you, Vicki. I appreciate that so much.

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 from Wonder workshop and to learn more about how you can use Dash and Dot to teach programming to kids, age 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 0:10:38]


[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 A Stress Free Plan for Closing Out Your Classroom appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Breakout EDU Digital is Awesome (and Free) #breakoutedu

16 May, 2017 - 21:14

A conversation with Mari Venturino on episode 77 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Mari Venturino @MsVenturino talks about breakout edu digital for edtech tool Tuesday. These challenges are free! (And perfect activities for team building at the end of the school year.) Learn about the challenges and advantages of breakout edu digital. Have fun!


Listen Now

Listen on iTunes

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

In today’s show, Mari Venturino talks about Breakout EDU digital:

  • Explaining what breakout edu digital is
  • What it teaches
  • The challenges teachers have with it
  • How to use it in the classroom
  • Some examples of the most popular breakout edu games

I hope you enjoy this episode with Mari Venturino!

Want to hear another episode on Breakout EDU? Listen to Adam Bellow talk about the #BreakoutEDU Box: The Teaching Experience that Has Everyone Talking.

Selected Links from this Episode

Full Bio As Submitted Mari Venturino

Mari Venturino is a 7th-grade science and AVID teacher and Blended Learning Specialist at Mar Vista Academy in San Diego, CA. She is a Google For Education Certified Trainer and Innovator, a Google Certified Educator Levels 1 & 2, and is Leading Edge Certified in Online and Blended Instruction.

Mari was awarded the CUE Outstanding Emerging Teacher of the Year in 2017. She is the co-founder of Breakout EDU Digital.

Transcript for this episode

To be posted as soon as it is available. Check back soon!

The post Breakout EDU Digital is Awesome (and Free) #breakoutedu appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Help Kids Learn to Code with Dash and Dot from Wonder Workshop

16 May, 2017 - 07:48

How kids can explore and create in STEM with ease

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

This week has been genius week in eighth-grade keyboarding! We’ve finished our portfolios and it is time to celebrate. We have 3d printing, robot making, and all kinds of building going on. But today, I’m writing about one of my favorite tools for teaching coding quickly, Dash and Dot. Scroll down to enter the giveaway contest!

These Wonder Workshop robots make it easy to learn to code in my STEM lab.

This is a sponsored blog post by Wonder Workshop. I only recommend products or services that I use and like. See full disclosures at the bottom of this post. 

Learn more about Dash and Dot

Out of the Box Coding with Kids

So, out of all of the items I had available, Dash and Dot from Wonder Workshop were the ONLY ones which I didn’t have to help my students figure out. I literally took the Wonder Pack and handed it to my students to open and start using. I said,

“Here are two robots, Dash and Dot, there are apps on the store you can use and there are a lot of attachments and cool things, go for it. Show me what you can do.”

In moments they were driving the robots, adding attachments and playing the xylophone. I’ve used Dash and Dot before but they have something new, the catapult.

I was fascinated by the catapult and they struggled a little. I didn’t intervene, I just said,

“I wonder if you all are hard working enough to figure out the catapult.”

It took longer, but soon they were throwing things across the room. (In a good, non-hurtful way, of course.)

Cool Lesson Plans to Help Kids Learn to Code

I’ve been using Dash and Dot for over two years now with kids of all ages. I often point them to the Dash and Dot curriculum page to figure out what they can do with them.

I have the Dash and Dot Wonder Pack in my classroom. It comes with lots of accessories and attachments. (Even some Lego extensions.) We’re hosting a giveaway contest! Scroll down to enter!


For example, it was rainy one day and a student asked what Dot could do. He found out how to program Dot to play Hot Potato. Then, as they played, he enjoyed changing the speed and timing to make the game different each time. We ended up with ten kids at break programming and playing their own “high tech” version of the low tech hot potato game. So much fun!

Get Lesson Plans. So, while I often like to approach learning from a genius hour/ maker space / tinkering approach, there are some awesome lessons you can do in the classroom. 

Why Do We Help Kids Learn to Code?

As I’ve shared before, coding is an important skill for students to learn. We want our students to think computationally. I don’t want students playing games – I want them to MAKE games. I don’t want students using apps, I want them MAKING apps. Likewise, I want student making, creating, and melding their environment. While I use dash and dot with older students and they love them, these cute toy robots are targeted to K-5 students.

I believe these robots make an excellent addition to:

  • Classroom maker space
  • Summer camps and robotics experiences
  • Summer enrichment
  • STEM labs, STEAM labs, and FAB labs
  • Any elementary classroom

During innovation week (the first week of school), I had students figuring out and teaching everything they could learn about Dash and Dot. I’ve been using these robots to introduce coding to all ages for the last two years. They are simple to use out of the box.

Apps for Dash and Dot from Wonder Workshop

There are many apps you can use to program the Dash and Dot which include:

  • Wonder App –  This is the basic app to control Dash and Dot.  Students can program, drive, and do other things with the wonder app. This is usually the first app they get.One of the favorite things my students do is take a phone and put it on the smartphone app and Facetime with it. They used another phone to drive Dash. We hook up the phone that is Facetiming with Dash back on my big board. So, the students can literally drive Dash around the school and say hello to people and talk via Facetime. It was their own virtual presence! We had lots of conversations after they hit on this. And they were just tinkering. They go much deeper into programming with this basic app.
  • Blockly – If students have used Scratch, Blockly will be very simple. This is our favorite coding app. You can do simple things with it, but you’d be surprised at the advanced things older kids will figure out.
  • Xylo – This app lets Dash play the xylophone. Musically inclined students enjoy this.
  • Path – This app is a little more advanced but students learn about sensors and events by using this tool. For example, you can have students teach the robot to follow a path, but to move and go around obstacles. We talk about “self-driving” cars when using this app. You can get into some pretty advanced concepts in a simple way. While you might not want to use the “big words” like control flow and algorithm design, students don’t need to know the words to do these things.
  • Go – This app help students get started with Dash and Dot and teaches them how to play. While my older students start with the Wonder App, when using these with younger kids, you’d probably want to start with Go.
Dash and Dot Wonder Pack Giveaway Contest

Dash and Dot Wonderpack Giveaway Contest

So, if you want to make coding a dash, get the robots Dash and Dot from Wonder Workshop. Here’s the link to their teacher portal to learn more.

Disclosure of Material Connection: This blog is a sponsored blog post. The company who sponsored it compensated me via 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.)

The post Help Kids Learn to Code with Dash and Dot from Wonder Workshop appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Understanding the Heart of Dyslexia and Special Needs #MondayMotivation

15 May, 2017 - 20:50

A conversation with Melissa Raguet-Schofield on episode 76 of the 10-Minute Teacher

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Melissa Raguet-Schofield @cloth_mother is a Mom of a dyslexic. Today, we travel into the heart of a Mom of a child who struggles. What better motivation can we have as teachers than to empathize with those in our classroom who struggle. As a Mom of a dyslexic also, I hope you’ll hear our heart for great teaching.

Listen Now

Listen on iTunes

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



In today’s show, Melissa Raguet-Schofield discusses her son’s journey with dyslexia and:

  • Their story of struggle (and triumph)
  • How her son is getting help
  • The frustration with diagnosis
  • What Melissa wishes teachers knew about her son
  • Vicki’s own story of helping her dyslexic son

I hope you enjoy this episode with Melissa Raguet-Schofield!

Want to hear another episode on special needs? Listen to Karen McCallum talk about how she uses puppets to help kids with special needs with social emotional skills.

Selected Links from this Episode

Full Bio As Submitted Melissa Raguet-Schofield

I am a biological anthropologist, ultramarathon runner, and mother of an amazing dyslexic child.

Transcript for this episode

Download the PDF Transcript

[Recording starts 0:00:00]

Understanding the heart of special needs and dyslexia. This is episode 76.

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 Motivation Monday, teachers. Today we’re talking to Melissa Raguet-Schofield @cloth_mother

about her experience and your son’s learning differences and his challenges. Tell is a little bit about what your son struggles with as he tries to learn.

MELISSA:    It’s become pretty obvious he has dyslexia. So he really struggles with reading a lot and some kind of – memorization skills are pretty hard for him.

VICKI:          I’m a mom of a dyslexic. Two kids of my three have learning differences and it’s not always easy, is it?

MELISSA:    No, actually, it’s been a really rough experience.

VICKI:          You’re really involved in his education, aren’t you?

MELISSA:    Yes, I am. I have kind of had to become involved to get him what he needs.

VICKI:          So what kind of involvement have you had to have?

MELISSA:    Early on he was identified as a struggling reader. I mean, it was always obvious that reading was difficult for him. He worked with reading specialists at school and he was in this three-tiered response to intervention program at school. But it just really wasn’t helping him. And I kept being told, just wait and see, some kids aren’t ready to learn how to read at this time. But I just became really determined after he finished first grade and he still really could not read.

To get to the bottom of this and to figure out what was going on – and I just remember sitting down with him one time with a book my mom had sent, it was literally for preschoolers, it had five words on the page, one syllabus words and he just really struggled, he couldn’t do it. And that’s when I just said to him, “Well, what makes reading so hard for you?” And he said to me, “Mommy, I can see the letters and I know the sounds that they make but I can’t put those down together in the right order.”

VICKI:          And how did that make you feel?


MELISSA:    At that moment my heart kind of stopped because I’ve been told he needs to work harder, he needs to try harder, he was even called lazy at school. I was told he was challenging and difficult. And that to me – I didn’t know what that was. I knew that was something; what he was able to articulate at that point he was 6 years old. I didn’t know what that was but that’s not lazy, that not “needs to try harder.”

VICKI:          It’s not. And sometimes this is hard, it’s not that I need to try harder it’s that somebody needs to unlock this and help me, right?

MELISSA:    Right. And a friend of mind had actually suggested a few weeks prior to that, she said, “Melissa, he’s dyslexic, do you think he’s dyslexic?” And I’m a college instructor, I have worked with college dyslexic students and the idea was kind of planted I my head but I rejected it because I thought, “No, no, no, he’s nor dyslexic. His teachers would tell me if they thought he had a learning disorder.” I was really naïve about this.

And so I rejected that idea but when he made that statement to me about not being able to put these letters and sounds in the right order I thought, “What is that? I have to figure out what that is. And that’s dyslexia.” And the other thing that kind of goes along with that, dyslexics really have compromised working memories but yet they kind of have to do everything with their working memory.

And so I was always told he also had behavioral problems because the teacher would say, “Okay, class, everybody get up, go to the blue bin, get out a box of crayons and get a piece of construction paper and go back to your desk and draw a butterfly.”

ViCKI:          Oh, multi part instructions!

MELISSA:    You know, things like this – and all the other kids would have their butterflies and the teacher is hanging them on the wall and Will is walking around saying, “Wait a minute. What about a blue bin? You’re going to my limit.”


VICKI:          I know it. I breaks my heart.

MELISSA:    Right. And I realized he really in kindergarten and first grade internalized this and it was incredibly painful. He would cry and beg me not to send him to school. And I figured this out and I figured out what he needs. That was the hard part. Kind of going that extra step and figuring out he’s going to need some extra dyslexia-specific instruction because he just wasn’t getting that at school.

VICKI:          This is so hard. I blamed myself a thousand ways, I ate something wrong when I was pregnant. But sometimes children are just made difference. The beautiful thing, your son drew something and said dyslexia is my gift.

MELISSA:    Yeah. And I have told him. You know, dyslexics – what they’re essentially trying to do is process and decode language with the right sides of their brain. Our language processing centers are on the website of our brain. So these people, these kids are really wide-brained, they are big picture thinkers, they are problem solvers. They look at things in a different way than I would. That moment I realized he was dyslexic, I realized what the problem was because he had created a label for himself. The label he had created was “I am not good at reading, I’m not smart, I’m being pulled out of my class for this extra help. I’m still not getting it.

He had a negative of himself. And I told him, “William, you’re dyslexic, and it’s a gift.” And that completely changed everything because now he has a name for what he is. It’s a thing, it’s a real thing. There’s many, many other people in this world just like him and it has really changed his outlook and he has a much more positive outlive about himself.


VICKI:          Melissa, this is obviously Motivation Monday and we wanted to have a story to help all the remarkable teachers out there really kind of get into the world of what’s it’s like to be a mom of a student who struggles. What’s your work to teachers who have that child who struggles or just doesn’t get it? What do you say to those teachers who teach children all over the world that are like your son?

MELISSA:    What I really, really wish is that someone would have understood this and known what was going on and I would have really have to figure it out for myself because I rejected that idea for so long, because I kept being told wait and see. And that just wasn’t working for him. So I guess, I just wished that people knew what dyslexia was and how to identify it. Because if I had started getting him help in kindergarten, he would be much farther along now that want he is.

VICKI:          It’s so hard because we thought my son had it in K4 but they told us a lot of times kids naturally reverse letters toll after 1st grade, so you really can’t find – that’s what I was told – until later. But then I guess you have to just kind of treat it like, “Okay, they have it” and then you just find out later. It’s so hard, this is hard, you know?

MELISSA:    It’s hard. We were told that also, “Oh, it’s normal for kids to reverse letters up until this point. But there are screening tools out there screening tools out there, you can recognize dyslexia in kids as young as kindergarten because there’s so many things that kind of go along with this. I was there was more knowledge about it to really get these kids the help they need because it can be so devastating to them emotionally and in terms of their education as well. The farther behind they get, the hard it is for them to catch up.


VICKI:          Has there been anyone who’s done something right with your son?

MELISSA:    Yeah, I found him a dyslexia tutor, I take him to see her twice a week. I wish that we could afford and have the time to go every day. I wish he got that kind of intervention every day. But she is one of the most amazing people in the world and has completely turned our lives around. She works with him using the Orton Gillingham approach which is a multi-sensory approach using specific explicit instruction for dyslexic kids. And his reading has improved so much, his outlook has improve so much and we are just so thankful to her and everything she’s done for us.

VICKI:          That’s wonderful. We actually use that with my own son so I do know. And I’ll tell you this. Last time I had seen the reports, my son who’s in 9th grade is reading an 11th grade level. And that’s shocking because we know where he came from. But I do know that when you have that intervention, when you have that parent advocate – and Melissa, that’s what you are. You are his – I believe – God-given advocate who has been put here to speak for him when he can’t speak for himself.

I know that some teachers groan when they see the parent coming with the child with learning difference because they think we’re a helicopter parent. When they don’t understand that this child is different, they learn differently and we just want you to unlock our child, treat them fairly and hopefully love them and see all their talents because so many kids with learning differences are so talented.

Teachers, as you listen I just hope that you’ll look at Melissa’s heart and even my heart that we just want you to love our kids and help them be their best.

[End of Audio 0:09:58]


[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 Understanding the Heart of Dyslexia and Special Needs #MondayMotivation appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

The 5 Essential Questions of Life with Dean James Ryan

12 May, 2017 - 20:59

Episode 75 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Dean James Ryan, the eleventh Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education gave a speech at graduation that went viral. It is the topic of his book “Wait, What?” and today’s conversation. Dean Ryan shares his 5 essential questions of life (and a bonus question.) These are great ones to provoke conversation with your students and colleagues.

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In today’s show, Dean James Ryan discusses the 5 essential questions of life including:

  • The story behind the speech that went viral
  • Why questions are so important
  • What we should teach students to ask
  • How a sense of curiosity is important to nurture
  • What schools today may be missing

I hope you enjoy this episode with Dean James Ryan!

Want to hear another episode on inspiring students and teachers to live well? Listen to Todd Nesloney talk about giving kids what they deserve.

Selected Links from this Episode

Full Bio As Submitted Dean James Ryan

James E. Ryan is the eleventh dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Before joining Harvard, Ryan was the Matheson & Morgenthau Distinguished Professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, where he founded the school’s Program in Law and Public Service. Ryan is the author of the nonfiction work Five Miles Away, A World Apart. He graduated summa cum laude from Yale University and first in his class from the University of Virginia Law School. A former clerk for Chief Justice
William H. Rehnquist, as well as a former rugby player, Ryan has argued before the United States Supreme Court. He and his wife Katie live in Lincoln, Massachusetts with four kids, two dogs, two cats, and nine chickens.

Transcript for this episode

Download the transcript of this episode

[Recording starts 0:00:00]

The five essential questions of life with James Ryan  @deanjimryan

 from Harvard’s Graduate school of education. This is episode 75.

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 Five Idea Friday. And today we’re talking to Dean James Ryan, the dean of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and author of Wait, What? And Life’s Other Essential Questions . So, Jim, why did you write this book? I mean what is the deal with these five questions?

JAMES:        That’s a good question. I wrote the book because last year I gave a commencement speech which I have to do every year. And in the speech I talked about taking time to ask good questions and made the point that we should spend more time worrying about good questions and worrying about the right answer. And to make tie more concrete I gave a list of what I think are five essential questions. And someone from my communications department put the clip of the speech that talked about the five essential questions online and it went viral and I think it’s been viewed by over 8 million people now including an editor at HarperCollins who persuaded me to turn it into a book which I did.

And it goes through each of the give essential questions and explains why each one is useful across a number of contexts.

VICKI:          I love it. And one of my favorite quotes from the book is on page 15. You quoted Einstein who said “If he had an hour to solve and problem and his life depended on it, he would the first 55 minutes determining the right question to ask.”

So Jim, what are these five right questions that we need to teach our students to ask?


JAMES:        Sure. So they are in the order that they appear in the book. The first one is ‘wait, what?’ as the title suggests. The second is I wonder which can be paired with “why” or “if.” So, I wonder why or I wonder if. The third is “Couldn’t we at least?” The fourth is ‘How can I help?’ And the fifth is ‘What truly matters?’

And in the book I explained why each of those questions is useful. In a number of contexts both professionally and personally.

VICKI:          So, what do you think is the first question you think that we should be teaching out students to really start asking?

JAMES:        So I would start with “Wait, what?” And partly because a lot of them are already asking that question. I have four kids and they ask that question all the time. What I actually love about the question, although it can sometimes be asked by someone who’s not paying attention. What I love about the question is that the weight reminds you to low down and to ask the speaker to slow down to ensure that you understand something. And I think encouraging kids to slow down and make sure that they understand what’s being taught or what’s being said is an essential skill and it’s one, frankly, that not enough adults have.

VICKI:          That’s so true. Now, I love your second on which is I wonder. And I as do genius hour 20% of the time, all these things in my classroom – sometimes I’ll come across a student who just looks at me with a blank look and says, “I don’t know where to start.” And it makes you wonder if the ‘I wonder’ has kind of been trampled out of them by traditional schooling. Do you think that happens?


JAMES:        I do, actually. I mean, I think that the heart of great teaching is cultivating the curiosity with which all kids are born. I mean, when asked what’s the first question to bring to students, I picked ‘wait, what’ instead of ‘I wonder why’ because I think kids are born knowing the question, ‘I wonder why.’ I mean, I’m sure I’m not the only parent whose two and three year old children constantly asked why, why, why.

But what I’ve noticed is that overtime, kid become less curious rather than more. And I think that’s really unfortunate. And I think again, what great teachers do is cultivate that curiosity and I think they do it by modeling it. So they organize their classrooms around questions. They ask questions, they encourage their kids to ask questions and like I said, I think kids are naturally curious so I don’t’ think it’s something that you have to teach them, I think it’s something that you have to preserve and encourage.

VICKI:          Now this last question, ‘what truly matters’ is a tough one because there are teachers now who feel like they’re being asked to do things that don’t truly matter. And as dean of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, what do you think truly matters that we should be doing in K12 classroom today? I mean, are there some things you wished would be moved out and others moved in, like, maybe asking these questions?

JAMES:        That’s a very big topic as you know I think that there are some essential things that should be happening in classroom. Obviously, it depends on the grade and the age of the child. But I think it’s a combination of focusing on what are the essential skills that are trying to be taught? And if you’re talking about younger kids it could be literacy which is absolutely fundamental. For older kids, it could be effective writing or communication skills.

And I also think that there are some essential content and that too depend son age. But beyond that, I think that it is in some respects helping students to not only remain curious but learn how to learn.


                    I think we’re at an age where we need to be really focused of producing kids who are going to be lifelong leaner because they’re going to have to adapt to an ever-changing world. And if they don’t leave school feeling like they actually enjoy the process of learning, when it comes to a time to learn new skills for a job or lean about a new area of the world that moved from one place to another, they’re going to be hampered for the rest of their lives.

There are a lot of different ways whys that you can prepare kids to be lifelong learners, I don’t think it’s formulaic. But if you’re focused on that as what truly matters I think it can help orient what happens in classrooms. Although admittedly I recognized that teachers are often arm-strung by rules and regulation about what has to be covered. So you make it a challenge sometimes.

VICKI:          It does. Now, you also in the book have a bonus question which I found kind of interesting. What’s the bonus question?

JAMES:        So the boners question comes from a poem by Raymond Carver called Late Fragments. And the poem begins – it’s a very short poem. It begins with the question, and did you get wanted from this life even so. The poem goes on to say ‘I did’ and it asks ‘what did you want’ and the narrator says ‘to feel beloved.’ And the thing that I love about this question is that obviously it’s a question that’s been asked in a lot of different forms and it’s a question that at the end of the day is probably the most important question any of us will face. It’s a question that asks ‘did you achieve what you wanted to achieve in life?’ And I don’t think it’s about material gain. I mean, I think when you look at your life and you think about what’s important to you I think it’s going to be the relationships that you’ve developed and the mark that you’ve made on the world and so far as you’ve made the world a better place.

But by asking the questions ‘did you get what you wanted even so’ even so a part of it to me is so buoyant because it recognizes that most lives lived fully are going to also involve some pain and disappointment.


                    But the ultimate hope is that even so, you’ll be able to get what you wanted form this life. And part of the point of the book is that if you live a life that is fueled by asking questions and listening to the answers, you’re more likely to be in a position to answer ‘I did’ when you have to ask yourself that questions, whether you got what you wanted from this life.’

VICKI:          The book is fantastic, it’s Wait, What? By James E. Ryan. And he also has a term that I’m starting to use with my students called generous listening. And I think that’s a big important piece of this. It’s not only must we ask the right questions but we must be generous listeners and truly take in the answers. So rather than just thinking about the next questions. But t’s a very powerful book, there’s a reason that the video went viral and I’ll include that in the show notes. So take a listen and get inspired and start asking those essential questions of life.

Hello Remarkable Teachers, would you please help me do something? I’m trying to help more people find out about the Ten Minute Teacher Show. To do that, if you just could take some time to go to iTunes or to Stitcher or to leave a review. It really does help. Thank you so much.

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 0:09:38]


[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 5 Essential Questions of Life with Dean James Ryan appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

How Do We Make Homework Worth It?

11 May, 2017 - 21:14

A conversation with Matt Miller on episode 74 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Matt Miller @jmattmiller co-author of “Ditch that Homework” talks about homework. What does the research say? What is the one area that “homework” helps? Can homework be better? Let’s talk homework and make sure students are spending their time well.

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Listen on iTunes

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


In today’s show, Matt Miller discusses homework:
  • What does the research say?
  • The silver bullet of homework that DOES work
  • The challenges of meaningful homework
  • What kids do instead of homework counts
  • Why Vicki doesn’t assign it

I hope you enjoy this episode with Matt Miller!

Want to hear another episode on what kids should be doing at home? Listen to Weston Kesichnick talk about tip for successful digital parenting.

Selected Links from this Episode

Show Giveaway of Ditch that Homework

Ditch that Homework Book Giveaway Contest

Full Bio As Submitted Matt Miller

Matt Miller is an educator, blogger and the author of “Ditch That Textbook,” a book about revolutionizing the classroom with innovative teaching, mindsets and curriculum. He has infused technology and innovative teaching methods in his classes for more than 10 years. Matt is a Google Certified Innovator, PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator and two-time Bammy! Awards nominee.

He writes at the Ditch That Textbook blog about using technology and creative ideas in teaching. Reach him at or on Twitter at @jmattmiller.

Transcript for this episode

Download PDF of this Episode

[Recording starts 0:00:00]

How can we make homework worth it? Episode 74.

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

VICKI:   Happy Thought Leader Thursday. Today we have with us Matt Miller @jmattmiller

author of Ditch That Textbook. And he has a new book, Ditch That Homework. We’ll tell you at the end of the show how you can win for yourself a copy of his new book coming out in June.

So Matt, there’s so much discussion about homework and I know in France they’ve even banned it. What’s the deal in homework? I mean, it’s always been around. Do we need to rethink it and why?

MATT:         I don’t know. But if they ban homework in France I think that gives me extra reason to go there. When I think back to my own time as a student I remember that I would put just like the bare minimum effort into my homework assignments. I was just basically trying to get them done and many of them were stimulating activities or really got me to think critically or anything like that.

And so I after I became a teacher I started to think, you know, I wonder what kind of return on investment we’re getting on homework. Because we spend all of these hours. Students spend hours and hours and hours of time doing this homework. But how much are we actually getting out of it? What do we really get in return because I like to think that if we spend all of those hours we would be – it’s almost like thinking about being paid, that we would be paid fairly instead of below minimum wage? I think that’s one of my biggest issues with that.

VICKI:          So what does the research say?

MATT:         Well, it’s interesting because if you want to find research that says that homework is effective, you can find it. And if you want to find research is ineffective and doesn’t work, you can find it.


                    So, really, there’s research all over the board. Part of the problem with the research that we found is that a lot of it is correlational instead of causational, it doesn’t show causation. So basically what that means is that a lot of this research is pairing completion of homework. So actually doing your homework with test scores. And so it’s basically asking, if kids do homework, will their test scores go up?

And you and I know as well as anybody else that there are so many factors that go into what a kids test scores are. And we also know that it’s usually the kids who are the stronger academic students that are doing the homework anyway. So even if we really dig into this research, there’s still a lot of issues but there are a couple of absolutes no matter what you see.

You look at John Hattie’s research on best practices which are based on his statistical model of what works in school. His big thing is – he says, homework in the primary grades has an effect size of zero. As in, it doesn’t have any sort of effect on students. Now, it seems like the research also shows us that there’s one silver bullet when it comes to work at home and that is reading. That reading at home especially self-directed reading, like parents reading to kids, kids reading stuff that they’re interested in, that’s the one big thing that really has the games at home.

VICKI:          But it sounds like, Matt, it depends on the homework, right? I mean, it’s kind of like the research on technology. Technology can improve or not improve learning based on how it’s used. I mean, there is definitely pointless homework out there but sometimes there are meaningful things. Is it just you think that maybe we don’t have as many meaningful homework assignments as maybe we should?

MATT:         You know, I think that’s part of it. But I think part of it also has to do with the time factor. What we ask kids to do is we’ll have them come in at 8:00 and leave at 3:00.


                    And during that whole seven hour work day, so to speak, they’re giving us their 100%. And they are actively working. And we all know that brainwork sometimes can be just as hard on our bodies as physical work. And so what we’re almost asking them to do is if that’s a seven-hour work day times five, we’re asking kids to 35-hour work days and then come home and spend an additional hour or 30 minutes or 2 hours or whatever doing the same stuff that they did.

And I always thinking about – with the teachers that I work with I think, okay, if you are asked to do all of this work and then you were mandated to go home and do two hours’ worth of work that either isn’t that interesting to you or doesn’t allow you to explore your passions or whatever, I have a big issue with that. And so I kind of feel like that time at home should give kids the opportunity to explore. Especially, younger kids, to be able to play and get dirty and go outside and ride their bikes. Or with older kids to be able to pursue what they’re passionate about.

VICKI:          Well, and I think a lot of teachers are [giving it]. It’s called pointless paperwork that nobody reads. And a lot of the kids feel the same about homework, don’t they?

MATT:         Yes, ma’am. They absolutely do.

VICKI:          So where are you with homework?  I mean, given the choice, are you going to assign to assign or not?

MATT:         I don’t know that there is necessarily a clear cut answer for everyone. And I know in my own class, being a high school Spanish teacher for more than a decade I just started assigning less and less and less because I wasn’t getting the results that I needed. And I know everybody’s situation is different and every teacher knows their kids the best. But I kind of feel like – and this is sort of the premise of our book is that with the best practices that we know about today and technology and a lot of the things that we can do, we can become more effective and more efficient in the classroom. And if we can leverage that to do better learning in class we become less and less reliant on homework outside the class.


                    And so I think maybe that’s the big focus, is, what can we do in class? What can we do more efficiently and effectively in class to become less reliant on it? And I think everybody can agree that if were less reliant on homework that’s a good thing.

VICKI:          It is. I guess the only thing that ever worries me is I think that some people have the view that kids should just be able to go to school for however long they go to school, we handle everything at school and there’s never any requirement outside of school. And I mean, I guess as a farm girl, I’ve always been taught and believe that if you work hard at worth doing, you can get god results. Now, if you work hard at wasted work then it is a waste. But work worth doing.

I guess I struggle with being torn between my worth ethic and getting rid of it all together, right?

MATT:         Right. And I think your example is a perfect one. You’re a farm girl, I live on 25 acres here in the middle of nowhere here in Indiana so I can very much sympathize with that. And there was a lot of work to do at your place. But that’s something that I think that we miss out on when we just focus on academics. Imagine if you have kid who’s in a similar situation where there’s work to be done at home but they’re sent home with two hours of homework every night. And then if you throw in basketball practice, choir performances and all the other stuff, then basically, they’re missing out on that important thing.

And so what I think is whenever we reduce the amount of homework, reduce the work that’s going on at home now kids are getting a much richer picture, a much richer education because they’re getting some of those lessons that they wouldn’t get at school instead of having all of that same stuff that we just did at school hammered into them over and over again when they get home.

VICKI:          Yeah. It always makes me nervous to talk about personal experience because I did do the two or three hours and did the farm stuff. But I know families who just let those kids play on iPads all the time.


MATT:         Right.

VICKI:          I guess I’m torn out, I do have to admit, Matt, I don’t assign homework. I’m defending homework but I don’t assign it because I teacher computer science and to me I want to be right there when they’re working on it. Now, do they go home and build their apps, they do. They go home and if they love it and they need to then they do it. But I don’t assign homework because for me and for what I teach, I just want [them] to be there in front of me. So I guess I’m arguing against what I’m saying, huh?

MATT:         And you know what, Vicki, I think whenever you can inspire kids with what you do in the classroom so much that they want to go home and work on it. When you’ve really lit that fire of passion and then they can go home then I think that’s the best kind of homework that there is. It’s the kid that kids are wanting to do, they’re wanting to go and learn that. And that’s the kind of stuff that I think can shake their lives.

VICKI:          So we’ve had a conversation, not necessarily answers but some incredible research. And Matt Miller, the book is Ditch That Homework. Please check the show notes. I’ll give you links for how you can enter to win his book, Ditch That Homework. And when it comes out, he’ll be sending you a copy if you win. So thank you so much for listening to this conversation. It’s going to be really interesting, Matt, to see the comments on Facebook and on the blog, on this on because I’m sure we’re going to get lots of opinions.

MATT:         Yes, I’m interested in it too.

VICKI:          Hello Remarkable Teachers, would you please help me do something? I’m trying to help more people find out about the Ten Minute Teacher Show. To do that, if you just could take some time to go to iTunes or to Stitcher or to leave a review. It really does help. Thank you so much.

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 0:10:02]


[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 How Do We Make Homework Worth It? appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

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