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Encouraging Reading, Alexa in the Classroom, & EdCamp

Encouraging Reading Each Day– One of the great changes that have happened this year at North is the allocation of RTI time during the school day. Teachers are using data to identify students that need more support during a unit or on a particular essential learning and using 30 minutes at the start of the day to provide extra instruction, guided practice, time, and assistance. Awesome! One problem, though, with this new use of time is now many students are not receiving that sacred, silent-sustained reading time built into their school day as in the past. I ran across this article on Twitter from Edutopia and it got me thinking about how “fake reading” was a real struggle when students were expected to read for 25 minutes each day. I was hoping for some quick fixes here but by the end of the article I was feeling as though we really were doing the right things– providing time for choice reading, having books on display and available for student use, talking about books, making our own reading visible (modeling and posting our current reads outside our classroom doors) and so on. I know this article is written from the perspective of an English/Language Arts teacher, but we know that providing students with an environment that encourages reading is beneficial. It got me thinking about ways to continue to encourage students to read without that built-in, guaranteed time. Here’s a few ideas for ways to work it in and continue to build that positive culture of reading throughout the building:

  • Think about squeezing in a few minutes of choice reading time when transitioning to a new activity and setting up supplies, passing out papers, waiting for a video to load, etc. This does require students to still carry a book of choice with them throughout the school day.
  • Take a brain break by telling students about what you are currently reading. Maybe read a quick excerpt– students love to listen to you read.
  • Show a quick book talk clip to spark interest in the topic of the class period or tie to current events.
  • Ask students to share the title of the last book they read– this can be a quick, around-the-room for those that want to share or could be written in journals, posted on a whiteboard as a prompt, Post-it activity, etc.
  • Switch up your homework routine. Throw this in as an unexpected surprise assignment instead of the usual work, especially if your students consistently have homework. Feel the need for accountability? Provide a writing prompt for students to respond to about their reading as bellwork the next day.
  • Ask Alexa to read a story– she can access passages recently read on your Kindle, sign up for an Audible account for access to thousands of reads, or have her read from websites. When I asked her to read me a story she started reading from where I last left off in Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban! Yes! Alexa, you know me so well.

Using Alexa in the Classroom– Speaking of Alexa, I was at an EdCamp professional development opportunity hosted by our district tech department this weekend and one of the door prizes was an Amazon Echo Dot. It got me thinking about how the Dot I have at home really sits there unused most of the time– we haven’t used any of her useful functions, just the goofy ones like, “Alexa, tell me a joke” or “Alexa, what came first, the chicken or the egg?” So, I brought it in to school. At the very least, Alexa can quickly Google things for me or set timers, right? After doing some searching around online, I found a few posts that I think might convince you to move your Dot to your classroom, too.

  • is a great blog that has all kinds of tips for integrating technology use into your classroom. Her post on using Alexa is a quick read with some fun and useful ideas.
  • This post from has even more ideas and ways to use Alexa that are specific to content areas. Check it out!

Also, check out this cool accessory! I can’t wait to purchase these Echo Buttons and have teachers compete head-to-head in Trivial Pursuit or one of the other games available. Fun!

PS– This is in no way a sponsored post. I am not receiving anything from Amazon for mentioning the Echo Dot here.

EdCamp Professional Development– The EdCamp format of professional development is not a new idea to me, as I have participated in a few of them and hosted a sort of mini version here, but I left this one Saturday again feeling like this is such a great opportunity to participate in. The laid-back style of this type of PD is incredibly refreshing. If you have never been I highly recommend you make the time to try it out sometime. Participants create a list of topics to be discussed, then they split up and talk about them. It is a great way to get to know other educators and to hear new perspectives and ideas. I participated in sessions on differentiation, secondary technology, and motivating reluctant learners. Since there is no presenter with a set agenda the participants guide the conversation to what is relevant for them. Keep an eye out for an EdCamp opportunity and give it a try!



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A Quick Little Post about Tech Tools

Here are a few tech tool odds and ends that I happened upon this week when sifting through Twitter posts. 

Google Jamboard– Thanks to Tim Gray (tgray_cghs) for posting this video about Google Jamboard this week for Digital Learning Day. It appears to be a great collaboration tool with some nifty features worth checking out. In essence, Jamboard looks like a collaborative whiteboard– participants can add their thoughts, images, shapes, etc. to the board. You can invite students to a “Jam” to collaborate as a class or have students create their own to work in groups. I love the very Sketchnote style that you can achieve with this tool. Take a look!

Select and Speak– Select and Speak is a Chrome extension that reads aloud selected text. Once added to your browser, highlight text you’d like read and click the Select and Speak icon. This is potentially a useful tool for those students that need texts read, in world language classes (as it can read 27 different languages), in E/LA classes to assist in proofreading writings, and more. The only downfall is that this extension does have free and paid versions. The free version does limit the amount of text you are able to listen to, though there is a discounted rate for teachers and students available. Here’s a quick video to give you more information.

CheckMark– Take a look at this Chrome extension called CheckMark. One of the best features of the Google Apps for Education is the ability to share and collaborate. This tool allows teachers to provide quick, timely feedback to students in Google Docs. Whether students are asking for feedback on a rough draft, or groups are working together on a shared document and you need to give them some direction, this extension looks helpful. It allows you to quickly and easily highlight and comment. Take a look at this video to help you get the idea.




Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash

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Activating Memory: Retrieval Practice

7th grade science teacher January Bowen (@bowenjsci) reminded me of retrieval strategies this week. She shared this article, 2 Evidence-Based Learning Strategies, from Edutopia highlighting two strategies and it got me thinking that it might be good to not only share the article and the strategy she used, but also a reminder of a few quick retrieval strategies that can easily be implemented regularly in any classroom.

January tried Spaced Practice with students and the rock cycle. She asked them to first use their brains to draw a picture of the rock cycle. Students then highlighted everything they drew in yellow. Then, she asked them to open up their Interactive Science Notebooks and add any bits of information that were missing from their original drawing. This new info was highlighted a different color. Students were then given a chance to share their drawings with their elbow partner and add absolutely anything else that had not yet been added.

This was a great way for students, and January, to see what information they could easily recall, as well as what information they may need to have more practice with, before they are more formally assessed on the content.

See my original retrieval strategies post here or check out this quick list of strategies from The Growth Mindset Playbook

  • Quick Quiz– Ask students a few questions about the content that has been taught. This should be a low-stakes quiz, focusing on recall vs recognition, that also provides feedback. My instant thought is to use Kahoot for this, but I wonder if it would lack that essential part of providing feedback? Would another online tool like Quizizz provide more info? Or a Google doc/slide/whatever that students use to respond then get feedback from you and their peers? Brainstorming here.
  • 3-2-1– Many of us use 3-2-1s in different ways already, so think about using the format for an exit ticket. Have students recall 3 things they learned from the previous class period, 2 from today’s class, and then ask 1 question about the topic at hand.
  • Entry ticket– Exit tickets are pretty much a “go-to” when wanting to collect formative feedback from students. Try flipping the script and having students complete an entry ticket to connect learning from the previous class period, such as: connect to their lives or other content/classes, answer an open-ended question, solve a problem, or ask a question. My thought is to then use these to guide the lesson right then and there. What better feedback do you need to know where this next lesson should go?
  • Practice Prompts– Here are a few exit or entry ticket ideas to get students thinking back to what they have learned:
    • Two things I remember from today’s lesson are:
    • If I had to explain __________ from yesterday’s lesson to someone who missed class, here’s what I would say:
    • Draw a picture that represents what we learned today.


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Choice Reading, Classroom Management to Your Inbox, Scales vs Rubrics

This week’s post contains a potpourri of ideas and resources that have been happened- upon or dropped into my inbox this week. There is no real connection or theme shared by each of these ideas, but I thought they were worth sharing now instead of letting them get lost in the stack. My goal is to keep the info here short and sweet. If you’re interested in more info on any of these topics, want to brainstorm some ideas of how these might look in your classroom, or just chat, please let me know!

Choice Reading Tips– Check out this post from Pernille Ripp to help students self-select their choice reading books. It is a great reminder that our students need us to display books in our rooms, talk about them, and put them to use each day. In our building, students are encouraged to read books of choice during CONNECT, which was formerly 30 minutes of silent-sustained reading, that has now evolved into time for test make-ups, interventions, study, and finally… reading. Don’t forget to slow down and allow time for your students, and yourself, to read.  

Smart Classroom Management– If you have not yet signed up for the weekly e-mails from, I highly recommend it. Each week you’ll have a quick blurb relating to classroom management sitting in your inbox. Whether you are a veteran teacher or someone just starting out, these posts really can be helpful. This week’s feature is titled, I Stopped Holding My Students Accountable And Here Is What Happened. It is a great reminder of why we need to be consistent with our expectations and follow-through all year long.  

Proficiency Scale vs Rubric– Our district is now in the middle of year two in our journey of identifying essential learnings and creating proficiency scales in content areas K-12. Groups are at various points along the road, but we are all working on building our common understanding of a guaranteed and viable curriculum. In a workday with E/LA “curriculum collaborators” this week, the following information comparing and contrasting proficiency scales and rubrics was shared by our Asst. Director for Secondary Teaching and Learning from Tammy Heflebower ( at Marzano Research. I thought it was worth passing along for anyone who’s been trying to wrap their heads around this shift.

Both rubrics and scales are tools that offer feedback, performance levels, and expectations of performance. Here’s how they differ–

Proficiency Scales

  • Developed for a broader conceptual understanding (priority learning goal)
  • Used for evaluating progress on a priority learning goal
  • Used as a framework for instruction to a priority learning goal
  • Used as a framework for assessment


  • Developed for a specific product, project, or task
  • Used for evaluating performance on a specific product, project, or task
  • Used to communicate critical components of a specific product, project, or task
  • May be used as the assessment tool itself

To me, this made a lot of sense. A scale is not necessarily replacing a rubric, it is a “big picture” tool. A scale can be used to evaluate progress on an essential learning or learning goal whereas a rubric can be used to evaluate performance on a specific product, project, or task. Keep in mind that the rubric could provide feedback as to where a student is performing on that essential learning or scale at a given time. Food for thought!


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Compacting with the Study Guide + Extension Menu Method & My New Favorite Thing!

Do you have one of those students that lacks “will” and not “skill?” You know, the one that never does her homework, shows up late to class, might even be a bit of a behavior problem at times, but he always gets the best score on the unit test. Urgh. Here’s an idea from Teaching Gifted Kids in Today’s Classroom by Susan Winebrenner. Whether this student has been identified as gifted or not, this might be worth a shot.

Compacting— The idea of compacting is relatively simple. It is a differentiation of time or task for a student that is able to show proficiency in a topic at the beginning of a unit, or is able to learn the material at a faster pace than others. If this is the case, the teacher provides the option for that student to work in a more independent study fashion for that unit. The student is clear on what they must be able to do by the end of the unit, what their expectations are during work time, and how they will be assessed in the end. The hope is that students who are lacking “will”, not skill, will find that working at their own pace, with a little bit of choice in how they work, will provide them with more meaning and purpose– more buy-in.

As a middle school teacher, I have never felt comfortable with the idea of an independent study with my students, as they often struggle to come up with ideas for how to work with content (and not just copying something they see on the internet). I love the idea of student-generated work, but my students have never had the background knowledge to plan their own assignments/projects.

To remedy this, Susan suggests utilizing a form of compacting called the Study Guide Method + Extension Menu. It is a combination of independent study and choice/menu boards. With this method, students will know the “what” and “when”, but will have choices in the “how.” Students are provided with a study guide for the unit that includes the required standards from the unit (providing as much detail as possible about what students will be able to do), checkpoint dates throughout the unit, and the date of the final assessment. They are also given a choice board of activities for working with the content. Students are then able to choose the tasks they will complete, and by what date, that will prepare them for the assessment at the end of the unit. Neat, huh? Interested in giving it a shot? I’d love to brainstorm with you how this could look in your classroom. Want more info on the Study Guide Method or working with students with high abilities? Teaching Gifted Kids… is full of strategies and ideas that are ready for classroom use!

One more quick tidbit– this is my new favorite thing. If you have not checked out the Chrome Extension MoveIt, you are missing out!  By adding this extension, anytime you have Chrome open throughout the day, you will get a pop-up window with a movement prompt. You are able to schedule frequency of these pop-ups anywhere from every 5 to 55 minutes. These quick activities vary and are easy to complete. What a great way to insert brain breaks into your daily routine without having to do any prep work! Check out MoveIt and get kids moving!



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Tiered Learning Experiences

Tiered Learning Experiences— From the book Teaching Gifted Kids in Today’s Classroom, here is a glimpse at tiered lesson planning. Don’t let the title of the book fool you– this style of lesson planning can be beneficial to use with all kids, especially in mixed-ability classroom settings. When first reading about tiered learning experiences, my mind automatically made the connection to choice or menu boards. This is differentiation! Though they are similar in a way, tiered lesson planning looks a little different. Here’s a quick comparison:

Menu Boards, Tic-Tac-Toe, & Choice Boards

  • Choice in process & product.
  • All students participate, though not in the same way.
  • Similar level of difficulty of tasks.

Tiered Lessons

  • Teacher directed differentiation.
  • All students engage with same content then experience it slightly differently.
  • Tiered levels of difficulty.

Tiered lessons provide all students with whole-group instruction and activities on the topic to build background knowledge. Where they become unique is after that instruction students are provided with different tasks to allow them an opportunity to work with the content. These tasks are tiered by difficulty (versus by learning modality) — entry-level activities, advanced activities, and most challenging activities. Once students have completed learning tasks at the appropriate level for them, the teacher brings the whole group back to process and wrap up the lesson. Here’s a quick, “for instance” example–

EL/Topic/Skill: Food Webs
Whole Group Inst./Activities: YouTube video, re-tell activity, read text w/ strategy
Tier 1 Activity: Tier 2 Activity: Tier 3 Activity:
Identify food chain vs. food web through card sort activity Construct food web when provided info about ecosystem Evaluate the effect of species removal from web through “what if…” scenario
Whole Group Inst./Activities: game-based review, exit ticket

Notice the activities are all centered around the same topic or essential goals while they move up the Taxonomy of Thinking. This allows students to engage with the content at an appropriate level for them. Utilize pre-test data, quick-checks, formative assessment data, or even allow choice at times to know which students should participate in which activities. Think about titling the activities with content-area words, “readiness” levels, or even use colored paper and distribute to students as “red group”, “green group”, etc. 

One idea I really like about this type of planning is that the teacher always has another activity at the ready for those early finishers. If a student working with the tier 1 activity finishes they can then move on to the tier 2. Students that have completed tier 2 can then move on to the tier 3. Students that complete the tier 3 activity can be moved on to a pre-prepared extension activity that is more in-depth or complex, if needed. This also allows students the opportunity to interact with the content at those more challenging levels when they are ready.

Going to give it a go? Post the date and class periods to the Pineapple Chart to welcome other teachers in to check it out!



Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

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Classroom Management Ideas– Consistent & Clear Expectations

This week I thought I’d share a few classroom management ideas. We are getting to the point in the year where we are in the swing of things but sometimes we get a group that just still hasn’t “caught on.” They continue to talk while you’re talking, ask a million questions that you just provided the answers to, struggle to refocus after an activity and so on. Here are a couple of easy-to-implement ideas to try. The real trick with each of these strategies is to be consistent. As soon as you stop doing them you will begin to see the behaviors you were hoping to abolish just creep right back in. 

Call to Attention– This quick strategy is one that is easy to implement and can yield big results. A call to attention is just an attention-getter that the teacher uses consistently to bring students’ attention back to them. This can be a call and response, a simple phrase, clapping pattern, etc. The real trick here is to teach the expected behavior and then be consistent with using it. For example, in my classroom the phrase “Good morning!” or “Good afternoon!” was my students’ cue to be quiet and focus on me. The first few days of class I needed to remind them that my greeting to the group did not require a response but simply for them to be quiet (they all wanted to say “Good morning!” right back to me). I would often tap my ear as a visual cue. After consistently doing this it became a habit. Students knew what behavior was expected of them and complied. Of course, a quick reminder was always needed throughout the year but repeating this same greeting anytime I needed their attention (at any point in the class period) signaled to students what they were expected to do. Here are a few other ideas for call to attentions:

  • If you can hear me clap 2 times. If you can hear me clap 3 times. (students respond with clapping)
  • Hey Class….Hey What? (say it in different voices and they mimic)
  • Say school name and students respond with mascot: CG!….Trojans!
  • Have students create one and vote?
  • Hand signals or standing “on the spot/mark.”
  • Anything content specific that you can say often.
  • Echo Clap (teacher claps a pattern and students repeat it)

Here is a great video clip from The Teaching Channel showing a teacher setting expectations, following through, and utilizing a call to attention technique.  

Wait for Quiet– This idea really goes hand-in-hand with a call to attention. Once we have asked for our students’ attention with our consistent signal, we have to then wait for the correct response. If students have not gotten quiet we tend to move on– we have so many things to get to this period, right?! The real trick here is to wait them out. If they are not being quiet… wait for it. If you have waited a considerable amount of time and still are not getting the response that you want, do the call to attention again. Now wait. This can be tough to make a habit but it is well worth it. Check out this post from Cult of Pedagogy for more–

Repeat Back Instructions– So now you’ve used your call to attention, and waited for students to be quiet, now it’s time to give those instructions. After being clear with instructions/expectations for the activity, assignment, or just the next few minutes have students repeat back what you said in unison. This lets you know that everyone is on the same page but also allows anyone that missed it to get caught up. Didn’t hear enough responses? Ask them to tell you again. Quick and easy. Here is a video of a teacher requiring students to repeat back the learning objective of the day– same idea, different implementation.

Pre-Plan Corrections– Now you’ve done all of the strategies above and you feel pretty good… until a student is off task, talks out, or is just plain not doing what he/she is supposed to do. It can be easy to respond to that student sort of “off-the-cuff” with whatever comes to mind. One idea is to pre-plan those corrections so that you are consistent, clear, and your response does not escalate the situation through added emotion. Take a look at this checklist from Jim Knight’s book High Impact Instruction. Following these steps ensures that you already have a plan for when students are not following procedures so that you can consistently implement them. This makes students feel like you are fair– you didn’t say one thing to that other student but another to them. It also takes the emotion out of the situation keeping it from escalating into an argument or other disruption. Take a look.

Fluent Corrections:

  1. Craft corrections for the most common misbehaviors you see your students do. For each common misbehavior, identify your first, second, and third actions.
  2. Become masterful at corrections by practicing one common behavior at a time. Gather data (by video or audio recording, or by having a coach visit your classroom). Keep practicing until you make it a habit to be consistent for each of the common behaviors.
  3. Consider adjusting your consequences if they are too tight or too loose for your students.
  4. Make sure your consequences are enforceable. If you can’t enforce them, change either your approach or your consequences.

If you’ve been using these ideas but aren’t seeing results, I would first be sure that you have implemented them consistently. If you haven’t tried any of these, but would like to, don’t hesitate to start right away. You don’t have to wait until a new grading period or new group comes in to try something new. Just remember that you will need to teach students the behavior that you expect from them for each of these, then follow through.


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Teachin’, Learnin’, and Coachin’ every day– TLC Conference Tidbits

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the Teaching Learning Coaching Conference, hosted by Corwin Publishing, here in Indianapolis. Though much of what I gleaned from the conference was directly focused on instructional coaching, there were a number of nuggets from some of the keynote speakers that I felt would be great to share. Though I won’t go into great depth here, I will link to each of the books and resources available throughout the post so you may pursue further anything that interests you.

Bad Work, Good Work, Great Work– One of the keynote speakers was Michael Bungay Stanier, creator of Box of Crayons and author of The Coaching Habit. He was very funny and direct, which I like, and shared this idea that “everything you do forces you into 3 different buckets– bad work, good work, and great work.” So, he asked us to think about the impact we make with the work we do and create a sort of pie chart indicating the proportion of each that we find ourselves in. Here is the breakdown of each “bucket” so that you can do this activity, too. 

  1. Bad work: WOMBAT– Waste of Money, Bandwidth, and Time.
  2. Good work: Productive, efficient, gets things done– your job description.
  3. Great work: Makes an impact and has personal meaning.

Now take a second to draw a circle and break it down into the work you do. What do you see? Michael urged us to think about “that thing you want to work on” that gets you excited, fired-up, and raring to go and how the “good work” might be getting in the way. Check out this video about Do More Great Work. Interested? There are a number of videos on YouTube and links to his website and books are included above.

Wayfinding– Keynote speaker Zaretta Hammond, author of Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students, began her presentation with the idea of wayfinding– how people find their way and guide themselves to their destinations or their “goals”.  How do we help Ss find their way and give them signs or visuals to help them know when they are going off the path? Here is a quick glimpse at a few of her strategies:

  • Power of yet– shift from “always” and “can’t” to “not yet.”
  • Encourage students to write letters to their younger self– highlighting what they now know but didn’t know then.
  • Give them recognition that they already have “grit.”
  • Assist students in finding the gift in the obstacle.
  • When students hit the brick wall in the “learning pit,” that is productive struggle.  We want them to experience that and give them tools to work through it.
  • If we use “friendship” to build an “alliance” then students can begin to become leaders of their own learning.They will give teachers permission to push them because of the alliance they have built together.
  • Notice and name–offer micro-affirmations. In order to start rewiring the brain to see the positive, you have to be able to hold on to something good that happened for over 90 seconds. Try not to let your brain dwell in its negativity bias.

Want to know more? A quick Google search will give you loads of video, info, and more. Also, Jennifer Gonzalez of Cult of Pedagogy has posted a review of the book and more from Zaretta.

Student Voice– Russ Quaglia is the author of Student Voice: The Instrument of Change and is co-founder of Aspirations Academies Trust. Russ shared a number of statistics based on surveys and research he has completed over many years and has compiled in his School Voice Report. Take a look. Russ has also published Teacher Voice and Principal Voice. Here are a few statements he made–  

  • People feel heard when they hear their voice through you.
  • When students have true voice, they are–
    • 7x more likely to learn.
    • 4x more likely to feel confident.
    • 8x more likely to be engaged in school.
    • 9x more likely to have a sense of purpose.
  • I challenge you to… spend more time thinking about where your kids are going, not where they come from.
  • Students are the potential, not the problem.
  • Students want to know the relevance and connection of the content in your class to the other classes they attend throughout the day– not the connection to their lives outside of school.

Did you see anything that sparked your interest?  I apologize for this post being a little “link-heavy” and very surface level, but my hope is you will find a little something to look deeper into. 


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Growth Mindset– Teacher Edition

My last post was about guiding students towards success with classroom strategies that support a growth mindset. This week, I’d like to flip the script and focus on supporting that growth mindset when you are an adult. What’s out there to help us grow and keep the right attitude when times get tough?

Grow your PLN— There is nothing better than turning to your colleagues for support. They’ve been there, maybe done that, and survived. Building your Professional Learning Network is one way to support your growth mindset. Lots of teachers have begun turning to Twitter for an easy way to connect with other educators. Join a Twitter chat which takes place on a certain day or time about a specific topic, or just take a quick dip into the never-ending river of posts. A number of educators have created groups through Facebook and other social media, as well. Want to know more? Check out this post on TeachThought for the rundown on using hashtags, chats, and more. Not sure where to start? Start following a few people that you know and then check out who they follow. Taking the time to read the person’s “little blurb” and check out a few of their posts will let you know if you are interested in following them. Here are a few Twitter hashtags to get you started– #TLAP   #lrnchat   #edchat   #edtech   #k12

Breaking the Mold– Look into non-traditional professional development opportunities. I just finished reading The Four O’Clock Faculty: A Rogue Guide to Revolutionizing Professional Development by Rich Czyz. What a breath of fresh air it can be to learn something new in a fun, informal, and relevant way. “Un-conferences” such as EdCamps have become popular in my district as well as around the nation. This style of PD brings to mind the idea that “the smartest person in the room, is the room.” Groups hold casual discussion about topics of interest– no presenter, no expert, no agenda. Think about visiting other classrooms to observe another teacher for ideas and strategies. Here at North, teachers that welcome visitors post pineapples outside their doors. Don’t be nervous– they are welcoming you in! Join a book study or even host one. Interested in some “outside the box” PD but not finding it in your district? Ask for it!

Work with your Instructional Coach– Your Instructional Coach is a great resource and is happy to find and share new strategies, ideas, and info– but that’s not all! One of the most relevant and powerful forms of professional development comes from having a few conversations with your coach and trying something new. Here’s what it looks like:

  • Identify an area of growth– what do you want to try, learn, or change? Think about that one class period that you drive home replaying in your mind. Or that idea that you’ve wanted to try but have just never implemented. Possibly that daily battle with a certain student.
  • Learn more about that “something new” by talking with your coach.
  • Improve your practice by trying out this new growth focus and seeing what you think. It might not be perfect the first time, or even something you want to stick with, but it was worth the try! Talk about how it went with your coach.

Notice Self-Talk– Don’t forget to go easy on yourself. Noticing negative self-talk can be difficult for us– we are usually noticing it from our students, right?! Try to stop yourself from verbalizing those negative thoughts you may be having about something you’ve attempted and flip that to a positive. Maybe think about a mantra that you will say out loud anytime you catch yourself like, “mistakes are proof that you are trying” or “all things are difficult before they are easy.”  I know it might sound silly, but a little positive thinking can go a long way.

Get Out of the Building– Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is to learn something new that has nothing to do with work. Get out and try something new that does not involve your school, content area, or education. Stretch your brain! Look into a fitness or cooking class. Attend a movie night with a group each month. Sign up for a basketball league, art class or knitting club. Anyone interested in starting a group for “hopeless-adults-that-still-love everything-Harry-Potter?” The possibilities are endless!
Have some ideas on building and maintaining a growth mindset as an adult? I’d love to hear them!


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The Growth Mindset Playbook– Retrieval Practice

I just received my copy of The Growth Mindset Playbook by Annie Brock and Heather Hundley and thought I’d share a few tidbits. This book follows up the much-loved The Growth Mindset Coach that I am sharing information, tips, and strategies from throughout the year with teachers at North. The feedback that I have received from teachers is that they would like to know the “how” of implementing a growth mindset focus in their classrooms. What do they actually “do” in their classrooms to support this idea? I came across this chapter and it screamed to be shared. Here are a few ideas–

Retrieval Practice– Brock and Hundley hone in on research by Pooja Agarwal and provide a few quick strategies to help support new learning. They say, “Teachers, Agarwal contends, are usually focused on getting information into student brains through the delivery of content, but often don’t consider how the student will get the information out later on.”

  • Quick Quiz– Ask students a few questions about the content that has been taught. This should be a low-stakes quiz, focusing on recall vs recognition, that also provides feedback. My instant thought is to use Kahoot for this, but I wonder if it would lack that essential part of providing feedback? Would another online tool like Quizizz provide more info? Or a Google doc/slide/whatever that students use to respond then get feedback from you and their peers? Brainstorming here.
  • 3-2-1– Many of us use 3-2-1s in different ways already, so think about using the format for an exit ticket. Have students recall 3 things they learned from the previous class period, 2 from today’s class, and then ask 1 question about the topic at hand.
  • Entry ticket– Exit tickets are pretty much a “go-to” when wanting to collect formative feedback from students. Try flipping the script and having students complete an entry ticket to connect learning from the previous class period, such as: connect to their lives or other content/classes, answer an open-ended question, solve a problem, or ask a question.
  • Practice Prompts– Here are a few exit or entry ticket ideas to get students thinking back to what they have learned:
    • Two things I remember from today’s lesson are:
    • If I had to explain __________ from yesterday’s lesson to someone who missed class, here’s what I would say:
    • Draw a picture that represents what we learned today.

I know that none of these ideas are really reinventing the wheel, but do keep in mind that utilizing those tried and true strategies correctly and consistently can lead to big learning. Want more? Check out or check out these bookmarks from The Learning Scientists that remind students of quick strategies for retrieval practice.