Top 5 Classroom Shake Ups

When I present, reflect, create, and when I ask students to respond, I typically strive for a Top 5. In no particular order. What are the top 5 items you need to survive (e.g. great for when reading London’s To Build a Fire)? What are your Top 5 takeaways from class this week? What are the Top 5 writing rules that you need to work on, improve, love/hate, etc.? I personally try not to go over 5 presentation slides. Top 5.

So when I read the headline “Five Ways to Shake Things Up at Work,” I got all tingly ( ).

1. Refuse to Accept Fogginess

2. Model Clarity

3. Do it Anyway. Stop listening to “No.”

4. Think Epic. Be Epic.

5. Disrupt yourself.

And then after reading the descriptions under each of these five, I thought, well, why can’t this apply to the classroom.

1. If you don’t know what you’re intentions are, how will your students know?

2. Model, Show, Do – don’t just stand and preach. What’s the one biggest takeaway you want your students to know by the end of class, or the week? How can what you’re doing in class be connected personally? And I’m not talking touchy-feely-emo here. I’m talking application – how can the students apply this to outside of the four-wall classroom. What is the one thing you want your students to do with the information?

3. Just do it. God bless administrators for doing certain things that I personally don’t want to deal with, but when I want to spice things up in class and try something hugely new (i.e. 20 Time aka Genius Hour), and I bring it to the board, and have to give a hoopla presentation and be questioned about it, which takes way too much time for me to create the presentation, schedule the presentation, do the presentation, and sit through deliberations of whether or not it could work, I think to myself that I should have just done it. I’d rather try than not and see if it works than not. I’d rather fail the first time and succeed just a little bit more the next than never having attempted it at all (

As the description says “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than to ask permission. It’s time to live this to the max.”

4. Do big. Try it. Worst thing that could happen is that it doesn’t work the first time. So you change it up and try again.

5. Usually, when you’re in the groove, in the flow (read Csikszentmihalyi if you haven’t already on Creativity and his other book Flow), your stream of consciousness can take you to great things. But sometimes we get so caught up in the frenzy of something, we have to force ourselves to stop and reflect. Disrupt ourselves to take ourselves out of the box and examine our work. Students should be led to do that until they can do it themselves. Walk away from something. Let the process itself process within yourself. “Don’t think about it and it’ll come to you,” is something I tell students when they’re blocked or frustrated. They hate it when I say that because I’m not giving them an answer. Their ah-ha moment will come, and so will yours.

Shake it up!


When did it become unacceptable to fail?

I know, I know. The pressures of college admissions. Oh, forget that. The pressures of pre-school and Kindergarten admissions. If you don’t apply when child is still in utero, you have forever damned your child. Give me a break. Research shows (is it TIMMS or some other national huge publication like Freakonomics?), that a child’s success can actually be foreseen by the level of the mother’s education.

But still with this notion that everyone should and can go to college (which is a huge other can of worms to deal with), people – students and adults alike – have grown to fear failure. But how is it possible that we can all succeed 100% of the time, every time, the first time we try something new. It’s fantasy. Even if we do end up with a good grade, or a decent presentation (the idea of it’s good enough to pass, but not the best of what we’re capable of) we can always improve for next time.

I’m not saying to cop out and resort to failure each time and use it as an excuse. It means that the first time may not always perfect. We have to practice. We have to reflect on our work and consciously ask ourselves what we can do to do better.

Failure doesn’t necessarily mean the letter F, it just means that there is room for growth. It’s okay to Write Down Your Failures (, just as long as you attempt to right the wrong for next time.

Can we accept that?


Pass the Blame

I recently read this quite lengthy article (and I mean lengthy because by page 13 on my Flipboard ( I became quite antsy) on how the Baby Boomer generation screwed up the following generation – Gen X vs. Gen Y. Xs and Ys, get your chromosomes straight ( Maybe it was the Depression Era generation that screwed up Gen X to screw up Gen Y? And maybe it was the generation before that?

Regardless of where it started, I stepped back and realized that this is just another prime example of how easy it is to place blame on someone or something else rather than holding out individual selves accountable for our actions that we choose to make and take. Why are we so quick to pass judgement and fault others for our issues when in fact, it’s up to us to reflect and think critically about situations?

If we pass gas and attempt to pass the blame on someone else, the truth will be smellier than the denial.

Flipping Excited with Flipboard

Ever since I learned about Flipboard (, and I don’t remember when this was, I am addicted to it. It takes the place of any Sunday newspaper, and online journalism (maybe except for CNN Money and MarketWatch, and well, maybe my local NPR station), but I get all the news without all the fluff. Only thing is that Flipboard is a mobile device app more than something that can be viewed on a computer, so smart phone and tablet are your best bets.

What’s more is that you can star, like, love, and share via e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter articles and/or photos. So easy to flip through news that is relevant to your interests without having to dodge pop culture like onto whom Miley Cyrus is twerking now.

Google Calendar vs. iCal

When a friend recently ask if there is a way to upload US national holidays into her newly established iCal, my immediate response to her was “yes!”

Simultaneously thinking, though, I asked her, why she isn’t using Google Calendar, to which she thought automatically to use iCal because she’s an Apple and Mac person. She also announced that, “I’ve never used a digital calendar before.” Whoa!!! Seriously? Okay.

So 1 – automatic assumption of using a product because of hardware uses and 2 – digital virgin.

Rather than focusing on the notion of where she’s been in the tech world, I’m looking at this as an opportunity to mentor her because she took the first step of entering the digital age!!! She wants to be here, so let’s help her!!!

While I have both versions set up and have them synced, I primarily use Google Calendar – it’s open all the time as one of my tabs. I find it easier to use (the go-to use of any product), and I can share it with anyone, which is the number one reason I use it. Both calendars offer color-coding for multiple calendars, invitations, and different vantage options.

I’m a Mac, yet I vote for Google Calendar. You?

Go Nuts

Years ago, when I was completely addicted to Boston Legal, and someday I plan on sitting and watching all the re-runs, there was one specific episode that hit close to home – teaching. Spoiler Alert – even though the teacher wins her case in the end, she opts to go into business with a relative rather than choosing to return to the classroom. Why?

Shirley’s closing statement, however, still lingers in my mind. Image

Why teach?

I recently read this via Facebook as a post of a post from a blog of a post from a piece in the Washington Post.

It saddens me to think that this is where we have embarked to in our progress to achieve great education. Yet, upon reflecting on this school year specifically, I completely empathize with this anonymous teacher. And I’m let to ask, why teach? Why do it? And I’m not looking for a righteous, self-fulfilling answer that it’s gratifying to know that I could reach at least one student or the humbling, thankless experience of giving. Clearly, no teacher enters the field of education for the financial stability (especially when my colleagues work side jobs to make ends meet), so why do it?