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Enough is Enough! #BCSLearns

International Youth Motivator & Human Connector, Joe Beckman, visited with our 7/8 students on Friday, 3/15/19, in our town hall meeting.  Beckman’s mission is to “reclaim human connection that reignites connection and unleashes potential in every one of us. He shared his infectious energy, humor and passion with our 7/8 staff and students with a focus on choices, responsibility, respect and belonging.  “It’s not about changing the world;” according to Beckman, “it’s about changing one person’s day.”  He challenged us to think about how small actions can lead to incredibly positive outcomes.

Through his energy, humor, voice, guitar, and his passion for human connection, Beckman’s message resonated with each of us:

  • Embrace and love our inner “wierdness”
  • Difference makers increase the greatness in others.
  • Difference takers use words or actions to decrease greatness in others.
  • Difference fakers simply are bystanders and watch others make or take.
    • Make the choice to move from being a difference faker to a difference maker.
    • The average person speaks 16,000 words a day, so there are 16,000 opportunities a day to do to be a difference maker.
  • It’s your choice
    • social media is your choice before clicking share
  • Your legacy
    • How you are remembered – will people be better or worse because of your legacy
  • Your choices determine your legacy!

Want a quick “taste” of the energy Joe Beckman brings? Have a look and listen to his 3 Phrases (You are Enough) video below where he talks about the 3 most important messages each of us needs to hear.

  1. Love you (you are enough)
  2. Push through (it’s about what you do next; it’s about now what, not why me)
  3. Just look up (see the different things we need in this world)


Teacher and Coaches Learn from Each Other – It’s Not Madness #BCSLearns

March Madness is here for college basketBall (and perhaps madness exists in some schools as well this time of year). In the MindShift article What Teachers and Sports Coaches Can Learn from Each Other, freelance writer, researcher and editor Linda Flanagan writes, not about basketball, rather about the symbiotic relationship between teaching in a classroom and coaching a sport. This is anything but madness; it makes sense! In her article, Flanagan shares how the strategies coaches employ, teachers could use and vice versa.  Those strategies teachers implement in the classroom, coaches could use in the gym, on the field, in the pool, etc. Do you think?

According to Flanagan, these are the strategies coaches regularly use that teachers could employ:

  • Tie learning and teaching to a performance. “Student learning would improve if teachers included more public performances in their instruction” like athletic competitions afford.  Have students practice their skills learn and then perform them publicly in some way.  Publicly sharing your learning is a key ingredient to project based learning.
  • Give more feedback. Coaches do this relentlessly during their practices, and the best teachers do this relentlessly in their classrooms – We call the formative assessment.
  • Build interdependence. This is a hallmark of the learning at BCS toward which we continually strive.  Students can count on each other for support, not just the teacher.  Check out the video spotlight that Edutopia did on BCS’s effort in teaching resourcefulness and students as resources for each other.  
  • It’s all about relationships. Great coaches get to know their athletes on a personal level caring about them as individuals – and so do great teachers.
  • Look for another side of a child. “A child who regularly disrupts, or who seems chronically unprepared, can discourage the most experienced teachers. Working with those same kids in an athletic context allows teachers to see them more fully.”  Great teacher find student talents outside of their classroom, if they don’t exist inside the classroom.  Then, the teacher finds a way to bring this talent into the classroom.

Conversely, according to Flanagan, following are the strategies teachers regularly use that coaches undoubtedly could lean on:

  • Stay abreast of research in child development. Over the years, books on coaching have paid more attention to the whole child, not just the athletic child. Some books include: Positive Coaching, Inside Out Coaching, and check out this list of 22 must-reads books for coaches (hint: they are not all about coaching).
  • Develop discreet skills and draw connections. Teachers teach to help students learn and this is inherent in their role.  The best coaches understand that their teachers of the sport and ought to employ the same approach to helping their athletes learn the game blending curriculum/standards, instruction/pedagogy, and assessment/feedback.
  • Ask, don’t tell. “Athletes learn more deeply when a coach asks them how they’ll handle different scenarios, inviting them to figure out for themselves what to do rather than wait to be instructed.”  Great teachers are artful at asking inquiry-based questions that get students to think deeply, reflect and figure it out for themselves.
  • Give up some control. “Some of the most creative classroom teachers structure their classes so that students feel in control of their own learning. Great coaches do the same by allowing students voice and choice.

One might wonder about the key questions for coaches or teachers.  Doesn’t a coach have to be an expert herself/himself in that sport in order to be effective? And, doesn’t a teacher have to be an expert himself/herself in that content area in order to be effective.  I would caution you with this notion and lean on the research of John Hattie and his high impact strategies. “Teacher subject matter knowledge” is number 213 on his list of 256 high impact strategies on student learning with a .11 effect size.  It matters but not nearly as much as one might think; not nearly as much as other strategies like the ones outlined above and the ones Hattie explains in the below video. Have a look (and listen)!

Why Don’t We All Just Hush Up? #BCSLearns

We have all, likely, heard the phrase, “You have two ears and one mouth for a reason,” but how often do we heed that poignant advice?  Likely, not often enough – I have posted about the importance and benefits of listening, and this Harvard Business Review article I recently read entitled What Great Listeners Actually Do, authors Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman shares both expected and surprising conclusions as it related to listening.  Following is a snapshot from the article.

  • Good listening is much more than being silent while the other person talks. “The best listeners [are those] who periodically ask questions that promote discovery and insight…[in the study] Good listening was consistently seen as a two-way dialog, rather than a one-way “speaker versus hearer” interaction. The best conversations were active.”
  • Good listening included interactions that build a person’s self-esteem. “The best listeners made the conversation a positive experience for the other party…made the other person feel supported and conveyed confidence in them…creating…a safe environment in which issues and differences could be discussed openly.”
  • Good listening was seen as a cooperative conversation. “Feedback flowed smoothly in both directions with neither party becoming defensive…poor listeners were seen as competitive – as listening only to identify errors in reasoning or logic, using their silence as a chance to prepare their next response. That might make you an excellent debater, but it doesn’t make you a good listener. Good listeners may challenge assumptions and disagree, but the person being listened to feels the listener is trying to help, not wanting to win an argument.”
  • Good listeners tended to make suggestions. “Good listening invariably included some feedback provided in a way others would accept and that opened up alternative paths to consider…Perhaps what the data is telling us is that making suggestions is not itself the problem; it may be the skill with which those suggestions are made…[or] that we’re more likely to accept suggestions from people we already think are good listeners.”

This research supports a post of mine (9/9/18) called Blend Empathy and Curiosity and See the Miracles where I share an article about Compasssionate Curiosity along with Stephen Covey’s take on levels of listening from not listening at all to empathic listening (see the 4 minute video below).  As a speaker, being understood by the listener is powerful; so powerful, according to Covey, that “the psychological equivalent to air, is to feel understood. It is the deepest hunger of the human heart.” Take a look at Covey’s 4-minute video below where he artfully describes his levels of listening and the power of empathic listening.  “Everyone’s life is so singular, so unique, who’s going to listen to that uniqueness.”


Myths, Legends or Reality? #BCSLearns

Some years ago, we curated the research and constructed our own Project-Based Learning Continuum at BCS with our Leadership to help us create a common understanding and definition for PBL.  We were purposeful in calling it a continuum instead of a rubric.  A rubric, according to Merriam-Webster, is “a guide listing specific criteria for grading or scoring academic papers, projects, or tests.”  A continuum, on the other hand, is “a coherent whole characterized as a collection, sequence, or progression of values or elements varying by minute degrees.”  Our PBL Continuum (see below) suggests that at given points within a PBL classroom, the project does not have to be all the way to the right side in each category in order for it to be considered project-based.  This notion releases some of the guilt, if not stress, within teachers working so hard to implement “true” PBL.  Now, look at what I found!  An article in ASCD by by Jenny Pieratt, called God Save the Routine: Debunking Five Myths and Avoiding Anarchy in the PBL Classroomthat supports, to some extent, this very notion.  The five myths outlined in the article remind us that there is give-and-take within the components of PBL, and using that give-and-take, does not mean it is not PBL.  However, we must remain aware of where the project rests within the continuum.  So, what are the myths from the article?

  • Myth 1: All things must be collaborative in PBL.
  • Myth 2: Students should have “voice and choice” over all things.
  • Myth 3: The teacher should always take the back seat.
  • Myth 4: “Management” is so 20th century.   Meaning that PBL teachers “are orchestrators that have put in place a great deal of structure and routine.”
  • Myth 5: Assessment is a dirty word.

The five myths are reflected to some degree within our PBL Continuum, though it is heartening to think that Pieratt would agree in our notion of a continuum rather than a rubric.  Take a look at our continuum below, and let us know what you think?  Do you agree with the “minute degrees” in the “sequence”?  Do we have all the “elements”?  If not, what elements would you add to this list:

  • Real World/Significant
  • Authenticity
  • Questions/Challenges/Problems
  • Process
  • Creativity/Innovation
  • F.A.I.L.ure
  • Collaboration/Grouping
  • Assessment
  • Product
  • Sharing/Publishing
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Core Content
  • Resources
  • Experts
  • Scope
  • Frequency
  • Teacher Roles
  • Teacher Roles
  • Technology Integration

So, what’s missing? What advice to you have for us? Thank you for reading!

So Many Options and So Little Time #BCSLearns

I have shared with you in the past posts from the Cult of Pedagogy blog as Jennifer Gonzalez’s blog is always an interested read.  To kick off 2019, in her blog, Gonzalez shares the 6 Ed Tech Tools to Try in 2019.  You, quite simply, have to check the six tools and how they can help you leverage learning in your classroom.

  1. Equity Maps ( is an iPad app for keeping track of student participation so teachers can be sure they’re involving all their students.
  2. ProWritingAid ( analyzes the quality of your writing from spelling and grammar to content like word choice and sentence fluency.
  3. Google Tour Creator ( is an enhancement to Google Expeditions where you can create your own tours using the Tour Creator.
  4. Great Big Story ( are short videos fulfilling the mission of Great Big Story by showing that “there is magic in the world and it’s our mission in life to help you discover it. We search for stories showing a sense of optimism for the world…because goodness can grow through the smallest cracks in the sidewalk.”
  5. Geoguessr (, Gonzalez’s favorite, is a game where you begin by being placed somewhere in the world using Google Street View and you have to figure out where you are.
  6. Webjets (, like Padlet but better, is the perfect tool for group projects curating many ideas and organizing these ideas on cards to include images, text, video, etc.

Want another article for some tech tool options?  Check out 7 of the Best Ed Tech Tools for Your Classroom (this list includes Quizlet and Seesaw that many of you use plus a few of which you may not have heard).

Share some of your favorites by commenting on the below Web 2.0 Resources document on which a few of us have been working.  Also, please let us know why and how you use the tool.

Good Teaching – A Kid’s Eye View #BCSLearns

If we ask students, what would they say good teaching looks and sounds like?  In an article in Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy called A Student’s Perspective on Literacy Teaching and Learning: Starting a Conversation Through Six Suggestions, Boston University professor, Katherine Frankel, and first-year college student, Myiesha Robateau, do just that.  They take a student’s perspective, in this case Robateau’s, and suggest six considerations teachers ought take into account as they facilitate the learning of the students they serve (and these are not just for literacy teachers):

  • Learn from the kids. Quite simply, this is about maximizing the amount and the level of student student talk in the classroom.  We can learn from the students when we encourage an environment where they can safely share their thinking. This will inform our practice.
  • Nurture relationships. “When teachers and students genuinely care about and respect each other, they are willing to listen to what the other is saying and learn from each other, even (and especially) in cases of disagreement.” conclude Frankel and Robateau.
  • Accept that not all students will be engaged 100 percent of the time. Yes, we want to engage 100% of the students 100% of the time, though we also need to remember the importance of and benefits students garner from “daydreaming” or disengaging from a task.  See two previous posts of mine that speak to the importance of this notion:
  • Be flexible and persistent. We must continually practice and work to delicately balance the press (high expectations) we afford each student with the support (scaffold) that each student needs in their unique way.
  • Provide outlets for individuality and originality. Frankel and Robateau “suggest giving students creative options” to maximize student voice and choice.  We all know that one size does not fit all – a strategy that works well for one student may not work for all.
  • Understand that reading [learning] is emotional as well as intellectual. While this article focuses on literacy instruction, I would suggest that ALL learning, not just reading, “is emotional as well as intellectual.”  Thus, as the authors contend, we need to “get students connecting to their emotions and opinions. [Learning] is personal. It’s about passion. At its best, [learning helps you discover] who you are and how you think.”  Check out his previous post of mine: Something to Get Emotional About.

And finally, as is customary in most of my posts, below is a video for you to enjoy.  Review the aforementioned strategies and see how they align with what the students are sharing in this 2-minute video.  Out of the mouths of babes!

Now this is Radical! #BCSLearns

I recently read an interview called Radically open: Tom Friedman on jobs, learning, and the future of work from issue 21 of the Deloitte Review at Deloitte Insights.  This is such a robust, thought-provoking interview as it related to today and tomorrow.  In the interview, author Thomas Friedman gives his take on the future of work and the future of learning as it relates to people in the workforce, teachers and parents.  Following is simply a personal summary of my key take-aways from the interview.  What might you add?

According to Friedmand, the future of work is embodied by “the Uber platform model, and the way it is turning a job into work and monetizing work”  This model “will have a huge impact on the future of learning. Because if work is being extracted from jobs, and if jobs and work are being extracted from companies – and because…we’re now in a world of flows – then learning has to become lifelong. We have to provide both the learning tools and the learning resources for lifelong learning when your job becomes work and your company becomes a platform.” Friedman speaks to how AT&T partners with Udacity to create “nano-degree courses” for those skills they most want to hone in their employees.  In a sense, this notion is similar to what we say in schools.  We are preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist.  Friedman shares a similar thought in that “the future of companies is to be hiring people and constantly training people to be prepared for a job that has not been invented yet.”

What’s more is Friedman contends that we need to “do something that would strike many [if not ourselves] as deeply counterintuitive.”  For him, “rule number one is you want to be radically open” to divergent ideas and opinions.  Friedman argued in The World is Flat that “‘Whatever can be done, will be done.’ The only question is, ‘Will it be done by you or to you?,’ but it will be done.”  In the interview he shares  the example of General Electric and how they took into account the weight of airplane engine fastener and its impact on efficiency and cost.

In this age of information and with lifelong learning in mind, Friedman suggests that “we need to teach filtering, literally, to our students. There should be Filtering 101, Filtering 102, Filtering 103. How do I filter information so I get enough of it to advance, but not so much that I’m overwhelmed? How do I filter news?”  In the deepest sense, we want to help our students with being critical consumers of information through artful filtering.

So what’s the future of school and home according to Friedman?  He suggests that it is 95% about people (teachers and parents).  He shares that how he became a journalist was not because he was good at journalism, but because his journalism teacher inspired him.  Teachers can inspire students to engage in and love content that they may not think they are good at.  Friedman couples the importance of teachers with the fact that it is also “so much about parenting and good values that you nurture at home: love of learning, love of reading. I think we want the public schools, or the charter schools, or whatever, to remediate all the problems of parenting, and there’s no teacher who’s good enough to do that.”

With all that said, what would Friedman argue is the most important survival skill for children today?  Learn to love learning!  So, how do we do this?  Friedman shares his formula from the World is Flat. “PQ + CQ will always be greater than IQ. You give me a young person or employee with a high passion quotient and a high curiosity quotient, high PQ and high CQ, and I’ll take them over the person with a high intelligence quotient, IQ, seven days a week. PQ + CQ are always greater than IQ.”

Take a look at the end of the interview where Friedman talks about his notion of STEMpathy to build on the concept that machines do not show courage or empathy.  STEMpathy “jobs that combine science, technology, engineering, and math with human empathy, the ability to connect with another human being. When you put those two things together in a manager or in an employee, I think you have the sweet spot of where work has to go.”

Ultimately, Friedman ends the interview providing to us the five pieces of advice that he offers to his daughter:

  1. Always think like an immigrant – “We’re all new immigrants to the age of accelerations.”
  2. Always think like an artisan – “So always do your job [in a way that] you bring so much empathy to it, so much unique, personal value-add, that it cannot be automated, digitized, or outsourced, and that you want to carve your initials into it at the end of the day.”
  3. Always be in beta – “If you ever think of yourself as a finished product, you’re probably finished…Always be in beta.”
  4. Always remember that PQ + CQ is greater than IQ – “Give me a young person with a high passion quotient and a high curiosity quotient and I will take them over a kid with a high intelligence quotient seven days a week.”
  5. Always think like a waitress at Perkins Pancake House in Minneapolis –  “Think entrepreneurially.”

Want more from Thomas Friedman?  Check out the 8-minute video below where he shares his views on how fast the world is changing, and how students can find a job in it. The video includes excerpts from Friedman’s “conference on the innovation economy, leading minds from Google, M.I.T. and LinkedIn talk about education, resume building, interviewing and marketing to meet the realities of today. And the years to come.”