93-The Evolving Seamless Relationship Between K12 and Higher Ed…Starring Penny Sturtevant

I get inspiration for my episodes from odd sources. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to read more. The past few years, I’ve been busy writing my book, so I had zero time to consume words because I was too busy creating narratives. That’s changed and it’s delightful. Currently, I’m reading Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance. This book is about Musk’s incredible vision, his entrepreneurial spirit, and his dogged determination. The book is also about how crucial it is to embracing change. I’ve been inspired by reading it!

Consequently, I needed to bring a change agent on my podcast. Penny Sturtevant is the College and Career Readiness Coordinator for the Big Walnut Local Schools.

Penny Sturtevant

Penny is an expert on prevailing trends in education in regard to career ed and college readiness. We discuss the brave new frontier of K12 and Higher Ed’s evolving relationship. In the title, I utilized the word seamless. Listen to this powerful episode to learn why.

This program does not feature a tactic, a tool, or a lesson to specifically engage kids. Instead, this episode could inspire you to seek out an enrichment path for your students. If you’re successful, I predict you’ll be greatly inspired as well.

Listen to “93-The Evolving Seamless Relationship Between K12 and Higher Ed…Starring Penny Sturtevant” on Spreaker.

92-Flavor Tomorrow’s Lesson with an International Perspective…Courtesy of Brad Gosche and the Columbus Council on World Affairs

I’ll bet you’ve heard your students complain about where they live…the community where you teach them by the way. I did my share of whining when I was a teen. I felt like little New Concord, Ohio was nowhere. And yet, there’s virtually no nowhere anymore! We all live and function in a global economy. If your students don’t believe it, have them conduct a simple inventory of what they’re wearing and carrying. Ask them to record where all of their possessions are manufactured. I’ll bet they’re not lugging around to much Made in the USA.

Unfortunately, some in our nation would like be isolated. This is a fool’s errand. Students, on the other hand, who embrace the international nature of modern existence will prosper. Teachers, therefore, have an obligation to help students pursue and master this paradigm. To help in this quest, today’s episode will feature the urbane Brad Gosche.

Brad Gosche

Brad is the Vice-President of Education and Communication at the Columbus Council on World Affairs.


Here’s the council’s two-fold mission:

To be the leading nonpartisan, globally-focused organization in the Columbus Region. The Council fosters a community that is well-informed about critical international issues as they affect the world, nation and the local region, and whose citizens utilize this insight to make effective decisions in our global society.

This episode will not only inspire you to include a global perspective in your curriculum, it will also provide two outstanding activities you can employ tomorrow. The first is Geert Hofstede’s country comparison model. The second is taking your kids on a wonderful Trip to Mintana. Please listen to this powerful episode for descriptions of and solid ideas about how to use each.

Episode Template

The Problem:

Students are unaware of the global nature of their existence.

The Solution:

Infuse lesson plans with an international perspective.

What you can do Tomorrow:

Unveil a global perspective to your students and empower them to prosper!

Listen to “92-Flavor Tomorrow’s Lesson with an International Perspective…Courtesy of Brad Gosche and the Columbus Council on World Affairs” on Spreaker.

Can your Students Spot a Fascist? Starring Scott Elliott

If you’ve taught a humanities class, you’ve probably recognized how frequently Adolf Hitler comes up. Unfortunately, many kid’s understanding of Hitler and Fascism doesn’t expand much past the Holocaust.

Scott Elliott teaches 9th Grade World History with me.

Scott Elliott scottelliott@bwls.net

Right before Christmas Break, we were yakking about how we could teach Fascism, our first unit in January, in a more engaging and impactful way. Scott found a wonderful resource which formed the backbone of the assignment. The article is by Laurence W. Britt and is entitled Fascism Anyone. The assignment we created challenged kids to rate WWII leaders on the 14 Characteristics Britt articulates and also to apply them to current leaders with authoritarian traits. Here’s a link to the hyperdoc we posted on Google Classroom. Below, are Britt’s list of 14 Fascist Characteristics:

  1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism. 
  2. Disdain for the importance of human rights. 
  3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause.
  4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism. 
  5. Rampant sexism.
  6. A controlled mass media. 
  7. Obsession with national security. Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite.
  8. Religion and ruling elite tied together. 
  9. Power of corporations protected.
  10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated. 
  11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts.
  12. Obsession with crime and punishment. 
  13. Rampant cronyism and corruption. 
  14. Fraudulent elections. 

This turned into a solid activity in our World History class, but the lesson can be applied outside of the humanities. Perhaps, there are misunderstandings about important concepts in other subjects. I can certainly think of examples in Science. Challenge kids to apply agreed-upon standards to a set of contentious circumstances.

Episode Template

 The Problem:

Students freely use words like Fascist, Nazi, and Hitler with limited knowledge of these label’s broader meanings.

The Solution:

Expose kids to what Fascism is and then challenge them to apply it.

What you can do Tomorrow:

  • If you teach a humanities course and Fascism is a topic, please steal our lesson and morph it to fit your needs.
  • If you teach a non-humanities class, take a controversial or misunderstood topic, expose students to some agreed-upon standards and then challenge them to apply that knowledge.

Please inspire your kids to pursue objective truth relentlessly. Assignments such as this will nurture this essential disposition!

A quick program note…I referenced in the podcast Rosa Parks bus protest, but I inadvertently placed it in Birmingham instead of Montgomery where it belongs. Sorry!

Listen to “James Sturtevant Hacking Engagement” on Spreaker.

90-CYOA (Choose Your Own Assessment)…staring Louis Soper, Will Koppmann, and Mae Reasner

Occasionally, I’ll interview a guest who has their own blog. That is certainly the case with Louis Soper. Louis is a middle school social studies teacher in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Louis has done a remarkable job of empowering his kids to demonstrate their learning. He refers to this process as CYOA, or Choose Your Own Assessment. To help in this endeavor, Louis deputized two of his outstanding students Will Koppmann and Mae Reasner.

I could describe Louis’ process, but I’ve learned that duplication of effort is counterproductive. Instead of me describing his efforts in a hearsay fashion, please migrate to Louis’ blog on this topic and read the primary source!

Episode Template

The Problem:

Mass-produced assessments don’t empower kids to demonstrate their passions.

The Solution:

Institute a CYOA assessment at the conclusion of a unit.

What you can do Tomorrow:

  • Gaze at yourself in the mirror and repeat the following, It’s okay to allow kids to demonstrate learning in their own way.
  • Pick a low-risk unit which would serve as great testing ground.
  • Create a list of student options for a CYOA assessment prompt.

Student-led learning is a powerful tide in American education. Wax up your board and hop along for the ride!

Listen to “90-CYOA (Choose Your Own Assessment)…staring Louis Soper, Will Koppmann, and Mae Reasner” on Spreaker.

89-If your Kids have Grown Tired of Kahoot, Please try Quizlet Live…Starring Jennifer Ladd

I was exposed to Kahoot a few years back. I loved it immediately. It’s been a huge hit at our school. Unfortunately, there can be too much of a good thing. Many of our kids are tired of Kahoot. Kahoot also has foundational flaws. Invariably, there are students who emerge as virtually unbeatable in Kahoot. Guessing quickly in Kahoot also can pay huge dividends, so many kids mindlessly respond without investing much thought. I still like Kahoot…but I was thrilled to find an alternative.

And here, dear reader, is where Quizlet Live makes a dramatic entrance. I became exposed to this wonderful platform a few months ago. I knew instantly that it was a massive upgrade from Kahoot. Quizlet Live creates a beautiful competition between randomly selected teams of students. On your SmartBoard, students monitor a fascinating horse race unfold. Your students will be enthralled!

I have a wonderful guest to help tell the story of Quizlet Live. Jennifer Ladd is an elementary teacher at Scotch Elementary in suburban Detroit. Jennifer and I got to know one another through interacting during a Twitter chat. From the moment we started interacting, I knew she had the potential to be a marvelous guest. I was not disappointed!


Episode Template

The Problem:

Students need a fresh class competition platform.

The Solution:

Quizlet Live is an outstanding option.

What you can do Tomorrow:

  • Create 12 Flashcards in Quizlet
  • Select the Live Option

  • Select Create Game

  • Project the following to students tomorrow and then Go To Town!

Quizlet Live is an awesome way for kids to collaborate in an ultra-engaging fashion.

Listen to “89-If your Kids have Grown Tired of Kahoot, Please try Quizlet Live…Starring Jennifer Ladd” on Spreaker.

88-Make your Math Class Enchanting…Starring Denis Sheeran

I love the shape of numbers!

I remember trudging to Math class in high school…AND I MEAN TRUDGING. I had zero confidence, zero interest, and I could not fathom any relevance in what I was being asked to do. If you’re a Math teacher, these adolescent frustrations may sound familiar. Guess what…I get the Why do we have to learn this stuff? question in history class too. Think about it. It’s a fair question. Maybe, educators need to get better at answering it.

Today’s episode will help you. Denis Sheeran is the Director of Student Achievement at Weehawken Township School District, which is in New Jersey.


He’s written two books on this issue. Instant Relevance came out in 2016 and Hacking Mathematics, which will soon be published. I prompted Denis to describe a typical day in his Math class. Here’s how he responded:

In Instant Relevance, I use an example called Unanswerable Questions which hacks a random chooser google sheets file and uses it to display things like images of partial google searches (where google finishes it for you) or other interesting images/questions. I replace the opening question in class (do now or bellringer) with one of these to engage students in the thought process necessary for entering into a mathematical experience. I turned that into a workshop session I call Moving from Do Now to Think Now. In the new Hacking Math book, I bring that shift into play with a different version of the opener called I See Math. It’s got the same philosophy (get kids to see the mathematical question, investigate it, think strategically and discuss briefly, but uses their images and questions as well. I think that this could be a good topic for the podcast. It connects both books and is a central theme of both engagement and the creative use of technology in the math classroom.

Episode Template

The Problem:

Students are bored and frustrated in Math.

The Solution:

Create an enchanting Math class where the real world takes shape and is explained.

What you can do Tomorrow:

  • Install a tremendous hook in the form of an unanswerable question.
  • Install real-world applications in your lesson.
  • Mimic Denis’ migration from Do Now to Think Now.

Hunger for a student to ask you…Why do we have to learn this?

Listen to “James Sturtevant Hacking Engagement” on Spreaker.

87-The New Year’s Resolution Ice-Breaker Game

Yes…I know it’s January 8th, but it’s not too late to lay the New Year’s Resolution Ice-Breaker Game on your students. This goal-setting opportunity affords teachers a wonderful chance to:

  • deputize students in their resolution quest
  • enlighten kids about their lives outside the classroom
  • make themselves more approachable
  • gives teachers a needed boost in obtaining their goals
  • helps kids get to know one another
  • encourages students to set goals
  • challenges kids to make their goals public, which gives goals more umph

This is an exceedingly easy activity to set-up. All you need is a class roster copy for each student and a Padlet Labeled New Year’s Resolutions. Pass out a roster to each student and provide each with the Padlet link. I gave my students the following directions:

For the next minute, create some resolutions for this year. Please keep the resolutions to yourself and any resolution you publish in this activity must be school-appropriate.

Next, choose one resolution you’re willing to share. Post it on the Padlet, but DO NOT attach your name!

Read each post on the Padlet. Try to match some of the resolutions with your classmates on the roster I provided.

Episode Template

The Problem:

Students often don’t know their classmates well…AND kids need help formulating and then realizing their goals.


Play the New Year’s Resolution Ice-Breaker Game this week!

What you can do Tomorrow:

  • Create some resolutions you’re willing to share with students
  • Produce a roster copy for each student.
  • Create a Padlet for New Year’s Resolutions.
  • Decide how to reward successful guessers.

The New Year’s Resolution Ice-Breaker Game is a marvelous way to start this semester!

Listen to “87-The New Year’s Resolution Ice-Breaker Game” on Spreaker.

86-A New Year’s Resolution that will Transform your Interactions with Kids

Are you game for a challenge? If you’ve migrated to my show notes, I’m guessing the answer is yes. This challenge will encourage you to confront obstacles you unintentionally may place between your student and you. 2018 is brand new year. Let’s climb aboard the resolution train and evolve. Our kids will be the massive beneficiaries.

Before we can board the self-improvement train, I want to assure you that adult frustration with young people is certainly nothing new. Adults have generally held the younger generation in low regard. Harry Truman is one of my favorite presidents. He is often quoted, but check out this gem “The only thing new in the World is the history that you don’t know.” Priceless! President Truman seemed to be echoing this famous passage from the Hebrew Scriptures:

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 1: 9

For those who are annoyed with today’s lazy teens:

The older generation thought nothing of getting up at five in the morning, and the younger generation doesn’t think much of it either.  

John J. Welsh, 19th Century Contractor who Built Broadway

For those who are sick of competing with cell phones:

What business has science and Capitalism got bringing all these new inventions into the works, before society has produced a generation educated up to using them?

Henrik Ibsen, Late 19th Century Norwegian Playwright

For those who forget the 1960s and 1970s:

My generation, faced as it grew with a choice between religious belief and existential despair, chose marijuana!  Now we are in our Cabernet stage.

Peggy Noonan, Ronald Reagan Speech Writer

For those who cannot stand the arrogance of today’s youth, but don’t recognize the smugness of their contemporaries:

Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.

George Orwell, 20th Century British Novelist

For those who feel like earlier generations were more noble:

It’s one of nature’s ways that we often feel closer to distant generations than to the generation immediately preceding us.  

Igor Stravinsky, 20th Century Russian Composer

For those who think that generation gaps are a result of our modern industrial world:

I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on the frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words.  When I was a boy, we were taught to be discrete and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise and impatient of restraint.

Hesiod, Poet of ancient Greece writing in 700 BC two hundred years prior to Athens’ Golden Age.

My cheesy cartoon

And finally this timeless treasure from an unknown author:

There is nothing wrong with today’s teenager that twenty years won’t cure.

Heard enough?  Unfortunately, many adults think that this crop of teenagers are the harbingers of the apocalypse.  They are not.  The world will go on.  Hopefully the previous quotes demonstrate that adults from different times and climbs have felt similar anxiety about their youth.  Harry Truman was right; there is truly nothing new in the World.

Me in 1966

Episode Template

The Problem:

Teachers can get fed-up with contemporary youth.

The Solution:

Learn to accept that many student-teacher annoyances are out of your control.

What you can do Tomorrow:

  • Make a list of all the things about contemporary youth that you find distasteful.

  • Eliminate everything on the list that is out of your control.

  • Your New Year’s resolution is to focus your energy to help students improve in areas where you have influence and to accept aspects of their nature’s that you can’t control.

To learn more about connecting with kids, check out my first book You’ve Gotta Connect. 

Learning to focus in this way will help your students and take a huge burden off your shoulders. HAVE A MARVELOUS 2018 AND THANKS FOR LISTENING!

Listen to “86-A NewYear’s Resolution that will Transform your Interactions with Kids” on Spreaker.

85-Stella got her Groove Back by Becoming Google Certified…Starring Stella Pollard


A 30-year teaching gig is no walk in the park. It’s hard to imagine anyone doing the same thing for 30 years, but that’s exactly what many teachers do. Please don’t interpret this statement as negative towards this noble profession. It certainly was not intended that way…it’s just human nature to get restless regardless of how much you love a job. I love teaching. I love my students. However, I’ve gone through seasons in my career when I felt stymied. Such feelings were my primary motivation to write my books and create this podcast.

For some teachers, migrating to administration fulfills their goal-oriented natures, but admin is certainly not for everyone. The rest of us mere teachers must generate our own tactics for battling complacency. This episode offers an idea…become Google certified.

To talk about this fascinating option is the effervescent Stell Pollard. Stella is a 4th grade Science teacher from Frankfurt, Kentucky. After her rookie year in the classroom, Stella felt like she needed to up her instructional game. She pursued Google certification as a result of this professional restlessness. In the process, she’s transformed her classroom and opened professional doors for herself. Stella is going places! She is not only on a mission to create the best possible learning environment for her kids, but she’s also on a hero’s quest to help colleagues do the same. She’s helping me! Here’s a link she shared on infusing Doctopus and Goobric. I had heard of neither and once I publish this episode, my plan is to dive in!

Episode Template

The Problem:

Teachers lack professional goals outside of becoming administrators.

The Solution:

Become Google certified.

What you can do Tomorrow:

The best goals are self-generated. Google certification could be your golden ticket to a more engaging classroom and a future filled with professional options.

Listen to “85-Stella got her Groove Back by Becoming Google Certified…Starring Stella Pollard” on Spreaker.


84-Send your Kids on a Hero’s Journey with Storybird…Starring Samantha Hart and Merrick Kasper

Samantha Hart and Merrick Kasper strike a Charlie’s Angels hero’s pose

Episode 83 was a real treat for me. I yakked with Elontra Hall about something near and dear…storytelling. I’m so committed to enhancing this skill in the classroom, that I just couldn’t quit with one episode. What makes this episode so special, is I bring back the original sources. Samantha Hart and Merrick Kasper are here to explore storytelling from their perspective. What’s interesting, however, is that these two brilliant young folks don’t address teachers using stories, but instead kids using stories to peer teach.

My students used the hero’s journey template to enlighten their peers. Of course my buddies the Hyperdocs Girls have an outstanding hero’s journey template ready and waiting for you to copy and transform.

In addition to a peer teaching storytelling activity, these young ladies will also introduce you to a neat tool called Storybird. Storybird empowers kids to take a story and transform it into a beautiful and enchanting picture book. It’s remarkably easy to use and a highly recommend it.

My kids were meandering through a unit on India. We needed to grasp the impact of two remarkable individuals…Siddhartha Gautama and Ashoka. Here’s how we did it:

  • Students paired up…one took Gautama and one took Ashoka.
  • Each student then applied their subject to the hero’s journey template. Here’s my rendition which I created for this assignment.
  • Students made each page of their Storybird a phase in the hero’s journey.
  • Kids then enlightened their partner by presenting their Storybird.

Episode Template

The Problem:

Storytelling is underutilized.

The Solution:

Empower students to use storytelling to peer teach.

What you can do Tomorrow:

  • Designate two heroes in your current unit.
  • Pair kids up, with each partner taking a figure
  • Transform the hero’s journey template to suit your needs
  • Have students dedicate a page in a Storybird presentation to each phase of the journey

As I mentioned in Episode 83, storytelling is powerful…but you don’t have to be the only bard in the classroom.

Listen to “84-Send your Kids on a Hero’s Journey with Storybird…Starring Samantha Hart and Merrick Kasper” on Spreaker.