52-Priming the Pump for Tomorrow’s Lesson…Starring Campbell Allen and Emma Neeper

You stroll into class and you’re stoked! You have an awesome lesson and you can’t wait to lay it on your young disciples. Alas! Your students are more interested in who’s zoomin’ who. You have to compete with contemporary school and youth culture…which is a tall order. You get discouraged because you know that if they gave this lesson their full attention, it would enrich their lives.

So…that’s the problem and this episode will help you grab them by the virtual lapels and pull them into an amazing learning experience! I brought back some original sources we all love so much…the students! For this episode, I’m joined by Campbell Allen and Emma Neeper …two wonderful young adults. They took time out of their busy existence to talk about how to prime the pump for tomorrow’s lesson.

Here’s the approach we’ll all advocate:

  • Begin the lesson by issuing an interesting hook question. This question should be a real-life application, or at least something relevant to modern youth life. Campbell suggests pop-culture connections. Give kids a minute or two to contemplate your creative subtle prompt:


  • Direct the kids to collaborate about their ideas. This should also take about two minutes.


  • Finally, conduct a class discussion, or debriefing. This can last longer, but regardless…the pump will have been primed and your students SHOULD be far more receptive to the day’s lesson!



Episode Template

The Problem:

Your kids aren’t pumped about today’s amazing lesson.

The Solution:

You need to prime their pumps with an engaging introductory activity!

What You Can Do Tomorrow:

  1. Randomly sort students into small groups…check out Episode 43 for ideas!
  2. Issue a subtle relevant prompt about the day’s lesson.
  3. Allow kids a brief time to contemplate the prompt.
  4. Direct student to collaborate about their ideas.
  5. Conduct a class discussion or debriefing.
  6. NOW…dive into your transformational lesson!

Think of the catchy Anticipation song by the lovely Carly Simon. Prime the pump for your awesome lesson and watch engagement blossom!

Listen to “52-Priming the Pump for Tomorrow’s Lesson…Starring Campbell Allen and Emma Neeper” on Spreaker.



51-Please Apply the You…Y’all…We Template Tomorrow…Starring Norman Eng

Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it will seem like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl, and an hour seems like a minute. That’s relativity. Albert Einstein 

Please don’t touch!

This wonderful quote is the embodiment of engagement. As teachers…we need to be more like the beautiful companion (obviously not in terms of physical attraction) and less like the stove.

And that’s why I’m simply thrilled to bring you my interview with Norman Eng.


Norman’s outstanding new book Teaching College is a must read for educators who want to avoid being Einstein’s hot stove.

Now, don’t panic! Norman’s book is about engaging students at all levels and he has cred. While Norman is currently an adjunct Education professor in the New York City University System, he spent many years instructing at the K12 level. In fact, he believes college profs could learn a lot about engagement from K12 teachers! Isn’t that a delicious switch?

But the heart of this episode is our conversation about…and how to apply, a marvelous lesson template. Magdalene Lampert’s You…Y’all…We template is an ultra engaging way to teach anything! I learned about it from Norman, applied to the next day’s lesson, and struck engagement gold! Listen and get inspired!

Episode Template

The Problem:

Teachers need an engaging template they can apply to various lessons.

The Solution:

Apply the You…Y’all…We template.

What You Can Do Tomorrow:

  1. Issue an engaging hook students work on individually (YOU). Here are some examples:

You’re introducing variables in Algebra…so you prompt:

Describe when you solved a mystery.

  • How did you do it?
  • What were some serious obstacles?

You’re beginning a unit on Catcher in the Rye in English…so you prompt:

Describe what you miss most about being a little kid.

  • How is being older frustrating?
  • Would you like to go back for one day?

You’re delving into plate tectonics in Earth Science…so you prompt:

Describe the heaviest thing you’ve moved.

  • How did you do it?
  • What were some serious obstacles?

You’re introducing flexibility in your Health and PE class…so you prompt:

Describe a law or a school policy that needs to be eliminated, or updated.

  • Why does it need to change?
  • What will happen if it doesn’t?

2. After a few minutes, have students discuss their responses in small groups (Y’ALL).

3. Now that the pump has been primed, dive into the lesson activity. (WE) This is the application phase of the lesson. It could be a lecture, a simulation, role-play scenarios, consumption and analysis of video, class presentations, a Socratic seminar, or a class experiment. Focus on communal learning in this phase.

This constitutes active learning plus profound engagement. Please apply this template to tomorrow’s lesson!

Listen to “51-Please Apply the You…Y’all…We Template Tomorrow…Starring Norman Eng” on Spreaker.


50-Take a Peek at your School in 2037…Starring April Domine

Today, I’m celebrating the release of the 50th episode of the Hacking Engagement Podcast, so I thought I’d do something special. I interviewed an expert on the future of this noble profession. What will schools look like in 2027? How about 2037? Today’s episode will not sound like my other programs. This episode is longer than most…almost 40 minutes. This episode does not have the tight little list at the end explaining what you can do tomorrow. You’re certainly encouraged to implement ideas from this conversation into tomorrow’s lesson, but I was more focussed on what your lessons and your school will be like 10 and 20 years down the road!

My problem with retirement is simple…schools are becoming too fascinating to leave! The way I instruct has changed fundamentally over the past decade. I’m a markedly different teacher than I was just last year. I’m closing in on the end of this school year, but I keep thinking about tools, tactics, and strategies I can’t wait to try next fall. In short, I’m nowhere near ready to call it quits!

Then…I go and interview April Domine and I really get stoked!


April is the superintendent of Gahanna Christian Academy. April also has decades of experience as a public educator. She was a teacher, building administrator, and superintendent in the public realm prior to her recent migration to private education. April also worked as an education researcher. This was a pivotal role because if she’s going to advocate a program or policy, it needs to be backed by thorough objective research. April was my superintendent a decade ago. She evolved our district.

Listen to how she’s going to transform her school next year. Understand, this will just be the first step. The portrait that April paints in this episode is important because we’ll all be teaching like this in the near future! I think I just may have to stick around and watch this amazing process unfold.

Next week I’ll be back with the template and great suggestions about tomorrow. But for this auspicious episode…sit back and dream about the future!

Listen to “50-Take a Peek at your School in 2037…Starring April Domine” on Spreaker.


49-Engage as you Grade…Starring Kaizena

How about grading papers like this?

Okay…here’s the way this went down! I was a college freshman and I had a long way to go in the writing department. I needed to cite more, I needed more supportive evidence, and my sources were meager and of low quality. Sound familiar? When I got my paper back, I noticed the grade…which was a C, shoved the paper in my book bag, and went on with my existence. The next class, our professor urged us to read the comments she’d wrote on our papers. I read a few, but then I got discouraged and quit. It seemed like she was yelling at me! I missed some great directives and advice.

Now, I teach 18-year-olds how to write research papers. I totally get the struggle of students not embracing advice on how to evolve as writers. Karma is a beautiful thing! I was frustrated because I knew my students needed help. And then…I met a lovely little app called Kaizena. It detonated my paradigm on providing students with feedback. It transformed grading papers into a collaborative process!

Kaizena is voice grading. You highlight a portion of kid’s paper, hit record, and start enlightening.

There are a bevy of benefits to utilizing your voice as opposed to your default red pen:

  • Your voice is far more emotive than a simple written comment
  • Your voice can be far more encouraging
  • Your voice can better communicate tone and emphasis
  • It’s easier to listen than it is to read, hence kids are more inclined to listen to your comments
  • Most educators can speak a lot faster than they can type or write
  • This method invites collaboration because students respond to comments

Kaizena has the potential to make grading papers engaging for students and teachers

Episode Template

The Problem:

Students don’t read assessment comments.

The Solution:

Utilize Kaizena and transform assessment into an engaging collaborative process.

What You Can Do Tomorrow:

  1. Sign-up for Kaizena
  2. Generate a student invite code
  3. Commandeer a student guinea pig to help you navigate the process
  4. Designate a future writing prompt for your Kaizena maiden voyage

With Kaizena, students are far more likely to listen and then apply important directives they may have previously ignored. Student writing could become a collaborative process.

Listen to “49-Engage as you Grade…Starring Kaizena” on Spreaker.