65-Matthew Porricelli Preaches the Gospel of Student-Led Learning and his 4th Grade Disciples Back him 1000%

Matthew Porricelli is a 4th grade teacher at the Mamaroneck Avenue School just outside of Manhattan. In this marvelous episode, we learn about Mr. P’s classroom from expert witnesses…his students:

These kids are a joy to listen to and the things they describe should be standard operating procedure in every classroom regardless of the level. PLEASE check out Matt’s Google Doc which describes:

  • Flexible Seating
  • Student-Led Lessons
  • Passion Projects (Which the kids frequently reference during the recording)
  • Hacking Assessment

Mr. P’s class sounds like a dream, but what really moved me, was the way these young folks responded to their teacher. It’s apparent that there’s a bottomless mutual affection. This episode is golden for it’s outstanding suggestions on pedagogy, but there’s something more…something more profound and important. Matt’s students are crazy about him! As you listen to these wonderful voices, keep asking yourself, How can I evolve such a climate in my room?

I received outstanding reviews on my book Hacking Engagement. One review, however, was critical. The reader felt like my hacks were geared too much towards older kids. If someone throws out constructive criticism, I try to swallow my ego and learn and make adjustments. Hence, I’ve had 2 shows this summer featuring elementary students. They’ve been wonderful episodes!

The Problem:

Teachers are stuck in outdated instructional models.

The Solution:

Emulate Matt Porricelli’s teaching style.

What you can do Tomorrow:

  • Answer this question: What clues did you hear in the episode which would explain Matt’s kid’s deep affection for him? Compile a list of ideas and determine how you could implement some in your classroom.
  • Read Matt’s awesome Google Doc.
  • Take one of the ideas he promotes and weave it into tomorrow’s lesson.
  • Debrief students at the end of the experience.
  • Seek out a like-minded colleague who would be game to experiment with some of Matt’s techniques. This partner in crime can help you and vice-versa.

The world is changing at warp speed. Education needs to change too. Matt’s classroom is the classroom of the future. Emulate his fine example!

Listen to “65-Matthew Porricelli Preaches the Gospel of Student-Led Learning and his 4th Grade Disciples Back him 1000%” on Spreaker.




64-The Learning Scientists have a Vaccine for Test Anxiety

The Learning Scientist are researchers determined to help teachers build academic confidence in their students. They do this by offering proven strategies to help kids achieve. Here is the team:

Megan Smith, PhD

Yana Weinstein, PhD

Cindy Wooldridge, PhD

Carolina Kuepper-Tetzel, PhD

Remarkably, they provide all of this free free advice via a comprehensive and powerful resource, which is their website. My suggestion, before you dive in, is to watch this 8-minute overview of their 6 strategies.

In this episode, I’ll discuss with Dr. Smith and Dr. Kupper-Tetzel:

  • How the Learning Scientists came to be
  • How to utilize their tremendous website
  • 2 of their 6 strategies

My exposure to their website was pure serendipity. In early June, my wife and I attended a PD session at Columbus State Community College. Prior to the day’s breakout sessions, we were subjected to keynote remarks. I say subjected to, because sometimes such monologues can amble on without much relevance. But this presentation was different. Dr. Smith and Dr. Wooldridge mounted the stage and enlightened us about research findings in regard to student retention. Their spiel was interesting, but what engaged me was their website. I pulled out my tablet and bounced all over their site while they spoke. I thought, Wow. I can use these techniques.

Immediately after their presentation, I ambled up to Megan and Cindy, introduced myself, and invited them to appear on my podcast. This episode is the product of that interaction.

If you’re listening to this episode prior to July 19, please join these fine ladies for their Learning Scientists Twitter Chat at 4PM EST on the 19th. #lrnscichat 

Episode Template

The Problem:

Students have no idea how to study.

The Solution:

Employ the strategies of the Learning Scientists.

What you can do Tomorrow:

  • Explore the Learning Scientist’s website.
  • Carve out a portion of tomorrow’s lesson to practice one of their strategies
  • Map out other times during the week where you can employ other strategies, especially Spaced Practice and Retrieval Practice. 

Let the Learning Scientists help you help your kids build academic confidence.

Listen to “64-The Learning Scientists have a Vaccine for Test Anxiety” on Spreaker.

63-Collaborating with Students is an Essential 21st-Century Skill…let Ann Coates Help you do it

Ann Coates the Pride of Hanover, Mass @annmcoates

If one were to make a list of essential educator skills for the 21st-Century, certainly…collaborating with students would be near the top. This episode features a collaboration expert. Ann Coates is a veteran high school teacher in Hanover, Massachusetts. Ann is all about giving timely and meaningful feedback to kids. She states that instant feedback is, where the actions is!

This attention-grabbing statement got me thinking. I get feedback from colleagues and administrators all the time. Some of it welcome, Jim, that was awesome! Some of it not, Jim, you need to improve your essential questions. In regard to constructive criticism, unless I act upon feedback promptly, I tend to forget it. So, give your kids timely feedback and then encourage them to act upon it.

Additionally, deliver feedback in a 21st Century fashion. When I was young, I rarely read red pen comments in the margins of my research papers. I checked my grade, which was all the information I cared about. I’ll wager that you have a bevy of students, like the young James Sturtevant, who don’t read the important comments that you labored to write in their margins. Yes…it’s frustrating, but it is what it is and perhaps you can adjust. Utilize some of Ann’s outstanding suggestions and watch kids begin to digest then act upon some of your constructive and helpful feedback. Observe your relationships with students evolve as your collaboration with them blossoms.

Utilize some of Ann’s outstanding suggestions and observe your relationships with students evolve as your collaboration with them blossoms. As our education system navigates to a more student-led learning template, student-teacher collaboration will no longer be a cool thing that a few teachers in the building have mastered. It will be an essential skill that ALL educators simply must embrace.

Episode Template

The Problem:

Teachers need to up their student collaboration game.

The Solution:

Dedicate a portion of class time to student feedback and then have kids act upon that information.

What You Can Do Tomorrow:

  1. Divide tomorrow’s lesson into tasks to be evaluated.
  2. Create opportunities to provide feedback on these tasks be it, peer-feedback, self-reflection, or directly from you.
  3. Include a dedicated time segment in the lesson for students to act upon feedback.
  4. Direct kids to resubmit and get additional advice.

Collaborating with kids is essential. Use Ann’s outstanding feedback strategies to build relationships and student learning.

Listen to “63-Collaborating with Students is an Essential 21st-Century Skill…let Ann Coates Help you do it” on Spreaker.http://

62-Engage with me about Engagement on the #HackLearning Twitter Chat

On Sunday morning July 9th, from 8:30 to 9:00 AM EST, I will moderate the #HackLearning Twitter Chat. This is in preparation for the release of my second engagement book “Hacking Engagement Again”, which will be available in early August. Please participate! Here are the questions:

8:37-Q1: How do you engage students with lesson hooks?
8:45-Q2: What are some strategies that can make lessons ultra-engaging?
8:52-Q3: How can the assessment of student learning be conducted in a way that engages learners?

Even if you’re not available to participate, check out #HackLearning after the fact and see how educators and students from around the world answered these transformational prompts.

Just like in my Episode 37 where I promote conducting class Twitter Chats, I’m currently loading my prompts and responses on Tweetdeck. This will be a blast! Please come join us Sunday.

Listen to “62-Engage with me about Engagement on the #HackLearning Twitter Chat” on Spreaker.

61-2 6th Graders from OKC Evaluate Their Teacher’s Lesson…Starring Jon Belt, Jordan Flowers, and Conner Odom

Jordan Flowers and Conner Odom

Jon Belt teaches 6th grade at Mayfield Middle School in Oklahoma City. Jordan Flowers and Conner Odom are 2 students in Jon’s class. This episode is about Jon introducing learning stations in a lesson. The stations mirror the READS method which Jon details in the episode. Introducing movement and structure to class is something all educators should strive for weekly. This episode is worthy for its promotion of this concept, but as I interviewed this empathetic educator and his wonderful young students, another even more powerful dynamic surfaced. Jon Belt has fostered a learning environment where students feel totally comfortable helping Mr. Belt become a better teacher. He asks them to evaluate his teaching and they freely comply in positive and constructive ways. Displaying this powerful and positive dynamic is just as, if not more, important than the excellent learning tactic Jon describes.

When I was in 6th grade many moons ago, my teacher was not to be evaluated by students. If I would have offered some teaching advice, I may have ended up on the business end of her paddle. Now, please don’t interpret this wrong. I had wonderful teachers growing up. I loved my 6th-grade teacher, Mrs. Bates. It was just a different era. My wonderful teachers would have been even more effective if they would have included, then acted upon, student input.

As you listen to these 3 beautiful people from OKC, consider how their words could impact your class. Implement Jon’s movement and structure method and listen to Jordan and Conner chip in sage advice on how to improve this tactic. Finally, consider how you can empower your students to help you become a better teacher.

Jon is not just a model teacher, he’s also a fellow podcaster. Follow this link and savor Jon’s Teacher Tunnel Podcast. I was honored to have been a guest earlier in the year!

Episode Template

The Problem:

Kids are stuck in their desks and don’t get to move. Also, kids aren’t empowered to help teachers improve.

The Solution:

Introduce learning stations and ask for student input.

What You Can Do Tomorrow:

  1. Divide tomorrow’s lesson into tasks.
  2. Create learning stations around your room based on those tasks.
  3. Group your students to facilitate learning.
  4. Give kids a time limit at each station.
  5. Conduct a class discussion or debriefing and learn from your most important evaluators.

Introduce structured movement and listen and then act upon the sage advice of your students.

Listen to “61-2 6th Graders from OKC Evaluate Their Teacher’s Lesson…Starring Jon Belt, Jordan Flowers, and Conner Odom” on Spreaker.