46-Utilize the ENTIRE School Building with this Engaging Scavenger Hunt…Starring Caroline Craig-Bowden and Sandy Smith

As I read through the 20 page assignment on the Industrial Revolution, I kept thinking to myself...Wow, this is boring! If I was feeling that burn, imagine what my students were going to feel. I decided it was time to break out of the box. In this case, literally break out of the box of the four walls of my classroom. I sent my students on a school-wide scavenger hunt utilizing QR-codes, a hint sheet, and provocative prompts from the reading. This episode will detail this EPIC lesson plan from the vantage point of two of my awesome students. I will also offer advice on how you can create a scavenger hunt at your school.

Caroline Craig-Bowden and Sandy Smith

First, secure a QR code reader. I love this simple, but powerful app i-nigma.

Second, produce QR codes. Classroom Tools has a remarkably easy site to utilize in this quest. Merely type in the questions and answers and then Classroom Tools will generate the codes.

And finally, concoct hiding places around the school for your codes. Create a HINT SHEET to help students search. Below, is my list. I’ll bet you could apply many of my hiding places to your building!


  1. Finding this one could take you to another level
  2. On the back of a warning
  3. Where Sturtevant gets his Old Skool messages
  4. These kids looked great in 88
  5. Behind something black and gray
  6. If you find this one…YOU’RE REALLY ON A ROLL!
  7. If you don’t find this code, your prospects of winning will be extinguished
  8. Open this door and find an awesome relationship
  9. If you get to the bottom of where this code is placed…I’ll be shocked
  10. Search this virtual tool we use daily


  1. Elevator
  2. On the back of the “No Firearms” warning on the front door
  3. My mailbox in the main office
  4. The Class of 1988 composite
  5. On the backside of a trashcan in the hallway
  6. On the the large paper rolls in the supply room
  7. On an obscure fire extinguisher
  8. On the backside of my wife’s office door
  9. On the bottom of the defibrillator in the basement
  10. On the “About” section of Google Classroom

Episode Template

The Problem:

Your next lesson looks a bit dry.

The Solution:

Incorporate unit concepts into a scavenger hunt utilizing your entire building.

What You Can Do Tomorrow:

  1. Download the i-nigma QR reader
  2. Create QR codes on Classroom Tools
  3. Determine hiding places for codes around the building
  4. Craft a Hint Sheet

Morph a dull lesson into challenging your students to hustle around the building formulating wonderful responses to the day’s essential questions.

Listen to “46-Utilize the ENTIRE School Building with this Engaging Scavenger Hunt…Starring Caroline Craig-Bowden and Sandy Smith” on Spreaker.

45-How to Bounce Back from a Bad Day in the Classroom

Just because I’ve authored a couple of books and host a podcast on engagement, does not mean that I don’t have challenging days in the classroom. Last Friday was one of those days! The first 3 periods went great. My students were animated and participatory. The last 3 periods were miserable. My kids were lethargic and crabby. They were not the least bit impressed with my lesson. I left home on Friday defeated!

Now…I’ve been teaching a long time. I’ve learned what to do when I have a miserable day like Friday. I’ve had plenty such days in my career. In this episode, I’ll tell you about my miserable Friday and about 5 coping mechanisms I employ whenever I have a bad day. The good news is that I bounced back on Monday and thoroughly engaged ALL my classes.

This episode will help you bounce back too!

Episode Template

The Problem:

It’s easy to get discouraged when you have a bad day in the classroom.

The Solution:

Bounce back with these 5 coping mechanisms.

What You Can Do Tomorrow:

  1. Evaluate your lesson plan
  2. Analyze your delivery
  3. Consider your audience
  4. Don’t take a bad day personally
  5. Embrace that you will bounce back

Everyone has bad days. Use such experiences as teachable moments where you can learn to better engage kids!

Listen to “45-How to Bounce Back After a Bad Day in the Classroom” on Spreaker.




44-Stage 27 Student Presentations in 9 Minutes! Starring Kat Brammer and Peter Pohlod

Kat Brammer and Peter Pohlod

A few years ago, my students matriculated through two days of student presentations. IT WAS PAINFUL! I was bored! They were bored! The novelty wore off after about three presentations. It wasn’t that there weren’t some good ones…there were, but many were low energy, filled with endless bullet points, and were rehashing tired topics. Once a student gave their presentation or grasped a concept, they had little incentive to listen to the next gabfest. I vowed I wasn’t going to do this to my kids again!

Enter...the Gallery Walk. Here’s a very brief video on how a large number of students can present simultaneously:

The video presents a scenario where 9 students present simultaneously. You can expand this idea. In my class, I had 27 students presenting simultaneously. And…don’t be afraid if you don’t have a multiple of 3 like 27. I have 27 students, but without fail, two of my kids were absent on presentation day. That will happen!

On today’s episode, two of my students Kat Brammer and Peter Pohlod will discuss their experiences in the Gallery Walk. Here are links to the project prompts before, during, and after the presentations:

The Prompt

Visitor Impressions


This is the cheesy after school special the presentation was based upon:

“The Wave”

Episode Template

The Problem:

Many student presentations are NOT engaging.

The Solution:

Unleash the Gallery Walk.

What You Can Do Tomorrow:

  1. Watch the Gallery Walk video
  2. Sort students into groups of 3
  3. Designate 3 important concepts from the unit you’re currently studying for presentations
  4. Decide what form the presentations will take

Student presentations do not have to be a tedious marathon. Institute the Gallery Walk and watch engagement soar!

Listen to “44-Stage 27 Student Presentations in 9 Minutes! Starring Kat Brammer and Peter Pohlod” on Spreaker.

43-3 Totally Original, Easy, Powerful, and Joyful Icebreakers to Randomly Sort Students…Tomorrow

Break the Ice…Ice…Baby

February represents the Dog Days in education. All the freshness of the school year are gone. Spring break is still a long way off and the weather…at least in the great state of Ohio…is nothing to write home about! Sometimes, as you watch your kids march in at the beginning of the period, you feel like you’re observing a church congregation full of middle-aged parishioners. Everyone sits in the same pew, shakes hands with the same people, and says pretty much the same things. It’s time to shake things up!

In today’s program, I’m going to give you 3 totally original icebreakers with which you can randomly sort your students. Perhaps, a new seating chart is needed. Or, it’s time get kids working with different peers on the next project. These icebreakers will help you rearrange your students socially…BUT THE REAL DRAW…is your students and you will have a blast working through these easy prompts:

Oscar Night Best Picture Award

Your 30th Birthday Surprise Party

1970s Speed Dating

My Zodiac Description Google Doc  

A Compatibility Table

Episode Template

The Problem:

Teachers assume students know one another well.

The Solution:

A student icebreaker.

What You Can Do Tomorrow:

  1. Decide on a pretext for randomly sorting students
  2. Try either the Oscar Night or Birthday Party icebreaker
  3. Debrief students to find out what they learned about their peers

Teachers and students sometimes get in a rut. Randomly sort your students with a fun icebreaker and shake things up in the process.

Listen to “43-3 Totally Original, Easy, Powerful, and Joyful Icebreakers to Randomly Sort Students…Tomorrow” on Spreaker.

42-Revolutionize the way your Students Watch Videos…Starring Hannah Fox, Ali Iannucci, Eduardo Lopez, and Tracy Enos

Ali Iannucci…Hanah Fox…Tracy Enos…Eduardo Lopez

Teachers need to go where the kids are. When in Rome…do like the Romans. When it comes to reaching contemporary youth, please understand that they love video. Whenever there’s downtime, kids immediately start watching video on their devices. Educators need to embrace this tendency.

Unfortunately, in many classrooms, video is handled in much the same way as it was in the 1950s. The entire class watches on a big screen at the same time. I loved “Movie Day” in high school. It was a great opportunity to zone out for 50 minutes!

In this episode, Tracy Enos and her adolescent posse will clue you in on an amazing free tool which will revolutionize the way you present video. EDpuzzle allows you to embed questions inside a video.

Kids watch and then interact with you while they answer your questions. It’s an awesome way to introduce collaboration and participation, engaging kids in the process! It’s also an amazing accountability factor. You can see just how much a student has watched and their responses to your prompts. Also…kids cannot fast-forward. They can pause and rewind, but not skip ahead. It’s similar to on-demand programming. Another huge selling point to EDpuzzle is how it works in concert with Google Classroom.

Tracy also advocates that teachers create their own content. I agree! Here are two examples of homemade flipped presentations that are EDpuzzle ready! The first is from Tracy Enos. The second is from your humble narrator.

Video 1


Here’s a screen shot of responses submitted via EDpuzzle to Tracy’s prompt, “What did you learn from the story?”

Video 2: 

Episode Template

The Problem:

Teachers need to update the way they show video.

The Solution:

Utilize EDpuzzle.

What You Can Do Tomorrow:

  1. Select a short video to assign through EDpuzzle
  2. Embed a few questions into the video
  3. Collaborate with students as they respond
  4. Plan to create your own video

It’s time to revamp the way students watch video. EDpuzzle will make “Movie Day” collaborative and engaging!

Listen to “42-Revolutionize the way your Students Watch Videos…Starring Hannah Fox, Ali Iannucci, Eduardo Lopez, and Tracy Enos” on Spreaker.



41-Feng Shui your Students

Last month…I was chilling in my room 2 days prior to Christmas break. As I surveyed my digs, I became disgusted with myself! My room was a mess. I had just been enlightening my students about the awesome Asian concept of Chi…an invisible source of energy that permeates the universe. Chi flows through the environment, animals and people, as well as man-made structures. Acupuncture and Tai Chi stimulate the life-giving flow of Chi through a person. The ancient interior decoration practice of Feng Shui can do the same for your home or work-space. I felt like a hypocrite.

Before: My room was a mess…I couldn’t get out of my own way…Chi was blocked

I decided my room was in desperate need of a Feng Shui makeover! This exercise had great informational power for many parties:

  • I could apply a complex topic from class in a demonstrable way
  • I could become more approachable to my students as they cheered me on in my noble quest
  • I could inspire kids to apply Feng Shui to some aspect of their lives
  • My room would become more livable

This is EXACTLY what happened! When they returned in January, my students were impressed with my orderly flowing room.

After: Sweet relief!

I issued the Feng Shui Challenge in my maiden January student blog prompt. They could Feng Shui their rooms, or lockers, or cars, or phones. Here’s the link.

This activity inspired me to sponsor other self-improvement challenges to my students like incorporating To-Do lists:

Time to get organized kid!

Please be aware…this doesn’t have to just be a social studies thing. Listen to the episode and get some ideas on how you might include such a demonstration in your curriculum.

Episode Template

The Problem:

Our curriculums seem irrelevant!

The Solution:

Apply a complex class concept in a demonstrable way…right in front of your student’s eyes! Then, challenge them to do the same.

What you can do Tomorrow:

  • Search your curriculum for a concept you could apply
  • Brainstorm a way to demonstrate your application
  • Concoct a way to challenge students to do the same
  • Have them share their experience in a demonstrable way

If you want to engage students, find ways to make your curriculum relevant. A great way to do this is to have kids apply class concepts to their lives.

Listen to “41-Feng Shui your Students” on Spreaker.

40-Inspire 100% Participation in Tomorrow’s Class Discussion with Philosophical Chairs…the Stanford History Education Group

I’ll wager you’d like to dramatically improve your class discussions! You yearn for discussions where all students participate. You dream about student conversations that tackle compelling topics with DEEP analysis, inquiry, and speculation. I’ll also predict you’d love your students to enthusiastically plunge into primary sources evaluating the perspective of the author, contextualizing what they wrote, and then corroborating the source with other primary documents.

Last week, my students did exactly this with Lin Zexu’s letter to Queen Elizabeth imploring her to end the opium trade in China. It was an epic performance by my students! The instructional template is Philosophical Chairs. What inspired this wonderful class was the Stanford History Education Group.

Today, Joel Breakstone, from SHEG, will discuss:

  • The Stanford History Education Group
  • Philosophical Chairs
  • Empowering students to devour primary sources
  • Inspiring kids to dramatically up their class conversation game

Joel Breakstone of SHEG @joelbreakstone

Follow this link to the Teaching Channel and watch this video where Valerie Ziegler, from Lincoln High School in San Francisco, demonstrates Philosophical Chairs. Please don’t stop reading if you’re not a history teacher. What this episode promotes could be utilized in every discipline.

Please also check out SHEG’s site that explores and inspires better assessment…Beyond the Bubble. 

 Episode Template

The Problem:

Class Discussions need to be better!

The Solution:

Philosophical Chairs

What you can do Tomorrow:

  1. Visit SHEG and watch the video on Philosophical Chairs
  2. Find outstanding primary sources
  3. Arrange the room for sitting, standing, and movement
  4. Create an alternative assignment for kids who don’t pull the verbal trigger

Listen to “40-Inspire 100% Participation in Tomorrow’s Class Discussion with Philosophical Chairs…the Stanford History Education Group” on Spreaker.

39-Kristin Kovak Unleashes the Lorax Challenge of Shame


The Lorax speaks for the trees and wants you to go paperless.    Source:  Dr Seuss / Brevard Zoo, Viera FL Author Rusty Clark from merritt usland FLA


Just yesterday…I was making copies in the Teacher’s Lounge when I realized I’d made a mistake and forgot to double-side and staple the set! The practical upshot of this wasteful frenzy was the destruction of innocent paper.

Teachers go through reams of paper daily. I must plead guilty to laying waste to forests in my efforts to educate modern youth. Sadly, many of these sheets of decimated vegetation awre used by students only temporarily, then discarded often bypassing the recycling bin in route to the landfill. But the tide of history is urging educators to alter their standard operating procedure. It’s time to do a “Paperless Week”.

But importantly…this paperless approach has the potential to engage your students. Sound interesting? I thought so! Give a listen to Kristen Kovak…a paperless guru…the contemporary Lorax!


Kristin mentioned these two tools:




Episode Template

The Problem:

Teachers waste MASSIVE amounts of paper!

The Solution:

Institute a Paperless Week in your classroom.

What you can do tomorrow:

  • Engage kids with the Paperless Week.
  • Require students to turn in assignments electronically.
  • Provide feedback to students electronically.
  • Prompt students to evaluate the experience on Friday. Of course…have them submit it electronically!
  • For the long-term…consider using Google Classroom.

Do something wonderful for the planet. Be a good role model. Future teachers will engage students without paper. Get ahead of the curve!

Listen to “39-Kristen Kovak Unleashes the Lorax Challenge of Shame” on Spreaker.



38-Transform your Class into a Daily TED Talk

Educators have an unquenchable thirst to explain. I have this urge. If some students don’t get it, it’s my job to clarify. Unfortunately, this tendency can disengage students who got it the first time.

It’s been my observation, both from the standpoint of being a student…and then working with colleagues as an adult, that teachers aren’t the best at weighing the trade-offs of their marathon explanations, presentations, and lectures. Let’s be less windy. Let’s become more attuned to nonverbal cues from our students. When we’ve lost the eyes, when their heads start to droop, when they get fidgety, when they’re unresponsive to prompts, they’re disengaged and we need to adjust.

A great template for teacher presentations is the ubiquitous TED Talk. I must confess, I love TED Talks. Some, like one I watched recently on posture, have profoundly impacted my life. TED Talks do not exceed 18 minutes.  Professional coach Carmine Gallo explains the TED Talk model in his article “The Science Behind TED’s 18-Minute Rule.”

When you reduce your airtime, it paves the way for student collaboration!

Episode Template

The Problem:

Teachers talk too much!

The Solution:

Morph your presentations into daily TED Talks by limiting the amount of time you speak.

What you can do tomorrow:

  • Invoke the 10-minute Rule.
  • Let students in on the challenge.
  • Practice the Clear the Deck Manoeuvre.
  • Practice the Listen to me with your Face Manoeuvre.
  • Clear the center of the room to create the Agora.

To engage kids, limit how much you talk and increase how much students collaborate.

Listen to “38-Transform your Class into a Daily TED Talk” on Spreaker.




37-Here’s the way you do an Epic Class Twitter Chat…Starring Derek Herman

Okay…here’s the situation. The semester is winding down and you need to include one more Socratic Seminar on an important topic. But…you look at the calendar and there’s no time! Sound familiar? It’s a classic necessity is the mother of invention situation.

I was faced with just such a scenario one month ago at the conclusion of the previous semester. So…I IMPROVISED! What materialized was awesome and will become a standard activity every semester, till I hang up my spikes! I decided to take my Socratic Seminar virtual and make it a class Twitter chat. But none of this would have transpired if it weren’t for the guidance of my friend Connie Hamilton and her insistence that I learn how to use Tweetdeck. I’ll explain this amazing platform in the episode.

My class Twitter chat was epic. The hashtag was #heywc1. Feel free to check out the kid’s posts.

as in…”Hey World Civilization 1!”

To help explain Tweetdeck and participating in this Twitter chat from the perspective of a student is my partner in crime Derek Herman.


Episode Template

The Problem:

You long to do something new with your next Socratic Seminar.

The Solution:

Morph you Socratic Seminar into a class Twitter chat.

What you can do tomorrow:

  • Create a unique hashtag.
  • Learn Tweetdeck and then teach your students this amazing platform.
  • Create outstanding questions and responses and schedule them with Tweetdeck.
  • Invite your principal to participate.

Twitter is a fact of modern life. Embrace it and all its potential to engage your students.

Listen to “37-Here’s the way you do an Epic Class Twitter Chat…Starring Derek Herman” on Spreaker.