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Posts from the ‘teaching’ Category

What’s your social studies ROI?

ROI was never something I had to worry about back in the day. If I made to 3:30 with nothing getting set on fire and all 135 middle schoolers accounted for, I checked it off as a major success.

Return on Investment? ROI? I’m not even sure the term had been invented yet. And if it had, I would have had no idea what it meant and how the idea might apply to my classroom.

For anyone without the MBA degree, ROI is a basic business concept that measures the efficiency of an investment of time and/or money. The higher the ROI, the more efficient the investment. Spend $10 on lemons, sugar, and the time to craft a cardboard sign. Make $60 selling lemonade. The ROI is $50. Nice job.

Spend $10. Make $5. ROI is negative $5. Time to go back and rethink your business model.

And back in the day, ROI would not have been something that educators would have worried about. The business model of school was different. Kids showed up. Kids sat in rows. Teacher talked. Kids copied down what the teacher said. Kids memorized what they wrote down. On Friday, teacher asked students to write down what they memorized. Teacher assigned a grade. Repeat.

The world of school is different now. We’re not following the traditional model of kids in rows and teacher centered instruction. (At least we shouldn’t be.) And ROI needs to be a part of this new world.

Before you all jump in with Read more

I feel smarter

No real topic at all here today. But after finishing a great day of learning with 25 super bright social studies teachers, I feel smarter. So just a few of the random things I picked up today and a few others that  I’ve been reading, thinking, and talking about.

Cause if I can get smarter, anybody can get smarter.

What are you zinking about?

There are days and sometimes weeks when I am just drifting along with my head barely above water. It seems as if it’s just one thing after another and I end up switching into survival, one day at a time, get it done cause it’s due this afternoon mode.

And I know it’s the same for you. People tell us that February is the shortest month. But if you’re just moving from one class to another, from one meeting to the next, parent contact to parent contact, February can feel like it lasts forever. We feel your pain.

So it’s a perfect time. Time for some sort of mid-year self reflection.

As educators, I’m convinced that we don’t do enough metacognition. We don’t reflect often enough about our practice. We don’t chat enough with our digital PLNs. And we need to. We need to take more responsibility for our own professional learning. Especially in the doldrums of February.

So your job over the next week or so? Catch your breath, be intentional about setting aside some time, and do a little bit of zinking: Read more

Don’t be a dog person

I’m a dog person. I can get along with cats if I have to but all my life, it’s been dogs. My first dog, shared with my five brothers and sisters, was a German Shepard / Collie mix named Tuffy. And just so you know, Tuffy was the best dog ever.

Several years ago, my wife and I adopted a rescue dog that we named Rowdie. Rowdie’s a Jack Russell who is currently running a very close second to best dog ever. Definitely way better than a cat.

Cats ignore you, are snooty, and absolutely refuse to roll over and play dead.

But I said something like that once to a person who owned cats and was quickly put in my place: Read more

Running downhill is easy. But it’s not best for our kids

About a month ago, Kevin Honeycutt and I had the chance to spend a week together traveling around the great state of Minnesota. Kevin did presentations. I shook hands and carried Kevin’s guitar. It was a seriously great time.

It was great for a couple of reasons. First, at ESSDACK we don’t often get the chance to observe a colleague in their native environment – picking up tips, talking about best practice, stealing their good ideas. I ended the week smarter and better at what I do because of it.


Social studies nerd activities. We stopped at history markers, ate in greasy dives, and talked to lots of locals about Minnesota culture. But the best activity? Read more

Throw out what doesn’t work. Replace it with this.

I knew the day was coming. There is a fairly extensive remodeling project happening in our office, including the need to move some storage areas for a new ESSDACK MakerSpace.

One of the storage areas sitting right in the middle of the danger zone includes some of my stuff. So Michelle, Facilities Director, office podmate, and “clean up your junk” taskmaster, let me know that my things had to find other living arrangements.

Fifteen years. That’s how long I’ve had the privilege of spending time here. Lots of good times. But also lots of stuff. Seriously, lots of stuff. So I spent four hours this morning going through shelves, folders, and three ring binders trying to decide what to keep and what to toss.

Yeah. Fifteen years of collecting books and resources. Fifteen years of lesson plan ideas and materials. Journals, articles. Freebies from conferences. Workshop handouts.

I eventually ended up with seven very full boxes headed to the recycle bin. Read more