Using Consultancy Protocol to Ignite Change

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” by Barack Obama

Using  a consultancy protocol is authentic learning at its best. A consultancy protocol is a structured process for helping an individual or team think more expansively about a particular dilemma or barrier.  I believe this format is a great way to ignite change in a school and/or classroom, as it allows teachers and students voices to be heard. (Norms would have to be set and most take place in a safe environment.) Holding consultancy protocols helps build better school and classroom environments because it builds trust and relationships. Instead of listing problems and complaining like at a typical meeting, everyone becomes part of the solution and time is well spent. This could easily be done for students during morning meeting/class meeting or during a staff meeting for teachers.

Final Hands

Below is the process to hold a consultancy but know there are different variations out there as well. I adapted this one from a Bill Gates Convening I attended. Below are approximate times but I have done “mini” versions of this in 30 minutes. There are different roles and responsibilities for each person participating:

  • Presenter:  Person who brings the dilemma or barrier to the group and whose work is being discussed by group (Staff Member or Student)
  • Facilitator: Person who facilitates discussion and moves group through the Consultancy Phases (Facilitator can also participate in discussion) (Principal or Teacher)
  • Consultancy Group: Group of individuals that discuss the problem and provide the Presenter with feedback. (School Staff or Classroom of Students)

The Consultancy Process

Step 1: Presenter Overview  (5 – 10 mins)

The Presenter gives an overview of the dilemma or barrier with which s/he is struggling and frames a question to the Consultancy Group to consider  A write-up of the problem may be shared as well but the problem must be presented orally. Here are steps in writing about the dilemma or barrier:

  • Step 1: Consider the Dilemma This should be an issue with which you are struggling, that has a way to go before being resolved, that is up to you to control, and that it is critical to your work. It is important that your problem is authentic and fresh – that is, not already solved or nearly solved.
  • Step 2: Write about the Dilemma Here are questions to guide your writing:
  1.  Why is this a dilemma or barrier for you? Why is this dilemma or barrier important to you?
  2. If you could take a snapshot of this dilemma, what would you/we see?
  3. What have you done already to try to remedy or manage the dilemma or barrier? If so, what have been the results of those attempts?
  4. What do you assume to be true about this dilemma or barrier, and how have these assumptions influenced your thinking about the problem?

The framing of this question is key to the effectiveness of the Protocol. The focus of the Group’s conversation will be on this dilemma and barrier.

Step 2: Clarifying Questions (5 – 10 mins)

The group asks clarifying questions of the Presenter, that is, questions that have brief, factual answers. Clarifying questions ask the Presenter the “who, what, where, when, and how” of their problem. These are not “why” questions, and generally can be answered quickly and succinctly, often in a sentence or two. These questions are not meant to fuel discussion, but rather to make clear any important points of reference.

Step 3: Probing Questions (5 – 10 mins)

The group asks probing questions of the Presenter. These questions should be worded to help the Presenter clarify and expand his/her thinking about the dilemma or barrier presented to the Consultancy Group.  Probing questions get to the “why” of the Presenter’s problem. These may be open-ended inquiries, requiring answers based both in factual detail and the subjective understanding of the Presenter. The purpose of a probing question is to push the Presenter’s thinking about his/her problem to a deep level of analysis. The Presenter may respond to the questions, but there is no discussion by the Consultancy Group of the Presenter’s responses.  At the end of the 10 minutes, the Facilitator will ask the Presenter to restate his/her question to the Group.

Step 4: Group Dilemma Discussion (15 – 20 mins)

The Consultancy Group analyzes the problem while the Presenter moves back from the circle, remains quiet, does not interrupt or add information, and takes notes during the discussion. Possible questions to frame the discussion:

  • What did we hear?
  • What didn’t we hear?
  • What assumptions seem to be operating?
  • What questions does the dilemma or barrier raise for us?
  • What do we think about the dilemma or barrier?
  • What might we do or try to do if faced with the same dilemma or barrier?

Members of the Group sometimes suggest actions the Presenter might consider taking.  However, they work to define the issue more thoroughly and objectively.

Step 5: Presenter Reflection (5 – 10 mins) 

The Presenter reflects on what s/he heard and on what s/he is now thinking. S/he shares with the group anything that particularly resonated during the Consultancy.

Step 6: Facilitator Debrief (2 – 5 mins) 

The Facilitator leads a brief discussion about the group’s observation of the Consultancy Process.

This format allows issues to be addressed and solutions created. It allow students to use all their 21st century skills (Communication, Collaboration, Critically Thinking and Creating) no matter if they are the presenter or in the group. If you have done a consultancy protocol in your school or classroom, I would love to hear what worked and what didn’t, please share int he comments.


Learning from Feeling Uncomfortable

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” By John F. Kennedy


I often put myself in situations where I am uncomfortable in order to learn. Key words…I put myself there. For example, grad school, starting my own business or pitching an idea at #edcamp. I was uncomfortable and nervous during those situations but I had also chosen to be apart of them.

Recently I accepted a new position, for a few months, as a Project Manger for the NextGen Systems Initiative Grant. This job chose me; I am excited about it because it is something I believe in and am passionate about. With this grant we are able to start diving into goal one of our strategic plan for 2018. Our goal one states ‘we need to maximize academic achievement in a personalized 21st century learning environment for every child to graduate college and career ready. The key strategies are (1) to establish a personalized plan of progress through an electronic portfolio that follows every student K-12 to ensure that students reach college and career goals and (2) Infuse 21st century skills framework to support Common Core State Standards.’

I have learned a lot because I have felt uncomfortable and unsure of myself through this journey and I know I will only continue to learn more. Below are 3 lessons I have learned so far….

1. My first lesson came when I had to let go of my typical job of going into schools and helping teachers integrate technology into the curriculum (which I love). I had to delegating them to someone else. I had worked so hard at building relationship with the schools and teachers, I didn’t want to lose that. I felt uncomfortable in ‘giving them up’ and trusting someone else. But from this I learned that even if something did happen with a school, it was not a reflection of myself or my work.

2. My second lesson came from working with the education consulting company we were paired up with to help guide us for the grant. When I talked with them on the phone for the first time, I was so overwhelmed with all the ‘business lingo terms’ I could barely keep up with the conversation. I had to write down so many words so I could later google them to figure out what they were talking about. I felt dumb and uncomfortable and even started second guessing myself if I was the right one for this position. I quickly realized I was using my inexperience and ‘uncomfortableness’ as an excuse. I started asking questions about the words I didn’t know and it registered they didn’t know things too. It was a great reminder lesson of how we all can learn from each other, especially when we have different education/job backgrounds.

3. My third lesson and I think most important so far came when I conducted my first focus group. It was  hard to be neutral and not to say my beliefs or educational philosophy. I had to bite my tongue and really take a step back and realizing not everyone wants whats best for students but they want what’s easier for them. I was also taken back by how many teachers are still scared of technology taking over their jobs. I concluded, the biggest hurdle was going to be getting teachers to shift their mind-set of their teaching to better prepare our students.

This position has not only helped me gain leadership skills but also learn how to be a project manager. I am excited to see what else I learn over the next few months and welcome feeling uncomfortable.

How is Open Education Going to Change Education

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”
By Margaret Mead

Open Education is open free global educational content, available to anyone, anywhere at anytime. The internet has allowed us to gain access to content and devices, such as smartphones and tablets, have allowed us to do this quickly. Check out this video to see why open education is changing the world?

If we don’t change our schools, soon parents are not going to force their children to go to school. They will home school them or send them to open education ‘schools’. Where the student are in charge of their learning and goals.  Think I am wrong, look how many students are successful and they did not go to college. Many students attend a massive open online course (MOOC) to learn skills they are interested in. One of the things I am starting to become good at is coding, I didn’t learn it in a classroom but at Code Academy, an open education site that offers MOOC’s.

Because of Open Education we need to change our learning environments so that teachers are facilitator and help students guide their learning using open education resources. Why? Because it is authentic learning! When you aren’t sure of something when you are with others, what do you do? Most people pull out their phone and look it up. They then discuss what they found and learned with the others. Knowledge is at our fingertips, literally.

I aways tell teacher, if you can “google it” then you are not asking your students the right questions. We want our students using higher order thinking skills to gain knowledge by critically thinking, creating, communicating and collaborating.

Take a look at, you can easily differentiate  for students and they can self regulate their learning and progress. A sub domain of CK12 is Braingenie; which is an open education site that is math and science based and it also has the lesson by common core standards. See picture below:

Screen Shot 2013-09-22 at 12.06.41 PM

What we need to do in schools is use open education resources and then have students use their 21st century skills to remix the information.  For example, having students memorizing multiplication is one thing, but having students understand multiplication is another. What is the difference, spitting out facts verse explaining/teaching someone how to multiple.  The latter uses higher order thinking skills because the student would have to critically think about how they were going to teach it, communicate their knowledge, collaborate with the other student ‘learning’ and create a product of their explanation.  The product could be a piece of paper with their work shown or  a Showme video. If they create a ShowMe video, they are contributing as well to open education.

Here are a few other Open Education Resources:

P2PU – University for the Web

Open Study

School of Open, Class of 2013

I would love to hear your thoughts and feeling about Open Education, please share below.

Reviewing My Summer Goals

“No matter what accomplishments you make, somebody helped you.” By Althea Gibson

About two 1/2 months ago, I wrote about ‘Bettering Myself: My Summer Goals‘ and today I have decided to reflect on where I am in the process as summer is almost over. (Even though for me I am 12 months – I have no summer 🙂

My first goal was to attend an educational conference to better my practice! I attended 2 plus Edulum’s is later this week. It is hard to believe we are less than a week away from an amazing event— Edulum’s First Annual Education Conference: Engage, Enrich and Empower! It is Friday, Aug 2nd, 2013 from 8:30 am – 4:00 pm.  If you have not registered, click here as it is only $30.00. If you haven’t asked your school to see if they will pay for you, it can’t hurt to ask.  NC Teacher of the Year is our keynote followed by amazing sessions.  We will be using the hashtag #edulum13 and @edulumllc will be Tweeting out as well. Like us on Facebook by clicking here to get great education best practice ideas, involved in book study groups and collaboration with other educators.

My second goal was to complete at least one Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). I have not finished but have been learning to code by using Codecademy. I have already helped build a website and put my coding skills to the test and have learned, even with a MOOC as a guidebook, you still need to explore and learn on your own.

My third goal was to read! For my fun read I read Fly Away by Kristen Hannah and my educational read was Teach Like a Pirate (TLAP). (Review blog post coming soon after Edulum’s virtual book club is over) If you haven’t read TLAP, it is a must quick read! I have also read lots of articles and  blog posts.

My forth goal was to  write an article or a guest blog post or both! I have started an article for IGI Global that I hope gets published and if not, at least I tried. I have also asked to be a guest blogger on Ed Tech Review and that will be coming out soon. This goal also got me thinking about how I would like to also have guest bloggers on my blog so in a few weeks you will see the first guest bloggers post! If you are interested in submitting a guest blog post fill out the form on the right hand side. I would love to have more teacher voice!

My fifth goal was work on balancing work and life. I feel like I have done a much better job at this but the real test will be when the teachers go back to school. 🙂

My sixth goal was personal goals and I have not done as good of job as doing what I said I would do but I did clean our spare bedroom that has become a dumping ground and I have worked out more just not 5 days a week.  I did find that listening to podcasts like Ted talks or NPR helps make the gym time go by much faster! (I know, I am a nerd) I have also really enjoyed my nightly walks with my husband (when it is not raining.) I will be going on a mini vacation in a few weeks for my brothers wedding, which will be a great time with family and friends.

Have you met your summer goals, if not there is still time!

Reflection from ASCD Leaders to Leaders Conference

If everyone is moving forward together, than success takes care of itself. —Henry Ford

LeadertoLeader_127586_portrait_730X550Recently I obtained the honor of being named Class of 2013 ASCD Emerging Leader. The past few days I have been in Washington, DC at the ASCD Leader to Leader Conference learning and growing with educators from all over the world. (I even met an educator from Guam!) If you want to search the archives from Twitter the hashtag is #ASCD2L2. (Warning: there are a lot of links through-out this post, for additional information)

Day 1: Emerging Leaders Orientation

Thursday morning I got to meet the other 18 (of 25) Emerging Leaders and learn about what the next two years would be like. We received advice from previous Emerging Leaders and ASCD employees about what was expected of us and how we could produce results. Basically it boils down to, ‘You get how much you put in’. We do need to build an action plan on a topic we are passionate about. We get a coach/mentor that will help us with our vision and implementation. My problem is I have so many ideas and topics floating in my head, I need to decide on what matters most to me. If you saw my mind map of me brainstorming ideas, you would think I was crazy!

During lunch we got to meet the ASCD board members to network, ask questions and listen to others experiences. It was inspiring to hear what other educators are doing and have done to make positives changes in education.

During the afternoon we learned more about what ASCD has to offer and more about their vision. If you are not a member, I strongly encourage it as they have great online professional developments, articles and discussion groups along with so much more. You can join ASCD Professional Interest Communities for free, without an ASCD membership. Registration is also open for ASCD’s Conference on Educational Leadership. See the details here:

Day 2: Leaders to Leaders Conference (L2L)

Friday we spent the day in the conference room collaborating with all ASCD L2L’s from teachers to superintendents from all over the world. Dr. Gene Carter, Executive Director and CEO, started as the opening keynote. Dr. Gene Carter stated many key points but my favorite was, “The child must be placed at the absolute center of our ethics.”

From the keynote, there were ignite presentations, where leaders shared their experiences, insights and progress since 2012 L2L conference. The ignite format is where presenters share, using 20 slides that automatically advance every 15 seconds for a total of five minutes. This type of presentation was awesome because you got to hear so many different perspectives. I can’t wait to use this style for professional development and imagine this in a classroom, wow! The students would use their 21st century skills to show mastery of content in a fun and engaging way.

During the second half of the morning was a presentation by KnowledgeWorks called ‘Recombinant Education: Regenerating the Learning Ecosystem‘. The key take aways from this presentation were: 1. Make learning adapt to each child; not have each child adapt to a set learning. 2.We need to prepare our students for THEIR world, not ours.

The afternoon was a form of an unconference style. Based on what we learned from the KnowledgeWorks presentation, the group came up with key topics and broke off into mini groups. During this time group members discussed the topic more in depth. We then learned we would have to come up with a ten minute presentation that would take place during the ‘idea market’ the next day. My group was, Hiring For the Future” and we had a fantastic discussion. Here you can see our Google Doc notes. Our product for the idea market presentation was an iMovie. We wanted to show a ‘bad’ interview and how that it is not always just the questions that are bad but also can be the people on the panel.

L2L hosted another nice reception where we could mingle and network. It was great talking to NC affiliates. If you would like to join NC ASCD, you can here. They are working on the website and understand that some of the links do not work.

Day 3: Leaders to Leaders Conference (L2L)

We started off the morning with the ‘Idea Market’. 2L2 changed the set up of the room and had 6 sections set up around the room. Each section was a different topic from the day before. The sad part was you could only attend 4 out of the 6. I attended the below sessions and these are my notes:

1. Failing Forward:
– Discussed Peter Drucker – Managing in the next society
– Failure is a starting point
– Risk Calculation
– We have to also recognize what success means for EACH student and respond accordingly.
– Michael Jordan missing 9000 shots, practiced 12 hours a day, he failed many times but we only talk about his accomplishments.
– FAIL = first attempt in learning
– Wouldn’t it be great if students grade started at 0 and they worked up to 100% (Many colleges do that)
– Develop a culture where taking risks is encouraged and supported

2. What is the system we need to allow students to pursue their own learning?
– personalized learning
– multiple pathways to mastery
– student voice
– Use tools such as Flipped Classroom and Genius Hour

3. In an ever-changing world , how do we actively engage in transformational experiences?
– parent academy
– access ability – keep doors open so students can use the labs
– Internet safety (get helps from police/public library etc)
– parents leading parents (what they are expert in/co-teach)
– decision-making/ Task forces

4. Wrap around services
– tech way to infuse the tenets ( schools need to be one stop shop)
whole child services
– Great site: Jamie Vollmer

The second half of the unconference is when our presentation was. We realized the great iMovie we made was not going to work because there was no projector (we thought we had one) and the volume of the room (from the excitement) was going to be too loud. We had about 10 minutes in between break, for a group of us to decide how we were going to fix it. We had great suggestions but in the end some of us wrote fast and furiously on a few pieces of chart paper our ideas and we held a discussion. It went great all the same and we tweeted out our video and our notes.


After the unconference we broke up into our regions and had more time to discuss ideas with our state affiliates and surrounding states. We then came back all together and had a great closing ceremony reflecting on the conference. We wrote letters to our future selves and ASCD will be mailing them out later to see if we are doing what we set out leaving the conference wanting to do to make change. If you have not joined ASCD you should as they are an incredible resource for your classroom, school and/or district.

Digital Portfolios and Student Lead Conferences

“Time has a wonderful way of showing us what really matters.” By Margaret Peters

Digital portfolios (or sometimes known as e-portfolios) allows opportunity for students to showcase mastery of content through a variety of methods other than paper and pencil. It allows students to show evidence that they are working toward a goal and improving skills based on objectives. Students gain confidence, learn to reflect on their multimedia work, track and demonstrate growth based on their level of learning and most importantly improve self reflection and build learning independence.

Why are we hearing more about digital portfolios lately? Because more colleges and Universities are not just excepting SAT scores but portfolios. There are many applications you can use for digital portfolio such as blogging, 3 Ring, wikispacesGoogle Drive, Livebinders, Gaggle/Edmodo, or Evernote. Evernote is my favorite for many reason but mostly because it’s free, works on all devices and you don’t need internet except for syncing.

In Evernote you can make folders for each students, where they can upload their projects or documents to show mastery. I prefer portfolios because it takes the pressure off of grades and focuses on growth. It also helps set the tone in the classroom environment that we are all different and we will make mistakes but we can learn from them.

I set up my conferences so that I was conferencing with my students in every subject, at least once a week. During this time (because I only had one iPad) I would write the conference notes in their digital portfolio. Over time we could see their progress and growth.

During the conferences, I would discuss with the students individually about what they did well, what they needed to work on and a plan on how they were going to improve. This allowed ownership and also held the students more accountable through reflection. I became the facilitator making sure they made goals that were best for them and that were based on their needs.

Inside the portfolios the students would take pictures of projects they had created, such as the thermal solar house they built or they would upload their best writing piece. Sometimes we recorded our reading fluency so they could hear themselves and make improves. Setting up my portfolios this way allowed the students and I to build a relationship and helped me easily differentiate based on needs and their interests.

Naturally came student lead conferences, where the student walked their parents through their digital portfolio. The students knew their strength and weaknesses and didn’t need ‘prepping’ because they did this naturally every week. It showed the parents the students understood their strength and weakness and allowed the parents to ask their students questions. Because the parents realized that their children understood their learning so well, I found that more parents engaged with their child’s education because they didn’t feel the pressure of figuring out what the student needed to work on. It also naturally helped me, get the parents to see that there is more to education then just grades, taking pressure off some students by default. I also noticed that students had more confidence in themselves because they weren’t comparing themselves against anyone but themselves.

When I left the classroom, I was able to help other teachers set up these portfolios. One teacher @missbrinnsclass, started them. The students are in first grade and it is amazing to see them take control of their learning. Here is a sample of a students writing and her reflection on her work.


This is a video of Madison leading her conference in front of her parents and teacher.

I would love to hear how you are using digital portfolios in your classroom or tools that you are using.

Introspective of ‘A Whole New Mind’ By Daniel Pink

“Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting.”  ~Edmund Burke


This week I finished the book A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink (@danielpink). It was an amazing ‘read’ (I did it as an audiobook) and one that made me look at things in a new way. I highly recommend this book to anyone but especially educators as it takes a look at our students as 21st Century learners.

Daniel Pink says, “We are moving from an economy and a society built on the logical, linear, computer like capabilities of the Information Age to an economy and a society built on the inventive, empathetic, big-picture capabilities of what’s rising in its place, the Conceptual Age” (1-2)

Pink states that there are six fundamental right-brain aptitudes and I have added some of my own thoughts as well for how to apply them to the classroom:

  • Design – Moving beyond function to engage the sense.  He discusses how improving school environments could increase test scores. If you think about it, where would you rather work/learn? At a desk and chair with pencil and paper or in a relaxed environment on a comfy couch or chair with your device. We need to get teachers comfortable in changing the environment so it is not as structured, no more rows or assigned seats. (To learn more about what I think the classroom environment should look like, check out my previous post: 21st Century Classroom Environment)
  • Story – Narrative added to products and services – not just argument. What do you remember about the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster? I remember the story of the first teacher going to space, not the facts about the disaster. With students, connecting facts/events to story will help them not ‘memorize’ but think deeper about the events. This can easily be done in the classroom with digital storytelling.
  • Symphony – Adding invention and big picture thinking (not just detail focus). This works well in the classroom with goal setting. Having students looking at the bigger picture is a great way for them not to work about just one grade but how they master a concept over time. Having symphony in the classroom allows students to be critical thinkers and problem solvers because you are looking for solutions for problems. Similar to Challenge Based Learning (CBL) style. 
  • Empathy – Going beyond logic and engaging emotion and intuition. In the classroom this is helping students having a global perspective and aware of people outside of themselves. This is part of the ‘hidden curriculum’ and part of building well-rounded students. Having students participate in community service events and getting them involved with emotions. In my classroom, I would engage the students in a few videos about the hunger problems in our world to make them aware. I then posed the question, how can we help? The students brainstormed ideas of ways that we could help and then we took it a step further and carried out those ideas for example we held a food drive. I always tied in the curriculum by having the students create persuasive ads to entice others to want to donate and I had them collect data on what items we had then graph the results.
  • Play – Bringing humor and light-heartedness to business and products. Pink discusses how we should blur the link between work and play. I don’t consider my job ‘work’ as I enjoy it, I can ‘work’ for hours on school stuff and not even realize how much time has gone by because I love it. To me, work is going to the gym, where I watch the clock and think, is this over yet? I am ‘doing it’, because I know it is good for me and I should, but I am not enjoying going to the gym. We need to do the same in schools. We need to make the classroom environment be a place where students ‘get lost in learning’ and not be looking at the clock thinking is it over yet. Pink discusses how game based learning (GBL) in the classroom can help students with this concept. Check our this site for more about GBL and A Whole New Mind
  • Meaning – the purpose is the journey, give meaning to life from inside yourself. In the classroom, we need to teach concepts that are related to the real world so students see the connection.

I think this would be a wonderful book study for schools or personal learning networks (PLN). Mr. Pink even provides you with discussion questions for this book and I found a Livebinder full of resources that would also guide your school/PLN to effectively use this for Professional Development by Julie Hart & Jill Rubinstein, from University of Colorado Denver.

I know I do not do this book justice but hopefully I have enticed you enough to read it. I would love to hear what others think of A Whole New Mind and I can’t wait to read more of his books. Next up, Drive! Happy Reading!

What I Learned from ASCD from My Couch

“We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.” Maya Angelou

I unfortunately could not attend ASCD 2013 this year but because of Twitter, it was like I was there! I learned a lot and still walked away with some great resources, right from my couch! Below I share the things I learned. There are a lot of embedded links so don’t miss out!

1. Maya Angelou speech was inspiring even though I couldn’t hear it. There were many tweets quoting here and this poem is one she recited.

2. Fisher and Frey’s – YouTube Channel has great resources

3. Engaged Learning and Teaching with Technology by Meg Ormiston had great insights and it was like I was there with Nicholas Provenzano (@thenerdyteachers) notes.

4. Great Common Core resource site shared by Eric Sheninger @NMHS_Principal called Wiki-Teachers. the site has all of the standards unwrapped with lesson plans, videos and assessments. 

5. Link shared by @WholeChildADV Andy Hargreaves and Pasi Sahlberg: Where are We Going and Why? — Whole Child Education

6. 10 Ways to Spice Up Faculty Meetings  by @bcurrie5

7. Leading Technology Integration on Campus: Livebinder of Resources

8. A great chart on managing complex change Tweeted by @RemynesES

9. “If you really want to do something you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.”  Jim Rohn Tweeted by @lindapemik

10. ASCD report 1 and report 2 along with blog post about Edcamp invasion of ASCD from

Even though I could not attend ASCD13, I was still able to learn a lot because of Twitter. Next year, hopefully I will be there and sharing resources for others who couldn’t make it.

Applying 21st Century Skills with Common Core and Trading Cards

“Critical thinking is thinking about your thinking while you’re thinking in order to make your thinking better.”  by Richard Paul

My new favorite FREE tool for the classroom, for grades 3-12, is Trading Cards; which is an iOS App and also web based  by ReadWriteThink. This tool is user-friendly  and allows students to practice 21st century skills with integration of Common Core Curriculum. The Trading Card tool gives students a choice to demonstrate their literacy knowledge by creating a trading card about a real or fictional character.

When you use this tool in the classroom, the learners apply all their 21st century skills. The students  have to….

– critically think about the information they need to write in each section. The sections have guiding questions to help the students if they need it.

– communicate the information in 120 characters or less per section.

– create the card adding a picture of the character they are describing.

– collaborate if you have the students work together.

The tool is user friendly and the creator can chose different backgrounds/designs and can also organize the cards by putting them in different collections. My favorite feature is that you can also share the cards multiple ways. One way is you can download them to your camera roll and then upload them to Edmodo or Gaggle accounts and have class discussions about the cards. Having students create cards based on characters in their books help them think about perspective in a creative way. This is also a great way for students to reflect on a biography they have read to synthesize the information.  There are a lot of lesson plans already created for grades 3-12, check them out here.

Here is the one I created on Steve Jobs on my iPad, then saved it to my camera roll.


If you have used ReadWriteThink- Trading Cards in the classroom I would love to know how; please share in the comment section.

My 2013 EDU New Year’s Resolutions

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” by Edith Lovejoy Pierce

As I reflect and review my 2012, Education New Year’s Resolution goals blog post, I am proud I have accomplished all of them. I am excited to think about what 2013 will bring. While pondering about what my New Year’s Resolution goals for 2013 would be, I found this video about ‘The Science of New Year’s Resolutions’ by @docmikeevans and it was too good not to pass along.

My New Year’s Resolutions for 2013 are:

1. Learn, master and provide PD on implementing challenge based learning in the classroom.

2. Take more risks, learn from my mistakes and failures and not sweat the small stuff.

3. Continue to learn through reading, researching, blogging, connecting and most importantly listening to others.

With a new year, comes bigger challenges and opportunities. Beat the challenges and grab the opportunities, with an equal zeal. Happy New Year Everyone!