Groundhog Day Lesson Ideas

bill murray groundhog day

I wanted to share a few lesson ideas with a Groundhog Day theme in my weekly newsletter to teachers, but I also wanted to include some deeper learning competencies in those lesson ideas.

So, I ran over to ChatGPT, gave it a prompt, and got these ideas. No, they’re not full lesson plans, but they are a good start. And it took less than two minutes to get these ideas going.

Use AI as a tool to help, and you can come up with some pretty cool ideas. For now, here are those lesson ideas. Feel free to use and share:

Groundhog Day Lesson Ideas:

1. Groundhog Day Science Project

Activity Description: Students research the science behind Groundhog Day, including how groundhogs predict weather and the accuracy of their predictions compared to meteorological data. They can then create a presentation or report comparing folklore and scientific weather prediction methods.

Learning Competencies: Critical thinking, research skills, data analysis, and presentation skills.

2. Creative Writing Assignment: A Groundhog’s Perspective

Activity Description: Ask students to write a creative story from the perspective of the groundhog. They could write about the experience of Groundhog Day, the groundhog’s life throughout the year, or a fictional adventure.

Learning Competencies: Creativity, perspective-taking, writing skills, and empathy.

3. Debate: The Relevance of Groundhog Day

Activity Description: Organize a debate on the relevance and accuracy of Groundhog Day predictions in the age of advanced weather forecasting technology. This could involve research into meteorological science and folklore traditions.

Learning Competencies: Critical thinking, argumentation, public speaking, and teamwork.

4. Groundhog Day Math Challenge

Activity Description: Create math problems related to Groundhog Day, such as calculating the probability of the groundhog seeing its shadow based on historical data or designing a survey to find out how many people believe in the groundhog’s predictions and analyzing the results.

Learning Competencies: Problem-solving, data collection, statistical analysis, and interpretation.

5. Environmental Science Link

Activity Description: Students could explore how groundhogs (and other animals) impact their ecosystems. They could research groundhog habitats, their role in the ecosystem, and how climate change might affect them. This could culminate in a project or presentation.

Learning Competencies: Environmental awareness, research skills, ecology, and presentation skills.

6. Groundhog Day History and Folklore Lesson

Activity Description: Students could delve into the history and folklore of Groundhog Day, exploring its origins and how it’s celebrated in different parts of the world. This could be a research project, poster, or multimedia presentation.

Learning Competencies: Historical research, cultural awareness, and communication skills.

7. Philosophy and Ethics Discussion: Groundhog Day Movie

Activity Description: Use the movie “Groundhog Day” to start discussions about ethics, free will, and personal growth. Students can watch the movie and then engage in guided discussions or write reflective essays.

Learning Competencies: Ethical reasoning, critical thinking, reflection, and discussion skills.

8. Groundhog Day Art Project

Activity Description: Students create artwork inspired by Groundhog Day using various media. This could be a drawing, painting, digital art, or even a sculpture that reflects the day, the groundhog, or the themes of prediction and time.

Learning Competencies: Creativity, artistic skills, and self-expression.


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Unlocking Deeper Learning: A Guide for Educators and Leaders

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Have you ever wondered what makes an educational experience truly impactful? It’s not just about the information being conveyed; it’s about how it’s conveyed and internalized. This is where the concept of deeper learning comes into play.

The Essence of Deeper Learning

What is deeper learning? It’s a holistic approach focusing on critical thinking, problem-solving, and understanding complex concepts. Think of it as learning to fish and understanding the ecosystem, the fish’s role, and sustainable fishing practices.

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Teaching for Deeper Learning: Tools to Engage Students in Meaning Making
  • McTighe, Jay (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 130 Pages – 01/22/2020 (Publication Date) – ASCD (Publisher)

The Role of Networked Improvement Communities

Networked Improvement Communities (NICs) are like beehives of educational innovation. They provide a platform where educators can share, collaborate, and refine their teaching methodologies. It’s about building a collective wisdom.

Video Clubs: A Catalyst for Growth

Imagine a book club but for teaching practices. Video clubs in NICs offer a dynamic way for educators to visually share and discuss their teaching methods. It’s about seeing and improving together.

The Impact of Leadership in Educational Transformation

Leadership in education is not just about administrative tasks. It’s about guiding, inspiring, and creating an environment where deeper learning can thrive. Great leaders are the architects of educational innovation.

Preparing Teachers for Deeper Learning
  • Darling-Hammond, Linda (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 416 Pages – 05/28/2019 (Publication Date) – Harvard Education Press (Publisher)

Fostering a Community of Practice

A community of practice in education is like a garden where ideas grow and flourish. It’s a space where educators can cultivate their skills and knowledge, rooted in shared experiences and goals.

From Theory to Practice: Real-World Applications

Applying deeper learning isn’t just a theoretical exercise. It’s about integrating these approaches into actual classroom settings, transforming the educational experience into something more meaningful and lasting.

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Leadership for Deeper Learning
  • Richardson, Jayson W. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 190 Pages – 07/27/2021 (Publication Date) – Routledge (Publisher)

Challenges and Solutions in Implementing Deeper Learning

Every revolution has its challenges. In the case of deeper learning, these include resource allocation, teacher training, and adapting to diverse learning environments. But with every challenge comes a solution.

Case Studies: Success Stories and Lessons Learned

Learning from others’ experiences is a cornerstone of deeper learning. By examining case studies, educators can glean insights into successful strategies and common pitfalls to avoid.

The Future of Deeper Learning in Education

The future of education is not static; it’s dynamic and ever-evolving. Deeper learning is at the forefront of this evolution, paving the way for a more engaged and thoughtful generation of learners.

In Search of Deeper Learning: The Quest to Remake the American High School
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Mehta, Jal (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 452 Pages – 04/09/2019 (Publication Date) – Harvard University Press (Publisher)

Key Takeaways for Educators and Leaders

In conclusion, the journey toward deeper learning is both challenging and rewarding. It requires dedication, collaboration, and a willingness to rethink traditional educational models.

Access the full study from this article here


FAQs

  1. What is deeper learning?
    Deeper learning is an educational approach that emphasizes the development of critical thinking, problem-solving, and a deep understanding of core academic content.
  2. How do Networked Improvement Communities support deeper learning?
    NICs provide a collaborative space for educators to share, innovate, and improve teaching practices, fostering a community that drives deeper learning.
  3. What role do leaders play in promoting deeper learning?
    Leaders in education are pivotal in creating the right environment and providing the necessary resources for deeper learning to flourish.
  4. Can deeper learning be applied in all educational settings?
    Yes, with the right approach and resources, deeper learning can be adapted to various educational contexts, benefiting a diverse range of learners.
  5. What are the main challenges in implementing deeper learning?
    Some challenges include ensuring adequate teacher training, providing sufficient resources, and adapting the curriculum to support deeper learning methodologies.

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Forget Happiness. This Ancient Greek Concept May Matter More for Student Mental Health

santorinni greece during daytime
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I think if there’s one thing that this project has highlighted, it’s the need to take more of a systemic look at our education system and the role that things like purpose and meaning play, and at different times, in children’s development

Tania Clarke

Just how important is finding fulfillment and purpose to a child’s education? More than you may think.

A recent study suggests that eudaimonia, an ancient Greek concept of fulfillment and purpose, correlates with higher academic performance in English and math.

It challenges the conventional focus on happiness in education, advocating for a deeper understanding of student well-being, including personal fulfillment and self-confidence.


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The Best Books I Read in 2023

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Since we all had much more time on our hands during the pandemic, I decided that it was high time I became more intentional with my reading. Not that I didn’t read at all; I’ve always been a reader. I’ve always had books around, whether comics, graphic novels, classics, or paperbacks.

I’m pretty sure a few old Tom Clancy paperbacks are still hanging out in my parents’ basement.

Regardless, I decided in 2020 that I’d read more and keep track of that reading. Thank goodness for tools like Goodreads that allow me to keep up with books I want to read.

I also create book notes in Notion to keep track of my thoughts on each book. Readwise helps me keep track of highlights from books (and just about everything else I read) and syncs with my Notion to create a true collection of what I get from each book.

Yes, I’m aware I go overboard on many things. My wife says I’d make a very good addict, so I figure it’s best for me to find other things to be addicted to, which means I read books.

Side note: I’m also getting into collecting vinyl, another expensive and space-filling addiction…

I published a best books of 2022 list last year and decided to give it another go this year.

Please remember: these opinions are mine, and if I love a book that you hate, that’s ok. That’s pretty much how things are supposed to work in the world. I read mostly sci-fi/fantasy, history, historical fiction, biographies, and mysteries. I also read quite a bit on education since that’s my job.

There are many other fine reading genres, and I venture into other realms occasionally. You read what you like, I’ll read what I like, and we’ll all share what we learn and grow together.

Now, in no particular order, here are the best books I read in 2023:

Tress of the Emerald Sea

For much of the fantasy reading world, 2023 was the Year of Sanderson. Brandon Sanderson, one of the top current fantasy authors, ran the most successful Kickstarter campaign of all time in 2022, producing leather-bound editions of four completely new novels. The year’s first release was a cozy fairy tale; Tress of the Emerald Sea.

I love this book. Loved it. While it does connect to Sanderson’s wider Cosmere universe, it works wonderfully as a stand-alone novel. As Sanderson has described the inspiration for the book, “What would happen if Buttercup had to save Westley in The Princess Bride?”

It’s one of my all-time favorite books.

tress of the emerald sea

The Greatcoats Series

I’m cheating a bit with this selection and the next since I’m choosing a whole series rather than just one book. But, I couldn’t help myself.

If you’re a fan of swashbuckling tales and grew up watching continual retellings of Robin Hood, Horatio Hornblower, and the like, you will love The Greatcoats.

Falcio Val Mond became one of my favorite characters ever this year, and I can only hope that he and the rest of the Greatcoats return again soon.

traitor's blade

The Licanius Trilogy

Another series I finally got around to reading this year is The Licanius Trilogy by James Islington.

These books are incredible. But, I will say this: you have to stay on your toes when reading them. There are many, MANY moments of what happened and how we got here in each of these three books.

But, the payoff is worth it. So, so good.

the shadow of what was lost

In Search of Deeper Learning

Back to the world of education, I read this book as part of my ongoing dissertation readings. My biggest takeaway is this: there are pockets of innovation and work toward deeper learning across the US. But we still have a long way to go.

This text gives insight into how some schools are “doing” deeper learning and may give you some ideas as you begin your journey into deeper learning with your students.

Unpleasant Truth about Education #47: Kids learn more deeply in school when participating in extracurriculars than they do when being taught in classrooms.

In Search of Deeper Learning

Street Data

This one. Oh my. I really need every assessment coordinator, teacher, administrator… pretty much everyone in education to read this book and think about how we assess students.

Street data” is ever so much more important than most other assessment data that we spend days, weeks, and months poring over while our students care less and less about the meaningless work we ask them to complete.

Get this book, read it, and then share it with a colleague.

street data

The City of the Singing Flame

I shared my thoughts on this one not long ago, and honestly, this story has quickly become an all-time favorite. Yes, it’s dated, and it may not be your thing. But, for speculative fiction fans, I believe you can see so many other stories that were likely inspired by this one.

Final Thoughts

Somehow, amidst accepting a new position halfway through the year and completing more doctoral coursework, I read 120 books in 2023. For the first time since I began tracking, I crossed the 50k pages read in a year mark.

I don’t share those numbers to boast–I can barely believe them myself–I share them to hopefully encourage you that you have more time to read than you think.

My tips to read more:

  • Always have a book with you. Yes, ebooks and audiobooks count, and if someone tells you they don’t, punch them in their dirty mouth.
  • Take stock of how much time you spend on your phone. Whether on social media or playing games, trade some of that time for reading. Try out this social media alternatives calculator and see how much time you have to read.
  • Don’t read books you don’t like. No law says you must finish a book if you don’t like it. I use the rule ‘100 pages minus your age’–if you’re not fully into a book by that many pages, you can stop reading. And yes, I count that as ‘reading’ that book.
  • Re-reading a book you love still counts as reading.

That wraps up this year’s ‘best books’ list. Maybe you’ll start tracking your own reading and share your thoughts with the world. If you like this list and want to see more, I have a free weekly newsletter that includes monthly reading recommendations.

You can sign up for those updates through the form below. I hope 2024 brings you lots of new reading, knowledge, and fun.


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Redefining College & Career Readiness for Students

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Ask ten teachers what their job is, and you’ll receive ten different answers. However, most of them share the common goal of preparing the next generation of citizens. Yet, educators acknowledge that the world in which students will live and work will radically differ from the current version. Therefore, it is nearly impossible for the education system to prepare students for that future fully.

To address this challenge, educators often discuss the concept of “college and career readiness.” Being “college and career ready” means that students possess the skills to strategically and effectively apply their learning in various situations, enabling their success in both academic and work environments. This readiness extends beyond academic knowledge and encompasses essential skills such as resilience, mental health, and performance, which are crucial for adapting to an ever-changing future.

However, the focus on specific pathways for college and career readiness often stems from traditional educational structures and measures of success. There is a growing awareness that a one-size-fits-all approach may not suit all students, and personalized learning experiences are increasingly valued. It is important to recognize that success in the future will require adaptability and a broad skill set beyond academic knowledge.

To prepare students for an unpredictable future, we must move beyond traditional 20th-century learning practices and cultivate an updated skill set. This includes fostering strong learning and critical thinking skills and developing “human” skills that equip students to navigate an uncertain world. Moreover, it is crucial to view students as change-makers and provide them with opportunities to develop traits such as optimism and resilience. This preparation should involve nurturing creativity, encouraging exploration, and fostering a willingness to take risks. It is essential to equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge to progress steadily towards their goals.

However, it is important to acknowledge that a portion of the student population does not fit into the accepted mold of “college and career readiness” imposed by the system. These are the students who consider themselves artists, creators, inventors, and so on. They do not neatly fit into career pathways or college preparatory tracks, which are currently popular trends in high school education.

Regardless of our efforts, we cannot force these square pegs into round holes, or any other shape for that matter. Instead, we should explore ways for these students to create their own paths.

This is where personalized learning comes into play. Personalized learning is becoming increasingly important as it caters to the unique needs of each student, promoting progress at an individual pace. It empowers students to take greater ownership of their learning journey, leading to deeper learning, increased motivation, and improved relationships and communication skills. The implementation of personalized learning requires a shift from traditional classrooms to learning hubs, from a rigid curriculum to personalized pathways, and from a fixed pace to personalized progressions through cycles of inquiry. Creating personalized learning pathways for teachers and recognizing their competency in specific areas through micro-credentials is also beneficial. Additionally, online platforms can offer a range of activities that align with each student’s unique interests and strengths.

Personalized learning and the concept of graduate profiles contribute to a new perspective on career readiness by focusing on individual student strengths and interests. Personalized learning enables student-driven models in which students engage in meaningful, authentic, and rigorous challenges to showcase desired outcomes. This approach fosters skills like goal setting, time management, and the ability to navigate unpredictable obstacles, all of which are crucial for career readiness.

Graduate profiles outline the skills and competencies that a district or institution aims for its students to possess upon graduation. These profiles serve as a guiding principle for improvement efforts and reflect the collective commitment to equipping students with the skills necessary for personal success and meaningful civic engagement. By embracing personalized learning, graduate profiles, and similar concepts, we can better prepare students for their future careers in a rapidly changing world.

Further Reading:

Until We Fix This, We’ll Always Fight Against Student Cell Phones

pokemon-pokemon-go-phone-game-159395.jpeg
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Yes, it’s almost 2024, and schools are still fighting the losing battle against student cell phones in class.

Sigh.

Some schools have partnered with companies to implement the use of pouches that students are required to put their phones into at the beginning of the day and that don’t unlock until the final bell rings, while others are threatening punishments including suspension if a student is caught with their phone, even at lunch time.

Yes, because even during lunch, we must ensure students have no control over their personal time. Good grief.

Renesha Parks, chief wellness officer at Richmond Public Schools in Virginia, told The Hill of a pilot policy being implemented in six schools at the beginning of 2024 to stop cellphone usage, partnering with Yondr, which creates magnetic pouches for cellphones. The measure will impact around 4,200 students and cost approximately $75,000. (emphasis mine)

Here’s an idea: shift the educational focus from boring content without connection to the real world to more authentic learning experiences. I bet cell phones only come out when they are needed to accomplish a task.

Also, educators, how many of you put your phone away during a training session? A staff meeting?

Just sayin’…


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14 November 2023

Quote of the Day

"Nontraditional students appear to be more at home and successful as learners in classrooms where teachers connect them to subjects in new ways. The students we interviewed recognized and appreciated teachers’ efforts to get to know them and to create classroom settings that encouraged academic engagement and expression of ideas. Yet nontraditional students describe most of their classes as highly structured, teacher-controlled, and regimented."

“Nontraditional students appear to be more at home and successful as learners in classrooms where teachers connect them to subjects in new ways. The students we interviewed recognized and appreciated teachers’ efforts to get to know them and to create classroom settings that encouraged academic engagement and expression of ideas. Yet nontraditional students describe most of their classes as highly structured, teacher-controlled, and regimented.”

Jal Mehta, A Pernicious Myth: Basics Before Deeper Learning

Musical Interlude

Daft Punk is releasing a “drumless” version of their 2013 “Random Access Memories,” and I am absolutely here for it. Here’s the drumless version of “Motherboard”

Long Read of the Day

No one fully understood how smartphones or social media would transform every aspect of our life in the span of fifteen years. AI is a dynamic field, and its impact on education is beyond what any of us could probably comprehend today. The only way we can keep up is by building strong guardrails and regularly assessing and evaluating the extent to which AI tools are enhancing educational outcomes. We must also constantly anticipate and respond to unintended consequences as they emerge. This should include information from academic assessments, surveys, and feedback from teachers and students. The data collected should be used to refine AI implementation strategies and inform policy decisions.

Let’s get this right.

Khaled Ismail

Photo of the Day

library books

At my daughter’s academic team match last night, I thought I’d grab a quick pic of one of the library shelves. Apparently, there are some Brandon Sanderson fans at this school.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you’ve probably heard me talk about my obsession with Notion as my primary productivity tool. I do my best to put everything in my Notion workspace in some form.

Today, Notion released a beta of the “Q&A” feature that allows you to “talk” with the information in your workspace.

I’m chasing the ultimate content curation strategy with my own Zettelkasten implementation, and this may just be the final piece to the puzzle form. Imagine having quick access to the thousands of articles, highlights, and more you have stored in your Notion workspace. All just by asking a simple question.

Pretty frickin’ cool.


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The Power of Computational Thinking: Unlocking Innovation and Problem-Solving Skills

An innovative cityscape of a futuristic metropolis at sunset, towering skyscrapers with holographic advertisements, sleek flying vehicles, bustling streets filled with diverse pedestrians, reflecting the vibrant energy of urban life, Photography, wide-angle lens capturing the grandeur of the city

Introduction

At [OurCompany], we believe in the transformative power of computational thinking. In an increasingly digital world, this structured approach to problem-solving and logical reasoning has become an essential skill set for individuals and organizations alike. In this article, we will explore the concept of computational thinking, its benefits, and how it can empower you to unlock innovation and solve complex problems effectively.

Understanding Computational Thinking

Computational thinking is a problem-solving methodology inspired by the processes involved in computer science and programming. It encompasses a set of skills and strategies that enable individuals to break down complex problems into smaller, more manageable parts. By applying logical reasoning and algorithmic thinking, computational thinking helps us develop innovative solutions and make informed decisions.

The Core Components of Computational Thinking

1. Decomposition

Decomposition involves breaking down a complex problem into smaller, more manageable sub-problems. By doing so, we gain a better understanding of the problem’s structure and can tackle each component individually. This process allows us to focus on specific aspects, identify patterns, and develop targeted solutions.

2. Pattern Recognition

Pattern recognition refers to the ability to identify similarities, trends, or regularities within a given problem or data set. Recognizing patterns enables us to make connections, extract meaningful insights, and apply them to other contexts. It forms the basis for developing generalized solutions and finding efficiencies.

3. Abstraction

Abstraction involves filtering out unnecessary details and focusing on the essential aspects of a problem. It allows us to create simplified models and representations that capture the core elements and relationships. By abstracting away complexities, we gain a clearer perspective, facilitating the development of scalable and adaptable solutions.

4. Algorithmic Thinking

Algorithmic thinking involves designing step-by-step procedures or algorithms to solve problems systematically. It requires logical reasoning and the ability to devise efficient strategies for accomplishing specific tasks. By breaking down a problem into a series of well-defined steps, algorithmic thinking provides a roadmap to problem-solving success.

Benefits of Computational Thinking

Computational thinking offers numerous benefits to individuals and organizations, transcending the boundaries of computer science. Let’s explore how adopting this approach can positively impact various domains:

1. Enhanced Problem-Solving Skills

By applying computational thinking techniques, individuals become more adept at breaking down complex problems into manageable components. This enables them to analyze and solve problems with a systematic and structured approach, fostering critical thinking and creativity.

2. Promotes Innovation and Creativity

Computational thinking encourages individuals to think outside the box and explore novel approaches to problem-solving. By leveraging patterns, abstractions, and algorithmic thinking, new solutions and ideas can emerge. This mindset fuels innovation and drives continuous improvement across diverse fields.

3. Empowers Effective Decision Making

The ability to analyze data, recognize patterns, and abstract key information plays a vital role in making informed decisions. Computational thinking equips individuals with the skills to interpret and draw meaningful insights from complex data sets, leading to more accurate and informed decision-making processes.

4. Transdisciplinary Applications

Computational thinking is not limited to computer science alone. Its principles and techniques can be applied across various domains, including education, healthcare, engineering, finance, and many more. By embracing computational thinking, professionals from different backgrounds can leverage its power to solve domain-specific challenges effectively.

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Computational Thinking Meets Student Learning: Extending the ISTE Standards
  • Prottsman, Kiki (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 24 Pages – 01/28/2019 (Publication Date) – International Society for Technology in Education (Publisher)

Incorporating Computational Thinking into Education

Recognizing the significance of computational thinking, educational institutions worldwide are integrating it into their curriculum. By introducing computational thinking from an early age, students develop a solid foundation in problem-solving and logical reasoning, preparing them for the demands of the digital era.

1. Computational Thinking in Mathematics

Computational thinking aligns naturally with mathematical concepts, enhancing students’ ability to approach mathematical problems systematically. It enables them to identify patterns, devise algorithms, and make connections between mathematical concepts, fostering a deeper understanding of the subject.

2. Computational Thinking in Science

In the scientific realm, computational thinking enables students to analyze complex phenomena, formulate hypotheses, and design experiments. By applying computational thinking, students gain a structured framework for conducting scientific investigations and exploring the intricacies of the natural world.

3. Computational Thinking in Language Arts

Incorporating computational thinking in language arts education fosters critical thinking and communication skills. Students can analyze literature, identify patterns in writing styles, and develop algorithms to express ideas effectively. Computational thinking enhances their ability to comprehend and articulate complex ideas.

4. Computational Thinking in Social Sciences

Computational thinking can also be leveraged in social sciences to analyze large datasets, identify trends, and draw insights. By integrating computational thinking methodologies, students can explore social phenomena, conduct data-driven research, and make evidence-based conclusions.

Conclusion

Computational thinking is a powerful problem-solving approach that empowers individuals to tackle complex challenges with confidence. By embracing the core components of computational thinking—decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction, and algorithmic thinking—you can unlock innovation, enhance problem-solving skills, and make informed decisions in various domains.

Remember, computational thinking is not limited to computer science alone. It is a mindset and skill set that can be developed and applied by individuals from diverse backgrounds. Embrace the power of computational thinking and embark on a journey of limitless possibilities.


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It Takes Practice to Become an Expert

"Whether professionals have a chance to develop intuitive expertise depends essentially on the quality and speed of feedback, as well as on sufficient opportunity to practice." (Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow)
Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

To become an expert at something, you have to practice that something.

Doctors and lawyers often use the term “practice” to describe their daily work.

Educators are the same. We practice every day. And we get a little better every day.

So do our students. Provided we allow them to practice.

This idea is at the heart of student-centered instruction. We serve to guide them along their path; they choose the path.

And they choose how long they stay on that path. The more passion they have, the longer and harder they will work.

The more we walk all over their practice time with test prep and meaningless teacher talk designed to keep us in control, the less engaged our students will be.

Less engagement means they practice other things. And so begins the cycle.

Let them practice; let them learn.



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Using Multiple Tools for Content Creation in the Classroom

We’re wrapping up the 2022-2023 school year, and several teachers in my district are continuing their journeys into deeper learning.

Rather than freaking out and focusing on end-of-year testing that means nothing (you know I’m right), I’m working with several 8th-grade classes on worthwhile projects.

One class is designing tourism resources for Bardstown. If you’re not familiar, the tourism industry is HUGE in this area thanks to two things: history and bourbon. Kentucky tourists spent $5.9 billion in 2020, and many of those dollars can be traced to bourbon tourism.

Students are working in groups to create materials for different tourist destinations in Bardstown. They got to choose the location, the format for their materials, and how they will ultimately present them.

Let’s connect this work back to the 4 Shifts and how we’re using it to foster deeper learning in classrooms:

Deeper Thinking and Learning

  • Students are researching famous local places. Some of them are taking tours after school hours, conducting interviews, and doing independent research
  • Students are discussing what information needs to be included in their information. What should be in a brochure? What do we need to mention in a video?

Authentic Work

  • Students are using design tools that are used in the real world to create and publish their work: Canva, YouTube, CapCut, etc.
  • Could these projects be used as part of a tourism promotion? Perhaps. This work will likely be a “first draft” of a potential business or tourism department collaboration.

Student Agency & Personalization

  • Students chose the format and tools.
  • Students chose the topic

Technology Infusion

  • Any technology usage is secondary to the research and information presented. Technology is merely the tool conveying the message, not the message itself.

I could go on, but I’ll save a further discussion for the project completion. Suffice it to say the kids are very interested in these projects and what they are learning about their hometown.

Student working on a brochure for a local restaurant
Student work on a brochure for a local restaurant

I came in to assist in the combination of technology with content. Students are creating on different platforms and need to tie the information together. Several have made videos that we’ve uploaded to YouTube. We created QR codes and added them to the brochures. We’ve used royalty-free music for the videos. Some students even used AI (yep) to help write the script before recording voiceovers.

My point for sharing this work is this: diving into deeper learning can be fun for you and your students. Will some resist? Yes. Will some still find ways to disengage and not really accomplish anything? Yes.

But it’s all part of the adventure of learning. For them, and for us.



Thanks for reading. This site and all the work shared here are completely reader-supported. The best way to support it is to check out my recommendations or subscribe to my weekly newsletter.