Just for the Sake of Being Creative

being creative just for the sake of being creative

Sometimes, you just have to do things to flex that creative muscle.

“Do things that light your soul on fire and that help you fall in love with your life every single day. I had no clue when I started making content that I was going to be met with so much love in a place that is notorious for being unloving: the internet. do not filter yourself do not make yourself a version of you that you think is more palatable, digestible, lovable… don’t filter the humanity and the personality out of yourself. we already have that version of you. it’s everywhere.   it is everywhere. we don’t want that version of you. we want you to make content that makes you happy, that fills a creative void in your life. Do things for creative sake just because you love doing them. Don’t try and monetize everything. Don’t make every hobby a side hustle, don’t make every hobby a job, just do things because you love them and watch your life just like change. you  are suddenly doing things because they make you  happy, and that’s a really, really powerful thing.”

Elyse Meyers



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All your base are belong to us

Hey, y’all. We’re nearing the end of March, and for many public schools, that means Spring Break is near (or maybe already arrived). It’s a very busy time for educators as one school year ends, and plans for the next are already taking shape.

My hope for you as we approach the end of another school year is that you take the time to take care of yourself. You cannot pour from an empty cup, and it’s easy to get caught up in all the things at the end of the school year.

atomic habits by james clear

Take a beat, catch a deep breath, and center yourself. Rediscover what is really important to you and what you can control.

“We have so little control over our lives. The only thing we can really control is what we spend our days on.” – Austin Kleon

Anyways, here are ten things I thought were worth sharing with you this week:

10 Things Worth Sharing

  1. I worked with a senior English class this week, showing them some AI tools. They might write a book.
  2. Here’s a curated list of prompts, tools, and resources regarding the GPT-4 language model.
  3. Wanna learn financial literacy? This 300-page book was written completely with ChatGPT.
  4. The TikTok trial is a mess and is only proving that the US government is targeting this specific company over other social media platforms. Any issues with TikTok are the same with Facebook, Instagram, Snap, and many others.
  5. What is the right amount of agency to give to learners during their interactions with EdTech? Blog post and paper
  6. Are you a Wordle fan? I’m totally not, but I’ve also never liked Scrabble. Not that you care. Here’s Every Possible Wordle Solution Visualized
  7. An AI course creator – according to the page: “Start with a description and let AI-Assistant offer title and outline suggestions.”
  8. You might be violating copyright in your classroom. Maybe.
  9. Bill Gates explains why AI is as revolutionary as personal computers, mobile phones, and the Internet, and he gives three principles for how to think about it. Also, he recommends this book, this book, and this book as helpful in shaping his own thinking about AI.
  10. An Introvert’s Field Guide to Friendship: Thoreau on the Challenges and Rewards of the Art of Connection
rocking the boat
Rocking the Boat by Debra Meyerson

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The 10 Books Every Teacher Should Read in 2023

A new year begins, full of new challenges and possibilities. But really, these challenges and possibilities aren’t new. They’re the same ones humans have faced for centuries; we experience them in a different context.

We’re all still trying to make sense of this crazy world and what part we must play in this grand performance of life. How do we make the world a better place? How do we find happiness? How do we experience true fulfillment? How do we achieve what we want in this life and, along the way, help a few other people get what they want?

As educators, that last question may be the most important one for us to answer. Without question, we have goals for our lives. But so much of the work we do every day is tied to helping other people, our students, accomplish their goals. Sometimes, our work helps students determine their goals.

Sometimes our work is helping students believe that their goals are possible; that they’re not crazy for being different and wanting something others may tell them is “stupid,” “not acceptable,” or “bad.”

We are purveyors in providing spaces for dreamers to make their dreams come true.

We must diligently provide these students with the support and resources they need to make their dreams a reality. We must create learning environments that foster creativity and exploration. We should inspire our students to take risks and challenge themselves to think outside the box. Additionally, we must equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge to help them progress steadily toward their goals.

As educators, it is our responsibility to be a source of guidance and understanding for our students, no matter how big or small their dreams may be. We must recognize the power of our influence and use it to encourage and empower our students to reach their full potential.

But for us to do all of that, we must take care of ourselves. We have to refill our cups, and we must ensure that we are working toward our own goals. Modeling success is key for our students. I can think of no greater tool to keep our minds sharp, our spirits full, and our eyes focused on the horizon of our dreams than reading great books.

Books are more than just an investment in yourself – they are a doorway to a world of knowledge. From novels and nonfiction to how-to guides, poetry, classics, and biographies, there’s something for everyone in the world of books. Reading can help you think more deeply, be kinder, gain a broader perspective, and become better at the things that matter to you. Books have been around for thousands of years and are still being published today, containing the distilled wisdom of countless hours of hard work. Why not take this opportunity to benefit from the knowledge stored within them?

With that in mind, here are 10 books – both recent and classic – that can help you achieve your 2023 goals and live a better, more fulfilling life.

Note: If you expect professional development books with 13 strategies and 27 tips to get more done in your classroom, you’ve come to the wrong list. These books help you with LIFE and living better in every area.

I’ll leave the boring, monotonous, ill-conceived PD books to other folks 😉

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius is a collection of personal reflections written by the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. Written in the 2nd century AD, it is an important philosophical work exploring Stoic philosophy and its practical application in life.

mediations by marcus aurelius

Meditations is an essential read for teachers, as it offers a great insight into the Stoic philosophy and how to apply it in a practical way. It provides a framework for understanding our emotions and reactions and how to use them to our advantage. It helps to refocus our attention on what matters most in life and encourages us to be kinder and more compassionate towards others. It also offers a unique perspective on our own inner struggles and how to make peace with them. With its timeless wisdom, Meditations is an invaluable resource for teachers striving to make a difference in their students’ lives.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield is a must-read for teachers looking to break through creative blocks and achieve their goals. It examines the inner struggle of pursuing your dreams and offers concrete strategies to help you overcome these obstacles.

The book focuses on the concept of “resistance”, which is an inner force that can be physical, mental, or emotional and prevents us from achieving our goals. It encourages us to push through these barriers and to keep working no matter how difficult the journey may be. The War of Art is an inspirational read that provides invaluable advice for teachers looking to overcome their own struggles and help their students reach their full potential.

The Obstacle is The Way by Ryan Holiday

The Obstacle is The Way by Ryan Holiday is a book that explores the concept of stoicism and its practical application in everyday life. It encourages readers to confront and embrace the obstacles that stand in their way and to use them as an opportunity to grow and become stronger.

The Obstacle is The Way provides a framework for understanding life’s struggles and how to use them to your advantage. It is an essential read for teachers looking to help their students overcome their own obstacles and achieve their goals.

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon is a must-read for teachers looking to find their creative spark. It encourages readers to look at the world from a different perspective and to embrace their own unique style. Through personal anecdotes, Kleon provides a framework for understanding creativity and how to use it to your advantage.

This inspirational read encourages readers to escape their comfort zones and explore their passions. Steal Like an Artist is an invaluable resource for teachers looking to foster creativity and exploration in their students.

Start With Why by Simon Sinek

Start With Why by Simon Sinek is an inspirational and thought-provoking book with a simple premise – that people should start with why when making decisions and formulating strategies. The book provides clear examples of how this approach can help teachers become more successful and effective.

It advocates for an approach that puts the why before the how and what and encourages readers to find their own why. It helps teachers to understand the importance of having a clear purpose and how it can help them reach their goals. It also encourages teachers to think more deeply and creatively and helps them to understand their own values and how they can help to create a better world for their students.

Dare to Lead by Brene Brown

Dare to Lead by Brene Brown is a powerful and inspiring book that explores the courage and vulnerability needed to lead. It examines how fear often keeps us from taking risks and how embracing vulnerability can help us achieve our goals. Through personal stories and historical examples, Dare to Lead provides a framework for understanding leadership and how to use it to create a better world for our students.

It encourages readers to be brave and take risks, to be honest, and open, and to find their own voice. It helps teachers to understand their own strengths and weaknesses and how to use them to become more effective leaders. Dare to Lead is an essential read for any teacher looking to become a better leader and foster a more positive and productive learning environment for their students.

Tribes by Seth Godin

Tribes by Seth Godin is a must-read for teachers looking to make a difference in their classrooms. It examines the concept of leadership and how to use it to create positive change.

The book focuses on the concept of “tribes”, which are communities united by shared values, beliefs, and goals. It encourages readers to create their own tribes and use them to make a difference in the world. Tribes also provides readers with invaluable advice on how to effectively lead their tribes, how to inspire others and how to create a positive learning environment. It is an invaluable resource for teachers looking to empower their students, foster collaboration, and create a positive learning environment.

The Name of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of The Wind is a modern classic, praised for its beautiful prose and captivating story. It’s also one of the few books I’ve read that have caused me to weep openly.

It follows the tale of Kvothe, an orphan seeking to make his way in a world filled with danger, mystery, and wonder. Kvothe’s journey is one of self-discovery as he comes to understand the power of words and the power of stories. Through his adventures, Kvothe learns to master the power of magic and the power of his own emotions.

The Name of The Wind is an epic adventure filled with memorable characters, captivating dialogue, and lush descriptions. It is a powerful tale of self-discovery, courage, and perseverance and is a must-read for anyone looking for an unforgettable journey. Rothfuss’s writing is beautiful and engaging, and his story is filled with moments of joy, sorrow, and inspiration.

On Writing by Stephen King

On Writing is a must-read for any creative or teacher. It’s a first-person account of Stephen’s writing process and a bit of a personal memoir. He shares his stories of success, failure, and redemption while providing advice on writing style, technique, and tools.

While the book is focused on writing, you can apply the lessons to any creative endeavor, like teaching.

On Writing is an adventure in a different kind of world where the written word is powerful beyond measure. Whether you are interested in learning how to write better or want to entertain yourself with Stephen King’s witty observations, this book will not disappoint.

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

I had to think about this last one for a while because I didn’t want to waste the slot. There are so many great books that could go on this list. But here we are with what has become one of my favorite books.

The Library Book by Susan Orlean is an inspiring and captivating exploration of the power of libraries and the stories of the people who love them. Orlean examines the impact of libraries on our lives, from the Great Library of Alexandria to modern-day libraries. She weaves together stories of patrons, librarians, and politicians, creating a vivid and compelling narrative that highlights the importance of libraries in our society. The Library Book is an essential read for anyone looking to understand the impact libraries have on our lives and to appreciate their value.

A Final Note

As we grow and change over the years, we can gain new perspectives and lessons from books we’ve read in the past. Take some time this year to revisit some of your favorites. Thumb through Fahrenheit 451 one more time. Take a stroll down memory lane with A Tale of Two Cities or The Grapes of Wrath. Dive back into the worlds of Tolkien once again. You’ll likely find something you missed and learn something new.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Engaging Students with AI

While some parts of the education world are well on their way to banning everything related to AI, some of us are excited about the potential of showing students a tool that can drastically increase productivity and expand options for students to express their creativity and demonstrate learning.

One of the teachers in my teacher fellowship asked me about introducing the process of developing and marketing a mobile app to her third-grade students. They are working on a unit about economics.

I’m a fan of the 5E lesson planning framework. If you’re unfamiliar, The 5E lesson plan is a widely used instruction model consisting of five phases: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate.

During the engage phase, teachers can use various strategies to encourage students to discover more about the topic, such as an attention-grabbing hook, a thought-provoking question, or a hands-on activity. The engage phase’s goal is to create an atmosphere of curiosity and excitement, as well as to set the tone for the rest of the lesson.

I thought about creating something for the first part of this 5E framework to get the students interested in the topic of mobile app development. Perhaps a little video of a mobile app developer giving students an overview of the process?

I know access to mobile app developers is easy to come by for schools in large cities, but my schools aren’t in a large city. And I don’t have any contacts immediately available to speak to a class, whether in-person or remotely.

Which, if you weren’t aware, is the situation that so very many schools deal with every day. Access to experts in some fields isn’t readily available.

But there’s a solution.

With a little help from a few AI tools, here’s what I did…

Writing a Video Script with AI

I began by using a tool I had just learned about called TeacherBot. The folks at TeacherBot aim to “build the tool every teacher deserves.” You enter an idea into the prompt space, and TeacherBot gives you a useful output.

The TeacherBot user interface
The TeacherBot user interface

I aimed to create a script for an overview video of the mobile app development process. Here’s the prompt I gave TeacherBot to begin:

You are a software programmer. You need to introduce the concepts of coding an app for Apple’s iOS to a group of third-grade students in the United States. Create a story talking about the different phases of mobile app design and development.

I asked for a “story” and specified third-grade students to hopefully keep the response at an appropriate grade level for the students

Here’s what TeacherBot gave me in return:

TeacherBot response to prompt
TeacherBot response to prompt

Is it rudimentary? Yes. But, it is designed for a 3rd-grade audience. And it’s just an overview. If I had the learning objectives for the lesson or the unit, I might have been able to craft a better prompt or tweaked the response myself. I wanted a female speaker, so I should have indicated that in the prompt. However, that was an easy fix.

Now, I needed to create my speaker.

Creating a Speaker Image to Deliver the Script

To create an image for my speaker, I headed over to Midjourney and entered the following prompt:

minority woman, photography, depth of field f2.8 3.5, 25mm lens, 8k, ultra-realistic — v 4 — q 2 — v 4 — s 750 — uplight

I won’t go into the crafting of prompts for Midjourney here. Linus Ekenstam inspired this particular prompt, and he has a wealth of knowledge on his Twitter feed on crafting prompts.

Here are the initial results from Midjourney:

All of these images would work perfectly for this task. I wanted female minority representation for this project. Why? Because students need to know that jobs in computer programming and software development aren’t just for white men.

I choose this image from the four at random:

Now, I have my script and my speaker. Time for the final step.

Creating a Video with AI

For the final step, I turned to D-ID. After creating an account, I opened the “Create Video” tool and added the image of my speaker, and pasted my script in the script box.

An image capture of the D-ID.com interface for creating a new video.
D-ID interface

I changed the language settings to give the speaker an appropriate accent but still speak in English. Here is the final result:

Now, we have a little something to use to engage our third-grade students.

Is it perfect? Of course not. Do we still have a long way to go in the world of AI? Yes.

Will we ever get to use this tool to its fullest potential if we block it in school because we’re worried about cheating?

No.

AI is a tool, just like anything else. Use it. Be aware of what it can be used for, both for “good” and for “bad” — and keep in mind that what defines those terms is highly subjective.

But always follow Brandon Sanderson‘s Zeroth Law: “Always err on the side of what is awesome.”


Thanks for reading. You can get more articles like this as part of my weekly newsletters. I send out two per week: Tuesdays are deeper dives into education topics for paid subscribers, and every Friday, I share “10 Things” I think are cool and worth your time for free.

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Leading the Way

This is a preview of my Friday “10 Things” newsletter. Friday editions are free for everyone.

power up blended learning

Greetings, friends. It’s the second Friday of 2023. I hope you’re off to a great year. It’s also Friday the 13th, so be careful out there and watch out for hockey masks…

Here are 10 things I thought were worth sharing this week, focusing on the theme of leadership:

10 Cool Things Worth Sharing

  • Monday here in the US, we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. Here are 4 lessons from his leadership that apply in every organization I can think of but doubly so in education.
  • If there was ever a time for leadership amidst whirlwinds of change in the world of education, it’s now…

To read the rest, subscribe to my Friday “10 Things” newsletter.

Time Management Tips: Powerful Strategies to Help Educators and Administrators Maximize Productivity

Miles Davis, the American jazz impresario, once said, “Time isn’t the main thing, it’s the only thing.”

For certain, we don’t have enough time to do everything we want to do in our classrooms. But we are given the same amount of time as everyone else in this old world of ours, so we must figure out better ways to use our time.

For educators and administrators to thrive in the classroom or beyond, they need a firm grasp of time management. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution – every educator has different obligations, workloads, and personalities.

The good news is that with a few powerful strategies for maximizing productivity, you can take control of your time to reach new heights of efficiency in both teaching and administrative tasks.

So let’s dive into some powerful strategies which will enable you (and, by extension, your school) to get more done in less time – so that you can focus on what matters most: creating an amazing learning environment where students can thrive.

Time management tips for educators

Educators are always looking for ways to be more efficient with their time. Here are some tips that can help:

Plan ahead. The more you plan, the less rushed you’ll feel and the more accomplished you’ll feel at the end of the day.

Set priorities. Know what is important and focus on those tasks first.

Delegate tasks whenever possible. Get help from others in your department or school to lighten your load.

Take breaks. Breaks help to refresh your mind and make you more productive when you return to work.

Use technology to your advantage. Many helpful tools online can help you manage your time better.

Tips for maximizing productivity in the classroom

To boost productivity in the classroom, several things can be done. Creating a supportive and effective learning environment is one of the most important. This can be accomplished by providing clear guidelines and expectations for the class and by interacting with students in a supportive and upbeat manner.

Being organized and having a plan for each class time are also crucial. This entails having a specific goal for what you want students to learn and a flow of activities that will guide them there.

It is also helpful to give students structure, especially if they struggle with focus or organization. This can be done by giving them specific tasks to complete during class or by providing a model for how work should be completed. Finally, it is important to remember that different students learn differently and to try to incorporate different teaching methods into your classroom to reach all students.

Strategies for conquering paperwork and administrative tasks

When it comes to conquering paperwork and administrative tasks, there are a few key strategies that can help make the process a little bit easier.

Yes, even in the digital world, there is still “paperwork” to deal with daily. It just happens to take up space on a hard drive or cloud storage somewhere. You still need a strategy for processing those files.

First and foremost, you should devise a system for arranging your paperwork/digital data. This could imply organizing documents into topic-specific folders, color-coding them, or using another method that makes sense to you. A system will help you keep track of what you have and will make it easier to find what you need when you need it.

Another effective strategy is to divide large tasks into smaller ones. Trying to tackle a mountain of paperwork all at once can be overwhelming, so take it one step at a time. Begin by identifying the most pressing tasks and focusing on them first. Then move on to less urgent matters. Breaking the process down into smaller chunks will make it feel less intimidating and more manageable.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. There is no shame in admitting that you are struggling with a particular task and seeking assistance from someone who can help. Friends, family members, and even professional assistants can all be useful resources for getting things done.

How to create a personal time management plan

Atomic Habits by James Clear

Making a personal time management plan is an excellent way to ensure that you use your time as efficiently as possible. When developing your strategy, keep the following points in mind.

The first step is to determine your objectives. What do you hope to accomplish in life? After you’ve identified your objectives, you can devise a strategy to achieve them.

Your time management strategy should also include a daily schedule of what you intend to do. This will help you stay on track and make progress toward your objectives. It is also critical to be realistic about how much you can accomplish in a day and to avoid over-committing yourself.

Furthermore, creating some ground rules for how you will use your time is beneficial. Will you, for example, allow yourself to check email or use the internet for recreational purposes only after certain tasks have been completed? Will you designate specific times of the day for work and rest?

Making a personal time management plan can help you do more daily and reach your goals. By taking the time to create a plan that works for you, you can ensure that you are making the best use of your time.

The benefits of effective time management for educators

Time management is an important skill for educators. When educators are organized and efficient with their time, they can accomplish more during the school day. This not only benefits the educator but also the students they teach.

There are several benefits to effective time management for educators. First, when educators are organized, they can plan their lessons better and ensure that all necessary materials are prepared ahead of time. This makes for a smoother classroom experience for both the educator and the students.

Second, when educators are efficient with their time, they can get more work done in a shorter amount of time. This allows them more time to spend on important tasks such as grading papers or preparing for future lessons.

Third, when educators manage their time well, it can lead to a more balanced lifestyle. This is important, as it can help prevent burnout.

Lastly, when educators are good at managing their time, it sets a good example for their students. Teaching students how to manage their time effectively is an important life skill that will benefit them long after they have left school.

Keep Going by Austin Kleon

Conclusion

To summarize, effective time management has numerous advantages for educators. When educators organize and use their time efficiently, they can accomplish more during the school day. This results in a more enjoyable classroom experience for both the educator and the students and a more balanced lifestyle. Teaching students how to effectively manage their time is an important life skill that will benefit them long after graduating high school.

If you’re a teacher, you already know that time management is critical to academic success. You can maximize your productivity, conquer paperwork and administrative tasks, and create a personal time management plan that works for you by following some simple tips and strategies. The advantages of effective time management are numerous; not only will you be more productive in the classroom, but you will also have more free time to pursue your interests outside of work. Learn more about how to manage your time as an educator here.


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How to Make Reading Lots of Books More Manageable

I talk a lot about reading here on this site because I believe we learn more if we read more. And if we read books that challenge us, that learning increases exponentially.

I can speak to my growth as a writer and educator as I’ve worked to increase the number (and type) of books I read each year.

Of course, everyone is different, and your reading goals likely don’t align with mine, nor should they. Your reading habit should support your goals personally and professionally.

Reading more books can be daunting, especially when you have a long list of books you want to get through. It is important to read for personal and professional development, but finding the time and motivation can be difficult.

We’re all busy and have many things competing for our time. Family, friends, work, and life ask more of us daily.

Thankfully, there are ways to make reading more manageable, so you can reach your goals without feeling overwhelmed.

Setting Goals

The first step in making reading more manageable is setting goals. It is important not to share your goals publicly as this will increase the pressure to reach them. Instead, create realistic and achievable goals that you know you will be able to meet without too much stress.

Break large goals into small ones so that they are easier to manage. For example, if your goal is to read 10 books by the end of the year, break it down by setting smaller monthly or weekly targets instead.

Putting Reading Time on Your Calendar

I’m a big believer in scheduling time in your day for the tasks you deem most important.

It is easy for reading time to get lost among other commitments throughout the day. To make sure you prioritize reading, set aside specific times each day or week when you dedicate yourself completely to reading. This could be during your lunch break at work or before bed each night—whatever fits best with your schedule.

You could even set reminders on your phone for when it’s time for “reading hour” each day so that it doesn’t slip away from you too quickly.

Joining or Starting a Book Club

Joining a book club or starting one of your own has many advantages when it comes to managing your reading goals and habits. Being part of a book club allows you to connect with others who share similar interests while also providing accountability and support in achieving your own personal goals.

There are plenty of online book clubs available if there isn’t one local enough for you to join in person, but starting one yourself would allow complete freedom when it comes to choosing topics and themes that interest all involved.

Always Carrying a Book On You

Carrying a book around with you wherever you go (Kindles and other digital readers make this easy) makes it easier for moments throughout the day when there may be some downtime or waiting around—whether that be in line at the store or waiting for an appointment—to become moments devoted solely towards catching up on some pages rather than scrolling through social media timelines or checking emails out of boredom.

As long as there’s something good enough in hand, these moments can become part of a routine, which helps keep track of progress over time and stay motivated about reaching those larger goals.

Not Feeling Bad About Quitting Books That Aren’t Enjoyable

Not every book we choose will immediately grab our attention which means sometimes we may need some convincing before we keep going with something new; however, don’t feel like quitting after only giving something new a few pages just because someone else said it was amazing —reading should always remain enjoyable no matter what everyone else says! Give yourself permission not just stick with what everyone else recommends but also take chances on those books that really spark an interest within oneself first and foremost.

Conclusion

Making reading more manageable means taking control of how much time is dedicated to getting through books effectively without feeling overwhelmed by unrealistic expectations placed upon oneself or others alike.

Creating routines such as setting achievable goals, putting reading time on calendars, joining/starting book clubs, carrying books around everywhere possible, and allowing yourself permission not to finish any books if they’re not enjoyable are all great places to start when trying to make sure all those different genres & topics get their fair share attention moving forward.

Ultimately, if you want to read more, the only way to do that is to just read more. But that’s not always so easy. These tips will, hopefully, give you some support in increasing your reading in the coming year.

The Reading List

If you’re looking for book recommendations, I release a reading list email monthly. In each newsletter, I recommend 5-10 books that I think are great, along with a one-sentence recap. I also include connections to other books I’ve read and why I think you might enjoy reading them as well.

If you’d like access to that reading list, fill out the form below, and you’ll receive the next monthly email.

Thursday Assorted Links

“Doing less meaningless work, so that you can focus on things of greater personal importance, is NOT laziness. This is hard for most to accept, because our culture tends to reward personal sacrifice instead of personal productivity.”

Tim Ferriss
  1. Striking findings from 2022 (Pew Research)
  2. Announcing the fifth annual NPR Student Podcast Challenge
  3. ChatGPT and How AI Disrupts Industries
  4. Machines that make you feel more human

What Will We Do with AI Tools in Education?

The buzz around AI writing tools continues in the education world. Of course, there are several AI tools that we’re already using, whether in the classroom or not. We were using AI tools long before anyone thought about them invading our classrooms, but we didn’t think they had classroom applications.

But none have gotten the coverage that ChatGPT has gotten since its launch on 30 November 2022.

I fear that the first response many educators will have is, “we have to block it right now.”

I understand teachers’ very valid concerns about any new technology tool, but blocking is horribly inefficient and the equivalent of burying our heads in the sand.

As tools proliferate, they become more and more difficult to block School IT departments get enough of these types of requests already, and in most cases, blocking one site only leads to students finding ten more that offer them the same access.

It’s not that I don’t think we need to have good conversations about the responsible usage of tools like ChatGPT. Without rails to guide the path, there is a strong possibility of misuse or poor usage. If there was ever a time when we needed more focus on digital citizenship and media literacy, I can’t think of one.

But we can talk about responsible usage of any tool in the classroom. The concept isn’t new. Before we had Google Docs, kids passed notes in class. The pen was once accused of the oncoming downfall of the education system.

How many times have you had to prevent your classroom from being invaded by ruler helicopters? Abusing tools in the classroom or, perhaps more correctly, using tools to avoid boredom in the classroom is nothing new.

So what do we do with new tools that are certain to disrupt the status quo?

My hope is that more of us have this outlook on new tools available to use in schools:

Obviously, our classroom activities should challenge students to do more than regurgitate information. We should challenge students to create from their imagination.

We must strive for deeper learning in every classroom in every school.

If teachers design student-centered learning experiences that allow students to write with support in class, ChatGPT won’t be nearly as disruptive as some articles claim.

Catlin Tucker

We should provide opportunities that stimulate their brain and make neural pathways come alive with dancing dreams of great design.

When we don’t embrace new technologies, we deny students options. We prevent them from learning about how their world is changing.

I love me some disruptive technology. There’s no point in beating our chest about how technology x has made y obsolete. The business world can not ignore disruptive technology or they will go out of business. As educators we are in the business of preparing students for THEIR future. The future for students includes AI (Artificial Intelligence).

Alice Keeler

But not only do we prevent students from experiencing new tools that can be very useful in their lives, but we also overlook what we, as teachers, can use these tools for to make our lives easier.

The emergence of AI education disruptors like ChatGPT reveal the need for more diverse teaching models. The COVID-19 pandemic was a catalyst, spurring teachers and administrators into action. We can’t return to “normal school” any more than we can ignore new educational advancements.

We must embrace change. We can’t move forward without it.

How Disruptive Will ChatGPT Be?

I introduced Minecraft: Education Edition to my school district last school year and made the statement in a school board presentation that it was likely the most disruptive tool I’d brought to the district.

But ChatGPT? Oh my. I hope it breaks more barriers and causes more people to rethink daily what they do in classrooms. We already know (or we should know) that students will use AI tools to write papers. I hope educators use it, and many other technologies, to completely redesign education for the future.


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Small Moves: The Key To Digital Leadership

This post was first published in August 2014, so please forgive any outdated references. I began my student teaching and carried many dreams and plans in my mind. Looking back on these words, I still carry many of these ideas with me eight years later. Maybe I was on to something…


I’m a huge movie fan. Many of my favorite films are science fiction, which, if you know me, is probably a foregone conclusion.

I love Star Wars, Star Trek, The Last Starfighter, Dune… the list goes on for days.

One of my favorite sci-fi films is Contact, based on the book by Carl Sagan. If you’re unfamiliar with the book or film, the plot revolves around what might happen if the human race received a message from another world.

Spoiler alerts ahead if you haven’t seen this nearly 20-year-old movie yet…

In the film’s climax, the main character speaks with a member of an alien race in the guise of her dead father. He explains a bit about how they were able to contact our planet and how things will progress in the future.

Our fearless heroine wants all of her questions answered at once, excited at what this incredible discovery could mean for science and the human race. However, she doesn’t get her wish.

The alien explains to her that progress and communication will come slowly over time. He tells her…

“Small moves, Ellie. Small moves.”

Change is a good but incredibly difficult thing. Especially in education. No matter how great we think some new technology or process is or how much we will benefit from it, the implementation will not come quickly. Not will it come free of pain, problems, and complaints.

Learning Transformed: 8 Keys to Designing Tomorrow’s Schools, Today

Small moves.

Writing this post, I’m in my second full week of student teaching. Of course, I bring with me a fairly large amount of tech experience with a boatload of tools that teachers can use in the classroom. I am not, however, an experienced classroom teacher.

But, I can still show other teachers a few small ways that technology can make their lives easier, engage students, and bring some 21st-century methods into their classrooms.

But it has to start small. A friend of mine introduced Plickers in his classroom as a way to perform formative assessments. He called me over to see the trial run.

Of course, the students loved it. It was cool to see this app grade their responses instantly rather than waiting for their answers to be graded. I knew the kids would love it, and I knew my friend would love it, as we’ve been talking about using it since long before school began.

What I didn’t know would happen was the response from other teachers around his classroom. The buzz in the hallways after school about this little app was astounding. One of the guys from the district IT department even came over to see what we were doing.

Small moves.

Sometimes as tech evangelists, we forget that not everyone is as comfortable with tech as we are. There are teachers in your building right now that have been teaching long enough that they can remember a time when the only computers in the school were in a computer lab, and no teacher had a school email address.

And now we’re asking them to implement tools like GAFE, Microsoft LYNC, iPads, laptops, Chromebooks, and tablets….

Small moves.

If we really want to be great digital leaders, we have to be willing to meet others where they are with tech. Too often, we get carried away with the latest and greatest shiny app that will “revolutionize” our classrooms. We don’t understand why EVERYONE doesn’t use it the day it becomes available.

It’s not about beating other teachers and administrators over the head with new technology. It’s about showing them how one tool can improve or help them. How one tool can ignite a student’s interest in a new way.

It’s about small moves, not giant leaps.

We must be ready to make those small moves quickly and guide others to do the same. When that happens, teachers, administrators, and students win.

Sure, there will always be those asking, “Well, why are you doing this? What’s your motivation? What do you want to get out of it?” They balk at every suggestion and idea made.

But if we’re making small moves, those people will soon be drowned out by the gathering crowd of people making their small moves toward a better system for us all.

And soon, that gathering crowd will no longer be the minority that wants change; they will be the overwhelming majority that drives change and sends our education system in a new and exciting direction.

But it all starts with small moves.

Small moves, Ellie.

As leaders, that’s what we have to do.


Thanks for taking a stroll down memory lane with me.

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