#DBCBookBlogs: Make Learning Magical

Several years ago, there was a night of games at a conference. This was the first time I ever spoke to Tisha Richmond. Fast forward to last April and I knew I’d met a new best friend.

She was playing Code Names with her class! That is one of my (and my students’) favorite games to play!

I had no idea who this Tisha Richmond lady was, but I already adored her. Who can resist another tabletop gamer AND her Twitter handle sounded way cool – @tishrich.

So when I found out she was releasing a book with THE Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc I was so excited (as evidenced by the sheer number of exclamation points in the above tweet, ha)!

The day it was available on Amazon, it was purchased, and on Sept 18, it arrived!

Finally – I get to share my thoughts about Make Learning Magical by Tisha Richmond, book 57 (and the most recent release) in the amazing line of Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc books.

MLMagical

Stop right now and go get your copy. Seriously. This was one of those books that I didn’t want to put down. It is a book from which I had SO much I wanted to do that I had to wait and get my sleep on before I could make a decision about my implementation plan (Spoiler alert: I still couldn’t make a decision).

There are so many practical ideas within Tisha’s book and every single one seems feasible in any classroom. Tisha was a culinary arts teacher who has now transitioned to a new role as her district’s tech integration specialist. She shares how she gamified her classroom and how she gave her students an authentic audience. In her class it wasn’t just about spending time in the kitchen, it was also about spending time with one another and students putting their own spin on culinary creations.

Her acronym (because, hello… it is a DBC book after all… we know how much we love those acronyms) It’s magical… no, really… it’s MAGICAL.

  • Memorable Beginnings

  • Authenticity and Agency

  • Gamified Experiences

  • Innovation

  • Creativity, Collaboration, and Curiosity

  • Authentic Audience

  • Legacy

See… MAGICAL.

Memorable Beginnings

Tisha advocates for leaving the syllabus, handbook, rules and procedures until AFTER getting to know our students. I love this! After all, I teach kids. I need to know those kids and they need to know me before any true learning connections can happen. Learning certainly isn’t magical if students don’t feel comfortable in their own environment.

From this section, I choose to implement the decor. She speaks to using all senses to engage students. These include using music to engage the ears, aromas to engage the nose, visually pleasing colors with the psychology of colors to engage the eyes. As I seek to be more magical in my lessons, I will consider what students are seeing, smelling, and hearing.

Authenticity and Agency

This entire section – the whole thing – spoke to me at the core. Having an attitude of gratitude, giving students voice, and sharing our failures are keys to a magical environment. I am implementing the #GratitudeSnaps co-created by Tisha and Tara Martin (author of Be REAL) and sharing one thing I am thankful for each day for the next three weeks.

Gamified Experiences

If you loved Michael Matera‘s eXPlore Like a Pirate, you will certainly love this part of the book! In fact, Michael wrote the foreword for Make Learning Magical! I personally love the mini-games that Tisha shares.

Last spring I was awarded a local mini-grant to purchase tabletop games for use in the classroom. I am so pumped to be using these games in connection to curriculum across grade levels. The game club that I have the pleasure of facilitating is every Friday afternoon and we are enjoying spending time together. I will be implementing these games into classrooms and blogging about them as the implementation for this section (and the main implementation of this book).

*Think of the other implementations as “side quests“.

Innovation

Tisha reminds us of George Couros‘s The Innovator’s Mindset in which George explores the idea of innovating inside our boxes. This means to use what we have and innovate with that.

It is in this section that Tisha shares her biggest mic drop moment (in my opinion). This is where I feel like she’s come off of the book’s pages and is talking to me face-to-face in my living room, and I bet you’ll feel the same way!

“I’ve had moments of irrational fear and doubt when I’ve strongly considered going back to comfortable and easy; however, the fire inside me is too strong. I know that I can never go back to comfortable and easy, because in the discomfort and challenge is where I’ve experienced such growth. In the fear, I’ve discovered things about myself I hadn’t realized and become even more certain of what I believe and hold dear to my heart.”

~Tisha Richmond, Make Learning Magical

Here I am getting goosebumps again just reading that part of Tisha’s heart in word form. This reminds me so much of Shawn Mendes’s song “It Isn’t In My Blood.” We hear this  phrase repeated time and time again – it’s like an anthem.

Sometimes I feel like giving up
But I just can’t
It isn’t in my blood

Creativity, Collaboration, and Curiosity

So much is covered in this section that is pure gold! From considering the introvert to giving more opportunities for making in the classroom, from creating buzz for lessons (think Teach Like A Pirate hooks) to sketchnoting and being a connected educator, there is so much in this one short section. Tisha is really bringing the heat, so to speak.

My implementation (which scares the socks off of me) is to be more intentional in sketchnoting. Being a connected educator has given me opportunities to learn from Carrie Baughcum, Sylvia Duckworth, Julie Woodard, Monica Spillman, and more. If you’re not following these rockstars, I’d suggest taking a moment to rectify the situation before moving forward.

Authentic Audience

Giving students an authentic audience is so important. It is well known that students will do bare minimum in most cases when their teachers are the sole audience. They will put in a little more work when their peers become part of the audience. But when we allow students to publish their work to the world, it gets real… really real.

My implementation is to pull in more audiences for the students and teachers I serve.

Legacy

When is the last time you ran into one of your own former teachers? As an educator, did you take the time to speak with your former teacher and share their impact? I hope so. I was in JROTC throughout my entire high school career. For a reason I will never understand, my Sergeant saw leadership potential in me and within just days promoted me to Colorguard Commander. At the first home football game of my freshman year, I carried the American Flag onto the field flanked by two riflemen and the state colors. I was shaking like a leaf, but I did my job. We marched on the field, we presented the colors, we ordered the colors, and we marched back off in perfect unison. Until that moment, I’d never experienced leadership to that degree. He deeply impacted me through that quick decision to give me a promotion and declare that I would command cadets that were much more experienced than I was.

Be sure to thank your former teachers, if at all possible, who impacted you in a positive way. My first year students are now in their early to mid twenties. I am blessed to watch them get married, start families, and begin their careers through social media. The thought of leaving my own legacy in children is both terrifying and empowering. We should never take it lightly.

Tisha’s book is further proof that the DBC, Inc line of educational books is only getting stronger and stronger. Who would have ever thought that 6 years ago at the release of Teach Like A Pirate, some edgy book with a pirate map on the cover self-published from a kitchen table, would have the legacy that it is leaving on education around the globe. It’s powerful, and truly – it’s mind-blowing.

To follow along with Make Learning Magical conversations, follow Tisha Richmond and add the hashtag #MLMagical to your tweetdeck columns. Go spend some time on Tisha’s website and blog found here. You will also see a section for recipes along the top (or click here). <Tisha, I need lessons, ma’am! Just saying… I struggle with boiling water, no lie.> Tisha has also done podcasts and videos! Check out this one with Jeff Utecht of Shifting Our Schools, this one with StoriesInEdu, or this Recap of #MasteryChat! As if all of that isn’t enough, Make Learning Magical comes with its own slice of magic… Ann Brucker of BreakoutEDU created an epic #BreakoutEDU game to partner with the book! Whaaat? I know, right?! So awesome! I want to do a book study, just so I can set the game up for others to play! This is an incredible partnership and I really hope to see more of this in the future!

The flipgrid is available for you to reflect, share your own thoughts and implementations from Make Learning Magical! A special thank you to Andrea Paulakovich for allowing me to co-pilot this incredible global collaboration spaces for all of the DBC books!

The next book to be released is yet to be seen publicly…. ooooh, wait a minute… just double-checked Twitter to see this post…

Allyson Apsey (author of The Path to Serendipity has released the Amazon link to her first picture book (and the second children’s book in the DBC, Inc line) titled The Princes of Serendip! This book will begin shipping soon! Go grab a copy of Make Learning Magical AND The Princes of Serendip now! Book 58 is coming soon!

#DBC50Summer 25/50: Teaching Math with Google Apps

I love the fact that book 24 and book 25 in the Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc line up came out back-to-back! These two books flow well together as they both discuss that the most important thing in math isn’t the answer itself, but is found in the process of finding the answer. When students ask, “when am I ever going to use this” the answer is now clear, no matter what concept being covered…the critical thinking skills developed in math will be used every. single. day.

Book 25 is the third book published by DBC for Alice Keeler. (The first two released were 50 Things and 50 Things Further, both co-authored with Dr. Libbi Miller.) Alice co-authored book 25 with the late Diana Herrington. Sadly, Diana passed away unexpectedly on May 17, 2017, just a few weeks after the release of their book. Diana’s love of teaching math and her passion for making math fun for students lives on in her words in the book. Teaching Math with Google Apps is book 25, and marks the halfway point in #DBC50Summer!

googlemath

Choosing from any of the Alice Keeler Google Apps books will result in a beautiful read. These pages are printed completely in color and organized in such a way that the content is easy to navigate and understand. Teaching Math with Google Apps can be used as a cover to cover professional development read, or as a quick reference guide (I’ll be using it as both)! In this book in particular, the sections of reading are color-coded in the top corners. I personally enjoy a good color-coding system, so this immediately spoke to my heart. I also love that Alice & Diana brought in some familiar faces to contribute! We get to hear from Shelley Burgess (co-author of P is for Pirate and co-author of Lead Like A Pirate), John Stevens (Table Talk Math and co-author of The Classroom Chef), and Denis Sheeran (Instant Relevance).

There are so many amazing tips, tools, activities, examples, and templates included in this book! The complete list of links is available when you purchase the book. That list of links alone is worth every penny! There are examples and templates for elementary through high school math classes, so there’s something for everyone here!

Some of my favorite activities within the book are Pixel Art using Google Sheets (I know, right? Genius stuff! It’s like a digital color by number), utilizing all that Google Forms has to offer through the implementation of self-graded quizzes that offer students immediate feedback, and using the Explore feature in Google Apps to make math relevant to students through maps, shopping, and can even be used to complete a scavenger hunt to find math “in the wild”.

Alice and Diana suggest using Discovery activities to learn collaboratively. Another idea they have is to put the beginning of the lesson in the middle. So think about this… typically students come into math class (or any class) and we quickly review (those who got it yesterday are now tuned out while those who didn’t get it yesterday are already frustrated), probably go over homework (waste of time – both the giving it and the going over it), and then start your lesson for the day 10-15 minutes later having wasted valuable class time. Diana challenges us to switch that up? What if we put our beginning in the middle? What if we didn’t go over homework (or give it for that matter) and we start with an extension from the day before? And… wait for it… they do this collaboratively so those that excelled yesterday have the opportunity to refine their knowledge by peer tutoring those who struggled yesterday. Their peers, those that struggled, get to hear the information from a different perspective and will likely have more understanding. Meanwhile, the teacher is monitoring and asking questions. After completing the extension activity and discussing it as a class, you transition into the day’s mini-lesson and allow students to discover the math using activities in Google Apps rather than telling them (Alice & Diana give the example that we typically TELL students the Pythagorean Theorem… why not ask the students what it is? They have Google! Google will tell them!) This shift in teaching and learning even sounds as though it would flow better. Makes much more sense to me anyhow. Great thinking, Diana!

Some of my favorite quotes from this one are listed below. (Y’all, Alice Keeler has a way with quotes, by the way. After meeting her in June, I can hear her saying some of these in my head now. I can hear the conviction behind some of these quotes and even if you aren’t really sure if you agree, you’ll find yourself nodding along, because the passion in her voice makes it so that it’s the gospel truth.)

“No matter the medium, design for student engagement.”

“Teach like YouTube and Google exist.” (one of my favorite favorites) Going hand-in-hand with that one, Alice says, “I have a rule: Do not tell students things they can look up.” [see Pythagorean Theorem statement above]

“Glitter, scissors, and glue should not be abandoned. Sometimes technology is not the best tool. While work can be created on paper…the work can still be submitted digitally…insert an image”

“The conversation becomes a risk-free learning zone – and that’s where the magic happens!”

“It is important for students to approach a problem with strategies rather than procedural steps. Strategies help them make connections when confronted with new situations.”

My implementation for this book is two-fold.  There is an activity (and template, woo hoo, get the book and you have access to the template, too) in the book where students take a selfie and upload into a collaborative Google Slides presentation and share a couple of things about themselves. I want to do this during my first media class with my 6th grade students. It introduces students to Google Classroom, Google Slides, and allows me to get to know the students’ names and faces as well. Secondly, at some point in time this year (and knowing how much Alice loves her spreadsheets, she would recommend sooner rather than later), I want to complete the Google Sheets activity included in the book where students will discover how to input data and manipulate Google Sheets. Using Google Sheets more will only help my students in the long run, so giving them a strong foundation with this template on the basics is a great place to start. I’m excited to see where this takes my students, and the staff! This book is specifically geared toward math teachers, but there’s so many activities here that can be adapted across the curriculum that I would truly recommend this book to anyone! The back of the book even has some Google tutorials for those moments when you’re reading and think, I have no idea what they mean by revision history. Detailed information with a beautiful screenshot is included here as well!

As usual with books co-authored by Alice Keeler, there is a vast world of information on her website. Go to alicekeeler.com and knock yourself out! Check out the hashtag #GoogleMath on Twitter for more. You can also subscribe to the Google Math Newsletter here! Don’t forget that if you want that link with ALL the resources, templates, examples, and other amazingness included in the book, you need to purchase a copy for yourself! You can do that here! Finally, you can always contribute to the flipgrid using the password DBCSummer (if it asks for one). Andrea Paulakovich had the brilliant idea to create a space for global collaboration around each DBC book, and I love it! Please share your thoughts there! We always include a prompt, but that prompt isn’t required. If you have something better in mind, share that! We just want to learn together in that digital space!

***One of Diana’s visions was to create a scholarship fund to encourage students to go into STEM fields. There is a gofundme page here or you can donate directly Fresno State in memory of Diana Herrington. These donations go toward an endowment at California State University Fresno for students who want to teach math! Diana’s passion for math lives on! Any donation is appreciated!***

Well, we’ve reached the halfway point! Next up is a book by one of the sweetest ladies I’ve ever “met” (well, met virtually…on Twitter, but I will meet her face-to-face one day, I hope)! If you want to know how to make small changes for a HUGE impact, check out book 26 in #DBC50Summer: Shift This by Joy Kirr!

 

You down with GPD? Yeah, You Know Me!

Good luck getting that out of your head!

What is GPD?  Gamified Professional Development.  Microcredentialing, badging, gamification… these seem to be the latest and greatest buzzwords in education.  Normally, I am immediately turned off by buzzwords.  For example: “21st Century Learning”… y’all, it’s 2018 – for the love of everything holy, let’s move on from that one, please!  “Innovation”… putting a worksheet in Google Classroom is NOT innovation, it’s a digital worksheet.  “Project-Based Learning”… doing a class project at the end of a unit does not merit the label of PBL.  I get frustrated because the buzzword becomes a “thing” and everyone rushes to do “the thing” without giving “the thing” any real thought or due diligence.

With that small rant behind me (I’m sure it won’t be the last though), I have to say I’m a huge fan of the move toward gamifying professional development.  For the first 8(ish) years of my career, professional development was the one thing I dreaded more than any other.  Give me all the paperwork, grades, conferences, faculty meetings, or any other <insert educational acronym here>, and I’ll do it with a smile on my face.  Give me some ridiculous professional development where I sit through an hour workshop of something someone with a higher pay grade than me thought I needed to know, and I was immediately rolling my eyes and mentally checked out.  I had numerous CEUs from professional development I’d attended, but hadn’t learned a single thing, other than how to refine my ability to pass notes more stealthily.  Then, Lucas Gillispie was hired by my district in 2014 and his first PD with us was #Education, in which I learned what I was missing in professional development.  I realized that I needed to personalize my professional development.  I immediately started using Twitter professionally and following the folks Lucas recommended following; my Twitter PD exploded from that moment.

I continued to learn from Lucas as a pilot participant in the gamified professional development he created called “EPIC Academy” in 2015.  I was immediately hooked by the aspect of a leaderboard and earning points!  Above all else, the learning that happened here was RELEVANT!  If the quest didn’t pertain to what I needed at the time, I just dropped the quest and chose something else.  I had CHOICE in what I learned.  The quests in EPIC Academy were designed to be bite-sized pieces of information.  Showing mastery of each bite led to another bite, and before you know it, you’ve created a product that shows mastery of something much bigger.

In 2016, Lucas asked me to come onboard as a quest designer for EPIC.  I was terrified as this was “his baby” and I wanted to be sure to maintain the level of awesome he had precedented, while keeping the “buzzword” aspect out of it.  I wanted to give each quest I designed the forethought it deserved, and have participants create a product that was relevant and useful to them and their learners.  I designed the quest chains for Augmented Reality and Digital Formative Assessment that year.  Since then, I have been privileged to design the quest chains for Digital Storytelling, BreakoutEDU, Digital BreakoutEDU, Teacher Productivity Tools, Classcraft, and BreakoutEDU 2.0.

EPIC Academy has taken off exponentially since 2016.  Lucas applied for, and was awarded, a Digital Learning Initiative Showcase Grant from the NC Department of Public Instruction to expand EPIC Academy, to connect and share the content to educators from across the state.  As part of this grant, Lucas designed a model for mentors to assist those in EPIC Academy.  As an EPIC Mentor, we support and encourage educators new to the gamified professional development world.

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I have watched this model flourish under Lucas’s leadership.  There are no educators in EPIC that were required to join; participation is completely optional.  With some of the latest buzzwords being “microcredentialing”, “badging”, “gamification”, I am thankful that EPIC Academy is untarnished by the effects of buzzwords thus far.  Through EPIC alone, I have gained over 8 Digital Learning Competency CEUs, but more importantly, my students and staff have been exposed to the benefits of Google Drive, Coding, Skype, Augmented Reality, Digital Formative Assessment, YouTube, Virtual Field Trips, BreakoutEDU, Flipgrid, Appsmashing, QR Codes, Game Based Learning, and much more.  My teaching has been taken to the next level, and my desire for continuing learning is piqued.  GPD is the way to create life-long learners of educators; the days of one-hour professional development is ancient history for me. So… who’s down with GPD?