Y’know What’s Cool?


In a PechaKucha presentation, there are rules. Twenty images, twenty seconds each. No text. What a neat way to share stories, right? There’s something really intimate about these presentations. I feel like I’m in a stranger’s living room, on their comfiest couch, having tea and looking in on a slice of

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life. Someone’s REAL life…not the Hollywood crazy housewives of New York or whatever. It’s voyeuristic, but not in a creepy or overdone way. It’s honest and at times really heartfelt.


Now that’s just good clean fun, eh? 😉


Nice to Meet You…

How do you like me so far?

This was my dad’s big opener at many a soiree. Many a polite party guest would just smile and nod, and say, “hahah, fine….” I wonder how it would have gone if the feedback he got was anonymous or open-ended?

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Well. It might have hurt his feelings.

Poll Everywhere is a polling tool (no duh), where users can let you know what they really think without looking you in the eye. Or while ALL of them look you in the eye. Wouldn’t that be a fun party trick? If you can handle the truth, why not poke Poll Everywhere into your pocket to take to your next big party?

Or… might it be a great way to engage your students?

No duh it would.

What Does the Grok Say?


Whoah…this is one weird tool! From what I gather, it’s kind of like Mendeley, which is a place to keep track of research sources and share knowledge with others, but more visual? Have a peek at this “how to video,” which initially made me think Grok has street cred.


A question I have about this tool is, how accurate is it? My spidey sense tells me it might be lacking based on initial search results for the terms “Instructional Media.” Another crazy-weird thing is that in the video the presenter defines “the verb” Grok as, “to understand thoroughly and intuitively.”  What language is that? I looked it up in an English dictionary to double check and there is no such word.


Very cool name, very cool idea…leaves me feeling a little suspicious. 🙂

Oh Good. There’s a School For That

No one teaches us social or emotional intelligence. And no one really talks about it. Okay, my next comment is kind of geographical, so you may need to be Canadian to understand. Picture this:

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Two guys in toques pass under a rack of antlers to go into a bar. One turns to the
other and says, “So, did you get your mindfulness meditation in today?”

The other sits down, pulls off his lumberjack sweater and says, “No man, I did yoga today instead.”



In the UK, there is a place called the School of Life where folks can learn about things like, how to be in a relationship, or the importance of friendship, for example. This is really important stuff! These are the kinds of soft skills that get us through life and make us better humans. If we could make social and emotional intelligence courses mandatory as part of first year English say, the learning from that could make our society more tolerant, happier, and connected.


Get Ur Grammar On Peeps!

Check out Grammarly. As a creative writing student, adverbs were the revered as the most naughtiest of no-nos. So that’s why I find it funny that a grammar-checking app is adverbarial in nature. The name aside, this tool is way too cool for school.

I think it functions as one of those “Web 2.0” tool thingies. It is a two-way communication between what you’re writing and/or uploading and the app. Grammarly checks your grammar while you write. So for a writerly type like me (har, har), it’s super-funtastic to use.

Check course outlines before handing them out to those keener English students or make sure students’ grammar is Grammarly next time you have to read a twenty-page paper. 😉


So, I want to continue the cognitive dissonance discussion. When was the last time you walked down the street and spied someone in the throes of cognitive dissonance? Maybe they were doing a chicken dance to the sound of traffic or their mouth was twitching uncontrollably. Is that how you would know they were struggling with two opposing ideas in their head at exactly the same time?

“I don’t know.” You say. “I can’t see inside their thoughts, so I don’t know what they’re wrestling with.” You say.

Exactly. I think the only way we can determine whether someone is suffering from a bad case of cognitive dissonance is to communicate with them. Using our eyes and mouths and voices. Remember those? I suppose you can discuss issues via forums or text. Call me old-fashioned, but technically mediated discussion is not the same as a face-to-face debate. What about the fun stuff like body language and different tones of voice? Don’t those matter anymore?

My apologies. I digress. I suppose all I was trying to get at is that we can discover and work through cognitive dissonance when we talk about big ideas and issues with someone IRL. Tea-time chats about politics can usually tease out a little dissonance. Try it…let me know how you do with that old-fashioned “real time” chatter. I’ll be curious to know how you make out.

Do You Think What you Think You Think?

Do You Think What you Think you Think is the title of one of my fave books. It’s a lovely collection of philosophy puzzles that provoke higher-order thinking and discussion. They also provoke a little something called cognitive dissonance.

“What is that?” You say.

For those of you that are like, “puhshaw, I know what cognitive dissonance is dum dum,” you have my permission to read ahead. As for the rest of you…

Cognitive dissonance occurs when we try to hold two conflicting beliefs at the same time. It often leads to an unsettled feeling…or in some cases extreme anxiety. What ultimately ends up happening is that the dissonance has to be resolved. We either have to change our mind or stay in the limbo-land of “maybe this, maybe that…” forEVER. Sounds fun, right? Not to mention the party pooper paradise you’d create if you only surrounded yourself with people who thoughtlessly bought into your flawed theories even though you know they’re flawed. Sounds like a GREAT time to me!

So, get your ducks in a row. Be consistent and logical about your beliefs. Yep. It’s going to hurt, but guess what? Pain is just weakness leaving the body.



Do you hate tests? I sure don’t. I LOVE them. I love job interviews too.

I’m seriously serious. I think of job interviews and tests the same way you probably think of the Olympics or an NHL game. They are an opportunity to train your heart out and see just how much you can amp up your game. Not only that! How hard is it to come by honest and down right AWESOME feedback? Pretty hard, I say.

I realize not everyone loves the sweat-infused anxiety that tests and job interviews bring on, so I want to share something really interesting I learned about formative testing. Basically, it’s a way for students to check in with themselves and have those honest conversations with their teacher about how they’re doing. Get this: in a low-stress and positive way. Tests + positivity? Who knew it could be that easy?


Learning to Learn: Yes it’s a Thing

From what I gather, learning to learn is very much related to metacognition. Basically it’s about examining your own thinking and thinking practices and using what’s uncovered during those reflections to your advantage in learning situation. It’s also about knowing what kinds of study techniques and tricks will work for you. My impression is that this kind of self-knowledge is a process and will come with a few trial and error sessions and a lot of reflection. Having said that, I know that I’ve applied some of these techniques to understand my own learning and it has saved me a ton of time.

I was blown away by the concept of learning how to learn because no one ever actually taught me how to learn or how to examine my own learning style so that I could learn best. I wasn’t even aware of the concept during my undergraduate degree and this knowledge would have come in so handy! I finally stumbled upon learning to learn tips and other study skills info when my department at work helped create this learning commons site. Once I started applying some of the principles I found in this video, I was stunned at how fast concepts stuck in my mind and how I was able to transfer them across many areas of my life. Amazing stuff!

I invite you to take this learning styles test to see what you can learn about your own learning. Please share a short synopsis of your results!


Growth Mindsets

What is a growth mindset?

How can we support our students through a fixed mindset?  Letting students know they’re supported seems to help and walking them through things that are really hard for them seems to help, but otherwise if they don’t want to do the work, there’s not much else to do about it.

I struggle with brainstorming ways to encourage students to work through fixed mindset, pretty much daily. My philosophy (and PLEASE share your philosophy because I’d love to know if my thoughts on this are fixed) is that students have to first choose to do the work involved to change their mindset. They need to turn their “I can’t” into I CAN! If they don’t choose to do that…they’re lost.

Do you guys face this? What techniques do you employ? Do you feel responsible if they give up?