Teaching Tools

Enter For a Chance to Win!

I know, I know. If you receive my posts in your school e-mail, the embedded video below from @Abbott ElementaryABC is probably blocked. But I couldn’t resist the clip because it’s equally touching and funny. If you’re a teacher, you know the constant tug of war between your awareness that you never went into this profession for the money and the natural human-need to feel valued. Hopefully, you can visit the link for the video or watch it outside of school if you didn’t have a chance to catch this episode of Abbott Elementary.

@abbottelementaryabc It’s #TeacherAppreciationWeek! Join #AbbottElementary ♬ original sound – Abbott Elementary

In the meantime, I want you to know how much you are appreciated. Over the years, I’ve reached out to some of my former teachers to tell them what they meant to me, and I hope that you receive those reminders, too. From the bottom of my heart, I feel immense gratitude to the teachers who shaped me into the person I am today as well as the incredible colleagues I worked with for 29 years.

To show my appreciation, I am giving away free tuition for two of my online courses: Harnessing Hexagons and Genius Hour. There will be one lucky winner for each, and everyone who enters will receive my newsletter that will contain a coupon code for 50% off each course. Entries need to be received by 5/12 at midnight CST. I’ll use a random drawing extension to choose the two winners. You can still enter to try to win the free courses even if you already receive my newsletter. Since these are online and self-paced, they are the perfect way to earn some credits when you don’t feel rushed this summer or, if you prefer to protect those weeks off by not doing school-related tasks there is no deadline.

It’s hard to find ways to give back to a profession that gave me so much over the years, but I try my best to share free downloads and tips with the hope that you will receive my heart-felt message that I respect and value you so much.

Thank you!

serious girl in protective mask holding plush toy in mask and showing palm against steps

3d Toy Shop

I’m home sick today, and of course that leads to me mindlessly scrolling through TikTok videos. Between my interests in education and DIY projects, I supposed that it was inevitable that TikTok would eventually recommend a video from 3d Toy Shop (@3dToyShop) owner Nick Hardman. Using his 3d printers, Hardman makes customized stuffed animals for children who have medical conditions. Outfitted with the same urine bags, PEG feeding tubes and dialysis machines, or other lifesaving accessories their young owners themselves wear, these toys are each one-of-a-kind, and give the patients comfort as well as understanding about the care they are receiving.


♬ original sound – 3dtoyshop

I had that instant adrenaline rush that I often get when I see an idea I could use in my classroom (although I no longer have a classroom) because I frequently preach about engaging students with authentic projects, and I can totally see posing this scenario to them to see if they would like to do something similar. This would be an amazing PBL unit or Genius Hour project.

You can find Nick’s website here. He also has a GoFundMe page because this incredible man is not trying to make money from his specialized toys so he formed a nonprofit instead.

image from BBC video about Nick Hardman’s 3d Toy Shop
Independent Study, K-12, Research, Teaching Tools

UN Sustainable Development Goals

Back in 2015 the United Nations adopted 17 goals that they hoped the world could achieve by the year 2030.

If you have students who are doing Genius Hour/Passion Projects, etc…, the Global Goals are a great entry point that can help them to determine what is meaningful to them. For example, my fifth graders did their Genius Hour projects based on, “What breaks your heart?” and they could use the Global Goals to drill down to specific actions that could be taken to make change. Another example of a project related to the Global Goals, which I describe in this blog post, was the Art Drop Day my colleague facilitated with his high school students.

I have a Wakelet Collection of resources for the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It can be a bit overwhelming when you first start delving into them, so I have some suggestions if you are just beginning. The World’s Largest Lesson has a page specifically aimed at those who are introducing their students to the Global Goals for the first time here. It includes videos and lesson plans, and even a link to teaching younger children about the goals. For access to even more ideas, you can visit their resource page, where you can do filtered searches.

There are also a couple of e-books on my list. This one is a cute story that introduces the goals (good for younger children), and this one explains each goal in simple language.

One resource that I found is great because it gives practical suggestions that anyone can do in their everyday lives to help with each goal. I also like this video, which shows students that there are three ways that you can help: invent, innovate, and campaign. That could be another way for students to funnel Genius Hour projects, by having them conclude with one of those three actions.

We are inundated daily with news of things going wrong in the world. By introducing students to the SDG’s, we can empower them to make even small changes that are steps toward righting those wrongs so that they can feel less helpless and overwhelmed.


Kindergarten One-Pager For Genius Hour (Free Download)

As promised, my Blog Break is over. As expected, my contract obligations for a couple of projects are continuing — so I don’t actually have “more time” than I did in June. But I like doing this blog, and I vowed a few years ago that I wasn’t going to let work ever get in the way of things I enjoy doing again.

During the last month, I was making notes on things to share with you, popular posts on the blog, and projects I wanted to start or revise. One of them was to create an actual downloadable one-pager for those of you who are considering doing Genius Hour with one of the primary grades. I published a post about this almost a year ago, and it gets a lot of visitors, but so do the free downloads. As with teaching, I like to make adjustments for my audience, so it seemed like an obvious first project as I start back “to work” on the blog for this season to offer a combination of the two.

The downloadable is actually 2 pages long, which kind of makes it not a one-pager, but there’s an introduction, and then the actual one-page. Printing it out will not, of course, preserve the links, so if you can save paper and just use the digital version that will probably be more beneficial. This will be on the Free Genius Hour Downloads page, but you can also get the Genius Hour Kindergarten One-Pager here.

Click here to download this PDF

K-12, Teaching Tools

Genius Hour Course Bundle Now Available!

I posted my third Genius Hour course, Genius Hour: The Quest, on Friday. The course is $58, and you can earn 2 CPE credits for completion. The best deal, of course, is to sign up for the course bundle, which is all three of my courses, for $87. For that you will receive: An Introduction to Genius Hour, Genius Hour: The Quest Begins, and Genius Hour: The Quest, a total of 4 CPE credits, free templates and links to resources, and time to plan out how you would like Genius Hour to go in your classroom. This is not just for GT teachers, but certainly fits very well into pull-out programs. However, I think many teachers are concerned that Genius Hour can’t work in other contexts, and I address how GH can work in regular classrooms from K-12, or as an elective, too.

I do not like asking teachers to pay for things out of their own pockets, so there is also a link at the top of the course page for administrators, regional/area directors, and others to request information for Purchase Orders and bulk discounts. Also, if you ever want me to present “live”, don’t forget to check out my PD page, and please know that I love customizing workshops for your audience!

If you’re interested in more news, including special coupons and discounts, feel free to sign up for my weekly newsletter below!

[optin-monster-inline slug=”ucd37iq8avktmtawuyih”]


Genius Hour: The Quest Begins

Man, how do people publish a bazillion of these online courses? It takes me all month to make just one, and it’s not like I don’t have all of the resources. Plus, the host website is all like, “Don’t underprice your course because you’ll actually lose money. A good course price is about $150” and I’m like, “You realize I’m offering these to teachers, right? You know, the people who already spend an arm and a leg every year buying luxuries like tissues and pencils for their classrooms?” I’m beginning to feel just like I used to during my 29 years of teaching, which is to say that I spend every night asking myself, “What was I thinking?” so, in some strange way, I actually enjoy making these courses as it seems my brain pretty much prefers chaos, unpredictability, and working on projects that promise next to zero return on investment.

This is my odd way of announcing that I have a new course available, a follow-up to An Introduction to Genius Hour. The new one is “Genius Hour: The Quest Begins,” which you may have guessed from the title of this post. I’m about to break another business rule by telling you not to buy it yet if you didn’t take the first one when it was free. That’s because there’s a thing called “Price Bumps” on the site that I thought I figured out, but sadly was wrong. The idea is to help you save money when you purchase both courses, so that you could get both for $40 total instead of $58, but somehow I misread the directions and the site wanted to give you both courses for $11 (one course is $29) instead of charging you $29 for the first and $11 for the second. That will take me another 24 hours to figure out, so I’m sure you are now beginning to understand why it takes me so long to get these courses out to the world.

Plus dogs.

Dogs who bark during recording, flap their ears constantly to get my attention, start marching around the house with unmentionables (also for attention, I assume), and leap behind me on the chair when the garbage truck turns the corner.

Back to the course.

This second course will help you communicate with stakeholders about Genius Hour, get your students psyched for the project, brainstorm billions of topic ideas, and then narrow those ideas down to just one amazing idea. That last one is a gift, trust me.

You can see both courses on this page. I’ll try to have the price bump thing straightened out by Thursday, just in case you are in some kind of incredible rush to get Continuing Education hours and my course are your last chance on Earth. Be sure to get your courses soon because the prices will probably go up to a kajillion dollars each once my husband figures out I’m currently operating at a net loss.

Oh, and in case you want to get on the list to receive more scintillating notifications from me about new courses and Great Danes who Are the Worst Work from Home Dogs Ever, you can add your name below. Don’t worry; I won’t sell your information to anyone. Because that would make good business sense, which I clearly don’t have 🙂

[optin-monster-inline slug=”ucd37iq8avktmtawuyih”]