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Join Me at #TCEA23 for Digital Differentiation!

My colleague, Amy Chandler, and I will be presenting for TAGT, Digital Differentiation:10 Tools That Will Help Your Gifted Learners at TCEA in San Antonio next week. You can see us on Monday, January 30th, at 1 PM in Room 225C, in the Convention Center.

Here is the summary of our session: “Learn about a myriad of digital tools, most of them free, that will allow you to create lessons in your classroom that will empower gifted learners to leverage their own interests and abilities. Work smarter, not harder, to include every student in every lesson.”

As many of you know, I like to make sure that my presentations include tons of free resources teachers can access immediately, and this one is no exception to that rule. Additionally, Amy and I will share examples of these tools being used in the classroom and offer ideas that will hopefully be new to you. In fact, we just added a couple of last-minute “surprise” tools that should be fun! Of course, I also like to keep my presentations interactive so you will have the no-pressure opportunity to offer some of your own suggestions as well.

Are any of you planning to present and/or attend TCEA? Email me ( or DM me on Twitter (@TerriEichholz) so we can try to meet up!

K-5, Teaching Tools

A Tip of the Hat to Hattie

I am currently attending the TCEA Virtual Convention, so I plan to share a little about what I’ve learned in each post this week.

Professor John Hattie has become a well-known name in educational research circles, and I have been learning bits and pieces about his work for the past few years. His extremely thorough studies on “what works” in education are changing the landscape of pre-service and in-service training for teachers. You can find out more about his background here. Though his information is not without controversy, much of it makes good common sense. As Hattie himself says, “We focus too much on the data and not on the interpretations.”

I was excited to be able to attend a session at TCEA last night presented by Dr. Hattie. He spoke about the delineation between surface and deep thinking, which he labels, “Knowing That and Knowing How.” One message that he seemed to feel people misunderstand is that we need both kinds of thinking in our schools, and that “Knowing How” is not nearly as effective when “Knowing That” has been skipped. He recommends that we spend time overtly teaching students the difference, and how to recognize when each type of thinking is required. “Are you snorkeling or are you scuba diving?” is a good question to pose to the students.

As a teacher of gifted students for 19 years, I agree with Dr. Hattie that there is still not nearly enough challenge in classrooms. We have got to work more effectively to design for the “Goldilocks Effect” in learning experiences so that students are not being given assignments that are too easy or too hard. This is tricky. In my opinion, until teachers are given better tools, smaller class sizes, and better professional development it is difficult to achieve on a consistent basis.

My hand was flying as I took notes throughout Dr. Hattie’s presentation, and I don’t want to inadvertently misinterpret his comments as I type this, so I will skip to a few comments he made toward the end regarding how the pandemic might impact students. His opinion is that the pandemic might be “The Golden Ticket” for when it comes to the effect of technology in our schools. Though technology has not made a huge impression overall on student learning for a long time, he thinks that it will help with a couple of things: teachers speaking less and students talking more. Teachers, through necessity, have learned to “triage” their teaching to make direct lectures more streamlined. Students are more willing to ask for help or clarification if they can do it privately, such as in discussion boards and with student response tools. Of course, this remains to be seen.

The newest Visible Learning tool for analyzing how specific strategies influence learning is located here. It can help you determine some areas on which you’d like to focus in order to make the biggest impact, or ones that you may be spending too much time on based on how little influence it may ultimately wield.

Photo by Amina Filkins on
K-12, Teaching Tools

Get your Schitt Together

I am currently attending the TCEA Virtual Convention, so I plan to share a little about what I’ve learned in each post this week.

As I was wading through Tweets about TCEA last night looking for guidance on which On-Demand sessions I needed to add to my itinerary, I ran across this hashtag: #IdeaSchittHappens.

I should mention that I’m a Schitt’s Creek convert – someone who tried watching the show, gave up, then tried watching again because people kept nagging me about it, and fell in love. Now I nag others.

So it was only natural for me to try to find out what was going on when I saw that hashtag, and that’s when I found out about a session called, “Rose to the Occasion: Shifting to a Coaching Culture.” (If you don’t recognize the pun, then you obviously have not been converted and may find this post makes little sense to you. Watch all of Season 4, and come back here. I’ll wait.)

The great team of Emily Coklan (@TechCoachEm), Suzanne Weider (@Teachtech95), Casey Veitch (@Cveitcher), Matt Marston, Dana Ladenburger (@dladenburger), and Jenni LaBrie (@jennilabrie) presented a delightful and meaningful session that made excellent analogous connections between Schitt’s Creek and educational coaching. As is often the case when it comes to good coaching, the insights are applicable to teaching and any type of leadership as well.

I enjoyed and took notes throughout their presentation, but I asked Casey Veitch if I could share one of the slides that I thought was pretty powerful. The archetypes in Schitt’s Creek are fairly straightforward, and the team developed coaching questions that might be most helpful with each of the characters based on their personalities. Though “real” people are more multi-faceted, this table of suggestions can help those in guiding roles target some of the immediate needs being displayed. (If you want to find out your own Schitt’s Creek personality, here is a quiz for you.)

from “Wading Through Schitt,” presented at TCEA 2021 by Emily Coklan (@TechCoachEm), Suzanne Weider (@Teachtech95), Casey Veitch (@Cveitcher), Matt Marston, Dana Ladenburger (@dladenburger), and Jenni LaBrie (@jennilabrie)

If you can watch the TCEA session, I think you will definitely find it worth your while. You can also go to The GroundED Learners Guild to listen to some podcasts by three members of the team. And if there is a way to get this group to your school or district to present, even more people can benefit from their wisdom.

3-12, Games, Teaching Tools

Gamestorm Edu

I am currently attending the TCEA Virtual Convention, so I plan to share a little about what I’ve learned in each post this week.

“Let’s Play: Flexible & Engaging Games Your Students Can Play Virtually or Face to Face,” was one of the first On-Demand sessions I watched when I joined TCEA 2021 online this morning. It was presented by Jonathan Spike (@JonathanSpike), who also publishes the GameStorm Edu website. If you are registered for TCEA, I highly recommend that you “attend” his presentation, which also includes a Google Slides file full of templates you can copy for games. (Thanks to Jonathan for permission to share this!) A couple of the games in the presentation, as well as some others, can also be found in the Games Library section of his site. You may recall that one of my “Gifts for the Gifted” recommendations in 2020 was the game Codenames, and that happens to be one of the templates you can download!

If you do any type of game design unit with students, you will definitely want to take note of some of the other pages on Jonathan’s site, such as “How to Create a Game,” “Types of Games,” and “Resources for Creating Games.” One thing that I’ve learned with students is that they tend to resort to one or two different kinds of games when they design, and I think it’s definitely helpful for them to have a handy reference so they step outside that comfort zone. I also think it would be beneficial for them to have Jonathan’s digital Designer Guide and Designer Workbook (located on the Resources page).

If games in the classroom interest you, don’t forget my article for NEO on mining talk shows for ideas. It has lots of links and a template you can copy also!

Photo by Pixabay on
6-12, Student Response, Teaching Tools

#TCEA2019 – Gimkit

It’s always fun to return to the classroom after attending TCEA with something new to use with the students right out of the gate.  Of course, as with all things technological, it’s a bit of a risk to try something for the first time without testing how it’s affected by random things like network firewalls.  Fortunately, my gamble worked with Gimkit.

Gimkit is an online student response system similar to Kahoot.  It was developed by a high school student, who added in an interesting twist – monetization.  Students win virtual money as they answer questions correctly.  The money can be used to shop for different upgrades such as making each answer worth more money or “icing” your opponents.

Teachers can make Gimkits from scratch, a spreadsheet, or a Quizlet.  The questions are multiple choice.  Unlike Kahoot, the questions appear on the student devices while the teacher device streams a live leaderboard.  The board shows each student’s earnings, who is ahead, and the collective amount earned by the class.  I ended up setting my two different engineering classes up as opponents in a “season” so they could compete to see which class earned the most.  (Hint: this keeps students from “icing” each other during the game because they will lose out on collective earnings.)

Teachers can also set a time limit, which means that questions will repeat.  To be honest, I thought the students would get bored once questions started coming back around, but they begged for more time after ten minutes.

The game was such a success with my 8th-11th graders on Thursday that I decided to use it for another class I was teaching in rotation to 8th graders on Friday.  Again, full engagement.


The students in my 4th rotation started getting messages that the site had just upgraded and they were suddenly bounced out of the game.  I almost had a complete mutiny on my hands as they realized they would be out of the running for the class competition.

Fortunately a similar situation happened while Leslie Fisher was presenting Gimkit at TCEA.  She tweeted Gimkit, and they immediately rolled the site back to the working version.  I decided to try the same thing.

My students were dubious.

“What do you mean you’re going to tweet him, Miss?  How is that gonna help?”

“This ain’t fair.  We’re never gonna win now, Miss!”

Withing a couple of minutes, Gimkit tweeted back their apologies and fixed the issue.  My students were astounded.

That class won the competition, by the way.  (Free outdoor time next period.)

So, if you have secondary students, I would definitely recommend you check out Gimkit the next time you want to do something a little different for a formative assessment.  It will be interesting to watch as this site expands its offerings, but hopefully it will always keep the current features for free.

image from

Apps, K-12, Teaching Tools

TCEA 2019

If you happen to be attending TCEA 2019 in San Antonio, TX, next week, I hope you will swing by to say, “Hi!” or even attend one of my sessions.

You can thank my partner-in-crime for the name of my first session about using green screens:

02/04/19 12:00 PM – 12:50 PM 191115 Fifty Shades of Green

Despite the title, it will be a G-Rated session.

My other session will actually be co-presented with the aforementioned partner-in-crime, Angelique Lackey.

2/05/19 01:15 PM – 02:05 PM 190802 Step Away from the Slideshow

The title is not quite as provocative as my green screen session, but considering my colleague’s direct involvement there will probably be more of a chance we will end up being banned from ever presenting at TCEA again 😉

Hope to see you there!