Posted in education

Motivating Young Adolescents

“Carrots and sticks won’t make middle schoolers learn.” ~ Rick Wormeli


I’ve recently been introduced to the work of Rick Wormeli.  I first met him on a district professional learning day.  After listening to him speak I purchased the book, Fair Isn’t Always Equal.

If you have not read any of this gentleman’s work, please do so.  You may not agree with all he has to say, but I promise you that he will challenge your thinking.

Recently I read his article on Motivating Young Adolescents  (published on the ASCD website) with the leadership team at one of my campuses.   This article is based on the principle that we need to rethink how to motivate our middle-grade students.

I started teaching middle-school after several years in a high school.  I knew the curriculum would be different, and I knew the cognitive level of the students would be different, but I was a little surprised and how different these 11 – 14-year-olds were then their 15 – 19-year-old counterparts.

Manipulation Vs. Motivation

I had so many AHA moments from this article, but I am always drawn back to this one idea. Are we manipulating students to control their actions, or are we motivating them as learners?

Let that sink in.

Raising innovators means we need to focus on motivating our students. Growing these curious beings and helping them find their own way in this world.

I had an professor once who asked us to find our favorite educator quote. Mine was “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” ~ William Butler Yates

Thoughts to ponder on a random Wednesday – are we doing this in our classrooms? Are we trying to pour into a bucket, or ignite a spark?

~ Doris

Posted in education

Autism Awareness


Autism is a condition that is greatly misunderstood.  As an educator, I learned very little about it while in school.  Most of what I’ve learned has been from talking to parents and attending presentations at my local University.  I’d like to think that is because I started teaching long before autism was as well known as it is now, but sadly it is my understanding from new teachers that their classes don’t focus much on educating those who might need us the most.

I also think back to the first time I had a student in my class who was labeled as “Autistic.”  Alex (not his real name) was funny, quirky, gifted and yes, autistic.  I realized I was lacking in knowledge, luckily his mom was not so she educated me.  I learned more from this one young man about life than in the multitude of forced professional learning on the subject of autism.

I decided I needed to know more about this thing called Autism.  How can I best serve the needs of this one child, and those to come later?  I’m far from being an expert, but I have a few resources that I’ve found helpful.

Autism Speaks  

Autism Spectrum Disorder Fact Sheet


I feel fortunate to have had Alex and his mom teach me more about autism.  A subject so vastly misunderstood, yet so important to our children.

I know there are many of you who read my blog who are probably experts.  What resources have you used to learn more about how to best serve our students who are autistic?  Please leave any resources in the comments to help us all learn together.



Posted in education, technology

#ETCoaches Book Study




Today the weather is super cold and miserable here is The Texas Gulf Coast.  John is busy working on getting things ready for our tax accountant, I, on the other hand, am bundled up with hot chocolate and a book!

Guess who is having a better day?!

I started reading the book Learning First, Technology Second by Liz Kolb.  This is part of a book study, hosted by ISTE, with Ed Tech Coaches around the world.  I have loved the ISTE book studies I’ve taken part of in the past as I get such a global perspective.  It is also one of the reasons I love the ISTE conference!

Today is day two of our “slow chat” on Twitter.  Essentially we have one question a day to answer.  I love that because it allows me time to think about my reading.

As I started the book yesterday, one thing really resonated with me.  As an educator, we talk a great deal about “framework.”  In #edtech we discuss SAMR, TPACK and TIM Frameworks.  All have some validity to them, but they didn’t hit the mark of the learning comes first.  Kolb introduces us to her thoughts on the Triple E Framework.

In my mind, this framework makes a great deal of sense to the educator because it closely resembles a Universal Design for Learning.  As we move forward to help personalize learning for students; giving them a variety of ways to learn and to express their learning, #EdTech coaches have to follow suit with a variety of possibilities, not just one way of doing things.


Triple E Framework
from Learning First, Technology Second


The tool must always match the goal, not the other way around!



from Learning First, Technology Second


I’ll post some of my thoughts and link to some of the quotes that resonate with me along the way.  If you are taking part in the study, then I look forward to learning with you.

If you are part of this book study with me, what are your goals?

Posted in education

Building School 2.0

I recently read the book, Building School 2.0.  The book is written with 95 essays on changes that should be made in education to help us meet the needs of every child.

I love the essays – they get you fired up and start you thinking.   How could this look in my school?  In my district? In my classroom?

What if a campus looked at their problem of practice, and asked teachers to pick and read just one of the many essays.  After teachers choose the essay that hits home with them, they make goals on how to improve their classroom.  Just a few baby steps here and there, nothing huge or grand, but progress.

Imagine if every campus did this – a few baby steps at a time, how a school would improve for each child.  How learning would improve across the board for all children.

Here is my Goodreads review of Building School 2.0


Building School 2.0: How to Create the Schools We NeedBuilding School 2.0: How to Create the Schools We Need by Chris Lehmann

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a good book with multiple essay-style chapters that bring to light some of the changes that need to happen in education. These essays do highlight the changes that need to happen to assure that we educate all children, and not just a few.

This book really fired me up to share with others, I can see this being a great read as a faculty. I’ll write more about that on my blog – but this is a great book to start discussions amongst educators.

View all my reviews

Posted in education

Thinking About Innovation



I spent much of the past weekend in the car reading.  As a little girl, I found long car rides to be some of my best reading time.  Lots of quiet, the humming of the tires on the road and the dream of the adventure ahead of me always lent itself to quiet reading and reflection.  Our trip from Galveston to South Louisiana was the perfect road trip to reread some of my favorite passages.

Unlike those trips from my childhood where I’d bring a large bag filled with heavy books, I carried my laptop.  Once Ebook readers like The Kindle became available, I quickly moved all of my professional reading from books, to EBooks.  I can read a variety of texts at one time, and now my favorite books snaps can easily be displayed both in the book and on my Twitter feed.  I sometimes wish I could meet the very first person who thought of putting books online for readers.  What an amazingly innovative idea.  Making books available to the world at the tip of our fingers.  Great idea.  The lower cost of books, the ease of purchase and the ability to borrow books from a virtual library have opened up a lot of possibilities for this reader.

My travels this week had me reflecting on innovation.  After all, this blog is about how I inspire teachers to be innovators so it is something I think about and something I help teachers foster in their classrooms.

What is innovation what it could be and how to make it happen?  I reread part of some of my favorite books on innovation in our educational system, reread some of the notes I have on innovation from schools I’ve been able to spend time in.  I’ve watched countless TED talks.  My pre-Turkey feast weekend has been focused on how to move from saying we need to innovate and help assure it happens.

In The Book Creating Innovators, by Tony Wagner, he quotes a study how by the time our students are six that the school system has already squashed some of the curiosity out of our children.   I had to booksnap that quote.  While I’ve read it before, this time it really hit me.

How can an institution brought about to help our children prepare for their futures move past the limitations of the walls of a classroom and help foster that curiosity and innovation in our children?

That question is worth a great deal more reading and reflecting!  There will be more blog posts to come on this topic.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.