Focus 2 Achieve

Innovate Create Educate

I blog on Brain-Based Learning, Metacognition, and Social-Emotional Learning. I am the author of "Crush School: Every Student's Guide To Killing It In The Classroom" which is a book that helps students understand how their brain processes information and learns. In the book, I explain why students can learn anything and give strategies on how to learn effectively.

Culturally Responsive Teaching In A Starbucks Classroom

The oppressed, having internalized the image of the oppressor and adopted his guidelines, are fearful of freedom.
— Paulo Freire

Are we the Educators or the Oppressors?

Managing not Leading. Micromanaging. Controlling. Suffocating. Sound familiar?

Our Students? Our Future.

Our Students? Spokes in the One Size Fits All Creativity Killing Machine.

Is this what status quo education boils down to and must be?

I hope not, but the question must be asked:

What Are We Doing Intentionally To Make School And Our Students' Lives Beyond Better?

Check out the infographic below to see how Starbucks (Flexible Seating) Classrooms serve all students better.

culturally responsive teaching in a flexible seating classroom

Starbucksing, or going from traditional to flexible seating in middle school or high school, will not cure all the ills of the American Educational System on its own, but it's a great start if we commit to changing our teaching and pedagogy along with it. It is a message to the learner that class is about to be different. But the novelty and innovation have to become the new normal to sustain the momentum. One can't simply throw up a PowerPoint on the screen and have students copy from slides as they've always done. Worksheets and other regurgitation devices are no good either. You must plan for students to create and they must create.

That's important, because we're in danger of releasing into the world another generation of young people programmed to follow orders and maintain the status quo. A familiar world, in which creativity and innovation are reserved for the few, who despite our schooling system's best efforts to the contrary, gain the education and skills necessary to change the world for the better. Ask yourself: Why can't more people be innovators? Then, act to change it. This, not teaching a subject, is an educator's job.

I thought converting my high school chemistry classroom into a cafe style flexible seating room, would be a leap into the future. I was wrong. I could have made that move ten years ago and it would have been the right time for it, because the future is now and we have to seize it, adapt to it, and make it better for our students. They are ready. Are you?

You have the power to change lives. Use it often.

3 Ways To Study Smart, Not Hard (Teaching Infographic)

If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking
— George S. Patton

Have you ever had a student who failed a test tell you he doesn't understand why he failed, because he studied so hard for it?

Maybe he studied for 4 hours the night before. Perhaps he started the week before and was diligent in his practice every night. Or, he kept going over the notes in his journal. Maybe he kept solving new problems looking at the example you gave in class?

Whatever the case, he felt ready. But was he? He practiced HARD, but did he practice SMART?

Smart Practice

Download the Smart Practice Infographic for Free and use it to teach Smart Practice. Here's how you can elaborate on each of the 3 ways:

Learn Actively

Discuss metacognition and the difference between recall and rereading. Talk about involving as many of our 5 senses as possible when learning. Explain that the more we do, the more neural pathways form. Check out my Free Active Learning Infographic for more.

Space It Out

Talk about the benefits of spaced practice such as better memory and understanding. Explain that when we cram the information stays in our working memory for only a short time and then is thrown out. Check out this Free Preview of my book Crush School and scroll down to "Space It Out" for more.

Mix It Up

Make sure your students understand that they should use a variety of strategies when studying such as recall, testing themselves, explaining concepts to others, drawing visuals etc. Explain that alternating between easier and more challenging content and studying in different places helps us keep focus and build resilience during test taking. Check out my Free Mix It Up Infographic for more.

To reinforce Smart Practice, it's a good idea to print the infographic and display it. If you'd like more strategies to teach students how to learn check out Crush School: Every Student's Guide To Killing It In The Classroom.

You have the power to change lives. Use it often.

Infographic: Deeper Learning


If you've read my last 6 posts, you know what Deeper Learning is all about right?

Or do you?

How about some Smart Practice and Spaced Repetition to get it all down?

Deeper Learning Infographic

Right click and save this bad boy to use with your students or if you'd like a PDF, you can get it FREE HERE.

You Have The Power To Change The World. Use It Often.