“The important thing is not so much that every child should be taught, as that every child should be given the wish to learn.” – John Lubbock

We have all heard of Pedagogy (the method and practice of teaching) and Andragogy (the method and practice of teaching adult learners) but what is Heutagogy? Heutagogy is the method and practice of self-determined learning. In this approach the learner is the center of their own learning by determining what they want to learn and how they want to learn it.

Many educators think that Personalized Learning (student driven learning) and Heutagogy are the same thing. They have many similarities but also many differences that I have illustrated in the chart below. The biggest difference is that with a Heutagogy approach the learner determines what they want to learn; it is not determined by curriculum or standards.


An example of Heutagogy approach that could be done in the classroom would be Genius Hour. The student determines what they want to learn and how they want to learn about it. The curriculum or pacing guid does not determine the outcome.

Here are some more articles on Heutagogy:

Heutagogy Explained for Teachers

Shifting From Pedagogy To Heutagogy In Education

The Difference Between Pedagogy, Andragogy, And Heutagogy

From Andragogy to Heutagogy


Dyslexia Awareness Month

Guest blog post by the fabulous Megan Mehta!

“[Dyslexia] is more common than you can imagine. You are not alone. And while you will have this the rest of your life, you can dart between the raindrops to get where you want to go and it will not hold you back.”  – Steven Spielberg, Director


It’s October, and along with relief from the hot temps of summer and beautiful foliage, there are opportunities to learn and grow about a variety of causes. One that affects us as educators because it can so profoundly affect our students is dyslexia. October is Dyslexia Awareness Month, and it’s important that we are armed with information about this relatively common learning issue, because our good intentions can be for nothing because of misconceptions, misinformation and a general lack of knowledge on the subject.

What Dyslexia is NOT:

  • Reversal of letters and numbers: this is a fairly common characteristic of developing readers and writers. Though some dyslexic students may do this, it is not a definitive indicator of dyslexia.
  • Something that primarily affects boys: Both boys and girls can be affected– it’s not a picky issue!
  • Laziness or lack of intellect: People with dyslexia are quite the opposite! I look at my own daughter who is not reading on grade level because of her dyslexia, yet has an astounding processing speed and such a unique way of looking at problems that she often has to walk me through her way of thinking to help me understand.
  • Something that will be outgrown: Dyslexics are that way for life.

What Dyslexia IS:

Dyslexia is a specific reading disability and it causes the brain to process graphic symbols differently. It is characterized by difficulties in word recognition, spelling, and decoding; as well as reading comprehension. The National Center for Learning Disabilities says that dyslexia is a neurological and often genetic condition, and not the result of poor teaching, instruction, or upbringing; nor is it linked to intelligence.

It is also something that may affect up to 20% of people. However, symptoms can present as mild, moderate, severe, and everywhere in between. Some people may be able to develop enough coping skills to manage to get through school without too much support, yet their self-esteem might take a hit because they start to believe they aren’t as smart as everyone else. Students with dyslexia that is unrecognized will start to believe that they are lazy, not smart, not as good as their peers and this can profoundly affect them for life.

How Can I Help My Student or My Own Child if I Suspect Dyslexia?

Begin by educating yourself, whether you read an article or two at the bottom of this post, or take advantage of a workshop in your area. Talk to the reading specialists in your school, or the special education teacher to help you with strategies you can use. Helping kids develop a growth mindset can also have a big impact. Children who are dyslexic, or struggle with dysgraphia or dyscalculia need to be taught differently than their peers. They need a systematic approach that will teach them to process written language in the way best suited for how their brain is wired. These approaches can be found in the offerings of Orton-Gillingham, or the Barton program, among others.

Unfortunately, the public schools in North Carolina do not specifically test for or diagnose dyslexia. If it severe enough, it may show up under the umbrella of “specific learning disability” but that’s not always a guarantee. North Carolina is one of 11 states that does not yet have a law addressing the specific learning needs of students with dyslexia. Fortunately, there are groups that are working hard to change this. In the meantime, as teachers we need to be a voice for all our students and do what we can to help them reach their full potential: be compassionate, be empathetic, and know the power you have to make a big difference in the life of a child.


Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity


National Center for Learning Disabilities

The Rankin Institute offers professional development for educators and parents in Charlotte, NC

Decoding Dyslexia- NC


  • Medical News Today. MediLexicon International. Web.
  • Lapkin, Emily. “Understanding Dyslexia.” Understood.org. 02 Apr. 2014. Web.
  • Shaywitz, Sally E. Overcoming Dyslexia: A New and Complete Science-based Program for Reading Problems at Any Level. New York: A.A. Knopf, 2003. Print.
  • “Yale Center For Dyslexia & Creativity.” Yale Center For Dyslexia & Creativity. Web.

“Changes call for innovation, and innovation leads to progress.” By Li Keqiang

I am always looking for great web tools to enhance instruction in the classroom. These are some of my favorites that I have not blogged about before and all of them are FREE!

  1. Common Lit has high-interest, leveled,  fiction and non-fiction instructional materials to support literacy development for students in grades 5-12 (grades 3-4 are coming soon) that are also Common Core aligned. Once you have an account, you can assign text to students based on their level and it will also track the students progress. When you assign a resource text to students, they will be asked to read the text and complete the set of text-dependent questions. There are also discussion questions as well for the teacher to use in class, along with a teacher guide with more resources. Check out this introduction video and/or read an article about Common Lit to learn more.
  2. Prodigy Math gives the students a diagnostic test to place students on their level and is adaptive to the students needs allowing the students to succeed at their own pace. The teacher and student can see the skills they have mastered, partially mastered or not mastered on a data dashboard.
  3. With Symbalo0 Lesson Planning (different than Symbaloo but by the same company) you can create a gaming-style playlist or pathway using tiles to build paths for students so they may learn at their own speed. You can add questions into the paths that allows the student to have check-points throughout a standard/unit. (At this time it is free but it is a newer tool so I am not sure how long it will be free.)

Here are a few previous blog posts on web tools I have done:

  1. Creating with New* Web Tools
  2. Tools for an Educators Toolkit
  3. Sites that are Not Well-Known, that You Should Know as an Educator

Action Based Learning

“Student engagement is the product of motivation and active learning. It is a product rather than a sum because it will not occur if either element is missing.” By Elizabeth F. Barkley

Action Based Learning (ABL) is a pedagogy of brain-based learning theory which focuses on the structure and workings of the brain in regards to learning. Check out all the reasons why kinesthetic classrooms are important in the below graphic created by the amazing Kim Cooke.

kinesthetic Classrooms .png

ABL is not just a “Physical Education”thing but something you can add into all classrooms and in all grade levels. Here are three quick ways you can start adding kinesthetics into your classroom today:

  1. Transitions: During transitions, for example from math to reading, have students do something active for one minute such as jump on one foot. Here are some more brain break ideas here!
  2. Furniture: Add some different seating options such as yoga balls, wobble stools or allowing them to stand and work.
  3. Hands-On: Allowing students to show what they know with hands-on activities such as role playing, plays/skits,  building models or experiments.

Want to learn more about ABL? Action Based Learning & Kinesthetic Classroom Training is coming to Charlotte, NC on Nov 4th and 5th. Click here for more information!

More Information on ABL:

Article: Building Better. Brains through Movement and Moving and Shaking in the Classroom

Pinterest Board: Action Based Learning Lab Ideas

Books: Energizing Brain Breaks and The Kinesthetic Classroom: Teaching and Learning Through Movement

My previous blog posts on Brain Based Learning!


“The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.” by Herbert Spencer

Ted Talks: Education Revolution recently aired on PBS with hosts Baratunde Thurston and Sara Ramirez that had a great line up of speakers. Below is an overview and highlights of the show and I encourage you to watch the show in full here on PBS (60 minutes) or if there is a specific clip you want to watch, they are below. I loved all the Ted Talks as I believe everything they discussed is what we need to do to improve our education system. You can also follow the conversation #TEDTalksPBS.

Sal Khan from Khan Academy

  • Believes there are two key leverage points for learning:
    • Mastery
    • Mindset
  • Believes we should allow students time to master skills based on their need verse a set pacing guide.
  • They need practice and authentic feedback
  • We need to do school differently – we are not in the industrial age but an information revolution age.

Greg Whiteley (no clip, if you want to view – you will need to watch the full video. If you watched – Most Likely to Succeed, Whiteley views are embedded as he was the director.)

  • Believes we need to not teach like we did in the industrial age but for today’s world. For example we should not lecture and have students regurgitate information but rather have student led discussions.
  • Believes teachers should work in teams and blend subjects and contents.
  • Believes students should work on projects verse rote skills.

Julie Lythcott-Haims Author of How to Raise an Adult

  • Believes we spend a lot of time on parents that aren’t involved enough in school and kids lives (and rightly so) that we forget about the other end of the spectrum of the parent that overprotective by micromanaging
  • Parents have the misconception that their student wont have a good future if they don’t (fill in the blank)  get good grades or get into a particular college or don’t get into the career.
  • We deprive our children learning about self efficacy when we do this
  •  Parents should be more concerned about building their skills and habits verse grades to help them become prepared for the real world.

Meshell NDegeocello musician who played in-between Ted Talks

Victor Rios Professor and Author of  Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys (New Perspectives in Crime, Deviance, and Law)

  • Grew up in poverty and incarcerated three times by age 15 but a teacher changed his life by caring and tapped into his soul.
  • He believes there are three strategies teachers can use to help students:
    1. Get rid of our deficit perspective in education
    2. Value the stories that young people bring to school
    3. Provide resources to all students
  • Believes we should have restorative justice course in every school

Heather Courtney and Anayansi Prado co-directed a documentary film called The Unafraid, which follows the lives of undocumented students and the underground movement they are building.

Anna Deavere Smith

  • Goes across the country studying about why so many poor kids can’t make it through school and very often end up in jail.
  • She shares two young people’s stories from Baltimore, Maryland. She does this in a unique way by interviewing them and then acting it out word for word for the audience.

Geeta Gandbhir and Perri Peltz shared a short film on how unconscious bias can sometimes sneak up on us.

Nadia Lopez, Principal and Ted Talk: Why open a school? To close a prison 

  • Her goal was to open a school, to close a prison in one of the toughest areas a Brooklyn, NY.
  • She was up against trying to find teachers that had empathy and want to teacher in this school that had lack of technology, low parental involvement and neighborhood gangs that recruit kids as early as 4th graders.
  • Her student population was 100% poverty, 86% below grade level in Math and Reading and 30% special needs.
  • If our students are not in the classrooms, how will they learn.

Sara Ramirez closed the show performing her song Rollercoaster.



Become an Apple Teacher

“The most important thing is a person. A person who incites your curiosity and feeds your curiosity; and machines cannot do that in the same way that people can.” by Steve Jobs

Recently the Apple Education Team launched Apple Teacher, a program to help teachers integrate technology skills into the classroom. Apple Teachers are recognized for their understanding of how to use Apple products for teaching and learning. They have proven knowledge of using iPad, Mac, and built-in apps to enhance productivity and inspire creativity in their classrooms and beyond. Apple honors their achievement and commitment to creating the very best learning experiences for students. Anyone can become an Apple Teacher and it is FREE.

To sign up to be an Apple Teacher, click here. You will then be taken to the ‘Apple Teacher Learning Center’. The Apple Education team has personalized the learning experience for you because you can choose which Apple Teacher path you want, either iPad or Mac, to become an Apple Teacher. (You can also do both paths if you want to as well.)

All you need to do is complete eight online quizzes, in any order that you want, to earn badges. You do not need to review the study materials or resources provided if you feel you have mastered the content of a certain quiz, you can just take the quiz. For example, I use iMovie on my Mac a lot; I felt pretty confident that I didn’t need to utilize the resources provide and I just took the quiz. You can complete the quizzes at your own pace and once you earn all eight badges, you’ll receive an official Apple Teacher logo that you can share with the world. 


apple teacher.jpg

Apple Education Team will also be updating the Apple Teacher Learning Center, so be sure to come back and check out new learning materials! What do you have to lose, give it a try and Good Luck!


Celebrating Dot Day

“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.” by Erich Fromm


Join the millions of students, teachers, and librarians this International Dot Day, celebrating creativity and courage in 134 countries!  International Dot Day is staged to encourage people of all ages to harness their creativity on or around September 15-ish each year! The influence behind the event is the children’s book The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds. Below is how you can get involved with your class in a few easy steps:

Step 1: Register


Step 2: Download the free Educator’s Handbook


Step 3: Get ideas and connect with others through FacebookTwitter, Pinterest and this Dot Day Google Doc.


Step 4: Join Discovery Education’s International Dot Day Livestream on September 13th at 1PM EST. Register here.


Step 5: ‘Make Your Mark’ on September 13th, 2016. Don’t forget to share your International Dot Day ideas via #dotday!


There are a lot of resources to help you plan this day, including an International Dot Day certificate, check some of them out here!
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