“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” By Michael Jordan

With more ‘old school’ game shows coming back to mainstream television again. It is only fitting we add them into the classroom* as well. Below is how I adapted the games Password and Knockout = Password Knockout as Passout just didn’t seem to work.ūüėČ

Original Password Game:¬†Participants are paired with a ‘star’ celebrity trying to correctly guess a secret word their teammate knew. They could only give one word hints and if the pair got it wrong, gameplay passed to the other team. It would keep passing back and forth until one team guessed the ‚Äúpassword‚ÄĚ.¬†

Original Knockout Game: Players are shown a list of four words and the first player to buzz-in would have to guess which one didn’t belong and how the other three were connected.¬†A right answer earned a player a letter in the word “KNOCKOUT” which was displayed on their podium in front of them.¬†In possibly gain more letters, the player with the right answer had a chance dare one of the other players to answer. The first player to light up “KNOCKOUT” won the game.

Our Game- Password Knockout:¬†Very similar¬†to the original game password but all of our ‚Äúpasswords‚ÄĚ pertain to units of study concepts and/or vocabulary words. ¬†For example: ecosystems – all the passwords would be related to ecosystems such as abiotic or consumers. The words are behind the head of the guesser so the person giving the clue and the audience/class can also view too.¬†Whichever team guesses the password correctly moves on and dares a different team. The other team is knocked out. The final team ‘standing’ wins.¬†

Rules:¬†In pairs, they will have to decide who will be the clue giver (one word hint) and who will be the guesser. When it is their turn, a word will flash up behind the partner’s head. They must give a one word clue in less than 30 seconds or they will be eliminated. If they give more than one clue, they are eliminated.

The End Goal/Result:¬†This game helps students strengthen all 4’cs (communication, collaboration, creativity and critically think) and the content area knowledge. This also works for grades 3rd-12 and adults.¬†

*Note: I have also used this in professional developments. I used the topic personalized learning so all words were on this topic such as choice, pace and ownership.

Helpful Hints/Notes: 

  • To see who goes up against each other first you will want teams to either pick a number (ex: 1-10) and who ever is closes gets to decide if they want to go first or dare someone else OR you can pull team names to decide who goes first.
  • Passwords: Make sure to have a list of words ready before hand. I placed them on Google Slide so that I could just flip through them. You could also have a list and write them on a whiteboard behind the guesser head.
  • To make sure student are engaged when it is not their turn; have them create a two column chart and play along. One column says Password and the other column says clue.
  • A misconception is that you have to play this whole group. You can play this in small groups and use the vocabulary that the small groups need to work on to individualize¬†it more per group.
  • Alternative version: In teams of four one person is the guesser and the team each gets to pick one word to tell their guesser. The teams have to silently work together to pick the best words without duplicating. To do this they can not talk to each other but can write on their whiteboards and or post-it notes¬†to determine which words they want to use. Each player must contribute and say a word.


“A dream is your creative vision for your life in the future. You must break out of your current comfort zone and become comfortable with the unfamiliar and the unknown.‚ÄĚ by¬†Denis Waitley

In the fall I was introduced to Breakout Edu randomly at a conference when talking with a small group during a session on critical thinking. So I bought a kit to see what it was all about. Over the last few month I have been using it during professional developments to help other educators see how and why we should use them in schools and classrooms. Everyone that has participated has loved it! So imagine my surprise when I was combing through my blog posts and was shocked that I hadn’t written a post about Breakout Edu yet, so here it is!

Breakout Edu are timed challenge games where you have to solve puzzles to unlock a box with something hidden inside. It is similar to the escape rooms where you pay to get ‚Äúlocked in‚ÄĚ a room and try to escape by solving puzzles and unlocking codes. Check out this introducing Breakout Edu video so learn more.

The below infographic (created by Sylvia Duckworth @sylviaduckworth) shows 10 reasons to play breakout edu. I have done breakouts with not only students but also adults, like I mentioned above, during Professional Development. When I recently did one for  Principals, many bought the kits to do for their opening staff meeting for the new school year. Kits are $99.00 and the site offers lots of games (k-12, common core aligned and/or skills based) that are already created and/or you can make your own.



I highly suggest reviewing and testing the games before implementation. I have had my husband do them to make sure it will run smoothly and it gives me time to work out any kinks. Recently Breakout Edu has come out with a companion app called Locks that you can use as well. For additional information, follow @BreakoutEDU along with co-founders James Sanders (@jamestsanders) and Mark Hammons (@mhammons) on Twitter. Also check out other Breakout Edu articles and resources below:

Low-tech ‘Breakout EDU’ looks to invigorate education one wooden box at a time

Breakout EDU ‚Äď You Had Me At Breakout!

Adam Bellow Becomes CEO of Breakout EDU to Spread Gamified Learning


Puzzle and Clue Maker Symbaloo

Facebook Breakout Edu Public Group

I also frequently get asked the same few questions when doing this during PD’s that I have answered below in case you have the same questions:

  1. What happens if the students don’t finish in the time limit? I have yet to have this happen but if it did you can do a few different things. You can give them more time (especially if it is their first time trying a breakout) as it is a different way of thinking. You can also have them take a break and try later or if you had them in groups have them now work all together.
  2. What happens if not all the students collaborate? Just like any group project, this could happen and you can facilitate that problem as you see fit.
  3. I have a mixed ability class, what happens if the low students can’t do them or the high students take over etc? I have yet to see this happen as well. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses and this game allows everyone to take part in a different way. When you first introduce the game you can also make sure you set expectations that everyone needs to work together. I also used to use social skill cards to help remind students. (See previous blog post, Teaching Communication and Collaboration)

Give Breakout Edu a try in your classroom and school, I think you will love it as much as I have.

‚ÄúGreat things are done by a series of small things brought together.‚ÄĚ ~Vincent Van Gogh

Memes are images, videos, etc that has a message attached to it. Memes have been made popular on social media sites but they can also be popular in the classroom or in Professional Developments. Below are 5 ways you can use memes and how to make one.

  1. Create rules/procedures for your classroom, school or PD session using memes
  2. Have students create for a message they need to convey for any topic (Ex political or current event)
  3. Use them to teach digital citizenship. For example teaching students to recognize memes versus truths
  4. Have students create one for a character in a book they are reading
  5. Have students create motivational posters or create messages for PD sessions









I like using¬†Make a Meme¬†site because it’s free and simple. First decide what you are creating a meme for (what is your goal). Then follow these three easy steps”

  1. Create an account to login (FREE)
  2. Explore meme pictures or create your own based on your goal.
    • To make mine above I used an app called bitemoji ¬†to make my avatar (that looks like me) and then uploaded it to the site.
  3. Add the text content and click create your meme
    • Note you can make the meme private or public. I made mine private so only I can use it and it can not be found in the gallery.

Some memes can be inappropriate¬†for students, so a level of supervision is recommended. We must remember to always remind our students of our digital citizenships expectations and that students under 13 need permission to use web tools based on the COPPA Law¬†.¬†Other sites you can create meme’s with are Google drawings, Know Your Meme and Meme Creator.

As always I would love to hear your ideas and thoughts on using memes in the classroom.

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. ” By Warren Bennis

I was reviewing my notes on Google’s ‘Oxygen Project’ (yes I know that is from years ago¬†– 2012 to be exact) this week and it got me thinking about why I never took actions on the notes I had down such as how does it fit into education?

Let’s back track a little. For those of you that never heard about Google’s Project Oxygen. “Google’s Project Oxygen was designed to identify what successful Google managers do. Too often, training departments try to help managers improve their competencies — traits of good managers. But changing traits rarely works. Instead, Google chose to teach managers what to do.” They took their extensive research and found that there were “8 Behaviors of Great Managers”.

1. Be a good coach.

2. Empower; don’t micromanage.

3. Be interested in direct reports, success and well-being.

4. Don’t be a sissy: Be productive and results-oriented.

5. Be a good communicator and listen to your team.

6. Help your employees with career development.

7. Have a clear vision and strategy for the team.

8. Have key technical skills so you can advise the team.

With a few minor tweaks, I think these 8 behaviors also fit any leader verse just managers.

Be a Good Coach

  • Provide specific feedback
  • Solution orientated
Empower Your Staff

  • Don‚Äôt micromanage
  • Be a lead learner
Be interested in your staff

  • Know their passions
Be productive and results-oriented

  • Help prioritize tasks
Be a good communicator and listen to your staff

  • Two Way Street
Help your staff with career development

  • Let them lead PD/trainings
Have a clear vision and strategy for the school

  • Involve the team
  • Keep them focused on the goals
Have key skills so you can advise the school

  • Change Agent
  • Problem Solving


“Google’s Project Oxygen Pumps Fresh Air Into Management – TheStreet.” 2016. 19 Jun. 2016 <https://www.thestreet.com/story/12328981/1/googles-project-oxygen-pumps-fresh-air-into-management.html>

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” Plato

This week I tried something new in a professional development I conducted by adding games to make it more active. One of the games we played was apples to apples…edu style. My goal was for my participants to practice thinking about words that related to ‘Personalized Learning’ in a different way and it worked.¬†The participants loved playing! They also used their creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration skills. It was a great way for them to practice the content without doing a boring worksheet!

Let’s back track a little to better understand what the original game of Apples to Apples is for those that have not played before.¬†In Apples to Apple, a ‚Äújudge‚ÄĚ lays a category word or phrase and participants have to secretly lay a card from their hand that they believe best represents the phrase. The judge selects which card was the closest, whomever’s card they chose earns a point. To win the game when playing with four¬†players, you need obtain eight points but before playing you can decide how many points you want to play to.

My Version: 

Using the awesome website,¬†Fruit to Fruit Card Generator, I created my own cards. A random participant goes first as judge and pulls the top green card. Everyone, besides the judge, writes* a word that they believe most closely matches this phrase. The judge selects which word they believe most closely aligns to the phrase. The original author ‚Äúkeeps‚ÄĚ the word they chose. Players earn one point whenever their word is selected; play continues until someone earns 10 points. *Learn from my mistake, make sure everyone has a dry erase marker that is the same color. This way the judge doesn’t know who played what card.

Directions for making cards:

  1. On the green cards I wrote a word that associated with Personalized Learning for the ‘title’ and on ‘line one’ I put my department on it. (You can out your class name or subject etc to help stay organized.)
  2. Then click ‘make my card’
  3. In a different tab make a document (word or google)
  4. Right click and copy the image of the card and put it into the document. (Hint: make a chart to ‘hold’ each card in the document, it makes it easier and more organized).
  5. I repeated this until I was finished with my word list.
  6. Make one red card; putting ‘word or phrase’ as the ‘title’ and again I put my department name on ‘line one’. (This card is where the players will write their answer.)
  7. Laminate them so you can use them over and over with dry erase makers.

Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 1.34.36 PM.pngScreen Shot 2016-06-18 at 1.36.12 PM.png


3 ways you can use Apples to Apples in the classroom:

  • English: Practice Vocabulary (this actually works for any subject)
  • Math: Put an answer on the card and students chose how to solve it and the judge picks their favorite way. (Ex: 40 would be on the side and students can put ex: 8*5= 40, 20+20 = 40)
  • History: Put events on the side and the students need to put worlds related to that event. (Ex: World War II – students could write D Day, 1939 or Germany)

I would love to hear ways you can use this in the classroom or in a professional development. Please share in the comments.



“Never stop learning, because life never stops teaching.” Unknown

Summer is here for some of us or very close for others. Here is a list of ten professional development opportunities you can take advantage of to help improve your practice. Most are free, some do cost money but see if your school can pay for you.

  1. Sophia: Sophia provides free and affordable online courses (you can earn college credit too) that offer a great way to accelerate educational success. I take the courses for free and don’t get college credit (that’s the part that costs money). Here is a list of courses. They also have free PD modules that also allow you to earn certificates that I have taken as well…actually I have taken all of them.:-)
  2. Book Study: Create a book study group by getting teachers together or join one. Need a book suggestion? Here is my previous post on summer reads for 2016.
  3. Ted Talks: Search the site by topic to see what interests you to push your thinking.
  4. Code Academy: I am no expert coder but I know enough to be dangerous and I learned at code academy.
  5. Lynda: Learn something new on Lynda, an online video tutorial website.
  6. STEAM Integration Online Conference: I have not attend this but have heard great things.
  7. Webinars: There a lot of free teacher webinars that you can take advantage of by simply googling. Here is a list of ASCD webinars that can get you started.
  8. Ed Tech Teacher Worshop: Ed Tech Teacher and Google have partnered to offer PD around the country on supporting technology integration.
  9. Edcamps: A fun, free, unconference PD with other educators from different places. See where one is happening in your state.
  10. Twitter: There are tons of chats that you can join, here is a list. I, of course, think one of the best is #21stedchat (Sundays 8:00 PM EST) as I am the co-creator along with David Prindle.


“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.” By Albert Einstein


It is getting to that time of year again where teachers are gathering resources for their students and parents in order to help limit the summer slide. Below I have gathered some summer slide resources to help you out:

  1. Camp Newsela
  2. Camp Wonderopolis
  3. Start with  Book
  4. Lego Juniors Create and Cruise
  5. Makercamp
  6. DIY Camp
  7. School of Doodle
  8. Teenreads

Other ideas:

  1. Create a digital book club
  2. Have students blog
  3. Create a webquest of virtual field-trips for your students
  4. Beat the Summer Slide with Project-Based Learning

You can also see my previous years summer slide resource list.

3 FREE Resources to Help Avoid the Summer Slide

No Summer Slide Using these Resources

Resources for Avoiding the Math Summer Slide

Summer Slide and the Importance of Reading over the Summer


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