Category Archives: Classroom management

Speed Dating + Science = Speed Geeking


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If you haven’t tried speed geeking in your class, you should.  You students will be engaged, communicating, thinking critically and having fun.

Although I teach physics, I have a handful of non-physics learning targets for my students to master.  One of them is “describe factors that allow for survival of living organisms.”  This includes things like beak design and protective coloration.  The final turn-in for the lesson is a drawing and description of their invented animal. I absolutely did not want to spend a day listening to students describe their animals.  That’s where my idea of speed geeking arose.

I split my class in two, labeling one half A and the other B.  They were in teams – with A and B facing one another.  They had to shake hands and introduce themselves to one another (although most already knew their partner). When I gave the signal, person A told person B about their creature. They had 90 seconds to talk.  Then person B talked for 90 seconds.  After that they had one minute for questions.   When they finished, both stood up, shook hands and thanked one another.  Person B moved on to a new Person A.  (Person A stayed in place.) Each rounds takes about 5 minutes.

I can see this being used in all subjects.  Give an even number of math problems.  Person A will teach the even numbered problems, Person B the odd ones.  Writing assignments, projects, timelines, etc. can all be evaluated using Speed Geeking.

How will you use speed geeking?




Save Time – Use Plickers


When I went to the ISTE ( conference this summer in Atlanta, I had high expectations.  Extremely high expectation.  Unattainably high expectations.  But I was disappointed.

I’ve always thought that being a teacher was a lot like being a gold miner.  When people first came out west, gold was everywhere.  It was easy pickings.  Now we sift through tons and tons and tons of ore just to find a little nugget (if we’re extremely lucky) or some gold dust.  That’s what it’s like to be a teacher.  A new teacher finds gold everywhere and can’t pick it up fast enough.  But as the years go by, it is harder and harder to find gold.  We search websites, go to conferences, read magazines, books, journals – all in a hunt for our elusive gold.  We usually end up with some gold dust – that’s what makes us keep hunting.  Finding a gold nugget happens will less frequency.

The first ISTE conference I went to allowed me to be a new teacher again.  Gold was everywhere!  The second ISTE was a bit less gold, but I brought back some big nuggets.  This was my third ISTE conference.  No gold.  No gold dust.  Or so I thought.

The last day of the conference, on the day I was taking a 6 hour flight home, I woke up with a terrible headache and a sinus infection.  No conference for me.  As I say in the hotel restaurant with my husband, there were 2 women at a nearby table.  They were obviously teachers (I’ve been told we have a look).  So I started a conversation with them (I talk to everyone).

“What’s your best take-away from the conference?” I asked.

“Plickers,” one told me. “Definitely Plickers,” the second added.

When I asked what Plickers were, they had trouble describing them.  To me they are what you get when you cross clickers with pickers – but with no expense.  They are like clickers in the each students has their own and their answers are tracked (by student).

When I went to the website ( and looked at their explanation, I was hooked.  My gold!  I found my gold!

When school began (we begin early here in the desert) I couldn’t wait to get them in the hands of my students.  My administrator told the teachers that she expected daily tickets out the door – and that we had to keep track of student responses.  With an average student load inching over 150, teacher looked panicked.  Not me. I had Plickers.

A couple of months later – and dozen of teachers trained – I still think that Plickers is gold.  My most valuable resource is my time and using Plickers is like giving me an additional hour or so each day.  I use it for attendance, formative assessments, tickets out the door, to poll the students.  Daily I find additional uses for Plickers.

Because it is both an app and a website it can be a bit confusing.  I made a video on how to set up Plicker and use them.  (  Take a few minutes (OK, a couple of hours) today and get it set up.  By Friday you’ll have your time investment back – and more.

Leave your comments about what you think of Plickers and how you use them.

Administrators Abound at ASA’s 2014 Fall Principals’ Conference

It was great to meet new friends and see old friends at the ASA Fall Principal’s Conference.  It was also amazing to be the winner of the day!

As promised, here’s a copy of my presentation.  Also, I referred to the following websites: – Terrific, FREE formative assessment tool – Overstock materials available to teachers for a nominal fee – The Markerboard People – My YouTube channel – Vimeo is the safer place I host my videos.

Here is a copy of today’s presentation:

Please contact me with any questions.

Happy day!