What Do You Do With An Idea?

What Do You Do With An Idea?


My two-year-old son recently received the book, What Do You Do With An IDEA?  He loves the illustrations and how the story changes from black and white to color.  I love the message that this book delivers.  When my children are ready, I’ll definitely spend time discussing it’s theme.

I also found that this story struck a chord with me, both personally and professionally.  I often have a lot of ideas myself.  For those that know me, you might say I’m sometimes a “flight of ideas.”  In fact, just this weekend my closest friends outside of education teased me about this.  However, this website and blog started with an idea and although sometimes the first step in any journey is the hardest – we just have to start.

This also speaks to the message of the book – sometimes people will think you are silly, foolish, too ambitious, or even crazy – and you need to be resilient, thick-skinned, determined, and not easily discouraged.  I would also add that we need to teach children to be open to constructive criticism, different perspectives, new ideas, reflection, and the capability of iteration.  Of course, rejection doesn’t feel good, but rejection can lead to the next iteration – an improvement, a redesign, a different perspective.  Like in the book, our ideas need attention and love – whether that be research, redesign, time – until our idea is ready to be released.

This process is different for all people and creatives.  As Malcom Gladwell recently examined in his Revisionist History Podcast, some ideas are “perfect” on the first few iterations, while others, take years upon years of iteration.  As educators, the theme in What Do You Do With An Idea?, also speaks to the design thinking process.

Finally, as educators, it behooves us to inspire curiosity in our students.  This starts with a love for learning, understanding the learning process, and becoming self-directed.  If we do not, their ideas – “crazy” or not – will only remain ideas.

Google Docs & Forms to Differentiate

I recently presented at the EdTechTeam GAFE Summit held in my school district, Marlboro Township Public Schools.

It was a great event! I learned valuable new instructional strategies and ways to use emerging instructional technologies.  As we approach the start of the school year, I’m sharing and have attached my presentation slideshow on differentiating with Google Docs and Google Forms.

It’s a simple concept in that the teacher can share a Google Doc with a student and set him/her off on an individualized project and learning paths or provide specific links to differentiated content or activities.  Additionally, if you’re using adaptive learning programs like Study Island, ST Math, or others, you can link directly to those websites and sign-in pages.

Below is a skills checklist to get yourself started and a link to my slideshow and resources.

  • Understand basics of Google Docs and Forms
  • Understand Sharing Settings of Docs and Forms
  • Can insert hyperlinks into a Google Doc
    • Understand concept of linking Docs to Docs
    • Insert Link Shortcut Keys (Ctrl + K)
  • Can utilize Google Search to find resources, texts, videos, etc. to curate information
  • Can insert YouTube Videos
  • Understand how to add Sections in Google Forms
  • Understand new Forms Quizzes feature

Google Docs & Forms to Differentiate NJ GAFE Summit16 Slideshow

Adaptive Learning Flowchart for Google Forms

I wanted to share this Adaptive Learning Flowchart that can be used when planning a formative assessment in Google Forms.

I don’t recommend trying to make Google Form assessment that verges on the complexity of advanced adaptive learning programs.  However, the flowchart I’ve provided should give you some assistance in planning a form that leads a student through a differentiated path or an adaptive type assessment.


Flowchart Graphic
Flowchart Graphic

Valuable Student Feedback

student growth

Students need feedback, compliments and constructive criticism on their progress and learning process.  If you’re going to dish out compliments, make sure they are not empty compliments to students filled with generalities like, “You’re so smart,” or “Great job!”  Students will value and respect teachers that are honest, fair, and provide (age appropriate) feedback that they can work with, grow from, and understand.  I also believe this will facilitate trust between the teacher and the student so that the child will be more open to constructive criticism and feedback during the times when the student is challenged.

Try the following as examples.

“You did great work on this project because you provided evidence that underscored your arguments. Additionally, you cited more than the required number of sources.”

“These word problems were challenging; you answered a few questions correctly, let’s discuss why.  On some other problems, you made some errors, let’s see if we can find out where you went wrong.”

“It’s not clear what you mean in the highlighted sentence.  Can you reword this? … Are you trying to say _________?  If so, consider rewording the sentence like this ______________.”engage students in opportunities to reflect on the learning process, ask questions, give specific feedback

  • Engage students in opportunities to reflect on the learning process
  • Ask questions of the student
  • Give specific feedback (link to rubrics/expectations)
  • Don’t praise intelligence, rather the specific work
  • Don’t praise trivial accomplishments/weak efforts
  • Encourage reflection, goal setting, and regularly check in with students on progress towards goals