#MakeItReal Moment Number 8

A Prompt Reply

When you read the writing of past and current authors and poets, you often see that they are just describing the reality in front of them, only using words so flawlessly that the description transcends the reality itself. I felt like the reality in front of me the other day was transcendent too. That reality was a post on Flow Art Station titled:

Hilarious Winners of the First Annual ‘Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards’

Yup. Totally Transcendent. I mean, who isn’t captivated by these:





There are  A LOT more of these on the post. I flipped through them, chuckling at some, laughing pretty hard at others and dismissing a few. My kids, however, laughed at EVERY SINGLE ONE! Then as I was putting away my phone because I didn’t feel like standing still anymore while two miniature versions of myself stared at my hands, they both asked…

Show us the pictures again…

There it is folks…The #MakeItReal Moment Prompt…Which I PROMPTLY ignored being in my morning Dad mode. I put away my phone and tweeted the list to the universe because every now and then, you just need to share something fun. Later that day, Casey Heitman (@caseyheitman123) dropped this note to me.

She was right. This was a great opportunity for a writing prompt. From captions, to poems, to short stories, students could capture the reality in front of them and try to describe it so flawlessly that their description transcended the reality we were all seeing.

So later today, I’m showing the pictures to my kids again, and we’re having a caption contest. I can’t wait.


What are three ways you could use this moment and moments like it in your classroom to add relevance to a lesson?

Fidget Spinner Follow Up

Fidget Spinners Post = Tons of Great Ideas!

If you haven’t read my most recent #MakeItReal Moment about Fidget Spinners, either look farther down the webpage or check it out here. To make a long story short, I’m against banning what kids love to do and all for finding creative ways to embrace things like fads and crazes in our classrooms.

So I’d like to share with you the AMAZING responses from exciting, innovative teachers and leaders who agree that when a student is passionate about a question or idea, we can use it to help them learn.

John Stevens (@jstevens009), author of The Classroom Chef and Table Talk Math created a lesson involving 3D Printing your own spinner and shared it on his blog here.

I attempted to recreate a fidget spinner on Desmos and after getting into a conversation with Dan Meyer about how to fix it, he reached out to the incredible Desmos designer Chris Lusto (@lustomatical) to finish it with this outstanding design. I’ve since shown it to students and said “Now you try to make one! Have Fun!”

My Attempt                             Their Solution

Amy Radford (@RadfordAmy)  used Flipgrid to create a writing activity for her students, using spinners as focus point for a persuasive writing piece!

Media preview

Joy Kirr  (@JoyKirr)  is using articles written in high profile newspapers and outlets to discern tone/voice/bias in writing!

Aimee Ferguson (@amieejo80) is using Spinners a few ways!

Charlotte Dolat (@cdolat) realized the potential that the spinners have to form a connection that builds relationships.

Gretchen Greer (@treemaiden) tracks the fad itself and has students graph data from it!

Hayley James (@clerk2governors) Stacey Lindes (@iruntech) Curtis Slater (@SlaterPBISMN) are all making their own with their students or own children!


There are more and more examples of creative teachers making creative experiences for their students every day, showing up in my twitter feed at the #MakeItReal hashtag. This is the power of the social media PLN. I encourage you, again, to embrace the fads/crazes/interests of your students and find ways to engage them deeply with what they care about most. It will build relationships, grow their curiosity, and meet them at their best. 

Looking for more ideas? Check out the latest #MakeItReal Chat topic and Archive here

Please share your activities and ideas and great lessons you’ve seen others do in the comments! Together, we grow much faster!


#MakeItReal Moment: Number 7

Put A Spin On It

The second N in the I.N.S.T.A.N.T acronym for increasing relevance in your lessons stands for National Events and Crazes. First, there was the Rainbow Loom, then there was Bottle Flipping, and today, the craze taking over the nation (and many nations from what I read), is…The Fidget Spinner!

Observe…but don’t observe for too long, there’s more words below the video.

I’m not one to put aside a national (or international) craze, so I put the idea out to some teachers who’d been struggling with getting their students to stop playing with the spinners in class.

My Question: How can you take the fact that students love these things and use it to your advantage? In other words…how can you #MakeItReal?

Here are some of their ideas:

  • Time different types and see which kind are the best spinners
  • Compare different types for costs and seller ratings on Amazon
  • Experiment with how long it takes students to learn cool spinner tricks
  • Write a science fiction story about how Fidget Spinners are really UFOs and our use of them as toys starts an intergalactic war. 

I really like that last one. So now it’s your turn. 

What are three ways you could use this moment and moments like it in your classroom to add relevance to a lesson?

#MakeItReal Moment: Number 6

Pyramid Scheme

For today’s #MakeItReal Moment, I present to you…Yesterday’s Foxtrot Cartoon, by Bill Amend.

Question 1: How many levels of the pyramid scheme are necessary before crossing the Million Stone threshold?

Question 2: How big would each “stone” have to be to actually be able to build one of the Great Pyramids with 1,000,000 stones?

Question 3: Based on the following information, what questions do you have?

The challenge:

What do you read or see almost every day, like this cartoon, that you could draw questions and connections from? Why don’t you?

What are three ways you could use this moment and moments like it in your classroom to add relevance to a lesson?

#MakeItReal Moment: Number 5

Is This For Real?

Do you know who DanTDM is? For my #MinecraftEDU people out there, that’s likely a resounding YES! For other minecrafters, probably a YES as well. But if you don’t follow Minecraft, or especially follow it on Youtube, you might not know who DanTDM is. Here’s a taste of what he does…Don’t watch the whole thing. This is a #MakeItReal Moment, not a #MakeItReal Session.

So DanTDM is a youtube creator who puts out videos of him playing Minecraft and other online games and settings. For some reason, my kids love him. I’ve been in one of those “Why do you like this?” “We just DO, OK?” fights with them for about a year now. In fact, I just found out that my nephew and his dad, my brother-in-law were going to see DanTDM LIVE! How the heck does this guy get a live venue!!! And it’s a big one too! I thought “He’s just going to watch minecraft and talk about it and people will pay ticket prices to see this?” And then suddenly, without warning, I realized who DanTDM is. Not in reality, but who he is to my kids, and to a lot of kids. 

DanTDM = Bob Ross

My kids knew virtually nothing about Minecraft…and then DanTDM came a long, narrating his creations as they came to life. Now they create like never before.
Millions knew virtually nothing about painting happy little trees…and then Bob Ross came along, narrating his creations as they came to life. Now they paint, like never before.

DanTDM just became real to me. He’s one of the most effective teachers my kids have.

What have you been fighting that can easily become real to you…with a little perspective?
And as usual…

What are three ways you could use this moment in your classroom to add relevance to a lesson?

#MakeItReal Moment Number 4

Definitely Make This One Real

Ok, this is a short #MakeItReal Moment. I saw this picture in an article today and immediately had buckets of questions.

According to the article I read about it, this is a building plan for NYC.
I leave this #MakeItReal moment entirely to you. Since the building is in the planning stages only, I leave the planning of how you’d use it up for grabs and will share my ideas in a later post. Read the article in Business Insider by Leanna Garfield for more information about the building plans.


And…as usual:

What are three ways you could use this moment in your classroom to add relevance to a lesson?

#MakeItReal Moment: Number 3

Watermelons! Watermelons Everywhere!


People like to send me jokes, memes, gifs etc., about math because, well, it’s a kind of defense mechanism. A lot of people have a bad relationship with math, so laughing about it makes it better. I’ve had a tendency to shrug off most of these because I’ve very likely seen and/or heard all the math jokes before. Well, for #MakeItReal Moment Number 3, I realized that these jokes are more than just defense mechanisms, they’re opportunities to learn and to engage our students!

Here’s what I got the other day.

It’s funny because it’s true.

But instead of shrugging it off, I asked some kids about it because I figured…someone was wondering “WHY?”

Here are some responses.

  1. Is he a chef making something for a huge party?
  2. Is he starting a watermelon farm?
  3. Maybe she owns a grocery store and is just stocking up!

See!?! You want to know who wonders “why” to things like this? Kids do. Give them a chance to talk it out.

What are three ways you could use this moment in your classroom to add relevance to a lesson?


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