#MakeItReal Moment Number 9

What Would You Like To See?

Back when I was in college, the glorious years of 1994 – 1998, the battle between search engine giants Yahoo!, Altavista.com, askjeeves.com and Excite.com was in full bloom, and Google was just in its infancy at the end of my college experience. I remember being at home in NJ planning a trip back to college in 1996 and looking at the map of the trip on Yahoo Maps and thinking to myself, and even saying to my parents, “I would happily let Yahoo pay me to drive around the country on every single road so they could have live photos of every turn people need to take.”  Since I’ve been convinced that my life has been tapped by “big brother” my whole life, I’ll assume that baby Google heard me say this and that’s why we now have Google Street View (I’m still waiting for my royalty checks for the idea…they’re coming though, I’m sure of it).

Fast forward 20 years to yesterday when I found out that they now have Google Street View where they don’t even have streets:

They Have Google Street View In Space!!!

The above statement of surprise is a link to an article about the process they used to get the Google Video Car into the space station to take the pictures…kind of.



So maybe I won’t be getting that royalty check, but Google is helping me at least learn more about my dream to be an astronaut. I finally get to really see what the inside of the International Space Station looks like and navigate my way through it. That’s a #MakeItReal Moment for me. 
MY QUESTION: What would you and your students like to see? Can Google Street View take you there? If not, what would it take to see it? HOW CAN YOU #MAKEITREAL?


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

Remember to use the #MakeItReal Hashtag for sharing ideas!

Connect with Denis Sheeran at Denissheeran.com

Twitter: @MathDenisNJ and

#MakeItReal Chat Every Wednesday 9:30 pm EST for 30 Minutes.

Read Instant Relevance

Brand New Chrome Extension for Slides!

Slides Sorter for Google Slides

According to a valid statistical survey I just made up, everybody loves Google Slides…everybody. Being web based, it’s easy to add videos, images, items from your google drive, find templates, and take Google’s own suggestions for display themes through their Explore function.

But sometimes, people like features Powerpoint used to have that Google Slides doesn’t. I mean, the request goes way back:

Then I saw these tweets recently and it got me thinking again.

So I decided to act. Here it is everyone…my new chrome extension:

That’s right. The best way to change what you want into what you have is to make it! Here’s a link to the Slides Sorter extension in the Chrome Webstore.

And below is a brief video tutorial. But for those of you who’ve wanted the Powerpoint Slide Sorter feature in Google Slides for a while, you probably don’t need the tutorial. So enjoy the new feature, spread the word, and sort to your heart’s content!!!

Flipped Learning Game Changer: UPTIME for Youtube!

Overheard in my district:  “If I make a video for my students, then my classroom becomes 25 classrooms and they don’t talk about anything til they’re back in my classroom. What’s the point?” I get that. It’s one of the things that holds me back from embracing a fully flipped classroom …

Wonder Woman Lesson Collection

Free Wonder Woman Lesson Collection


I’ve been saying that a lot lately. First Fidget Spinners, now Wonder Woman! This one’s a little different. From what I’m reading, there are no School-wide Bans On Wonder Woman occurring across the country yet…yet.


Put Wonder Woman In The Classroom!


In my previous Fidget Spinner post(Banned to Bandwagon to Banked), teachers were overcoming the mindset that they were merely a distraction and had no value to create fun, creative, interactive activities and lessons for their kids to engage them in their love of spinning fidgety things.

This time, I don’t think there will be a lot of We Shall Overcome chants occurring in schools. So let’s skip the Banned part, and even the Bandwagon part and go right to the best part…


So I’d like to share with you this document of

15 + Wonder Woman Lessons, Activities, and Ideas(click for doc)

gathered from excellent educators across the globe, to be added to your Lesson Bank! Share it widely, use it often, and more importantly, approach future experiences in your own classroom from this same mindset.

Remember to use the #MakeItReal Hashtag for sharing ideas!

Connect with Denis Sheeran at Denissheeran.com

Twitter: @MathDenisNJ and

#MakeItReal Chat Every Wednesday 9:30 pm EST for 30 Minutes.

Read Instant Relevance

#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 Spinners: From Banned to BandWagon to Banked

Free Fidget Spinners Lesson Collection

If that’s all you came here for, Scroll To The Bottom Of The Post! 
Have a great time with these, they’re awesome!
Now…I also hope you’ll keep reading.


The process that has brought me to this post today is the most exciting thing about being a connected educator, especially on twitter. On April 24th, 2017, I heard about the Fidget Spinner. I’ll call that Day Zero. For a moment, I thought to myself…”oh well, there’s another fidget toy now.” Then, later that same day, I read article after article and saw twitter post after twitter post sharing the same message…


If you know anything about me, my book Instant Relevance, or our weekly twitter chat #MakeItReal, you know that this type of commentary is nothing more than a challenge. So, on April 25th, I wrote the #MakeItReal Moment Number 7 blog post about embracing the Fidget Spinner in the classroom instead of banning it.

There were two major reactions to that post. One (smaller reaction by far and interestingly enough…centered mostly in the UK) was “no thank you, I’d rather teach things that are important by lecturing.”

The second, and much larger reaction was “Absolutely! What a great idea! Anyone out there doing this already?” And the shift began…from Banned, to Bandwagon!


On Wednesday, May 3rd, the #MakeItReal Chat was focused on grabbing hold of the fads that students love, particularly Fidget Spinners, and making Relevant, Connected, Valuable learning experiences for our students.

On May 4th I posted the Fidget Spinner Follow Up post, sharing ideas that several teachers had shared with me through twitter and had been used by other teachers all over the country.

The Fidget Spinner movement had gone from Banned, to Bandwagon. Teachers everywhere were jumping on, but not just to follow, to lead. They created lessons, activities, experiences, videos, flipgrids, padlets, and best of all, they said “yes” to students who asked, even silently, “Can school be something I like today?”


So I’d like to share with you this document of

20+ Fidget Spinner Activities

gathered from excellent educators across the globe, to be added to your Lesson Bank! Share it widely, use it often, and more importantly, approach future experiences in your own classroom from this same mindset.

Move away from saying no. Move away from negativity. Move away from stifling curiosity.
Move from Banned, to Bandwagon, to Banked.
The investment will pay larger dividends than you can imagine.

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?