Category Archives: Show Notes

Episode 014: Drs. Brent Duckor & Carrie Holmberg, Formative Assessment

Episode 014: Dr. Brent Duckor & Dr. Carrie Holmberg, Mastering Formative Assessment Moves

In the foreword for this book, Dr. John Hattie describes the work of Dr. Duckor and Dr. Holmberg as “[bringing to life] how to think of one’s self on a trajectory of powerful practices that unite instruction and assessment.” In many conversations, we tend to separate the two and don’t think deeply enough about the intersection of instruction and assessment. A highly recommended read from the 2 authors with publisher ASCD. Our conversation with them should give you a good idea of what their perspective before or after you read.  


Connect with Vrain Waves

Twitter: @VrainWaves | Becky Twitter: @BeckyEPeters | Ben Twitter: @mrkalb

Connect with Dr. Duckor & Dr. Holmberg

Twitter: @BrentDuckor, @CarrieHolmberg | Website: | Book: Mastering Formative Assessment Moves (Amazon | ASCD)

Links & Show Notes

  • Skip to Minute 7:55 to get to the Interview with Drs. Duckor & Holmberg
  • Out of Our Heads and Into the Classroom (03:51)
    • Two Truths & A Lie (04:07)
    • Create a meme (4:44)
    • Analogies (05:26)
  • Introductions to guests (06:47)
  • 7 moves: Priming, Posing, Pausing, Probing, Bouncing, Tagging, Binning
    • Priming: Preparing the groundwork; establishing & maintaining norms; acting to acculturate students to learning publicly
    • Posing: Asking questions that size up the learner’s needs in the lesson and across the unit
    • Pausing: Giving students adequate time to think and respond as individuals or in groups
    • Probing: Asking follow up questions that use information from actual student responses
    • Bouncing: Sampling a variety of responses intentionally & systematically to better map the terrain of student thinking
    • Tagging: Publicly representing variation in student thinking by creating a snapshot or a running record of class responses  
  • Role of Formative Assessment (08:52)
    • National Research Council, 1999 book: How People Learn: Mind, Brain, Experience, and School (free pdf download)
    • “Kids are better served when we build the bridges from where their own understanding is to the content than when we ignore it and pretend that they’re a blank slate.”  
  • Why do Formative Assessment (10:57)
    • Identifies the gap between what we think we’re teaching and what the students are understanding
  • Teacher decision making and the formative assessment moves (13:32)
  • Priming & visibility of thinking (15:36)
    • (From the Book: “…priming can help make not only learning visible, priming can go a long way toward making students visible”)
    • Practical uses of priming (16:43)
    • “We all have the right to be wrong.” “We all can risk an explanation.” “Our voices should be heard.”
    • Habits of Heart / Habits of Mind (18:15)
    • Dr. Holmberg on being a better listener, having language for the moves to get better at them (19:27)
  • Pausing (20:50)
  • Tagging (26:38)
    • Visual representations of student responses
    • High tech or low tech
  • Releasing control & embracing anxiety (29:49)
    • “Teachers, like artists, are often dealing with the complexity of the moment.”
  • Tagging around the room or virtually, what do we do with tagging after the process (32:57)
  • Bouncing as a precursor to tagging (34:05)
    • Assessment triangle – p 44 (Cognition, Observation, Interpretation), how students develop competence (34:18) from Knowing What Students Know, NAP
    • Synchronizing the 7 moves & using common language (36:08)
    • Targeted bouncing on student writing (37:24)
  • Binning to make instructional decisions (38:20)
  • How do we get better at the 7 moves? (39:40)
    • STEM & misconceptions (41:10)
  • Predict → Observe → Explain routine from Stanford (41:30) – use for your teaching
  • Assessment-Capable Learners; student role in formative assessment (43:52)
  • Transparency with students with FA (45:35)
  • To learn more from Brent & Carrie: (free resources & email links)
  • Takeaways with Ben & Becky (47:55)
  • Tweet us @VrainWaves with your Formative Assessment Moves!!

Episode 013: AJ Juliani

Episode 013: AJ Juliani, on Genius Hour, PBL, and Design Thinking

AJ Juliani has been writing books and inspiring teachers for  years, sharing the best ideas and looking forward to what is next for education. We strongly suggest you visit his website and sign up for his newsletter – he has an amazing amount of free content that is sure to inspire and set you on your way to increasing choice and empowerment in your classroom.


Connect with Vrain Waves

Twitter: @VrainWaves | Becky Twitter: @BeckyEPeters | Ben Twitter: @mrkalb

Connect with AJ Juliani

Twitter: @ajjuliani | Website: | Books: AJ Juliani on Amazon

Links & Show Notes

Episode 012: Devorah Heitner, Screenwise

Episode 012: Devorah Heitner, Raising Digital Natives

In this episode, we interview Dr. Devorah Heitner, Founder and CEO of Raising Digital Natives. Dr. Heitner is an experienced keynote speaker, workshop leader, and consultant & policy advisor to numerous public and independent schools across the country. We talk to her about her books and her research, and dive into how to parent and teach a digital native.

Connect with Vrain Waves

Twitter: @VrainWaves | Becky Twitter: @BeckyEPeters | Ben Twitter: @mrkalb

Connect with Dr. Heitner

Twitter: @DevorahHeitner | Website: | Book: ScreenWise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in their Digital World


Links & Show Notes

  • Virtual assistants (1:45) – Google conference virtual assistant preview video
  • Smarter Than You Think (from here on out known as “STYT”) by Clive Thompson (4:19)
  • The Audience Effect (4:40) – pattern study with little kids; also written up in STYT
  • How much more we’re writing with technology (05:50)  
  • Introduction to Dr. Devorah Heitner (08:15)
  • Response to people panicking about technology (09:04)
  • Definition of digital natives (10:38) – still need mentorship
  • What they love: Access to content & diversity of content; sharing & creating content (11:35)
  • Dr. Heitner’s TEDx Talk: Empathy is the App
  • Mentoring > monitoring (15:10) (Blog post on this / Mentorship Manifesto)
  • Teaching Digital Citizenship (17:26)
    • Focus on the positive, share in smaller circles, show positive models on social media
  • Modeling good digital behavior (19:52)
    • Toby – google chrome extension to save your tabs
  • Tech savvy vs. Experiential wisdom (22:43)
  • What students have to say about tech in the classroom (24:40)
  • Thoughts on fears around screen time (27:10)
    • Consumption v. creation
  • Parent-Teacher digital communication (28:37)
  • Including parents virtually in class as mystery readers, guest speakers, etc (29:40)
  • Temper our expectations (30:17)
  • Connectivity Stress (33:58)
  • Setting up technology boundaries / Intentional Tech Habits (34:40)
  • Devorah on her successes and being flexible (37:48)
  • Rapid Fire (40:40)

Wrap up (45:05) – Cal Newport Book: Deep Work

Episode 011: Dan Meyer

Episode 011: Dan Meyer, Desmos

Dan Meyer has been revolutionizing math instruction for years, and in this episode he shares with us the importance of mentors in his life, a few of his favorite teaching mantras, mathematics as storytelling, and how to notice and develop perplexity.

Connect with Vrain Waves

Twitter: @VrainWaves | Becky Twitter: @BeckyEPeters | Ben Twitter: @mrkalb

Connect with Dan Meyer

Twitter: [@ddmeyer]( | Website: []( | [Desmos](


Links & Show Notes

  • Math is a (usually poorly told) story (02:22)
    • Put students in a place to experience new learning through a need
  • Dan’s math journey & mentors (4:20)
  • “Be Less Helpful” (6:58)
    • Let students do the interesting, important work of the thinking about the problem
    • Thanksgiving dinner task example – by giving all the information necessary you’re making the problem less interesting, losing the opportunity for deeper thinking, and blocking some students out
  • Discovery learning in the math classroom  (9:52)
  • You can always add, you can’t subtract (11:08)
    • Once you add information, you change the nature of the challenge
  • 3-act math (Dan Meyer’s spreadsheet; Dan Meyer’s ‘How-to’ / Graham Fletcher’s EL resources) (12:39)
  • Benjamin Baxter (20:23)
  • Perplexity / Curiosity: Teaching as a science – reproducible (24:23)
    • “Developing curiosity in ourselves and capturing those curious moments and presenting them in curious ways for other people, that has to be an ongoing discipline.”
  • Benefits of being a connected educator (27:31)
    • Quick growth; posing open questions and semi-formed ideas
  • Memorization in math (30:26)
    • Driving analogy
    • Having as much as you can in your long-term memory makes more interesting work possible
    • Practice with purpose, mix frequently with purposeful activities (not memorization drills)
    • Offer them pictures of where their memorization will be used
  • Math assessment (35:07)
    • Break learning objectives down into smaller grains of learning and assess on each
    • Standards-based Grading
    • Talk to him more about this @ddmeyer
  • Desmos (38:04)
  • Dan’s TED Talk
  • Lots of other videos of Dan’s keynotes, ideas, etc…

Sign up for Dan’s newsletter on his blog

Episode 010: Jennie Magiera

Episode 010: Jennie Magiera, Courageous Edventures

Jennie Magiera, ed tech guru and math education wizard, joins us for an interview about personalized learning, digital classroom practices, and courageous edventures in the classroom.


Connect with Jennie Magiera

Twitter: @MsMagiera | Website: | Book: Courageous Edventures


Links & Show Notes

  • Reflecting on Learning technology in classrooms (1:46)
  • Jesse BuetowThis 5th Grade Life Podcast
  • Jennie Magiera intro – book: Courageous Edventures (6:30)
  • How do I differentiate with technology? But not lose my personal life in the meantime (9:20)
    • I could transcend space and time by ‘cloning myself’ with videos
    • What are innovative ways we can approach the problems teachers face every day? → Courageous EdVentures book is a problem based approach to this
  • Innovation in the math classroom (12:07)
    • Jennie’s history with math
    • Learned that math is really creative & beautiful & inspiring
    • Explain EverythingToonTastic – tell the narrative of the mathematical story
  • Other Math Heroes (16:40)
  • How to know your students really well (19:40)
    • Lunch in the cafeteria with students
    • Be careful to see your students as whole people, not people we need to save – changes the types of questions you ask them
    • One human being talking to another
    • “Instead of asking students ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ ask, ‘who do you want to be today?’ In this way, we are no longer asking students to wait to matter.”
  • Student agency (24:01) – empowering students so they are able to do things that will affect their own lives.
    • Make time in your day to exercise those skills (25:10) National Teachers Academy
    • 5 to 13 yo at this school speaking at public hearings and city hall, etc… given students an education in social justice, equity, and voice – being involved in their own community
    • #giveNTAachance | @WeAreNTA |
    • Everyone in the building believes in the power of student voice
  • Preparing students for discussions in classrooms (29:49) –
  • Jennie Magiera’s TED (& other) Talks
  • Genius Hour (32:07)
    • Flopped the first time because teacher always knows the answer, creativity is not fostered, asked for a rubric, didn’t know how to get an ‘A’
    • Ken Robinson – Schools Kill Creativity
  • Teacher Innovation Exploration Plan (TIEP)
    • Problem-Based Innovation for working through using learning technology in the classroom
    • Select one challenge and then work systematically through to your solution
  • Favorite time saving hacks (38:05)
  • NPR Article – OK Go – Here it Goes Again (43:15)
  • Billboard: Talk Less, Listen More (46:15)
  • How Jennie learned to say ‘No’ more (47:05) – notecard – say no to three things a month
  • Takeaways (48:40)

Episode 009: Daniel Pink – When

Episode 009: Daniel Pink, When

In an amazing stroke of luck, Daniel Pink agreed to do an interview with us for Vrain Waves. We are so grateful to this talented and eloquent author for tailoring his content more to educators specifically for this interview. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!!   


Connect with Daniel Pink

Twitter: @danielpink | Website: | Book: When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing

Links & Show Notes

  • Daniel Pink Intro (00:46)
    • Drive (01:19) – Autonomy, Mastery, & Purpose
  • Prime your brain (2:50)
  • “Timing isn’t the main thing, it’s the only thing.” – Miles Davis (3:50) Biological clocks in every cell of our body
  • Time of day & standardized testing – Denmark study (5:21)
  • School start time for high schoolers (6:21)
    • Chronobiology / Chronotypes
    • American Academy of Pediatrics Report (don’t start school before 8:30)
      • Teen depression, teen obesity, lower test scores, more car accidents
      • Adults saying ‘don’t be lazy’ – remember how detrimental that can be from our discussion with Glenn Whitman!
    • We don’t take timing seriously (8:43)
    • “Je suis fatigue” (9:20)
  • Phases of the day based on chronotype (9:53)
    • 15% are larks
    • 20% are owls
    • The rest of us are ‘third birds’
    • Pattern of the day (Twitter, Daniel Kahneman)
      • Peak → Trough → Recovery
  • “Our cognitive abilities don’t stay the same throughout the day.” (11:20)
    • Peak: Analytic work – most vigilant at this time
    • Trough: increase in medical errors, decrease in handwashing in hospitals, more car accidents: Administrative work – not a lot of brainpower
    • Recovery: High mood but less vigilant – time for Creative Work
  • Scheduling (14:45) – Not just a logistical issue, it’s a pedagogical issue and a strategic issue
    • Only criterion we use is availability (rooms & people) when we schedule anything – we should give more weight to the ‘when’
    • Time of day alone represents about 20% of variance in how someone performs on the job (15:50)
    • We’re intentional about the ‘what’ – the curriculum, the ‘who’ – who’s in the room, the ‘how’ – the pedagogy, but the ‘when’ takes a back seat, which is a big mistake.
    • Study of 2 million students in LAUSD – student performance in math in the morning vs. math in the afternoon
  • Corporate earnings calls – NYU study (19:07) – even led to temporary stock mispricing
    • Communicate important messages earlier in the day
  • Taking breaks (22:02)
    • Breaks are undervalued
    • Something is better than nothing – even if 1 to 2 minutes, better than nothing; breaks should be social, even for introverts; moving is better than stationary; outside is better than inside; fully detached is better than semi-detached
    • We look at recess as a concession – recess is part of what we need to learn!
    • Denmark – 20 to 30 min break before those standardized tests, scores went back up
  • Temporal Landmarks (24:48) – trigger an interesting form of mental accounting
    • Try using fresh start dates or temporal landmarks for when you want students to try something new
  • Suggestions for School: (27:20)
    • More breaks for teachers and students alike, analytical classes (literacy & numeracy) in the morning, move art / music to later in the day, pay more attention to how well things are working and adjust accordingly – test and reiterate
    • Increase our chances of being successful; not guarantees
  • Premortems – Gary Klein (30:53)
    • Make mistakes in your head and come up with solutions before you make those mistakes, e.g. ask students: AP test is in 6 months, you get a 1, what went wrong?
  • Group Synchronization (34:46) Oxford research on prosocial effects of synchronous play with children (boosts our mood, increased collaboration, more open to playing with kids who don’t look like them, open minded, generous, etc.)
  • Motivation (37:57)
    • Autonomy, Mastery, & Purpose – Genius Hour & self-directed projects, student-led conferences, solve problems in their local community
  • Homework from Daniel Pink (40:56)
    • Be a better observer of your own behavior – how are you doing at different times of day? Observe and act accordingly
    • Beginnings, middles & ends – importance of the end of the year
  • / / email newsletter
  • Takeaways (43:52)

Episode 008: Glenn Whitman

Episode 008: Glenn Whitman, NeuroTeach

Today we talk with one of the authors of NeuroTeach: Brain Science and the Future of Education, Mr. Glenn Whitman. His dedication to understanding neuroscience and learning in order to effect change at the school building level permeates policy at the Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac, Maryland. Glenn speaks to us about the ways in which learning about the brain can enhance our instruction.


Connect with Glenn Whitman

Twitter: @gwhitmancttl | Website: | Book: NeuroTeach: Brain Science and the Future of Education

Links & Show Notes

Episode 007: Katie Martin

Episode 007: Katie Martin, Learner-Centered Innovation: Spark Curiosity, Ignite Passion, and Unleash Genius

Join us for another amazing interview with educational giant, Dr. Katie Martin. Her first book, Learner-Centered Innovation, discusses how to inspire lifelong learning, creativity, and innovation – both in our students and in ourselves.    


Connect with Katie Martin

Twitter: @katiemartinedu | Website: | Book: Learner-Centered Innovation

Links & Show Notes

Episode 006: Dan Ryder

Episode 006: Dan Ryder, Intention: Critical Creativity in the Classroom

Today’s guest is Dan Ryder – co-author of Intention: Critical Creativity in the Classroom, and purveyor of rigorous whimsy in classrooms around the world. Join us to learn about how critical thinking and creativity can, and should, go hand-in-hand in our instruction.   

Connect with Dan Ryder

Twitter: @wickeddecent or @intentionbook / #dtk12chat | Website: | Book: Intention: Critical Creativity in the Classroom

Links & Show Notes

Episode 005: Dave Burgess, TLAP

Episode 005: Dave Burgess, Teach Like a Pirate

Get ready to sail the seven seas with this week’s guest, Mr. Dave Burgess. Using magic, humor, and a trademark level of enthusiasm to augment his already stellar content, Dave is a sought after speaker, well-known author, and high-quality publisher followed by educators around the world.


Connect with Dave Burgess

Twitter: @burgessdave | Website: | Book: Teach Like a Pirate

Links & Show Notes

Medici Effect