Best Articles

This page shares my best articles to read on topics like innovation, creativity, project-based learning, neuroscience, design thinking, empowerment and more. The central question that drives my work is, “How can we learn and lead better?” To answer that question, I like to write about science-based ways to learn differently.

Ready to dive in? You can use the categories below to browse my best articles or scroll down to see every post by date and title.

All Articles by Date

Scroll down to browse all of my articles by date and title. Articles are listed in reverse chronological order with my newest articles at the top and my oldest essays at the bottom.


You Don’t Have to Reimagine School Right Now
Can We Really Design Learning That Transfers?
People Over Programs: How To Create An Adaptable Curriculum That Works For Every Student
How to Raise Successful People: Preparing Competent Kids For A Life Of Performance
Curriculum as Windows, Mirrors, and Sliding Doors
Why Are We Still Giving So Many Tests?
Four Learning Models That Are Working in Remote (and Concurrent) Classrooms Right Now


My 2020 Failing Report
Learning Over Compliance: How to Shift to Engagement Online
10 Simple Things That Make A Difference In Remote Learning
The Discussion Game: How to Get Kids Talking in Synchronous Learning
Four Engaging Structures That Work in Hybrid A/B Learning Classrooms
I want my kids to go to school, but understand why they can’t
Ideas From The Ground Up, Supported From The Top Down
The 9 Dimensions of Online Learning: How to Plan and Adjust For an Unpredictable Learning Environment
The Real Reason It Is So Difficult To Plan For Online Learning
The Ultimate Guide to Choice Boards and Learning Menus
Sharing more (and judging less) during emergency remote learning
Pandemic pedagogy: what’s working right now in emergency remote learning?
This is not online or distance learning
The Power of Compassionate Action
Online Workshop: How to Do Genius Hour (and PBL) Virtually with Your Students
Leading With Empathy During Times of Change
Feeling like an imposter
Empathy Week 2020: Join the Movement
Empathy: The Platinum Rule vs The Golden Rule
Being The Best For The World (Not The Best In The World)
How to Keep Learning When You Keep Failing
Try This Design Sprint At Your Next Faculty Meeting
How to Launch a Book On Kickstarter: Go Behind The Scenes


My 2019 Failing Report
Dragons and Heroes: Inside the Daily Creative Battle
What My Brother Continues to Teach Me About the Impact We Each Have on This World
How To Get Out of the Zone of Aggravation
What We Can Learn About Empathy From the Inventor of the Yellow Traffic Light
These 8 Books Will Teach You About Empathy
The Science of Learning: Powerful Teaching Strategies We All Can Use
Coaching for Instructional Equity with Zaretta Hammond
Did you ask the teachers?
Empathy: The Most Important 21st Century Skill
We Don’t Have to Change What Works (Just How It Works)
When You Find Yourself On The Edge of Something Great
What To Do When Your Kid Becomes Passionate About Something
What Project-Based Learning Looks Like In A High School Classroom
What Project-Based Learning Looks Like In A Middle School Classroom
Purpose Over Passion: Getting Started and Finishing Creative Work
Choice -> Ownership -> Empowerment -> Deeper Learning
A Step-by-Step Guide: Choice in Differentiation
5 Ways to Reflect (and Learn) Like a Zombie
Understanding The Science Of Learning And Our Role In The Process
Using Design Thinking As A Leader: A Practical Approach
Join the Global Day of Design on May 6th (over 75,000 learners participating)
Why Mental Models Are So Important
Teaching Our Kids About The Necessary Work To Have An Opinion
How To Do Project-Based Learning That Connects to Standards and Curriculum
How to Use Learning Goals to Pick the Right Technology Tools
Creating Authentic Partnerships for Your School (One Email At A Time)
Four Questions to Maximize Engagement
The Struggle to Do Work That Matters Is Real (And Worth It)
How To Turn Any Unit into A Project-Based Learning Experience
K-5 PBL Experiences Available Now (So You Don’t Have to Start From Scratch)
What Project-Based Learning Looks Like In An Elementary Classroom
Creating an Environment Where Innovative Teaching and Learning Flourish


My 2018 Failing Report
Stories Are the Key to Building Empathy
Do you learn like a Jungle Tiger or Zoo Tiger?
Focusing On What Is Going To Stay The Same in Education
Angela Duckworth on Grit vs Character (and why both matter)
Rethinking Ed Tech’s Purpose in School
What Happens When We Become 1% Better Every Day
100 Project-Based Learning Ideas for Every Age
Scratch Your Itch: A Mission and Manifesto
Finding Your Why: The Difference Between Easy or Better
Are we preparing our students to be chefs or cooks?
10 Design Thinking Activities to Get Your Group Creating
7 Lessons Every Kid Should Learn in School (That Have Nothing to Do with Curriculum)
Focusing on the Time You Have, Not How Much You Have
Get Your FREE Copy of The PBL Playbook
What Should Be the Teacher’s Role During Project-Based Learning?
How to Run A Teacher Innovation Pitch At Your School
10 Education Truths That Support Project-Based Learning
When Teachers Take a Break, We All Win
⚡3 Summer Learning Opportunities You Don’t Want to Miss⚡
5 Reasons to Try Genius Hour Before the End of the School Year
7 Things People Might NOW Know About Teachers
Over 75,000 students from 14 countries are ready for the Global Day of Design #GDD18 on May 4th
A Checklist for Planning Project-Based Learning From Scratch
Using the Design Thinking Process to Write a Book
Real Ways WE Can Help Inspire a Generation of Innovators
Can We Make Lesson Plans More Than Just Compliance Plans?
Yes, Project-Based Learning Gets Kids Ready for the Test (and so much more)
How the Heck Do You Manage a Project-Based Classroom?
3 Simple Ways to Differentiate Instruction in Any Class
What Authentic Research Looks Like in Project-Based Learning
Are You Ready for an EPIC Professional Learning Opportunity?
The Simple System For Planning Project Based Learning Experiences
How the Heck Do You Grade Choice-Based Learning?


Is It the End of Math Homework?
A Project-Based Learning Activity That Can Work in Any Classroom
The Three-Step System For Getting Students to Do the Talking
If We Have to Give Kids Grades, Let’s Let Them Argue Their Merit.
What IKEA and the Education System Have in Common
10 Simple Lessons to Improve Your Writing
The Edtech Hype Cycle: How to Use Technology With Purpose In A World of Noise
How to ACTUALLY Do Project Based Learning
Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes
5 Practical Ways to Innovate in Your Classroom (Right Now)
The Innovative Teaching Academy is back (and open for enrollment!)
How to Be a Difference Maker in Education (in the midst of the overwhelming nature of our jobs)
What It’s Like to Teach and Lead in 2017 (Hint: It’s Exhausting)
Learning From One of the Most Innovative Schools in the Country
Inside Innovation: My New Podcast ⚡
5 Reasons Why Innovative Educators Listen to Podcasts
The Power of Writing Every Day
The Hidden Importance of Teaching With Stories
How to Build a True Culture of Innovation at Your School This Year
5 Projects You Can Do in the First Month of School
What is your biggest question about Genius Hour?
Why Stickers, Pizza Parties, and Tickets Didn’t Work in My Classroom
Genius of Making: 5 Ways to Mash-Up Genius Hour and Your Makerspace
Six Simple Strategies to Help Find Your Passion (and Purpose)
29 Practical Ways to Empower Learners in Your Classroom
7 Smart Ways to Teach With Your Blog
7 Things Every Teacher Should Do Before 7 A.M.
Empower: What Happens When Students Own Their Learning
10 Risks Every Teacher Should Take With Their Class
The Epic Guide to Student Ownership
How to Empower Students with One Simple Phrase (that can boost student effort by 40%)
Forget Guide on the Side…Students Need a Guide on the Ride
Empowered Students vs Engaged Students (What’s the difference?)
5 Things I Learned About Teaching from Being a Student
Can we have an honest conversation about phones in the classroom?
7 Ways Reflection Gives Students Ownership of their Learning
Genius Hour Blueprint: Step-by-Step Guide to Running the Project in Your Class
On Fishing with Strawberries and Cream (or fishing with worms)
Putting Math and Science Back into STEM Projects
How My View on Grit Changed with One Simple Study
What happens when students embrace design thinking?
How to Run a Maker Madness Tourney at Your School by @AnnemarieCat
You Don’t Need a Makerspace to Be a Maker
Over 60,000 students from 12 countries are ready for the Global Day of Design #GDD17
The Science of the Individual (why average doesn’t make sense in school)
Building Maker Spaces vs. Building a Maker Culture
The Game of School vs. The Game of Life
Innovation is the “Buzzword” We Need in Education Right Now
How to Do Innovative Projects in the Midst of Standards and Curriculum
10 Ways to Make Innovation Real in Your School
3 Mistakes I Made Trying to be an Innovative Teacher and Leader
The Real Reason Teachers and Leaders are Overwhelmed
4 Small Questions That Lead to Innovative Breakthroughs
Learning Has Always Been Personalized and Individualized (School Is Catching Up)
Announcing the 2017 Global Day of Design (are you in?) #GDD17
Want innovative schools? Start celebrating what matters.
The Big Difference Between Fail-ing and Fail-ure
How do you move from “pockets of innovation” to a “culture of innovation”?
21st Century Skills Have Always Been “Needed” Skills, But Now We Need Them More Than Ever
The Ups and Downs of Writing Everyday (30 Day Blogging Challenge Recap)
The Ultimate Guide to Technology in the Classroom
Designing an Education System for the Present (and the Future)
How to Read and Write More in 2017
What Schools Can Learn From Netflix’s Culture (and Values)
Why Blogs Still Matter in 2017
A Complete Guide to Project Based Learning (in 10 Easy Steps)
How To Read More Books
10 Habits Worth Starting in the Classroom
Fighting the Fear and Anxiety of Sharing Your Work with the World
30 Days of Blogging Challenge (are you in?)


2016 #MARSchallenge Maker Project Winners
How to Improve Your Writing in 10 Quick Lessons
10 Simple Rules for Learning
The Best Books of 2016 for Teachers (and Learners)
Join the #MARSchallenge With Your Class (FREE Maker Project)
Creating a School (on Mars) From Scratch
What I Feed My Brain (10 things to read and watch this week)
10 Risks Every Teacher Should Take with Their Students
Magic Is Something You Make
What are our students doing 400 minutes a day?
How to Make Your Own Chatbot
Why We Need Libraries In a World Filled With Noise
The Complete Starter Guide to Makerspaces
The Logical Fallacies of Time Magazine’s “Technology Hoax” Article
We Don’t Want a Virtual Reality Learning Program
Relationships > Everything Else in Education
You wonder why teachers teach? This. A thousand times THIS.
The Beginner’s Guide to Artificial Intelligence For Educators
The #InnovatorsMindset MOOC Starting Soon! #IMMOOC
7 Reasons You Should Be Excited About the Future of Learning
How to Tell Your Classroom’s Story
Seven Mantras to Start the School Year
Daily Innovation: A Snapchat Account to Showcase Your Classroom and School
How Genius Hour Benefits The Entire School Community
10 Reasons to Try Genius Hour This School Year
Teaching Our Kids to Scratch Their Itch
Interested in Redesigning Your Classroom?
In Defense of Computers in the Classroom
Last Call: Take an online course at UPenn centered on using Technology With a Purpose
Virtual Reality Classroom Walkthroughs #vrlesson
5 Rules I’m Using to Simplify Life
Millennials Aren’t “Going” to Change the World, They Already Are Changing It
The Future of Learning is Going to Be Empowering (and Scary)
How teachers can find work-life balance (and be highly effective)
The Einstein Project: Genius Hour Meets Makerspace
Misconceptions About Genius Hour
Learning Like You’ve Got Nothing to Lose
LAUNCH into Design Thinking (book clubs, chats, contests) this summer!
7 Simple Ways to Use Technology With Purpose
My 2016 Failing Report
Inquiry. It’s not a new idea.
8 Books That Will Challenge You As a Teacher (and Learner) This Summer
The Surprising Research About Our Listening Skills
How to Get Started Using Design Thinking in the Classroom
LAUNCH (our new book) is finally available!
Poking Holes in Your Pockets of Innovation
Why I’m scared to release our new book
Making the Jump From Engaging Students to Empowering Makers
5 Ways Design Thinking Can Empower Your Students
The Beginner’s Guide to Design Thinking in the Classroom
My biggest fear as a teacher…
450 Schools and 40,000 Students Celebrated the Global Day of Design! #GDD16
Unleash the Power of Design Thinking During the Global Day of Design #GDD16
Why We Need Creative Classrooms (A Manifesto)
Why Innovation Often Starts With “Don’t You Dare…”
Are you ready for The Global Day of Design on 4/26? #GDD16
How to Create a Custom Snapchat Geo-Filter for Your School Event
Why We Let Our Six Year-Old Use Snapchat
Do We View Teachers as Architects or Masons?
The 10 Most Asked Questions About Genius Hour and 20% Time Projects
Fighting Student Anxiety and Lack of Engagement with Free Play and Inquiry-Based Learning
The Connection Between Innovation and Engagement
10 Practical Ways to Innovate in Your Classroom
The Hidden Importance of Teaching With Stories
Who gets to decide what’s innovative in education?
The SAMR Model is Missing a Level
You Don’t Need A Makerspace to Be a Maker
Everything You Need to Know about the Global Day of Design #GDD16
7 Lessons We Fail to Teach in School
What Teachers Can Learn About Failure From Elon Musk
How Long Will We Wait to Give Students Choice?
5 Ways to Launch Your Genius Hour Projects to the World
The LAUNCH Cycle: A Design Thinking Framework for K-12 Students
What Happens When We Let Students Work the Problem
The Complete Guide to Snapchat for Teachers and Parents
What’s next for educators after Twitter?
The Key to Full Engagement is Energy
Creating the Conditions for Innovative Teaching and Learning
Equity is Everything in Education
Why We Went Multi-Device, Multi-Platform For Our 1:1 Initiative
Why Creativity Begins With Purpose (Not Passion)
Are we preparing students to be chefs or cooks?
How To Make Writing a Habit in 2016
How to Read More Books in 2016
10 Ways Teachers Can Inspire a Generation of Innovators


The Science of Learning (and technology’s impact on how we learn)
The Creative Classroom Academy
The Unlearning Cycle (why we learn and how it’s changing)
Does education really need to change?
The Real Influence We Have on Students
The Innovative Teaching Toolbox (what will you build?)
Let’s change the world WITH our students (here’s how)
How to Teach the “On Demand” Generation
Creating A “Choose Your Own Adventure” Education
How to Develop An Innovator’s Mindset At Your School
6 Truths About Technology in Education
Embracing the Seasons of Life
How to Survive in the Era of Personalized Education
Getting Started With #GeniusHour – A Free Webinar
Do you really believe technology can transform education?
How Choice Makes Lectures Work
Hey School Leaders, 92% of teachers believe classroom design has an impact on student learning
Habit Stacking in the Classroom (10 Smart Ways to Boost Learning)
The Power of Letting Students Figure it Out
5 Things to Remember Before You Start #GeniusHour
Join the 2015 #ClassroomCribs Challenge!
PLASMA: A Framework for Innovation in Our Schools
The Intentional Innovation Manifesto
Why We Need Intentional Innovation in Education
Reinventing PD with a Podcast
5 Ways To Spread Optimism in Times of Change by @aaron_hogan
The Teachers Leading Teachers Conference Kicks-Off #TLT15
Leading Through Choice #edcampldr #semicolonEDU
The Sharks of Education: What Continues to Work in Our Classrooms Year After Year
How a Small Country In Africa Taught Me the Greatest Lesson on Innovation
Technology can transform education, but not without people #ISTE2015
Reimagining Genius Hour as a PBL Mastery Hour
The Unsurprising Need For Differentiated PD (Survey Results)
The Art of Failing in School and Succeeding in Life
5 Reasons Why Teachers Learn Best From Other Teachers
Beyond Makerspaces: Why We Created an xLab at Our School
Summer Giveaway: 10 Free Copies of Learning By Choice
Let’s Build an App Together
The Teachers Leading Teachers Conference (where teachers learn from each other)
Re-Inventing School With Choice
Join the #TEDxPennsburgED Experience Today Live from 12:30pm-4:30pm EST!
An Epic Guide to Student Engagement in the Classroom
How to Host a TEDx Event at Your School
How to Create a State of “Flow” in the Classroom
#ilovemyschoolbecause – A post about the positive things happening in education
Learning By Choice: 10 Ways Choice and Differentiation Create an Engaged Learning Experience
What Innovation Looks Like at the College Level
The Research Behind PBL, Genius Hour, and Choice in the Classroom
10 Ways Choice and Differentiation Create An Engaged Learning Experience for Every Student
Do you believe in the power of student choice? Get my new book “Learning By Choice” on Amazon!
What REALLY Happens When You Give Students Choice
3 Simple Ways to Differentiate Instruction in Any Class
The Best Lesson That Dr. Seuss Taught Us: Stay Out of the Waiting Place
The Struggle to Do Work That Matters
Check out “Classroom Questions” Our New Daily Podcast
5 Reasons Teachers Should Give Podcasts a Second Chance
The False Hope of a Standard Path for Our Students…
How To Read 40 Books a Year (the nerdy way)
100 Books Every Teacher Should Read
Are you asking: What’s the Best That Could Happen?
What’s next after #geniushour and #20time projects?
15 Mistakes New Teachers Make (and what I learned making them)
Honest Thoughts From My First Twitter Chat as an Administrator by @AllisonStephen1
The Choice Manifesto: Why We Need It In Our Schools
How to Deal With Criticism When You Take Consistent Risks
Meet 4 Teachers Who Took Classroom Design to the Next Level
Desperation and Frustration in the Classroom
The Importance of Creating Something Every Day
4 Smarter Ways for Students and Teachers to Set Goals


Shifting Our Ed Tech Narrative
10 Reasons You Should Be Pumped for Education in 2015
Solving the Biggest Problem in Education
Why the Maker Movement Matters to All Students
The Complete Guide to 20% Time (and Genius Hour) in the Classroom
When You Say #GeniusHour “Isn’t Enough”…You’re Missing the Point
Schools Should be Like Netflix, Not Blockbuster
The Manifesto We Should Read to Students Every Day
Google Drive Ate My Homework…and Other Excuses That Don’t Work
Your Words Matter.
10 Ways for New School Leaders to Use Twitter
Spark Innovation In Your Classroom with Passionate Teaching
Why It Is So Important to Visit Other Schools (and how to do it right)
Why I Let My Students Argue for Their Grades
We’re All Doing Something…But What are We All Doing Together?
Scratch Your Itch Education
Stop Teaching Kids to Play the Game of School
Classroom Designs That Inspire (and how to share your space!)
10 Learning Mantras For the New School Year
How My Kids Made Me a Better Teacher This Summer by @JustinPMcCollum
5 Things Parents and Teachers Need to Know About the New American Dream
The Classroom Cribs Challenge (why learning spaces matter)
Hey @Disney, Here’s What the Modern Classroom Looks Like
Join the “Inquiry & Innovation” Book Study this August
How to Revolutionize Social Studies with Comics by @HistoryComics
Genius Hour? How About a Genius Curriculum?
What to Do When Your Kid Finds Their Passion
5 Ways to Make Your Mornings Matter
The Hashtagification of Education
Why We Need More Epic Learning Experiences
My Book About #20time and #Geniushour is Available – Get 20% Discount!
Why I Wrote My Book (and who I wrote it for)
What Most People Don’t Know About Teachers
How to Put “I Don’t Know” Back into the Learning Process
The Beginner’s Guide to 20% Time in Education
When You Find Yourself On the Edge of Something Great
3 Simple Ways to Bring Mentors into the Classroom
7 Ways to Use Technology With Purpose
How to Tell Your Classroom’s Story
Making the World Smaller for Our Students
I Fail, You Fail, We All Learn
5 Ways Student Choice Impacts Learning
The Innovative Teaching Challenge. Are you game?
10 Commandments of Innovative Teaching (eBook)
This is teaching.
What Innovation Looks Like in an Elementary School
Teach Your Students How to Make Their Own Flappy Bird Game (in just one class)
What the Masters Can Teach Us About Mastery Learning
7 Smart Ways to Teach With Your Blog
Change Your Classroom and You Might Change the World
The Power of Writing Every Day
How to Personalize (and Gamify) Professional Learning in Your School
5 Quick Wins for Teachers (Professional Development That Works)
10 Risks Every Teacher Should Take With Their Class
What to do when Genius Hour fails…
5 Ways Google Should Change Education
The Creative Process Starts With Purpose
The 3 Emotions That Drive Deeper Learning
10 Simple Lessons to Improve Your Writing
A Framework for Innovation in the Classroom
5 Things Innovative Schools Do Differently
The Beginner’s Guide to Believing in Yourself
Why Teachers Pay Teachers Is Great for Education
The Hidden Importance of Teaching With Stories
Get your free copy of the new digital magazine: The Best and Next in Education
Learning to Play Fast and Live Slow
10 Commandments of Innovative Teaching
How We Made Our Digital Magazine for Educators
21 Free eBooks That Made Me a Better Teacher
274 Schools, 82,011 Teachers, 1 Digital Magazine


The easiest way to inspire someone…
Is it time we push the best educational content out to our colleagues?
5 Lessons for Success I Learned from Zombies
The Best Part-Time Job for Teachers. Period.
Do You Teach Above the Test in Your School?
How to Win Friends and Influence Students
Inquiry and Innovation in the Classroom
My Edublog Award Nominations 2013
How to Analyze Literature Better by Watching Football
5 Rules to Simplify Your Life
Why We Should Tell Our Students to Turn Down the $3 Billion
Why Wendell the Wizard and Harry Potter Would Be Best Friends #wizardchat
How My Son Made Me a Better Teacher
20% Time in 20 Hours: You Really Can Learn Anything
6 Simple Strategies to Help Find Your Passion
The Inquiry Dilemma in Our Schools
WordPress 101 for Teachers
Innovation in Education is Easy, Unless You Make it Difficult
It’s OK for Teachers to NOT be on Twitter
Measuring the Immeasurable: GRIT in Education
When Do You Write?
Every Teacher Should Have a Personal (Digital) Assistant
I left the classroom…but not the students
Why do so many “bad” students turn out to be great teachers?
RobinPacks: My 20% Project Proposal
You’re Missing the Point on #EdTech
Teaching the “On Demand” Generation
Thoughts on our Mini-Open Online Course
3 Awesome Ways for Teachers to Connect This Summer
Hey #iste13! It’s About the Relationships
Why #ISTE13 Will Be a Tipping Point for Education
Launch Your eBook with a Simple Landing Page
The Great Communal Experience
Purpose Over Passion
Genius Hour – What’s It All About?
A New Type of Educational Content
How to Start An Education Movement
Summer of Twitter: Teacher Challenge
4 Reasons All Students Should Learn How to Code
Why Medium May Succeed Where Quora Did Not
Genius Hour Guidelines Re-designed By Student
What Kind of World Do You Want Your Kids Educated In?
Google’s Glass: The Implications for Education
School Spirit by Design


20 Seconds of Insane Curiosity
Why I Care (a mini-rant on education)
7 Lessons Learned From the ISTE Leadership Forum
Effective Personal Learning Time in Any Classroom: A Guide
The Future of Education? Cool…and Scary.
Is There Any “Right Way” to Bribe Students?
Personal Goals for your Students (and self) Should Be Kept Private
Don’t Praise Kids for their “Smarts”, Praise them for their “Effort”
Why Every Educator Should Read Hacker News
Project: Global Inform – Doing something about human rights violations.
The 20% Project (like Google) In My Class


My Wish List for Education in 2012