Monday, February 20, 2023

The Creative Momentum Guided Journal is Here and FREE for a limited time.

Happy Today!!

It's been forever since I've last posted anything. I miss me some long form blogging. It just seems like I don't have time to sit down and write something deep. You can always follow my short things on social media at @DropStepDunk

An update :

I've switched jobs from a Tech Coach / PD Specialist to working on K-12 College and Career Readiness. Right now, I'm working on connecting local businesses and organizations to the school system. 

Presenting :

On-and-off over the last 3-ish years, John Spencer and I have been co-creating a journal to walk you through a 40-Day project. It's about sustaining creative momentum throughout that whole length of time. 

Continue reading for John's detailed introduction to The Creative Momentum Guided Journal and how you can get it for FREE for right now only. (We'd love a donation, but free is good, too. We just want it to be used.)


Thursday, March 3, 2022

First and Final Frames


🤔 Thought Bubble 1

First and Final Frames

I stumbled across this side-by-side comparison video of the First and Final Frames of some movies.

Some are almost identical to each others.

Some are way different.

Seeing just the beginning and the end made my mind want to fill in the story myself.

How did they get to the end? What happened in the middle? What was the story? How might have they gotten there? How did they end up in the same spot? Was there growth over time? Were the characters stagnant? What happens next? Was love lost? Was love gained? What trials did the character overcome? What did they not overcome? Whom did they meet along the way? What influence did those they meet have on the character? And on and on.

As I watched the clips, the above questions really drained me because of the mysterious unknown of the middle. How did the story evolve?

Every teacher starts with the same “first frame.” More than likely the standards for whatever area you teach. That’s the beginning.

The “Final Frame” gets determined by the success, or lack of success in the middle. We’d all like to see that “Final Frame” be of a student being successful. It’s easy to focus on the “Final Frame,” but you can’t get to the final frame without a successful middle.

First Frame to Final Frame. Focus on what's between.

So, how do you plan what happens during the middle?

With any movie/story/book there is always a plot. The story structure usually follows this framework: A character has a problem, then meets a guide who gives them a plan that calls them to action, that hopefully results in success avoiding failure. (Sorry for ruining all the books/movies.)

You’re the guide.

How are you setting up your students for success like habit stacking?

How are you designing or creating experiences that are leading to success?

How are you helping students overcome their struggles like this man who went from drug dealer to master falconer?

How are you teaching with the tools and strategies that will see students successful at the final frame in the “real world?” Or better yet, will this activity/lesson/assessment/content keep kids loving learning?

Could you use the What? So What? Now What? reflection?

How are you getting rid of hidden clutter to focus on the middle?

Are you explaining content in ways that students understand? This is a clip from a WKRP in Cincinnati. Hat tip to Mr. DuBois for showing me this. 1. I now understand atoms (not because I’m in a gang, either). 2. I learned about an old sitcom.

What are you noticing? Are you paying attention to these squares that are popping up everywhere? What are you noticing about your class?

🤔 Thought Bubble 2

I know we’re still operating during a pandemic, finding subs is incredibly hard, testing season is upon us, the Q3 Doldrums are sucking the life out of you, your plates are still full, and much, much, much more.

It’s better to light a candle, than curse the darkness. (Who knows who said this first?)

Make the best of every situation, including decorating.

Need a pep talk? Here’s one from a 5 year old that’ll motivate you.

And one from Austin Kleon about Groundhog Day from Keep Going, which is one of my favorite books.

Reach out if you need anything or want to collaborate.

May your day be great.

Stay Curious.

Give more than you take.

Try something new.


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Saturday, January 29, 2022

Tamed Wildfire Chili Recipe

The weather has been cold here in Indiana. Here's my second favorite chili recipe to warm you up. (My favorite white chicken chili recipe can't be shared.) It's a pretty non-traditional recipe and grew from grabbing random things from the pantry.  Yes, noodles go in chili and you don't need beans. Do you have a cold weather favorite recipe? 


  • 1 pound of ground beef browned and drained.
  • Some pasta noodles. How ever much you want. I usually use small elbow macaroni noodles. Cooked and drained. Chili needs noodles, but not a ton. Maybe a cup or a cup and a half? 2 cups? You pick.  
  • How ever much chicken or beef stock/broth that you want. More stock = more soupy. You like it soupy? Put more stock in. You like it thicker? Less stock. I use about 20 ounces. I have noticed that the noodles soak up some of the soupiness while simmering, so you might need to add more. 
  • 1 jar of traditional spaghetti pasta sauce. 24 oz. Prego. Ragu, Store brand.
  • 1 small can of Rotel Tomatoes : Original Diced with Green Chilies
  • Optional can of beans - I don't use beans, but you could add a can of chili beans or my favorite Bush's White Chili Beans
  • Chili Powder - however much you want to taste. I use a lot. 
  • Cumin - however much you want to taste. I use a lot.
  • Salt - however much you want to taste
  • Pepper - however much you want to taste
  • Garlic Salt - however much you want to taste
  • Minced Onions - however much you want to taste


  • Brown your ground beef and drain.
  • Cook your noodles and drain.
  • Put your noodles and your beef in a pot.
  • Add your chicken stock, pasta sauce, Rotel tomatoes, and optional beans to the pot
  • Add seasonings
  • Let is simmer for at least half an hour, stirring occasionally
  • Devour
Let me know what you think. 

Maybe I'll remember to take a picture one time. 

*Disclaimer - I'm not a chef, I only pretend to be one occasionally. 

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Keep the Mosquitos Away, Taking Action, and Reinventing Yourself


I am horrible at New Year’s resolutions. I have expectations of grandeur and inevitably succumb to the inevitable and I stop doing what I wanted to do.

I fail.

A lot.

So, this year, I’m trying to work more on developing habits instead of some lofty goal.

I’m going to continue my One Word ritual because it’s simple. Well, coming up with the word is simple. Following through is the hard part.

This year’s one word is Action.


Action, as in not stagnant. Keep the Mosquitoes Away. (More on that later.)

Action, as in pull those pistols. (Josey Wales reference)

Action, as in intentional action. Saying, “No.” sometimes is a good thing.

Action, as in see the need, fill the need.

Action, as in the pursuit of progress, not perfection.

Action, as in not waiting. Procrastination is something I struggle with.

Action, as in aligning to the big picture.

Action, as in do worthwhile stuff.

Action, as in waking up a little earlier for some reflection time.

Action, as in “You can’t defeat, what you can’t define.”

Action, as in tracking something to see how you’re doing.

Action, as in being efficient and effective.

Action, as in not doom scrolling. I struggle with this.

Action, as in investing time, not spending it.

Action, as in controlling time. Each of us has 24 hours in a day.

I know we’re still in the middle of COVID. I know life is tough right now. I know teachers are working their butts off: covering classes, managing blended learning, having half of the class gone one day, and the other half the next, etc. etc. etc. I’m not downplaying any of these tough times. I see your exhausted faces. I see your will to just get through the period, the subject, and the day. I also can’t dismiss the fact that great things always come out of struggle. Through the struggle is typically where the strength is found.

Keep going. ……..

….which brings us to...

Know you’re doing hard stuff.

Know you’re in the trenches.

Know that it’s difficult right now.

As if you didn’t already know all of those things.

But also know that we unlock our greatness during these times. The following are small changes/activities/habits you can make to continue pushing through. Start small.

Whenever I think of being stagnant, I think of standing water. Standing water brings mosquitoes. Mosquitoes suck the life out of you. Keep the mosquitoes away. Keep moving forward.

Maybe it’s something small that you will change in your delivery style?

Maybe you’ll change the way you plan lessons after listening to student feedback?

Maybe it’s how you’ll lean into relationships and share more about the things you love?

Maybe the doldrums got you down, and you are choose to be more happy?

Maybe you’ll let go of some control, so that you can control the things you want to: family time, hobby time, the weekends, etc.

Maybe you had some goals, but they didn’t work, so you’ll focus on what you don’t want and make Anti-Goals?

Maybe you are stuck in a rut, so you expand your mind? (Possibly not appropriate for students)

Maybe you’ll repurpose an assignment into something that benefits others and involves your community? (see PBL)

Maybe you’ll decide to change the way you talk to yourself?

Maybe you just say, “Lets do this!” and get into the biggest state of flow you or your students can get into?

Maybe you’ll embrace the chaos and are still moving forward?

Maybe you didn’t want to come to school today, but did anyway.

Maybe you’ll implement research-backed brain-based strategies that work so you know your teaching will be effective?

Maybe you’ll sign up for some EduProtocols PD that will change the way you teach?

Maybe you’ll add more visuals and will learn how to draw faces quickly?

Maybe you’ll start a deeper reflection period to help manage and understand yourself like talent-based branching, like they do in the Army?

Maybe you’ll ask more questions?

Whatever it is, keep trying new things. Keep leaping. Keep finding ways to reinvent yourself and your systems (I’m reading this currently). Cut the fat. Focus on the main things. Try to find times for yourself. Keep going. Keep being awesome, because you are.

Keep finding ways to reinvent yourself and your systems.

Maybe the struggle has benefits, even if we don’t want the struggle?

Put one foot in front of the other. When you’re tired, rest. When you’re rested, pick up where you left off. Ask for help when needed. Lean on others.

May your day be great.

Stay Curious.

Give more than you take.

Try something new.



Tuesday, December 28, 2021

What if We Designed with Only the Necessities?

This post was originally published on 12.03.21 in a part of a newsletter sent to teachers in the district I serve. 


Continuing with our last two newsletters and simplifying things so you can get to more of the good stuff, what if we designed with only the necessities?

A 344 square foot apartment was remodeled. It has only what is needed.

NEVER TOO SMALL Paris Architect’s Micro Apartment - 31sqm/344sqft

What are you leaving out to help with simplifying?

How do you know if you’re simplifying enough?

Are you on the right track? To determine this, consult the Most Powerful Flowchart in the Whole World.

Reach out if you need anything or want to collaborate.

May your day be great.

Stay Curious.

Give more than you take.

Try something new.



Collaboration is Right in Front of You

This post was originally published on 12.03.21 in a part of a newsletter sent to teachers in the district I serve. 


A lot of times when I’m out in public I see things like Pareidolia. Sometimes, I seek them out. Other times, they find me. Either way, you’re looking for something that exists within or around something else.

Taking that a step further, when you check out what Jan Vormann is doing with LEGO bricks, you can see the mash up between old and new. The contrast between old bricks and modern plastic. Decay vs. “repairs.” Splashes of color against the mostly plain bricks.

You can also see the blending of two separate art forms. One, older, but providing the structure. One, newer that is filling in the gaps.

I can’t not relate this to education. How the structure of old is still there, but also the new trying to work it’s way in. Filling the gaps. Starting small in little pockets that have fallen or crumbled. Waiting for the old to fall so it can “build” even more.

This also leads to Steve Wheen, the Pothole Gardener. He finds potholes (not normally in the middle of roads) and transforms them into beautiful gardens. See more of his gardening on instagram at or this spiffy little video.

They’re pretty neat. I don’t know what happens when someone steps on them, but you’re probably not supposed to think about things like that.

Anyway, it’s another example of combining two things.

A pothole and a mini-garden.

It’s like they were made for each other like peanut butter and jelly, mac-n-cheese, fries and a Frosty. You get it.

What type of collaboration could you get into with your lessons?

Could you incorporate something from outside of education?

Could you and a colleague work together to create something awesome?

Does something you do in your classroom jive with something another teacher does? Could you WWE Tag Team it?

Take for instance a cat.

These musicians from all over the world collaborated on this piece of music. It’s worth watching all the way through to see all the different artists and instruments.

The Kiffness - Alugalug Cat (International Symphonic Mashup)

If these people started a collab with a cat, I imagine there is something or someone in our district that you could collab with.

Blend stuff together.

Because the world needs more Creators, like you. Yes, you. Go create stuff and Show Your Work.

Reach out if you need anything or want to collaborate.

May your day be great.

Stay Curious.

Give more than you take.

Try something new.



The Gap

Note - This post was originally published on 11.11.21 as a part of a newsletter sent to teachers in the district I serve.  

The Gap.

Fight Through it.

It took me at least 5 years to even somewhat feel sort of comfortable in the classroom. Really though, every day is new. So, do we really ever feel comfortable? We’re always experimenting, changing things up, looking to improve, never satisfied, have new standards to implement, have to teach during COVID, no sub shufflin’, and on and on. It’s a daily battle to find your own personal creative voice. And yes, you are a creative.

Do stuff that makes people look longer, think deeper, or even slow down a little bit.

Reach out if you need anything or want to collaborate.

May your day be great.

Stay Curious.

Give more than you take.

Try something new.



Rewild Your Attention

This post was originally published on 11.11.21 as a part of a newsletter sent to teachers in the district I serve.  

I came across the above image on Twitter a week or so ago.

It made me think.

First, that there is perhaps some truth to it. Second, it’s probably exaggerated for a wow-factor. Pacman’s mouth should probably be open more. Third, how do we make Pacman’s mouth open wider? and how do we make learning more relevant to students’ lives now and in the future?

Rewild Your Attention

Let’s start by Rewilding Your Attention.

What’s that saying? “Garbage In, Garbage Out.” Or as the cool cats say, “GIGO.” The quality of output is determined by the quality of the input.

We can control the input:

  • What are we reading?

  • What are we watching?

  • Who are we reading from?

  • etc.

I’m guilty of looking for quick fixes or getting stuck on certain authors, but maybe it’s time we find different inspiration: inspiration from others in the trenches doing the dirty work right alongside us.

I asked some of my Five Star colleagues to share some Humans Worth Following that might not be as mainstream or EduFamous. I received some shares, but I’d love for more to be added to the Wakelet collection. Who inspires you?

Humans Worth Following

Maybe it takes, as Seth Godin says, more effort.

  • Expending more effort than most people think is sufficient.

  • This is attention to detail. Care in design. Follow through in customer service. This is an embrace of elegance and wabisabi and the opposite of laziness. This is bringing care (which is rare and precious) to work even if most people would look for a shortcut instead.

  • More effort creates beauty and magic and remarkability.

  • Perfectionism is a false hope and a place to hide.

  • Effort, on the other hand, is our best chance to do work that matters.

But, I know and you know that everyone is tired, effort-ed out, and your plates are full. So, as you go about looking for ways to design lessons, create content, or make school more relevant, toss out the garbage that doesn’t move us forward. Focus your attention and input on the end goal, but zoom into those things that make the most impact. Perhaps less is more?

Rewild Your Attention.


Monday, December 27, 2021

Your Plates Are Full

This was originally published on 10.05.2021 as part of a newsletter to the teachers in the district I serve.  

Your plates are full.

Shoot, they were full with just the “teaching” stuff you received on your initial trip through the food line.

Add all the other things that you’re navigating and your plate can’t hold them all. It’s like “seconds” were called along with “thirds” and “fourths.” It’d be like a Hobbit eating Fourth Breakfast.

None of the things on top of the pile are bad. They are all more than likely necessary to function in this current state of now. But also, we don’t need a study to know that educators are stressed out. IYKYK. We already know.

So, how do we manage the chaos?

In all honesty, there might not be anything we can remove from our plates and we all know we can only control the controllables.

ʇI ʇ∀ ʞoo˥ no⅄ ʍoH uI ll∀ s,ʇI

While Here’s the Real Learning Loss Caused by COVID is true and we should be looking for ways for students to connect, I don’t think you can abandon everything. So, lets look for small ways that we can save time and energy. There is a section below called “🔆Spotlight: You.” Maybe there is something in there that you have control over to lighten your load? If not, please let me know how I can help look for solutions.

What I do recommend though, is if you add one thing, be sure to take something away.

Perhaps, this is The Chance You’ve Been Waiting For to try something new.

My role - if there is anything I can help you with, please let me know. Want me to come in a teach a tech tool? Want to plan together? Want me to match your standards to a tool? For real. I’m here to help.

Happy World Teacher’s Day today - 10.5.21

Reach out if you need anything or want to collaborate.

May your day be great.

Stay Curious.

Give more than you take.

Try something new.



What Are The Stakes?

This was originally posted on 9-1-21 in a newsletter to the teachers in the district I serve. 


In my mind, I’m always merging athletics and coaching into the classroom. When thinking about an assignment, do your students know what it takes to win and beat the assignment? Coaches come up with game plans and set out to execute them, but do your students know what it takes to win at each particular assignment? What about how will they lose vs the assignment? What are the stakes for not winning at the assignment? Without learning ______ what will happen if you don’t learn it? Students probably need to know the risk and reward for each assignment. See if you get more buy-in from students by providing the stakes for each assignment. If you don’t know the stakes, then what will push you into action?

Reach out if you need anything or want to collaborate.

May your day be great.

Stay Curious.

Give more than you take.

Try something new.