Dealing with the fear of being a boring teacher.


ThThTh Thecond Thanniversary!

Welcome to my third year of blogging! I love teaching; I don’t love school and all that scheduling and seat time and blah blah blah, but I sure as bananas do love teaching kids stuff.

Well, I’ve been guerrilla professional-developing for two years now. I’ve done more in these two years to become a better teacher, scientist, mathematician, and all around person than I have in the entire preceding portion of my life.

It was a lot like this:

No joke.

My students have benefited. I’ve never seen gains like this. My kids’ post-FCI scores are off the charts.

My hunch that assessment reform is the gateway drug to better teaching has been nice to see affirmed in myself and countless others around the nation. The standards-based express is pulling into a station near you.

Shoot, I even met Dan M.F. Meyer.

The Future?

You bet. We’re taking this BlueHarvest thing on the road. I have a team of programmers and some serious motivation behind me. I have to get schools to stop grading what kids don’t have, and start recording what they do have.

This is the key to the whole thing, people.

Also, I’m going to start posting heavily on project-based learning. I’ve been doing a lot of it, and there are some serious hang-ups that might deter the less masochistic.

Also, I’m putting together a summer experience for those of you in the Midwest. Think: edcamp meets a smokehouse meets a chem lab meets dirty dancing. Be prepared for awesome.

A Puzzle! With Prizes!

Last year the puzzles got figured out quickly, so here’s another. You can win a gift card! To a real store!

public static Awesome play(Progression progression){
       Audio Player = new Audio(;

public static void main(String[] args){
int lat = 60.06;
int long = 30.11;

Progression muss = new Progression(lat, long);

muss = {

Awesome answer = play(muss);


First correct answer wins a $40 ThinkGeek gift card!


Shawn Cornally • February 19, 2012

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  1. Jane Jackson March 8, 2012 - 12:56 am

    You posted that, as a result of your guerrilla professional developing in the past two years: “My kids’ post-FCI scores are off the charts.” Will you please say more? Besides SBG, are there any other important causes? Can you separate the effects of your use of SBG with other learnings and insights that you have had in the past two years?

    The reason I ask is that many teachers document huge increases in their students’ FCI posttest scores after they take a Modeling Workshop — no matter how they grade. And the more components of Modeling Instruction that they implement fully, the higher their student FCI posttest scores. (For evidence, see “Findings of the Modeling Workshop Project, 1994-2000″ at .) So I am curious, realizing that you took a Modeling Workshop in summer 2011, but recognizing also that Modeling Instruction is only ONE way to improve student learning gains. I like SBG!

    • Shawn March 8, 2012 - 10:31 pm

      After my modeling workshop my students went from and average score of 7 on the FCI to 21. The SBG factor really helped them, because they had to wear the hat of many different models continuously on order to keep proficient marks in those models.

  2. Brooke Ladnier (@brookeladnier23) February 23, 2012 - 11:04 pm

    It’s me again, the student from down south, here in Mobile, Alabama! I, once again, love this post. My favorite line from the whole post was, “I have to get schools to stop grading what kids don’t have, and start recording what they do have.” I think this is an amazing mindset to have. Many students feel like they are are not smart enough because they are graded on skills that haven’t been taught to them in the past. I also am a huge fan of project based learning. As a student myself it is a pain sometimes to do projects because you always have that one person that doesn’t pull their weight, but this prepares students for the real world and teaches them great social skills that they may have to use in their profession one day. Great post!

  3. Cal February 22, 2012 - 10:32 pm

    I got it! Thanks, Shawn!

  4. Think Thank Thunk » Thanniversary Solution!:
  5. Cal February 21, 2012 - 11:31 pm

    Modest Mussorgsky, Pictures at an Exhibition, Movement No. 10 “The Great Gate of Kiev”

    • Shawn February 22, 2012 - 8:48 am

      Boo-ya! That’s it. Well done, Cal! Your gift card should be in your email inbox.

      • Cal February 22, 2012 - 9:45 am

        Thanks, Shawn! It was a fun challenge! I haven’t received an email yet, so I’m wondering if I accidentally typed in the wrong email. This comment should have my correct email, if that was the case.

      • Shawn February 22, 2012 - 8:56 pm

        Same email; let me know if it doesn’t arrive.

  6. Lee February 20, 2012 - 12:31 pm

    Awesome! THINKTHANKTHUNK you for all you do for teachers and for students!

    What part of summer are you thinking for your summer camp? I’d love to come down from Ames to pitch in. I call top bunk…

  7. Leif February 20, 2012 - 9:19 am

    Likewise, regarding interest in the summer experience. I’m in Ames.

    I like the riddle so far. It’s bringing back some knowledge from high school electives.

    • Leif February 21, 2012 - 9:12 pm

      Sergei Rachmaninoff

  8. Rob McEntarffer February 20, 2012 - 9:07 am

    Congrats on the anniversary! Thank you for the ThinkThankThunk! I’ve forwarded several of your blog posts to many teachers in my real and virtual world (I usually preface the link with something like: “Here’s a post from my favorite assessment blogger, and yes, I really have a favorite assessment blogger!”)

    If you do end up putting together a summer experience, I’d love to hear about it. I’m in Lincoln, NE, and I’d be glad to contribute anything I am capable of (what I may be capable of: I taught psychology and philosophy in a high school for 13 years, now I’m a district office assessment guy, read quite a bit about assessment/grading matters, had bunches of discussions with all sorts of teachers about grading issues and the formative assessment process).

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