The Reese’s Effect

Reese's-PB-Cups-Wrapper-SmallI can still vividly remember those old classic Reese’s commercials. The person eating chocolate bumps into the person eating peanut butter and both are distressed until they take a taste and realize that the combination is delicious. (And they are delicious, by the way…let’s just get that straight!)

Sometimes the combination of two seemingly incompatible products, thoughts, or ideas leads to a third all new creation that is better than either one was individually.

I call this the Reese’s Effect, and I see it all the time in education. The most prominent example is the combination of fun and learning. Too many people set up a false dichotomy. They believe a classroom can only be about having fun and playing around, or…it can be about “rigor” and learning. Total BS!! This is a classic example of a false dichotomy and it is prevalent in our field.

“Okay, so I understand that this #tlap stuff would be amazingly fun for kids, but when do you get around to teaching the objectives for the day?”

What? DURING all of that amazingly fun stuff…that’s when!

Not only can fun and learning go hand in hand…they go BETTER together! It’s the Reese’s Effect in action.

“Don’t you worry about the fact that you are making school so engaging and fun that when they get to their college classes or to a real job they won’t be prepared?”

This is truly ridiculous on many levels. First of all, teaching in a way that empowers students, develops a love of learning, sparks curiosity, encourages an Innovator’s Mindset (See the George Couros book), embraces risk-taking, and encourages persistence in the face of obstacles has a LIFE-CHANGING impact on our students.

Secondly, I remember being asked the above question on a podcast once (the host was just playing Devil’s Advocate…which reminds me of one of my favorite Seth Godin lines that he uses when people say that, “The Devil doesn’t need an advocate”) and my response was confrontational:

“So what people are saying when they ask this is basically, ‘Okay…since life is going to suck for these kids later, shouldn’t we make it suck now, too, so they’ll be ready for it?’ I don’t buy it, at all.”

This kind of attitude makes no sense to me. Our goal should be to make school an absolutely AMAZING experience for our students and the incorporation of fun and play are two very powerful weapons at our disposal…use them liberally.51GkOCzX18L._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_

That’s why I’m so incredibly excited about the 4th book in the “Like a Pirate” teaching series, Play Like a Pirate: Engage Students with Toys, Games, and Comics. It’s written by Quinn Rollins, a fantastic teacher from Utah and former toy company consultant. It is off the charts amazing. I had the pleasure of seeing Quinn present a workshop at an NCSS conference and was blown away by not only how he had incorporated so many creative ways to use toys and action figures to teach his content, but also how most of the ideas involved high levels of student creativity and critical thinking. This isn’t just playing for the sake of play (As a huge supporter of the Global School Play Day initiative, I believe in that, too!); this is play that is intimately tied to teaching the curriculum in a powerful way.

You’ll find ideas for all subject areas and all grade levels…trust me, this isn’t just for younger students! There are KILLER ways to incorporate action figures, superheroes, Legos, Minecraft, Play-Doh, Hot Wheels, Barbies, Board Games, Trading Cards…too many to list…and yes, we’re talking about Pre-K to 12th grade possibilities (Even use with staff!). It is a Teach Like a Pirate fan’s treasure chest filled to the top with educationally sound and at the same time fun and amazing ways to teach and learn.

I’m totally in love with the fact that students get to create, design, and MAKE as a major component of these strategies. It will set your classroom on fire. We have added QR codes into the book that link to templates that you can print and use to easily implement these strategies AND examples of student work from Quinn’s classes. That’s right! He is a PRACTITIONER…he does this stuff!

There is also a wonderful section on how to use comic books and graphic novels. Quinn not only shows you a wide array of ways to add these to your teaching repertoire, but also delivers a masterful sales pitch on why they are an entirely legitimate form of literature. The kinds of connections that must be mentally drawn and the deep processing required to tie together the threads of a story from the artful combination of words and pictures is exactly the kind of thinking we want to encourage in our students. We link to an extensive list of recommendations from Quinn for those new to the use of graphic novels.

The book also serves as an object lesson for a key tenet of #tlap, the concept that you can take what you are personally passionate about and bring it to life in your class. That is EXACTLY what Quinn has done.

Okay, maybe this is less important, but I’m not sure. The book is intensely funny and just as quirky as the author…and that is really quirky! We are talking about a guy who travels with a rubber duckie (like for YEARS…and prominently featured on the cover. Even has an “About the Duck” section), lives and breathes action figures, Legos, Star Wars, and comic books…and even writes whole sections about things like his “secret socks.” This is hilarious stuff! Another perfect example of The Reese’s Effect…yes, you can read a professional development book, get a ton of ideas to immediately implement in your class, be inspired, AND laugh and giggle your whole way through it. Quinn, and this pun is entirely intended, is an odd duck. And that is coming from a guy who dresses like a pirate!

Not sure what else I can tell you except that you are going to LOVE THIS BOOK!

You can pick it up here on Amazon or here at Barnes & Noble.

Follow Quinn on Twitter: @jedikermit (I know you are shocked)

And join the conversation at #PlayLAP

As the back of this bright yellow book of goodness says, “Serious Learning can be seriously fun!”

Thank you!



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How Will You End Your Year?

I’ve never been fully satisfied with the various ways I’ve ended my school year. Too many times, after an amazing year of incredible experiences and powerful relationships, it just seems…anti-climactic. I hate it. It has always bothered me. The bell rings, they walk out, and many times I’ve felt that I missed an opportunity to do something with real impact. I think about how carefully I’ve crafted the last moment in my speaking programs and I know all of that effort has been worth it when I see the reaction. I want your last moment with your students to be powerful, too.

I wanted to share an awesome example of how one amazing teacher and great friend of mine, John Berray, has solved the problem in his class. John has graciously given me permission to tweak and re-post a blog he wrote about the lesson a couple of years ago. John is an incredible math teacher at West Hills High School here in San Diego and, more importantly, a teacher who has embraced the mighty purpose of educators being life-changers. He is a popular workshop presenter, winner of numerous awards, and was honored as one of the 2015 San Diego County Teachers of the Year. Connect with John on Twitter at @JohnBerray53781713_s and you can find his blog right here. Thanks, John!

Bottle of Dreams

Every once in a while I create an experience for my students that is cool and its impact even surprises me. My “Farewell Address” is one such activity. Several years back, I decided to define an end-of-the-year moment of closure with each class. I wanted a time to celebrate our year together, to reminisce, and to toast the wide-open futures of each student in the room.  I wanted more than the perfunctory collecting of books, doling out of grades, and ticking down of the clock that seems to define intervals of learning.

Here’s how it works.

I advertise my farewell address as a “do not miss” moment. I commandeer the last part of class. I bring in bottles of water, one for each student. I tell each student to grab a bottle and crack the lid but not to open it.  Many guess that a toast is coming…and they’re right!

I embellish the farewell address with thoughts and advice and conclude it with challenges and requests. I recognize there’s a good probability this might be the last time we ever speak, so it needs to be meaningful. The moment is bittersweet.  Each year I make small tweaks to how I do it, what I say, and what I request. Some years even make me tear up. Last year was one of them.

The students are aware that the toast is really only a sip of bottled water, but for some, I transform their vision of it from just being ordinary water into being a “Bottle of Dreams.” Most think it’s funny, but buy into it anyway. They can look at the water for what it is, or they can visualize it being whatever they want it to be. It’s about belief. It’s about the power of their minds to pretend for the sake of silliness that it’s a potent non-alcoholic elixir that marks not just the end of the school year, but also new beginnings. The moment is simultaneously deep and light-hearted. I ask them to keep it as a reminder of the farewell address.

During this year’s graduation procession, as students were leaving the field, I had several of them tell me that they still had their bottle of dreams. Students saved an empty water bottle for years because of the meaning we attached to it! How cool is that?  My farewell address has become one of my classroom traditions and has allowed me to find a way to end my year-long relationship with my students in a powerful and meaningful way.


Thanks for sharing, John!!

So…what do you think? How will you end your school year in a way that is worthy of the significance of the moment? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or shoot us a tweet to @burgessdave and @JohnBerray. Throw in the hashtag #tlap so the whole community can see it!

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5 New Books From Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc.!

The start of 2016 has been INSANE! We’ve released 5 new books plus put out an update of another (50 Things You Can Do With Google Classroom).

AND…this includes our first math-centered book (The Classroom Chef) plus the 4th “Like a PIRATE” book, Play Like a Pirate!!!

Add in a Twitter book (140 Twitter Tips for Educators) from the founders of #satchat, a book to help you overcome changes and challenges (How Much Water Do We Have), and Your School Rocks and that makes five!


This video gives you the scoop straight from the captain recording from inside the pirate cave.

Thanks for checking it out!!


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