Video of the Week: "How tax brackets actually work"

I’m so thankful for a great CPA who understands the ins and outs of taxes so that I don’t have to. However, I do think we should all have a baseline of understanding, especially if we’re going to debate about them. Dan Meyer blogged last week about how teachers have the opportunity to make their students smarter than half of the American population by helping them learn how tax brackets really work. Take a look:

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Here’s what I’m wondering:

  • Would you rather get a $100 raise and move up a tax bracket, or not get a raise and stay in a lower tax bracket? (Try it for yourself. Here are the tax brackets. How much will an individual making $82,500 have to pay in taxes? What if they make $82,600?)

  • How does thinking of them as tax pockets rather than tax brackets change the understanding of this concept?

  • Do you think Vox presents a biased view to this topic? Why or why not?

  • What would you do to make this video clearer?

Video of the Week: "How Photography Is Affecting Our Brains"

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about selfies this week after listening to Craig Detweiler speak as part of Calvin College’s January Series. This week’s video continued that thinking:

Here’s what I’m wondering:

  • One man states, “Selfies are sometimes like a representation of what you want to look like, the best version of you.” Do you agree with this claim?

  • Have you ever used an app like FaceTune? Why or why not?

  • How do apps like FaceTune change how you look through an Instagram feed?

  • What do you think about how noses change with close range photos?

  • Should people take selfies? Why or why not?

  • What would eye-tracking software show about how you choose an image to take?

Video of the Week: "How to Make Goals, Not Resolutions"

Happy New Year! I’m excited and ready to head back to school this morning after a nice couple of weeks off. Did you set any New Year ‘s resolutions or goals? Do you see the difference? Take a look:

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Here’s what we’ll be discussing this week:

  • How would you summarize John Green’s point in making this video?

  • Did you set any resolutions or goals? Why? How are they going a week in?

  • What political views is Green sharing in this video?

  • How does acknowledging the trade-offs needed impact the goal-setting process?

  • What would you write in a letter to yourself looking back at last year and ahead to this coming year?

Best Books 2018

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I love this time of year as everyone shares their top book lists of 2018. Although on one hand, I’m anxious to write my own list, I’m also a bit torn. There are still five whole days of 2018 left, and in those five days, I plan to spend a great amount of time reading. Nonetheless, here are my top picks for 2018 (in no particular order).

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

Killers of the Flower Moon opened my eyes to a whole part of our country’s history that I knew nothing about. I thought this book was going to be about the FBI, but really it was about how rich white men stole land, money, and power from the Osage, while others went to great lengths to prevent the truth from surfacing. I appreciated how this book was well-written and engaging while being a true and honest account of the history.

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

Educated was a bit like passing a bad accident on the freeway. On one hand, you’re horrified, but on the other, you can’t help but look. Westover shares her story of growing up as the daughter of a Doomsday-prepper in Idaho. She fights against this and pursues education, which helps her break free from her father’s domineering ways. This book is an interesting insight into how books, family, and opportunities impact our paths in life.

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown

The Gifts of Imperfection has changed my life. Brené Brown does a great job of naming so much of what I feel in my quest for perfection. This book is full of great tools and practices for fighting against the need for perfection in favor of living a whole-hearted life. I also have greatly enjoyed this accompanying workbook which pairs the contents of the book with Biblical scripture and thought-provoking questions.

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

The Alice Network was intense, but also really good. Based on a true story, The Alice Network tells the story of Eve Gardiner, a spy during WWII. As the story progresses, Eve must decide what she’s willing to give up of herself to help the war effort. I was so gripped.

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Another WWII novel based on real events, Lilac Girls tells three intertwining stories, centering on the story of Herta Oberheuser, a nurse who works in Ravensbruk. In Ravensbruk, Herta must wrestle with what to do as the camp’s inmates were given terrible operations and injections by the Nazi physicians. Heartbreaking and insightful into what life was like within that camp.

Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson

I read Piecing Me Together right before I read the more famous The Hate U Give. Both books tell the story of African American teen girls trying to make sense of their identities. Both girls find themselves torn between cultures and looking for a place to belong. I found Piecing Me Together allowed me to better understand the character and what she was thinking and feeling. This book really helped me develop empathy for those torn between two cultures.

Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo

I read everything by Kate DiCamillo. She writes for children, but her books give me all the feels every single time. Louisiana’s Way Home was no different. This is Louisiana’s story of belonging and forgiveness as she seeks to find out who she really is. The last sentence of the book will make you stop in your tracks.


As I look over my book list for 2018, I’m surprised by how much I gravitated to non-fiction this year. I love the new influx of writers who are both educated on their subject areas and masters of the craft of writing. Another shock for me this year is how many books I’ve abandoned partway through this year. Historically, I’ve felt a need to finish every book I start, but this year I gave that up to pursue the stack of books I have in my queue.

Well, time to get back to reading. I’m currently captivated by The Great Alone and wondering if it will get a spot on this list before the end of the year.

What’s on your best books list for 2018? I’d love to add them to my list for the new year.

Project Spotlight: TrainSmart | Fundamentals

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Training departments are built from employees with a wide variety of backgrounds. Often these backgrounds are not in education or instructional design. Or perhaps they are, but the trainers need more hands on training of how to develop quality training programs from start to finish.

Cumby Consulting saw this need in its work with medical device training companies. Together we asked, how might we empower medical device trainers to design, develop, and implement effective trainings that meet the specific needs of surgeons and sales reps?

Course Objectives

  • Participants will implement a needs assessment to understand the training need.

  • Given a training need, participants will design learning objectives with a measurable audience, behavior, condition, and degree.

  • Given learning objectives, participants will complete a lesson plan that utilizes best practices for transferring knowledge to long-term memory and applies adult learning principles.

  • Participants will practice implementation best practices with the content they have developed.

  • Given the data of a final course evaluation, participants will evaluate the training’s effectiveness by calculating ROI.

Course Features

  • 6 Asynchronous Modules & 3 Synchronous Sessions

  • 66-Page Participant Guide

  • Discussion Forums

  • Hands-On Activities for Each Module

  • Module Assessments with SCORM Tracking

  • Final Evaluation

Apps & Resources

Course lessons were built in Articulate’s Storyline 360 and packaged using Articulate Rise. These packages were exported as SCORM packages and imported into CourseSites, a LMS created by Blackboard. Additional resources were built in Desmos, Microsoft Office, and iMovie.