Archives: ZBL

  • / By

New Presentation Skills Lesson and Rubrics

I know we’re getting to the end of the school year, but I’ve added a lesson on Presentation Skills and some rubrics for assessing presentation skills. Over time, I intend to add more 21st Century Skills rubrics and lessons, integrating them with current Zombie-Based Learning projects.

Members can find the lessons and rubrics on the Project 01 page or sign in and download them here;
Presenting Information Lesson
Project 1 Presentation Rubric 6th Grade
Project 1 Presentation Rubric 7th Grade
Project 1 Presentation Rubric 8th Grade

Grade level rubrics are provided to assess presentation skills (based on Common Core Speaking and Listening standards) and integrating visuals into presentations (based on Common Core Literacy in Social Studies standards).

This lesson can be worked into any project, Zombie-Based Learning or otherwise.

  • / By

ZBL Teachers Rock! – Survey Results

A few weeks ago, we sent out a quick survey to ZBL teachers on our mailing list to check in and see what you liked and didn’t like about ZBL. We’re delighted to say that we heard overwhelmingly positive feedback, and are excited to take what we’ve learned to make it even better!  My goals for creating Zombie-Based Learning were to create a curriculum that:

  1. Saved teachers a lot of time

  2. Helps teachers get into project-based learning

  3. Improves deep student learning and engagement

Methodology: please note that the audience was provided closed-ended options, and asked to check all that applied–so answers won’t add up to 100%. Also, we provided a write-in box for open-ended answers.

Measuring the “likes” I was gratified to see that teachers really did value having the important parts of curriculum including assessments, rubrics, and resources. Tied for the top favorite  was that the curriculum is Project-Based Learning in practice. As a big believer in Project-Based Learning (PBL), I’m happy to see so many teachers valued the opportunity to use it in the classroom. Many teachers approve the theory, but are unclear on how to deploy it.

Because I deliberately designed ZBL to be a good introduction to PBL,  I’m glad to see that there are quite a few teachers who are motivated to get more training in Project-Based Learning techniques.  It’s something we’ll be able to help with down the line!

As for the “dislikes” beyond PBL training, 14% of the responses said that ZBL didn’t fit into their current plans. Additional write-in comments included a range of reasons such as “no longer teaching the subject” to “district not dedicating a full semester for Geography”.  While I designed ZBL to fit into as many plans as possible, I was also pleased to hear that many teachers were able to modify it and fit it into their needs.

The feedback was also very valuable to confirm the items we are eager to improve upon. We’re working on plans to make the curriculum materials more interactive, easier to download,  and digitizing and updating materials to integrate with gradebooks and other valuable school tools. We also heard that a lot of students are clamoring for the next issue of Dead Reckon. We’re trying hard to get them out! We’re eager to share the continuing story as well, and are happy that students are enthused about it as we are.

We’re thrilled to see that teachers are finding a lot of value in ZBL and the resources accompanying it to support their teaching. Between this survey and the student work we are getting from some of the teachers, we’re continually improving to be a more useful curriculum for teachers and a better learning experience for students.  THANK YOU for your support and your voice!

We sent this survey to all of the teachers on the Zombie-Based Learning mailing list. 36% of those teachers followed the link to the survey. 70% of the teachers who followed the link, completed the survey.  In total, 25% of the teachers on the ZBL mailing list took the survey. Thank you to all who responded!

If you did not get a chance to take the survey, feel free to respond here:


  • / By

Looking Back – 5 Reasons I’m Glad I Went to ASCD 2014

I’ve been a big fan of ASCD ever since I started graduate school for teaching. ASCD publishes the best books on teaching and education. However, I had never been to the ASCD Annual Conference before this past weekend. Sometimes you don’t know what to expect from a big conference like that. You are never really sure if you are going to walk away with a bunch of ideas or just a big bag of free junk from companies you’ve never heard of. I’m glad to say I left with more ideas than junk and ASCD is my favorite education conference so far. Here are 5 reasons I’m glad I went to ASCD 2014 in Los Angeles.

1) Meet Your Favorite Education Authors

In the span of about 30 minutes I got to speak with 4 of my favorite current educational authors. I met Charlotte Danielson, author of the Danielson Framework for Teaching, which I believe is a very valuable resource for assessing teachers. I used it both in graduate school and as a teacher.

Charlotte Danielson

Here is a picture of Kishari, ZBL’s Tactical and Communications Officer, with Charlotte Danielson

After talking with Charlotte, I turned around and saw the curriculum design super-duo “Wiggins and McTighe.” Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe are the authors of one of my favorite education books, Understanding by Design. I’m really into curriculum design, and the root of my interests comes from their book. So I was really excited to talk to them and tell them how I nailed my first teaching interview because it was centered around my ability to design curriculum using the UbD framework.

Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe

Here is a picture of me (David) with Grant and Jay. They had even heard of my work on Zombie-Based Learning.

About 15 minutes after meeting Wiggins and McTighe, I got to speak with Robert Marzano and Sonny Magaña. They have just published a book, Enhancing the Art and Science of Teaching with Technology. I pointed out all of the new Classroom Strategies books I had gotten for Christmas, proving my educational nerd cred.

I also got a chance to sit down and talk with Andrew Miller, a great writer for Edutopia and the Buck Institute as well as a thoughtful educator. We talked Zombies and eventually turned into some.

Andrew Miller

Andrew Miller and David Hunter becoming Zombies

2) Meet Education Entrepreneurs

It is always nice to meet with fellow educational entrepreneurs and discuss our latest ideas. I got to spend some time with one of my favorite presenters, Dave Burgess, author of Teach Like a Pirate. We shared our latest strategies and feelings about education publishing.

Dave Burgess

Here is a picture of myself and Dave. Representing Zombies and Pirates.

I also got to discuss ideas with the godfather of digital gradebooks, William Zaggle. William is now Chief Innovation Officer at Scantron.

William Zaggle

Here is a picture of William and I swapping stories of about our career as delinquent students.

3) Amazing Presentations

Sometimes I look at a conference program and I’m disappointed at how much it doesn’t excite me. Not the case with ASCD. I had quickly double booked my schedule with presentations I wanted to see. The ones I did catch, were excellent. The presenters shared theory as well as practical strategies for the classroom.

My favorites included Margit McGuire’s presentation on “Accessing the Common Core for ELLs through Problem-Based Learning.” She provided valuable strategies for engaging English Language Learners in higher order thinking and aligning their work to Common Core Standards. View the slides from the presentation here. John Larmer presented on “Project-Based Learning: The What, Why, and How” which provided great strategies for using PBL.

4) Amazing Featured Talks

The presentations were great, the Featured Talks were world-class. Imagine getting to see your favorite TED Talks presenters live. That’s what it was. I saw Sir Ken Robinson twerk (it was easy to miss) as he shared insight from his latest version of The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. I sat front row to hear Jane McGonigal’s latest research (coming out in a book next year) on how the way you approach games influences what you get out of gaming. I was even excited to hear her refer to lessons I’ve designed in the Q+A! And she was kind enough to retweet those lessons when I posted them afterwards.

Jane McGonigal Tweet

5) Demo the Latest in the Exhibition Hall

Wandering the floors of exhibition halls is tiring work. It doesn’t take long to get overloaded. But it is a great chance to check out the latest in education. I sat down at Adobe’s booth (partially because they had a seat and partially because I love the Adobe Youth Voices program). I got a short presentation of Adobe Presenter 9, which they’re really leveraging for teachers to use when they create flipped videos for the classroom. I would have benefited from that as a teacher (see my random range of flipped videos).

I also got to meet Matt Lavery, founder of LeAH assessment programs. View his TEDx Talk here.

Matt, LeAH

Here’s Matt and I talking about ways that we could work together to empower teachers through assessment.

6) BONUS: Show off Zombie-Based Learning

We got to walk around and either introduce ZBL to people or connect with people who were already fans.

Zombie-Based Learning T-Shirt

Here is one of the great shirts that we wore.

Lots of people asked about where they could get the shirts. Maybe at ASCD 2015?

  • / By

Geography and Language – How do you pronounce “pecan?”

Let’s take a moment to talk about language and geography. Human geography studies culture and linguistics or language has to do with culture. So, geography studies language, and in fact it can study it in multiple ways. Geography of languages studies the distribution and movement of languages around the world, while linguistic geography studies language variations across regions, such as dialects.

As someone who has tried to disassociate himself from where he grew up (due to complex factors), I like to think I have a pretty good control over my dialect. It was pretty easy to stop using “wicked” as an adjective. Just now you have most likely done some instant linguistic geography thinking and figured out the region I grew up with down to a radius of about 60 miles. Come fall and Thanksgiving, I just can’t bring myself to talk like most other people in the Pacific Northwest. I love pecan pie and I pronounce it “pee-KAN” pie. I’m often corrected or given a strange look(the same way I looked at people when I first went off to college and heard someone call a grocery bag a “sack”). Most people here say “pee-kon” pie.

So, how do you say “pecan” and how is that affected by your geographical history? In 2003, Harvard conducted some surveys on dialect in the US. They mapped out the responses based on where people lived during formative language development years. Check out the maps of the Pecan Survey here.

You can also see the survey applied to Google Maps here.

To view more maps of more dialectic surveys from Harvard, view the list of the 2003 survey results here.

If you’d like to take part in similar dialect surveys, you can take part in Cambridge’s survey here.

Pecan Dialect Survey Results.

Come back again as I’ll make a few more posts about Geography and Language this week.

  • / By

The Geography of Horror

ESRI has put out this great “Geography of Horror” map, just in time for Halloween. It’s a map of where the top rated horror movies (about 250 of them) take place. You can explore the the locations via decades of movie releases.

This kind of thing brings up questions I wish I had time to explore. How do horror movies influence the perception of location? What geographic characteristics contribute well to horror? It would also be interesting to try and find remakes that have been done of movies and compare how the locations play a role in each story. For example, compare The Ring (2001) which takes place in Seattle, with the original Ring (1998) set in Japan.

The Geography of Horror.




  • / By

Geography Question Generator

I’m tired of people thinking of geography as memorizing locations and capitals. Geography is so much more. There are unlimited amazing questions that geographers take on to help us better understand how the earth affects us.

In an attempt to help people imagine these big questions, I created the Geography Question Generator. It randomly creates questions that a geographer could explore. Right now it can generate about a couple hundred questions, a few might make a little less sense (no artificial intelligence in this tool). I’ll keep adding elements to it to create more questions. They mostly stick to broad topics in geography.

My hope is that people will take a little bit of time to consider the exciting questions that geography can help us explore.

Check out the tool here.

This tool goes great with the first lesson in Zombie-Based Learning, but can be used at any point to show that geography is a pretty deep field.

  • / By

Beautiful Hand-Made Globes

Peter Bellerby – The Globemaker from Cabnine on Vimeo.

This excellent video shows a bit of behind the scenes of the craftsmanship put into these globes. Peter Bellerby, founder of Bellerby & Co., reflects on the long process of figuring out how to best make a globe.

These globes don’t come cheap though. The craftsmanship and detail has a price. A “mini” desktop globe starts at £999.00. Not quite something you’d put in the classroom, but the art of constructing a globe would hopefully inspire many.

via Wired


  • / By

Dead Reckon is now on Kindle

Dead Reckon on Amazon

Dead Reckon in the Amazon Store

Dead Reckon is now available on Kindle! The comic has special functions to allow you to zoom into each panel. For Kindle users or Kindle app users, this will hopefully be an easier and even cheaper way to access the comic. The geography project notes are also included and zoomable as well. I’d love to hear any feedback on it.

Viewing Comics on Kindle

This was put together in a special way so that you can click on each comic panel and zoom into it. You can then progress through each panel automatically. I do a lot of comic reading on my mobile devices, and I really like being able to view a comic panel by panel. Hopefully you’ll enjoy this too.

Comic on Kindle

Dead Reckon zooms in on panels in Kindle


Free Preview

You can get a free preview on Amazon using the Kindle Cloud Viewer, it is very easy to do. See below for some instructions from Amazon.

Amazon Kindle Device: Your sample will be sent automatically and wirelessly to the Kindle via Amazon Whispernet. Don’t have a Kindle? Get yours here.

Free Reading Apps: Your sample will be sent automatically to your AndroidiPadiPhonePCMacBlackBerry, orWindows Phone 7 device. Don’t have a free Kindle Reading App? Download one here.

  • / By

Pizza Place Geography

I might have to say that the one combination I probably love more than geography and zombies is geography and pizza. I have a tattoo about pizza that is too embarrassing to share on the internet.

Flowing Data used a data set of closest pizza places in a 10 mile radius to create various maps showing distribution of popular pizza places.

The blog post also gets into some thoughts on regions and migration of ideas when making suggestions about why the pizza places are as popular in different areas as they are:

Regionally, Papa John’s, which started in Kentucky, is strong in the east central area; Godfather’s, with headquarters in Nebraska, is popular in the midwest; Little Caesars shows strong in California and Michigan (its first location in Garden City, Michigan); and Papa Murphy’s is strong in the northwest, which makes sense because it started in Washington.

Pizza locations


A few years ago, Floating Sheep created what they call the “Great American ‘Pizza’ Map.” It’s a very interesting map that plots out internet user references to pizza, guns, and adult clubs. In the comments there are the start of some great geographic discussions and questions around culture and location, but since it refers to adult clubs, I’ll let you decide if you want to draw from that resource. Maybe for the much older kids. However, the Pizza Place Geography maps at Flowing Data is a great resource to give to students. Just know that it will make them hungry.

Pizza place geography.