Robin J. Fogarty, PhD & Brian M. Pete 2017-2018 RFA Conference Appearances

Educators love to learn from educators…teacher to teacher, principal to principal, and superintendent to superintendent. The conference scene is one of the highlights and hallmarks of professional learning.  It is a chance to learn, network and collaborate with passionate professionals in the field.

While it has become somewhat of a challenge for school budgets to accommodate conference costs, quality leaders know that it is a remarkable opportunity for expanding learning horizons for professionals as they grow and develop.  Somehow, there is that one conference that jumps out, and cannot be missed, because of the long-lasting impact in the schools.

As leading change agents in the profession, working constantly with schools throughout the world, we too value the experience of interacting with the amazing, concerned, dedicated and truly committed members of the educational community. This is where we will be this year, to connect, collaborate and communicate with you. Find the conference that is THE ONE for you.

2017 RFA Conference Appearances
September TBD Dubai, GCC- Dubai National School

October 20, 21 GCC- Abu Dhabi-Al Ain, Madar International School-21st Century Classrooms:
Quality Teaching: Differentiation and Lesson Planning

October 27-3:00-5:00PM ASCD Designing Professional Learning That Transfers to the Classroom
October 28-10-30AM-12:00PM ASCD Designing Professional Learning That Transfers to the Classroom
ASCD Conference for Educational Leaders-CEL-Kissimee, FL
Presenters: Robin Fogarty and Brian M. Pete

October TBD Dubai, GCC- Dubai National School

November 17,18 GCC- Abu Dhabi-Al Ain, Madar International School-21st Century Classrooms:Differentiation and Lesson Planning

December 6: 8:45 Session #3308 Does It Really Take 10,000 Hours of Practice?
LF-Learning Forward National Conference -Orlando, FL
Presenters: Robin Fogarty and Brian M. Pete


2018 RFA Conference Appearances


February 17, 18 GCC- Abu Dhabi-Al Ain, Madar International School-21st Century Classrooms: Re-tooling Schooling; High Touch, High Tech, High Thought and Everyday Problem-Based Learning

March 7-9 2018 Schaumburg Renaissance Convention Center, Schaumburg, IL
IL ASCD Kindergarten Conference-Early Literacy, Math Fact Fluency

March 24, 25 8:30-12:00 Everyday Problem-Based Learning: Quick Projects to Build Problem-Solving Fluency
ASCD Conference for Educational Leaders-CEL-Boston MA 
Presenters: Robin Fogarty and Brian M. Pete

AERA-Not this year

May 18,19, 20 3 days/3 2hr Sessions Robin
May 18,19, 20 3 days/3 2hr Sessions Brian
Hawker Brownlow Conference-Melbourne, AU
Presenters: Robin Fogarty & Brian Pete

Title I-Not this year







Call with questions! 800.213.9246


Robin Fogarty & Associates

On the Brink of Greatness

Unlocking Student Talent: The New Science of Developing Expertise

Authors: Fogarty, Kerns, Pete

 (Prepared Afterword)

“The horizons of human potential are expanding with each new generation” (Ericsson and Pool, 2016).

On The Brink of Greatness

For many, reviewing the science of expertise creates enthusiasm and optimism. Lemov, Woolway, and Yezzi (2012, p. xv) enthusiastically proclaimed, “We think that the teaching profession is on the brink of greatness,” and we concur.

The Power of a New Model of Understanding

The power of a new, more vivid model of thinking is indisputable. Consider the fact that “98 percent of IQ test takers today score better than the average test taker in 1900” meaning “that in just one century, improvements in our societal discourse and our schools have dramatically raised the measureable intelligence of almost everyone” (Shenk, 2010, p. 43). How did such a massive shift occur? How was overall achievement raised so dramatically? A new model of thought.

According to Flynn (1987 in Shenk, 2010, p. 42) this shift, which “represents nothing less than a liberation of the human mind” was facilitated by new understandings and new ways of thinking, primarily drawn from science. Prior to the significant scientific advances of the turn of the century, “The [intelligence of most] our ancestors in 1900 was anchored in everyday reality” (Flynn 1987 as cited in Shenk, 2010, p. 42). By contrast, we now use much more abstract thinking than they did, as a result of relatively modern scientific techniques.

Flynn (1987) notes, for example, that “When asked: ‘What do dogs and rabbits have in common?’ Americans in 1900 would likely say ‘You use dogs to hunt rabbits’” while a contemporary response might me ‘both are mammals’” (as cited in Shenk, 2010). “The scientific world-view, with its vocabulary taxonomies, and detachment of logic and the hypothetical from concrete referents . . . paved the way for mass education . . . and the emergence of an intellectual cadre without whom our present civilization would be inconceivable” (Flynn, 1987 in Shenk, 2010,pg. 43).

Share the Science of Expertise

Perhaps the profundity of a powerful new model is best understood when we see           the impact sharing the science of expertise with students. Psychologist Carol Dweck documented significant and nearly immediate impacts when students are taught “brainology.

To study the potential impact of ideas from cognitive research and the science of expertise, Dweck (2007) and her team devised an “intervention” where all students would be taught study skills, time management, and memory strategies but where the experimental group would also receive the “brainology” content (e.g. “brain is like a muscle,” “the more they exercise it, the stronger it becomes,” and “when you try hard and learn something new the brain forms new connections that, over time, make you smarter”). The results were phenomenal.

While “both groups had experienced a steep decline in their math grades,” the experimental group “showed a significant rebound” in grades and the teachers, “who were unaware that the intervention workshops differed . . . singled out three times as many students in the [experimental] group as having shown marked changes in motivation” (Dweck, 2007, pg. 38). The science of expertise, a new model for considering talent and skill acquisition, transformed the way these students looked at themselves, their potential, and school, and did so in short order. What’s good for them is good for us.

A Dose of Reality

So, what does this all mean for the concept of talent? Are we saying that there is no such thing as innate talent? Accepting that certain physical attributes aid specific physical endeavors (e.g. height greatly facilitates basketball ability), that our progress can be impaired by physical ailments impacting myelin (e.g. Multiple Sclerosis), and the highly unusual cases of autistic savants, an essential assertion is that “in pretty much any area of human endeavor, people have a tremendous capacity to improve their performance, as long as they train in the right way” (Ericsson and Pool, 2016, pg. 113).

Questioned directly about the concept of innate talent, Coyle (personal communication) noted that recent studies do detect some elements of innate abilities, but while we use talent to explain vast differences between performances, genetics likely only explains roughly seven percent. In contrast, deliberate practice explains about 50 percent of the variance meaning that how willing we are to practice is seven times more impactful than any natural proclivity (Coyle, personal communication).

Coyle sums this up eloquently in the following:

This is not to say that every person on the planet has the potential to become an Einstein. Nor does it mean that our genes don’t matter – they do. The point, rather, is that although talent feels and looks predestined, in fact we have a good deal of control over what skills we develop and we each have more potential than we might ever presume to guess.(Coyle, 2009, pg.73).

“Genetic differences do play an important role, but genes do not determine complex traits on their own.   Rather, genes and the environment interact with each other in a dynamic process we can never fully control, but that we can strongly influence” (Shenk, 2011, pg. 5 – emphasis added).

Our job as educators is to use this new knowledge to positively influence this complex process as much as we can, and it appears we have more control over things than we may have imagined.

We Are All Gifted

Numerous authors in the field remark that talent can easily look and feel pre-destined. We see YoYo Ma perform, or witness a nearly “impossible” 3-point shot in basketball, or are thrilled by a Cirque du Soleil acrobat and the old folklore whispers, “they are gifted” or “she’s a natural.” The abilities of expert performers are “so qualitatively different, so detached from our own lives and experience, that they very idea we could achieve similar results with the same opportunities seems nothing less than ridiculous” (Syed, 2011, p. 10). Ericsson and Pool (2016) note that such individuals are “gifted,” but not in the historical sense of “giftedness.”

The science of expertise reveals to us that we are all gifted. We are “all endowed with a brain so flexible and adaptable that it [can], with the right sort of training, develop a capability that seems quite magical to those who do not possess it” (Ericsson and Pool, 2016, pg. xvi). “Learning is no longer just a way of fulfilling some genetic destiny; it becomes a way of taking control of your destiny and shaping your potential in ways that you choose” (Ericsson and Pool, 2016, pg. 48).

Armed with these new insights, “it no longer makes sense to think of people as born with fixed reserves of potential; instead, potential is an expandable vessel, shaped by various things that we do throughout our lives. Learning isn’t a way of reaching one’s potential but rather a way of developing it. We can create our own potential” (Ericsson and Pool, 2016. Pg. xx).

“Imagine what might be possible with efforts that are inspired and directed by a clear scientific understanding of the best ways to build expertise” (Ericsson and Pool, 2016). Our schools are filled with untapped talent. Let us use this new information to unlock talent with what we know from the new science of developing expertise.

2 Days in Metuchen, NJ –

Thank you to all of the dynamic dedicated educators in Metuchen, NJ – I can safely say that the 2 days on Everyday PBL and The Three Story Intellect – were the “greatest 2 days of my entire life!”

Here is link to the Power Points – By the way, if you would be so kind, post a comment or a reflection about your experience.


Brian / Robin

Link to our Dropbox file –


I don’t expect you to read the whole article . . .

Are You a Self-Interrupter?

Distraction in the technology age.

Eight Is Enough! Can You Describe a 21st Century Classroom?

These are the cues and clues to discerning whether or not a classroom has transformed into that 21st Century-future-oriented classroom. There are definite look-fors that seem to spell Y-E-S! These are signs of a classroom getting kids prepared for the test of life as well as for the indomitable test. See how many signs you can spot in your walk-throughs and look-fors.

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VOICE speaks to the student-centered classroom in which kids talk as much as the teacher talks. Following the adage “The person doing the talking is the person doing the talking is the person doing the learning”, their voices are heard in multiple student to student interactions throughout the day.

CHOICE is one of three differentiation components that afford different entry points in to the learning for different types of learners. “Change, Challenge and Choice” is the key to different strokes for different folks. If you believe we all learn in our own time and in our own way, you believe in differentiated learning.

REFLECTION seems to be the forgotten charm of today’s classroom. Reflection is about metacognition; that looking over the work as the task unfolds; or that predicting what is ahead and what might work best; or reflecting and looking back once the work has been completed in an appraisal of the pros and cons of the product and the process.

INNOVATION is about achieving an ultimate creative endeavor through the enterprise and entrepreneurship as young, developing thinkers in the age of digital applications and resources. Innovators are risk-takers, connectors and fail-safe in their approach to learning, unlearning and relearning.

CRITICAL THINKERS are analyzers who are willing to disagree, argue, debate, compromise, and find consensus as they explore, examine, evaluate and express their thoughts about the work, the conversations, the conclusions reached and even about the reliability, validity and truth about the findings under scrutiny.

PROBLEM-SOLVERS address their work and their play as challenges that are evoke curiosity, interest and intrigue that compelling them to the jump in and try. These kids are more inclined to wallow in the problem with all kinds of possibilities before they actually settle on the alternative they think is best. They enjoy the ambiguity, the not knowing, but with drive to find out.

SELF-ASSESSING is a cousin to self-reflection, but it carries the weight of a ranking as well as a look/see at what worked and what didn’t. This willingness to examine ones’ self and one’s work requires a strong sense of self agency and the rare humility that allows one to learn from others with awe and with appreciation.

CONNECTED LEARNING is how the brain hangs on to new input. The incoming data creates a dissonance as the mind searches for patterns, connections and associations. The brain must attach this information to something it already knows, prior learning, if you will, that afford the brain to make sense of it in a connected, meaningful and purposeful way.

When someone asks you what a 21st  Century Classroom means, you can simply say that “eight is enough” to signal that future-thinking classroom with this quick-glance quip”. Connected learning in this century is about the voices and choices of children, as they think critically, innovate, assess and reflect. 21st Century classrooms are about kids owning their own learning with commitment and perseverance.

Everyday PBL: Organizing Information



Youngsters in Singapore are organizing their information about the World Games as they prepare to create their final product or performance as their Evidence of Learning. The inquiry they are making is: How do global competitions impact nations?

Everyday PBL consists of mini-problem scenarios developed from ordinary, everyday lessons. The difference is, these lessons have been repurposed as inquiry learning lessons, in which students are generating questions and investigating the targeted learning to arrive at findings that inform their questions. In this case, Singapore was preparing to host the World Games, so in their social studies lesson, in current events, the teachers turned the lesson into a Everyday PBL inquiry that fully engaged students in the processes of collaborating, gathering ideas, and organizing their ideas, (which is the focus of this post), as well as thinking, prioritizing, deciding, and presenting.

As mentioned, among the problem solving steps, in Everyday PBL, is Organizing Information. It is one of the most critical phases in the process because it forces the teams to stop the search and the research and move along if they are gong to meet their deadline. It signals that it is time for the team to look over what they have and somehow make sense of all the facts, data, stories and artifacts they have accumulated.

By requiring students to use a graphic organizer of their choice, the assignment causes them to talk, discuss, explain, compare, and finally to make decisions about where the information fits in the graphic that will to guide their review of the “stuff” and, at the same time provide a visual that “makes their thinking visible.”  As they work things out in the graphic, it starts to become more evident to all team members what the biggest ideas are, how the  various ideas actually connect to each other and how and why they seem to fit together.

In this complex process of thinking for connectivity and relationships in the data,  key ideas emerge in a summary or synthesis, and the essential elements become clear enough that they ca n move on to how they might present their findings as compelling evidence to others.

Organizing is critical to problem solving in order to seek the hidden messages that are always there with n the discerete data that has be gathered. The best advice for those new to the PBL process is to realize it is about the process of learning how to solve problems, and it’s usually best  o keep the flow of steps moving at a even pace. The goal is to experience the entire cycle of PBL in a nutshell  and then reflect on how things went for each group.

That’s the learning for a lifetime that can result when shifting to Everyday PBL. Students get multiple iterations of working with whole problems with their inquiry approaches. As they take responsibility to keep going, keep fanning the fire to finish and at the asme time, to own work and to rejoice and celebrate the outcomes. It is truly joyful work for kids because they love to think hard, they have reasons to get along and it feels good when the team to reaches the finish line.

About: Everyday PBL…by Brian and Robin, their new book coming out with ASCD in fall 2017. Be on the lookout for it.


Have You Solved a Problem Today?


Why is Everyday Problem Solving Important?

Have you solved a problem today? Most likely, the answer is “Yes,!” That’s what people do, from the young to the elderly, they solve “sticky-wicket” problems that are big and small, neat and messy, easy and complicated and they do it all day long. It’s called life and life presents constant challenges to overcome. The wee ones figure out how to get shoes on and tied, the teens are engrossed in managing their forgotten homework, while the high school sophomore finagles to get the car. In the adult world, the accountant is busy sorting out a double booking, the sales clerk is racing to the bus because her car didn’t start, frantic travelers at the airport are rescheduling appointments and rebooking flights that have been unexpectedly cancelled, and the elderly woman who lives across the street is gingerly navigating the ice on the front walk. Yes, problems, challenges, and troubles make the world go round, just as accomplishments, awards and celebrations do.

With that in mind, it behooves the educational community to practice problem solving is in multiple situation. At the end of the day, the argument for practicing inquiry and problem-based learning (PBL) throughout the curriculum seems well founded. It is time to move into that 21st Century curriculum framework that challenges kids to learn how to think on their own, how to try figure things out and to take pride in their accomplishments. They begin see that they are good thinkers and good problem solvers, as their confidence in their own abilities to be aware and to take control of the situation.

It’s how you let go and let them grow. It’s okay if they struggle a little. That informs you of the skills that need attention through coaching and feedback, and mini-lessons that instruct and clarify.

That’s why Everyday PBL provides the opportunity for teachers to turn everyday lesson into everyday inquiry with the efficient and effective model.

Unleashing Problem Solvers with Everyday PBL

Step #1 Develop a Question – Essential questions are universal; they branch and reach out. (How Do Structures Impact our Lives? Structure of: sentences, atoms, family, planets)

Step #2 – Scenario and Stakeholder Role – Your point of view matters a lot to the entire PBL (Stakeholder Roles: Legal Drinking Age Bill into Law: sheriff, teen, parent, peer, sibling) 

Step #3 – Research Ideas Searching and Researching – knowing what you know, what you don’t (Researching with credible web searches, interviews, field trips, and text readings)

Step #4 – Organize Material –order your findings with tools that reflect the relationship (collect information to the point that they are farther from a solution than when they started).

Step #5Create Product –devise a product, paper, video, graph to demonstrate evidence of learning (OK, It’s not perfect! Do not allow perfect to be the enemy of good. Get it done!)

Step #6 – Present Evidence –Present in favored way with creativity and a sense of audience (the presentation is as different as cooking a turkey and serving Thanksgiving dinner)

Step #7 – Assess Learning – Formative and summative assessment for reflection (project & quality of writing, presentation, research, collaboration, time management)

ASCD Book coming out in October  2017: Everyday PBL: Pete and Fogarty

The problem with focusing relentlessly on understanding is that math and science students can often grasp essentials of an important idea, but this understanding can quickly slip away without consolidation through practice and repetition. Worse, students often believe they understand something when, in fact, they don’t. By championing the importance of understanding, teachers can inadvertently set their students up for failure as those students blunder in illusions of competence. As one (failing) engineering student recently told me: “I just don’t see how I could have done so poorly. I understood it when you taught it in class.” My student may have thought he’d understood it at the time, and perhaps he did, but he’d never practiced using the concept to truly internalize it. He had not developed any kind of procedural fluency or ability to apply what he thought he understood.

via How I Rewired My Brain to Become Fluent in Math – Issue 40: Learning – Nautilus

Staff Room to Classroom-2nd Edition Celebration: Shouting from the Roof Top!

IMG_6595.JPGWe are so pleased to announce the arrival of our new, second edition book that is here in time for our July Staff Room to Classroom Conference in Chicago, July 5,6,7 2017. It has the latest and greatest information for PD teacher, leader teams- targeting the different generations of adult learners, integrating digital -rich technology to enhance the sessions,  team presentations with peer coaching and feedback, and 10 planned workshops for a monthly PD throughout the 2017-18 school year. It’s a Game-Changer for Change Agents.