Zombie Spockalypse


The space between my ears, that gray matter frontier, is in tumult.


I was a last minute registrant to the CUE (Computer Using Educators) annual conference in Palm Springs, California. Today is day one of three. I had planned each session meticulously, mapping out the shortest path between one session’s venue and the next. Happily, it turned out not to be.

The first session on my list of must-attend was @am_estrella’s Remixing the Do Now and Exit Slip in a 1:1 Classroom. A few weeks ago I’d learned what an Exit Slip assignment was by reading a tweet by @sciencepenguin. The session had an activity where we had to create a short story based on a couple of pictures; we were encouraged to craft a story and share it with the person nearest us.

Drawing of a group of zombies over a photo of carpet at CUE15

As it happened, the nearest person to me was Danica Marsh; she and Kelly Baker were doing the next session in the room. She happened to tell me its name. All I heard her say was.. ZOMBIE. The rest is a blur.



I’m a fan of Star Trek. During its original run I didn’t watch it much. In 1966 we were a one-TV family. If papa didn’t like it we didn’t watch it. He was a big cowboy movie fan and except for that one episode set at the OK Corral none of the Enterprise crew wore stetsons.

Anyway, I liked Spock. I iked his curiosity. I was saddened when Leonard Nimoy passed. I got to thinking about Spock during the CUE 15 Common Core Performance Tasks… and Zombies session. I learned a bit about engagement during the session. More importantly, was what I didn’t learn. Here are a few words that aroused my interest and that I have to figure out:

  • Ess fack lingo
  • Zombie engagement model


Okay, maybe I misheard the first one. But wow that zombie engagement model. I have to figure out what that is. I’m in the right place for it. There are 5600 educators attending CUE 15 right along with me.



Sticky Learning


How do you figure out if your learners get it?


How about if we ask them? Only we do it immediately after the event rather than in a survey weeks or months later. A little while ago I read this tweet in my Twitter timeline.

I clicked on the link and.. wow moment.


I design transformational learning experiences for online and face-to-face training modalities. Exit slips are definitely transformational, at least for my adult learning population.

Screen capture of a sticky note asking that reservation process be drawn and described

I'm thinking the way it would work is following a lesson or activity asking learners to complete an exit ticket. Rather than all learners being asked the same question there would be several questions. On leaving the session learners would post their sticky note response on a wall. The instructors then review the tickets to see how sticky the learning was.


This fits somewhere in between formative and summative assessment. It helps learners to recall the new information they were exposed to while giving the instructor a snapshot into how well the know-how transferred. Thank you @BergsEyeView and @SciencePenguin for a cool idea.


Re: Run


“Shoulder to shoulder and backs to the wall..” Sound familiar? Maybe not the exact phrase but the sentiment?

Photograph of a Saguaro cactus

Saguaro cactus somewhere in the Sonoran Desert

I was nine years old the first time I heard the phrase spoken, clueless what the words meant. They were spoken by Bob Steele acting in the role of Trooper Duffy, a member of F Troop.


F Troop was a 1960s TV comedy about a misfit Army outpost set in the 1860s. I got to thinking about it during a meeting last week. My job as an instructional designer, like some people's jobs, isn't all fun and games. It's an iterative job that can become very technical quickly.

I like being a designer. I like serving people, aiding them in their development. One thing that makes my job fun is storytelling. Another is finding patterns in things I see and hear.

Photograph of a rock formation

Can you see the mama bear and cub?

Can you see anything but rocks in the photo above? I was out on walkabout the other day near Desert Center, California when something grabbed my attention. Looking at it for a few long moments what I saw reminded me of a family of bears: two adults looking out for their cub.


Typically instructional design involves analysis to identify gaps in knowledge or performance and to learn about the ecology where work and learning occur.

Sketch of several shapes that resemble bears

When I meet with customers and subject matter experts I ask them to tell me stories about what they perceive a problem to be. I take notes: written, sometimes typed. Lately I've started sketching, too. I've found it offers two very different but hugely important benefits.

  1. With sketching comes clarity. Quickly.
  2. Drawing is a very old human activity that brings people together.

Which brings me back to Trooper Duffy. The group I was working with were old school. That is to say they were uncomfortable with my sketching. To them analyzing a problem had to happen the way it had always happened, slowly and methodically.



I'm going to be working on this project through at least February. Besides doing my usual instructional design thing I'll also be modeling new innovative stuff that I've learned. Like analysis through storytelling and sketching to decrease, perhaps drastically, the time it takes to get busy prototyping. Another new thing I can't wait to take out for a spin is visual thinking for formative and summative assessments. It'll be like Private Dobbs, F Tropp's bugler, blowing reveille to wake everybody up.