Power Tools Can Make All the Difference: Introduction

I was recently reminded that power tools can make all the difference.

The play cottage Nona and Pop gave our daughter sat in the garage awaiting construction. You see, my husband and I clearly recall a previous play-kitchen construction project that took three times longer than anticipated. As a result, we dreaded this project. Adding to our dread was the suggestion that the play cottage surprise its new owner by magically appearing after nap time. Nona and Pop, the planners of this plot, were blissfully 12 hours away!

However, it was time to tackle the task. We gained confidence, discovering that the cottage comprised only six pieces! And then we found the large plastic bag packed solidly with screws. We hunted down two Phillips head screwdrivers, took deep breaths, and jumped in. Thirty minutes later, with ten screws in and only a fraction of the cottage complete, a couple friends dropped by. Merik, a project manager by profession, sized up our task and our sorry tools. With a smirk he said, “You know, adding a little power to your tools might get you to the finish line a little quicker.” Without waiting for our response, he walked away and returned ready to join the construction crew, power screwdriver firmly in hand. (Apparently project managers keep their power tools close!)

Construction moved quickly, and our dread turned to delight. We constructed the cottage, cleaned up, and even relaxed before nap time was over. And, the look on our daughter’s face when she saw what “magically appeared” was priceless. Thanks to power tools (and good friends), the mission was accomplished.

As a project manager, Merik looked at the job and identified the power tool needed to get it done efficiently. We educators construct knowledge in the classroom every day. What if we could look at our teaching goals and identify power tools to efficiently construct the necessary learning? Over the next few months, we’ll explore what brain research reveals about routines and structures that incorporate such power tools in various areas, including: retention and recall, small groups, literature selection, visual representation of thinking and learning, and modeling.

Unlike play cottages, learning doesn’t “magically appear,” but we can effectively and efficiently ignite excitement for learning in our students. It just takes the right tools.


Brynn Redmond, M.Ed. is a K-12 Reading Specialist, a Clerestory Learning Program Support Specialist, a mom to two beautiful girls, and owner of






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