The Book Fort

Instructional Ideas for Immediate Implementation

Welcome to The Book Fort: Issue 31

Week 31: Vision Boards & The Law of Attraction

As some of you know, I work with Kim Strobel, Happiness Coach and Owner of Strobel Education. We met at the KY Council of Teachers of English Conference in 2017 when she presented a session on Genius Hour that was so popular and created such a positive buzz that we shifted the afternoon schedule to add a repeat session on the fly. We spent the evening together talking and sharing ideas with our husbands and collleagues and I asked her to keynote this year about the science of happiness, about which Kim researchers and shares across the nation as a motivational speaker. She inspires me often to be the best version of myself and it makes me miss my classroom even more when I see the obvious instructional applications of her work on happiness.

Speaking of those instructional applications, when I read Kim’s most recent publication, a free e-book called Vision Boards and the Law of Attraction: 5 Steps to Creating a Life You Love (2017), I immediately thought: all students and educators need this. In such an educational climate as we live and work in today, all educational professionals and their students need to be reminded and coached on how they can take control of their own lives, circumstances, and challenges, and create the lives they want to live. I could not help but think about the students I taught who felt trapped in the cycle of poverty from which they came, in which most still lived as I read this short e-book. I thought of all the initiatives and expensive programs we tried to use to help students in these situations. I also lamented the teachers’ faces I remember, haggard, sad, defeated because they felt they had no time for their families and weren’t progressing in their professional lives, even after putting in more hours than one could count.

Friends, this quick read is not only worth it personally but can be a fantastic way to end the school year if you let it. In the book, Kim tells her own story about becoming the person and professional she envisioned, even though it seemed crazy, and she shares a very simple approach to beginning the same journey in your own life. I have taken this and briefly shared some of her ideas below, but I have also explained how you might use this with students. Visit her website at: to sign up for the free e-book today and subscribe to her newsletter for regular doses of happiness and info on her workshops. Follow Kim @HappyStrobel and @StrobelEducation on Twitter and check out Strobel Education on Facebook.

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Words are Powerful

One of the first things we all must realize in our quests to change our lives and build our dreams is that words are powerful. It is a simple idea, but we need no more proof than the incredibly persuasive media to know that the words we speak, read, and hear shape how we feel, who we are, and what we do. Kim speaks early on in the book about how important it is to change the way you talk about the things you want. She uses the example of Oscar, one of her beloved rescue dogs, who became so overweight that those in the family called him “Piggy.” When this finally began to bother Kim, she asked that everyone in the family stop calling Oscar by this nickname and they all began replacing this with positive affirmations when Oscar exhibitied healthy behaviors such as taking longer walks. It was proof enough for Kim that words matter when her dog began to lose weight and be more active that this shift in the family’s use of words manifested itself in positive changes. Of course it wasn’t just the affirmations but the shift in thinking for the family; their actions changed as Oscar was no longer the butt of jokes.

We often feel, as people and educators, that we have no control over so many things that plague us. We have total control of our words. Authentic positive affirmations can become the leading mode of communication in classrooms and schools if we want them to. Genuine, specific praise can lead any conversation if that’s how we design our learning experiences and environments. The thing is, the more genuine positivity and proactive behavior we exhibit, the more we will get in return. The Law of Attraction is such that when you exude the things you want in life, the more quickly they will come to you. On the other hand, the more negative energy we expend, the more negative things that tend to come our way. This isn’t easy to confront or to change, but it is in every human’s power to do so.

Start by asking students and colleagues to determine and discuss their own goals for various parts of their lives and write them down. A sample of six parts of life to consider when setting these goals is featured in the book and reproduced below. Then, open up the discussion to include barriers to reaching these goals. Determine what kinds of hurtful words, negative people, and unproductive rhetoric gets in the way currently. Last, decide what each person can do to change this rhetoric, to replace the negative with the positive. This is the first step to achieving goals and living your best life.

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Vision Boards

The next step in Kim’s book outlines the creation of personalized vision boards. This is a well-known technique of visualization used by successful people all over the world; professional athletes frequently share how they cut out news clippings or post stats that they want to emulate and put them in prominent places in their homes so that they see them every, single day. The same is true when creating vision boards. The idea is to choose a direction to head in and to find visual representations of the goals, the paths to reaching them, and associated ideas to remind you daily of these goals, this vision.

As Kim puts it, there are no wrong ways to create vision boards, but the process of creating them is more than just gluing stuff on a poster. The idea is to visualize what you want, who you want to be, where you want to go, and create a visual reminder of this that you frequently reference and update. This might look like mine (shown below) with sayings and images that drive my goal to spark imagination and passion in others, or it might be digital, created with a publishing tool Iike Canva or Adobe. I started with the #OneWord2018 campaign on social media, choosing one word that I wanted to be the center of my vision for the calendar year (spark), and built my board from that.

There are many examples online, but Kim shares a step-by-step process in her book that would definitely work well with faculty and students. These boards, when completed, can be prominently displayed in the school or classroom and revisited frequently through reflection.

Check out Kim’s post on vision boards here:

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Slay the Dragons

The last thing to keep in mind, and probably the most difficult, is dealing with the negativity that seeps in to our lives and sucks out the joy we feel in our journeys toward living our best lives. In the book, Kim freely admits that she struggles with this and has adapted her happiness practices to include dedicated meditation time and a gratitude journal to re-direct negative thoughts into positive affirmations. This is quite possibly one of the most important tools we can share with colleagues and students; the power to re-direct negativity and see the positive in all situations is something that can help all people be happier and better equipped to face challenges. We all know what happens when we aren’t doing this: anxiety, depression, desperation, and even violence or self-harm. It is human, but we can actively work to shift this if we focus.

When negative thoughts come, whether that is as a result of something happening or something someone says, or even just what you wake up thinking, Kim suggests “reaching for the next best, believable thought” (20) after acknowledging the negative for what it is. Some of us are more pre-disposed than others to see things as “glass half-empty,” but we all have the ability to re-train our brains to see the good in every situation. Intentional repetition of this “reaching” technique can do this re-training in a relatively short time with practice.

With students, the gratitude journal is an excellent suggestion, as is the quick, daily practice of acknowledging feelings in the moment. Kim speaks in some of her other workshops about asking her students to circle up each day before instruction began to share how they were feeling. There is no discussion, no explanation, just a quick status check. This takes less than five minutes in a class of 30 once it becomes routine and the teacher gets a quick feel for the state of things while her students openly acknowledge their own feelings. The gratitude journal could be used a free write daily or regularly to encourage students to see the positive in their lives, even if it seems difficult to list more than one thing. This ties in well with growth mindset, and many schools are using this approach for students and faculty alike with standards-based grading on the rise.

Check out Kim’s post on combating negativity here:

Website of the Week

Curio Learning

Created as the brain-child of Kentucky teacher Ashley Lamb-Sinclair, Curio Learning is a place for “rebel” teachers who wish to collaborate and create together. While it is currently invite-only, the buzz has begun; the first Twitter chat with #TeachLikeARebel was a rousing success and the freely accessible Curio Journal provides relevant insights from fantastic teachers across the country dealing with timely, tough issues in the world of education. The next Twitter chat is slated for April 19th, so jump in for more info. Check out the site at: and follow on Twitter @CurioLearning today. Also, request an invite today before they disappear!
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Ed Tech Tool of the Week


Recommended by Nat Geo Education as one of 2017’s best teacher tools, Rewordify is a program that easily allows teachers and students to re-word text that might be otherwise inaccessible to readers. The amazing part of this tool is that it doesn’t “dumb down” text, but rather helps users access complex text and learn vocabulary so that they can eventually read and comprehend the original text. Check out the free online demo at: and Nat Geo’s review here.
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What Colleagues Are Reading

Missed Previous Issues?

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Kristie Hofelich Ennis, NBCT

In an effort to systematically study relevant research and stay connected to the teachers I greatly respect and with whom I have worked for years to successfully implement independent reading, this newsletter came about. It will offer research and practical ideas for quick implementation and may prompt further discussion or study with your colleagues. I hope you'll find it useful and thought-provoking; I also hope you will stay in touch if you implement any of the ideas with your students. They are, after all, why I do what I do!