The Chalk Blog

Keely Swartzer

Keely Swartzer is the Director of Professional Development for Learners Edge in Lakeville, Minnesota. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Special Education from St. Cloud State University, a Master of Arts in Education from Hamline University and additional Director of Special Education and Principal Licensures from the University of Minnesota. Throughout her career, Keely served students with special needs and subsequently served as a Special Education Coordinator in a suburban Minnesota school district. She teaches as an adjunct instructor at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota and has been developing trainings and providing face to face and online professional development for seven years. Professional development is Keely’s passion.

Recent Posts

Fostering Curiosity in Your Students

Strategies for sparking curiosity in the classroom

Curiosity primes the brain for learning. It makes learning more rewarding and helps students learn more, and better. It also improves learning retention and deepens understanding of content. Pretty clear, right? Curiosity is a necessity in our classrooms, and since we are in the business of helping teachers, we thought we would provide you with a list of methods for awakening curiosity in your students.  

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Topics: Teaching with Technology, Instructional Strategies

Teacher Feature: August

Interview with Travis Dresch

When we were kids, our minds were blown when we saw teachers outside of school. It was so out of context, but mysteriously cool: we saw them as humans, rather than just as their professional selves. 

To this end, the Learners Edge Chalk Blog interviews teachers in a regular segment called "Teacher Feature!" To hear more about the people behind the magic in the classroom, read on, and be inspired by these fantastic education superstars.


“Choose to be happy.” This is Travis Dresch’s teaching mantra. Travis is our featured teacher for August! Travis teaches high school chemistry and biology in the Cornwall-Lebanon School District in Pennsylvania. It’s apparent he enjoys science and teenagers which not everyone can say. 

I virtually “met” Travis when he signed up for one of our new courses: 5100: Train Your Brain, Change Your Life: The Practice of HappinessHis choice of courses sense given his mantra! (We thank Travis for his loyalty as this most recent course was only one of EIGHTEEN courses he has taken since 2015. Clearly Travis is also a life-long learner!)  

We asked Travis some serious, and not so serious, questions! Take a look.

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Topics: Teaching Wellness & Inspiration, Teacher Appreciation

Building a Bridge to Skill Acquisition in Eight Easy Steps

Help Your Students Gain Positive Skills

At its widest point, the Grand Canyon stretches 18 miles (29 kilometers) acrossIt is 6000 feet deepThats more than a mile! Many people consider it to be one of the seven wonders of the natural world. The Grand Canyon is an example of amazing geology where it seems impossible to get from one side (where you are) to the other side (where you want to be). 

A similar canyon exists in classroom management: Challenges with student behavior (where you are)…great student behavior (where you want to be). 

So how do we do it? How do we get from where we are to where we want to be? The answer is simple. We build a bridge. 

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Topics: Instructional Strategies, Student Brain Development

When Empathy Hurts

Trauma in the Classroom
With the increase of schools and educators using the best practices of trauma-informed teaching, it is important to note that trauma-informed schools should include measures of care for all involved. Working with students who have experienced trauma takes a toll on teachers, support staff, specialists, and administrators in the form of secondary trauma or vicarious trauma.

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Topics: Instructional Strategies, Trauma Sensitive Learning

What Teachers Can Learn from Reality TV!

Using real-life experiences to increase student engagement

The Bachelor, Survivor, American Idol, Real World, Deadliest Catch, Shark Tank, Duck Dynasty…the list goes on and on. While these shows often seem like just a teacher’s guilty pleasure, thego beyond encouraging procrastination and providing a reason to eat an entire bag of popcorn in one sitting. These shows are based on reality, and they typically suck us right in!  

What does reality have to do with these shows? Very little when you actually pay attention to the “stars” and the plots clearly sketched out by writers and producers. That being said, reality does have an impact when we are working to engage learners in the classroom. We could take a cue from how these engaging shows are structured. Real-world learning increases engagement, creates opportunities for students to make connections and develops student skills that will be used in adulthood. This authentic learning provides a reason to the student who is always asking, “Why do I even need to know this?” Real world learning activities often allow students to make an impact on a larger scale. And, if this type of learning is done well, it will suck your students in too! 

Here are six methods for bringing the real world into your teaching: 

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Topics: Instructional Strategies, Student Engagement

Let Your Summer Soul Shine!

Be Your Best YOU This Summer!

It is finally here! You made it! Summer, sunshine, and freedom! It’s time to celebrate the end of a successful school year and the beginning of a well-deserved break. You now have the opportunity to stop, breathe and rejuvenate. Doing so decreases the likelihood of burnout and increases your educator resilience so you can continue to make a difference in the lives of your students! 

Lucky for you, summer is my favorite season, so here are my top ten tips for letting your summer soul shine!  

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Topics: mindfulness, Summer Vacation

10 Reasons to Use Sentence Frames in Your Classroom

A Great Teaching Strategy!

A sentence frame is a teacher-created scaffold using a fill-in-the-blank format designed to help students ask or answer questions verbally or in writing. They are very effective for all students but especially for those who may require a bit more support. Take a look at our TOP TEN reasons you should be using these in your classroom. 

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Topics: Instructional Strategies, Literacy

Why and How to Use Your Walls

Promote Learning Using Every Aspect of the Classroom

I bet you use a variety of methods to increase the likelihood a student will learn the concepts being taught. You might use teachable moments, great books, novel activities, and the occasional dollar store purchase to engage and encourage student interaction with new ideas. But do you use your walls? If you don’t, you should, and here are a few reasons why! 

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Topics: Teaching Advice, Instructional Strategies

Four Ways to Help Anxious Students Succeed

A Practical Guide to a Calming Classroom

Anxiety in the classroom is increasing in both students and teachers. This creates an added layer of complexity for educators as we continue to tackle mental health and its impacts. To help you out, we’ve put together a practical guide to creating a calming classroom to decrease anxious feelings and increase wellbeing. Take a look at our Do This/Don’t Do This list on lighting, clutter, visual schedules, and safe spaces. Feel free to share with colleagues! 

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Topics: Instructional Strategies, Social Emotional Learning, anxiety

Solving the Puzzle of Reading

Overcoming reading challenges with students

“In every problem, there's a concealed solution…locking itself underneath…unlock, peruse, find and solve.” - Michael Bassey Johnson 


As a child, I was an avid reader. It came easily and I enjoyed it, often finding myself lost in stories when I should have been cleaning my room or playing outside. As a teen, I continued to read for fun and was also able to learn by reading. Even attacking the piles of reading necessary in college was not a struggle for me. I read fast and had discovered comprehension strategies that ensured I understood. Reading was a puzzle I had solved quite easily with little effort.

Then, I became a special education teacher, and I realized that job included teaching children to read. At first I thought, “This can’t be hard. Reading is simple.” I was wrong! The more experienced I became and the more I learned about the complex process of learning to read, the more I panicked. Not only is reading a cognitive challenge, but the students that I would be working with had disabilities making this challenge even more intense. My students faced struggles like dyslexia, low cognitive ability, language disorders, and visual processing deficits. It was at that point that I realized teaching a student to read is like solving a puzzle and assessment held many of the necessary clues.    

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Topics: Literacy, Courses

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