My two boys are playing Fortnite as I write this. Theoretically I should feel badly about this, as fears of learning loss have ignited sit-ins from Berkeley to Rome and incited anxiety over increased screen time. All this while students of all ages logged 100 billion hours watching, and learning, online last year.

It is understandable that after suffering through nearly a year of quarantines and lockdowns many can’t wait to “get back to normal” in many aspects of their lives. …


There are mountains of empirical research that fly in the face of our pre-pandemic ways of doing school. From opportunity gaps in access to the importance of motivation on student learning including the role of teacher expectations on student outcomes and the mental health pressures associated with an overemphasis on standardized testing, there’s no shortage of data in favor of changing everything.

What’s interesting is much of how we should do school has surfaced over the past year: centering on students’ social-emotional wellness, flexibility in how and what we teach, and adding more meaningful and applied learning experiences to each…


by Inyan Kara & L. Portnoy

Few things are truly vital to human life, breathing is one such thing. The average adult takes approximately 20,000 breaths each day and in doing so inhales and exhales an extraordinary number of molecules. So many molecules that each day every one of us inhales molecules “from the breaths of every person who has ever lived” says Bill Bryson. It’s an interesting juxtaposition then, that society has ground to a halt and our very livelihoods now rest on the fate of a virus that rides on our collective breaths but is itself not alive.


…while staying (relatively) sane during a global pandemic

Links to each of tools are embedded within this article and free for use at home with your children

When the first schools closed in response to the pandemic, my immediate response was to create a sense of structure for my children and establish a feeling of safety and consistency during crisis. I spent a weekend and pulled together a plan that was flexible but still structured to create a semblance of footing during uncertainty. There were so many questions we needed to address.

How could we help our children feel supported while still doing the work we need to do each day to keep our own jobs?

How could we…


This article was originally published in the Washington Post on October 8, 2019: https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2019/10/08/what-is-design-thinking-why-does-it-belong-classrooms/

Fauquier High School is a large public school in Warrenton, Va. With its multiple buildings, it feels more like a college campus than a high school. The layout makes it difficult for the school community to connect. In 2017, school officials went in search of a solution that would help students and staff feel a greater sense of community.

One educator drew inspiration from an unusual place: the school’s front lobby and hallways.

George Murphy is a science educator at Fauquier and realized that while he…


Design Thinking: A Thought Experiment to Address Politics, Addiction, and Climate Change

In the past few months the fires in Australia have destroyed the lives of 25 people, over a billion animals, and have decimated over 25.5 million acres of land including over a thousand homes*. As a society we seem wholly unable to solve or even come together to think about climate change, how an unpopular president is elected as leader of the free world, or how the overmedication of Americans has contributed to the opioid crisis despite a generously funded war on drugs. Perhaps the reason we cannot…


“The most promising way educators or policy makers might implement deep change requires little more than harnessing the innate capacity of each individual.”

Amidst the constant buzz of disruption, innovation, and the “future of (fill in the blank)” there’s a large and untapped resource with the potential to revolutionize the way we do education. It’s something that comes prepackaged in each of us at birth and something that gives us the upper hand on the oft feared role of AI in our future.

While humans are thankfully quite distinct from technology, we do have some tricks up our sleeves. Or perhaps in our skulls. …


Lean in, practice mindfulness, and don’t forget to be radical! Catch phrases like these are powerful calls to action that often provide solid strategies for those seeking self improvement. And while there’s nothing wrong with catch phrases or their longer cousin the adage, when presented as a ‘short statement expressing a general truth’ they often shackle us rather than set us free.

Here are the five adages that I implore of you to please ditch this year with suggestions for what could possibly replace them:

Wolfgang Riebe quote via Happy Starfish
  1. Practice makes perfect.

This nugget of ‘wisdom’ suggests that if only we tried hard enough…

Dr. Lindsay Portnoy

Intellectually curious. I follow my ideas. Cognitive scientist, author, educator, activist.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store