Borrow, beg, and steal from as many teachers as you can.

Every teacher in every school has at least one great idea. And no one should get any credit! Yes, it sounds socialistic… and it works.

Borrowing other teachers’ ideas is perfectly acceptable in public education. In fact, some teachers meet together, compile their ideas, and they all decide to use the best one in each classroom. This is normal procedure in public education. Call it what you may – borrowing, stealing, copying – it is best practice. Has anyone heard of a website called Pinterest?

If borrowing from other teachers stretches your moral boundary, and if it makes you feel better, you can pay teachers for their ideas at


We couldn’t believe it!

We couldn’t comprehend it!

A group of teachers chosen to pilot a new language arts adoption turned the page and there it was!

In a MacMillan/McGraw-Hill textbook was a page that contained an exercise where the student folds a piece of paper. The exercise was called Foldables®. Dinah Pike had done the unthinkable, the unimaginable, the horrific, and trademarked something that teachers and students had been doing since the Chinese invented paper – folding it. Now, if a teacher folds a piece of paper, Dinah Pike gets the credit for it – like she invented it! She did not invent it; she borrowed it and trademarked it!

Teachers have been doing this for 1,500 years. “Take out a piece of paper and fold it ‘hot dog’ and ‘hamburger.’ Okay?” Sheesh!

Did someone at the U.S. Trademark Office forget an ancient Japanese art form involving folding paper called origami? Perhaps the person who invented that should get the trademark on it. Did someone forget that the Chinese invented paper and undoubtedly someone during that ancient time put the two corners together and folded it? Perhaps that person should be awarded the trademark for it. What about the first time that a person unrolled the toilet paper in an outhouse and folded it to make it thicker? Maybe that dude should get the trademark. What about the first five-year-old to fold a piece of paper to look like an airplane and then fly it? Trademark it and make billions!

The whole concept of Foldables® makes me want to never fold a sheet of paper again!

So, I propose some other “novel” ideas for teachers to trademark and publish:

Rollables – paper that is rolled into a tube and can be used for telescopes and megaphones.

Noteables – paper on which a student is able to take notes.

Outlineables – paper dedicated to outlining passages.

Cornellables – paper used to take Cornell notes (Did they trademark their method? No! They shared it with the world!)

Origamiables – paper that can be folded into cranes.

Cuttables – paper that can be cut.

Drawables – paper on which a student can draw.

Doodleables – paper on which a student can doodle.

Colorables – paper on which a student can color.

Rippables – paper which a student can tear.

Airplaneables – paper used to make paper airplanes.

Throwables – paper used to throw across the classroom into the trashcan (usually because there is a red “F” written on the top of it.)

Or why limit the practice to paper? How about these classroom practices?

Sharpenables – anything that can be stuck into a Boston rotary pencil sharpener.

Watchables – any device that a middle school student looks at three minutes before the dismissal bell rings.

Rewardables – all the substances that can placed into your mouth because you got an ‘A’ on a test.

Wearables – school apparel.

Absurdables – anything for which a teacher takes credit and subsequently calls it an original idea.

© 2018 Douglas Hanks. All rights reserved.

More This Way photo by Miguel Oros.

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