Summer Reading List

2935271689_863cb75bd8_nSummer is a great time to catch up on all the books you may not have had time to read during the school year. This summer I am suggesting several quick, jam-packed-with- strategies, innovations, and inspirations- professional development books to add to the “beach” reads on your list. Taken from my own Amazon “books to read” list, here are some ideas:

Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess. I have already read and tweeted about this fantastic book that integrates marketing techniques with a lot of creativity to help you make your lessons and content memorable. If you have not read this one yet, you should add this to your reading list).

Lead Like a Pirate by Shelley Burgess (yes, she is the wife of Dave) and Beth Houf. You can follow and join in on using this hashtag- #LeadLAP to see what others are highlighting and talking about from this book about leading in a way that brings out the best in your faculty.

Learn Like a Pirate by Paul Solarz and Dave Burgess. You can achieve a student-led classroom where students take charge of their learning and this book will explain how and give you the strategies to do so. Not only can you read this, but you can join in on a summer book study with fellow educators via Twitter.

Start. Right. Now. by Todd Whitaker, Jeff Zoul, and Jimmy Casas. Learn about the “four key behaviors of excellence”: Know the way, Show the way, Go the way, Grow each day.

Kids Deserve It: Pushing Boundaries and Challenging Conventional Thinking by Todd Nesloney and Adam Welcome. Take all the “What ifs” about your school and classroom and turn them into realities because #kidsdeserveit

DITCH That Textbook : Free Your Teaching and Revolutionize Your Classroom by Matt Miller.

Miller shows you how to choose and incorporate teaching practices that are:
  • Different from what students see daily.
  • Innovative, drawing on new ideas or modifying others’ ideas.
  • Tech-laden with the use of digital sites, tools and devices.
  • Creative, tapping into students’ original ideas as well as your own.
  • Hands-on, encouraging students to make and try things on their own.

Hacking Assessment: 10 Ways to Go Grades in a Traditional School by Starr Sackstein. Help your students make the shift from being focused on the value of the grade  to being focused on the value of learning.

You can also take a look at this list posted by Gary Stager which includes several other great titles.

Whatever books you choose to read this summer, I hope you enjoy your learning!

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Get Hyper (Docs)


This week I feel like I hit the motherlode with what I found while scrolling through my Twitter feed and I am excited to share my find with you.

It all started with this intriguing title, “Forms + Hyper Docs, Putting the Form in Formative Assessment!” Of course I clicked on it because I was curious about HyperDocs and I like posts that offer ideas for formative assessment. This teacher loved using HyperDocs so much that she thought she would replicate the engagement and learning into a Hyper form so that she could see all the results in one place (a spreadsheet) and provide feedback, and students could get instant feedback and the ability to retake the quiz! Phew, that is a mouthful and most likely a run-on sentence. This is the Hyper Form she made for her third grade students to show their understanding and what they know about rounding numbers.

This same teacher linked to an earlier post about Hyper Docs so naturally I clicked on it to learn more. What I learned is that Hyper Docs is not a document with a lot of links in it, rather it is a series of lessons and engaging activities  within a doc that can allow students to work independently or in small groups, and the the teacher can coach, guide, and work with another group. If I had to analogize a Hyper Doc to something so you can get a frame of reference, I would say it is similar (kind of) to TES Blendspace in that everything you need for a lesson is in it but with Hyper Docs it is prettier and more inviting packaging.

As I scrolled along on that post I saw this Padlet of HyperDocs made by other teachers and saw this HyperDoc on the Holocaust for one of my middle school history teachers, this on the 2016 Election, this Interactive States doc, this on Dia de los Muertes for my Spanish-teaching colleagues this on Exploring Makey Makey.

Still wanting to learn more, and being a serial clicker, I went here next, HyperDocs Explained. One click led to another and I came to How to Create a HyperDoc  and this set of video tutorials, and then- wait for it- Teachers Give Teachers – searchable HyperDocs lessons from other teachers that are ready for you to use, adapt, remix, share! There is something here for every grade, every subject. I found this on PAX, one of the Global Read Aloud 2016 books, this on Ancient Greece, and this on Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. 

But don’t take my word for it, click for yourself!

Is Opting Out an Option?


Many people opt out of things all the time: credit card offers, email marketing, solicitations, even standardized testing. But is it ok to opt out of teaching? Is it ok to opt out of advancing your career through professional development and continued learning? When does it become ok for teachers to say, “I don’t/won’t do/try that”? Can we as educators succeed in today’s modern classroom if we don’t model learning for our students; if we don’t model trying, failing, trying again? If we don’t show our students that times are changing and we are able to adapt and change with them. Personally I don’t think we can, or rather, I don’t think we should. What do you think?
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Who is to Blame?

This past weekend one of my colleagues forwarded an article from the New York TImes titled, Technology is Changing How Students Learn, Teachers Say. After I read this article I thought to myself, “this would be a great article for teachers who might want to reinforce the idea that technology is really not that great and here is just one more reason.” I was trying to think of how teaching, learning and schools have changed from when I was a student in elementary school back in the 1970s and 80s. I have to say that I don’t remember anyone having food allergies other than my best friend Suzy who had and still has a severe tree nut allergy. I don’t remember people being on behavior medication either, but I do remember some disruptive kids. I also remember falling asleep in my US History class and passing notes to friends. My teachers were not using technology because we did not have it, so students falling asleep, day dreaming, or passing notes did not happen because we needed to be constantly stimulated by technology.

The first experience I had with a student on ADHD medication was when I started my teaching career in 1993. We had 1 desktop in the classroom and we did projects in a computer lab. That being said, I think there are an awful lot of students being medicated for attention and behavior and I know that number has increased manyfold over the years. The question I have, is, is it because of children not having down time because they are over scheduled, or is it because every teacher has a different threshhold for behavior, is it that people are less patient/tolerant,  or is it the food additives? I don’t think we can place the blame on technology for how children’s attention has changed over the years. I do think we can say that times have changed dramatically over the years and education, and educational structures, for the most part, has remained pretty much the same. Which is why, with technology, we cannot continue to do the same things; we should challenge ourselves to try something different, to make technology work for us. We should try to use technology to engage the students who otherwise might be the ones zoning out, not paying attention, or who, for lack of a better word, might just be bored.
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The Tool is Not the Distraction

The other evening I was in a meeting and I took out my iphone to take notes on the conversation. Most of the time I do not carry around a pen and paper, but I always have my phone with me so that is what I use. As the meeting went on the person stopped in the middle of the conversation and said, “I’m sorry, but can you put that away, it’s distracting for you to be doing that while we are talking.” I responded that I was taking notes and showed my screen and got an immediate and repeated apology. Now, I had said at the beginning of the chat that I was going to take notes, but this person must not have heard me.

This to me, is the epitome of an issue, and that issue is that technology is often seen as a distraction, rather than a learning tool and some people fear this tool for all the wrong reasons.

I am certain that had I been using pen and paper, our conversation would have proceeded without the interruption and reprimand. I am certain that I would not have been asked to put away my pen and paper so I could concentrate on our conversation. Yet teachers often ask students to put away these technological learning tools rather than embrace them and use them for what they are worth.

These are the teachers who fear the tool; who do not want to compete with the tool; who want to be the focus of attention. These are the teachers we need to seek out and mentor and show the benefits of using technology to enhance their teaching and the students’ learning. These are the teachers who need to use the tools.

Students have long found ways to be distracted in class– especially if they are bored, tired or hungry. They have passed notes to each other, doodled, daydreamed by looking out the window, and have even dozed off. The tool is not the distraction; it is the lack of engagement and ownership of the learning (in my opinion).

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