I loved Stephanie Harvey & Annie Ward's new book, From Striving to Thriving! This year our school and district has focused a lot of the reading workshop and guided reading which are critical elements of literacy instruction, but this book really opened my eyes to the bigger picture of literacy motivation and engagement. I often tell my kids that you can't become an Olympic swimmer without getting in the pool and you can't become a better reader if you don't read!! Likewise, I think teachers can teach all the great "strokes" of how to become a better reader, but if kids aren't in the "pool" of books and reading, they can't master them. Harvey and Ward offer so many strategies for engaging the striving reader, my toolbox of strategies has grown dramatically. I loved it! I recommend you purchase this one right away. Happy reading!
I once had a friend over for lunch. She said to me... "Wow, your home is dripping with literacy." All I could think....I have too many piles of books everywhere! Another day, we had a new washer/dryer being delivered. The delivery man came in and said, "Oh, you must be a teacher." "How did you know?" I said. "My mom is a teacher. We have piles of books everywhere too." Oh my! Yes, I have a problem.... a book-problem.... a "I love to feed the Amazon beast-problem." Before I became a teacher I thought something was wrong with me. Then I met my tribe. Yes, we are a tribe. A tribe of people who love learning and I bet if I visited your homes, they would be dripping with literacy too!
Today I was easing into my early morning Saturday routine. Sometimes I pop in on the #satchat, an early morning Saturday chat for educators. Q1 came across my Tweetdeck stream. Today's chat was being hosted by Beth Houf (@BethHouf) ....."Share a book that you are reading (or have read) that has been an absolute TREAT." Oh no! I quickly tab over to my Amazon beast.
The titles were coming fast and furious. I quickly gave up trying to keep up and decided to come back after the chat and write them all down. Here they are #satchat! I hope you find a book that interests you from this list so you can feed the Amazon beast and share your love of reading and learning with others! Thanks Beth for facilitating the conversation this morning! Happy Halloween!
Twitter is an amazing place. I am often asked about professional learning opportunities, as well as books to read. I immediately tell teachers they should start with Twitter! I have been on Twitter for over 4 years and I have learned AS MUCH from my professional learning network (PLN) as I have from any professional learning offering or book I've read.
This morning I was participating in an educational chat that I often visit on Saturday mornings - #LeadUpChat (@leadupchat) facilitated by Jeff Veal (@heffrey) and Nathan Lang (@nalang1). I love tuning in on Saturday mornings and pushing my thinking about innovative ideas in education. Today the chat was "edcamp" style where the "attendees" to the chat posed the questions. As an avid reader and aspiring leader, it seemed like a great place to ask this question:
What books do you recommend to aspiring leaders?
Within 15 minutes, I had over "40 notifications" and 17 new books to check out! I wanted to share them back to the #Leadupchat tribe and to other aspiring leaders! Here they are:
Thank-you for all the great suggestions! My Amazon cart is overflowing! $$ lol
Are you interested in helping your students develop psychosocial skills such as perserverence, resiliency, and grit? Have you seen Angela Duckworth's Ted Talk on grit or read Carol Dweck's book, Mindset? Have you read Ron Ritchhart's book, Creating Cultures of Thinking: the 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools? Or have you read Mindsets in the Classroom: Building a Culture of Success and Student Achievement in Schools by Mary Cary Ricci? Are you interested in helping your students develop a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset and need help getting started? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then I highly recommend you pick up this companion resource book for creating growth mindsets in the classroom by Mary Cay Ricci (@MaryCayR)!
The chapter titles are as follows:
I bought this book by itself and not as a companion to the earlier released Mindsets book. I'm not sure if having the Mindsets book would add value or if much of what is in that book is also in the resource book. But what I can tell you is this book is packed full of ideas, lessons, and resources ready to go for teachers, students, administrators, professional development educators, and parents.
Ricci lays down 4 essential components for developing a growth mindset culture (pp 2-4):
One of my takeaways and goals for this upcoming year is cultivating a differentiated, responsive classroom built on a culture of thinking, innovation, growth mindset, and of course...kindness. A key quote for me was "without pre-assessment, some students are not provided with opportunities to build resiliency, because they are never challenged, or never have to struggle with learning." We have to build in this pre-assessment in order to provide ALL students an opportunity to be challenged and to even have the opportunity to struggle with the learning!
Several years ago I began implementing some of Carol Dweck's ideas on building a growth mindset in the classroom. A key word that I use a lot when I have students tell me they can't do something....I say "yet." I even have the word boldly posted at the front of the room. It's just one small change you can make in the language you use that models a mindset of growth. You should try it!
If you are looking for a book full of resources to get started developing a growth mindset in your students, I highly recommend this book!
I have to honestly admit, I haven't latched on to the pirate phenomenon in education as much as other teachers have. However, I follow Paul Solarz (@PaulSolarz) on Twitter and think he has a lot of great ideas to share so when my colleague bought Learn Like a Pirate, I asked her to borrow it.
In the introduction, Paul talks about what it means to have the spirit of a "pirate"....
Okay, maybe I'm more of a pirate than I thought I was! lol
The full title of the book is Learn Like a Pirate: Empower Your Students to Collaborate, Lead, and Succeed. The gist of the book is about turning the learning over to the kids.....guiding them to be "leaders of their learning" and building the classroom culture to facilitate it. I immediately began thinking about a book I read earlier this summer - Drive, by Daniel Pink. Pink says we need to bring autonomy, mastery, and purpose to the classroom and to student's learning. Why wouldn't we work toward building a student-led classroom where students are autonomous over the task, time, team, and techniques as Pink describes and Solarz brings to his students? After all, autonomy leads to engagement!
Solarz uses a PIRATE acronym as a model for building a student - led classroom. The strategies are noted below.
What I love about this book is it is quite evident that Paul is a teacher who is very passionate about what he does and is willing to invite us on board his ship for an inside look at how it works. Thank-you Paul for sharing all your great classroom ideas! I encourage you buy his book and read about his other ideas for helping students collaborate, lead, and succeed!
Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools by Ron Ritchhart (@RonRitchhart)
I want to begin this post with some questions and ideas from the book for you to think about.
We all have experienced being in different cultural groups in our lives. It's all about the messages sent and received among members of the "tribe." Ron Ritchhart defines a culture of thinking as one where the "group's collective thinking as well as each individual's thinking was valued, visible, and actively promoted as part of the regular day-to-day experience of all group members" (p. 3). So what messages are your students receiving and embracing in the culture of your school about themselves as thinkers and learners and about the learning that is happening on a daily basis?
Ritchhart emphasizes that "if culture is the key to transform, then we must understand how group culture is created, sustained, and enhanced" (p. 6). In this book, Ritchhart identifies eight cultural forces that can shape and transform a school into a culture of thinking. My advice to you is to read this book in it's entirety this first time. Take notes. Reflect. Think. THEN...re-read it. The second time you read it, digest it slowly and push yourself through the stages of reading-discussion-action-reflection. I am going to briefly outline the 8 cultural forces in this post and then over the course of the 2015-2016 school year, I will be embarking on a personal journal of reading-discussion-action-reflection on each cultural force on the thinking page of this journal as I re-read the book.
If you want to push your thinking about transforming schools into cultures of thinking, I highly suggest reading this book. Not only does Ritchhart outline each of the 8 cultural forces in depth, he also gives suggested actions to try at the end of each chapter to explore each cultural force, as well as lots of stories from the field of educators who are already immersed in the transformation. I hope you will join me this year as I delve into each cultural force into more detail.
Pure Genius (2014) by Don Wettrick (@donwettrick) is a great book for beginning to think about building a culture of innovation in the classroom. Don is a high school Innovation Specialist, so some of the book is geared to teaching at the high school level. However, an elementary school teacher can gain some good insight from the book. I highly recommend you also read Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink alongside this book as Pink really explains the nuts and bolts (or "carrots and sticks") of motivation and it makes sense as to why a genius hour or innovation time is so important for student learning. Don also gives tips on how to creatively make a genius hour work within the constraints of the current system. The first half of the book is about building in a genius hour or innovation time and the second half of the book focuses on social media, opportunities, and giving students voice.
Some of my favorite quotes from the book are as follows:
Don gives us a blueprint for an innovation class. He outlines the following 7 concepts as essential components:
A key takeaway from me from this book is students NEED to be leaders of their learning. Don ends the book with a call to action...a call for ALL educators to incorporate "more innovation and collaboration into the curriculum NOW (p. 148)." Teachers need to be "innovators first (p. 148)" and model these behaviors to their students. So what are you going to innovate today, this month, this year?
Connected Leadership: It's Just a Click Away by Dr. Spike Cook (@DrSpikeCook) is a fabulous read not only educators in leadership positions, but anyone that just wants to become more connected in the digital world. This book is an easy read with only 60 pages, but is packed with great ideas and insights on how to become a connected leader. Connected Leadership is part of the Corwin Connected Educators Series. You can buy the books individually or purchase the entire bundled series. By the looks of the authors in the series, I can imagine that each one of the books is as relevant and insightful as this one. The entire book is written as a warm narrative of Dr. Cook's journey intermixed with stories of other connected educators. His style of writing is open and inviting and makes the idea of becoming a "connected leader/educator" less intimidating and frightening.
Dr. Cook begins the book with a short introduction on how he "took a leap" off the comfortable road and embraced 21st century technology. My favorite quote from the introduction is this: "Connected Educators are always seeking to grow and learn. The more educators take the leap, and connect with each other through social media, the deeper and more authentic the learning becomes for everyone." Isn't deep and authentic learning what educators are striving for?
There are five chapters in the book: A Thousand Mile Journey; Time and Priorities; Inner Reflection, Global Exposure; Building a Professional Learning Network; and Transformation. Dr. Cook launches with a quote from Siddhartha Guatama: "A thousand mile journey begins with one step." In the opening chapter, Dr. Cook outlines for educators how to take that first step. As I talk to educators that are not connected, it seems the first stumbling block really is this first step. How do I create a Twitter account? Who do I follow? What do I tweet? What is a hashtag? How will I have the time? When can I connect? If I start a blog, who will read it and what will I write? Dr. Cook addresses all of these hard questions in the first couple of chapters. Dr. Cook then takes us from getting started to "lurking and learning" to "blogging, tweeting, pinning, and winning" to building a professional learning network (PLN) with other like-minded educators to a full transformation into a connected leader.
At the end of the book, Dr. Cook reminds us to keep in the mind that the "most important goal for all connected educators is to improve the learning environment for everyone." I can personally say that I began to build my PLN several years ago and it has propelled my growth as an educator exponentially and truly has improved the learning environment for my students. Dr. Cook's book inspired me to continue and expand my PLN, to launch a blog, and to continue to grow and learn as a connected leader. If you haven't "connected" yet, pick up this book and don't delay. You won't regret it!
This page contains brief glimpses into my reading life. I share the books I have read in hopes that it will whet your appetite for reading and learning. I highly encourage you to pick up some of these books and read them in their entirety. To see what I'm currently reading, click on my Shelfari link