The June Choice for the Summer Book Club

The votes are in and Sir Ken Robinson’s The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything is our non-fiction choice for June.

elementSusan Jeffers, the bestselling author of Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway and Life Is Huge! said of the book“Ken Robinson presents the theme of creativity and innovation in a way that makes you want to go out and make your dreams a reality. In his wonderfully easy-to-read and entertaining style he presents the stories of many who have done just that. This is a valuable book for educators and community leaders … most important, it is a book that lightens and lifts the minds and hearts of all who read it.

It edged I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by a narrow, two-vote margin.

We will begin discussing the early parts of the book during the first week of June on the Community Forum. You can order your copy on Amazon by clicking here.

Maintain Energy Before a Break by Doing Something New and Unfamiliar

Community IN THE

In football, there is the two minute drill.  In basketball, there is the fourth-quarter, full-court press.  In a marathon there is the home stretch.

In the classroom, there is the time before vacation.

These situations involve pressure, an energy boost, but also opportunities.  They are times choices are made.

For teachers these choices center around questions like  How will I react to the buzzing environment?  Will I stay focused?  What can I do to finish strong?

A simple response to this situation of increased distractions outside of the classroom and increased energy and “uneasiness” inside the classroom might be to buckle down on the modus operandi–make sure students are on-task and on-time.

This post asks you to consider a different perspective.   … Read more…

Follow in My Booksteps: The Ultimate End of Year Assignment

Empower your students to leave a legacy with the Follow in My Booksteps project.

In The Fault in Our Stars, John Green wrote “Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”

This student-centered reading experience  fosters a love of books through peer recommendation and mentorship. Older students serve as guides for younger readers, with personal notes of encouragement to spark a love of reading.

What makes this different is that it is not the teacher handing a student a book with a study guide saying, “read this and answer these questions by such and such a date.” Follow in My Booksteps is giving the gift of a worthy reading experience. It is an organic means of developing reluctant and passionate readers alike. It is about looking a student in the eye and saying, “this book meant something important to someone else and I think it can mean something to you as well.:

Let students pay-it-forward. Allow them to put great literature in the hands of younger students today.

Here’s how it works:

1. Students donate books from their personal library that they loved and that they wish to share the possibility of a similar love with  someone else.

2. Students write an inscription, explaining what they loved about the book and encouraging others to enjoy it as well.

3. The collected books are then distributed to younger students to foster a love of books and reading.

June Summer Read Choices

Here are the choices for June’s non-fiction read. So many great books, so little time. May the best read win.

1. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.
On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.

Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she became a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize. … Read more…

The Secret to Close Reading Success

Community IN THE (12)

Wait a minute… if you hand out a study guide and ask students to find the answers in the textbook, that doesn’t count as close reading?

That is what some of my high school teachers did. They had stacks of ‘em. Finish one ditto and they would whip out another. Classwork and homework simply became a scavenger hunt — scan topic sentences, search for dates or figures, guesstimate where an answer would be — and you didn’t have to really read. The work was predictable, routine, and easy.

But did deep understanding occur? Were we learning? … Read more…

The Talks with Teachers Summer Book Club



It’s summertime and the reading is…a bit more relaxed.

Ready to lose yourself in the imaginative world of a novel? Ready to restore your spirit with inspirational non-fiction? Are you searching for a way to grow professionally with an educational book?

Talks with Teachers can meet all three needs. We have an awesome community that will support, inspire, and expand your thinking. … Read more…

The Top 15 Books for Teachers

Community IN THE (10)

Summer is fast approaching and it is time to think about the slow life  — backyard bbqs, cold glasses of lemonade on the porch, and books by the pool.

I went through all of the episodes of the podcast and reached out to teachers on Twitter to share the best professional book they have read recently.

Are you looking for the most impactful, the most inspiring, the most beneficial books that will help you succeed in the classroom? Perhaps you need ways to improve the way in which you motivate students. Perhaps you want to build a better classroom culture. Need new ways to teach reading and writing across the curriculum? Or, you might be curious about trends like Genius Hour and project-based learning.

Boy, do I have a list for you. … Read more…

The Teacher Manifesto Project


It is time for the anti-resume.
Teaching is more than a LinkedIn profile or a two-page list of what we’ve taught, where we taught it, and when we taught it. It is more than a series of Googled action verbs like instructed, designed, supported, and implemented.
Let’s aspire to something better. Let’s reveal the emotional labor of what it means to be a teacher.

In the classroom we strive each day to make things better for our students. We invent ways to be more dynamic. We persist. We create an atmosphere that is generous and wonderful.
Often, it goes unnoticed. The emotional labor is taken for granted. It is ignored. Sometimes the kid that we try to reach is not ready for the message, yet.
But we continue day after day. We do the work of a teacher, not because we expect some bonus at the end of the year or recognition from an association. We do it because we can. We do it because we know that hope is an eternal flame that can never be extinguished. And we hope for the best for our students.
I’m calling on you to help me create a movement — The Teacher Manifesto Project. It is time for the anti-resume. I want you to share with me in 175 word or less your manifesto, your view, your declaration of intention. I don’t need the what, when and where. I want the why and how. Share the emotional labor of the profession. Have fun with it. Be reflective.
You can even make it fancy on a site like Canva. If you do, email it to me. We will post it to our Pinterest page so that others can be inspired. If. Not, just write it in the comments section below. Regardless of how you do it,take the time to get back in touch with your teaching soul and what it is that you love about the classroom.

Digital Writing Workshop


I am lucky enough to teach a senior elective titled Digital Writing Workshop. The intent of this class is to give students the opportunity to extend the writing process past traditional composing by using technology to tell stories in multiple modes.

The Nature of the Digital World

For the most part our units are based around essential questions. We began this school year by doing an extended inquiry into the changing nature of our digital world and used a variety of texts to investigate these dynamics. We read about the evolution of literacy in an extended excerpt of Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows and asked ourselves how we saw the definition of literacy changing in our own culture. We studied the documentaries PressPausePlay and Connected while reflecting on the varying ways that digital technology is changing consumption and production.Read more…