Books on the Nightstand


By day I’m working my way through Go Set a Watchman. At night, I turn to professional books. Here’s my summer reading checklist as a teacher. What’s on your nightstand  I’d love to read about it in the comments below Teacher’s Essential Guide: Effective Instruction With Rigor for All, Second Edition: Meeting Common Core Standards … Read more…

Is Homework Helpful: 5 Question Every Teacher Should Ask

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The Common Core has asked teachers to increase rigor by diving deeper into the material. Consequently, everything has been ramped up, classwork and homework no exception.

My nephew, a fourth grader, has 40-50 minutes of homework a night plus independent reading and projects. When you include a snack break, the distractions from his younger sister, and his fourth-grade attention span that is bound to wander, that time often gets doubled. He is hard working and conscientious, but many nights result in distraction, frustration and anxiety.  … Read more…

A New Definition of Rigor


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You would think that it would be more prevalent than it is. But it appears only four times in the Common Core State Standards. Why has a word that is mentioned so little caused such dread, anxiety, and confusion among teachers?

I’m talking about rigor.

When We Say Rigor, What Do We Mean?
Comb through all 66 pages of the ELA standards, and you will find it hiding amid larger conversations about analyzing author’s choice, evaluating sources, and writing arguments. Look in the math standards, and you will not find it at all.

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Maintain Energy Before a Break by Doing Something New and Unfamiliar

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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…

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 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

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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…