Tuesday, May 21, 2024

summer

Greetings Starfighters,

I’ve just spent the morning with a wonderful group of educators. For the first part of the day, I talked with two different groups about making small shifts in our existing lessons to create deeper learning experiences. Of course, this allowed me to share the 4 Shifts protocol with another group of teachers.

To say they were excited would be an understatement.

Then, I saw some great examples of student work guided by our graduate profile competencies. The most exciting work I saw came from freshmen Spanish students who created different guides for new ELL students, helping them acclimate to their new school.

Such important work will reap huge rewards in the coming years.

I’m so excited by the work our teachers have done this year and can’t wait to share more great things they do next school year.

Quote of the Day

"Teams need to believe that their work is important. Teams need to feel their work is personally meaningful. Teams need clear goals and defined roles. Team members need to know they can depend on one another. But, most important, teams need psychological safety." (Charles Duhigg, Smarter Faster Better)

“Teams need to believe that their work is important. Teams need to feel their work is personally meaningful. Teams need clear goals and defined roles. Team members need to know they can depend on one another. But, most importantly, teams need psychological safety.” (Charles Duhigg, Smarter Faster Better)

Musical Interlude

I’ve talked about Choir! Choir! Choir! before, but they just released a new video. This time, over 500 people sing the Leonard Cohen classic “Hallelujah,” and it is amazing.

Long Read of the Day

Education increases voting rates, particularly for students attending charter schools in Boston. The study suggests that gains in noncognitive skills, such as grit and self-control, are crucial in boosting civic participation. Female charter school students show significant increases in voting likelihood compared to their male counterparts.

We look at five possible explanations of why education may increase voting: development of cognitive skills, civic skills, social networks, the degree to which charter attendance politicizes students, and noncognitive skills. Our finding of a gender gap in voting allows us to identify proxies for these mechanisms and test the impact of each one. If the gender gap we find in voting is also present on a proxy measure, that mechanism is the most likely to explain increased civic participation among female charter school graduates.

Education Next

Video of the Day

Ever wonder how a microchip is made?

Final Thoughts

It’s primary election day here in Kentucky. If you’re here, please head to your polling place. Every vote matters, every time.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Best New Books for Teachers September 2023

photo of woman reading book
Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

September is coming, and you know what that means – a fresh start to the academic year and a chance to revamp your teaching toolkit. It’s also the perfect time to dive into some inspiring new reads that can transform your classroom experience. Whether you’re a seasoned teacher or just starting your journey, the right books can be your best friends, mentors, and even your daily dose of motivation.

So, what’s cooking in the literary world this September 2023? We’ve scoured the shelves, talked to the experts, and even sneaked a peek into some classrooms to bring you the absolute BEST new books for teachers. These aren’t just any books; they’re game-changers, filled with innovative ideas, practical strategies, and heartwarming stories that will resonate with educators of all stripes.

Ready to discover your next favorite book and take your teaching to the next level? Buckle up, because this list is packed with gems you won’t want to miss. Let’s dive in!

Punished for Dreaming: How School Reform Harms Black Children and How We Heal by Bettina L. Love

Dr. Bettina Love argues that Reagan’s War on Drugs ushered in a War on Black Children, pathologizing and penalizing them. She makes her case through the real lives of 25 Black Americans and sets out a roadmap to help repair the damage.

Sale
Punished for Dreaming: How School Reform Harms Black Children and How We Heal
  • Hardcover Book
  • Love, Bettina L. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages – 09/12/2023 (Publication Date) – St. Martin’s Press (Publisher)

Growing Up in Public: Coming of Age in a Digital World by Devorah Heitner

The kids in your classrooms live their lives in a public way we could never have imagined a few decades ago. This book is a must-read for parents and teachers who need to help them navigate today’s social media-driven world in a way that’s safe and supportive.

Sale
Growing Up in Public: Coming of Age in a Digital World
  • Hardcover Book
  • Heitner, Devorah (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 304 Pages – 09/12/2023 (Publication Date) – TarcherPerigee (Publisher)

Fair Play: How Sports Shape the Gender Debates by Katie Barnes

Title IX brought important changes to schools, especially when it came to sports. But clearly, the gender debates in sports (and the world in general) are far from over. This book evaluates multiple sides of the sensitive issue of transgender and intersex participation in sports and offers potential solutions. School sports coaches will find a lot to consider in this compelling read.

Sale
Fair Play: How Sports Shape the Gender Debates
  • Hardcover Book
  • Barnes, Katie (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 304 Pages – 09/19/2023 (Publication Date) – St. Martin’s Press (Publisher)

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

2023: A Quick Half-Year Review

black and white typewriter on table
Photo by Markus Winkler on Pexels.com

Heading into the second half of 2023, I thought I’d take a minute and review some of my accomplishments thus far. This is mostly for my own benefit as I continue to curate a digital commonplace book.

Also, it scratches my itch to curate all the things. So here we go…

Reading

  • Yearly Books Goal: 150 books
  • Pages Read Goal: 50K
  • Current book count: 59 books
  • Current page count: 22k

Writing

  • Blog posts this year: 94
  • Class papers: Who the hell knows, but it was a lot

Professional Development

  • Four full-day PD sessions
  • Two mini-sessions
  • Numerous one-on-one meetings with teachers

Music

I curate a Spotify playlist every year of great songs I find or rediscover over the course of the year. Here is the 2023 playlist, so far:


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Wishful Thinking Disguised as Professional Development

This is the pattern in way too many schools. This isn’t the poor coach’s fault. This is a failure of leadership. It’s wishful thinking disguised as professional development, and it’s yet another example of a school that’s going through the motions instead of engaging in meaningful, long-term, thoughtful improvement. These wasted opportunities in schools just make me sad…

Scott McLeod

My friend Scott is talking about a forum post about a coach offering a PD session on “anything you like” for one hour.

Which is, of course, pointless.

I have been given roughly an hour for PD on January 4th to work with teachers on anything that I’d like. I rotate between 7 sites pre-k to 12th grade, but I will be working with 4th grade-12th grade teachers on this date. My boss mostly likes for me to introduce new tools to teachers during these opportunities. We have been focusing on Canva the last few months while we try to transition back to students creating work rather than the teacher worksheets, etc., that we used a lot of during the pandemic.

All of that to say, what would you use this time for? Should I show teachers how to be better organized with Google Keep/Tasks, find a free new tool for them to use in the classroom? Do you have any free project based EdTech tools that you love?

Scott’s reply:

Just wanted to say how sorry I am that you only are given 1 hour (a whole 60 minutes!) to do this important work. You and your educators deserve more systemic and strategic supports and investment than this. 😢 I’m tempted to say that, with this little time, it really doesn’t matter what you do because the likelihood of it being impactful is fairly low?

Good luck.

Sadly, this is the state of much professional development in our schools. And it’s not just a theme of instructional technology PD. We see this when schools roll out new curricula, as well. One day of learning is all teachers need to implement new programs, right?

This was the theme of my Tuesday newsletter this week, specifically on rethinking PD.

We can’t afford to think about PD like this anymore.

How to Make Reading Lots of Books More Manageable

I talk a lot about reading here on this site because I believe we learn more if we read more. And if we read books that challenge us, that learning increases exponentially.

I can speak to my growth as a writer and educator as I’ve worked to increase the number (and type) of books I read each year.

Of course, everyone is different, and your reading goals likely don’t align with mine, nor should they. Your reading habit should support your goals personally and professionally.

Reading more books can be daunting, especially when you have a long list of books you want to get through. It is important to read for personal and professional development, but finding the time and motivation can be difficult.

We’re all busy and have many things competing for our time. Family, friends, work, and life ask more of us daily.

Thankfully, there are ways to make reading more manageable, so you can reach your goals without feeling overwhelmed.

Setting Goals

The first step in making reading more manageable is setting goals. It is important not to share your goals publicly as this will increase the pressure to reach them. Instead, create realistic and achievable goals that you know you will be able to meet without too much stress.

Break large goals into small ones so that they are easier to manage. For example, if your goal is to read 10 books by the end of the year, break it down by setting smaller monthly or weekly targets instead.

Putting Reading Time on Your Calendar

I’m a big believer in scheduling time in your day for the tasks you deem most important.

It is easy for reading time to get lost among other commitments throughout the day. To make sure you prioritize reading, set aside specific times each day or week when you dedicate yourself completely to reading. This could be during your lunch break at work or before bed each night—whatever fits best with your schedule.

You could even set reminders on your phone for when it’s time for “reading hour” each day so that it doesn’t slip away from you too quickly.

Joining or Starting a Book Club

Joining a book club or starting one of your own has many advantages when it comes to managing your reading goals and habits. Being part of a book club allows you to connect with others who share similar interests while also providing accountability and support in achieving your own personal goals.

There are plenty of online book clubs available if there isn’t one local enough for you to join in person, but starting one yourself would allow complete freedom when it comes to choosing topics and themes that interest all involved.

Always Carrying a Book On You

Carrying a book around with you wherever you go (Kindles and other digital readers make this easy) makes it easier for moments throughout the day when there may be some downtime or waiting around—whether that be in line at the store or waiting for an appointment—to become moments devoted solely towards catching up on some pages rather than scrolling through social media timelines or checking emails out of boredom.

As long as there’s something good enough in hand, these moments can become part of a routine, which helps keep track of progress over time and stay motivated about reaching those larger goals.

Not Feeling Bad About Quitting Books That Aren’t Enjoyable

Not every book we choose will immediately grab our attention which means sometimes we may need some convincing before we keep going with something new; however, don’t feel like quitting after only giving something new a few pages just because someone else said it was amazing —reading should always remain enjoyable no matter what everyone else says! Give yourself permission not just stick with what everyone else recommends but also take chances on those books that really spark an interest within oneself first and foremost.

Conclusion

Making reading more manageable means taking control of how much time is dedicated to getting through books effectively without feeling overwhelmed by unrealistic expectations placed upon oneself or others alike.

Creating routines such as setting achievable goals, putting reading time on calendars, joining/starting book clubs, carrying books around everywhere possible, and allowing yourself permission not to finish any books if they’re not enjoyable are all great places to start when trying to make sure all those different genres & topics get their fair share attention moving forward.

Ultimately, if you want to read more, the only way to do that is to just read more. But that’s not always so easy. These tips will, hopefully, give you some support in increasing your reading in the coming year.

The Reading List

If you’re looking for book recommendations, I release a reading list email monthly. In each newsletter, I recommend 5-10 books that I think are great, along with a one-sentence recap. I also include connections to other books I’ve read and why I think you might enjoy reading them as well.

If you’d like access to that reading list, fill out the form below, and you’ll receive the next monthly email.