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Posts Tagged ‘summer reading’

A few reflections as I read through Suzie Boss’s book “Bringing Innovation to School” (reflections that I think are fairly in line with what she’s saying so far, but applied to my particular setting in school and in my science classroom):

First, in order to TEACH and coach the ability to innovate (which has future potential in the world, for kids to be ready and willing to MAKE something, or to make things better), we have to BE innovative ourselves as teachers. This idea of teaching the importance of innovation strongly resonates with our school’s mission, in that we’re charged with preparing students to go out and “make a positive contribution to the world.” This is not a light charge, nor one that will be easy for some who are used to delivering information, used to doing things the way they’ve always done them. That’s not to say that ALL are doing that.  How are we innovative? Many teachers are doing terrific things in their classrooms, asking students to come up with new ideas that have value (Ken Robinson’s definition of creativity), and to solve real world problems, and to demonstrate proficiency in various areas, by practicing and using skills in math, languages, writing, communication, and science. But, many teachers are comfortable simply delivering content. Sal Khan can deliver content, and his reach is MUCH wider than yours. Khan Academy provides an important role in the universe (because so many children on the planet have not previously had access to that kind of information), but if that’s the only thing that you’re doing as a teacher, you can be replaced by the Internet.

The only way to effectively teach what have been dubbed 21st Century Skills, we must innovate. We’ll also have to collaborate with colleagues. The only way to train students to do the things we want them to do, in the limited time that we have them, is going to be to come up with creative ways to check multiple skills of the list, preferably while checking off multiple disciplines as well.

What I like so far about the book is that she provides great examples of what’s going on in dynamic classrooms around the country, with teachers that are pushing the envelope in different disciplines, thinking big, and asking a lot of their students. She also presents how to APPLY these kinds of projects to your classroom, or to consider how you might do something similar. 

Now with a bit of a an airport layover, I’m going to take in another chunk…

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A quick post to say that the Learning & the Brain conference (Web-Connected Minds) last weekend in Arlington VA was terrific. A whole lot to think about. And in order for me to process all the information, I’m going to start working through my notes and get some stuff out here over the next week.

First, I was happy to meet some new colleagues in the field. Conversations and emails swapped during individual sessions, new connections made through the Twitter (search hashtag #LB32 for the stream of tweets from the conference), and a face-to-face “tweet up” on Saturday night made the experience all the richer. A tangible benefit of the workshops, keynotes, and conversations is that my stack of books-to-read has grown tremendously. I started an open Google Doc to get all the recommendations down in one place, and I got plenty of input from presenters and other teachers at the conference. Please take a look, add your own suggestions, or comment on the ones that are there (or write in the Comments section below). I haven’t read all of these books, but I’ll try to work through some of them this summer. I’m going to start with Play by Stuart Brown, and Brain Rules by John Medina. I’m also interested to read Cathy Davidson’s Now You See It after her fascinating talk on Sunday morning.

Thanks to @fitzwits, @plugusin, @reyjunco, @tobyfischer, @kjongtech, @henesss, @bradfountain, @mSchlemko, @raviniareading, @jennifercottle, @snbeach, @CathyNDavidson, @tkraz, @AVIDbrian, @lottascales, @rfmoll, and @learningandtheb for book recs, thought provoking tweets, talks, and great ideas.

Also, Maureen Devlin (@lookforsun) writes the blog Teach Children Well and she put out a tweet this morning, looking for teacher summer reading suggestions. Feel free to chime in there as well.

So, what’s on your reading list?

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With summer break here, I’m looking forward to reading several books that have been in the stack for a while.  Just before school ended, I got several recommendations on books to read, and I’d like to get through some of those (see Books page for the complete list, ever evolving).  I’m sure I’ll add more to the pile before I’m through it.  Please leave suggestions in Comments if there’s a book you think I should read.  I’m always happy to have new recommendations.

I’m also planning on doing some reading on gardening, starting with the Michael Pollan book.  If I’m feeling adventurous, I might build a planter or two to see what vegetables I can grow in our small back yard, beyond the standard chives, basil, and parsley that we have going so far.  There are several reasons for wanting to do this, and most of them have to do with moving myself along the continuum from completely dependent, to only somewhat independent of traditional food systems.  This might be just an idealistic drop in the bucket, in the grand scheme of things, but I’m okay with that.  I came across this idea in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Cookbook, and it makes a lot of sense to me.  Another reason to garden is that it’s an extension of the reason that we bake our own bread, cure our own bacon, or do anything from scratch.  We get creative control, and the feeling of satisfaction that comes from seeing a project through start-to-finish.  I imagine that might be an order of magnitude greater for someone who builds a house from the ground up.  Since I’m definitely not going to build a house, I think I’ll stick with growing vegetables.  I think I could be a good gardener, you know.  Another reason is that I’m going to enter Ruhlman’s BLT-from-scratch Summertime challenge, which I can totally win.

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To complicate matters — clearly going against the plan of simplifying and shortening the book pile — I just got back from the book store.  I got the Pollan gardening book, Second Nature (see link above); The Reluctant Mr. Darwin by David Quammen; and The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart, which I’ve been reading a lot about.  (I’m considering keeping tabs on the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, where folks are working through the book one recipe at a time; details at the blog Pinch My Salt.  That’s a lot of food challenges for one post, so I might just observe this one, learn a bit, and pick up the baking in the fall when it’s a little cooler out.)  Lastly, I had the Helprin book Digital Barbarism in my hand, but I didn’t get it.  I really like Helprin’s novels — a topic to fill a post of its own — but I’m going to hold off on this one for a while, until I really get the itch to read about copyright law in the age of the blog.

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