#DBCBookBlogs: Word Shift

Our words matter. What we say forms our character and our reputation with others. The old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is a lie. Words hurt. Words can also heal.

I was in a meeting yesterday as my principal reminded us that our students are listening to what we say, whether we think they are or not. She said that we need to choose our words wisely. I immediately reached into my bag and pulled out Word Shift by Joy Kirr and handed it to my assistant principal.

wordshift

Joy also wrote Shift This, the 26th book in the Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc line so I couldn’t wait to read Word Shift! With the feel of a dictionary, Joy shares words that need to be seriously reconsidered, many even eliminated, from our vocabulary. She gives us alternatives to use and her reasoning behind making these shifts in our word choice. Some of my favorites are:

Allow/Let/Permit –> Provide opportunities or Encourage

Give Up [Time] –> Invest

Have To –> Get to

Intervention . –> Next steps

Let It Go –> Soak it up

My –> Our

She also discusses practices that we need to reconsider such as behavior charts, homework, grading, assessments (that students can google the answer to), and again suggest alternatives for these practices.

Joy and I certainly see eye-to-eye on many of our philosophies and I was highlighting and writing “yaasss” beside many of these sections. Even if you grapple with some of these ideas, Joy lays it out in such a way that it makes sense how these practices or words could be harmful to our students.

For part of the implementation of Empower Our GirlsΒ by Lynmara Colon and Adam Welcome, I am focused on eliminating “guys” from my vocabulary as it is not inclusive of all students in my learning environment. I will continue this by intentionally saying “students” or “readers” when addressing a group of students. Joy gives us a list of labels that build up students and peers that I’m so excited to pull from when addressing others.

My implementation for Word Shift is to use the suggested phrases, sentences, and questions located at the end of the book purposefully this year. I love that Joy has us asking questions like, “What drives you,” “What is on your mind,” “What makes you unique,” “How can we make this more relevant to us,” etc.

My favorite quote from Joy’s second book:

“Many of these stressors are not something we can change. What we can change, however, is our focus… be in charge of our attitude.”

~Joy Kirr, Word Shift

This short book is packed with what makes Joy so awesome! Her positivity and genuine soul shines through the pages and I can’t help but imagine her class to be a place of acceptance, warmth, and love. What student wouldn’t be driven to learn that in environment? You can see a piece of Joy’s heart in a preview of the book here (scroll to the very bottom). Check out her sneak peek of the book below (or click here).

Finally, check out more of what Joy has to say by following her on Twitter at @JoyKirr and subscribing to her blog here. Check out the amazing resources in Joy’s LiveBinders here! Be sure to grab a copy of her book Word Shift, and go ahead and get a copy of Shift This while you’re at it! Both of these will move you to make intentional tweaks to your practice!

Education According to Hamilton: Helpless

Education According to Hamilton Room Where It Happens (1)

This song is my jam! “Helpless” is the one song on the entire Hamilton the Musical soundtrack that I can quite literally listen to again and again without getting tired of it. I’m singing it at the top of my lungs on repeat number two and still going strong on repeat number ten! My own daughters know almost every word of this one, too. Check it out here (or below).

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If this is the first time you’ve heard “Helpless”, you may be wondering how in the world this is related to education. Some of it may be a stretch, but it’s my fave and we’re going to make it work! Ha!

Everybody’s dancin’ and the band’s top volume

With some of the students that have been hardest to reach, I finally broke through with music. In fact, there was one particular student of mine last year who barely said a word all year. One of the first conversations we had was after he shared that “Guns and Ships” was his favorite Hamilton song. I had the “clean” version of the soundtrack playing – which still requires a quick song change every now and again – and he just randomly mentioned this little tidbit about himself to me. I had him. After that, we had several conversations, but that was my “in” with him. Is the class (or is it just you) having a rough day? Find some grade-level appropriate music, crank it up, and take a little dance break! Dance with them! Don’t be afraid to look silly; in fact, the sillier, the better!

I’m about to change your life.

Education has the power to change lives. Why do you think slave owners didn’t want their slaves to be able to read and write? Education is empowering! If the slaves weren’t literate, the slave owners had an advantage. This is why many slaves learned to read and write on their own, or by being secretly taught by others. Having an education provides a level of independence that one will struggle to find otherwise. I remind my students of this independence when I see their work ethic diminish at school. We chat about what’s going on, usually a less-than-optimal situation at home, and then talk about how education can get them out of that situation and possibly provide them with the means to care for themselves and their future family. Every morning we could say, “I’m about to change your life,” to our students… By all means, lead the way.

If it takes fighting a war for us to meet, it will have been worth it.

So that’s a bit extra in this discussion about education, but think of all the things in education that are a bit more difficult to do. It’s easier to teach to the average student and hope everyone else “gets” it. It’s easier to run a worksheet than to create an experience. It’s easier to maintain status quo than to put in the work to be exceptional. But you know what? Going above and beyond, teaching each individual student, creating experiences, putting in the work to be exceptional… it’s worth it. Every time. It’s worth it.

There’s nothing that your mind can’t do.

We have to believe this about our students. If we don’t believe that our students can achieve success, there’s no point in going any further. Bobby’s success may look different from Tamilia’s success, but they can both be success stories. Angel’s success might appear more like stereotypical “success” than Mychel’s success… but every success should be celebrated and we must believe that every student can reach their own success. Imagine what our classrooms would look like if we truly believed “there’s nothing that your mind can’t do” about every student… yes, even that kid.

We’ll figure it out.

I love, and I truly mean… I love when a student asks me a question that I don’t know the answer to immediately. That means we get to figure it out together. That’s one of my favorite things about the Friday afternoon game club that I facilitate. There are many games that none of us know how to play, but we figure it out together. It allows me the freedom to be a little less teacher and a little more student… try it sometime. Let your guard down and let the students lead. Learn from them. (Hey! Hamilton says it’s okay!)

What’s your educational takeaways from “Helpless”? I’d love to hear your connections! Reply below or comment on Twitter!

#DBCBookBlogs: Drawn to Teach

When I’m reading a book, I take it everywhere I go. Several folks have asked how I read books so quickly (especially during #DBC50Summer). This is how. The book is always with me, so if I have a spare moment or two, I grab it and read another page. Naturally, I kept Drawn to Teach by Josh Stumpenhorst with me and it got quite a bit of attention everywhere I went! I noticed that the reactions ranged widely based on the age of those giving the reaction. Students were pumped to see me reading it while adults gave me odd looks. Curious about why? Check out the cover!

drawntoteach

Check out the inside of the book in this Twitter post from Dave Burgess.

Isn’t it incredible? Trevor Guthke, the artist who created the amazing graphic novel illustrations knocked it out of the water! This awesome book is brought to readers from the IMpress label of Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc.

What Dave doesn’t tell you is the graphic novel portion is hilarious! Josh’s humor is infused throughout and I laughed out loud more than once while reading this book!

 

What’s more: the messages contained within the book are spot on! Josh shares his heart when talking about relationships, what really matters in education (hint: it’s not the test scores), motivation, innovation, technology, and reflection.

Some of my favorite quotes include:

  • “If you are going to ask for feedback, you must act on it.”
  • “…Gold stars and candy will only get us so far.”
  • “If the kids have a positive learning experience, the data will take care of itself.”
  • “Joy has value and we should encourage more of it”
  • “Learning is not a competition with others, but with yourself.”
  • “Students are motivated when they have some level of choice and agency over their learning.”

I believe my absolute favorite quote from the entire book comes from the section that allowed me to relive my time in #DBC50Summer with The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros. Within the “Innovation” chapter, you’ll find this gem!

“Students who are not allowed to fail at an early age don’t develop the coping skills needed to navigate the bigger and more consequential failures inevitable later in life.” ~Josh Stumpenhorst

Mic. Drop.

Implementation

So… if you’ve been with me for long in these blogs, you know that many times my implementations are not as obvious as trying an idea straight from suggestions in the book. That’s the case here, as well. I already have a rather large collection of graphic novels in our media center, and students check them out all the time! Their understanding of the nuances of reading graphic novels is impressive, and I want to give them the opportunity to take their ability to read a graphic novel a step further. We’re talking consumption to creation!

Here are some awesome graphic novel/comic creators available for free (or with limited features for free) online!

You can also use sites like Canva, Google Drawings, and even use Google Slides in tile view.

I can’t wait to see what my students will create to show their mastery throughout the year using these sites. I’m so pumped to share these with the teachers I serve so they can use them as another option for students! I’m excited to see how my students will react after seeing their reactions to this book. I think they’re going to love it!

Be sure to connect with Josh on Twitter and check out his website here. You can join the conversation using #Drawn2Teach on Twitter! Get a free preview of Drawn to Teach by scrolling to the bottom of this page! You’ll see where you can purchase the book there as well! Because you’re going to want to do just that after you see for yourself how cool this book is! Enjoy!