#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!

#DBCBookBlogs: Don’t Ditch That Tech

Quick! Go take this super-simple, fast survey about technology use in your classroom. Pay close attention to the scale provided; the agree & disagree alternate in questions! Before you click submit, be sure to add up your total points! You’ll need that in a moment.

There’s a new DITCH book out called Don’t Ditch That Tech and it’s the 74th book in the Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc line of super-awesome books by super-awesome folks! The two previous DITCH books are Ditch That Textbook and Ditch That Homework! In the book , Matt Miller, Nate Ridgway, and Angie Ridgway show readers how to differentiate instruction using technology, which is music to my instructional technologist ears. The best part?! They teach how to differentiate by… wait for it… DIFFERENTIATING! dontditchthattech

Back to that survey! Do you remember your total points? In the first chapter (which are interestingly given letters rather than numbers – it spells out DITCH IT!), Matt & the Ridgways identify “five roles that correspond to different levels of a continuum of technology integration and differentiation”. They are quick to remind us that these do not define us, but give us a starting point.

  • If you scored from 0-16, you are a Pilot.
  • If you scored from 17-22, you are a Museum Exhibitor.
  • If you scored from 23-28, you are a Restaurant Owner.
  • If you scored from 29-34, you are a Councilmember.
  • If you scored from 35-40, you are a Creative Art Coach.

This continuum moves from Pilot being mostly teacher-centered to Creative Art Coach being mostly student-centered. I found that I scored 34 points and am on the cusp of Councilmember and Creative Art Coach. When you read the book, you’ll find out much more detail about what each role means and how to move from one role to the next in the continuum.

The entire book is set up to be a guide based on your current role. You could read this book in a jiffy, multiple times by focusing on your current role only. Imagine if you’re a Pilot the first time you read Don’t Ditch That Tech and you focus only on the Pilot sections of the book. You choose a couple of things to implement (as the authors tell us again and again NOT to implement too much at once because it will overwhelm both teacher and student) and you implement them with success. Then, you take the survey again with these new tools in your tool belt to see that you have moved up the continuum. (YAY, you!) Now you’re reading as a Museum Exhibitor or Restaurant Owner. Get it? Isn’t that neat?! I love that this differentiation book is differentiated to meet the needs of the reader!

I’ll be perfectly honest, I knew that anything Matt Miller touches turns to gold (truth), but I wasn’t sure if there was anything in this book for me to really connect with. I wouldn’t dream of ever ditching the tech, so being told not to in the title made me go into this book with a coaching lens – as in, how can I use this with the educators I work with who are ditching tech daily. I was very pleasantly surprised that there were tech tools that I got to explore while reading as I’d never heard of them! Matt and the Ridgways also included some oldies but goodies like VoiceThread and Blabberize that I honestly had moved on from, but checked them out again. I’m impressed with their updates and look forward to possibly using them in the future.

There are so many things to love in this book as it is insanely practical! I truly appreciate all the examples using QR codes and shortened URLs!  There’s advice, notes, tips, and recommendations throughout the entire book that highlight various potential pitfalls when using tech. I love that the authors are being proactive about these possible issues and helping readers avoid those issues altogether!

Implementation

Last year I introduced Google Keep to my students and several jumped right on board with it! There were many however, that were overwhelmed with the post-it note look to the platform and thus felt unorganized. I’m excited to… yep… differentiate (!!!) next year! Now that they know about Google Keep and how to use it, those who want to continue to use it for due dates, upcoming events, etc can do so. For those who want to try something new or never really liked Keep, I’m excited to introduce Google Calendar to them. I’ll use our 1:1 school-provided Chromebooks, as well as helping those with cell phones set up their notifications on their Google Calendar. (Of course, some may choose to use their iPhone Calendar.)

I’m really excited about all Don’t Ditch That Tech has to offer and I love the focus on differentiation. I also love that there is so much emphasis on technology being more than a shiny tool, but using technology to strengthen student experience making each student feel like the class was created for them. Be sure to click here to purchase your copy of the book, and check out the free preview! I believe this is a book for everyone – whether you believe it’s blasphemy to ditch technology or you just wish the “tech lady” would stop pestering you with these “tech ideas” or if you’re somewhere in between!

For a little extra bonus, check out Matt’s blog about this latest DITCH book! Be sure to join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #DitchBook and follow Matt and Nate & Angie Ridgway! It is abundantly clear throughout the book that they are very open to answering questions and helping readers move through the continuum differentiating instruction for students using technology! You don’t want to miss out on this book!

#DBCBookBlogs: Relentless

“Bye, y’all! See you soon! I love you!”

Every time students leave the media center, I say something to this effect. I *LOVE* my students and they know it! How do I know they know it? Because I tell them… all. the. time!

It’s always fun to see the looks on the faces of my 6th graders as they hear that for the first time. It ranges from confusion to eye rolls to the occasional “aw, I love you too.” By 8th grade, students know it’s coming and by golly, they know that they better say “I love you, too, Mrs. Ray” or I’m following them to their next class. HAHA! (I really did that once and that kid & I formed a bond that has lasted 3 years! Every time he sees me, he now tells me he loves me first.)

What stood out to me more than anything in the 73rd book from Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc was the message of love and legacy. Relentless by Hamish Brewer is certainly a book that gets your blood pumping.

relentless

Hamish shares his story and boy, is it a doozy! He certainly took the scenic route into our profession and his current position as principal of Fred M. Lynn Middle School in Virginia. It’s clear that this scenic route he took greatly impacts his role every day. His motto “Be Relentless” is more than just a catchphrase. It’s a lifestyle that he’s lived out his entire life, it appears. He shares the secret sauce behind multiple school transformations! The way he explains it makes it seem like it’s the most obvious thing in the world, but if it’s so obvious why are more schools not knocking it out of the park! My school has a new principal beginning this fall; I’m so excited to see how our school culture continues to shift! She’s already holding one-on-one conversations with our faculty and staff, being an archaeologist as Hamish describes! She’s clearly on the right track already!

Relentless was a word that stood out to me when I read Lead Like a PIRATE by Beth Houf & Shelley Burgess. This year I have strived to be relentless in finding the best in people. I’m telling you right now; it’s hard! The fact that the tattooed, skateboarding principal lives this out daily is pretty impressive! It’s tough for me to live it out for even one conversation. Planting your feet in positivity and refusing to succumb to the negativity and drama around us can be insanely difficult. However, Hamish tells us that there are no excuses. We are in charge of us, and I choose my own attitude. Every day.

Loving my students is part of the attitude that I choose to have. Telling my students that I love them is one of the most important things I do every day. Some students need to hear it one-on-one to believe it. I’ve held the hands of students as they are angry with me, a teacher, the school, the system, or someone else, and look straight in their eyes and tell them that I love them. Every time I feel an immediate shift in emotion, typically followed by tears. (Got to love middle schoolers) Even in dealing with disruptions from students in class, I remind those students, “I love you, and you’ve got to stop doing ______”. In the event that I get frustrated and address the class’s not-so-stellar behavior (shocking, I know… but it happens), I will fuss and immediately follow with, “now y’all know I love you and I expect better.”

Relentless also made me stop and consider my legacy. What legacy am I leaving? When students leave me at the end of the year, are they excited to see me again in the fall? Being in a position to teach every student in the school for the entirety of their middle school career allows me to develop relationships during a pivotal time in their lives. What is my legacy? If my legacy is negative, I’m setting them up for a miserable three years.

Tonight I got to dig into my legacy a little. While at the softball team pool party with my oldest daughter, I realized that one of the lifeguards was a former student. She will be a junior in high school in the fall and I taught her the first semester of her 5th grade year before accepting my first media coordinator position at the midpoint of the year. The moment she realized who I was, she jumped up and came running to give me a big hug! (The irony of the lifeguard running beside the pool was not lost on me, by the way.) We chatted for a while and she mentioned so many memories she had from our short time together. It made me smile that she remembered the experiences we shared in such detail! I love her!

One of my favorite parts of teaching is not the legacy that I leave, but the legacy the students leave with me. I learn something from every kid I teach and every adult I coach. Their legacy becomes my legacy. The idea of a legacy is so powerful, and reminds me how important our job is. This year’s implementation of Relentless by Hamish Brewer will be more intentionality about the love and legacy I leave with each student, and the legacy they leave with me.

Join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #Relentless and check out Hamish’s website here! I highly suggest checking out these videos on YouTube! He has done so many interviews and shares so much with us! Definitely check out his TEDxTalk here! You can preview & purchase a copy of Hamish Brewer‘s book, Relentless here! It’ll get you pumped up this summer and ready to hit the ground running when students come back to school!