#DBC50Summer Book 11-20 Recap

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In the first recap, #DBC50Summer Book 1-10 Recap, I was hoping I would reach book 20.  Honestly, I look back on the past three weeks and I have no idea how I ended up actually being able to read the first 20 books released from Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc. The first recap post was made about 5 days post-op from a minor surgery, and I’ve been running all over the state since then. I was fortunate to speak to a few hundred educators throughout the state about NCWiseOwl (a free database of amazing nonfiction resources for North Carolina public school educators), then got to meet 24 more incredible educators from North Carolina at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT). There we discussed how to reach Generation Z through active and digital learning. We covered topics from augmented and virtual reality to gaming in education to social media to the maker movement to coding and so much more. It was insanely awesome to spend three days with these amazing educators! Finally, I was elected to the North Carolina Technology in Education Society (NCTIES) Board of Directors as the North Region Representative last Spring and we had our first board meeting to plan for the 2019 conference, held in March. Seeing the curtain pulled back just made it more evident how hard that team works to put on a spectacular conference every year and promote digital learning as great pedagogy and not just shiny new tools! It’s an honor to be part of that group!

With all of that going on, I have no clue how I got to book 20! I have had so many direct messages and tweets on Twitter asking how I’m physically able to get these books read so quickly, reflect, and blog about them. My sincere answer is I have no idea. I am so motivated and inspired by the words in these books that I just can’t stop. As soon as I finish one book, I’ve got a million ideas buzzing around my head and have to get my thoughts written down as quickly as possible. As soon as I get the writing done, I’m eager to move on to the next book. As I write this blog, I’m actually staring at Book 21 (which I started today) and would really rather be reading than blogging, ha! The books within the next set of 10 are incredible & I can’t wait to get started on them!  However, before we can look at where we’re going, we need to take a quick review of where we’ve been in Books 11-20!

#DBC50Summer started as Creative Alchemy, a term Dave Burgess uses within Teach Like A Pirate to describe that A-HA moment when you have multiple problems that need addressing and solve them using a creative…

Wait a minute, I have to tell you what just happened, literally JUST happened, before I can go any further. So I was looking up some kind of definition for Creative Alchemy preferring to use Dave’s definition rather than some jumbled up mess of my own. Upon searching for Creative Alchemy Dave Burgess, I was led to a blog written by the Captain himself in March 2012, which dates it before Teach Like A Pirate was published & the advent of Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc. In fact, the email address is from the days of “Outrageous Teaching.” Anyhow… I was reading this blog and in it, Dave says,

“I am always trying to convince teachers that the best books to read about teaching are rarely in the education section.  I always have 3 or 4 books on my nightstand, a book in my car, one in my school bag, and several more on my phone. I consider it one of the most important parts of my job to constantly expose myself to the high quality thinking of other people. It challenges me, it keeps me current, and it provides me the raw resources that I need for creative alchemy.” ~Dave Burgess, Creative Alchemy, March 2012

Let’s take a moment to appreciate the irony of that entire quote… “the best books to read about teaching are rarely in the education section”… well, they are NOW thanks to DBC! How incredible to read this knowing that 6 years and a few months later, they would have released their 50th book, many of which have become insanely successful communities of educators supporting, challenging, and growing one another across the nation (and the world).

“always have…books on my nightstand…my car…school bag…more on my phone”… and now, according to #KidsDeserveIt episode 100 their inbox is flooded every week with manuscripts. Sounds to me like they’re reading books EVERYWHERE now!

Finally, the last section speaks to me at such a deep level in light of the #DBC50Summer… “constantly expose myself to the high quality thinking of other people. It challenges me, it keeps me current, and it provides me the raw resources that I need for creative alchemy.”  The amount of truth in these two sentences cannot be overstated.  Reading these 20 books, even if I stopped right now (which I’m most definitely not going to do), I have grown more as a professional, and as a person, than ever before.  Here I am, twelve years into my career, and I am FINALLY starting to shape my educational philosophy.  I am finally starting to figure out who I am as an educator, and these past ten books have really pushed me to reflect on what I believe about learning and education as a whole.

I’m honestly in a bit of shock that Dave wrote that paragraph in his blog (and a similar one in Teach Like A Pirate) over 6 years ago, and it’s just sitting out there, like it was waiting to inspire someone like me all over again. Just… wow.

Moving along, creative alchemy is what brought me here. I wanted to begin blogging more consistently, growing my PLN on Twitter, and I had all these Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc books sitting on my bookshelf and had only read a handful of them due to time constraints.  It all clicked as I sat staring at the shelves that #DBC50Summer was the solution to each of my problems. I am so excited to be nearing the halfway point, but there’s so much awesome still to come!  Let’s review Books 11-20.

11 – Your School Rocks by Ryan McLane and Eric Lowe – This book challenges us to tell our school’s story through social media.  Taking us on the journey of two principals sharing their school’s story, we see the relevance behind meeting the public where they are… and in this day and time, that’s social media platforms.

12 – How Much Water Do We Have? by Pete Nunweiler and his wife, Kris – This obscure book in the DBC lineup really isn’t an education book at all.  However, the connections with education are certainly evident in the principles of conquering challenge and thriving during change.

13 – Play Like A Pirate by Quinn Rollins – This is the book that really made me start thinking about what kind of educator I am.  What are my passions? (Thankfully I finally discovered them here) Quinn brings his passions into the classroom and uses comics, toys, and games to make learning fun again!

14 – 140 Twitter Tips for Educators by Brad Currie, Billy Krakower, and Scott Rocco – I’ve recommended this book to so many educators in the past two weeks! This is the perfect book for any educator who is unsure about how Twitter can benefit them and their students!  Check it out, for sure!

15 – The Classroom Chef by John Stevens and Matt Vaudrey – This book was like digging back into Teach Like A Pirate again!  The creative ideas for making math (and any subject really) engaging and exciting for students, as well as the idea that we should be preparing lessons rather than lesson planning, stick out to me from this book!

16 – Launch by John Spencer and AJ Juliani – A powerful book detailing an incredible design thinking process using the acronym LAUNCH.  The process is written in kid-friendly language, and includes the vital piece of launching the product to the intended audience.  Loved this one!

17 – Kids Deserve It by Adam Welcome and Todd Nesloney – Educators should strive to be our best every. single. day. We must not let up on growing ourselves and pushing those around us, because Kids Deserve It.

18 – The Writing on the Classroom Wall by Steve Wyborney – This is another lesser known (at least it was to me, but maybe I’ve been under a rock) DBC book.  I was unaware that it was DBC until I began my #DBC50Summer research.  Steve has a unique way with words and speaks metaphorically.  His quotes throughout the book are thought-provoking and he really makes you question what you think about teaching and learning. This book stretched me, and I know it will do the same for you!  I highly recommend grabbing this one!

19 – 50 Things to Go Further with Google Classroom by Alice Keeler and Dr. Libbi Miller – This book is an amazing guidebook to how to create a student-centered classroom using a digital tool, Google Classroom.  The tips and tricks within this book are amazing, as if we’d expect any less from this dynamic duo! Definitely look into this book if you want to utilize Google Classroom to its fullest extent!

20 – Instant Relevance by Denis Sheeran – This super short book packs a lot of punch in its only 102 pages.  A quick read that leaves you with lots to ponder. Denis is hilarious and you’ll laugh from start to finish, learning how to make learning relevant to your students through making connections with them.

So there you have it!  The second #DBC50Summer Book Recap, and a little tangent brought to you by a super old blog post from the Captain that I wasn’t expecting to impact me like it did.  Speaking of the Captain, he created two videos upon the release of these books (one for books 11-15 and one for books 16-20) that you can check out here.

Books 11-15

Books 16-20

Are you ready to reach the halfway point and beyond?  The next ten books are stellar (according to their Twitter fame & Amazon reviews)!!!  Many of them have been on my MUST READ list for a while and I’m so excited to finally get to crack the spine on them!  One of the most influential books of my career is also coming up in this set of ten!  Any guesses as to which that might be?  Oooooh I can’t wait!  Book 21 blog is coming soon!  Stay Tuned for the reveal of the next ten books in the order they were released!

*Interested in joining in on the #DBC50Summer fun? Don’t feel as though you have to read them all and you don’t even have to read in order! Choose a few that you’ve been wanting to dive into! Share your reflections with the world; maybe it’s #BookSnaps, maybe it’s #Sketchnotes, maybe it’s #blogging or #vlogging… the idea is basically just to share your learning from DBC books in any format, so others can learn with you! Here’s the thing though… we can all read these books. That’s fabulous, really! But what are you going to DO with the information you gain from reading it? How will it impact your teaching practice and/or your students? That’s the biggest piece of #DBC50Summer for me… creating the ONE (or two, or three) thing I want to implement in the 2018-2019 school year. You can see the updated spreadsheet with titles/authors, Flipgrid links, blog post links, and implementation plans here! If you aren’t sure where to start, check out each blog post above and click on the Flipgrid information! You can start there! (Shoutout to Andrea Paulakovich – genius extraordinaire!) Just tag #DBC50Summer in your tweets and join in on the fun!  Several are hopping on board & I’d love to have you join in, too! Reach out to me on Twitter if you have any questions! I’d love to connect with you! Thanks for sticking with me!

Alicia Ray

@iluveducating

#DBC50Summer 16/50: Launch

When you open a book and literally start nodding in agreement with the very first sentence, you know you’re in for a wild ride.  That’s exactly what Book 16 in the Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc line up did!  Launch by John Spencer and AJ Juliani could not have come at a more perfect time this summer!  Big things are in store after reading this one!

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This book is everything I want my daughters experiencing in their education.  It describes everything I want the media center to be for students… really, everything I want SCHOOL to be for students.  I’ve never really gotten into any of the “design thinking” protocols because they are so wordy… everything-“tion”… ideation, creation, reflection – my students needed a translaTION to understand half of it.  None of the ones I had seen really fit for middle school students; they were either too elementary or too difficult to understand.  Our school has been trying to find a new engineering/design process to implement and immediately upon seeing the LAUNCH cycle as described by John & AJ, I texted my principal.

The plan of implementation for this book will be school-wide!  The School Improvement Team (SIT) met last week; on the agenda was reviewing and selecting a design process as our current process is 10 steps long and just too much for our students. They didn’t see anything they were married tom so they began creating a mash-up of a few of the processes they saw, but it’s not been finalized!  With that in mind, I hope to have the opportunity to present the LAUNCH cycle to our SIT team as an option for our school’s design process.  I immediately fell in love with the process and the ease in which it can be implemented, and I believe our staff will too.

L – Look, Listen, Learn

A – Ask Tons of Questions

U – Understand the Process or Problem

N – Navigate Ideas

C – Create a Prototype

H – Highlight and Fix

LAUNCH to an audience.

At the end of last year, my principal requested that we begin thinking about a way to bring a focus of research skills back to our school.  When I saw that the U in LAUNCH relates directly to various types of research I all but squealed with joy!  The research methods discussed by John and AJ are exactly what I want my students to walk away knowing.  Research isn’t always about looking online or looking in a printed article or book.  Research is about learning.  It can happen in the form of an interview, watching multimedia, even action research with observation or through a hands-on experiment and collecting data.  This book came at the absolute perfect time, and I am so excited to share all I learned with my school!  The resources that John & AJ have made available are incredible!  Check out the website for their book here, as well as the individual websites of the authors – John’s is here and AJ’s can be found here!  I could spend hours just looking at the websites!

In the off-chance that my school does not choose to implement the LAUNCH cycle, I have a backup implementation plan (because that’s just how I roll; I’ve got a backup for the backup, but no need to share that one just yet).  As a backup plan (and likely implemented regardless of LAUNCH cycle implementation), I will pursue a Global Day of Design in May using the information given here.  This is an incredible opportunity for students to use their knowledge and unlock creativity in exciting ways.  I believe that being part of something much larger than our school will engage our students in meaningful ways.  Last year we held our first official Maker Faire event.  It was a terrific event, but I believe the Global Day of Design will bring about more creative products with a bigger purpose behind their creations than just the event in question.  I love that the LAUNCH cycle “ends” (we all know design thinking never really ends, but you understand, yes?) with launching to an authentic audience.  This is more than just a presentation, but actually seeing the design in action!  I believe this is a spectacular way for students to have real meaning behind their design, rather than the hypotheticals they are usually presented with.  I know my blogs being read by many of you has forced me to put much more thought into them.  Imagine how much harder our students will work when they know someone, other than their teacher and peers, are using their products.

Finally, Launch speaks multiple times about the power of challenges, risk-taking, and failure.

  • “…design thinking isn’t about abandoning the standards.  It’s about raising the standards and challenging students to think at a deeper level.”
  • “You will fail. It’s going to happen… failure is a part of the process for innovative teachers.  Each mistake is simply another iteration on the journey toward success…the only way you blaze a trail is by taking risks and failing forward.”
  • “Design thinking encourages creative risk-taking with the goal of eventual mastery.”
  • “It was the first time I had heard students talk about ‘failure’ in a positive light; they realized that creating big goals gave them the opportunity to fail forward.”
  • “…we want kids to embrace mistakes as part of the learning process… each mistake is a chance to figure out what works and what doesn’t work.  When students have the permission to make mistakes, they define success as growth and learning.  They recognize that failure isn’t really failure at all”

Each of these quotes stood out to me.  Creating a safe culture where it is okay to fail is of utmost importance when implementing design thinking.  It is what I hope our media center has become in the two years that I’ve been there.

I want students to know that it’s okay to mess up, that it’s great to make a mistake, that failure isn’t final.

Launch was such a powerful book to me!  I created multiple BookSnaps and posted them on Twitter, check them out!

 

 

 

 

Be sure to join the #LaunchBook community on Twitter as they discuss Design Thinking, creativity, and bringing out the maker in every student.  Follow both John & AJ on Twitter, at @spencerideas and @ajjuliani, respectively.  The Flipgrid is available, as always, as a space for global collaboration in reflection and implementation of the book!  In this Flipgrid, tell about a time you failed in the classroom!  What did you learn from it? How have you improved your teaching practice because of it?  It’s a safe space, so share, share, share!  We can learn from one another here!  The password is DBCSummer, as usual.

Andrea Paulakovich, a dear friend and vital member of my PLN, joined in the #DBC50Summer and suggested the spectacular idea of adding Flipgrid as a way to share ideas!  She’s super awesome – you should follow her at @apaulakovichIRT & her #DBC50Summer journey here!

Launch inspired another book by John Spencer and AJ Juliani titled Empower.  This book is part of the publishing company IMpress.  You can read more about IMpress here.  So why don’t you head on over to Amazon and purchase your own copies of both of these awesome books Launch AND Empower?!?!  I was blown away by Launch and look forward to rereading with my peers at work as we, hopefully, implement the LAUNCH cycle in design thinking.  I will certainly be reading and blogging about Empower once I complete the DBC books.

*Side Note: Within this book is a step-by-step process to uncover your passions… seriously, I’m not making that up!  This is another thing I fell in love with, as I plan to go through it to see if I can discover my educational passions (see Play Like A Pirate post).  How incredible would it be for our students to go through this process, too?!

The 17th book (my favorite number, coincidentally) is none other than Kids Deserve It by Adam Welcome and Todd Nesloney.  This book… well, wow… no words. Just go get it, while I reread it and try to form the words needed to describe it in the blog. Not sure it can be done. Grab your copy and settle in! You will quickly remember your WHY while you read that one!

Battle of the Books – Gamified

I gamified my Battle of the Books team using an online gamification platform.

I’m getting ready to upset a lot of people with my next statement.  I despise Battle of the Books. (waiting for the shame bell and rotten tomatoes….)  I realize some are 110% adamant about the benefits of Battle of the Books (BoB), but I struggle every year showing enthusiasm for something that I truly believe is detrimental to many students.  My reasons for not liking BoB? (So glad you asked!)

  • A required list.  Let that sink in… a REQUIRED list for reading.  I’m a huge supporter of self-selected reading.  I agree with the oodles of research that states that one way a student develops a love of reading is to choose their own books.  I – as many educators – want students to have a love of reading.  This is not only a required list, but a LONG required list.
  • TWENTY-SEVEN books for middle school in one year.  27 = 2 tens and 7 ones.  I realize these are usually phenomenal reads, but let’s think for a minute about how long is takes the average student to read one book, let alone 27.  Oh, and competition is typically before Spring Break.  This will immediately turn off many students who might otherwise be interested.  I believe it raises a concern of quality vs quantity here, too.  I’d rather see the students invest in half the amount of books, really internalizing their themes and learning life lessons through empathy for characters.  Who’s with me?
  • Retention rate of students throughout the year is low.  I may start the year with 20-30 students who show an interest in being on the BoB team.  Only 12 students are allowed to attend competition.  This isn’t typically a problem for me as I am lucky if I end up with 8-10 students on the team in March because the others choose to quit.  Why do they quit?  Read, Accelerated Reading test (don’t get me started), answer questions, repeat.
  • Let’s talk about those questions… “In which book is there a white house in the bend of a river?”  Honest.  “In which book does a character send a note to a friend through a nurse?”  True story.  How about we ask some real thought-provoking questions?  The white house was barely a blip in the story, and the note was sent to a friend because the girls weren’t allowed to see one another due to their race, so they resorted to passing notes through a compassionate nurse.  Let’s focus on what’s important in these books (like the reason behind the note, and not the note itself).

These are just a very few of my grievances.  Also in competition, we can always use the “we’re all winners” approach, but let’s be honest… unless you win & advance in a competition, you lose the competition.  Ever had to ride a bus back to school with a group of students who have spent all that time reading and studying mundane questions to have them come in last place?  Yeah – it’s not fun.

With all that said (my personal opinions), my district participates in BoB.  So… I participate in BoB.  Every year, I get a team together.  Every year, we continue the “read, answer questions, repeat” tradition.  Every year, I lose several students due to a lack of continued interest.  Last year, I decided to try something new.  I had dabbled in this idea while working at an elementary school, but really dove in this past year.  We didn’t practice from August until February.  You heard me.  No practice… My students had so many extracurricular activities, and those that really would have success comprehending the books were the students who were involved in Robotics, Drama, Debate, various athletics, etc, etc.  I agreed that if the students would read the books on their own and complete projects, we would meet virtually, with no physical practices until the final team of 12 was chosen – typically in late January, early February.

How did I ensure that the students were reading the books in the meanwhile?  I gamified Battle of the Books using Rezzly, formerly known as 3DGameLab.  This platform allows me to create quest chains in which students complete quests to earn badges, achievements, and rewards, which also equates to experience points (XP).  Each student who showed interest at the beginning of the year received the log-in information.  They learned about BoB through a quest, learned how to earn points through a quest, and learned how to earn additional XP through a quest.  For each book, there was a thought-provoking question and a short project (a service project, a research project, a collaborative project, etc) that must be completed in order to earn the badge and XP for that book.  I attempted to create questions that were similar to questions in ELA class, thus targeting specific skills as needed.  There were NO Accelerated Reader tests… I repeat, NO Accelerated Reader tests.  In order to keep the landing page from overwhelming students, they were presented with a quest called “Are You In” first.  This outlined the basic ideals behind BoB and presented them with the opportunity to opt out or opt in.  If they opt in, basic information on Rezzly was available as a quest, as well as a quest for their first book (usually a shorter book, or a book with a fairly straight forward project attached) as a starting point.  From there, it would spread as the branches of a tree, allowing the student more choice in selecting the next book.

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Examples of quests can be seen below.

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Upon completion of the question/project, they would submit the quest.  I was then able to approve or return the quest.  I would return the quest if it was evident the student struggled with the response (typically reflecting a quick skim of the book), and would approve if it was sufficient.  If the response was exemplary, the student earned awards, such as a gold coin, which earned additional XP.

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Various badges, achievements, and awards were given as additional forms of XP and bragging rights for those who earned them.

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As students completed all 27 books, they earned a Bookworm badge with 200 additional XP.  Then they were presented with new quests that encouraged students to think of comparisons and contrasts between two or more books on the list and reflect on those similarities and differences.  Finally, the top 12 students were chosen in late January/early February.  These were chosen with as much objectivity as possible.  Basically, the 12 students with the highest XP were on the team and would attend competition.  The top 6 students were designated as mentors.

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I must also mention that we had a guild (basically a virtual meeting space) available on our district LMS page.  This allowed us to have conversation in discussion boards, polls, and share our projects with one another on a virtual platform, which took the place of practice until the month before competition, freeing those students to participate in other extracurricular activities.  We met twice a week for the 4 weeks prior to competition to perfect the dynamics of the team and participate in mock battles.  After competition, we had a party, celebrating one another and what we had learned thanks to these books.  I guarantee you that my students learned more than there was a white house on the river, and they understood significance of a note being passed between these two girls.  We didn’t win the competition; they won so much more.