#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


#DBC50Summer 18/50: The Writing on the Classroom Wall

With the exception of the #DBC50Summer: Discovering my #EDUpassions post, I have not blogged in nearly a week.  There’s a perfectly good reason for this…

Book 18 in the Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc line up is The Writing on the Classroom Wall by Steve Wyborney.  In this book, Steve challenges us to literally put our thoughts and passions, what we deeply believe, on our walls (yes, our physical wall space in our classroom/office/hall/etc) and share with anyone and everyone what those beliefs are… yeah, that’s some kind of scary, I’ve got to admit!  And yes… I was stalling.


I was so hesitant about this book.  I have carried it around in my book bag all week!  I spent the majority of the week in western North Carolina working with a group of phenomenal educators from across the state, facilitating workshops in an NCCAT session called Teaching Generation Z: Active and Digital Learning.  I went to my room early each night while others stayed up playing games (I love to play games!) so I could read.  I would open it, read a few pages, then realize I didn’t have the slightest clue as to what I’d just read.  Finally, I realized that I needed some “book reading prep” time, and I realized I needed to decipher my own passions before I could really delve into this book.  So last night, after an inspiring NCTIES Board Meeting I sequestered myself in my room and used the brackets approach from Launch to nail down my educational passions.  I was satisfied with the Final Four, and still feel as though they are indicative of my strongest beliefs in education.

So tonight… I knew I had to read what Steve had to say.  No more avoiding it.  I’ve got to be honest here…it was insanely challenging to read the entire thing.  Now don’t go thinking it wasn’t a “good book” because it was! It just pushed my thinking in ways I wasn’t ready for tonight. I mean, I had even prepared for reading this particular book in advance with my in-depth research to discover my own passions!  That wasn’t enough.  Steve brought his A-Game in this book!

First of all, this guy has a way with words.  He is truly a wordsmith, an artist really… the way he writes makes you slow down and appreciate what he’s trying to say.  He’s very metaphorical, so prepare to buckle down and focus while reading this one.  It’s so worth it!  Lord help us when he started talking about reflective writing.  Specifically he states

Reflective writing is a powerful process that provides opportunities to personally, deeply wrestle with thoughts and ideas that are struggling to become more fully formed. -Steve Wyborney

In that very moment, I desperately needed a Madea “hallelujer” gif to adequately express my agreement.  Blogging my reflections on each of the DBC books with a plan for implementing has allowed me to go deeper with the book than I imagined I could.  Steve also mentions (Big Idea 20 – the book is set up by sharing the big ideas that he placed on the walls of his classroom, the discussion he had with his students, and how the idea grew) the idea of designing a path for others to follow your learning after you discover something new.  Knowing, when I started blogging, that these would be publicly available, it made me pay more attention to what and how I was learning.  Steve says, “I am determined to find my learning by giving it away…it is often in the sharing of my journey that I learn the most.” Yes, yes, and yes!

In fact… there are so many quotes throughout this book that are tweetable nuggets of knowledge that I just started creating some simple quote graphics on Canva.  Check out a few of them below.

This book is really geared toward any educator who wants to dive deeper into their educational beliefs.  If you want to really think through your WHY, this book will certainly bring that out.  It was challenging to read, not because of the quality of the writing (that was phenomenal), but because of the gravity of the message.  It really stretches your thinking and makes you examine your own “Big Ideas” about education, and how you can share it with your learners.

I’m going to do something I rarely do.  I am going to take the book at “face value” with my implementation plan.  Steve challenges readers at the end of the book to post at least one Big Idea on their wall through these steps.  This is my takeaway.  This is how I will implement The Writing on the Classroom Wall... exactly in the way Steve suggests at the end of the book.  Here are HIS steps for implementing TWOTCW!  Grab a copy of the book for yourself and join me!

  1. Select an important idea.
  2. Post it on your classroom wall.
  3. Explain to your learners what the Big Idea means to you.
  4. Be prepared to let the idea impact you personally! (whew)
  5. Seek opportunities to feature the idea.
  6. Grow your set of Big Ideas.
  7. Share your Big Ideas.

Check back in the fall for a follow-up about how this adventure goes.  I’m a bit scared to dive into this one, but knowing that it will benefit my students AND me makes it worth it.  My takeaway from Teach Like A Pirate was a quote from Dave Burgess who said, “It’s not supposed to be easy; it’s supposed to be worth it!” This implementation will not be easy for me. It seems so simple, but until you’ve read this book you can’t know how personal and powerful this “seemingly simple” action will be.  I do trust that it will be worth it, though.  So I’m going to do it.

To follow along with the community, use the hashtag #TWOTCW and visit Steve’s website.  His website is full of excellent activities for math, too!  Here is a book trailer for The Writing on the Classroom Wall.  I also highly encourage you to use the space on Flipgrid to reflect and share your response to TWOTCW with the world.  As always, the password is DBCSummer.  If no one has responded yet, take a risk and be the first! This digital space is meant to serve as a global book study for those with an affinity for any DBC book.  Andrea Paulakovich had this incredible idea & I recommend following her (she’s amazing) and her #DBC50Summer journey!

Next up on #DBC50Summer is the first “sequel” book.  The authors of Book 6, 50 Things You Can Do With Google Classroom, Alice Keeler and Dr. Libbi Miller are back with 50 Things to Go Further With Google Classroom!  Grab yours and prepare to see the practical, student-centered applications of Google Classroom! So excited to share Book 19 with you soon!

#DBC50Summer: Discovering my #EDUpassions

One of my favorite things about my journey in the #DBC50Summer is reading the Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc books in the order of their release.  I have so loved seeing names of future authors before they were published as they contribute to the earlier books.  Another exciting piece of reading in order is drawing on the connections between the books released around the same time.  It has really given me an even deeper appreciation for the effort of every single team member within the DBC company.  The way common messages flow throughout the books is so impressive.  There is no way that kind of seamless transition is coincidental.  That is only achieved through hard work and attention to detail from every person involved – from the author to the editor and through the publisher.

Here’s what prompted this little #DBC50Summer interlude…

In reading Play Like A Pirate I realized that Quinn Rollins knew what his passions outside of education were – toys, games, and comics.  He brought those into his classroom with great success. Reflecting on passions, I also realized that I dabble in a bit of everything within edtech and “trends” in education, but was unsure of my true educational passions.  I am not even halfway finished with my career in education and I wanted to discover what my passions are, what could sustain my enthusiasm for teaching throughout the next 16 years.  As I come to book 18, The Writing on the Classroom Wall, I realize that it doesn’t feel right to read the book without having those passions nailed down.  How can I post my passions if I don’t know what they are?

Amazingly, as I read the next few books in the line up, there was a section about discovering your passion.  (I’m seriously not making this up – go get a copy for yourself and check it out!) . Within LaunchJohn Spencer & AJ Juliani discuss the use of brackets to force a decision between two topics.  Using this idea, I found my #EDUpassions!

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The process?

First, I brainstormed any and all concepts, tools, big ideas, lessons that get me excited about teaching.  I started by thinking of tech tools and their functions, like Google Apps for Education and BreakoutEDU.  Then my thinking became deeper through coaching teachers and forming authentic relationships with those I work with.  I numbered each topic 1-64.  Using a random number generator online, I was able to put two ideas “against” each other in brackets.  While considering my passion level for each, I went with my gut when choosing which topic/idea should advance in the brackets.  A couple were tied because I honestly couldn’t eliminate one or the other OR because the two topics were so similar and fit hand-in-hand.  *I did notice that I put design thinking into the brainstorm twice, but seeing as how they ended up eliminated anyhow, I just left them.

My brackets in Google Sheets are here.  This will force you to make a copy and create your own EDUpassion brackets as suggested in Launch!  Just replace my topics with yours! The teal blue cells are my original 64 educational topics that get me excited.  I narrow them down, eliminating one of the two options until I am left with only FOUR passions!

My Final Four are as follows:

  • Making a Difference in Students and Teachers through Coaching

  • Lifelong Learning through Being a Connected Educator

  • Being a Catalyst for Change

  • “Those” Stories (you know the ones… those that make you tear up when you share them with others) and Culture

I enjoy coaching teachers.  I especially love to see the impact made on the teacher, the classroom, and most importantly, the students through a successful coaching cycle.  When the teacher and I have co-planned a lesson, co-taught it, then reflect on it together, it is easy to see the growth in their students, and in the teachers themselves.

I am very clearly a lifelong learner.  I am never satisfied with the amount of knowledge I have.  I like to look up information on topics and people, just because I like having the knowledge.  I crave gaining new knowledge!  One of the best ways to continue to grow and learn in this field is to be a connected educator.  If I weren’t a connected educator, I could have committed to reading all of the DBC books this summer, started strong, then chosen not to finish because I didn’t have anyone holding me accountable.  Or I may have still continued, persevered through the weeks I have been swamped with presentations, and completed the challenge.  Who knows?  I do know that no one else would have known #DBC50Summer was happening.  Several educators are joining in on the fun and are strengthening their skill sets and will be inspired and ready for their students to return.  Thankfully, because I am a connected educator (on Twitter, specifically), I am able to not only learn and grow on my own, but connect with other educators from across the country who also hold an affinity for DBC books and have begun their own versions of #DBC50Summer.  Almost every one of the authors from the first 17 books have reached out to me with kind words after reading the #DBC50Summer post about their book.  This has blown me away and strengthened my connection with the books, and has made me adore these authors even more!  Being connected has brought both me, and my students, opportunities they likely would not have had otherwise.

Being a catalyst for change comes from working at my school, local, state, and national levels to revolutionize education.  I greatly enjoy the work I do mentoring coaches throughout my state, serving on the NCTIES board of directors, and piloting a new position which formally marries the roles of digital learning coach and media coordinator in my district. Being able to work on the national framework for Future Ready Instructional Coaches has been incredible.  This summer I have been fortunate in that I get to facilitate professional development with teachers across the western half of my state for two weeks.

Finally, you know “those” students who have “those” stories? The ones that touch your heart and will always stay with you?  They are my passion.  Their stories, as heartbreaking or heartwarming as they are, become part of my story.  We either cry together or celebrate together, and their stories of overcoming adversity inspire me to continue my educational career.  “Those” stories are the ones that sustain me, and many educators across the world!  Playing an integral role in forming the culture in my school has become more and more important to me.  I want every student and staff member to feel valued.  I want my administration to know they are appreciated (and that I would never EVER want to walk a day in their shoes).  I believe that when your school has the right culture, there is no stopping the growth in everyone who steps foot in the building.

So, my #EDUpassions… it took a while to nail them down, but I feel confident in saying that these ARE my #EDUpassions.  These are what get me out of bed in the morning.  These are what excite me and make me look forward to the new school year.

It always comes back to the students for me.  THEY are my why.  They are my number one passion.

Forming those authentic relationships is what allows me to know their stories.  It is imperative that we build relationships with our students.  I also encourage educational leaders to build relationships with their faculty.  Talk with them informally; get to know their families; get to know their stories.  Connect with them outside of school and make developing a relationship a priority.

Now that I have these #EDUpassions planted firmly in my head, and on my heart… I can get back to #DBC50Summer reading, reflecting, blogging, and implementing!  Let’s do this!