#DBC50Summer Book 21-30 Recap

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Is this my life? Really? Is this my REAL life? The past two months of #DBC50Summer have turned into some surreal moments! From receiving the most thoughtful, motivational DMs, tweets, and personal written notes (even snail mail) from these incredible authors to the sheer amount of knowledge and inspiration I have gained – the whole thing makes me question if it’s really real!

I have to say again how much I appreciate the outpouring of support from you, my PLN, as my family and I begin the journey of managing Type 1 Diabetes with our youngest daughter, Sophie. A quick update: we’ve been home from the pediatric hospital for 2 nights and her blood sugar is still stable and she’s been so brave in her blood sugar checks, maintenance insulin, and basal insulin injections! We have to poke that sweet girl 9 times a day as part of her treatment plan. Our 5 year old now knows and can explain vocabulary like blood sugar, insulin, diabetes, pancreas, and energy. She’s had more weight on her little shoulders than many adults I know, and her story is already a powerful one. She’s not lost a bit of her spunk through this, and I’m simply blown away by her. I appreciate you giving me a second to share a bit about her & patience as I have been taking my time in reading the past couple of books. We’re back at full speed now though!

Continuing on, for those that are just joining the fun, #DBC50Summer started in June when the 50th book was released by Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc. (Check out Books 1-10 and Books 11-20!) Through a bit of what Dave Burgess calls Creative Alchemy, I drew on multiple problems I wanted to solve and created a solution that took care of them all at once. I had over half of the DBC, Inc books sitting on a shelf and had only read about a dozen of them. After meeting Dave at a conference (he was keynote and I was a presenter) in my home state in April, I was re-energized and even wrote a quick blog about it here. I had not had the inspiration to blog in a long time, but I knew I wanted to jump back into social media (Twitter specifically) and wanted to reflect on my practice more through blogging. I was also feeling stagnant in my professional growth, and knew that the DBC books could be the answer. The ones I had already read were fabulous so I knew not to expect any less from the others. With each of those problems, the perfect solution was to read the DBC books, and blog about them. Dave has strong words about being inspired and not implementing…

So with this in mind, I decided to implement at least one thing from every single book in the 2018-2019 school year. That’s one way to handle stagnant teaching, right?!

It’s important to note that I am reading the books in order of their release date. This has been incredible for several reasons. I am able to see names of current DBC authors in past books. It’s so cool to see those names knowing what’s getting ready to happen for them, the doors that are opening by sharing a part of their story in someone else’s book. I love seeing the evolution of DBC, Inc through the years. It’s really neat to see the maturity of the line up as it continues. I was beyond inspired by the first book, Teach Like A Pirate, written by the president of DBC, Inc and continue to be amazed at each book I pick up all the way up to book 30! It is incredible that each book continues to push me and make me want to be a better educator. One would think that after 30 books I’d be tired of reading them, simply going through the motions by now, or even ready to throw in the towel. I’ve got to tell you, I’m more excited now than when I started this journey in June! These authors have become vital players in my PLN and I have found that they are so relatable and approachable. The community around the books are full of amazing people who support one another and challenge each other to be the best educator possible for the students. What I love is that no matter what the book is, no matter the content, author, or how many copies sold, every single DBC addition points back to the learner! Talk about having your priorities straight – this group has that going for them!

So let’s see what’s been happening in #DBC50Summer the past couple weeks:

21 – Escaping the School Leader’s Dunk Tank by Rebecca Coda & Dr. Rick Jetter: This book rips back the curtain on the ugly side of education. Politics, jealousy, and deceit are everywhere and education is no exception. Rebecca & Rick want us to not just survive as leaders, but thrive in education and share ways to do just that in this book!

22 – Start. Right. Now. by Todd Whitaker, Jeff Zoul, and Jimmy Casas: These guys take you on a trip that inspires you to get started as a leader and not wait another second! They share that leaders Know the Way, Show the Way, Go the Way, and Grow Each Day! This is a gut-punching book that will challenge you to consider if you’re doing all you can as a leader!

23 – Lead Like a Pirate by Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf: I have never been so nervous to click publish on a blog. Why? This book was integral in my walk as an instructional coach and I wanted to make Shelley & Beth proud! I wanted to uphold the integrity of the book and I literally want every leader out there to purchase a copy of it! Power-packed. The only way to really describe how incredible it is!

24 – Table Talk Math by John Stevens: One of the authors of The Classroom Chef wrote a second book and I was enamored by the stories of John’s family and their discussions of math in its relevance to the real world! These authentic math problems bring a whole perspective, where math isn’t to be feared, but understood. Why not discuss math nonchalantly around the dining room table? John shows us how!

25 – Teaching Math with Google Apps by Alice Keeler and the late Diana Herrington: Another amazing addition to the DBC & Google family, Alice and Diana share 50 ways to use Google Apps to implement technology in any math class! What’s great about this book though is that the suggestions aren’t just related to math!!! Grab a copy, even if you aren’t a math teacher!

26 – Shift This by Joy Kirr: Y’all… this book right here… just go get it. Trust me, and go get it! Joy is a total jewel and she shares small changes that we can all make in our classrooms to make big impact! With a growth mindset, we can all make changes in our practice and Joy shows that no matter how you may feel about your own teaching, we can always shift something and get huge results!

27 – Unmapped Potential by Julie Hasson and Missy Lennard: What does your mental map relay about education? Why do you believe what you believe? How can you break through barriers and change your mental map? This book inspired me to put a HUGE road map of the United States in my classroom – find out why in the blog, then go purchase your own copy!

28 – Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth by Aaron Hogan: Perfect teachers are unicorns, centaurs, leprechauns… they don’t exist! Aaron shatters the myths that surround a perfect classroom – he addresses it all in order to help you THRIVE in education: behavior, engagement, relationships, and so much more! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book!

29 – Social LEADia by Jennifer Casa-Todd: I couldn’t wait to get to book 29 so I could finally read the book I won in the #DBCChallenge! Jennifer shares why we shouldn’t stop at teaching digital citizenship, but empower our students to be digital leaders through the use of social media. She shares stories of change and global impact led by STUDENTS! This book is a great way to start the conversation about opening up the internet and showing students how to navigate social media rather than hoping they make the right decisions outside of school.

30 – Spark Learning by Dr. Ramsey Musallam: An extension of Ramsey’s TED talk 3 Rules to Spark Learning, we are shown how to inspire and encourage curiosity in our classrooms. Go beyond being “the fun teacher” and actually engage the students through their own natural curiosity to learn content while the teacher fill in the gaps.

You can’t go wrong with any of these books! All 10 of these books were released within 6 months! DBC is clearly picking up steam and moving ahead at an exponential pace! In fact, we’re up to June of 2017, so in less than a year, DBC released another 20 books!!! Dave and Shelley still run the business from their house (so impressive)!

If you want to jump on board with #DBC50Summer, it’s not too late! You don’t have to read all 50 of the books that were released as of early June to hop in! Just share your reflections on ANY DBC book using blogs, sketchnotes, flipgrid, or any other method and use the hashtag #DBC50Summer. Reading and implementing ideas from ONE DBC book is better than reading nothing at all, so join me! This has been an incredible ride and I’ve still got 20 more books to go to fulfill the self-imposed challenge! I’m so pumped to continue this journey and looking forward to implementing and learning so much more! If you want a quick peek at the implementation plan from #DBC50Summer, as well as seeing the books in order, check out my spreadsheet (you can also access the flipgrid for each book from there as well).

As I stated a LONG time ago, #DBC50Summer is referring to the season of summer, not summer vacation. I’m excited to continue this journey through September! However, I do need some help (LOTS of help) coming up with something to call this after summer is over! I’m not planning to stop with book 50 – I will continue reflecting, blogging, implementing, and sharing every DBC book released as long as they release them. I mean, come on – have you seen the books that were released this summer?! There’s pure gold there, too! No way I can stop at 50!!! So…brainstorm! Share creative names with me! What should we call #DBC50Summer when all 50 books are read and it’s not summer anymore?

Here we go with the next set of 10! Book 31 was written by a POWERHOUSE duo! Matt Miller of Ditch That Textbook and Alice Keeler of 50 Things, 50 Things Further, and Teaching Math with Google Apps teamed up to bring us Ditch That Homework! I’m so excited about reading this one! It’s been on my shelf since September 2017 and I’ve been following the blogs of both of these authors for years! It’s going to be epic!

#DBC50Summer 30/50: Spark Learning

When I first started thinking of blogging my thoughts about all of the Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc books, I checked Dave’s website to see a comprehensive list of the books he and Shelley have published over the years. Many of the books I recognized from Twitter or Amazon, but there were several that I didn’t recognize as DBC books. Two years ago I vanished from Twitter only resurfacing during conferences, edcamps, or workshops. It was just a few months ago that I really reinvested in my #PLN and plugged back in to the power of Twitter. During this hiatus, DBC really began to pick up steam and released several incredible books. Among them was a book that was written as an extension of a TED talk from Ramsey Musallam, EdD. The thirtieth book released by DBC, Inc is Spark Learning!


Before I even started reading, I tuned into the TED talk from Ramsey. You should stop and watch that real quick, okay? I’ll even save you the Google search, just click here.

So… what did you think? Pretty awesome, right? I can certainly appreciate his daughter’s curiosity as my own 5 year old asks “why” about everything! As a mom, I’ve got to be honest, it drives me crazy! I’ve even uttered because I said so. However, as an educator, my heart rejoices and I hope she never loses that intense desire for knowledge. So how do we help to encourage curiosity and inquiry in the classroom?

Ramsey shares the information from his TED talk and so much more in his book, Spark Learning. Much like his TED talk, he serves a powerful punch in a short period of time. It only took me about 90 minutes to read this book and I pulled several takeaways in that quick reading. In the book, Ramsey shares his 3 keys to embracing the power of student curiosity again.

Rule 1: Curiosity Comes First

In this section, Ramsey shares the research behind making curiosity the focal point of your lesson, and not the instruction. He shares three curiosity “sparks” that can pull your learners into your lesson. (Sounds a lot like the Captain‘s “hooks” to me!) These “sparks” are Missing Information, Anticipated Solution, and a Surprising Result. He shares specific examples of each of these “sparks” in various content areas. One of my favorite spaces in this book is where he intentionally gives you space to jot down ideas that have been…wait for it…”sparked” by what you’ve read! This was the perfect space to write my implementation plan for this book! Yep, I already had it figured out in the first rule!

I love that Ramsey is constantly looking for ways to use what he sees “in the real world” in his classroom! I, too, am always seeing the world through “teacher eyes” and drive my non-educator friends crazy when I mention how that would work perfectly in this or that class. In fact, when I was in Chicago this summer for BadgeSummit (check it out on Twitter here – it was great stuff), my coworkers and I went to the Field Museum. The entire time we were there, I was taking pictures of exhibits… why? Because it connected with our science curriculum and that is another resource my science teachers could show students!

Rule 2: Embrace the Mess

I appreciate Ramsey’s vulnerability in this chapter as he describes the same thoughts so many of us have when planning our lessons and the guilt that creeps up when we work those late hours to perfect a lesson only to leave knowing that it’s still not quite right. Many of his thoughts I have definitely had as well. I find it odd that my favorite quote from this book isn’t even a quote from the author. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed reading this book and took a lot from it. Ramsey is a wordsmith; he pulls together phrases in ways that make you stop and reread the sentence to be sure you read it correctly. But the quote that stuck with me is the same quote that stuck with Ramsey when he first heard it. In fact, he even states that he had to pull over on the side of the road to take notes upon hearing this!

It is through intense structure that I find the safety to be creative. ~Jon Stewart

Yes, y’all… Jon Stewart…the comedian from The Daily Show. Those profound words belong to him.

The correlation between The Hero’s Journey and the 5Es learning cycle blew my mind! I love the example shown and will definitely use this to create a lesson that encourages curiosity on the pages provided. In the space to jot down notes in this section, I wrote about the arduous task of waiting… I have always struggled with wait time. Whether that is the time between posing a question to the class and waiting to call on a student, or the time given to write a response, or the time between taking the standardized tests at the end of the year and getting the scores back. I’m not good at waiting. This section reminded me that waiting is integral to learning. I love how Ramsey relates the mentors in movies to a teacher in a classroom. The movies wouldn’t be as great if the mentor showed up in the first scene! Students need to struggle a bit before the mentor steps in to impart their wisdom to the “young grasshoppers”.

Rule 3: Practice Reflection

I love the reflection techniques that Ramsey shares here, both for students and teachers! It’s so vital that our reflections be consistent, honest, and mutual as Ramsey states in the book. Being consistent is the hardest part for me, but I’m planning to do better in this year through blogging.

I have to say that this is one of the first books that did not 100% align with my own educational philosophy. While you may have a “oh no she didn’t” look on your face right now, give me a minute to explain. I’m actually thrilled to finally have this moment! This is perfect for my own reflection and I’m beyond excited that I’ve been able to take the time this summer to begin to really nail down what my educational philosophy really even is! Think about it… it wasn’t that long ago that I stopped and determined my own #EDUpassions through bracketology. Now I’m at a place where I feel confident enough in my own opinions to question something in the book. That’s a HUGE place to be, y’all!

Ramsey shares a way of reflecting called Double Lesson Planning. Here he recommends creating two columns, one with this year’s plans and one with next year’s plans. Immediately after students leave, he copy-and-pastes this year’s plan into the next column highlighting changes he’d like to make for the next year. In my position, I haven’t reused any lessons in the past 5 years. In the media center, I have the opportunity to teach with more flexibility so my educational philosophy encourages me to find new ways to teach every year (without duplicating lessons). Also, I don’t have a specific objective to meet in each grade level, but have school goals that I try to reach. Last year we focused on digital citizenship and safety. This year my focus will be on research and inquiry. Therefore, this practice won’t work for me. When I was in the classroom, this practice would have suited me well, but now it doesn’t align with my teaching practices, which are a direct reflection of my own educational philosophy.

I love the 10 Bonus Strategies that Ramsey lists at the end of his book! You’ve got to check those out! I can see using and/or sharing a version of each one this year!

Implementing Spark Learning

This may have been the quickest that I ever decided on an implementation for one of the DBC books so far! Immediately upon reading the first section, I wanted to create a way to spark curiosity in my students and engage them in learning outside of the classroom setting. Last year I had a bulletin board in an old trophy display that read “Today’s News is Tomorrow’s History” and had QR codes to the current headlines of local, state, national, and international news. In class we discussed bias in the news and verified that each of the news outlets I presented were among the least biased outlets available. Because the QR codes were linked to the home page of each news outlet, I didn’t need to update it at all because the QR codes were linked to pages that updated daily. I love this board and although I don’t want to take it down, I realize that students may likely walk past it and not bother to check the news because this was “last year’s board”. I also want my students to see that I’ve put in the effort to think of something else they can interact with this year. Our school is working to create a culture of readers as a piece of fulfilling our vision of creating lifelong learners. Part of that culture is seeing that each of our teachers are readers as well. With this in mind (what Dave calls Creative Alchemy), I’m going to create a board that sparks curiosity through showing the favorite books of each staff member and asking students to predict via Google Form (linked from a QR code on the board) who they believe chose that book as their favorite. You’ve likely seen versions of this on Pinterest, but I hadn’t even considered using it until reading about the “sparks” in the first section of this book. I’m excited to have teachers share their favorite book and create this board this week! I will post pictures and share a blog post upon the revealing of the answers to students! I’m not a creative bulletin board kind of gal, so I’m excited that this book has sparked (yup, I went there) an idea of a bulletin board!

I greatly enjoyed reading Spark Learning by Ramsey Musallam, EdD! You can check out parts of Ramsey’s website for free and the rest requires a monthly membership (bummer). You can get more of Ramsey on the Internet TV Show called Infinite Thinking Machine produced by CUE! He is a co-host on the show! I’m excited to watch a few of these myself. As always, the flipgrid is a space to share your own reflections and ideas from each of the DBC books! Andrea Paulakovich thought this piece of awesome up when #DBC50Summer first started in June. Please feel free to share in this space for global collaboration (& go follow Andrea – she’s incredible).

Well, folks… that’s it for our third set of 10 books! It’s time to continue with the Summer Recaps by sharing the last 10 books read, so look for Summer Recap 3 coming up next!

Creating Community – A Schoolwide Project

All 270(ish) students in my elementary school collaborating on one big project over the course of a month, each part of the project relying heavily on another group doing their part.  That was my goal.  My principal had mentioned a collaborative project, and it had grabbed my interest.  I had no idea what to do from there.

One morning a few weeks later, while in the shower (where all amazing ideas are born), I had a fleeting thought about my oldest daughter’s upcoming field trip to a fire station.  This sparked a little genius hour project of my own to see the scope and sequence of the study of community helpers through elementary school.  It turns out that every grade level has some mention of community helpers/citizens woven into the North Carolina Essential Standards for Social Studies (K-2, 3-5).

So I wrote a DonorsChoose project for a Community Helper Lego Construction set and an Ozobot.  The majority of the project was funded by our friends at Paradise Games, a local gaming store in our community.  (A HUGE thank you to these guys!)  The idea?  To use Lego bricks to build a community and have an Ozobot programmed to move through it using codes created by markers.

Here was the plan:

PreK, Cross-categorical class, and Kindergarten: Research various community helpers using PebbleGo  and create a list of community helpers they would like to see in our own community

1st grade: Use the list created by PreK, CC, and Kinder to determine where those community helpers worked.  For example: Kindergarten said we need a doctor.  1st grade decided that doctors work in a hospital and a doctor’s office.  They also mentioned dentists, so we included those as well.  These buildings were compiled into a list for 2nd grade.

2nd grade: Create a blueprint for the community.  Use the Lego blocks to begin building the workplaces of the community helpers.  *This was where I saw real engineering and the STEM element of the project begin to emerge.  My students did not understand the proper way to build with the Lego blocks; they didn’t get the purpose of the overlapping of bricks to create an interlocking wall.  The walls would crumble when moved. Lots of devastated kids and a few tears, but they figured it out and created some excellent building foundations.

3rd grade: Put the finishing touches on the Lego buildings and review the blueprints for the community with a suggestion prepare for 4th grade.  This group also laid the foundation of the community (white bulletin board paper) onto two large rectangle tables in the media center.

4th grade: Place buildings throughout the community.  Heated conversation ensued about the location of the church (which was insisted upon by my 2nd grade students), the proximity of the school to the police station/jailhouse, and the ability to move from the doctor’s office to the hospital quickly.  These students also created the “sidewalks” to signify road spacing on which the Ozobot would travel.

5th grade: Using the open road spaces for the Ozobot, the 5th graders designed a color-coded roadway that allowed the Ozobot to visit all of the buildings in our community.  It started in the entrance to the community and went to every single building performing various tricks, tasks, and moving at different speeds along the way.


The project took only one class period (45 minutes) for each class in the school.  There are 14 classes.  With snow delays and my media schedule switching each week, this schoolwide STEM project took nearly 6 weeks to complete.  Overall, all students in the school worked toward a common goal, collaborating each step of the way.  The younger students took delight in seeing their community helpers and the buildings come to fruition on the tables in the media center.  The workspace was out front and center where everyone could see it as they entered the learning space.  During the creation of the community, the workspace was organized chaos.  Students left it, as is, when their class time was over.  Our faculty still held meetings here, students still circulated books, and we still held media classes and small group instruction.

It is my hope that this project continues to push forward a change in school culture.  For me, this project was never about the materials (which were an awesome addition to our makerspace collection).  It was the idea of my entire school working together to make something really cool.  I almost cringe to call it a STEM project because STEM seems to be becoming another “buzzword”, a label to put on something to make it sound educational.  Truly, this project was an adventure.  This project allowed my students, in all grade levels, to see a long-term goal met with research, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking.  It was a mess throughout much of the process, none of us knew what we were doing, and we pushed through and made a masterpiece.  Our students’ future is not about coloring in bubbles on an answer sheet, sitting in desks taking notes, and listening quietly to an adult talk all day.  Their future is about engagement, empowerment, and enthusiasm.  Through this schoolwide project, these students were all engaged, they were empowered by creating a community of their own, and they were more enthusiastic than ever before.

*Video on YouTube.