#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.

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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!

#DBCBookBlogs: Empower Our Girls

Two weeks from today is the 10th anniversary of working in the very best job I ever accepted… motherhood! Bailey has a big DOUBLE-DIGIT birthday coming up and Sophie turned 6 years old a few months ago. I am the incredibly proud mama of two beautiful daughters who could not possibly be more different. My poor husband is surrounded by estrogen… even our shih-tzu is a girl!

Lynmara Colón and Adam Welcome (Kids Deserve It and Run Like a PIRATE, anyone? Um – wow!) have written an incredibly powerful, moving, and timely declaration! I firmly believe that anyone who elects to pick this book up and open to page 1 will be touched and feel compelled to follow in step with the authors’ call to action! Quite simply, they want to Empower Our Girls!

empower-our-girls

So… can we just take a quick second to check out that cover?!?! The cover in itself speaks volumes about what Lynn & Adam believe! Imagine what that little girl on the cover is feeling! I bet she feels as though she can conquer the world, run with the bulls, take up for herself, open her own business… she views herself as a superhero! Imagine what the world would look like if we taught all little girls (and boys) to view themselves as superheroes! In Lead Beyond Your Title by Nili Bartley, she discusses this idea of superheroes and determining the superpower that lies within each of us.

What I love more than anything is that Lynn & Adam aren’t pushing this idea of “entitlement”… this thought that the world owes us something. Nope, they are very clear that it takes hard work and determination. It takes goal setting and mentors who believe deeply in their success. It takes crushing obstacles that lie before us. It is our job, as educators – and truly just as human beings – to open the doors to opportunity for our students… ALL of them. Not just the boys. And not just the girls. We have to be aware of the message we may be unintentionally (or heaven forbid, intentionally) spreading about equality and equity.

Reading Lynmara’s story touched my heart. Seeing a father’s passion for expanding possibilities for his daughter, and all girls, through Adam’s words was enough to bring tears to my eyes. The stories from successful women throughout the pages was extraordinary! When I finished, I was so sad that it was over! I want a sequel… immediately. Get on it, y’all!

One thing that absolutely must be pointed out is the foreword from Shelley Burgess! Yes, you know Shelley… many people may know her as “Dave’s first mate,” or “Dave’s wife”, but y’all – Shelley Burgess is a force to be reckoned with! I have been privileged to have a few conversations with the educator, former Assistant Superintendent of Educational Leadership, co-founder, co-owner and Vice President of Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc, mother, co-author of P is for Pirate AND Lead Like a PIRATE, speaker, and powerhouse that is Shelley Burgess. Let me assure you that, while I feel certain she holds her role as “Dave’s wife” in highest regard, she moves mountains in her own name. In other words, she doesn’t need to rely on a man. (Besides have you ever seen Dave Burgess speak? Can you imagine being married to that for however-many-years? Bless her. She’s a good, good woman. HA! Sorry, Captain.) Anyhow, check out her foreword in a blog post from Dave right here! It sets the tone perfectly for Empower Our Girls and prepares us to be WOWed by Lynmara and Adam!

This is legitimately a book that I want my nearly 10 year old to read! I hope that I have shown her that she can do anything she puts her mind to! My mother opened her own business at age 54 and just held her first anniversary celebration! Business is booming in her boutique and she is the owner, operator, manager, seamstress, businesswoman, cashier, custodial staff, customer service, and everything else it takes to run a store all in one. I’m so proud of her! These are type of stories we need to hear more of; the stories where women share their successes and setbacks. Honest, raw, vulnerable stories that show that while we, as women, are deeply human in our emotions, we are insanely strong and equally as capable to run through obstacles that threaten to stop us. Our girls need to believe that anything is possible and we need to let them know the doors are open, even if we have to break them off the hinges first.

Implementation

Y’all… I’m awful about saying guys when speaking to a group of students. I’m done with that. It seems so inconsequential, but after reading Lynn & Adam’s stories, I realize that it could not be any more important. So not only will I be ensuring that my daughters realize that they don’t need to be rescued by anyone, and they don’t have to play with Barbies (Sophie plays with tractors and race cars anyhow), and that if Bailey wants to go to STEM Camp this summer, she can and will be just as good at it as anyone else there, but I will also pay more attention to the unintentional messages I’m sending out.

I’m also going to check our library immediately for female characters and female success stories! If I find a discrepancy, I will purchase books with strong female characters and biographies of women for my girls to read and aspire to be like.

Y’all… you need this book. Like… you need Empower Our Girls yesterday. Go! Get your copy & use the hashtag #EmpowerOurGirls to reflect and share your own story! Connect with Lynmara and Adam, and more than anything – encourage girls daily! Show them how much we believe in them. They deserve it!