Books to Share

A friend stopped by unexpectedly last night as I was about to go to bed. (I do turn out the lights pretty early these days.)

“I was on my way to the library,” she said. “And then I realized I could go to Susan’s house instead!”

I laughed, completely understanding what she meant. In my years of teaching, I was also a reader. I collected books on writing, thinking, pedagogy, and leadership. On my shelf I have Shirky, Gallagher, Kohl, Li, and Wagner. During my days at FA, I tried to share as many books as  could, handing out Godin, Dweck, Boss, and Wheatley to name a few. My friend, a former colleague who was working on a philosophy of teaching essay for graduate school, wanted to reference something, and she knew  I would have resources.

After handing over a few books, I said good night. And then I realized how many more I have on my Kindle now.

“That’s a shift,” I thought with some regret. I can’t share my books any longer.

But wait–yes, I can! I remembered hearing about lending books from my Kindle, but I hadn’t tried yet. A couple of clicks later, and I was there:

There are a few restrictions from Amazon:

Eligible Kindle books can be loaned once for a period of 14 days. The borrower does not need to own a Kindle — Kindle books can also be read using our free Kindle reading applications for PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android devices. Not all books are lendable — it is up to the publisher or rights holder to determine which titles are eligible for lending. The lender will not be able to read the book during the loan period.

I can live with that, though unfortunately books can only be lent once. I don’t know why I am so late to this game, but I’m glad I learned something new.

image credit: By jblyberg


The Seven Survival Skills

Global shell I've read several books in the past couple of years that have profoundly changed the way I look at teaching and learning. Clay Shirky's Here Comes Everybody, Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind, the Heaths' Made to Stick, Ken Robinson's The Element, and Tony Wagner's The Global Achievement Gap (among others).
Well, I'm actually not finished with Wagner's book. But I want to post some of his thoughts as I read in hopes of encouraging some discussion here and at school.
~The subtitle is: Why Even Our Best Schools Don't Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need–and What We Can Do About It. He is a former teacher and principal, and now serves as co-director of the Change Leadership Group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
He says:

…effective communication, curiosity, and critical-thinking skills, as we will see, are much more than just the traditional desirable outcomes of a liberal arts education. They are essential competencies and habits of mind for life in the twenty-first century.
The simplest explanation for the low level of intellectual work and general lack of curiosity found in classrooms–even our best high schools–is that our schools were never designed to teach all students how to think.

The first skill:

  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

Wagner says, though "critical thinking" has become somewhat of a buzzword, his interviews with CEO's and college professors  show clear similarities in finding a definition. Be curious about why things are the way they are and be able to ask good questions, throw out the textbooks, use less linear thinking, have strong analytical skills, don't take things at face value, apply abstract knowledge and figure out a solution.

His criticism of most classes, including AP courses, is that we create students who can follow a prescribed set of instructions, answer questions posed by the teacher, and see what is–but not what might be.

Ask our students to be the ones who question– not just the ones who answer.

Next, Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence.

Uploaded on March 16, 2007
by Gaetan Lee

A link to link moment


Early this morning, I opened my Google Reader and linked from this to this, a history teacher’s blog I hadn’t read before.

As I read through some of Glen Wiebe‘s posts (and many are posts to which I’ll return), this one about a new book caught my eye. I had been to Borders earlier in the day and almost purchased it.
(I was after presentation ideas in this book instead, and it deserves a separate post later.)
The 12 rules in Brain Rules provide "nice research and examples to
explain how we interact with our environment and each other, especially
how we as teachers can impact student learning," Wiebe says.

They are all fascinating statements, but this one in particular jumped out at me:

exploration EXPLORATION | Rule #12: We are powerful and natural explorers.

Next, I wanted to look something up in my Reader, and a link from Dana Huff took me to another great read, teacher Lisa Huff, who posted about a new tool, Moonfruit, which may be what I am looking for–a way to post student portfolios online.

When I finally decided to write a post about this serendipity, I went to grab a picture from Flickrcc and discovered you can now edit your pictures in Picnik from the front page!


All in all, it’s been a productive morning. And it’s only 7:30 am!

Image: ‘Morning Mist on the Dumoine II