Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Summer Reading

Each year our faculty chooses a summer reading book from about ten choices. When we return, we break into cross-divisional book groups for discussion and reflection.

Here are this summer's great reads:

Deliberate Optimism: Reclaiming the Joy in Education - Debbie Thompson Silver, Jack C. Berckemeyer, Judith R. Baenen
Recharge the optimism that made you an educator in the first place! Choosing optimism―even in the face of tough challenges―helps restore the healthy interactions and positive relationships necessary for enacting real school change. Filled with research-based strategies, practical examples, and thought-provoking scenarios, this inspiring, humorous book gets you ready to
·       Rediscover motivation
·       Take a positive view of events beyond your control
·       Build an optimistic classroom where students flourish
·       Partner with other stakeholders to create an optimistic learning environment
What Connected Educators Do Differently
Todd Whitaker, Jeffrey Zoul, and Jimmy Casas are widely acclaimed experts on teaching and leading and are pioneers in the education twitterverse, and now they are sharing their best practices! In What Connected Educators Do Differently, they show how being a connected educator―by using social media to connect with peers across the country and even across the globe―will greatly enhance your own learning and your success in a school or classroom. You’ll find out how to create a personal and professional learning network to share resources and ideas, gain support, and make an impact on others. By customizing your professional development in this way, you’ll be able to learn what you want, how you want, when you want. Best of all, you’ll become energized and inspired by all the great ideas out there and how you can contribute, benefiting both you and your students.
Whether you are a teacher or school leader, you will come away from this book with step-by-step advice and fresh ideas to try immediately. Being a connected educator has never been easier or more important than it is right now! 

Teach Your Children Well: Why Values and Coping Skills Matter More Than Grades, Trophies, or "Fat Envelopes" - Madeline Levine
Psychologist Madeline Levine brings together cutting-edge research and thirty years of clinical experience to explode once and for all the myth that good grades, high test scores, and college acceptances should define the parenting endgame.
Parents, educators, and the media wring their hands about the escalating rates of emotional problems and lack of real engagement with learning found so frequently among America’s children and teens. Yet there are ways to reverse these disheartening trends. Until we are clearer about our core values and the parenting choices that are most likely to lead to authentic, and not superficial, success, we will continue to raise exhausted, externally driven, and emotionally impaired children who believe they are only as good as their last performance.
Confronting the real issues behind why we push some of our kids to the breaking point while dismissing the talents and interests of many others, Levine shows us how to shift our focus from the excesses of hyperparenting and the unhealthy reliance on our children for status and meaning to a parenting style that concentrates on both enabling academic success and developing a sense of purpose, well-being, and connection in our children’s lives.

Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less - and Achieve More Than You Ever Imagined - Scott Sonenshein
We often think the key to success and satisfaction is to get more: more money, time, and possessions; bigger budgets, job titles, and teams; and additional resources for our professional and personal goals. It turns out we’re wrong.
Using captivating stories to illustrate research in psychology and management, Rice University professor Scott Sonenshein examines why some people and organizations succeed with so little, while others fail with so much.
People and organizations approach resources in two different ways: “chasing” and “stretching.” When chasing, we exhaust ourselves in the pursuit of more. When stretching, we embrace the resources we already have. This frees us to find creative and productive ways to solve problems, innovate, and engage our work and lives more fully.
Stretch shows why everyone—from executives to entrepreneurs, professionals to parents, athletes to artists—performs better with constraints; why seeking too many resources undermines our work and well-being; and why even those with a lot benefit from making the most out of a little.
Drawing from examples in business, education, sports, medicine, and history, Scott Sonenshein advocates a powerful framework of resourcefulness that allows anybody to work and live better.

Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success - Adam Grant
For generations, we have focused on the individual drivers of success: passion, hard work, talent, and luck. But in today’s dramatically reconfigured world, success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others. In Give and Take, Adam Grant, an award-winning researcher and Wharton’s highest-rated professor, examines the surprising forces that shape why some people rise to the top of the success ladder while others sink to the bottom. Praised by social scientists, business theorists, and corporate leaders, Give and Take opens up an approach to work, interactions, and productivity that is nothing short of revolutionary.

The Confidence Code for Girls: Taking Risks, Messing Up, and Becoming Your Amazingly Imperfect, Totally Powerful Self - Katty Kay and Claire Shipman
Girls can rule the world—all they need is confidence. This empowering, entertaining guide from the bestselling authors of The Confidence Code gives girls the essential yet elusive code to becoming bold, brave, and fearless.
It’s a paradox familiar to parents everywhere: girls are achieving like never before, yet they’re consumed with doubt on the inside. Girls worry constantly about how they look, what people think, whether to try out for a sports team or school play, why they aren’t getting “perfect” grades, and how many likes and followers they have online.
Katty Kay and Claire Shipman use cutting-edge science and research, as well as proven methods of behavioral change, to reach girls just when they need it the most—the tween and teen years.
Packed with graphic novel strips; appealing illustrations; fun lists, quizzes, and challenges; and true stories from tons of real girls, The Confidence Code for Girls teaches girls to embrace risk, deal with failure, and be their most authentic selves.
The Power of Play - David Elkind, PH.D
Today's parents often worry that their children will be at a disadvantage if they are not engaged in constant learning, but child development expert David Elkind reassures us that imaginative play goes far to prepare children for academic and social success. Through expert analysis of the research and powerful examples, Elkind shows how creative, spontaneous play fosters healthy mental and social development and sets the stage for academic learning in the first place. An important contribution to the literature about how children learn, The Power of Play restores play's respected place in children's lives and encourages parents to trust their instincts to stay away from many of the dubious educational products on the market.

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action - Simon Sinek
Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty?
In studying the leaders who've had the greatest influence in the world, Simon Sinek discovered that they all think, act, and communicate in the exact same way-and it's the complete opposite of what everyone else does. People like Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers might have little in common, but they all started with why.
Drawing on a wide range of real-life stories, Sinek weaves together a clear vision of what it truly takes to lead and inspire.

Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning - Peter C. Brown
To most of us, learning something "the hard way" implies wasted time and effort. Good teaching, we believe, should be creatively tailored to the different learning styles of students and should use strategies that make learning easier. Make It Stick turns fashionable ideas like these on their head. Drawing on recent discoveries in cognitive psychology and other disciplines, the authors offer concrete techniques for becoming more productive learners.
Memory plays a central role in our ability to carry out complex cognitive tasks, such as applying knowledge to problems never before encountered and drawing inferences from facts already known. New insights into how memory is encoded, consolidated, and later retrieved have led to a better understanding of how we learn. Grappling with the impediments that make learning challenging leads both to more complex mastery and better retention of what was learned.
Many common study habits and practice routines turn out to be counterproductive. Underlining and highlighting, rereading, cramming, and single-minded repetition of new skills create the illusion of mastery, but gains fade quickly. More complex and durable learning come from self-testing, introducing certain difficulties in practice, waiting to re-study new material until a little forgetting has set in, and interleaving the practice of one skill or topic with another. Speaking most urgently to students, teachers, trainers, and athletes, Make It Stick will appeal to all those interested in the challenge of lifelong learning and self-improvement.

Teach, Breathe, Learn: Mindfulness in and out of the Classroom - Meena Srinivavasan
In Teach, Breathe, Learn, Meena Srinivasan highlights how mindfulness can be an effective tool in the classroom. What makes this book truly unique is her perspective as a classroom teacher, wrestling daily with the conditions about which she writes.

"Teach, Breathe, Learn provides accessible, practical application of mindfulness to overcome challenges faced during the school day." Testimonials from students and colleagues are woven throughout the book. Teach, Breathe, Learn is designed for educators at all levels, parents interested in sharing mindfulness with their children, and anyone curious about how to cultivate their own mindfulness practice and eventually teach mindfulness to others.

Part 1 helps teachers develop compassion and shift from "reacting" to "responding" to demands.

Part 2 offers techniques for cultivating loving-kindness, gratitude and seeing students, colleagues, and parents as oneself.

The last section of the book introduces a curriculum teachers can use to incorporate mindfulness into their classroom, replete with lesson plans, handouts, and homework assignments.

Boys and Girls Learn Differently - Michael Gurian
A thoroughly revised edition of the classic resource for understanding gender differences in the classroom
In this profoundly significant book, author Michael Gurian has revised and updated his groundbreaking book that clearly demonstrated how the distinction in hard-wiring and socialized gender differences affects how boys and girls learn. Gurian presents a proven method to educate our children based on brain science, neurological development, and chemical and hormonal disparities. The innovations presented in this book were applied in the classroom and proven successful, with dramatic improvements in test scores, during a two-year study that Gurian and his colleagues conducted in six Missouri school districts.
·       Explores the inherent differences between the developmental neuroscience of boys and girls
·       Reveals how the brain learns
·       Explains when same sex classrooms are appropriate, and when theyĆ¢€™re not
This edition includes new information on a wealth of topics including how to design the ultimate classroom for kids in elementary, secondary, middle, and high school.

* Descriptions from Amazon

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

1,000 Books

Coming from a family of educators, it is little surprise that I was inspired to read at a very early age and have been an avid reader my entire life.  On every car trip, every trip to the beach, and everywhere in between, I had -- and continue to have -- a book in my hand.

In 1995, for some reason that I cannot quite remember, I began writing the title and author of every book I read, and even included a rating for each, should I decide to go back for a re-read or choose something from the same author.

My “book-of-lists-of-books” has become a journal of sorts.  As I look through past years, I can see that the year my second son was born I read the fewest (21), and the year we suffered through a freezing Cleveland winter, I read the most (77).  I can remember when and where I read many of them, from a hospital stay recovering from a hockey injury to different vacations to all of the summer readings from school reading lists or required professional development.  From my ratings, I can identify books I rated so low that I never hope to see them again to others I have read over and over, with my all-time favorite being Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses (four times since 2011).

There are authors -- Stewart O’Nan, Larry McMurtry, Stephen King, and Dennis Lehane, to name a few -- whose every book makes my reading list, and others still who clearly fall into the “one and done” category.  I am also in the enviable position of having sons who are old enough to share books of mutual interest, and both parents who are avid book club participants and with whom I share books. 

Almost 20 years ago, when the internet was gaining traction, a Wall Street Journal reporter wrote a piece about using the internet as a tool to track down a beloved kindergarten teacher who had taught her to read many, many years earlier.  She described the impact this teacher had on her life, and the trajectory that led her to be a reporter for such a renowned newspaper.  She eventually found the teacher, and called her number.  When she introduced herself and explained the project, my mother immediately remembered her and couldn’t wait to hear all about her journey.

As I pencil in book number 1,000 (since 1995 when I started keeping track), I remain thankful to have been raised by such talented educators and to have been given the gift of reading.

When I see our students getting out of their cars in the morning, book in hand, I cannot help but think that Trinity Valley School is  also maintaining an atmosphere that prioritizes, and values, reading.