Archive for the ‘Book Summaries’ Category

Creating A New Teacher Profession – edited by Goldhaber & Hannaway

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Here is a review of an Edited book by Goldhaber and Hannaway that looks at a wide variety of human resource issues in education. Everyone who does any teacher hiring, evaluation, or staff development should have this book. It is also essential for policy makers. The bottom line is that we have an outmoded system and that we won’t know what works unless we try the type of alternatives discussed here.

Click here to see my review of this book.

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Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World – Book Summary

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World by Tony Wagner (© 2012, Scribner: New York, NY) explores what parents, teachers, and employers must do to develop the capacities of young people to become innovators. Tony profiles innovators to identify patterns in their childhood that made them what they are. He shows how to apply his finding to education and tells parents how to compensate for poor schools. Keys include collaboration, interdisciplinary problems solving, and intrinsic motivation. Sixty original videos are included that you can access via a smart phone. Go to Creating Innovators for a trailer, then click the icon below to purchase this vital book from Amazon.

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Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education by Sir Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education by Sir Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica ©2015 offers advice for educators and policy makers that can bring rigorous, personalized, and engaged education to everyone. As a leading voice in education, it’s vital that any one interested hear with Sir Ken has to say. If you haven’t seen his number one TED Talk check that out too. Click at the bottom on any page to purchase this necessary book.

Sir Ken Robinson, PhD and Lou Aronica

  • Sir Ken is an English author, speaker, and international advisor on education in the arts to governments, non-profits, education, and arts bodies. He was Director of The Arts in Schools Project (1985–89), Professor of Arts Education at the University of Warwick (1989–2001), and was knighted in 2003 for services to education. He is the author of The Element, Finding Your Element, and Out of Ours Minds. His 2006 TED Talk How Schools Kill Creativity is the most watched in history with over 33 million views. Originally from a working-class Liverpool family, Robinson now lives in Los Angeles with his wife Marie-Therese and children James and Kate.
  • Lou Aronica is the author of three novels and the coauthor of several works of nonfiction, including the national best sellers The Culture Code, The Element, and Finding Your Element.

Introduction: One Minute to Midnight

  • The current reforms are being driven by political and commercial interests that misunderstand how real people learn, and how great schools work. As a result they are damaging the prospects of countless young people. The standards culture is harming students. In response, Sir Ken continues to push for a more balanced, individualized, and creative approach to education. Instead, schools take children with voracious appetites for learning and see to it that their appetites are dulled as they go through school. Current efforts focused on raising standards through competition and accountability do not work, and compound the problems they claim to solve. If you design a system based on standardization and conformity, you suppress individuality, imagination, and creativity. Schools that were designed to produce factory workers resemble factories with their assembly line approach. Current reforms stick with this approach only to be less in tune with the circumstances of the 21st century. Sir Ken thinks that schools need to be transformed not reformed, and that we know how to do it even though we aren’t.
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David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants is Malcolm Gladwell’s fourth best selling book to be summarized here. I’ve been a big fan ever since I summarized The Tipping Point. If you like to give books as gifts, please click below and get copies for yourself and your favorite book worms.

Malcolm Gladwell

  • Malcolm has been a staff writer with The New Yorker magazine since 1996. From 1987 to 1996, he was a reporter with the Washington Post, where he covered business, science, and then served as the newspaper’s New York City bureau chief. He graduated from the University of Toronto, Trinity College, with a degree in history. He was born in England, grew up in rural Ontario, and now lives in New York City.
  • He is also the author of The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference, (2000), Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, (2005), and Outliers: The Story of Success (2008). They were all number one New York Times bestsellers. Click the above links for my summaries.
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Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work, Heath Bros.

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work (©2013) by Chip & Dan Heath, Crown Business: New York, NY shares research and cool stories that show how our decisions are disrupted by an array of biases and irrationalities. They go on to introduce a four-step process designed to counteract these problems. Their fresh strategies and practical tools will enable you to make better choices at work and beyond. If you want to increase your chances of making the right decision at the right moment, this book is for you. Click the icon at the bottom of any page to buy this important book for yourself and your key colleagues.

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Denialism – Irrational Thinking is Common – Michael Specter

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives by Michael Specter deals with how large sections of our society are in denial about things that science supports. Included are topics like child immunizations, genetic engineering of our food supply, alternative medicine, and race-based medication. The following quote should give you some idea of what to expect:
“Denialism is not green or religious or anti-intellectual, nor is it confined to utopian dreamers, agrarians, or hippies. It is not right- or left-wing; it is a fear expressed as frequently and with as much fervor by Oxford dons as by bus drivers.”
Although the book is science centered, you don’t have to be a scientist to follow it.

Click here to see the excerpted summary of this book.

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Discipline Survival Guide – Get One For Your School

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

In the Discipline Survival Guide for the Secondary Teacher, 2nd Ed, (©2011, Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, CA) Julia Thompson takes on what may be the most unpleasant part of the profession and a top reason why teachers leave. She draws on up-to-date research and theory that can help students become more self-disciplined, goal-oriented, and successful learners as teachers enhance leadership skills. She focuses on student motivation, classroom management, relationships, instructional techniques, safety, and high expectations. This 350 page effort is easy to read and can be used as a desktop reference. My summary contains key ideas, but there is a lot more I left out. Every student teacher, beginning teacher, and veteran teacher with discipline problems should have this at their side. Lots of advice for parents too. As a former secondary teacher and elementary principal, I can assure you most of this applies to students of all ages.

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Ditch That Textbook by Matt Miller

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016


Section 1. Why Go Digital?

    Ditch Shirt

  • The genesis of Matt’s DITCH model of teaching starts in 2007 when he was lecturing and teaching from a textbook. He knew the kids were bored and so was he. He was stuck in the old paradigm of using the textbook as the curriculum along with worksheets and multiple choice tests. While I’m always leery of words as acronyms as their authors usually have to stretch things a bit to make them work, the DITCH acronym really works. It stands for Different, Innovative, Tech-Laden, Creative, and Hands-On. These are the hallmarks of Matt’s model that he rolls out in this book. In addition to ditching your textbook, this model also requires you to ditch your curriculum and, perhaps more importantly, ditch your mindset.

Before and After

  • Imagine it’s 1904 and you want to have a conversation with the legendary John Dewey who lives in Chicago? Unless you lived nearby, this would be essentially impossible. Today, however, it is possible to have conversations or at least listen to famous educators from all over the world thanks to the Internet.
  • If you started teaching when I did, you were probably were much less efficient that connected teachers today who have electronic filing cabinets and many other time saving applications. Today you can take your students on electronic field trips at little or no cost. Things you write don’t rely on good penmanship. Finding information seldom take more than a few seconds. In short, going digital makes your life and your students’ lives much easier.
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Do You Know Enough About Me to Teach Me? A Student’s Perspective by Stephen G. Peters

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Do You Know Enough About Me to Teach Me? A Student’s Perspective by Stephen G. Peters (©2006, The Peters Group Foundation: Orangeburg, SC.) provides insight from students he gathered during extensive interviews and uses this perspective to let teachers know what they may have missed in college. His goal is to help teachers learn how to care for all students by listening with all their hearts to the voices of students. Click the icon at the bottom of any page to purchase this fine book.

Stephen G. Peters

  • Stephen has been an educator for more than 25 years with experience as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, and director of secondary education. He is founder of The Gentleman’s Club, a program that seeks to change attitudes and behaviors of at-risk and borderline males and The Ladies Club that aims to empower girls to be their own best friends and inspire them to discover and be proud of who they are. He is also a partner at CasseNEX, a leader in online course design and delivery. For more on his work check his website.

It’s All About Relationships

  • Stephen believes that the solutions to many education problems reside within the hearts and minds of the students themselves and that we all lose when we silence or ignore their voices. It’s the special relationships between students, teachers, and administrators that are the keys that unlock the door to success and excellence in any school. Part 1 features interview transcripts from four selected students.

Keisha

  • Most students want to learn. We have a whole lot to deal with outside of school and we need respect, structure, and consistency. Her favorite teacher told the class on the first day that they all had A’s and that motivated her to work to keep it. It was her first A. As a 9th grader she finds that many teachers don’t seem to care. The best teachers treat you with respect and work hard to make lessons interesting.

Marvin

  • Marvin’s favorite teacher told him he was smarter than he thought he was and made learning relevant and meaningful. She was a master at forming positive relationships with her students and never wrote discipline referrals. The other key influence in Marvin’s life was his coach. The relationship was so strong that the coach felt like a family member and Marvin worked hard to meet the coaches expectations. He was impressed when one teacher showed up at one of his football games. That made him want to work to pass her course. He also appreciates teachers who stay late to help kids and go out of their way to do unexpected acts of kindness. He doesn’t like the administrators as he has the sense that they don’t like him.
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Drive by Daniel Pink

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink (Riverhead Books: New York, NY ©2009) is a must read for educators and parents alike. Dan summarizes current research and does a great job turning it into interesting and understandable prose. Every school should have this on the shelf.

Three Types of Motivation

  • 1.0 – The basic motivations we need for survival
  • 2.0 – Motivations based on direct rewards and punishments. Such carrots and sticks are typically financial in this context. They work for jobs that are routine, which are often the jobs that can be sent offshore or done by a computer.
  • 3.0 – Intrinsic motivation, which is conducive to creativity. This allows you to do things for the satisfaction of doing them rather than any monetary reward. Examples include open source software, Wikipedia, learning to play a musical instrument, or doing a puzzle. It is important for non routine (heuristic) jobs. In these jobs rules are loosely defined, which requires creativity.

Carrots and Sticks Don’t Always Work

  • Pink sites 128 studies that lead to the conclusion that tangible rewards tend to have a substantially negative effect on intrinsic motivation. This is one of the most robust findings in social science and one of the most ignored. (Doug: Educators should check out Alfie Khon’s 1993 book, Punished by Rewards.)
  • Studies show that rewards and punishments can extinguish motivation and diminish performance. They focus behavior, which can crush creativity and they can crowd out good behavior. In some cases they can lead to cheating, shortcuts, unethical behavior and lead to addiction. They can foster short-term thinking at the cost of long-term results.

Carrots and Sticks Aren’t All Bad

  • Rewards do not undermine people’s intrinsic motivation for dull tasks where there isn’t any motivation to be undermined. To increase chances for success you need to: 1) Offer a rationale for why the task is important 2) Acknowledge that the task is boring 3) Allow people to complete the task their own way. Another way to offer extrinsic rewards for creative work is to give the reward after the job is finished. Care must be taken so that such rewards don’t become expected. In general, praise and specific positive feedback are less corrosive than cash and trophies (Doug: That means stickers for you elementary teachers)
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