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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Catching Up and My Summer Reading List

The last few years have been an absolute whirlwind with trying to balance parenting and teaching.  I have been making many changes in my teaching as I move toward personalizing learning.  I continue to prioritize professional reading and wanted to share with you what books I am reading this summer as well as a few life updates.

Taking a real vacation

This past week, I went with my family to Wells, Maine and had my first full week off from thinking about or reading/writing about teaching in at least 3 years.  I didn't take any of my professional reading or even bring my laptop.  I did read 6 books just for fun!  It has been at least 7 years since I have been able to read 6 books for pleasure in a week! My favorite read of the week was the Gilly Salt Sisters.  Despite my attempt to stay away from professional reading for the entire week, the house we rented had several bookshelves full of random treasures, one of which was this interesting looking book by Ron Clark.  I have always been very inspired by Ron Clark's work but have never read one of his books. Despite the fact that I managed to stay away from the book the entire week I was there, I decided I had to read this and have downloaded the audio version using a credit from my Audible subscription. I find audio books are a great way to help me keep up with all of the books I have on my wish to read list.  I often listen to them while cleaning, cooking or driving if I don't have the kids in the car with me. 

Older Kids = More Adventures

My children are 7, 5 and 3 this summer and for the first time ever, I don't have a kid who is 2 and under.  This has opened up an entire new world of possibilities for us in terms of going on summer adventures. They can handle all day excursions and our world does not have to revolve around nap time for a change.  They also all walk well, listen better and have much more endurance.  This has led us to having tons of active summer fun all over our land, our neighborhood and our state.  We can visit many more isolated treasures in the area because our ability to hike has grown exponentially.

Library Time

I am spending a great deal of my time this summer volunteering at our little local library.  This gem is tiny but an important part of our small town.  It is inside an old Baptist Church from the early 1800's.  There is such an eclectic collection of books both new and old.  It is entirely staffed by volunteers and is open a few hours each week.  I have been working to help update and reorganize the collection of books in a way that makes them easier for folks to access.  It is a lot like thinking about how to organize a classroom library and I have very much enjoyed my extra time among the books. 

Staying Out of My Classroom

I have been on summer vacation for almost 3 weeks now and I have managed to stay out of the school building and for the most part away from my school email.  I like taking a break and then slowly easing myself back into the school routine and plans for next year.  Beginning next Tuesday, I will spend a few hours each week in my classroom putting it together for next year and getting this prepared.  Our students start on August 30th and I like to avoid the last minute rush while still feeling prepared.  I find putting in 5-6 hours a week at my leisure over the second 2/3 of summer really helps relieve the back to school rush.

My Summer Reading List

I picked up this book because I saw the author, Steve Leinwand speak at a conference last year.  I was impressed by his ideas about only changing 10% of your teaching practice each year.  

I read an earlier edition of this book when I was in college and student teaching.  After my book study on Mathematical Mindsets, I decided revisiting these ideas would enhance my ability to teach for a growth mindset. 

This is another book I decided to read based on seeing the author speak.  This past spring, I attended a 2 day workshop on grading and reporting with a team from my district.  We have made some excellent progress in this area over the past 10 years but still have a few things we could do to improve the grading and reporting process.  

I ordered this book because I am so inspired by many of the teacher blogs represented in this book.  I am impressed with how these teachers share the happenings in their classroom and ask important questions about teaching math.  

Back in 2014, I did a book study on Teach Like a Pirate and was so inspired by the ideas.  As my job evolves, I get put into leadership roles quite often in my school and my district so it was natural that when I saw Lead Like a Pirate had been published, I knew right away I wanted to read it.  I am almost done and will be sharing some of my thoughts soon! 

This one I picked up on the recommendation of a friend.  Much of my reading over the past 2 years has focused on the intermediate & middle school grades and I like to keep myself up to date with all the grades I teach so I asked a friend who is an expert in primary mathematics which book she recommended and she picked this one! 

The Dyscalculia Resource Book
This book will be coming out in the next few days and looks to be a great resource.  Dyscalculia is something not well understood by most educators and definitely something I want to read more about. 

Two Books I Recently Finished

I read this book during the last month of school, and loved the ideas presented.  I am always looking for ways to improve communication and feel like there are awesome things happening in my school that nobody knows about.  The ideas in this book, especially around sharing with video were things I was immediately able to put into practice.  I passed this book onto my principal and we are working together to make a plan for using some of these ideas building wide next year.  

140 Twitter Tips for Educators
I have officially been on Twitter since the fall of 2013 but have not really used it in any substantial way.  Many fellow educators in the math field and otherwise have encouraged me to use Twitter for professional development and a way to connect with other educators.  Since being the only math specialist in a building can be isolating, I knew Twitter would be an excellent way to connect with the larger educational community.  While reading this book, I began to take many of the tips to heart and was doing a great job with Twitter at least until the school year was coming to a close!  This book definitely helped me feel more comfortable using Twitter and I would highly recommend it to any educator!

How are your plans for the summer progressing?  Feel free to respond in the comments below!


  1. Looks like you had a great vacation week! You were so close to me (I live in New Hampshire), less than an hour away! Your book recommendations look great but I am curios about the book on Dyscalculia which seems more like a workbook. Have you used something like that book before with success? The price also threw me (over $100). Yikes!

    1. Hi Karyn. It was a great week! You live in a beautiful area of the world! I haven't received my copy of the Dyscalculia book yet, but it is available in paperback for about $30 and in digital format for under $20. I have no idea why the hardcover is so much more expensive! I will definitely be writing more about this book once I receive it and read it so stay tuned!

  2. We used to go up to York Beach a lot when my kids were young - we loved York Wild Kingdom! You were smart to bring no teacher books or your laptop - now that is a real vacation!

    1. We have been in Maine for a week for the past 3 summers and keep putting York Wild Kingdom on our to-do list. Somehow though, we still haven't managed to get there! Maybe next time!

  3. I'm interested in Your School Rocks. I was at a conference this week, and the keynote speaker talked about branding. He said that if we don't tell our school's story, someone else will. It was very interesting.

  4. I'm glad to hear you're taking a real break from teaching for a little while. I always found that so hard to do, but it's important to prevent burnout. Enjoy the rest of this beautiful summer:)

  5. Appreciated you attempting to revive to survived but giggled when I read the 'teacher' oozing through. We, true teachers, just can't help ourselves!
    All the best
    Julie :)
    Mrs Stowe's Kinder Cottage