Sunday, August 26, 2012

Seven Simple Secrets: What the BEST Teachers Know and Do

     I just read an awesome book for teachers called Seven Simple Secrets by Annette Breaux and Todd Whitaker.  This book has seven simple secrets to help you in your classroom.  A chapter is devoted to each of the seven secrets.  The authors give examples from classrooms and then give specific ways to implement that secret in your classroom.  The secrets include: planning, classroom management, instruction, attitude, professionalism, discipline, and motivation/inspiration.  
     This book has a lot of great strategies that I plan to use in my classroom this fall.  It is a great book for teachers of all ages - from preschool to college.  It is a quick read.  You can read all of it or specific sections that you want to fine tune in your classroom.  It has lots of tips that you can use immediately.  I highly recommend it for teachers.

Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters From Obedience School

     Everyone thinks Ike is a bad dog, so Mrs. LaRue puts him in obedience school.  Ike hates obedience school and starts writing Mrs. LaRue letters to convince her to get him out.  
     This picture book is a great book for introducing inferences.  Students can use the pictures to infer what obedience school is really like compared to how Ike describes it.  The pictures show what Ike is imagining, but also what is really happening, so students have lots of support to make inferences.  Then they can use the text to support their inferences to see if they were correct.  
     It is a cute book with great pictures.  The advanced words will also help build kids' vocabularies.  

Monday, August 13, 2012

Good to Great

      Some companies make the leap from Good to Great, while other good companies do not.  Although Jim Collins looks at the results from companies, the results apply to any organization.  He chose to look at businesses because they had a clear standard of success that could be applied to all companies.  
     Jim Collins and his research team found seven characteristics that ALL the good to great companies had in common.  Each characteristic is developed in an individual chapter.  Jim explains the characteristic, offers examples and non-examples, shows why it is important, and explains how an organization can implement the characteristic.  
      One of the most interesting characteristics to me was Level 5 Leadership.  There are so many people working in politics and businesses that do not have Level 5 Leadership.  Although their leaders are flashy or the newest and greatest in the business world, their companies will suffer from their leadership.  
     Although I am not in business, I learned a great deal about how to lead my school to becoming a great school.  This is an easy to read book with lots of applicable information.  .   

Reading Don't Fix No Chevy's

      Teenage boys tend to struggle in school, especially in reading and English classes.  Boys read all the time, just not in the traditional ways their teachers value.  As a result, boys don't see themselves as readers and that affects their abilities in school.  Michael Smith and Jeff Wilhelm use research and interviews with forty-nine guys to show teachers how to build literacy for the young  men in our classrooms.  Their findings are easily implemented.  A must read for language arts teachers.  


          Zero is sad.  When she looks at herself, she only sees a big hole.  How can a number worth nothing become something?  Zero tries to change herself into other numbers, but feels deflated when it doesn't work.  She tries to find value by impressing other numbers, but that just leaves everyone bent out of shape.  With the help of the other numbers, Zero discovers her own value.  
     This picture book is a wonderful metaphor about self-esteem and the value our lives bring to others.  It can also be used as a math book for children learning about place value and the power of zero.