My Top Lists

 

My Top 12 Books to Read

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This book had been a game changer for my teaching practice.  It provides the reader with techniques and examples to increase retention and make concepts overall "sticker" for the student. 

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Have you ever wanted to improve your speaking skills? Do you envy other teachers or speakers who just seem at ease in front of a crowd?  This is a book that teaches you all the insights of being an engaging speaker and presenter.  

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Joshua Medcalf uses parable form to teach the reader about developing grit.  This is an easy read as you follow the story of a young man and his path to mastery, but with many bumps in the road.  Each short chapter is filled with analogies to key life skills and personal development.

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In a world that celebrates extroversion, Susan Cain, provides many examples of the positives and worth that introverts provide to the world.  This book provided me with a deep relation that being an introvert was NOT a bad thing.

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This book is written in story form and captures a ton of excellent points in building your team.  It also teaches the reader about the key characteristics to being an excellent team mate.  This book is an easy read, but packed full of actionable knowledge. 

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I LOVED this book!  I am a nerd that probably should have spent time studying neuroscience.  This book takes you into the scientific reasons how our brain actually works and why what we choose to do(or not do) cultivates an environment of learning or destruction.  He also wrote Brain Rules for Baby which I highly recommend reading before or while you have a child.  So many tips and tricks to help develop your child's brain to work at its best!

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This is a book I read EVERY year!  When you need a reminder of why you do what you do and why you are persevering, Angela Duckworth's words provide that support.  This is also a book I assign for my students to read, as the skills reviewed are just what we all need to achieve our dreams.

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Productivity is a key skill now more than ever, but distractions and productivity killers are everywhere.  This book helps you harness your distractions and organize your day to complete your high value work.  Cal Newton provides the reader with many actionable ways to reorganize your work to promote focus and success.

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A parable about a young man who dreams of becoming a samurai warrior, this book is another easy read.  The chapters are short and easy to understand, but the message behind the words are big.  Becoming great is a process that takes time, patience, and hard work.  This book allows you to see that process and be inspired.

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This is a book I read EVERY year too!  I find I sometimes need the reminders on how to look at failure as opportunities not as negatives.  This book helps you identify your learning mindset: growth or fixed.  It also helps you develop the skills to flourish in learning and growing with a growth mindset. 

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This is a book written for entrepreneurs, but it SO applies to every walk of life.  If you are in the business of managing people in any way, this is a must read.  Jocko and Leif share stories of their deployments as Navy Seals and apply them to real world situations.

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Think back in your memory bank to your fondest memories.  What makes them so positive and what makes them so vivid? Chip and Dan Heath explain the reasons why those moments have a permanent place in your memory.  They also teach the reader how to create these powerful moments throughout your daily life.

5 Technology Platforms I Use in the Classroom

 

This is the place to become the graphic designer you always wanted to be. Canva allows you to create all sorts of different projects - presentation slides, cards, flyers, posters, social media posts, etc - from templates that graphic designers have already created. Pros - The templates include elegant fonts, beautiful color combinations and preset arrangement of various elements. Canva also can be a blank slate for whatever design you have in mind. Check it out for the next presentation you are making and wow your audience. Cons - there is a bit of a learning curve and some small cost involved if you want to upgrade to the pro version.

 

 

 

This is an excellent online quiz platform where you can either use preset quizzes or create your own. Pros - They have everything from pop culture quizzes to math quizzes and everything in between. Kahoot! Also makes it easy to create your own quizzes. I find this a really fun way to review previous discussed content or to check in on the student’s reading. Your students will need either a phone or computer to participate as they log in to the game via any web browser. The game can be competitive and gives points for correct answers. I like to hand out a pack of M&M’s to the winner each time. Cons - It does open your students up to distractions from their phone or computer, so you have to monitor this closely.

This is a fun way to break up the cognitive backlog that longer lectures build up. Pros - Poll everywhere allows you to create polls, multiple choice questions, word clouds, and open-ended questions that integrate directly into your slides. There are other polling type platforms out there, but they require you to stop your presentation and then open a browser. With Poll Everywhere, you can incorporate it directly into a PowerPoint, KeyNote, Google Slides, etc and never skip a beat. I like to use this every 10 minutes or so to break up the content and to get a gage on the audience’s understanding of what they have heard so far. Cons - Customizing is difficult at times as the editing platform is not user friendly. Usability between PC and Mac's is different and creates a bit of a learning curve.

Have you been wanting to try flipping your classroom, but haven’t found the right way to do it yet? This is a great software for getting your content setup for that flip. Pros - Panapto is an online video presenting software that allows you to present a presentation and record your face/audio as well. You don’t have to know a lot about editing software to be able to record, edit and upload your Panapto lectures as it is user friendly. I like to use this to get lecture content out to students in small chunks and then utilize that content in a multi-sensory way when in the classroom. Cons - You run the risk of being monotone and boring when you are only lecturing to your computer. This takes practice to be as enthusiastic and passionate as if you have a whole audience.

This is a new platform that utilizes the fun concepts from Snapchat and Instagram that your students know all about, but in a learning environment. Pros - In essence this platform allows you to record a video question and then your students can respond with their own video as well as respond to each other, all with adding some filters, sunglasses, hats, etc to add a fun factor. This platform allows you to assess prior knowledge, check understanding and allow for self-reflection all with students interacting in a way that is fun and different. Cons - I haven’t used this platform on a regular basis yet, but see its usability in many of my classes to spark discussion points and to review out of class reading that seems so tough to get students to actually complete. This again could be a bit of a distraction point for your students, but used outside of the classroom may reduce this con.