A Call to Catholic Teachers

I just finished reading Jonathan Doyle’s new book Tools & Fuels last night. IMG_1083It is a truly inspirational book with simple advice for anyone involved in Catholic education. Doyle takes the reader on a journey of discovery. From viewing Catholic schools as a mission, “(That) they exist as an integral part of the mission that is the Catholic Church” to his mantra of, “you can’t do a supernatural task with only natural resources” Jonathan expertly narrows the focus of Catholic schools down to simply putting Christ at the center. It’s something so simple and so easy to put into action but many in Catholic education make it much more difficult than it needs to be.

I have seen first-hand how many Catholic schools focus more on college prep, test scores, and analyzing data than they do on putting Jesus at the center of all that they do. Mr. Doyle issues a clarion call to step back and put our total dependence on God, only then can we become Saints, beat burnout, and save the world.

Weaving personal experiences, stories of saints, and quotes from Popes and theologians IMG_1087into the narrative seamlessly makes for a captivating read. I can identify with the life experiences Jonathan shares on a very personal level. This man pours every fiber of his being into showing how the Catholic teacher is called by God to a vocation that is so important (helping form Saints) that only a total dependence on His help can we accomplish what He wants us to do.

I applaud Mr. Doyle for his energy, zeal, and willingness to be countercultural in a very disturbing point in our history. If you are a Catholic teacher, you MUST read this book. If there is one book you read this summer (other than the Bible) read this book! I’m just a high school teacher from Iowa but I truly think that if you teach, administrate, counsel, or work in a Catholic school that this book will change your life.


25 Books to Gnaw on Over the Summer

Games 65986_Barnes_Assessment30 3D-LLAP-254x300 The New Teacher Revolution

Looking to up your game, keep up to date with current trends and research, or develop professionally? Well, look no further because these 25 books are on fire. Quick reads with a plethora of opportunities to step out of your comfort zone into a world of meaningful learning. All of these authors practice what they preach and every one of them is personally approachable and helpful.

Don’t wait for the beginning of next school year! Add some personalized PD to your summer months. You cannot go wrong with these 😎 Please add your summer books to the list in the comments!

Anderson, Mark, and Jackie Beere. Perfect ICT Every Lesson. New York: Crown House, 2013. Print. Save to EasyBib

Barnes, Mark. Assessment 3.0: Throw out Your Grade Book and Inspire Learning. Print. Save to EasyBib

Barnes, Mark. Role Reversal: Achieving Uncommonly Excellent Results in the Student-centered Classroom. Print.

Bender, William N. Project-based Learning: Differentiating Instruction for the 21st Century. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2012. Print.

Bonk, Curtis Jay. The World Is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2009. Print.

Clarke, John H. Personalized Learning: Student-designed Pathways to High School Graduation. Print.

Davis, Vicki A. Reinventing Writing. the 9 Tools That Are Changing Writing, Learning, and Living. New York: Routledge, 2014. Print.

Dueck, Myron. Grading Smarter, Not Harder: Assessment Strategies That Motivate Kids and Help Them Learn. Print.

Dweck, Carol S. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success:. New York: Ballantine, 2008. Print.

Ferlazzo, Larry. Building a Community of Self-motivated Learners: Strategies to Help Students Thrive in School and beyond. Print.

Gee, James Paul. The Anti-education Era: Creating Smarter Students through Digital Learning. Print.

Grant, Peggy. Personalized Learning: A Guide for Engaging Students with Technology. Print.

Gray, David, Sunni Brown, and James Macanufo. Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers. Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly, 2010. Print.

Hirumi, Atsusi. Online and Hybrid Learning Trends and Technologies. Print.

Horn, Michael B., Heather Staker, and Clayton M. Christensen. Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools. Print.

Keeler, Alice and Miller, Libbi. 50 Things You Can Do With Google Classroom. Print.

Miller, Matt. Ditch That Textbook: Free Your Teaching and Revolutionize Your Classroom. Print.

Meloy, Judith M. Writing the Qualitative Dissertation: Understanding by Doing. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2002. Print.

Ricci, Mary Cay. Mindsets in the Classroom: Building a Culture of Success and Student Achievement in Schools. Print.

Solarz, Paul. Learn like a Pirate: Empower Your Students to Collaborate, Lead, and Succeed. Print.

Stumpenhorst, Josh. The New Teacher Revolution: Changing Education for a New Generation of Learners. Print.

Terrell, Shelly Sanchez. The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers: Small Steps to Transform Your Teaching. Print.

Tucker, Catlin R. Blended Learning in Grades 4-12: Leveraging the Power of Technology to Create Student-centered Classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2012. Print.

Wettrick, Don. Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation and Taking 20% Time to the Next Level. Print

Please add your summer books to the list in the comments!


Level Up Your Game with eBooks

I love, love, love reading books on my Kindle and through any app on my iPad mini, with one caveat: the book I am reading must be for enjoyment not for learning. I have the first and second generation Amazon Kindles as well as a Kindle Paperwhite. I also have an old Sony eReader that was supported by the now defunct Borders, and I have one of the early generation Barnes and Noble Nooks. I really enjoy reading books on a dedicated eReader because the device only needs charging about once a month with active reading, it automatically saves your page (no more dog eared pages), and there is no eye strain in different lighting conditions. eReaders are also very portable in that they are lighter and thiner than the average Tom Clancy (may he rest in peace) novel.

Picture of hand holding a 2nd generation Kindle

Courtesy Amazon.com

Why Kindle?

My second generation Kindle is my eReader of choice. It stays on my bedside table for night time reading and it travels with me around the globe. I have a larger library with me when I travel than half of the Medieval nobility had in their very homes. I need a light source (like a lamp at night) in order to read my Kindle as it doesn’t have internal lighting like the Kindle Paperwhite. I have had so many problems with some of Barnes and Nobles’s eInk eBooks in the past that I don’t even bother with owning one or buying anymore for my Nook tablet. The Nook tablet has been relegated to my kids who use it to watch Netflix and play games.

I like the speed of service and the lack of problems with Amazon’s Kindle. Although there is no physical store to walk into whenever I have questions, I have never had any questions because my Kindle has always just worked. Sometimes, if something works, don’t mess with it!

Why fiction only?

I cannot get used to using an eBook to learn from. When I am reading for information or learning something new I must have the physical printed word in front of me. I know it’s kind of weird because much of my life depends on digital devices. I have my system of highlighting, dog earing, writing in the margins, and tagging with colored sticky tabs (are sticky tabs even a thing?). These things can all be accomplished in an eBook, but I just can’t get past my old ingrained system. I don’t think I’m set in my ways yet, but I think I need someone to teach me how to make the change before trusting myself to actually do it. Maybe Vicki Davis could do a webinar on that?!

Picture of a tabbed book

Dog Ears Galore

My oldest daughter is a reading purist (I think I just made that up). She refuses to read on any device. Check that, she refuses to read books in any electronic format. She reads lots of things (Pinterest, Facebook, and texts) on the computer, her iPod, and phone, just not books. I really don’t think she would even read the greatest everyone’s talking about it book if it was only offered in eBook format.

Students can publish

I know that I have to get past my antiquated ways because I will eventually want my students to publish eBooks. Heck, I would even like to publish an eBook some day (The Great American Novel). But seriously, what better way for students to write than to chose an audience, write, and then publish for that audience. Students could then market their eBooks through various social media, people read the book, then write to the author, and walla Bob’s your uncle. What better way to get authentic feedback and constructive criticism. No longer are we bound by the walls of the classroom. No longer are students writing for just a teacher and forgetting the piece after they get it back with a grade on it. I can see a mad dash of students wanting editors in the future as they finally figure out that spell check doesn’t correct usage errors or grammar errors.

Don’t forget to have conversations about copyright and citing sources properly. Plagiarism in this forum could lead to legal action, but there is a lesson to be learned in that too. As for me, I will always counsel the use of some sort of creative commons attribution. CC SA ND. If you don’t understand that last sentence go to http://copyright.lib.utexas.edu/copypol2.html  and http://j.mp/12L3pok