What are you feeding your brain?

Summer seems to be a time to engage in reflection coupled with some personal and professional development. . .  a time when I get to sit back and enjoy life at a slower pace.  When I’m not enjoying the outdoors, crafting in my craft room, or working on my computer, I take some time to read a few books – professional and personal.

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health, teaching strategies, professional development

This summer I had a handful of books on my list to read.  I’ll share a quick review of each book I’ve read (so far), and you may want to add one or two to your summer read list.  Be sure to check back in a few weeks for the rest of my “Summer Book Reads and Reviews”.  I have four more weeks of summer vacation to enjoy until the school year starts for us in Alaska.  What are you reading?

Hope King and Wade King, The Wild Card: 7 Steps to an Educator’s Breakthrough

I came across Hope and Wade King this spring (2018) while I was teaching a University course: Foundations in Education 101. Actually, I was first inspired by Ron Clark when I watched a Ted Talk during a lesson prep for the course.  I was inspired by Ron’s enthusiasm and passion for education. Check out the TED Talk and you’ll see what I mean.  Following a virtual rabbit trail, I stopped by the Ron Clark Academy (RCA) to learn more about Ron and the school.  Here is where I met Hope and Wade King.  As I watched a few videos that Hope and Wade posted, I was intrigued by the room transformations.  Yes, I have “added decor” to my classroom to help set the stage for learning, but what I saw in these videos was magic!  I could totally see my classroom being transformed in ways to engage students in learning.  I know the little additions that I did sparked excitement.  Can you imagine the motivation and inspiration if I took the time to transform my room throughout the year with meaningful lessons and assessments?

The book, The Wild Card, that Hope and Wade put together is an inspiration of what every teacher can do to spark student learning.  It is always great to see and hear from other teachers what they do in their classroom AND is great confirmation that I’m on the right track.  My daughter (student teacher at the time) purchased this book, and I knew it was one that I had to read.

Check out the Ron Clark video and RCA videos.  Then read Hope and Wade’s book, The Wild Card.  You’ll be inspired to be the Wild Card that motivates and engages your students!

Chris Biffle, Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids

I’ve got to tell you, I love teaching and I love teaching university courses.  This Foundations in Education 101 course certainly stacked my 2018 summer read list.  Another great resource to gain some fabulous ideas for classroom management and instruction.

As you know, my classroom is a blended learning environment that uses technology and project based instructional protocols for learning.  I was excited to read this book and add the whole brain research to the parts in the day that are “direct instruction”.  I actually watched a few YouTube videos along with the book to get started.  I began reading this book in May and just finished it up in June. It is a perfect “How to” guide.  While reading the book, I thought I do that, I do that, but I just didn’t take it to the next level.  I was able to amp up my instructional techniques and scored BIG!!

I take some time to read a few books – professionally and personally.

Since I started using the whole brain teaching techniques, I’ve noticed that I have 100% (LITERALLY) learning engagement in my classroom.  Previously, when I used direct instruction to teach concepts, I oftentimes had a few kids not participate (even though I used Kagan structures) in the lesson.  However, when I learned how the whole brain strategies engage both sides of the brain simultaneously and began using the strategies during my instruction, I immediately noticed ENGAGED and EXCITED students LEARNING!  The techniques were a little different for them, since some of the students were shy AND I started these strategies in May (three weeks before summer vacation).  However, I knew that I’d be looping with the majority of the students, so I thought I’d give it a go.  The results:  The kids LOVED it!  I was totally sold when I saw a few students use the motions to help with an assessment (mic drop!)  BOOM!!  I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of “school” and starting out with WBT.

If you’re looking for some ideas to ENGAGE 100% of your students in learning, this is the book to study!

William Davis, MD, Wheat Belly: Loss the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health

In 2013, I finished up my doctoral study.  Now with nothing I HAVE to read, I wanted to start focusing on my health.  As you know, we are always getting older, and I knew that I could do a better job with eating healthy.  During the summer 2014, I had a few personal health books on my read list that focused on the Paleo eating program.  I learned a lot about health that summer, lost 65 pounds, and was able to transition my family’s diet to be healthier.

This summer (2018) I was looking for a health book to read to continue my learning. I asked my sister and she told me about this book, Wheat Belly.  This book continued to build my knowledge about wheat and how it impacts the blood system and ultimately all organs in our body.  I learned a lot about how the lipid blood panel shares information about health and why wheat is causing a huge problem for me and others.  Adding this health knowledge has allowed me to make healthier choices for myself and family.

If you’re looking for a great health book to read, check this one out.  It is quite easy to understand AND you don’t need an MD (medical degree) to figure it out to get on the path with a healthy food plan.

Dave Burgess, Teach Like a Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator

Last, but certainly NOT least, is a fabulous book that provided lots of confirmations that I am on the right track in education. Many of the topics were written with new language, but certainly ones that are needed for a top notch learning environment.  From personalized learning, the art and science of teaching to student engagement and motivation, this book was a fun, quick read.  My daughter is a new teacher and this is certainly a great book for EVERY new and veteran teacher to read.

Dave has several books with this “PIRATE” theme along with speaking engagements around the nation. Check out his books for some great inspiration to lead a classroom like a PIRATE!  ARRR – ARRRG!!

What are your favorite summer reads?  Take a moment to share your favorites with a quick review to inspire others, add to their summer list, read, and learn.

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Annette Durbin

Annette has been an educator for more than 30 years working in the PK-6 elementary classroom, K-12 multi-language learner instructional specialist, district leadership, university professor, as well as a mentor for teachers nationwide. A National Board Certificated Teacher, Annette focuses her research on accelerating learning and advancing achievement, personalizing instruction, technology, and leadership in the education field.

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