Posts Tagged books

What I Am Reading: Invent to Learn

I came across this quote on Pinterest a while ago.

If you read an hour a day, one book per week, you will be an expert in your field within three years. Through continuous learning, you will be a national authority in five years, and you will be an international authority in seven years. ~ Brian Tracy

In reality I do not have an hour a day to read as some days the kids are lucky if we have time to eat and read their books before bedtime. So I guess I am becoming an expert on Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Whatever After, but that really doesn’t help me in my career.  I have decided that something is better than nothing and I am not seeking to be an international expert, just to get better at what I do.   I have started by finding books that challenge me to think about education, technology and how kids learn.   Currently the buzz I have been hearing is around MakerSpace.   MakerSpace was a big topic as last year’s SXSW Edu event and I can honestly say I did not “get it” at that time.

I began to watch how my own children learn and play and started to see the allure.  We have gotten away from allowing kids to build and create.  School work needs to have multiple choice questions associated with it.  I see it in their homework and graded papers.  Science is graded on how well they can choose the right answer instead of how they can make predictions, test theories and explore how things work.   I also began thinking back to my own school days and tried to think about what work do I remember from the 1980s that I was graded on.  What came to mind was the replicas I built of the Globe Theater, an Egyptian Tomb, science fair projects that I researched and put together and the one page notes pages my trig teacher would let us bring to class.  All these things I created.

I was starting to “get it.”    The idea still seemed overwhelming in the face of standardizing testing.  I began to research online and ran across the recommendation for this book: Invent to Learn.  I am enjoying reading through the ideas and thoughts in this book.  I have used it as a reference book to find ideas and resources in how I am helping to create a MakerSpace existence on campus.  More to come on that later.    By reading I am conquering my fears and finding solutions.    I am not through with it yet, but wanted to share and find out what other people are reading right now.

What are you reading to become an “expert?”


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Blogging in Literature

Teachers struggle with getting non-writers writing and non-readers reading.  But why should those students practice a skill they struggle with?  Why will another book and another essay help when so far it has not made a difference?  We know that more practice helps, and that you can’t improve unless you work at it, but sometimes we have to approach kids and assignments from a different point of view.  We need to find out what they are doing and see if we can make that a hook into their learning.  Blogging and online communication is one of those hooks.

What does blogging do for your students:

  • Provides a real world situation for kids – authentic learning.  They are no longer writing just for you, but for the world.
  • “Research has long shown that students write more, write in greater detail, and take greater care with spelling, grammar, and punctuation, when they are writing to an authentic audience over the Internet.” ~ David Warlick
  • Encourages reflective writing – Something about seeing your work online and knowing that everyone can see and read it causes you to think harder about what you want to say.  Reading comments about that writing can spark new thoughts and new ideas that would not have been there otherwise.
  • Blogs are a great equalizer.  Student’s opinions and voices can be heard they same way adult voice can be heard giving weight and value to the thoughts and opinions being expressed.
  • Parents can access the student writing at a moment’s notice and see the progress their student’s are or are not making.
  • Student get feedback on their writing from more than just the teacher or a peer reviewer.

What are some ideas for using Blogs in Language Arts classes:

  • Literature Circles – students can answer questions about a book the class is reading and provide insight on plot and character developments
  • Original Writing – students could keep their own blogs and record their writing throughout the year.  At certain points the students would have easy access to look back over how their writing has developed over time.
  • Reflective Writing – Students could reflect on class topics, lectures, novels, or discussions.
  • The student that never contributes due to shyness or not wanting to look “smart” can now contribute without having to speak in front of the class.

Examples of Blogs in Language Arts:

Grading Blogs:

So how do you assess what students do on a blog?

Here is one teacher’s solution:

My solution was to design a blogging rubric that would enable me to attach a grade to something I previously had had only a gut feeling about. I assigned excellent, satisfactory, and unsatisfactory to

  • How well students’ blogs integrated the concepts and principles from class discussions and activities;
  • How effectively students’ writing conveyed their understanding of the content
  • Students’ use of higher-level thinking (analysis, synthesis, and evaluation) in their blogging; and
  • How well students’ blogging entries demonstrated a personal connection with the topic and applied course readings.

Taken from” “Log on to a Blog” –

So are you willing to give it a try?  Do you have any other ideas for using blogs in your classroom?

Word of Caution: When having student’s publish online, you must remember at all times to be safe!  Using full names, posting emails, or giving out personal information must be off limits at all times.  For more information about thinking through these issues, please see:

and talk to your campus technologist to make sure you have thought through everything!

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