Category Archives: summer reading

Summer Reading 2019 Book 1 #hackingQs


Hacking Questions:  11 Answers That Create a Culture of Inquiry in Your Classroom by Connie Hamilton


What a great read!  So many thoughtful, practical tips that can impact my classroom tomorrow – except, its summer break, so I suppose impact my classroom next fall!

I always enjoy a lighter read to begin my summer learning and a chat with colleagues and friends to reflect on what we’ve read is always a good thing.  You can search up #eduread over that past few weeks for mine and @druinok’s take on this book.

One thing I loved about this book was the quotes to begin each hack.  I am thinking I will make mini posters, highlighting the word/focus: Engage, Think, Reflect, Listen, etc.  @druinok even stated at one point – the quotes alone could lead to some great PLC conversations.

My biggest take-a-way from the entire book is INTENTIONALITY.  There are such good suggestions, but preparation and being intentional with implementation of those ideas is the foundation of creating this culture.  Many of her strategies are simple moves on things a veteran teacher may already do – but why/how it impacts learning is very enlightening to me.  I walk away after each hack, feeling like I can do this.  I can make that work in our classroom.  There was really nothing in the book that overwhelmed me.  I never once felt I had to add to what I was already doing – but simply to adjust / make what I do better with her take on things.

A jot-down for each hack that I made…

  • student feedback with new protocols, what worked, and how could we refine?
  • IDK becomes a rise to action, not an end result.
  • a punctuated lesson models responsibility, time management and goal setting – the student has a plan.
  • teachers and students playing PINK PONG with questions – this gives a false sense of discussion.
  • what impact will my questions have on triggering their thought?
  • content questions alone are not enough – metacognitive…
  • teachers include themselves in student learning – GET OUT of the way!
  • answers are not transferable, logical thinking and reasoning are transferable.
  • most difficult to master (for me) passing the baton back to them – accountability – who’s doing the thinking? “might”
  • Very specific Questions trigger responses that expire.  we cannot without ownership of learning by asking all of the questions.
  • Come to school to enjoy a day with your students.

These are just thoughts from the reading that made me pause or convicted me somehow to make improvements.  There are numerous structures offered within each hack.  I would like to add a few more posts and share my thoughts on how I see things going in my classroom.  The author does a beautiful job of helping us see how to walk in tomorrow and make a small adjustment;  she shares snapshots from real classrooms, offers ways to think about the pushbacks we may encounter and how to overcome them.

I am very appreciative of her sharing of ready to use resources on her website as well.

This book is great for any teacher at any grade level with any level of experience – young and veteran alike.  Get it. Read it. Talk about it.  Reflect on it.

Let me know how your changes impacted your students’ learning!

Strength in Numbers


As mentioned in an earlier post, I started reading Ilana Seidel Horn’s Strength in Numbers just as the last month of school began. But as we all know, the end of the year takes over…EOCs, Finals, Prom, Graduation, closing days, packed up 1/2 of an entire school and stored it in our gymnasium for major renovations this summer.  Yep, my book went to the back burner.

Finally, today, I found time to jump in and start reading again…

…at the pool.  A friend’s mom jokingly asked, “Are you studying over there? Don’t rush it, school will be here soon enough.”  My reply, “Yep, reading a book I’ve been looking forward to for several weeks.  And yes, its mathy, I love me some math.”

Again, proof only my online PLN actually get me and my hunger to learn more.  And that’s okay.

Only 2 chapters completed between snacks, reapplying suncreen, having to leave for a camp meeting…but oh, my, so much to think about.

Some of my highlights…

Positive behavior comes from students’ engagement in the subject matter.

Four Principles for Equitable Mathematics Teaching:
   1. Learning is not the same as achievement. (So.true.  Never thought about it quite like this).
        Every student has something mathematically to contribute.
   2. Achievement gaps often reflect gaps in opportunities to learn.  (This one made me sad).
         “Instead of the blame game that begins when we view our students as low-achieving, we can think about how to re-create our classrooms and departments in ways that will increase the opportunities for students across achievement levels to learn by thinking mathematically.” Yes! Pg 14
    3. All students can be pushed to learn mathematics more deeply . (Sad. Again.  We fail to challenge them and provide interesting, engaging tasks).
        ” opportunity gaps affect all students.  A key characterisitic of an equitqble classroom is that ALL students are supported to substantially participate in each phase of instruction…”
   4. Students need to see themselves in mathematics. ( hmmm.  Ready to read more on this one for sure).
       “Mathematics as a subject , has a reputation for being interesting to a narrow group of people… students often feel mathematics allows no room for questioning… in didactic teaching situations, students feel their job is to receive preexisting knowledge.”

I am excited to continue Strength in Numbers.  Already, its challenged me and given me some things to think about…how I can recognize the difference in learning and achievement, how I can look for ways for every student to engage everyday…

…that I am providing opportunities for my highest achieving to learn and move forward just the same as my middle of the road learners and those who struggle as well.  An email this spring from a parent proved this point, ” in 12 years of school, I have not once had a teacher contact me…”  This is a gifted, creative learner who achieves above their peers.  However, I was not seeing growth for them as I had seen in their peers.  Yes, this student was above proficiency, but that didn’t mean my job was finished.  They needed to grow too.  And I was concerned…was it something in my teaching that I needed to adjust?  In order to help every one of my students, I must constantly reflect on my practices and adjust…

So I will continue reading and thinking on these 4 principles-how they are supported or need to be considered in my own classroom.

#readthree Summer Challenge #MTBoS30 Post 22


Last summer I wrote a post after a tweet from @burgess_shelley (she’s married to that Pirate guy)…but I enjoy reading her journey and experiences as an educational learner and leader!

Time to read the blogosphere is sometimes put on the back burner during the school year.  I hate this because interacting with #MTBoS challenges me to be a better teacher.  But it happens.

So today, I offer this challenge (again) to myself, but feel free to join in.  Read posts from 3 people you follow on twitter.  If you cannot do it daily, set a goal for yourself. I am challenging myself to 4 days a week and one day to reflect and share my take-a-ways by compiling my to-do list for next year. 

My intentions for next year are to incorporate more hands-on labs/data collection, focus on vocabulary and literacy strategies to empower student reasoning (writing and summarizing, @druinok!), providing more purposeful interactions/discussions (Strength in Numbers, @tchmathculture!) and planning more engaging tasks/activities.  Hopefully these goals will guide my focus in this challenge.

I am looking forward to reading from some new bloggers as well as catching up with those tried & true!

Summer Reading 2014 #MTBoS30 Post 14


I actually began reading this book, but the last weeks of school kicked in and I had to put it down…
Strength in Numbers: Collaborative Learning in Secondary Mathematics, Ilana Horn


I saw so many things about this tweeted out of NCTMNOLA…
Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematics Success for All, NCTM


As I refine unit organizers this summer, I hope to focus on making Essential Questions a vital part ot the units.


I am determi ed to make an impact on student reading through a focus on vocabulary/literacy strategies.  I participated in a webinar the other afternoon…some great strategies shared, looking forward to learning more…
Vocabulary Their Way: Word Study for Middle and Secondary Students, Shane Templeton


As I begin preparing for AP Statistics…
Lady Tasting Tea, David Salsburg


A colleague shared a copy of this book with me earlier in the year…
Invent to Learn:  Making, Tinkering, Engineering in the Classroom,
Martinez & Stager


Being a confident teacher leader is a goal in this last half of my career…learning to listen and consider others’ strengths is important…
How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie


And for kick back, relax…The Fault in Our Stars was recommended by some of my students.
Thanks to @druinok, I have a shelf full of kindle books ready to go, too!

What other titles are you considering this summer?