Sunday, June 9, 2013

My Summer Reading Goals

I've been thinking about some kind of "process" post about what I'm doing as a summer reader - I'm a firm believer in writing about process, since I don't think I'll ever have a "finished" statement about things like teaching writing or conducting effective research (or teaching others to do so).  So, in that spirit, I thought I would write about my thinking about my summer reading goals, as they stand, right now.  Instead of waiting for them to be "finished."  Because even the goals are being revised, as we speak.  

So, here are some of my personal summer reading objectives:
  1. Read around several key professional (education) topics, such as 
    1. Engagement, when and why it occurs, how to improve/increase it in the classroom
    2. Teaching writing
    3. Teaching reading
    4. Non-traditional or "outside-the-box" teaching methods that encourage engagement and learning
    5. Best practice or most-effective methods of teaching 
  2. Read 50 "kid" books (YA and MG)
  3. Blog usefully about most of what I read
  4. Tweet about all of the above
  5. Synthesize/synergize all of the above as much as possible
I'm only three books toward Goal 2, but I've never read that many.  My highest achievement thus far has been 32, and that was with a little "cheating" (like reading a lot of Babymouse books).  I hope that my blogs have been useful so far, but not many posts lately have been about my summer reading.  I hope to work on that.  I am trying to average about one post a day, though, and that's a lot of fun.  

I think the only goal that needs further explanation, really, is Goal 5.  I hope that it's clear that many of  the topics under Goal 1 overlap (teaching reading in an engaging and effective way, for example).  Regardless of the actual overlap among the books, though, I remain one person, with one classroom.  I'm developing plans to use Genius Hour, for example, which fits 1-4, 1-1, and 1-5 without too much stretching.  It might take some careful design to apply this strategy to 1-2 and 1-3.  Can Genius Hour be used to effectively teach reading and writing?  I think so.  I hope to try, anyway.  

Perhaps I should also clarify "read around."  I don't think that I need to read an entire 500-page book about brain science to learn something from that book, or to use what I learn.  I know from experience that persisting through a difficult and time-consuming book doesn't automatically make that book more useful.  Don't get me wrong - I finish a lot of books - but I no longer feel obliged to finish every book I start, especially when the book is dull, not especially useful, redundant, or covers something I think I already know.  

So the first part of "read around" is not feeling required to finish every book I start reading.  The second part is to start/skim/peruse as many different books about the topic as I can.  Let me give you an example.  Related to the topic of engagement, I am currently reading Self-Driven Learning by Larry Ferlazzo, Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahnemann, Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal, and The Anti-Education Era by James Paul Gee.  I recently finished Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess and Visible Learning for Teachers by Doug Hattie, and I have copies of Teach Like a Champion, Book Love, Crafting Digital Writing, Notice and Note, The Book Whisperer, and Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning.  I am picking up a copy of Invent to Learn, as well.  

There's no way I'm going to read all of these.  I probably wouldn't want to.  I might finish two or three of these titles this summer.  Finishing 10 professional books in a summer would be an ambitious goal for me.  Pulling chunks from half or more of these books is reasonable.  In fact, I think that reading a little of one book, then a little of another with related ideas, can be more interesting and more useful.  Since I'm the boss of my own learning with this, and since I think this is the best strategy for what I need, based on what resources are available, that's the way I'm going to do it.  

I hope to share some of these weird idea webs soon.  
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