Archive of ‘Books’ category

What I learned from ‘Unshakeable’

I began gearing up for my Summer Reading plans in May and wanted to get a bunch of professional books that I could read. I have a huge list on Goodreads but wanted something special to read, so I reached out.

Pernille Ripp is an influential teacher and person to me. Her book, ‘Passionate Learners’ changed my entire viewpoint as a teacher. You can check out my blog post about her book ‘Passionate Learners’ here and her other book ‘Empowered Schools, Empowered Students’ here.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 5.22.05 PM

I had never heard of ‘Unshakable’ but I went online and ordered it right away.


This is what I learned from Angela Watson’s ‘Unshakeable.

  • Bring your personality into your classroom. We are all unique so share with your students what you are passionate about and what you love. If you share your true self with students, you will have a better time in the classroom and create a stronger bond with your students.
  • Be present. At school with your students or when you are completing your work. Don’t watch T.V. while you mark papers because you will be doing it all night long. Focus on marking and allot yourself a specific amount of time to truly focus. In the classroom don’t multitask. Listening and look at your students, be involved. The work can wait.
  • Make lists of what you need to complete daily. I find this so important for me. If I don’t write it down on a list, I will forget about it. Writing my to-do’s on a list will ensure that they get done, even if I’m procrastinating completing them.
  • Prepare for the morning to make it less stressful. Next year I’m going to pick out what I’m going to wear the night before. I find I get stressed by this decision and it makes me frazzled and I just grab whatever to wear. When I look better, I feel better so I will make time for that.
  • Make a positive impression with parents on the first day of school or before. Call or leave a message introducing yourself, your contact information, and Meet the Teacher night info. This will start a positive relationship from day one.
  • No more complaining or listening to complaining. Change the subject or walk away. This year is going to be positive.
  • I need to create a personal and classroom vision statement.
  • Let the students discover why you are teaching a certain lesson. Why do you need to know this now?
  • Have fun! Create a classroom music playlist with your students. Dance, and be silly.
  • Students and teachers both need down time throughout the day. Plan to have downtime worked into your schedule. If you are feeling drained, your students are too.
  • Teach and reteach routines and procedures. It’s good for the teacher as well as the students to know exactly what to do. If there are changes to the routine, write them on the board.

Obviously from this list I learned a lot. I really encourage all teachers to buy and read this book. I will definitely look at this book for inspiration and for resources for years to come.

Goal Setting and Changing in the Classroom

I’m so excited to be teaching Grade 6 next year. One thing that I want to do with my class every week is Goal Setting. I recently finished reading “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We do in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg.


It was an interesting read and one that really can be linked to the classroom environment. Students need to learn how to set goals so they will succeed in their later educational pursuits, work and in life. I know that in my personal life sometimes I need a reward to complete a task that I don’t want to do such as working out or doing the dishes. I created this worksheet for students to use and to practice creating their own goals. For students to be able to complete their goals, they need to be as descriptive as possible in how, when, and where they are going to complete their goals.

Click on the picture to download.


I’m sure you have some students in your class that have a routine that is less than positive. The below worksheet is to change their routine. You would meet with the student in private, when they are calm and discuss the trouble they are having.

For example: Student A sees another students take one of his crayons and he hits them to get it back. You can discuss why this happens, what are some other options they could choose and the student could suggest some rewards that they would like to get if they choose a better option rather than hitting. Please click on the picture to download.


The below image is from, the author of “The Power of Habit” and also describes in detail how to change a habit. 

I would highly recommend reading “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We do in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg.

Summer Reading

With Summer quickly approaching I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to read over the break.

Here is my list:

Unshakeable by Angela Watson


“Reinventing Writing:The 9 tools that are changing Writing, Teaching and Learning Forever” by Vicki Davis



Going to continue to read, “The Power of Habits” by Charles Duhigg



And I’m going to re-read “Passionate Learners” by Pernille Ripp



What are you reading this summer? Let me know in the comments below or let me know if you have a suggestion.

Rethinking Letter Grades

The debate on grading is going strong in the education realm. Throwing out Grades or #TTOG is a very popular topic on twitter. Check it out here.

Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 7.37.52 PM
I received ” Rethinking Letter Grades: A Five-Step Approach for Aligning Letter Grades to Learning Standards” by Caren Cameron and Kathleen Gregory in the mail and I was so excited to start reading.

I assumed that this book would be about why letter grades are outdated and further the debate to not have letter grading. It definitely does discuss these negative aspects but it addresses the point that letter grading is what we as teachers have to do. The book gives us theFive-Step Process which helps us choose these grade in a more structured and transparent way.

IMG_5882The Five-Step Process of grading that this book discusses really goes beyond and above. It gets you to choose 3-5 big-ideas, make a statement about what you need to see from students to receive a specific mark for that big idea and shows you how to link student conversations, student products and teacher observations to each big idea to show their learning.

My Key Learnings in this book:

  • Teachers need to trust their professional judgement more.
  • We need to be collecting multiple sources of information ie: different products, teacher observations, and conversations with the student
  • Make learning objectives clear to students and parents
  • Grading and planning should be done together with teachers that are teaching the same grade and subjects

Things NOT to do with grades:

  • Stop docking marks for being late
  • Only assess one product of work the student has completed. It doesn’t give you a sense of what they actually know.
  • Participation and effort are hard to measure and should never be placed in with marks.

I definitely recommend this book to read and discuss with your colleagues. I’m excited to implement this grading process into my classroom next year! Please let mw know what you think in the comments. If you would like to buy this book, click the link here.

*Discloser – I received this book for free from the publishers but as always my opinions are my own. 

Uplifting Leadership: My Favourite Quotes

I was recommended to read “Uplifting Leadership: How Organizations, Teams, and Communities Raise Performances” by Andy Hargreaves, Alan Boyle and Alma Harris.  It was an incredible book that I really connected with. I found that when I was reading the book I really agreed with it and had many ‘aha’ moments. I would recommend this book to all superintendents, principals, vice-principals and all teachers. It’s time for change.

Here are some of my favourite quotes from this book that really stood out to me.

If you like these posters, you can download them for yourself here. If you download them, please leave a comment about which one spoke to you the most and why. Enjoy!


Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 4.48.36 PMScreen Shot 2015-01-12 at 4.48.50 PMScreen Shot 2015-01-12 at 4.49.03 PMScreen Shot 2015-01-12 at 4.49.12 PMScreen Shot 2015-01-12 at 4.48.13 PMScreen Shot 2015-01-12 at 4.47.42 PMScreen Shot 2015-01-12 at 4.48.27 PMScreen Shot 2015-01-12 at 4.47.58 PM



Ottawa Educators: We are better together!

During my Christmas Holiday, I began reading “Uplifting Leadership: How Organizations, Teams, and Communities Raise Performances” by Andy Hargreaves, Alan Boyle and Alma Harris.


I started reading and could not put it down. It was one of those books for me where I kept on yelling out ‘YES!’

One of the chapters in this book is “Collaboration with Competition” focuses on coming together to share ideas to create better collaboration. This is exactly why Shauna Pollock and I started Think Tank. To form an alliance between all schools in Ottawa: whether you are in public, catholic, private, christian or others. By collaborating, we will be able to learn from each other, add social value to teaching and education, encourage shared passion, and promote continuous innovation. We are all in the same business of educating students, why not learn from and support each other?

If you interested in joining us for Think Tank, please sign up below.

Let’s choose to believe

Pernille Ripp shared a list of books that her students loved and being a huge fan of Pernille’s, I added them directly into my to-read pile. I recently received “Flora and Ulysses” by Kate Dicamillo, one of the books shared by Pernille, and I had to begin reading it right away.

It is a quick, fun and extremely quirky read. One of the quotes in the book really got to me. “…believe it. There is much more beauty in the world if I believe such a thing is possible.”

As educators we have to deal with the harsh reality of being a teacher sometimes. Too much work, too many students, too many needs, and it never stops. But let’s turn it around. Let’s believe in the beauty and the possibility in the world but more importantly in our classrooms and in our students. Think of the changes we could make.

“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students” by Pernille Ripp

The second I saw the Pernille Ripp had another book coming out, I immediately bought a prepaid copy of “Empowered Schools, Empowered Students: Creating Connected and Invested Learners” on July 30th, 2014. I finally received it in the mail this week, feeling like I waited forever, and dived into the pages right away.


If you don’t know who Pernille is, she is a connected educator, the creator of the Global Read Aloud, (I’m so excited to be participating in for the first time this year), and the writer of “Passionate Learners: Giving our Classrooms Back to Our Students,” THE book that changed my view on teaching. Check out my write up on “Passionate Learners” here.

“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students: Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is a great guide filled with ideas about how to make your school, principal, teachers and students feel more empowered.

There are so many amazing ideas in this book that I can’t share all of them but I’ll share my favourites.

She talks about the principal feeling like a “Lone Ranger” and she suggested to create leadership team to make decisions about school but also include students and parents into the team as well. I’m happy to say that in my school, I’m on our leadership team and although we have just started, I know that having the team will be beneficial to the whole school and community.

Ongoing professional development is essential for teachers to know and be able to implement current teaching techniques into their practice. Staff meetings are usually a time to communicate what is going on in the school. Now, with all of our technology, Pernille suggests to have a staff email update that must be read and use staff meetings as a time to learn, collaborate and innovate. She also talks about ways to create time for teachers to plan and learn together within the school day. Two ideas I really liked were having an all school read in a common space or a dance that the whole school attends. That way the students need limited supervision and the teachers can have meetings to plan together or learn new teacher techniques.

She also discusses that teachers  within the board can be used as experts to save time and money for the board. I wrote about it here in this post.

To purchase Pernille Books, click on the below links:

“Passionate Learners: Giving our Classrooms Back to Our Students”

“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students: Creating Connected and Invested Learners”




Creating a board expertise database

Currently, I’m reading “Empowered Schools, Empowered Students” by Pernille Ripp.


One idea that really stuck me as genius is creating an easily accessible and updatable expertise list of current staff within our board. We have a brilliant staff that is committed to being the best teachers they can be by constantly attending professional development and implementing their learnings in their own classrooms. Why don’t we poll our staff at our board, create a document that can be shared and then we will have experts in many different fields at our disposal. This will also cost the board less since they won’t have to waste time and money searching out experts when we already work for them!

How to do this:

Create a google form with sections for: Name, School, email address, and checklist of expertise that they have with an ‘other’ section for people to add to it. Share with the entire board and get everyone to answer it.

Then share the completed list with the entire board so people can search for an expert they are looking for on a particular topic. It would also be helpful if the board would pay for release time for the ‘expert’ to go and speak at a school or staff meeting.

1 2 3