Posts Tagged ‘books’

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.

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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.

Karen Lirenman’s “Starting with Choice: Primary Classroom Implementations”

I recently was on Twitter and saw this tweet.

Karen Lirenman is an amazing educator who teaches grade 1’s and I’ve been wanting to pick her brain for a while now. I saw this tweet and of course immediately clicked on the link

She wrote a iBook all about how to implement more choice in your primary classroom. I just finished the book, and it is such a great guide to help you. She talks about giving students choice in doing their work, where they sit, how they learn and so on. This is a great guide for anyone trying to add more choice into their classroom or is  a primary educator since she lists so many other tips and tricks.

The other BEST thing also about this book is when you load the page, it takes to so many other books written under the umbrella of “One Best Thing” and they are all FREE!

To learn more about Karen Lirenman, you can check out her blog, her post about this book, and of course, her twitter account.

Wondering how I can use ‘Passionate Learners’ with my Grade 1 class…

So this summer, I read Pernille Ripp’s ‘Passionate Learners.’ See my post all about it here. A wonderful book and something that I completely agree with and want to try out.

BUT…I’m teaching Grade 1 next year. In Pernille’s book, she states that her students (grade 5’s) already know how to do school but Grade 1’s do not. I really want to try out letting the students build the room, voice their ideas, and no behaviour charts but how do I do that in a Grade 1 environment?

Any ideas or suggestions?

My thoughts on ‘Connected from the Start’ by Kathy Cassidy

When I got the news that I was going to be teaching Grade 1 again, I immediately  knew I had to buy Kathy Cassidy’s book ’Connected from the Start.’

This past year, I used a lot of technology such as Go Noodle, Smartboard games & lessons, Skype, Classroom Blog owned by me, you tube videos and songs, Class Dojo and so much more.

I really wanted to blog with my students since I had seen the excitement and enthusiasm of blogging through some other students I have taught. But I was overwhelmed at the thought of teaching my Grade 1’s to blog since they didn’t even know how to turn on a computer. I heard about Kathy’s book and knew that it would help me be better connected for this coming year.

I really enjoyed reading this book because it gave such neat ideas about how to make learning authentic and real by connecting to classes around the world, by asking other classes math questions, and by tweeting questions and getting real responses. I also loved how Kathy could answer the questions that her students asked but instead she helped them tweet out their questions or would seek out an expert to answer their questions to make their learning more substantial.

Love this quote from the book: “For me to deny them access to technology and what it allows them to do would be like asking someone from an earlier generation to learn without a pen or pencil. It just wouldn’t make sense.”

If you are teaching primary grades and want a guide to help you become more connected, this book is for you. It tells you how to blog, skype, use twitter, and create digital portfolios.

“Passionate Learners” by Pernille Ripp

Wow, I just finished Pernille’s new book “Passionate Learners” in 2 days. What an amazingly written, non-judgemental, hopeful look at what teaching can be.

I love that she admits her mistakes that she is not proud of but moves onto how this didn’t feel right and now what she has done to fix it.

This book is about how to go from rewards and punishments, grades & teacher-led classrooms to a passionate, feedback filled and student-led classroom.

I’ve had a different teaching experience than most. My first teaching placement was at a normal elementary school but my second placement was at Churchill Alternative. I had no idea what the Alternative meant and when I showed up on the first day and told a student to sit down and take off his hat, he responded “We don’t do that here.” I quietly sat down and took this different teaching environment in.

Churchill Alternative is a school where the students, teachers and parents work together to teach the whole child. They focus on intrinsic motivation, community, cooperation and goal making. They believe in innovated and differentiated learning as well as assessment that meets the students created learning goals. Churchill Alternative has been my home base for the last 7 years of my teaching journey. I have been a supply teacher, had many Long Term Occasional positions but I always ended back at Churchill. Churchill Alternative has this amazing sense of community & partnership, and the most responsible, helpful and respectful children. I have created many friendships with the amazing staff at Churchill who I always will look up to.

This book is about making your own Churchill in your own classroom. I have seen the affects of passionate learning at Churchill and the outcome is unlike any other I have experienced yet.

Pernille gives you ideas about how to create this classroom for yourself but doesn’t give you a step by step guide. Every classroom and group is different. You have to figure out what will work for the group you have now.

You have to make sure:

  • you create a community
  • the classroom is focused on the students
  • students create the class expectations, no rules
  • no grades, only feedback
  • classroom meetings
  • no punishments or rewards, have a conversation instead
  • fun, engaging activities planned with the students
  • creating routines with your students
  • really, really get to know your students
  • be present & listen

This book is a definite must read. I have only just finished it, but going to go through it again and figure out how I can try this out next year.

If you would love to buy this book, click here or to know more about the amazing Pernille Ripp, who is also the creator of the Global Read Aloud, click here.

I know that since I started my blog, I have become so passionate about teaching and technology. I want all my future students to feel that same sense of passion.