Sunday, September 30, 2018

A Taste of Books

How do you get a group of teachers interested in doing a book study on their own dime?

Since there was no money set aside in our school budget to purchase teacher books, I needed a way to get teachers interested in purchasing their own books.   I know from experience that people are more likely to purchase an item if they see and touch it ahead of time.  So my solution?  A book tasting!

I invited our Director of Technology to join me in leading a Book Tasting Lunch and Learn for our teachers on our campus.  They wouldn't have to stay after school to participate, they could come in during their lunch period and browse the books that we had laid out.  Between the 2 of us, we chose 10 of our own books that covered Content, Pedagogy, and Motivation.

We advertised with flyers around our campus.  A menu of books was prepared for each place setting, along with bookmarks and pens for teachers to record the titles of the book in which they were interested.  A Google Form survey was created, asking teachers if they were interested in a book study, what their top three book picks were, and their preferred format for a book study.

On the day of the Book Tasting, we decorated our Library with checkered tablecloths, menus, bookmarks, and pens.  Our book choices were grouped by categories on different tables.  With baited breath we waited to see how our Book Tasting would be received.  As teachers from different grade levels trickled in during their scheduled lunch times, we invited them to look at their menus of books and to feel free to pick books to flip through as they ate their lunches.  Coke floats were offered as a sweet surprise to top off their lunch.

Fourteen teachers visited our Book Tasting.  We were encouraged to hear conversations that showed interest in doing book studies.  The survey gave us lots of good information on which books were popular with our group.  I am happy to say it looks like we have a core group of about 7 teachers that are interested in doing a book study on Teach Like a Pirate .  We will be offering it up to any of our teachers in a few weeks in order to give them time to purchase their books.  Overall, I think our Book Tasting was a small, but definite success.  One that might be repeated in the future!

Monday, September 10, 2018


Serendipity is looking for an old favorite and finding a new one!

One of my favorite places to be is in a bookstore.  Living in a rural town, I have to drive half an hour to get to a Half Price Bookstore, and almost an hour to get to a Barnes & Noble.  I recently went in search of a copy of The Rainbow Fish to read to my Third, Fourth, and Fifth graders.  Not finding what I came for, I kept browsing because that is what you do at a bookstore!  Three gems I uncovered that I had never read before!  Milo and the Magical Stones, Sydney's Star, and Serendipity.  This last one fascinated me with its simple pattern and wonderful way of illustrating the glorious happenstance of Serendipity!  I couldn't resist the opportunity for a great vocabulary lesson!

Serendipity is buying a book for a read aloud and being inspired to write a blog post based on the book.

My life is sprinkled with many serendipitous moments.  

My husband and I had tried for two years to start a family.  I was working on my Masters degree while teaching Reading Recovery in a small but growing school district.  The month after I had my diploma in hand, we learned that we finally would be welcoming a little one in few short months.  

While I was teaching Third Grade in another district, I was offered the opportunity to take the Reading Specialist position at another campus.  This campus was in between the Middle School and the High School which my boys were moving to the following year!  My boys would be able to walk to my school when they got out in the afternoons!

Serendipity is winning a door-prize at an Edcamp that has three books that are on my wish list!

I have mentioned before that I was reluctant to becoming a connected educator.  Once I started making connections on Twitter my wish list of books began to grow!  I also learned about events called Edcamps that I quickly became addicted to!  I attended my first few edcamps with a coworker, but soon began to branch out on my own.  One summer edcamp yielded me a great door-prize of a tub stuffed with t-shirts, books, and more.  One of the books I received was The Four O'Clock Faculty by Rich Czyz; a book that I couldn't wait to read!

Serendipity is joining a Voxer book study and finding my tribe!

In amongst all the people I had connected with on Twitter was a PE teacher in NJ who was going to start a Voxer book study on The Four O'Clock Faculty.  I had already given Voxer a try and was following the #leadupchat group on that platform.  A book study sounded like a great way to go deeper and get more out of the book.  I told @mlarson_nj to sign me up!  

That was back in January of this year.  The book study lasted one month, but this group is still going!  We talk to each other daily, encouraging, challenging, informing, questioning, pushing, and asking for help.  We talk about education, challenging the status quo, families, weather, fitness, food, jobs, and any multitude of other things.  We have challenged each other to blog, started our own hashtag #4OCFpln, participated in and hosted Twitter chats, and have been interviewed on a podcast.  We have a photo shopped selfie which we take to conferences to get pictures with of some of our Edu heroes.  We have had meet ups with our PLN members all over the country.  Plans are in the works to meet up at the next ISTE.  We have all grown as a result of being with this group.  

"As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend."  This is one of the sharpest groups I have ever known!  I am proud to be a member of this wonderful PLN family!