Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What Am I Reading Right Now????

The question should be, "What aren't I reading right now?" I'm good for starting a book, then starting another one, and then starting yet another one! I purchased myself a Kindle because I LOVE to read. This has drawn me back into my old habit of reading more than one book at a time. I have been to several conferences over the past few months and have been given recommendations as to several titles that I should read. Hence, I have either downloaded them onto my Kindle (that I have affectionately named "Kendall" ~ LOL) or purchased the hard copy of the books. Although I LOVE my Kindle, there is still nothing like a book in your hands...you know what I mean...the smell of the pages...the sound of them turning...the paper cuts that you get on your fingers....So, here are some of the titles that I am reading and some brief thoughts on what I think so far.

"Motivating Black Males to Achieve in School and in Life" by Principal Baruti Kafele-I was drawn to see Principal Kafele speak at Learning Forward last year because I am passionate about his topic. It's what I want to center my research around for my dissertation. He was such an "on fire" speaker! I left his session in tears because I feel what he is passionate about! He talks about the fact that although society thinks that something is wrong with our young black males because of the music that they listen to and that they wear their pants below their behinds that there is indeed....NOTHING WRONG WITH THEM!!!! We need to encourage them to pull their pants up and stay in school. You can follow him on twitter #principalkafele. He is the principal of an urban school in Newark, NJ. His test scores are high and his students are making honor roll for the first time in the history of their families! He is a phenomenal speaker and his book is outstanding!!!!

"Fires in the Mind" by Kathleen Cushman-I haven't started reading this one yet but I saw it at the Learning Forward conference this year. After I saw it there on display for purchase and overheard some fellow educators discussing it, I saw it again in an educational magazine and took it as a sign that I needed to download it! The premise of the book is "what kids can tell us about motivation and mastery." I look forward to starting it soon!

"Drive" by Daniel H. Pink-"The surprising truth about what motivates us." This book has been recommended to me a lot since I started working in the field of education, however, I JUST downloaded it. I look forward to gaining an understanding of what drives us to do the things that we do and why we act the way that we act. From what I understand this book takes a look at a corporate approach but I think it's still a great educational tool.

"The Grace of Silence: A Memoir" by Michele Norris-Michele was a keynote speaker at Learning Forward this year and I was humbled by her voice. She speaks in this moving memoir about her family and how she grew up and the focus on education that was established early on in her life. She is very candid and speaks of her struggles about being the only black family in an all white neighborhood. She is the positive voice for education that we have been waiting for! She talks about race and how it is the unspoken elephant in the room....."all of us should be willing to remain at the table even when things get uncomfortable." She is such an eloquent speaker and writer.....

"The Excellent 11" by Ron Clark-I purchased this book at Learning Forward as well. He actually signed it for me after keynoting the final address. I haven't started it yet but I ready "The Essential 55." I plan to visit his school soon in downtown Atlanta. His passion for education, no matter the race of the child is amazing. His students, by the time of graduation have stepped foot on ever continent. How cool is that? In this book he states that the "excellent 11" : enthusiasm, adventure, creativity, reflection, balance, compassion, confidence, humor, common sense, appreciation, and resilience are the 11 qualities "shared by children who love to learn-and they're also the qualities found in teachers and parents who know how to bring out the joy of learning in any child."

"Fair Isn't Always Equal" by Rick Wormeli-This guy is a hoot! I saw him speak last week at a differentiated instruction conference. His passion about the brain and why we develop the way that we do sparked my curiosity. In this book, he discusses exactly what the title states. He talked about the example of something he does in his class. On the first day of class every year he tapes a five dollar bill high up on the wall. He calls on the shortest student to go up and get it. When they can't reach it, he allows them to use a chair to reach it. Then he places a second five dollar bill on the wall and allows a tall student to get it down without the chair (without any help). He uses this example to show that although they each got the same result...in this case the five dollars....that they didn't get there the same. "Fair Isn't Always Equal." Some students may need additional help (DIFFERENTIATED INSTRUCTION!!!) and this is okay!!! His students never question why one student was allowed extra time to complete an assignment or why they were allowed to retake a test. I have skimmed through it but look forward to reading it in detail.

I am in the midst of a few other books (for pleasure reading) but these are the titles that I am loving at this present time. As previously stated in another blog, I am on a quest to learn something new every day! With all of these books I can honestly say that I am!

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