On May 16th, we posted part one of our summer reading suggestions for educators. Today’s post includes the second installment of that summer reading list, books recommended for educators by educators.

25438683.jpgBook:  The Reading Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Readers by Jennifer Serravallo

Facebook discussion group for the book:

Recommended for:  Pre-Service Teachers, Teachers, Parents

Recommended by:  Corrina Allen, 5th Grade Teacher

“This is a fabulous bank of hundreds of strategies that teachers (and parents!) can use to help children achieve their reading goals. It’s colorful, well-organized, well-researched, and fits with any reading program you currently have. A Summer Book Study of this books starts on June 12th and is linked through their Facebook group.” 

Book: 25489625.jpg Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Related links: NPR top books of 2015:
Articles by the author from the Atlantic:

Recommended for:  High School Students, College Students, Pre-Service Teachers, Teachers, Administrators, Parents

Recommended by: Jacquelyn Whiting, High School Social Studies and Library Media Teacher

“Coates continues to push all Americans to have the important (even if it is difficult) conversation that this nation needs to have about race relations. This book, written as a letter to his teenage son, is an excellent compliment to TED Talks by Bryan Stevenson, Mellody Hobson, and Chimamanda Adichie (to name a few) as well as to research and discovery by Rebecca Skloot (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) and literature by writers like Toni Morrison. Coates’ text is provocative, passionate, compassionate, unapologetic… and so necessary.”

Book:  Well Spoken: Teaching Speaking to All Students11438003.jpg by Erik Palmer

Author’s Website:

Recommended for:  Pre-Service Teachers, Teachers

Recommended by:  Amy Illingworth, Director of Professional Growth

“Our primary form of communication in life is speaking, but we provide students will little to no direct instruction on how to speak effectively. This book provides teachers with a practice framework to teach students how to build and prepare for a speech, as well as how to deliver one.” 

6775625.jpgBook:  Motivating Black Males to Achieve in School & in Life by Baruti Kafele

Author’s Website:

Recommended for:  Pre-Service Teachers, Teachers, Administrators, Parents

Recommended by:  Eugenia Cooley, Teacher/Reading Specialist

“This book is filled with wonderful & practical suggestions on way to meet a unique group of students that are most often misunderstood by each of us. This book helps to understand the black male student and how to guide them toward a successful path.”

Have a book that you would like to recommend? We’d love for you to fill out the form below:

~What did YOU do in school today?



Whether it’s for professional growth, a fun beach read, (or both!) we’re all talking about the books we want to read this summer.

Here are some summer reading suggestions from educators for educators.

Book: The Zen Teacher by Dan Tric27163769.jpgarico

Author’s Website:

Recommended for: Pre-Service Teachers, Teachers, Administrators, Parents

Recommended by: Rich Czyz, Director of Curriculum and Instruction

“A very easy read with practical strategies for incorporating mindfulness into your classroom and life!”


12979592.jpgBook: What’s Your Evidence? by Carla Zembal-Saul, Katherine L. McNeill, and Kimber Hershberger

Recommended for: All Teachers

Recommended by: Kathy Renfrew, Proficiency Based Team, Science Specialist

“Excellent read on constructing explanations in K-5 science. The book is easily understandable and has very practical, bring back to the classroom suggestions.”


28015715.jpgBook: DIY Literacy by Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts

Authors’ Website:

Recommended for: All Teachers

Recommended by: Nicole Jordan, Reading Specialist

“This book will spark so many ideas for the upcoming school year. You’ll be excited to put those ideas to practice with your students.”


9661920.jpgBook: Ready to Lead? A Story for Leaders and their Mentors by Alan Price

Recommended for: Pre-Service Teachers, Teachers, Administrators, Parents

Recommended by: Adam D. Fried, Innovation Leader

“This book allows individuals to break down the process and allows you to think about how and what you want to be when you grow up…”

Have a book that you would like to recommend? We’d love for you to fill out the form below:


~What did YOU do in school today?


readreflectreapeatWhat if we all read #SixtyBooks a year?

Every single one of us.

Students. Teachers. Parents.

What if we carved out time in each day and set it aside for reading? What if we read a few pages whenever we got the chance? What if we read books recommended to us by others in order to expand the story we know about the world? What if we read a variety of authors, books from every country, books representing many experiences and perspectives?

What if we spent more time talking with one another about what we’ve read, and what we’ve learned from what we’ve read?

What if?

Imagine a world in which every one of us reads #SixtyBooks a year.

They can be books we want to read for fun or books we read for information, required reading, suggested reading, shared reading, books read to us, books we read to other people, books we’ve read once (or many times) before, any book at all.

Now, imagine the conversations we would have with one another.

Imagine the topics we might discuss.

Imagine the levels of understanding and empathy we would reach.

This is what #SixtyBooks is all about.


#SixtyBooks is more than a reading challenge or a reading goal, because it is actually the result of what happens when we make reading a priority.

It’s not about the number of books that we read; it’s about what we learn and share because of the books we read.

It’s about who we become as a result of what we learn and share.

#SixtyBooks is a reading movement.

It’s a simple pledge that we can all make by stating:

“I will make reading a regular part of my daily routine.”

Please visit the #SixtyBooks website to find out more, take the pledge, and join this reading movement.

~What did YOU do in school today?


What if everyone had a mentor?mentor

  • Every student?
  • Every teacher?
  • Every administrator?
  • Every parent?

Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to have had number of amazing mentors (and have also had the opportunity to mentor others). Some of these mentorships have lasted over the years, while others were for shorter periods of time. Some of these mentorships have been arranged formally, while others have occurred naturally and evolved either because of or into friendships.

In contrast, there have also been times throughout my career when I have found myself without a mentor or working on/toward something my mentors couldn’t help me with. During these times, I recognized that I needed to find someone else who understood what I was going through and wanted to accomplish well enough to offer advice or make suggestions. I’ve found it difficult, at times, to find an appropriate mentor on my own. I equate the experience to the notion of “not knowing what we don’t know,” because we also “don’t know who we don’t know.”

Many of the most successful people say that one of the keys to success is having a mentor. This is great advice, but sometimes difficult to accomplish in real life.

Understanding how important mentorship is to success and reflecting on my own experiences, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we can make it less difficult, especially for our students, ways that we, in each and every school community, can work to make sure that no one is ever without a mentor.

What if the mentorship programs for educators went beyond programs for provisional teachers or state requirements?

It might all begin with as simple a shift as just having school leaders and teacher coaches ask educators (teachers and administrators alike) who their current mentor (or mentors) is. If the educator doesn’t have one, then leaders, coaches, and other members of the school community could work together to help match the educator up with a mentor, or even offer to mentor the teacher themselves (if they believed they would be a good fit). yourmentor

Having open discussions about learning goals and the role of mentors would help schools to become true communities of learners. Everyone would be learning from someone. When educators are transparent about our own personal learning goals and the need to have a mentor, we are modeling the process of life-long learning for our students.

What if all students had mentors?

We know from our own experiences that not every student connects with every teacher they have. I wish I could say that every teacher who ever taught me was my mentor, but it simply isn’t true. Some were, some weren’t. Neither is it true that every student in my classes viewed me as their mentor. Some did, some didn’t.

So why couldn’t we, in addition to assigning students to rosters belonging to classroom teachers and counselors, we also allowed students to choose a mentor (or mentors) within the school community based upon their own unique learning needs or current aspirations?

Of course, if students don’t know who to choose on their own (perhaps because they  “don’t know who they don’t know”), then school leaders would support students in finding an appropriate mentor. The mentor could be anyone from within the school system who is willing to listen to the student, advise them, get to know them throughout the years. The mentor could be a member of the faculty, administration, school secretaries, security, custodians, instructional assistants, supervisors, counselors, coaches, and so on.

The mentor could even be a graduate of the school system, a parent, or another member of the community — from area businesses or colleges — who wants to volunteer, and (with some training), will commit to mentoring a student, investing in his or her future.

What if students were the mentors?

youhelp2What if we helped students grow their own PLNs and helped them seek out mentorships throughout their school career? Then, when a student was willing, or another member of the community recognized that they were ready, helped them become a mentor to someone else?

Perhaps the best mentor for a student at a given time might be another student. What if we helped facilitate these types of mentorships in schools, empowering our students to view themselves as someone who is in the position to help others? What if students even mentored teachers?

What if parents also had mentors? 

We talk so much about the importance of the home-school connection, yet many of us are frustrated with effectively making those connections or finding ways to sustain them. What if school organizations set up the opportunity, in addition to parents becoming mentors, for parents to request their own mentor as well?

Rather than focusing all of our home-school communication on the hope that parents will come to large school events (like back to school nights) or sending one-way communication (like emails), we actually differentiated and personalized our home-school communication? We could blend those important school events, and necessary emails sent home with opportunities for parents to work closely with a personal mentor, on their own time, and focus on what is most important to them and for their families.

What if we all spent more time building these relationships, establishing mentorships, talking about and reflecting on our mentorships, and carved out time in the school calendar for all of us to work with our mentors/mentees? Imagine how much more personalized learning would really become.

What if?

~What did YOU do in school today?


We had a professional development faculty meeting after school today.565cb82227332b27df342de5b68f42d3.jpg

The format?

It was a modified “unconference.”

Teachers were given the opportunity to choose their own topics for the meeting. Then, with a sense of what everyone wanted to talk about or work on (via face to face conversations or email), the building principal helped teachers locate meeting spaces throughout the building…and away we went!

I spent the hour with a group of teachers discussing data.

Wait, wait!

It’s a lot more interesting than that sounds!

We didn’t just talk about data or even about how collect the data. (There are plenty of those conversations happening already.)

We talked about how to use the data.

We talked about existing data sets as well as how our students can start looking at the information they are constantly discovering on their own, differently.

We talked about visualizing that data and the importance of developing a stronger sense of numeracy. We talked about presenting information with purpose and discussed some tools that our students could use to design information.

Given the “unconference” style of the professional development, there really was no leader. Each of us in the small group contributed to the conversation and a few of us shared some resources. All of us learned something.

One teacher shared how he is using Gapminder — an interactive website for analyzing data about the world’s population — according to indicators such as life expectancy, economy, infrastructure, and more.

Here is founder of Gapminder, Hans Rosling, demonstrating the program during his TED Talk from February of 2006.

Another teacher shared how she is using ArcGIS — an online program for making custom maps and layering data and geographic information over images.

We spent a good deal of time looking through a map we found that compared the current minimum wage to the cost of living across the U.S. (a timely topic) and, just as our students will also do when they use the program, we discussed and analyzed the information we learned, we interpreted it and thought of ways we could apply it. 2016-04-18.jpg

And then I shared a couple of my favorite videos that I’ve been using as I work with teachers in planning lessons — in all subject areas — that incorporate data visualization and information design and give students the opportunity to create their own designs.

This first one is short and sweet and sums up data visualization nicely. It’s a great video for working with both teachers and students. There are often many lightbulbs and “ah-ha” moments about upcoming projects or ways to execute a design after watching this video.

Finally, I shared this video from John Spencer about the LAUNCH cycle. I love using this video (and the LAUNCH cycle vocabulary) for helping students to slow down through the creation process, incorporate more design thinking, and take more pride in their work.

I had a fun time with this group, and I learned a lot. We each have lots of things we want to explore on our own and things we know we will follow up on with each other.

Not bad for a Monday afternoon faculty meeting.*


Looks like a pretty happy group, huh?

~What did YOU do in school today?


*Here are the other teacher-generated topics from today’s “unconference” faculty meeting:

  • LGBT/Dr. Sax Extension
  • H/PE & PARCC
  • Best Practices
  • Classroom Projects Done with Video: (Bring examples if possible) 
  • Progress Indicators for Special Education Students
  • World Language Rubric Workshop
  • Why Students Cheat
  • Annual Input Support


Many (most) mornings during the work week, I start my day with a quick, energetic educational chat called #BFC530BreakFast Club that meets at 5:30am. Clever, right? These educators have helped me grow my Professional Learning Network (PLN) and are a great source of information and inspiration!

Each morning, the topic of discussion is something different, and it’s always suggested by a member of the #BFC530 community.

Right now, I’m looking to gain a better understanding of how teachers view cell phones in the classroom. Once, having phones in the classroom was something that educators were uniformly VERY much against, largely because it was blatantly against school policy and the cell phones did little more than make calls or send text messages. Now that those school policies — and the capabilities of the phones — are changing…well, I’m not exactly sure where we are. (I wrote this post about it a few months ago.) Some teachers allow phones in the class, and some still don’t.

Though I know my own personal preference regarding the use of cell phones in the classroom, I’m certainly not ever one to say that there is a right or wrong answer. I’m really just curious as to why those who allow cell phones do, and those who don’t allow them don’t.

I want to hear more perspectives on this topic.

There will be many times throughout our educational career when we don’t agree with our colleagues or members of our PLN. These differences in opinion are the perfect opportunity to explore the issue with one another, not to form sides of opposition. The more we discuss and debate ideas, the better we will understand them, one another, and ourselves. We will figure it out, together. #BFC530Friday, 1-8-16.jpg

Let’s talk it out on Friday morning. Do you have a BYOD environment? Are cell phones included in your BYOD? Are there certain restrictions involved when including cell phones as BYOD? At what age or grade level are cell phones appropriate? What tasks are they best used for?

~Melissa Morris Inoa

~What did YOU do in school today?


#Edchat on Twitter

HASHTAG: #Edchat

PURPOSE: To help educators connect and keep track of information shared on Twitter.

EdchatCONTENT: All education-related topics, including: current teaching trends, how to integrate technology, transform teaching, connecting with inspiring educators worldwide, education policy, and education reform.


RELATED HASHTAGS: #EdchatEL, #EdchatMA, #EdchatME, #EdchatRI, #EdchatSA

SPECIFIC DAYS: The chat runs on Tuesdays at Noon and 7pm EST (though you may find that new content is often posted with this hashtag on all days and at any time with content related to education).



Click here for more about the TODAY IN SCHOOL…HASHTAG series.

~What did YOU do in school today?

#BFC530 on Twitter

HASHTAG: #BFC530 on Twitter

PURPOSE: To elevate the voices of educators and come together as a community in order to transform education through daily chats about education.

CONTENT: Education-related topics as suggested by members of the BFC community.


  • BFC-ValuesFounded in July, 2014 by Scott Capro, BFC’s goal was to ensure that every educator who has an interest is supported in building their PLN, and that everyone who joins the chat knows the power of sharing their voice.
  • Jessica Raleigh (@TyrnaD) manages the behind-the-scenes work of setting up topics and moderators each week.
  • The BFC community suggests discussion topics through a form found on this page.


SPECIFIC DAYS: Monday through Fridays at 5:30am Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific Times.  (During the summer months, however, the chat is not moderated daily and instead is an ongoing, “slow chat.”)

OTHER INFORMATION: In addition to Twitter chats, the BFC also encourages community members to read and discuss common books, share and read each other’s blogs, continue conversations on Voxer, and meet up in person at educational events. More information can be found on the BFC website.


Click here for more about the TODAY IN SCHOOL…HASHTAG series.

~What did YOU do in school today?

What did you do in school today? with David R. Pollard

Today I ask David R. Pollard, an educator in Dublin, Ireland our question: “What did you do in school today?”

This series of blog posts includes responses to our question from educators from all over the world, of all content areas, in all grade levels, and in various teaching assignments so that together, we will have a better understanding of what is happening TODAY IN SCHOOL. For more information about this series or to write your own response to the question, please visit this page.

Over one year ago, I stepped off a blustery street in the centre Dublin City into the warm aroma of Bewley’s coffee. In doing so, I reached a Twitter milestone. At a round wooden table to my right sat two women. Two faces that I recognised from my personal learning network, Ruta Danyte and Lorna Keane. I had never met anyone from Twitter in person, so this was exciting, particularly as we were there to discuss the prospect of Ireland’s first EdCamp. After an enthusiastic conversation, we decided to give it our best efforts. Unfortunately, that year threw up some challenges to each of us in our personal, academic and vocational lives. Despite the green light from EdCamp co-founder, Kristen Swanson, the call was made to let the idea of EdCamp Ireland slide until we had time to give it the energy it deserved. EdCamp Ireland is still in the pipeline, although the task of its care has mainly been handed over to other Irish educators.

2015 arrived and with it came new concepts, innovations and opportunities. I was busy researching the topic of learner feedback for my Masters in Learning and Teaching when I received the e-mail from Ruta in May. She expressed her desire to organise Startup Weekend Education in Dublin. Ruta’s view was to encourage collaboration between ‘techies’ and educators, providing them with the opportunity to share their knowledge and skills. I admit, I delayed my involvement for a couple of months, but once I had dumped my dissertation on my supervisor’s desk I was ready for a new challenge.

Again, the scent of coffee greeted me as I arrived at the meeting place. This time it was Roasted Brown’s coffee. Different coffee. Different challenge. Ruta and I deliberated over the resources we would need to provide for ‘techies’ in order to expand their understanding of educational frameworks, the roles of educators and current trends. After this meeting, I drew up a rough draft surrounding these topics and devised steps educators must take before integrating new technology into their classrooms. In addition to Ruta and I, Nubi Kay, Daniel Paul and Nana Adeniyi completed the organising team. I was inspired by the online team discussions that took place on Google Hangouts and Skype. Concepts, challenges and solutions flowed, making the meetings exceptionally productive.


The site of the first Startup Weekend Education in Dublin, Ireland.

It is now August and the dates have been confirmed. Startup Weekend Education will take place on 27th -29th November. There is much to be done, but the conversations have been invigorating. It will be hosted close to Samuel Beckett Bridge, at the Bank of Ireland, Grand Canal Square. The Bank of Ireland is also sponsoring the event, so now it is up to us to make sure the plan becomes a reality. Posters, videos and t-shirts must be designed and created. Judges, mentors, and most importantly, guests have to be recruited. The real work starts here, but the first Startup Weekend in Ireland dedicated entirely to education is gathering momentum. I have a funny feeling I’m about to hit a steep learning curve. I cannot wait.

170b35eDavid R. Pollard is an Irish educator with a passion for learning and teaching. He has just completed his Masters in those two topics, focusing his research on learner feedback. As a result, he welcomes constructive feedback in his classroom, as he believes it is an essential part of his development. David also welcomes feedback on this post. You can connect with David on Twitter @edchatirl or on LinkedIn.

What did you do in school today? with Kristina Nicosia

Today I asked our question: “What did you do in school today?” of Kristina Nicosia, a new Technology Integration Specialist. This series of blog posts includes responses to our question from educators from all over the world, of all content areas, in all grade levels, and in various teaching assignments so that together, we will have a better understanding of what is happening TODAY IN SCHOOL. For more information about this series or to write your own response to the question, please visit this page.

I have spent the past 11 years teaching Biology and other Life Science classes, but I recently accepted an amazing position to be a Technology Integration Specialist.

I am excited to bring my experiences as a teacher, teacher leader, and professional development provider to my new district. My first day I was tasked with creating a PD workshop on blended learning for the administrators. Grateful to be in a supportive environment, I proposed a blended learning workshop about blended learning. I was so excited to use my knowledge of PD and adult learning coupled with how I run my own classroom to put together a meaningful learning experience.

To prepare for the PD, the team of administrators had to watch a video I created the night before the workshop. I made a Google presentation, used screencast-o-matic to record the “lecture” and then used Zaption to add a formative assessment. The morning of the PD I used the data from the video to determine levels of understanding, which I used to make groups. There were structured learning experiences throughout the day. Some involved technology while others did not.

The idea was to show them how technology was used to enhance instruction. Overall, the PD went really well and I am excited for my new position.


Screenshots from the screencast-o-matic used in the workshop.

After graduating from Monmouth University with a degree in Biology, Kristina worked as a research and development cosmetic chemist. She worked in a personal care lab formulating to create products for large companies. This left her unsatisfied so she pursued her Masters in Teaching at Monmouth University, and for the past 11 years has been a high school Biology teacher for a school in Central New Jersey. The past 3 years she has been working towards her doctorate degree and currently finishing up her dissertation. For her dissertation she created a statewide community of practice for science teachers. The focus of this sustained professional development initiative is for master and novice teachers to provide support to each other as they work towards implementing problem-based learning and other student-centered strategies in their classrooms. Kristina is hoping to defend her dissertation in early winter. In her new role as Technology Integration Specialist she will be managing, creating and implementing all technology professional development and training opportunities for district staff. She will also be managing operations of the district’s 1:1 Chromebook programs and developing and coordinating training tools l3psuKte_400x400to be used by staff.

In addition, Kristina is the president elect for the Biology Teachers Association of New Jersey. You can connect on the web at and at the New Jersey Science Teachers Convention. Follow Kristina on Twitter: @kmsusca