Maybe it’s the heat. Or maybe it’s too much AC.
Either way, it’s been hard to get started on the annual History Tech Summer Reading List. It’s been a tradition for as long as I’ve been in education. Back in the day, Mike Ortmann, a social studies rock star who taught down the hall from me in Derby Middle School, encouraged me to do something besides be a life guard during the summer.
“Read some books.” Mike said. “Talk to some people. Do some research. Get off your butt and become a better teacher,” he said.
So I did. And Mike was right. We need to keep learning, keep asking questions, keep moving forward. And what better time for that than between now and September? So every summer, I make a list of books I plan to read June, July, and August. Long time History Tech readers already know this.
They also know that not once, not ever, a couple of times I came close but never ever, have I actually finished the list.
I’m getting less and less optimistic that it will ever happen. It’s always something. I get distracted. This summer, we’ve got the Olympics and Euro 2020. And my wife and I are in the middle of a move. Don’t hold your breath.
But I am loving my 2021 list. So maybe, just maybe, this is the summer.
My daughter calls them “the Before Times.”
As in . . . the days before COVID-19. Before stay at home orders. Before you were teaching via Zoom and Google Classroom and Meet.
In the Before Times, I wouldn’t feel at all uncomfortable suggesting that you read more. Whether you prefer the feel of paper, use a Kindle, or do long reads online, reading for both fun and personal professional growth is always a good thing. Learning more content. Expanding perspectives. Exploring teaching strategies. All make us better at what we do.
I feel just a little bit uncomfortable. Because the normal normal of spring 2020 is not like the Before Times. You’ve been asked to do a ton of things differently. Your last few months of the school year (and your life) are not what you expected them to be. But here’s the cool thing. As I talk with teachers around the country, the new normal really is becoming a normal normal. Teachers, kids, and families are adapting and doing some really cool stuff.
Is it easy? No. But I get the sense that you’ve been taking deep breaths, figuring some things out, that you’re adjusting and getting your head above water a bit. So I’m suggesting (with a little uncomfortableness) that you begin to think about some personal professional growth. And I’ve got a few suggestions of things to put on your to read list.
I’m a hard copy kind of guy. But feel free to grab these suggestions via a Kindle app. Or even better, grab the Overdrive Libby or Hoopla app and check them out digitally via your local or state libraries.
Let’s start with Read more
Most of you have probably settled deep into holiday break mode. Getting up a little bit later than normal. Watching football. Eating too much. Catching up on your reading. Trying to decide if The Mandalorian is worth your time. Enjoying family and friends. Not really thinking about the back to school schedule that cranks up in January.
But if you need a break from all of the free time, we’ve got you covered. Between now and the first week in January, you’ll get a chance to re-live five of the most popular History Tech posts from 2019. Enjoy the reruns!
I’ve been spending a ton of time this summer working with groups around the country, helping facilitate conversations around reading and writing in the social studies.
It’s always a good day when I get the chance to sit with social studies teachers, sharing ideas and best practice, talking about what works and what doesn’t. And the cool thing is that I always walk away smarter because teachers are super cool about sharing their favorite web site or tool or handy strategy.
This week was no different. I learned about a simple but powerful summarizing strategy called Somebody Wanted But So.
Summarizing is a skill that I think we sometimes take for granted. We ask our kids to read or watch something and expect them to just be able to remember the content and apply it later during other learning activities. We can easily get caught up in the Curse of Knowledge, assuming that because we know how to summarize and organize information, everyone does too.
But our students often need scaffolding tools to help Read more
Smarter. That’s the goal.
Most of you already know about the History Tech summer reading program. For years, I’ve been intentional about selecting a stack of books to read through the summer months. Mike Ortmann, amazing teacher, social studies superhero, and unofficial mentor, encouraged me to use June, July, and August as a time for personal professional growth. Use the summer to build content knowledge and teaching chops with some individual book study.
It was great advice then. It still is. Getting better at what we do should always be a focus. And what better time to do that than right now? You’ve got a little free time. I’m guessing there’s an easy chair by an AC vent or an Adirondack set up outside somewhere.
I’m still a fan of print but feel free to go the e-book or audio route. Heck . . . there are great podcasts out there as well. But Mike was right. Summer’s the perfect time for personal professional growth.
Here’s what I got going. What’s on your list? Read more
Long time History Tech readers already know this. Every summer, I make a list of books I plan to read between now and September. Long time History Tech readers also know this. Not once, not ever, a couple of times I came close but never ever, have I actually finished the list.
There’s always been something. I get distracted with a new book that comes out or some event happens that pulls me in a different direction. But some day . . . some day, it’s gonna happen. I’m trying to be realistic this year. Part of me says; yes, this summer it’s gonna happen – you’re going on a long anniversary trip to a tropical beach without the tech. Tons of time for book reading while sipping cool beverages under an umbrella.
The other part of me says; not a chance – as soon as you get home, the World Cup starts and the rest of June and part of July are shot to h, e, double hockey sticks. So we’ll see. (But it does help with the reading goal that the US team apparently forgot how to play the game and didn’t qualify, giving me less reason to watch. Go Iceland.)
The whole idea here got started moons ago when I first started teaching and some very smart people encouraged to not take the summers off. They’re the perfect time for learning, they said. Read a book, they said. Maybe two or more, they said.
So I did. And they were right. We need to keep learning, keep asking questions, keep moving forward. And what better time for that than between now and September? Some summers I start with a specific theme. This year? Not so much. Just a few books that look interesting or fun to read.
Here’s the 2018 list – fingers crossed: Read more
Remember that one time when all your friends went out, had a great time, came back, saw you sitting on your lonely bean bag, and acted surprised? “I thought someone asked you to come along,” they said. “We just figured you were in the other car,” they said.
Right. I love you too.
I felt a little like that about a week ago. I had just learned all about this great free online tool and was pumped. This tool is free. It’s easy to use. It helps connect social studies content with fiction and nonfiction resources. So I got up during our PLC’s show and tell time to share, asked if anyone else was using it, and I got thumbs up from literally everyone in the room.
Yup. I love you too.
I am glad that so many already know about it. And are using it. Cause it really seems like a great tool to have handy in your teaching tool belt – especially as we’re all trying to integrate more social studies and ELA. But where was I when everyone else was finding out about it?
So if you already know Read more