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Recommended Reads

Daniel Pink: Drive

Daniel Pink explores the history of motivation by examining the 2 most significant changes to what motivates us (Motivation 1.0 and Motivation 2.0) and then he describes the current change that is creating Motivation 3.0.  Pink explains that the 20th century motivational tool, carrots and sticks don’t work and can even hinder motivation in today’s society.  People today don’t mind doing work, AS LONG AS WE GET AN INHERENT SATISFACTION from doing them.  Workers and students seek engagement in our tasks creating a “flow” or “in the groove” type of feeling as we do our work.  In fact, as Pink points out, some employers won’t hire prospective employees if the employees don’t demonstrate a willingness to motivate themselves.

Pink explains there are three crucial steps to creating a Motivation 3.0 environment: Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.  With the help of several psychologists, he demonstrates that if “if/then” and commission-type rewards are removed from the workplace, and employees are given a self-directed, engaging workplace with a higher purpose than the work itself, they will be motivated to work beyond what rewards would have given.

This book is a must-read for teachers who are beginning the flipped concept/collaboration/PBL/20% Projects in their classrooms.  Drive can help teachers create a checklist of items to consider for student engagement and motivation as they make essential questions and create learning objectives/tasks.

Daniel Pink: The Surprising Science of Motivation (TED talk)


The Element: Sir Ken Robinson

What an interesting read with wonderful real-life and interesting examples.  Robinson wraps Pink's Drive, Wagner's Creating Innovators, and Godin's Tribes in one book.  He argues (very well) that everyone has a talent of some sort that can be brought to any situation in a positive way.  Our problem is that we are educated "out of" our creative talents in order to conform to what is a traditional academic system of behavior.  Robinson uses everyone from ballet dancers to the Beatles to mathematicians to the Traveling Wilburys.  Robinson encourages by using proven examples which makes his readers really want to try what he is suggesting.

Sir Ken Robinson: Do Schools Kill Creativity

Creating Innovators: Tony Wagner

In Creating Innovators, Tony Wagner discusses his notion that innovation is what is going to save our economy, and not just innovative products- we need innovation in attitudes and ideas too.  Parents and schools need to start recognizing how to raise and teach the millennial generation.  Wagner’s big question is “How do you educate for innovation?”  The question he wants people to start asking is “How can I make things better?”
Through several interactive interviews of innovative twenty-somethings, Wagner paints the picture of the culture these young people grew up in: their parents, schooling, and mentors.  He argues that CULTURE is what allows for innovation.  Empowerment, allowance for failure, and the opportunity to play were found in all of the young innovators’ backgrounds.

The main idea for teachers in Wagner’s book is that it is not what students know, it’s what they can do with the knowledge and how they use it.

Wagner: 7 Skills Students Need For Their Future


Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey: Better Learning Through Structured Teaching: A Framework for the Gradual Release of Responsibility

This book is a must for every educator today- whether you are teaching a traditional classroom or migrating toward blended learning.  Fisher and Frey expand on the “I do-we do-you do together- you do alone” strategy in explaining how to do the gradual release method.  Gradual release simply means that the teacher shows the students how to do something and then slowly demonstrates the strategies needed so that the student can do it on his/her own.  They find that most teachers will  show the students how to do something, do one as an example, and then ask the students to tackle it on their own.  What most teachers miss is asking students to try something collaboratively before they try it alone.  The collaborative time gives teachers the chance to work with groups of students separately in a guided instruction small group.

Fisher and Frey break everything down for teachers by introducing the part (I do, we do, you do together, you do alone); giving a look at a classroom using the strategy at the elementary, middle, and high school levels; providing strategies for lesson plans; and finally, giving the assessment suggestions for them.

Another area Fisher and Frey spend some time with is collaborative groups.  They provide specific strategies and steps that allow teachers who are thinking about introducing or modifying the collaborative nature of their classrooms to be successful.

I would strongly suggest this read for teachers in all subject areas, grades, and places of teacher development.


The Digital Writing Workshop by Troy Hicks

Teachers wondering how to teach cloud technology can finally smile.  Troy Hicks gives teachers background, steps, and strategies to incorporate digital writing into any class.

Hicks begins by suggesting that we allow students choice in what they read and research by introducing them to RSS feeds, social bookmarks, and blogs.

Throughout the rest of the book, Hicks teaches teachers how to move writing from paper to the computer.  Even better, Hicks gives specific ways to not just transfer the same assignments we’ve always taught but to adapt the assignments to maximize their digital potential.  He presents 21st century peer revision techniques, teacher conferences, constructive feedback and criticism, and available software.  Not only does Hicks give strategies, but he also gives suggestions for sites, rubrics, and steps to publish works.

Some of the best ideas Hicks gives are how to extend the basic essay into multi-media compositions.  He walks teachers through photo software and electronic voicecasting (podcasts) and demonstrates techniques that can be used to pair them with writing.

If you are new or uncomfortable with the kind of technology that can push your classroom into the 21st century.

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