Book Review: Payoff by Dan Ariely

I am back to reviewing books. After taking more than a year off from writing reviews I have realized how much I benefit myself to post my thoughts. I write notes and store them in various locations but I can never find them. My book review posts are to help me better organize my thoughts and like everything I hope you find something new to discover, read, and connect.

I am starting off 2017 with this nice short read. This book is part of the TED book series. What I liked about this book is that it helped me grapple with some things that I have struggled with mentally the last few years. The whole basis of this book is to look into motivation, what it means, and how to make it work for us. In the end what I took away from the book is that motivation works best when we simply treat people like people. Basically, treat people like we actually care about them, appreciate their hard work, and do our best to remain loyal to them.

The author shares many of his research projects, but in the end this is what I felt was the key for me.

For me personally, something that really resonated with me and for me made the read completely worthwhile was the following idea:

“THINGS THAT GIVE US A SENSE OF MEANING DON’T NECESSARILY MAKE US HAPPY”

I instantly think of parenting. It is not always a job that provides happiness. There is no template, no recipe, no guidebook to being a great parent. What works for one, fails with the other, and sometimes you just shake you head, brush off your knees, and try again. It is tough. However, parenting provides meaning to our lives. We want to do what we can to lead and model the best way we know how. It provides meaning that is hard to put into words, but there are many moments when happiness is the feeling we experience.

This is same for teaching and coaching. They all go hand in hand.

It is really like trying to build IKEA furniture and scratching your head with the instructions. They don’t make sense so you go your own way in hopes it turns out right and when it does you feel proud.

The other idea that stood out to me is that money is not what motivates us. We continue to push this myth into the workplace and society, but really people just want to be acknowledged and appreciated for their work. It is as simple as that. If we know that many of our motivations “spring from trying to conquer a sense of helplessness and reclaim even a tiny modicum of control over our lives”, then we must realize that in order to help people move forward they need encouragement. Criticism and negativity does not work and will kill motivation quickly.

I encourage you to read the book. It is worth your time. I skimmed some parts faster than others because it did not apply to me personally, but being a short read you can gain what you need in just a few hours.

Check out this Amazon deal: Payoff by Dan Ariely 

 

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (1)
  • Useful (1)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)

2 Essential Books To Read on Learning

I have not blogged about books in a very long time. It is weird how one goes through phases in their learning journey. It was not that long ago when I blogged about books I read on an almost daily basis.

Recently, I have read two books that I believe are really important to help educators and schools revisit some key ideas about learning as well as pushing the thinking forward.

First and foremost I have not forgotten that most teachers barely have any time to read anymore and if they do it is for pleasure and getting away from the grind of teaching. These two books are short reads, easy to process, and neither one really has to be read from front to back. You pick a topic and explore.

The first one is Lessons for LifePractice Learning by Ginger Lewman. I recently had her on my podcast. This book focuses and centers around project based learning, but in essence it is all about how to be practical and moving education and learning to the real world, right now. The ideas in the book don’t require a monumental shift. Your admin won’t go crazy and you won’t lose your job. However, what you will do is begin to change your classroom where kids are excited to learn even more than they are now.

I recently read her latest book and after reading the book, scribbling mass notes in the margins, and being reminded about the key things we must be doing in schools I want to make sure more people know about this book.

screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-6-15-38-am

I won’t go into great detail about the book as I really think you should read it yourself. She even mentioned on the podcast that it was written to be processed small doses.

Here a list of my favorite ideas from the book

  1. A one full school day project that is started and finished in one day. I want to do this so bad that I almost wet myself thinking about it.
  2. The importance of soft and hard deadlines
  3. The topic of assessment and when to do it and whether it is always the best method
  4. The importance of the launch of a project and what are you going to do with the students who are not impressed?
  5. How to group students?
  6. The power of a midpoint regrouping of the project
  7. Wow’s, How’s, and Bow’s – my favorite idea of the whole book

If you are just experimenting with project based learning or if you feel as if your projects have grown stagnant then I would highly encourage you to read this book.

My second required reading suggestion is STEAM Makers by Jacie Maslyk. I believe I have more words highlighted in green than non highlighted. This book really helped me to frame what I needed to think about when it comes to makerspaces and STEM. It helped me grapple with some of the practical ideas that are hard for teachers to put into place with all the expectations on their plates.

screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-2-49-19-pm

What I love about this book is how she acknowledges the accountability and pressures of teachers, but helps to push them forward by not using it as an excuse to do nothing. We know the world is changing along with the job market. It is time we push more and more to do the things we know in our hearts are best for kids.

Some of the key ideas that really stood out to me

  1. The importance of leadership from administration. If we want change makers in our students and teachers, then we need leaders who are willing to support this. If you have an admin that is not supportive, then I recommend sending them this book or Innovator’s Mindset as a Christmas present
  2. Role of Facilitator – this idea is not new but exploring how to shift our teaching practice to make sure we are actually doing so.
  3. All the practical examples of how schools are actually doing all of this. It is great to scan and check the resources to see that not only is she talking about it, but people are actually doing it. I have already implemented like three ideas and will continue to add more.
  4. Failure – don’t cringe. The way she addresses failure is spot on.
  5. The scale up process about how a school started small and continued to build. These stories are important.

Both books have so much more to offer, but you have to read them. I encourage you track these books down and give them a try. If you read them and want to chat let me know. I love talking books. Heck, we could chat as a podcast.

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)

The End of Average: Is It Time?

No one is average.

 

Point blank. The whole point of the book that I currently read, The End of Average by Todd Rose,  and my current thinking is simply that average does not exist. At first I could not grapple with this concept because my whole world is dependent upon average. I had to read this book, pause, write things down, rethink, question, scribble notes, and in the end it started to sink in. Below is my stream of thoughts woven into a semi coherent blog post.

 

  1. There is no such thing as an average student because we just have too many variables as a human. You can replace the word student with any other term such as athlete, kid, musician.
  2. One of the key ideas that constantly swirled in my head was how much we try to rise above average. We constantly try to seek the “average” and do just enough to rise above to not be average or point fingers at those who are below average.
  3. There has been so much talk in education about moving away from the industry style model of teaching and learning in schools. We know this is based on a system that has been ingrained in factories for over a hundred years. However, despite a shift with makerspaces, deeper learning, and project based learning we still have the tenets of averagarianism where we still evaluate, sort,and manage students by comparing them to the average. We do this in PLC, team meetings, standardized data, state tests, grades, and pretty much anything else we do in school.

As we push for personalized learning and student voice in schools we must ask ourselves, “Where does individuality come into place in a standardized system?”

 

You know what I will answer that for you. It doesn’t. I cannot exist.

 

So why do we continue to fool ourselves that operating in a school system based on Taylorism where preparation of a mass amount of students is to develop average workers instead of developing a system of geniuses? We still use the Gary Plan system in many schools to mimic the factory setting. We still work to make sure every student obtains a standardized average education – you know, teaching to the middle. Or I mean creating some extension opportunities outside of the school day because those needs cannot be met during the 8 hours students are already in school. Why can’t we simply do more of this during the 8 hours they are at school? Is that not enough time? At what point do we begin to stop doing things the same way because it is just the way it is or is simply cannot be done? Oh I know….. because to do anything unlike others would go against the grain of the factory model of average.

 

Still don’t believe me? Then why do we rank students? Why do we look at data and say, “Well on average this many got this question right….”

 

This leads me to the most important statement of the book

 

“We all strive to like everyone else, only better.”

 

Let that sink in…….

 

Sinking in some more

 

And some more

 

You see we squeeze out the passion for individuality. I do it as a parent despite trying not to. My five year old stated the other night that she wants to grow up to be an artist of everything! How great is that? I  love it and yet I know that this beautiful goal and aspiration will be sucked out of her soul to do something that makes the economy float, to blend in like everyone else, and to avoid being different. To be different has become taboo, an obstacle, a headache to those that just want to be like everyone else. The majority of the world “is clearly set up so the system always matter more than you.”

 

One of the mind opening examples in the book for me was the question comparing two men and asking, “Which man is bigger?” In the photo one is taller while one has a larger belly and other variables(just read this book already!).

 

The question leads to the answer that there is indeed no answer. There are simply too many variables and therefore we cannot rank them because of the jaggedness principle. According to the author this principle is defined as not applying a one dimensional thinking to understand something that is complex and “jagged”. We can argue that the question above has too many variable to come to one conclusion. The same holds true for IQ. Two people could arrive at same score but for different reasons. We see this time and time again when we do summative assessments in our classrooms and projects. One thing we could do is look at one specific standard and even then it is tough because there are so many variables that allow students to either achieve or come up short.

 

As posed in the book, a question that I yet don’t have an answer for is “If human abilities are jagged, why do so many psychologists, educators, and business executives continue to use one dimensional thinking to evaluate talent?|

 

I thought about it. I pondered what my answer would be. And then I started to dive into more about statistics(which I am not great at). Todd Rose discusses how a .4 correlation is really just explaining 16% of the behavior of the two dimensions. So when we look at the work of Hattie how impactful are these numbers really? I am not suggesting that he is all wrong, but what is the great impact of 16%? Not much, unless you are once again looking for the average to do average thinking to do average work.

 

So what do we do? What are some answers? I don’t want this to be a post that all I do is complain. Complaining is easy and actually these are not complaints but my ideas typed up from the side margins.

 

One idea I loved from the book is IGN and how it operated Code-Foo. Instead of looking to do the same old average system of resumes(I hate resumes by the way) they had applicants submit a statement of passion and then apply their knowledge by answering four questions on coding. What they were looking for were people eager to learn and be part of something special. I think the same idea could be applied in education. If I could run an innovation lab where I could connect students to things they love doing and in the process cover the “requirements” that we think every student needs to know. The hard part to all of this is that the people in education have not been trained, educated, and hired to be thinking this way. We have been hired to meet the average, to follow order, instructions, and be like minded. It is who we are and who we have trained to be. To break this system would require new training, and restructure of higher education teaching courses, and a whole new model of how schools operate, look, and feel. These ideas are calling for a rebranding of education across the nation from the ground up.

 

I believe that we must not scrap everything. The world does not work that way. What we need to do is question why we keep doing the same. Why do we do things when we don’t have a why? We just allow ourselves to follow a path and we don’t know the destination in which we are headed. We must be able to think for ourselves.

 

If we know as a parent, coach, and teacher that we develop, grow, change, and adapt through our own process based on our physical, mental, moral, and social aspects of our lives then why don’t we allow our students to develop on their own path? We constantly try to get the below average caught up to average and let those above just float along. If we have children of our own we see the flaws in these systems and do everything we can as parents to build upon the skills and help them develop. Is it any wonder that outside companies and organizations are raking in millions to meet our kids needs?

 

I cannot tell you how many times my wife(8th grade algebra teacher) has come home blown away by all the methods in which students solve a problem. It is amazing to listen to their ideas and see how they came to their conclusion. Why can we not allow more of this to happen in schools? This is what I want to solve and come up with more solutions. Why do we care if it takes one child two weeks to solve a problem or master a standard while another takes two years? Do you care if your doctor took 4,6,8 years to earn their degree? No, you care if they can perform to the highest level to keep us alive and healthy. Same is true for a variety of things. The headache is how does this look in schools? We cannot have 1000 different pathways going on in any one school. Perhaps we leave the Gary Plan operations behind and move away from age specific grade levels? Just a thought.

 

We must work to push for new methods of operation. We still work in a world that rewards those above the “average”. We provide a class rank of one metric that allows for scholarships and access to elite colleges. Until higher education changes their one dimensional value of student’s there is little that can be done. We must work to change the system. What if…

 

What if…

  • Schools offered credentials where students could earn legit certificates of learning in various skillsets?
  • We got rid of grades altogether since they mean nothing(one dimension of compliance and not learning)
  • Created schools within schools to allow students to begin focused learning on what they want to learn
  • Developed a unified badge system that could be accepted by higher institutions where students had to prove their work and showcase they can actually create what they claim.
  • Classes were not based on seat time, but competency proficiency

 

What if schools eliminated the mindset of average and truly changed methods to meet the needs of all learners and pushed them to be their best? What if we stopped striving to be like everyone else and got back to what made America amazing in the first place and allow individual creativity and flare to take hold again?

 

Please read the book The End of Average by Todd Rose to understand where my brain is going. This book has made me rethink my whole perspective on life and what exactly it is we should be striving to accomplish.

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (1)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)

21st Century Basketball Practice by Brian McCormick

I know that many of you are already thinking what does this book have to do with education? Here he goes with one of those off the wall posts that he does every so often.

I love education. I love coaching. I have been coaching basketball for 12 years and I get so excited every single year. Through my many years of coaching and learning to get better as a leader and coach I have found a deep respect for Brian McCormick.

His latest book The 21st Century Basketball Practice: Modernizing the basketball practice to develop the global player. is nothing short of amazing.

What I discovered while reading this book is how much teaching/education/parenting/learning/coaching are really all the same. I read the Kindle version and 61 highlights later I could interchangeably use the ideas from this book on the basketball court AND the classroom.

The overall vibe of the book is to help coaches learn to connect with the players, allow them to create their own learning, and provide guidance as needed. The way this happens is to provide voice and choice, quality feedback, and preparing the players/students for the real world situations. Sound similar to a classroom? Yes, it does.

I won’t share all my highlights as you can connect with me on Amazon Kindle, but here are a couple that I think are very important to share.

1. Players make mistakes for three reasons. They don’t understand. They aren’t good enough yet to do what is asked of them or at least not good enough yet to execute consistently. They don’t care.

Often in practice we focus on helping players understand and develop their skills. Sports are nice in that players not caring is not a huge issue(it does exist however) compared to the classroom. Often times in the classroom we blame students not caring instead of looking at the realization that perhaps they don’t understand and we must change our teaching or maybe they simply are not able to process what we expect. In the end I don’t think any of these options require punishment, but taking time to improve and explaining the “why” of what we do.

2. [bctt tweet=”Use mistakes as teaching moments”]Use mistakes as teaching moments. Brian states several times not to intervene until the mistake is made three times. Give players time to correct the error. I love this and this is something I have worked to not stop every single play. In the classroom, we rarely use mistakes as teaching moments. We post the grade and move on. Rarely do we give time for students to make several mistakes and try to learn before we intervene. I am not sure how to pull this off in the classroom, but it is important to at least consider.

3. [bctt tweet=”The only perfect technique is one that achieves the goal”]

I love this! It might be my favorite. We are all different and do things differently. If we have a system or technique that works, why would we try to fix it? Whether on the court or classroom we sometimes have to accept that others do things different from us and that is okay as long as they can get the job done.

I could go on and on, but you get a small feel for the book. I will blog more based on what I learned from this book, but if you like learning, coaching, and teaching then this book is important to read. Even if you are not a basketball coach there is something for anyone who works with students and/or players in the classroom, court, or field.

His ideas on practice goals, feedback, mistakes, reflection, and questioning why we do what we do are essential for all of us to ponder and find answers. We may not like the answers we provide, but then that is the opportunity to try and make change for the better.

At the end of the day we only have so much time with our players and students so why not work hard to make the best use of the time so you feel satisfied that you did all you could do to prepare them for the global world they are living in?

As a good friend, colleague, and teacher in my school told me when I was talking to him about this book. “I coach Spanish and I teacher basketball.”

You can buy the book here

I would also recomend all of his other books

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)

The Art of Stillness

I recently read the book The Art of Stillness by Pico Iyer

The Art of Stillness

The Art of Stillness

Author:
Genres: Inspirational, Non-Fiction
Tags: Best Reads of 2014, Mindfulness
ASIN: 8954626254
I have been waiting to read this book and my impatience to finally devour this book was rewarded by having to wait longer than I wanted. Reading the book reminded me that my impatience is not the answer that I need. This book is powerful. It is short and simple to read. The idea of stillness makes sense and does not require much thought to process. However, to implement or rather have it be part of your life is challenging. That is the reason so many people need to read the book and think it through about how to adjust life so this is part of the 24 hours.
Buy from Amazon
About the Book

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” William James

This quote resonated with me because it really makes stress seem to easy to get rid of. In the end stress does not actually exist unless we choose to allow that thought to permeate our mind.

“Heaven is the place where you think of nowhere else.”

Wow! Once again I thought about how many times have I been somewhere, doing something, being engaged but really my mind is elsewhere thinking about this or that? This happens all the time. When I coach my 8th grade basketball team I always tell them that while at practice only think practice because there is nothing else you can actually do so you might as well make the best of it. We need to remind ourselves of this. How do we stay in the moment. When we are at one with the experience of NOW we are happy. Just last night I was at a concert and instead of recording for the future I just let the moment be. This is what I love about live music! Music keeps me in the moment and my brain thinks of nothing else but the lyrics and music. The question becomes how do we do this with the mundane elements of life?

“It is only when you stop moving that you can be moved in some far deeper way”

I am taking December to live this statement. We are so busy as people. We rush from here to there and never really stop and take in the moment. I have a problem with this and am working to make sure 2015 is not the year for movement, but stillness. Decluttering our “busy” lives of the things that we think are essential, but really just keep us from those moments of stillness. We don’t always have to be doing something to be productive and often times all the business keeps us from being as productive as we can be.

“The way of contemplation is not even a way and if one follows it, what he finds is nothing.” Thomas Merton

This is key for me. This idea cannot be something that I check off my to do list. It cannot be one more thing to do. As John Kabat-Zinn stated on 60 minutes if it becomes one more thing just don’t do it. The key is to restructure your life to just having this happen naturally because it is how you live. That is the paradox of reading books like this and trying to live the ideas

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)
Look Inside
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

 

I have been waiting to read this book and my impatience to finally devour this book was rewarded by having to wait longer than I wanted. Reading the book reminded me that my impatience is not the answer that I need.

This book is powerful. It is short and simple to read. The idea of stillness makes sense and does not require much thought to process. However, to implement or rather have it be part of your life is challenging. That is the reason so many people need to read the book and think it through about how to adjust life so this is part of the 24 hours.

IMG_2067

 

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” William James

This quote resonated with me because it really makes stress seem to easy to get rid of. In the end stress does not actually exist unless we choose to allow that thought to permeate our mind.

“Heaven is the place where you think of nowhere else.”

Wow! Once again I thought about how many times have I been somewhere, doing something, being engaged but really my mind is elsewhere thinking about this or that? This happens all the time. When I coach my 8th grade basketball team I always tell them that while at practice only think practice because there is nothing else you can actually do so you might as well make the best of it. We need to remind ourselves of this. How do we stay in the moment. When we are at one with the experience of NOW we are happy. Just last night I was at a concert and instead of recording for the future I just let the moment be. This is what I love about live music! Music keeps me in the moment and my brain thinks of nothing else but the lyrics and music. The question becomes how do we do this with the mundane elements of life?

 

“It is only when you stop moving that you can be moved in some far deeper way”

I am taking December to live this statement. We are so busy as people. We rush from here to there and never really stop and take in the moment. I have a problem with this and am working to make sure 2015 is not the year for movement, but stillness. Decluttering our “busy” lives of the things that we think are essential, but really just keep us from those moments of stillness. We don’t always have to be doing something to be productive and often times all the business keeps us from being as productive as we can be.

“The way of contemplation is not even a way and if one follows it, what he finds is nothing.” Thomas Merton

This is key for me. This idea cannot be something that I check off my to do list. It cannot be one more thing to do. As John Kabat-Zinn stated on 60 minutes if it becomes one more thing just don’t do it. The key is to restructure your life to just having this happen naturally because it is how you live. That is the paradox of reading books like this and trying to live the ideas.

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)

Coffeechug Book Consumption Week #3

Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at 4.40.32 AM

Blue Gold by Elizabeth Stewart

A book that deals with some very heavy global issues of: child labor, cultural conflict, human trafficking, the price of technology, sweat shops, and digital responsibility. This book weaves the stories of three girls from three different continents and their lives which are all dependent on cell phones or more importantly a substance(coltan) used to make cell phones. What humans have done to either exploit or deny the real issues at hand are exposed in this book. I became quite intrigued to know more about all three situations and to educate myself on what is really going on in the world. The way in which the author addresses these heavy topics in a storyline that keeps a reader engaged is quite a feat. This book is one that would lead to some really fantastic book club discussions. I could not help but a project based learning unit around this book with a driving question of “Is the human price of technology worth the perks?”

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 11.04.40 AM

Girls Standing on Lawns

Simple, yet powerful book. A collection of art and photographs from the Museum of Modern Art. Pages are minimal with one image/artwork and few words. These images represent an arrange of emotions and time periods. I read through this twice thinking about the images of my own life. The images where I was mad for my parents taking pictures of us. The times I refused to smile. The times I was full of smiles. Time evolves. The world moves on. We change as the world changes. More importantly, do we recognize small glimpses of our life that shed light on more stories from own personal journey? This is what the book inspired me to think about as I studied the images of these women.

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 11.30.02 AM

The Art of Start

Who doesn’t love Guy Kawasaki? I read this book with the idea of taking the business ideas and applying to the education world. This was not as easy as I had hoped. A lot of great content with many exercises and questions to process. I took away some key ideas that apply to anyone, anywhere. Mostly, have a plan, but don’t wait for a perfect plan to get started. You don’t have to wait until you are big and massive to get organized. Do this right away. Find the right people. Get Started. Most importantly, be clear and concise and eliminate all fluff and things not needed. Stay on track, chart your progress and make changes as you see fit to reach your goals.

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 10.42.29 AMThe Book of Five Rings: Graphic Novel

I love reading ancient texts of martial arts, warriors, and the like because I find in their articulately crafted words such great wisdom about life in general. When it all comes down to it life is about that balance and realizing that everything comes full circle. Reading this book I was reminded that we must not focus all efforts into only one thing and to clear the mind of anything that could cause confusion. The illustrations were excellent to help shape the story. Perhaps things can be said best by text from the latter part of the book.

In emptiness exists Good but no evil
Wisdom is existence
Principle is existence
The Way is existence
The mind is emptiness
Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 9.46.40 PM
Perhaps the time of year where I focused on giving Thanks was not an ideal time to read the book. Michael Davison takes a look at all the things wrong with America and how we are ruining ourselves. Many of the ideas are nothing new if you watch the news or follow politics of any nature. As I read the book I could not help but either nod my head in agreement or disagree which is the goal of any book. I could not help but think that this is probably true no matter the time period as I don’t think we are ever really happy with government and politics.
The author does provide solutions. A key component for me when reading or discussion is that if one complains, then one must come up with solutions. I understand his solutions, but at the end of the read I think he realized along with any reader that solutions are next to impossible. There are just too many things at stake, too many fingers in the pot, and to really shift things just does not seem plausible. I found the reading engaging considering it is a book on politics which is not my cup of tea. More importantly, this book is one that would lead to high octane discussions if you wanted to risk friendships to discuss politics. As an educator it would be interesting to read this book and break down ideas and solutions with a classroom.
In the end I am thankful to live in a country where we can openly talk about these topics and that is what makes America great even if we don’t agree with every policy.
What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)

Coffeechug Book Consumption for #2

I had another big week of reading and media consumption. Here is what I digested and thought about them.

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 4.02.40 PM

Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose

Have you ever read a book that you swear just cannot be true? This book is a release of the diary of a girl named Mary Rose. I give the mother much credit for making this happen because it really exposes some serious family flaws. In sharing this story I really hope that it saves a child in need, lacking love, addition flawed, and needing to feel loved. I kept reading this book thinking it was fiction. This story broke my heart, made me feel angry and at times not sorry for what happened to her, sorry for her the next page, and then just grateful for my life. Not sure how else to share thoughts without ruining the story. Give it a read, but know it is open and honest so this is not for anyone under 14 years of age.

Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 4.08.26 PM

Be A Changemaker

Such a great read. This is the book I have trying to write. She beat me to it and did a much better job than I would have done. What is so great about this book is not the message. Follow your passion is nothing new and often when reading this book I felt like she took a lot of stuff from Angela Maiers. However, what makes this book different is that it provides context in terms of how to actually act on your passion. It provides ideas, tips, reminders, and starting points to get going.

As an adult I took many useful tips to apply to things that I am trying to do as an educator to make change. So even though the book is designed for YA, anyone can benefit. I have many highlights and pages marked to go back to and process, use, and share with students. A really helpful book to read to learn how to get started.

Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 4.13.38 PM

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak

This is a topic that I am not familiar with. This book provoked many questions for me. I had to process and really learn to understand what I was reading. However, it did not take me long to realize that no matter who you are or what you are going through, the problems of growing up is same. We all just want to feel like we belong, that we are accepted for who we are, and loved by our close friends and families. At the end, this book reminded me that we must embrace who we are no matter who we are. When we try to be something we are not to fit in, then this path leads to nothing but a path away from our goals of feeling loved. When we realize to embrace who we are, then things open up and we find out the truth of others. I cannot imagine the confusion of being a transgender, but I found the stories fascinating and reminded me to really be accepting of everyone no matter who they are or what they do.

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 10.29.42 AM

Fad Mania: A History of America Crazes

This was a fun read. It is short coming in under 70 pages, but I found the journey down memory lane to be quite enjoyable. This would be a nice addition to any library. The thing I liked most about this book was that it brought into the context the time period of when things developed. It was short and not dense which is a must for students. It also allowed the reader to understand why things occurred. In the end it was a great reminder that all things come to pass no matter how great, bad, stupid, or otherwise. Anytime you bring in nostalgia it makes you want to go back and live in the glory days, but after reading this I also know that what goes around, comes around and if I wait patiently these items will come back.

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)

Selling Autographed The Fault In Our Stars for Good Cause

Screen Shot 2014-08-09 at 8.35.39 AM

Today I am heading to the post office to mail off one of my favorite books by one of my all time favorite authors, John Green. You might be asking why are selling the book if you love it and the author so much? Well, you will have to check out the video. It is for reasons much bigger than my reading pleasure.

I am decluttering my Nerd Cave and you can check out the journey here http://coffeeforthebrain.com/announcing-video-series-on-triple-d-declutter-experiment-minimalism/

This is not the reason I am selling the book, but because of this process I have been able to come up with an idea that can help me declutter while providing to something much bigger than my selfish endeavors. I will be launching the page very soon with more details and books.

We are using the money from this book sale to send supplies to our friends in Africa. Read the journey here http://coffeeforthebrain.com/the-power-of-international-collaboration-iowa-africa/

You can watch the video and I would love to hear from you by leaving a comment or connecting in some capacity

If you have not purchased the book you SHOULD. And more importantly buy it from this link where the Affiliate money I receive will go towards our funds to send school supplies to our friends in Africa.

If you have not heard of the book, then check out my review from 2012

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)

Coffeechug Reads and Does Not Read the Following

I am decluttering my life inside and out. This means that this website is undergoing change. I have eliminated a few things already(blog post coming) and one of the key things is my weekly newsletter in which I share the books I read.

The reason is that the amount of work to create this each week is not worth the time. It takes too long, causes me stress, and additionally very little people were reading the newsletter. The reason I believe is that it is just one more click and we all hate having to click more than once or twice.

I am not going to repost all the prior book reviews the last two weeks. I don’t want to drown my site with a ton of book reviews.

Instead I will just share my video reviews that I was creating. I am not sure if I will continue to make these because not many have been watching. Perhaps the newsletter for these were not ideal. I am testing to see how things go by posting them directly to the site and compare.

Here are all four videos

Find all books referenced here http://astore.amazon.com/cofothbr-20

As I continue to make changes in terms of streamlining this site and offering what people want please let me know what you think. I am making these decisions based on data on the site and my personal insights, but would love to provide the services that people want.

Let me know.

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)

Coffeechug reads Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

A goal this year is to diversify my reading selections and therefore I jumped back into the YA genre. I picked this book up based on title alone and it was AMAZING! It is so good that my wife who never reads is now reading it.

 

Screen Shot 2014-01-12 at 1.09.07 PM

Any storyline that makes you want to know the answers to the following questions is a great read

1. Who did this girl kill?

2. What did grandpa say?

3. What are mom and dad so cold to one another?

4. Who is this death row inmate and will he write back?

Throughout the whole story I could not help but like each character. This book is all about growing up, falling in love, dealing with family, life decisions, and living with the results.

I am not able to say more without spoiling anything so if you are in need of a good book and storyline to keep you hooked, then this is one to check out.

http://www.amazon.com/Ketchup-Clouds-Annabel-Pitcher/dp/031624676X

 

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)