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Book Blog: Close Encounters with Nurture Shock and Made to Stick Print E-mail

sara-johnson-2006.jpgby Dr. Sara Johnson

COSA members are committed to reading current and best practice publications to stay active, relevant, and fresh in the important work of educating students.  Great books continue to become available every month! As the Annual Law Conference approaches, we are looking forward the Barnes and Noble educators’ book sale! Read the reviews and be ready to pick up a new book.

nurture shock.jpgNurture Shock

Nurture Shock is one of the most important books you will read this year” (D.H. Pink, author of A Whole New Mind). What’s so important about this book?  It presents “new thinking about children”  - educators need an accurate understanding about children as we strive for high levels of student achievement under challenging circumstances.  In Nurture Shock, authors Bronson and Merryman explore beliefs securely held and supposedly supported by research and practice.  The writing in all 10 chapters is superb, filled with cleverly formed stories and intriguing language.  Below are samplings from the chapters:

  • How does praise impact achievement?  Bronson and Merryman find that praising a child’s academic success may cause damage to his self-confidence.
  • Children today are sleeping 30 – 60 minutes less than past years.  Could the decreased sleep be connected to moodiness, depression, obesity, and attention deficit?
  • Children lie to make their parents happy.  Children develop patterns of lying by age 4.
  • When a teen argues with a respected adult, it is constructive to the relationship, not destructive.

You will find Nurture Shock fascinating and perhaps practice altering.  After reading this book, you will ask, “Are we doing our children more harm than good? Is it possible that our good intentions are the source of many of our children's problems?” Nurture Shock will challenge you to assess your thinking and find new ways to accomplish goals with students! 

made to stick.jpgMade to Stick

Made to Stick:  Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, (the book with the duct tape on the cover), by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, is a 2007 book that is still “sticking” around.  It remains on the top-seller list and is still receiving five star reviews by most readers.  Why is this book so sticky? The framework of the authors’ advice:

  • Simple = Core + Impact 
  • Unexpected  - Get people’s attention and keep it;
  • Concrete ideas mobilize and focus the brain;
  • Credible - If people don't trust you, they'll ignore you;
  • Emotional - Information makes people think, but emotion makes them act;
  • Stories make your message memorable.

Heath and Heath’s goal for their book is to help readers make ideas sticky – their book’s success is convincing! The authors base their advice on validated, social and psychological principals – and apply the stickiness factors to their recommendations.  I recommend this book for educators from the classroom to the district office.  

close encounters of the third grade kind.jpgClose Encounters of the Third-Grade Kind:  Thoughts on Teacherhood

Close Encounters of the Third-Grade Kind:  Thoughts on Teacherhood, by Phillip Done, (author of bestselling book, 32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny), is a book recommended to me by the Barnes and Noble staff.  Readers are raving about this story, speaking of the author’s humor, ability to tell a story, and teaching credibility.  The book is praised by several of our favorite teacher authors such as Esme Raji Codell, author of Educating Esme and How to Get Your Child to Love Reading, Harry K. Wong, author of The First Days of School, Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook, and Erin Gruwell, author of The Freedom Writer's Diary and Teach with Your Heart.  Readers are calling the book unique, penetrating, comical, warm, and insightful. “These charming, sweet, and funny tales of Mr. Done's trials and triumphs as an award-winning schoolteacher will touch readers' hearts and remind them of the true joys of childhood.” With all of these high recommendations, I hesitate to report that I could not get hooked on this book.  So give it a try – perhaps you’ll enjoy it and find it inspiring. If you don’t love it, just give it away to a third grade teacher. 

book whisperer.jpgThe Book Whisperer:  Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child

“My obsession with books and reading defines my life…” writes Donalyn Miller, author of The Book Whisperer:  Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child. “I know from personal experience that readers lead richer lives, more lives, than those who don’t read.”  I am in full agreement with the author’s statements, and was at once captivated by this book and a believer in her message. This is an important book for anyone in the field of education, addressing the essential need of turning children into life-long readers. Miller promotes encouraging children to read what they choose, despite the pressures of standardized tests.  She requires her 6th grade students to read forty books during their time in her classroom, and year after year, they surpass the goal. Miller’s students excel on the state’s reading assessment.  She has not had one student fail the assessment in four years, and 85% or them score in the 90th percentile!  The book is packed with practical, inspiring methods and strategies.  The targeted audience of The Book Whisperer is the classroom teacher, however, administrators and parents will also find value in this read.  “Reading changes your life.  Reading unlocks worlds unknown or forgotten, taking travelers around the world and through time.  Reading helps you escape the confines of school and pursue your own education” (Miller, 2009).

poverty is not a learning disability.jpgPoverty is NOT a Learning Disability:  Equalizing Opportunities for Low SES Students

Poverty is NOT a Learning Disability:  Equalizing Opportunities for Low SES Students, by Tish Howard, Sandy Grogan Dresser, with Dennis R. Dunklee, is a book based upon the doctoral dissertation research of one of the authors.  The book identifies strategies used by exemplary teachers and principals to humanize classroom environments and enable their low socioeconomic status and minority students to overcome the challenges of poverty, cultural differences, and school readiness to increase student achievement.  The chapters address important topics such as “the unfortunate link between low socioeconomic status and learning disabilities; teaching strategies and techniques proven to work with low SES children; the importance of strong school-home relationships in educating low SES children; selecting the right people; identifying expectations for managing performance;  and a proven approach to improving educational opportunities for low SES children.”  Howard, Dresser, and Dunklee highlight important streams of data relevant to the work schools are struggling with in 2009.  This book updates our knowledge regarding NCLB, Race to the Top, and RTI as we work with low SES populations. Corwin Press published this tool for the purpose of:

  • Training resource
  • Assessment tools
  • Strategy Reference
  • Data chart model
  • Providing a bibliography and glossary of pertinent research and terminology

Corwin Press comments, “With these strategies and tools, schools can meet the developmental and environmental needs of their most vulnerable students and watch student achievement and confidence soar!”

art of the handwritten note.jpgThe Art of the Handwritten Note:  A Guide to Reclaiming Civilized Communication

It’s a good time of year to write thank you notes.  As a principal, one of the most meaningful things I did was scribble out hand written notes at the end of the day to teachers, parents, and staff, recognizing their efforts and achievement.  Through this practice, I came to understand the impact of hand written notes.  The Art of the Handwritten Note:  A Guide to Reclaiming Civilized Communication, by Margaret Shepherd was published several years ago, but remains a useful tool for educators. The book gives all of the help one needs to tune up one’s note writing practice, get it back in shape and off the ground. The author provides tips on rescuing handwriting, selecting writing utensils and paper, managing your note-writing time in order to have time, and selection of appropriate language for notes in basically every important situation.  A collection of books to support your note writing will be useful. This is one helpful little book to have on your professional bookshelf.

Two of my personal favorite reads from this quarter of the school year-finding calcutta.jpgFinding Calcutta:  What Mother Teresa Taught Me About Meaningful Work and Service , by Mary Poplin:  This author has influenced a new generation of educators as she speaks about her experience.  Poplin is a lifelong educator who spent a two-month sabbatical in Calcutta with the Missionaries of Charity working among the poorest of the poor.  “Not everybody can go to Calcutta.  But all of us can find our own place of service and calling.”  This is definitely a spiritual book that has relevance for educators who view their work as a calling.

power of focus.jpgThe Power of Focus:  How to Hit Your Business, Personal and Financial Targets with Absolute Certainty
, by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Les Hewitt, was recommended to the administrative team by Mr. Michael Reeves.  The book sounded interesting when I read the reviews so I picked it up.  Wow!  It has many useful, practical tools to help an administrator set and reach goals for self AND the school or school district.  Thanks for the recommendation Michael.

Readers, you are welcome to post on the BLOG or email me with your book recommendations and comments ().  Educators need to consistently read the best literature to learn and grow as professionals.

Sara Johnson is the Human Resources Director for Lincoln County School District.  She is a former Oregon Principal of the Year.  Share you comments and questions with Sara and other Book Blog readers via the comment form below:

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This page was last updated on Monday, November 23, 2009 .