Seeing that summer is officially here (although weather wise it hasn’t shown up here in the Pacific Northwest) I thought I’d review a couple books I read and listened to this past year in case you were looking for something to read over the summer. A little something for everyone I hope.

I read more fiction this year then I have in my entire life probably leading up to it. All the credit goes to this librarian (Twitter @mischelej) who came to my school in Thailand this year figured out what I liked and then keep pushing books on me until I started reading some. Mischele…can’t thank you enough and keep sending the book recommendations…I have a lot of travel ahead of me. 


Ready Player One Ready Player One is a fantastic book. If you have spent anytime at all in Second Life this book will have you wondering if this is the future. If you haven’t been in Second Life but grew up at all in the 80s then you are in for a treat. Your inner geek will come out and you’ll be transported back into your childhood (OK…my childhood) of some of the first computer games. Well written and if every book I read could be this good I’d read a lot more. 

What has blown me away even more is how the author is using social-media and the idea in the book to engage his audience. Check out this youtube video for contest details and then go read the book.

The Art of Fielding I have mixed feelings about The Art of Fielding. The books starts out focused on baseball and if you are a baseball fan or ever played baseball this part of the book is so good. I found myself lost in memories of my own two a day practices, 5am runs and the weight room back in college and what it takes to make it at the next leave. The baseball part of the book I loved. The book gets away from the baseball and dives into player relationships. It’s not a bad thing and I’m still recommending it but by the end of the book I wanted more baseball talk. Still a great novel perfect for a summer read seeing that it is baseball season.

11/22/63 11/22/63 is the first Stephen King book I have ever read. Love the idea of the book about going back in time and changing the past. An easy read that is based on relationships, history and one mans struggle to try and change the past. A good vacation book….or was for me.  




Professional Books:

Public Parts Public Parts by Jeff Jarvis makes a great argument on why we all should get use to living in public and how it benefits us as a global community. He takes on the big idea of privacy and how we have struggled with privacy for years in different forms. I listened to the book on Audible as Jeff reads the book himself and being an auditory learner I like it when I can get the authors voice coming through in the book…I feel it adds insight as you get those little inflections in the authors voice when they really want to make a point. 

I would recommend this book for anyone who is struggling with this idea of living public, putting things on the Internet or where we fear all this will lead. Administrators…..I think this is a must read for you. 

Drive If you haven’t yet read or listened to Drive by Dan Pink then make this a top priority this summer. I think one of the best books about what truly motivates people to work and play. Seeing we want students to work in our schools and classrooms this book is a must read. The power of motivation and what really motivates us to do our best. Another must read for Administrators, Superintendents or anyone whose job it is to motivate others to do their best work.


Those are my recommendations for this summer. If you want to see other books I recommend head over to my Amazon store and check out other things that might interest you.

What are you reading this summer? Or what would you recommend I or others read?

OK….I’ll admit over the past couple of months I’ve been hard on primary teachers on this blog. I have talked about my struggles with using technology with the younger students and how I felt we should be limiting their screen time to really good uses of technology. Uses that don’t include iPads as flashcard and game replacement devices. 

cover page monkey cat
cover of Monkey and cat

What I was struggling with was finding a project that I felt was worth the time away from exploring, running around, building, and imagining things in favor of sitting with a digital device. I still struggle with this actually. If all that iPads and technology can be used for in the younger years is games, flashcard replacement, and a handful of other replacement type tasks then I’m not sure we’re getting the bang for our buck with technology. I want it to do more, I want it to redefine the classroom and that’s hard when I believe kids should be spending time playing together, interacting, and imagining. Also knowing that outside of school many of them are getting plenty of screen time at home. So what I really am looking for is a project where I can say…that is a good use of technology with Kindergardeners. 

And I found it….

Ben Sheridan is a recently graduate of the COETAIL program. For his final project he talked about the way he was using technology to connect his students to other Kindergarten classrooms. His class has a blog, they tweet, they Skype, they use the SmartBoard…and the best part is they think this is all just normal Kindergarden stuff. 

Out of these connections came an opportunity when Ben connected his class with Zoe Page’s class, a Kindergarten teacher in Japan and current COETAILer. Their students set up a Skype call and introduced themselves to each other. They then decided that they wanted to write a book together for the iPad. 

That book can now be downloaded free in the iBook Store here

Ben outlines the project and how they completed it in a series of blog posts on his blog. If you are an early childhood/primary teacher Ben and Zoe are two blogs worth following. 

These are the kind of projects that get me excited about using technology with younger kids. Let’s stop arguing over how many iPads a class needs, or what device is right for the primary grades and lets find ways to create classrooms that connect students to each other and show them the true power of this technology. The power isn’t in the device, it’s in the connections that it can create that lead to learning.