MiddSouth Innovates

Issue #14

Summer Book Club For Educators

While we often talk about the "Summer Slide" for students (and I don't mean the ones that involve water), we rarely talk about the same for educators. So, rather than picking up the latest brain candy novel for the beach, try one of these to get you ready for next school year.


  • Solving The Homework Problem by Flipping Learning by Jon Bergmann--Teachers view homework as an opportunity for students to continue learning after the bell rings. For many students, this often means the dreaded "H" word. How can educators change the way students view homework while ensuring that they still benefit from the additional learning it provides? It's easy. Flip the learning! You want your students to learn, and your students want learning to be accessible. With that in mind, read through these pages, flip the learning in your classroom, and watch students get excited about homework!
  • What Great Teachers Do Differently by Todd Whitaker--In the second edition of this renowned book, you will find pearls of wisdom, heartfelt advice, and inspiration from one of the nation’s leading authorities on staff motivation, teacher leadership, and principal effectiveness. With wit and understanding, Todd Whitaker describes the beliefs, behaviors, attitudes, and interactions of great teachers and explains what they do differently.
  • Culturize: Every Student. Every Day. Whatever It Takes by Jimmy Casas--Eradicate Average! CULTURIZE Your School. Average schools don't inspire greatness--and greatness is what our world needs if we are going to produce world-changing learners. In Culturize, author and education leader Jimmy Casas shares insights into what it takes to cultivate a community of learners who embody the innately human traits our world desperately needs, such as kindness, honesty, and compassion. His stories reveal how these "soft skills" can be honed while meeting and exceeding academic standards of twenty-first-century learning.
  • The New Teacher Revolution by Josh Stumpenhorst--Today’s classroom demands teacher innovation and rejection of outdated practices, especially when someone tells you it’s "always been done" a certain way. In this book, Josh Stumpenhorst details his methods for improving student outcomes with unorthodox thinking.
  • Make It Stick: The Science Of Successful Learning by Peter C Brown and Henry L. Roediger III--To most of us, learning something "the hard way" implies wasted time and effort. Good teaching, we believe, should be creatively tailored to the different learning styles of students and should use strategies that make learning easier. Make It Stick turns fashionable ideas like these on their head. Drawing on recent discoveries in cognitive psychology and other disciplines, the authors offer concrete techniques for becoming more productive learners.
  • Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink--Most people believe that the best way to motivate is with rewards like money—the carrot-and-stick approach. That's a mistake, says Daniel H. Pink (author of To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Motivating Others). In this provocative and persuasive new book, he asserts that the secret to high performance and satisfaction-at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.
  • Most Likely To Succeed: Preparing Our Students For The Innovation Era by Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith--Today more than ever, we prize academic achievement, pressuring our children to get into the “right” colleges, have the highest GPAs, and pursue advanced degrees. But while students may graduate with credentials, by and large they lack the competencies needed to be thoughtful, engaged citizens and to get good jobs in our rapidly evolving economy. Our school system was engineered a century ago to produce a workforce for a world that no longer exists. Alarmingly, our methods of schooling crush the creativity and initiative young people really need to thrive in the twenty-first century. Now bestselling author and education expert Tony Wagner and venture capitalist Ted Dintersmith call for a complete overhaul of the function and focus of American schools, sharing insights and stories from the front lines, including profiles of successful students, teachers, parents, and business leaders. Their powerful, urgent message identifies the growing gap between credentials and competence—and offers a framework for change.


Found something that piqued your interest? Great! Let's start a Teacher's Book Club on that book! Reach out to Marc Seigel and he will be happy to find others interested in the same book, schedule club gatherings, and even help you with the book discussions.

It's Never Too Early To Start Planning

September will be here before you know it so here are a few ideas for you to consider for the first weeks of school.


  • First Day of School Ice Breaker--instead of using the first day to discuss rules of the class, maybe try an ice breaker to help the students learn a bit about each other. You would be amazed at how many students in your class still don't know the names of everyone in the room even though it's June.
  • Flip Your Syllabus--always ask yourself "what is the most effective use of my face to face time with my students." If you feel that reading a syllabus and going over class rules isn't the best use of your time, then try flipping your syllabus. Record a podcast of everything you would have said on the first day and post it to your Google Classroom. The students can watch the video for HW and then be prepared to engage in a short discussion on it next class.
  • Add Yet Another Mail Merge--First, stop collecting student information on paper and instead use a Google Form. All of the information gets stored in a Google Sheet that you now have in your Drive at whatever computer you are sitting at (or even your phone!). Then add Yet Another Mail Merge to the Google Sheet. This allows you to write an email, click a button, and automatically send the email to anyone who completes the Google Form. Now you can write a first day of school email to Parents with all of the important information about the class and YAMM takes care of sending it out. Have a student switch into the class after the first week? No problem. YAMM will send that email to that student's parents too!
  • Flip Back To School Night-- Unless you are the Micro-Machines Guy, 9 minutes is not enough time to explain to Parents what your class is all about. Instead, record yourself giving your BTSN presentation using Screencastify and post it to YouTube. When you send your welcome email to the Parents, just add the link to the BTSN video and have them watch it for HW. Then, instead of you doing all the talking at BTSN, engage your parents in a discussion. Remember, they worked all day long just like you so make the time you have with the Parents as meaningful as possible.

Learning Lunch Labs

The Learning Lunch Labs will be returning in the fall! These bi-monthly meetings will occur during blocks 3 & 4 in the iLab and are additional ways for you to get PD on a variety of topics. If there is anything specific you would like to see training for (Google Classroom, Social Media, Flipped Learning, Guided-Inquiry, etc.) just reach out to Marc Seigel and he will throw it on the schedule.

Have a great last few days of school!!