I love books… and yes the tech geek that I am still reads paper books. Not that I have anything against reading online but before I make the switch, I have to finish reading the 100+ books that are waiting to be read. I pick up novels, professional development and personal development books mostly and they become this huge pile of books next to my bed. Every year, I set a goal to read a number of books. Last year, I did not reach my goal of 30 books but read 28… which is not that bad. One of those books was Ditch That Textbook by Matt Miller.
Funny anecdote about the book: I ordered this book over a year ago through Amazon. I bought it with two or three other interesting books that were most probably mentioned at a seminar or by friends and put them on my to-read pile next to my bed. When I finally got to it, I noticed that the book had a printing issue. Some pages were blank. I started reading thinking maybe this was a concept where we were meant to take notes but no… pages were missing. When I contacted Amazon, I was told it was too late to return the book for a year had passed… I was so sad. I contacted the author… and guess what? He sent me a free copy. A free signed copy and send some cool stickers along as well. What a great guy! I really wanted to mention it here so that you know what kind of person we are dealing with here. Made me want to read the book even more!
As a textbook author myself, I have to admit that the title kind of scared me. After all, since I wrote a few textbooks, I know that there is a lot of good stuff in there. The whole idea behind Ditch That Textbook is not to present an exposé against the material. It is also not about making sure your class become completely paperless and uses technology. It’s about embracing being a teacher, being creative, being innovative. For any motivated teacher, this is a: I am not alone kind of book.
As I read the book, it sometimes reaffirmed that what I was doing was good, sometimes gave me ideas, sometimes made me rethink things that were going on in my own classroom. Of course, some of the suggestions did not apply to me but the message always did. The author made me feel that it was absolutely OK to try things… but also to choose and not use some of the ideas presented. His reflections felt like talking to another motivated teacher and having someone understands what this passionate teaching is all about.
The Skype Mystery calls really intrigued me and I would love to try it in my classroom… The possible technical issues in my classroom(s) scare me a bit but innovation is all about getting over the fear, trying something new and adjusting. I will also check out how I can incorporate Twitter into my teaching as well. I already use it for professional development but could use ith with students so that they communicate with others and not just me or the other students in the class.
The suggestion to use the chatroom Today’s Meet during silent reading was the first thing I tried and it is just great. My students can ask questions and not be stuck because of a word or certain passages and yet, are still silently reading and not be a distraction to other students…not that my students are silently reading every class! I just hated those long classes where students read in silence and I was left out. What a great way to still communicate and guide them! Something that technology allows me to do and that I could not do before.
With Teaching Like a Pirate, it’s one of the other must reads that I will recommend to colleagues and to the student teachers I supervise! It’s a book that I will have to schedule to re-read from time to time as well!
I invite you to follow the author on his blog here, or follow him on Twitter. I also participated in the Ditch That Textbook Summit which was amazing! It was my second year and was such a valuable professional development opportunity.