While I don’t have a traditional educators summer, I do take the opportunity to reflect on the past year and prepare for supporting all the educators I work with through the YU School Partnership. Last year I posted my summer reading list made up of a stack of books on online and blended learning and some great thinkers in education. They were some solid reads and helped shape the YUSP online/blended instruction and design certificate program, which is getting its annual update for this upcoming cohort (there are some seats left, so if you are interested email This summer, I am continuing my learning (although it really is an ongoing process) in areas of online/blended learning, but also focused on project-based learning, school leadership and innovation in education in general. I am also exploring some technologies used in education which will include starting a new podcast and playing with Minecraft. So, while I will be reading, creating and playing, I felt it more appropriate to call it my Summer Learning List as that is what I will actually be doing.

Let’s start with the Books:

Square Peg: My Story and What It Means for Raising Innovators, Visionaries, and Out-of-the-Box Thinkers by Todd Rose

This book was recommended to me by my supervisor extraordinaire, Jane Taubenfeld Cohen, who suggested I would like it. So far, she is right. The book starts with the authors story as a student that involved a significant amount of stink bombs in class. I have a similar story with smoke bombs and my 11th grade history final. What’s not to like?

Makers: The New Industrial Revolution by Chris Anderson

This book was recommended by Michael Mino, who is the facilitator of the YU School Partnerships Blended Learning Boot Camp and an all around expert in educational technology, blended learning and being a nice guy. I just started it (yes I read multiple books at a time. It is like flipping through the channels on the TV). The book is focused on the Makers Movement and how in the 21st century the ability to create is truly open to everyone. The author is also the editor of WIRED magazine. Enough said.

John Dewey, On Education: Selected Writings assembled by Reginald D. Archambault

I recommended this book to myself. To be in education and to not have read Dewey is heresy. If I were to sum Dewey up it would be to call him an educational prophet. He predicted all the debates and innovations we are working and struggling with today. Sadly, he was not trying to predict it, but guide educators to adopt his ideas. However, he knew what it meant to truly learn and, while he may have been ahead of his time, there is much to gain from his teachings. I would call him the friendster of the social networking world. Great idea, but we were just not ready for it. So, let’s do what Zuckerberg did; steal Dewey’s ideas and create the best educational system possible.

PBL for 21st Century Success by BIE

If you have any interest in Project Based Learning (PBL) than you need to check out the Buck Institute for Education. They are a great resource for this work and have written some fantastic guides to implementing PBL. This is the latest in their “toolbox” series and brings what I would say is the best of two worlds; Project-Based Learning and 21st Century Skills. A force to be reckoned with indeed.

While this is not work related I thought I would throw out these two books:

The Nineteen Letters: The World of Rabbi S. R. Hirsch translated by by Rabbi Joseph Elias

I am including this book because, not only am I reading it this summer, I am reading it with a friend using Google Hangout. Each week we read a letter alone and discuss Jewish philosophy using the letter that week as a springboard on Hangout. We would not be able to do this without the tool and it is the first time I will be using Google Hangout extensively. It is a great example of technology supporting learning and giving access in ways unfathomable a decade ago.

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

While I love reading books on education and innovation, it is always good to have a book or two that is pure Disney World for the mind. A friend of mine created the trailer for the upcoming Enders Game, a book I had never heard of, so I thought I would check it out. After thoroughly enjoying enders game, I am now jumping into the second book in the series and wondering what those piggies are up to.

Last but not least, anything but a book:


I will also be playing a lot of Minecraft this summer to better understand its application in the classroom. I have already started and found myself enjoying creating, or “crafting”, items to help me in the world as well as problem solving how to not get killed every evening by hordes of zombies (I built a wall around myself). So, creativity and problem solving are certainly integrated. I also opened up a trench that connect two bodies of water and I was washed away to the point where the two streams converged trapping me. So, physics and science; check. I have a lot more to learn, but it seems promising. Here is a video showing some better examples.

Enjoy your summer!


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