Monday, November 24, 2014

Crash Course Week 12: Conclusion

We have reached the end of the Fall 2014 eLearning book club. This week, please share what you are taking away from this book: lessons learned, an idea that you are going to implement or already have.

Please have all of your comments made to all of the blog posts by 5pm Eastern next Wednesday, December 3rd. I will send out PGPs by the end of the month. Thank you all for participating. This has been a wonderful discussion!

55 comments:

  1. In my role, I provide staff professional development and encourage non-traditional sit and get PD. Initially, I signed up to do this book club in order to support some staff members to do it. Unfortunately, both staff members failed to buy the book or begin posting with the exception of their initial introduction post. I decided to continue on as I had never done an online book club and wanted to see how it worked. I'll have to admit I was disappointed in the lack of dialogue between posters. I was hoping there would be more exchanges, debating, etc like there would be in a traditional book club.

    That being said, I did learn a few things. I thought this was a light read and was more of a memoir than instructional. However, I did like the all-school "field trip" she discussed. I think they called it "The Best Day of School Ever". It was when the entire school went to different locations and instead of just having a standard field trip, each teacher taught a lesson and the site became their classroom. I am working on a similar project at my school. Logistically, I may do it smaller this year and scale up next year once I have some questions answered.

    While I felt the book had value, I came away with more ideas on running an online book club so I could consider doing more for my staff.

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    1. I will respond to your disappointment as I am sorry that you did not find people as free with comments as you would have liked. Being a part of a book club online or traditional is much like our experiences with students throughout the day: every encounter is different based on the students and the lessons. Any book club discussion changes with the questions of the moderator, the nature of the book, and the personality of the participants. That is what makes each one a unique experience. I appreciate each of the contributors for what they freely offer of themselves; five are my own colleagues for whom my admiration is great. If you are looking for more high powered banter, you might consider participating in professional Twitter chats such as offered by #INeLearn on Thursday evenings, to name one of many.

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    2. I appreciate your response. Please don't take my comment as an insult to those that participated. I simply expressed my disappointment that the nature of the asynchronous posting didn't seem to lend itself to regular dialogue.

      I agree with your suggestion of the Twitter chats. I am a frequent contributor to #inelearn as well as many other chats and even moderate one myself.

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    3. I understand where both of the previous comments are coming from. I try to comment on a couple of personal posts each week in addition to my own regular post on the the assigned chapters, but it's tough to remember to check back in and create that dialogue. Many people simply don't get comments on their weekly posts, and we really aren't discussing back and forth. It's a tough digital environment- like Tammy said, it's like doing it with the students. I've participated in several of these online book clubs with the DOE- it forces me to read a professional book and to reflect. I've gotten more out of my personal reflection most of the time than the discussion. I've also enjoyed getting to know more educators across the state.

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    4. I too felt this book was more of a memoir rather than instructional. I enjoyed reading your comments, ideas, and takeaways each week. I too tried to comment on other's post, but it's hard to remember to check back. My school corp is doing a book club right now as part of our PD time. Even though we only meet as small groups once a month to discuss the book, I find myself and other teachers discussing the book on a regular basis, during lunch, or our daily duties. It appears to be a lot easier to engage in person that it does by blogging online! Regardless, I enjoyed the book and reading others' posts.

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  2. I enjoyed reading this book because it was a light read but contained lots of great thoughts and ideas of continuing to grow as an educator, connecting with students. Also, I realized I am not going to be the perfect teacher- not being the perfect teacher is actually the perfect thing for my students! Through mistakes, bad lessons, etc. I will grow and teach my students about the ups and downs of daily life in the process!

    I had a love hate relationship with Kim's lessons! Don't get me wrong-- they were amazing!! I wish I could have been a student in her room or thought of all those wonderful ideas myself! I enjoyed reading all about the details of her lesson presentations- some very elaborate and others I think I could pull off! It made me think about my own lessons and how I could make a few adaptations to create a more enticing or engaging lessons! I am anxious to get started! The hate part of her lessons and/or trips was just the funding and unrealistic aspect for my situation! I would catch myself reading it in awe but also thinking, "we could never afford that or get approval!" I just need to get creative and bring the experience to the room through the imaginations of my students!!
    So I am taking away the use of just a few props to promote a students use of imagination to help a lesson take off!!! I really enjoyed the book and reminded me of all the joy that comes with being a teacher!!

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    1. Katie,
      I agree so much with your statement. I thought even though it was a light read that it reminds all teachers where the heart is in teaching. Most times I was teary eyed at the end of a chapter. I also agree that being the non-perfect teacher is great and I always am telling my students that I am learning right along with them!! We can all learn and grow together!!

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  3. While I enjoyed the easy read of the book, I also think that their situation is a far cry from the reality of our public schools. We have limited field trip funding, and if you can take one, teachers feel the pressure of missing instructional time by other disciplines. Without shared preps, it's tough to create an cross-curricular trip. Class sizes are also inhibitors to developing those deep, impactful relationships.

    What I did enjoy was the conversation about the importance of those mentoring relationships and their impact on student success. The school is such an important part of the early years and staff need to recognize their long-term value on young lives.

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    1. Yes! I totally agree with you! I love reading these books because it gives great ideas and offers such positive suggestions however I agree that often times the ideas are simply not practical or even feasible with current funding and limitations set for today's public schools.

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  4. I have loved being a part of this book club. This book has given me many ideas of future projects, gave me time to reflect on what is effective and what is not, and offered me a wonderful opportunity to share ideas with positive fellow educators.

    My favorite quote from the book is from the first week. “When we show others that their interests matter to us, we are making meaningful steps toward developing lasting bonds and trust.” This has motivated me to be a better listener, develop more activities to explore the interest of individual students, and to continue to create an environment where kids feel they can just be themselves.

    I have been considering starting a Faculty Book Club for the past few years and this experience finally gave me the confidence I needed to take the leap. I began our after school club in October with 15 faculty members and am finishing in 2 weeks with the same 15 members. My principal is awarding every participant 10 PGP’s and has asked me to continue the club as part of our professional development program. I am happy to share; we will be reading Crash Course next semester!

    Thanks to everyone for sharing and contributing all your wonderful ideas. I plan to continue with the spring eLearning book club and hopefully you all will too! Have a Happy Holiday Season!!!

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  5. Someone above posted this quote and it's a quote that really spoke to me throughout the time that I read this book: “When we show others that their interests matter to us, we are making meaningful steps toward developing lasting bonds and trust.”
    While the lessons and ideas that were in the book were not the most practical-- likely, I couldn't do many of the things that she talks about simply for various reasons: funding, etc. I think the bigger picture was what made this a meaningful read to me. It's nice to take time to reflect on our practice as educators and to really consider if we are making a difference in our students lives. Thanks for the opportunity to participate in this book club!

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    1. This quote was also one that stood out to me. It served as a great reminder that we will be more effective as a teacher when we take the time to learn about what matters to our students. This can also be applied to our personal lives. Thanks for reminding me of this quote Megan!

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  6. I thought this book was a wonderful read. I enjoyed relaxing and taking time to learn new perspectives on teaching. I think what I most enjoyed was being able to openly discuss specific things that I encounter everyday and hearing new perspectives or advice from others. When I had the time, I loved going back and reading everyone's post and seeing how I could relate to them or what I think I would have done differently. This is the first time I participated in a book blog like this, but I will suggest it to as many peers as I can. Thank you so much for the experience!

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  7. I enjoyed reading the book and also the fact that several people from our corporation participated. I learned a lot from the participants and enjoyed hearing what others do at their schools and some of the difficulties (and solutions) that others have. The chemistry chapter was one I got a lot from. It is important that building a relationship wih students helps us to motivate them. I need to remember no matter how tired or busy I am, I need to take time to make those connections with my students.

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  8. To find something that I can take away from the book, I looked at the themes again to ask myself which one or two I would most like to revive or initiate in my interactions with students. To be honest, there are several that need my attention, and that is due to exhaustion during a season of the school year when end of the semester tensions compete with efforts to be my best. Considering this, the chapter that caused me to turn a corner in my perspective was the 'improvisation' lesson. What I sometimes see as a failed plan, can be reimaged as a new plan or better version of what my students need at that time. In some ways this becomes a new perception of progress and less about me checking items off the 'to do' list. I have already discovered that this brings some relief to me at the end of the day, not thinking about what we didn't do, rather about what we did do. Furthermore, this understanding of improvisation and my attitude toward it gives me a better foundation on which to build relationships with students, integrating many of the other lessons of the book that are very dependent on my joy of teaching. Thanks, all, for your many insights throughout the weeks.

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  9. This is the second DOE online book club in which I have participated, and I have found them both enjoyable and helpful. The books have provided excellent advice and material for reflection, and the posts have been equally helpful. It is great to read about things going on around the state and at schools within my own community. It is also reassuring to know that many of my daily frustrations are normal and shared by colleagues. This particular book was full of many wonderful ideas, but so many of them were not practical for my classroom -- after awhile, I found I had trouble relating. I cannot imagine a point in my teaching career that I will have the funding, space, time, and opportunity to do some of the things mentioned in the book. However, somewhere along the way, I decided maybe some of her ideas could be modified to fit my needs, and that provided new inspiration. This book also reassured me that the time I spend developing relationships with my students that go beyond the classroom is well worth it!

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  10. I enjoyed this book a lot- the stories were very engaging. However, what I got out of this experience the most was the theme from the title itself, "Lessons My Students Taught Me". I try to share with my students what I have learned from THEM- how they have changed my life and how their experiences and insights have changed my teaching. To some extent, I feel like I have been living this book- I have my own daughter as a 6th grader in class this year, and she is teaching me SO much about 6th grade through her experiences. She is VERY open and verbal, always giving me feedback on what's happening in our social studies class and how the lesson went from her perspective. I love the idea of our students being empowered to guide instruction- to give appropriate feedback to teachers to meet their needs. I've taken the time to sit "on the other side of the desk" a few times this year and see class from THEIR perspective, and it's totally changed me. The teacher in this book, Kim, was very transparent with her experiences and how her students influenced her to be a better teacher by meeting their educational needs and making lessons fun and engaging for them. While I share the same frustrations as others- the reality of Kim's teaching environment and my school world are VERY different with different challenges and limitations- I also was able to gain inspiration and encouragement from her stories that I could find in some way to apply to my classroom. I think I would have loved to be a teacher in her classroom, or to hear her as a professional development presenter. I also enjoyed the stories and examples we as Indiana educators shared- it's been enjoyable to "meet" so many new people, read about their experiences, and take away ideas to use in my classroom.

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  11. This novel had both highs and lows for me. That being said, I found the final two chapters on "Faith" and "Gratitude" to be the most beneficial for me and my current and future classrooms. These chapters taught me a whole new perspective to take within the classroom and to allow for students to see teachers as more than just that. We are human as well: we feel things, grieve for disappointments, celebrate victories all the same as they do. I also feel that when we show ourselves and our true colors students tend to respect and understand where we are coming from when creating assignments and curriculum. We aren't giving pointless homework assignments because we want to see them suffer; quite the opposite. As teachers we have a deep care for our students and want to see them reach their full potential...allowing for students to see how much we can I feel is credibly crucial for the success of the school year and for the both the teacher and student.

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  12. I really enjoyed reading Crash Course. It was very enlightening reading about Kim Bearden's experiences with students from the Ron Clark Academy. I loved how she talked about going above and beyond with lessons in her classroom. I have always thought about doing activities like this, but never have found the time. I took a lot from the chapter "Expectations." I truly feel that what we expect from our students is what we get in return. This is the first time that I have ever blogged about anything. It was relaxing and enjoyable to be able to go at my own pace. I will definitely incorporate some of the ideas that Kim shared in her book into my classroom.

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  13. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Not only was it an easy read, but a lot of it applied to me as a teacher, mother, friend, spouse, etc. I can see myself using the advice in a lot of different areas of my life. There were a lot of projects/lessons/ideas mentioned that I could never achieve. I think it would be amazing to teach in a school like RCA, with unlimited funds and small class sizes, etc. But that is not a reality in my world.

    The biggest takeaway I had from the book is the importance of building relationships and making connections with your students. I have discovered that this is one of the only ways sometimes to motivate students. Also, that often times, the most difficult students to “love” are the ones that need it the most. This is so true and I see it often in my classroom. My students have jobs, family issues, like one parent is incarcerated or parents are divorcing or are never home. They have been told by the public school system that they aren’t up to par with their peers, that they won’t succeed, and they’ve started believing it themselves. They come with a lot of baggage. But as their teacher, it’s my job to take the weight of that baggage off of their shoulders the moment they walk through my door, and have them solely focus on the task before them, whether that be reading a non-fiction article, analyzing a poem, or writing a narrative response.

    I also learned a lot by reading the comments from other participators in this book club. I have jotted down several ideas that I’m hoping to incorporate in my own classroom in the future. It’s great to be involved in an environment where we all have the same goal and can share ideas! I definitely look forward to participating in another book club in the future. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving to all!

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    1. Sarah, I appreciated all the responses you posted and certainly gained from reading your posts and interacting with you. Thanks.

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  14. After 27 years of teaching English/Language Arts to high school students, I have to be careful that my career never becomes “coasting towards retirement.” This book selection was a good reflection piece because it made me look at my love of teaching and not just take my career and my impact as a teacher for granted. So the chapters that I will take away from this book are the ones on insight and gratitude. Not just the insight and gratitude that I have gained from the reading experience, but also the insight and gratitude that I have for my students.

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  15. In reading this book, I was encouraged and rejuvenated in some of the reasons why I teach and why I enjoy teaching. My focus is and should be on the kids and each of them are unique and different. In trying to use this book and learn from my students I had a few native Spanish speaking students talk about their heritage (or country that they identify with) and was very impressed with their effort and their addition to the class. I did learn from them in this idea and was very pleased that from the book, I pushed myself to get out of my comfort zone and let them do some presentations.

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  16. I enjoyed reading this book and blogging about it. This is the first time that I have ever joined a book club before. I think Mrs. Bearden has a very big heart and truly cares about all of her students. I also think that her seemingly endless amount of resources makes it a lot easier for her to create such jaw dropping lessons. The book does a great job at reminding me to just keep trying and never give up on students. When some students just seem to not care and do poorly, I do tend to lower my expectations of what I will get out of them after awhile. However, I need to work on fighting this and figure out more ways to try to reach those few students.

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  17. This was the perfect time for me to read this book. I have a very trying student, but each week gets a little better. This week he ran up to me and gave me a hug. As Stephen said, I was reminded of the reasons I chose to teach. I am more challenged to be creative and to think outside of the box. Last night, my freshman son wrote a letter to his elementary librarian thanking him for motivating him to read and for instilling in him a passion for reading. It was his idea! I told him that all teachers like to be appreciated and that the librarian will probably save that letter forever! I would highly recommend this book to all teachers for encouragement and motivation.

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  18. I have really enjoyed reading this book. This book reminded me that being creative brings learning more interesting and fun. I would love to turn the gym into a very creative physical education environment. But the problem I have is that the gym is also the school's cafeteria for two hours a day. If I ever go back into the I would love to try some of the lessons the book referred to.

    I especially loved the sleepovers. Our school has done this many many years ago. I think that changing it to a partial sleep over (until 11) would work better for my building and students. With the school layout we could also have an outdoor event to coincide with the "sleep over".

    I look forward to the next book club and it was fun to read everyone's stories.

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  19. I would like to see this book used for our next staff book club. This is one book that I will want to read over and over. I bought it for my device too, so that I can refer back to the chapter on play, optimism, and gratitude. If you haven't, read the acknowledgments. K. Bearden shares her gratitude with all those people. I kept thinking of the same types of people in my life who have touched me, motivated me, encouraged me, push me, and have become a part of what I am today. When I touch a life, they have a hand in that too. We may not realize how heavily we are invested in each other.

    Thank you for this opportunity to be a part of this book club.

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  20. I, too, enjoyed this book in part due to the fact that is was a quick read. Although I cannot even try to use any of the author's lesson ideas or examples (budget, realities of public school, very different subject/ages of students, etc), I really enjoyed how each chapter was organized. With such simple chapter titles, it helped me to focus on each theme so I could try to incorporate her ideas into my specific setting. I loved her creative lesson plans, and will be trying to adapt some ideas into my lessons if possible. Thanks for providing a great opportunity for educators to learn together and share ideas. I had not done an online book club before but am glad that I gave it a try!

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  21. Like other participants, this is my first experience with a Book Club. I enjoyed reading the book but I agree with Crystal Mart, the situation that we face as public educators is nothing compared to Bearden’s Academy. I found myself thinking about RCA’s many activities: “Yes that would be great but that will never happen in the situation I am in.” That being said, the one common denominator between my world and Bearden’s is the students. Kids are kids no matter where you meet them or take them. That is our starting point and I felt this book presented many different ways/ideas to assist students on their journey where we either release them to their next teacher or to the world. The thing I liked best about the book was the stories Bearden shared about her students and the lessons she learned from them. I found the last two chapters, Gratitude and Faith, especially engaging and inspirational. My favorite quote: “None of us is perfect, but when we find where we fit, our sense of purpose begins to take shape.” Teaching is my calling and it was great to be a part of this book club where other like-minded individuals share the same purpose.

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  22. Though hard to fit in at times, I did always find a way to read the short chapters in this book and enjoyed all of them. I wish I could "build" my own school and do some of the things Kim did in her classroom. I have started trying to make normal everyday activites or worksheets more fun. We have Fun Fridays and the kids have started to look forward to them and are disappointed when I don't plan one on certain weeks. I think that this book has encouraged me to think outside the box

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  23. I enjoyed the book and how easy it was to post comments and read others. This was my first time with the Book Club so I appreciate the work put into it for our benefit. I also liked the class notes and homework sections at the end of each chapter. Really made me think. I enjoyed all the chapters but specifically the one on Gratitude. Loved the last sentence! "No matter where my path would lead me next, I planned to appreciate the journey." Then the first bullet in the "Class Notes", " Realize that our worth is not measured by what we own; rather , it is measured by who we are." Both sentences say so much! I need to learn to be content and appreciative in all things and this will hopefully overflow to the children.

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  24. I think one of the things that I enjoyed the most from the book club is reading what others took away from the book and how they are in their classroom. For me, I sometimes struggle with thinking outside of the box and I think this book forced me to do that and I want to try and incorporate some of the things that I learned from it. I think one struggle will be the time, funding and resources available to do some of these things, but I would still like to try and tweak some of the ideas to make them possible. I think, with teachers, at the end of the day we all have very similar struggles and triumphs. And in a time where teachers are getting so much negative press and being pressured into making so many changes, we all really do need to stick together. Our works loads are getting larger, our classes are getting bigger and we are just plain expected to do more. This can be very stressful and this book gave me a little bit of hope in the midst of the stress.

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  25. I have to say that one thing I took away from this book was admiration for the author and amazement that there are educators with her energy and enthusiasm, as well as programs that can obtain the level of support she enjoyed. Some days I'm proud of myself that I managed to get to the teacher store to obtain the specific visual aid I needed for a lesson, while the author is managing to take her students to a dude ranch, to see the president, or is hosting them at a slumber party at school! I admit I finished the book of a bit of an inferiority complex, though at the same time with pride that there are those in our profession with the determination of the author!
    That being said, I was truly motivated to keep stretching and pushing the envelope as I strive to reach my students after reading the words of K. Bearden. Her words about gratitude especially touched me and made me grateful for my job, my students, and the opportunities I have to make a difference in their lives!

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  26. Good book, light read, and great ideas. A little different in regards to public school vs private academy, but again, great ideas, and amazing to see an educator live their career as much as Kim.

    The book was a great reminder of making real connections with students. Also, the expectations chapter was a huge eye opener! Our students will only be as great as we expect them to be!

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  27. I enjoy reading the responses every week from fellow Book Club members.. I often do not find the time to reply or comment on many entries. This is my second book club, I found during the summer months it was a lot easier to respond to others more often when time is more readily available. I found this book to be an easy read. There are several projects that were mentioned in this book that I would like to try either this year or next. I really liked the idea of using pasta to spell words. I am not sure I would do the whole restaurant scenario but I could adapt it to my classroom activities. A long time ago, I had my classes do a fashion show, I think I would like to try that again and let the students’ creativity shine.
    I hope to encourage my students more, always hold high expectations of all students, show gratitude, and build good relationships with my students. This book made me look back to my early years of teaching and reminded me why I entered the field of education. After thirty years, I still love what I do and it’s nice to remind myself of why I love teaching. I look forward to joining another Book Club soon. Thanks to all who contributed

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  28. I have really enjoyed this book and participating in the online book club. This book opened my eyes to all kinds of possibilities that I don't think we often think about in public schools. It was an inspiring read and I think that it made me think of ways that I can be more creative with my students.

    I wish all schools could be like RCA! What a different world it would be!

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  29. I enjoyed participating in the book club. I also enjoyed reading others comments. It is easy to get bogged down with the negative effects of teaching and it seems others feel the same way. It was nice to read that we are all going through similar trials, but are all doing our best with the resources we have.

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  30. I enjoyed this book, and this book club. I would LOVE to go and this innovative school some day...it really sounds amazing and the kids that attend it are blessed. After reading this book, I am trying every day to bring a little more "magic" to my classroom each day. I want to focus on the positives, be able to improvise to meet the needs of my students in the best way possible, and finally I want to bring my genuine self to the classroom! Thanks for a great book study, and for all of the wonderful comments from all the participants!

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  31. I enjoyed the ideas behind the stories throughout this book. Each chapter made made me think about what I am doing as an educator and why I got into the profession to begin with. I probably would never have read this book had it not been a part of the book club, but I really gained from it. While, I know RCA has many opportunities that we probably wouldn't have in a public school - at least not without outside funding, the ideas about what they do really have made me think more about what we can do. We can build chemistry and bring the magic into our rooms everyday!

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  32. A book like this is a good reminder of why I decided to become a teacher. With all of the negative views I read about teachers, this blog really helped me regain a more positive view on things. I will continue to focus on building positive relationships with my students. I believe students stand a better chance of success when they come to school knowing their teachers are positive and believe in them. Taking the time to get to know my students is important. Maybe some will then approach me when they are in trouble or just in need of someone to talk to. The teachers I remember the most were not necessarily the most dynamic teachers. The teachers I remember the most were kind and really cared about their students. This is the teacher that I want to be. This book was a good reminder for all teachers!!

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  33. I did enjoy reading this book. It made me think about many of the things I do in my classroom and to take the time and make connections with my students. I find that at times I get very caught up in making sure that they are really understanding the material I am hoping that they learn. Geometry can be very confusing to some and I just hope they have gained some confidence and know that they can do well in a math class. The teachers I remember the most were the ones who could take the complicated and make it understandable. I never cared if they were creative, I just wanted them to be prepared and knowledgeable. No one likes to be confused in class.
    Although all her projects were fun and exciting,they are just not practical in a public school setting. I do not think any school can do all these things without an enormous amount of funding and extending the school year.
    The book though was a good reminder to me that I need to make sure I am taking the time to make connections and to show that I do care about them doing well in my class.

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  34. I loved this book! It is inspiring to read about such amazing and creative teachers who are going above and beyond for their students. I may not be as outgoing or imaginative (or as well funded) as the teachers at RCA, but I do have a lot to offer my students. One of my favorite parts of the book were the questions/thoughts at the end of each chapter. It really helped me focus on what I read and to connect it to my life as a teacher and a mother. My biggest "take away" from this book is to teach from the heart. I can understand how teachers become overwhelmed and a little jaded with all of the expectations and demands that keep getting piled on our plates. This book helped me to remember the joy of being a teacher and my first love of making learning fun.

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  35. Overall, I really liked the book. I especially appreciated the early chapters where Kim focused on her creativity in the classroom. I thought the book got weaker in later chapters. The book has sparked some interesting conversations with my co-workers that have helped me to think about what I do in my classroom and what more could be done. I think the best thing I took from the book is the idea that it is okay to take risks in the classroom.

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  36. The chapters I enjoyed most were the ones on Creativity, Fun and Enthusiasm. It is very easy to focus on the mundane, paper pushing work that goes along with teaching and I thought it was a great reminder to me that my class room can be fun and creative and still be effective.

    I thought the book also did a good job reminding us as educators to take risks and foster an environment in our class rooms that allow students to take risks.

    The book was filled with ideas and concepts that many of us already know but still need to be reminded of. Those ideas/concepts such as creativity, fun and enthusiasm are the reasons we went into education.

    I loved the idea of the all school field trip and the scavenger hunt. I would love to work at a place that went to that kind of effort and trouble in order to provide their students with the BEST DAY OF SCHOOL EVER. That chapter inspired me to look up RCA online and learn a little more about the organization. It is amazing what they are doing with outside donations. I do agree with other comments made about the logistics of this in public schools. Money is required to make many of the experiences in the book happen and right now that isn't a possibility for many schools. I tried to look past the fact that my school isn't going to have the money to do big productions and experiences like RCA did but instead focus on what I can bring to my class room: fun, creativity, enthusiasm for my subject, gratitude, making connections with my students.

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  37. I have enjoyed being a part of this book club. I agree with Angie, I also enjoyed the chapters on creativity. I am always looking for ways to "spice" up my lessons, and really engage my students. I have a new outlook on this since reading the book. Also, I loved the moment in the book when the kids are on the trip and work together to finish the scavenger hunt. Although, this book does have it moments where some of the events/trips are not realistic for a public school, but creating a loving, connected environment can happen any where; and as teachers we can strive to create a community within our rooms and building stronger bonds each and everyday.

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  38. This book was a wonderfully refreshing reminder of why we are teaching. Kim offered amazing suggestions and ideas on how to bring creativity to your classroom as well as a reminder of just how important building relationships are when teaching students. I often found myself saying how impractical some of her ideas were and thinking, "Between testing, paperwork and documentation, standards, when on Earth would we find time to plan that?!" Then I would remind myself to try and stay positive as she did throughout the book and keep in mind that anything can be done...some of the suggestions could be adapted to fit your school's budget and time frame. The book was such a light, positive read I think it is a great one to recommend to other teachers to be a gently reminder of all the positives that can come from planning and taking the time to really show your passion for your students. I also enjoyed reading others comments after each chapter although I didn't get to read as many as I would have liked it felt good to read many who were having exactly the same thoughts as I was! I think the chapter on gratitude and faith was the nest for me. It is so easy to get boggles down by all the state's demands and things that are required from teachers these days that take away from the actual teaching. This chapter reminded me of how important it is to set those "negatives" aside and be grateful for all the "good stuff," and how important this is to teach students as well. An idea that I have been implementing is taking the time to build relationships with each student as well as highlighting their uniqueness as much as possible!

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  39. I really enjoyed reading this book. It made me laugh, cry, and be inspired. I especially connected with the chapters on creativity, gratitude and faith. This is a book that will not be put on the bookshelf but kept on my desk. One little snippet maybe the spark I need to engage and build relationships with my students. Thank you Kim for sharing your enthusiasm and joy for teaching. You are a true inspiration. I will be passing this book along to our school book club!

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  40. This was the first online book club that I have been involved in and I really enjoyed the read. Each chapter made me reflect and reevaluate my students, my teaching and my goals. Most chapters touched my heart and it is good to know that there are teachers like Kim out there.
    I would love to visit the RCA school and learn more about how they work. The school has unique opportunities that we as teachers would like to have.Kim gave a lot of great ideas for lesson plans and teaching. Teaching preschool does not directly benefit from those lesson ideas but what I gleaned was the interest and caring about each student. As I said in other posts, I am fortunate to work in a Catholic school and my faith and beliefs can be exercised hourly with my children. I agree with Teresa Minton that I want to focus on positives and try to be innovative in my approach to children who struggle.
    My favorite statement in this book was in the paragraph when Kim says "if you need to develop a deeper understanding of faith, spend your time with children." I am so fortunate that each day I am blessed with their presence of children.

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  41. I truly liked this book. I have read through many other posts and have to say I agree with it being more memoir than instructional. I enjoyed reading about her experiences but had difficulties making connections sometimes. It was times like these that I enjoyed reading what other people thought. This was helpful. I have to say that this was quite the learning experience for me. This was my first online book club. Some weeks were much harder than others for me to post. I enjoyed reading the book and would read ahead but then lost track of time to read and post items. I have been in several book clubs were people actually meet face to face. I enjoy the actually discussions that happen. This was very different from groups I have been in. However, with the layout of this club, I was also thankful that I had extended time to do things (although this may have bothered some people). Next time, I would like to try to comment earlier and try to get things done sooner. One thing I have greatly taken away from this experience is being thankful for even the smallest moments. It was wonderful reflecting on what I have done through the short career and creating ideas for what I want to do in the future. I am thankful for the opportunity to be part of this club.

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  42. I have really enjoyed this book. It encourages me as a teacher to hear that spending all the time planning and implementing creative lessons does pay off. I loved reading all the personal stories about the students who have benefited from her creative lessons. All the different lessons where Kim would change her entire classroom to engage the students inspires me to plan fun experiences for my students as well. They might not be quite as elaborate, but still can be engaging and interactive for the students. This book has inspired me to continue working hard and know that I am making a difference in my students’ lives - even when I might feel unappreciated at times.

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  43. This is my fourth eLearning book, but I especially loved reading Crash Course. I appreciated how the book was organized with the "Class Notes" and "Homework" lists at the end of each chapter. The book did read like a memoir, and I enjoyed hearing Kim's troubles and triumphs as she continued teaching through it all, like we all do. The chapters "Chemistry," "Gratitude," and "Faith" were the most memorable ones to me. Reading about Mitchell in the "Chemistry" chapter made me remember a student of mine who took her life. "When we go above and beyond for others, it shows our commitment to developing a meaningful relationship," was the top quote from this chapter for me. Reading about Isaiah worrying about his house being good enough stuck with me. Even though my days are very busy, it is important to live out this quotation: "Love, laughter, fellowship - these are the kinds of things that matter the most." Finally, the chapter titled "Faith" was so well-timed as my school experienced intense grief and tragedy right before Thanksgiving Break. This chapter came to mind several times as we went through our rough week. Especially poignant were these two quotations: "When we stumble, we learn the true meaning of faith and hope," and "God's presence is all around us - we just have to notice." I am in the midst of planning a trip to the Ron Clark Academy! I used to read some of Ron's "Essential 55" lessons to my students, so when I learned Kim Bearden was the co-founder of the RCA with Ron, the idea to visit entered my mind. Sincere thanks for the $1000 mini-grant I won from the IDOE for a previous eLearning Book Club for the financial support to participate in this professional development opportunity; I greatly anticipate and appreciate the visit!

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  44. I really enjoyed reading this book and being a part of the book club. My favorite chapters were the ones on Gratitude and Faith. Even though I am not in the classroom setting anymore, my role now allows me to help other teachers and share information with them. I am definitely going to share ideas and quotes from this book with the teachers that I work with and hope that some join me in the book clubs in the future.
    Thank you for the opportunity to participate in the book club. It was a fun experience!

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  46. Just got my PGP certificate. Thanks for a great experience, IDOE book club!

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  47. Will the PGP certificate come via email? When? When/how will we find out who received the professional development money? Thank you.

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