Be the change, being a teacher, Literacy, Reading

The Real Reason to Read Children’s Books

White, Black, Yellow,  Free Image

We had visitors in our classroom again today as some fantastic educators had traveled to be with us (shout out to West Dubuque).  As always, they had a few moments to speak to the people that prompted their visit in the first place; our students, who with their candor, wisdom, and humor always have great things to share.

They asked, “Why do you think it matters that Mrs. Ripp reads children’s books?”  I was eager to hear their answers.

I thought they would say that it mattered because I could recommend great books.  They did.

I thought they would say that it mattered because there was a lot of great books in here to choose from.  They did.

I thought they would say that it mattered because it made it easier for them to find a new book.  They did.

But what I hadn’t expected was this…

It matters because it shows that she cares about her job.

It matters because it shows that she cares about reading.

It matters because it shows that she cares about us…

Let that sink in.  That while we know that reading children’s books matters for so many reasons, this was the biggest one of all.

For all of my students, me reading a book and being able to bring it into class shows them that I care about them as people.  As kids who read and who have meaningful reading experiences.  That I am willing to dedicate my time away from our classroom to something that will hopefully matter to them shows that I mean every word when I say I love my job, I am grateful to be your teacher.

We worry so much about whether or not kids know that they matter.  Whether they know that we care about them.  We come up with elaborate ideas to show them how much we appreciate them and sometimes forget about the small things.  That care comes in small packages.  That caring sometimes comes in the shape of a book read and discussed.

So for every book I purchase, for every dollar spent, I will continue to tell our students that I love my job, that I love being a teacher for them, that reading matters and that this very book I read is my way of reminding them that I care.

If you like what you read here, consider reading my newest book, Passionate Readers – The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child.  This book focuses on the five keys we can implement into any reading community to strengthen student reading experiences, even within the 45 minute English block.  If you are looking for solutions and ideas for how to re-engage all of your students consider reading my very first book  Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students.      Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.


being a teacher, Literacy, Reading, Reading Identity

Five + One Ideas for Redefining the Whole Class Novel Experience for All

I knew I had to teach reading when I was first hired as a 4th-grade teacher.  After all, every teacher teaches reading.  Yet, I didn’t know how to really teach reading.  I knew components of effective literacy practice, and yet, what those actually looked like within my own classroom was a bit of a mystery.  How did actual teachers of reading teach reading to kids who already knew mostly how to read?

My very first answer?  Whole class novel, of course.

Thinking back to my own days of learning how to read, I knew to not go the basal approach, and yet I remembered that shared experience of reading the same novel as everyone else.  Of discussing.  Of trying to find meaning within its pages as we drove each other to deeper levels of understanding.  Of even finding a few books I never knew I could love (For Whom the Bell Tolls, anyone?!) to remembering the year together (9th grade honors English with Mrs. Vincent at Lenox Memorial High School, Massachusetts)because of the very books we shared.

Since I knew my students were not quite ready for Hemingway, I picked what I hoped would be a great anchor text for us – Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, the beloved classic rite-of-passage read by Judy Blume.

I now had the book.

All I needed was the work to go with it.

So I found it on the internet, an entire packet just for the book, with questions, activities, and word searches galore.  The students could even color in the pages if they so chose.  Prep work done, I was ready.  And so we began our fourth-grade year together within the pages of a very short book, 144 pages to be exact and we split it up evenly within the 7-ish weeks I had set aside for the task.  4 pages a night could certainly not be too much to ask.  Let the reading begin.

And it did.  So did the packet work.  The lackluster discussions.  The rigid instruction, and perhaps even some scolding when students dared to read ahead.

Rarely do I remember us marveling at the audacity of Fudge.  Rarely do I remember gathering the kids around the pages of the book to look at something together.     Rarely do I remember coming to class excited to discuss, to share, to connect around the book.

But the work pages.  The long-drawn-out reading.  The lack of excitement.   That I remember.

And so for a long time, I swore off whole class novels.  Even jumped in the camp of telling everyone else how awful they were.  How they are killing the love of reading in kids.  But what good does that type of rigid thinking do when my very own memories betray me of my own whole class novel experiences.  And so it turned out that I, once again, was proven wrong.

Because it wasn’t really about the whole class novel.  It was about me and my own adherence to terrible decisions that surrounded the experience.

So now, let’s look at this concept of the whole class novel and how we can actually make it work within our reading environments without killing the love of reading.  It turns out what we need are just a few tweaks and perhaps a dose of common sense.

Step 1 – Redefine the purpose.  Rather than using whole class novel to produce a lot of work, how about we redefine the expectation to producing a whole lot of talk.

Idea – Cut out the written work altogether or boil it down to one main product.  Does it have to be written or can it be filmed?  Does it have to be an analysis or can it be a discussion of relevance?  By connecting the book read with other issues in our current society?  Does it have to be produced alone or can it be produced with others?  Can we assess the discussions as they happen and not worry so much about the end result? And can we please roll back on the annotations.  There is very little reason to annotate an entire book, other than to prove you have read it.  Is that really what we want kids to work on?

Step 2 – Redefine the access. One of the major problems within a whole-class novel is that for many students the book is not a great match for their current reading capabilities.  While it is good to stretch students with challenge texts, you don’t want to put it so far our of their reach that they simply feel defeated and it becomes yet another nail in their “I hate reading coffin.”  For others students, the book is way too easy and they would rather read other books after they have read this one.

Idea – Offer choice in accessibility.  Do all students have to read it with their eyes or can it be listened to?  Can it be shared as a small group read aloud?  Can kids partner-read?  Can kids read it quickly and show up ready to discuss when needed?  Provide multiple access points so that all kids can focus on the purpose; engaging discussions.

Step 3 – Redefine what we read.  Why is it that our literary canon are still the same books that I read more than 20 years ago in high school?  Yes, there is merit at some point in your life to picking up some of the classics, but you will get infinitesimally more out of them when you are invested.  To Kill a Mockingbird was incredibly boring when I read it in 9th grade, but when I re-read it as a 23-year-old, I had a better experience.  So how about rather than using this format as a way to expose students to classical texts that they otherwise may not pick up on their own,  instead use it to garner deep discussion that can mirror the societal discussion surrounding us? Besides, what about how problematic some of these texts are?  we cannot keep hiding behind the cloak of “that’s how they spoke in that time” to make it okay to read them.  See this great article here discussing some of the major issues with our current literary canon.

Idea – Critically evaluate the classics and give choice.  Perhaps some kids do want to read the same books as their parents did, but others don’t.  Take a critical lens to what you are offering up.  Who are these choices for?  Why are these choices offered year after year?  When were these books selected?  Simply saying its because they are classics is not enough when we have brilliant books that have been published within even the last 50 years. (Even this year!)  There should be a balance.

Step 4 – Redefine the time.  One of my major mistakes was to stretch our whole class novel out over way too long of a time period.  I have seen some schools use an entire book for a quarter of the year.  I don’t care how great the book is, few people can sustain their interest for 12 weeks or more.

Idea – Shorten the length.  Three weeks max.  That way you have to move through it at a good speed and you can focus on the most central or interesting parts.  Within a three-week period, there is also a sense of urgency that otherwise can get lost.  Students have to keep up with the text to keep up with the discussion rather than assume that they can simply read it later when it really starts to count.

Step 5 – Redefine your role.  One critical aspect I lost within our whole class novel was that it was all centered on me.  I generated the questions (or purchased them in my case).  I led the discussions.  I assessed the work.  That is easy for kids to get through and exhausting for the teacher.  There is also very little buy-in as far as responsibility and it is easy for kids to coast through, especially those kids who have pretty great reading skills.  That is not the intent behind the work.

Idea – Share the responsibility.  Start as a role model for how to lead discussions but then share the responsibility with students.  Delegate who will come up with questions and who will steer the conversation?  Getting students invested beyond the quick answer can lead to more engagement and definitely more understanding of what it means to engage others.

Step 6 – Use it sparingly.  I have heard of school districts that mandate that every single reading experience is through a whole class novel for an entire year.  In fact, my own amazing niece is currently a victim of that.  I don’t use that term lightly, but you know what it has done for her love of reading after several years of this?  Yup, totally quashed it.  When I ask her what she reads for fun, she says nothing.  That’s what doing the same thing over and over can do for you.  It may have been great at first but going through the same routine over and over is sure to lead to routine fatigue.

Idea – Everything in moderation.  Reserve the whole class novel for those one or two incredible books that you just know will light your class on fire.  Reserve it for the fall as you establish your community and perhaps once more in the spring when you know each other so much better.  Use it as a tool to challenge their thinking, their analysis, their communication.  Put your all into it and then do something else; free choice, book clubs, anything but another whole class novel.  Make it special and treat it as such.

While it has been a while since my students actively dove into a whole class novel with me, I am always on the lookout for that amazing text that I feel we all need to digest together.  Once I find it, I cannot wait to dive in with my students.  Until then, if you need more ideas and inspiration, please read Kate Roberts new book, A Novel Approach.  

If you like what you read here, consider reading my newest book, Passionate Readers – The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child.  This book focuses on the five keys we can implement into any reading community to strengthen student reading experiences, even within the 45 minute English block.  If you are looking for solutions and ideas for how to re-engage all of your students consider reading my very first book  Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students.      Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.


Be the change, being a teacher, Literacy, Reading, Reading Identity

On Certain Books for Certain Kids

We spend a lot of time in bookstores and libraries.  So much so that my own children at the moment are playing library downstairs.  We go for the inspiration, for the support of booksellers, to find new must-have purchases.  We go as a family to recommit to reading, to get excited about what it means to be a reader.

But once in a while, something strikes me as out of place even in a bookstore.  Today it was this sign at our Barnes and Noble.


I fixed it for them on my Instagram account.


And yet, all jest aside.  These small signs.  These sections of libraries.  These displays that cater to only one identity, only one culture, only one representation.  They may seem trivial at first and yet they add to the continued perpetuation that some books are for some kids.  That some books will only be liked by the people it is directly marketed to.  This is problematic because it once again speaks to certain books being for certain kids.  It speaks to certain stories being the ones worth publishing.  It speaks to how we only want diverse books if those books are diverse in the way we see fit.  (Just like what the NY Times wrote about here.)  It speaks to how we only display books celebrating African American history when February reminds us too.

We wonder why some of our students have stigmas when it comes to the books we read, and then don’t think to look at our own learning spaces to see where those stigmas are created.

But we have to do better than this.  We have to do more, and it once again starts with the small details that we do have control over.

We have to first question how we use the word “Diverse” as Chad Everett cautions us to do in his blog post, where he reminds us all that the minute we call something diverse we are once again establishing whiteness as the norm.

We have to question the divisions we create in our classroom and school libraries.  When we hand boys “Boy books” and don’t book talk a book to the whole class because it really is just meant for the “girls.”  When we describe certain books as girly or fluffy and then hand it to a female.

When a child needs our help with book shopping and in our eagerness to help that child “see” themselves in books we only hand them books that feature characters that look like them.  We have gotten better at handing white, hetero, cisgender kids window books, but don’t other identities deserve that too?

When we invite female authors to our schools and then only invite the girls to see them because boys might not understand or be engaged with the message.

When we create displays that honor African Americans and only pull out books that feature them marching or Civil Rights or in chains as enslaved people.

When a child tells us they loved a certain book and we assume we know why and don’t ask them what they loved it so we can help them find a better book, not based on our assumptions but actually on their desires.

When we only purchase books from the large publishers and don’t seek out the independent ones like Lee and Low who have been focused on creating a better world through books for many years.

When we herald big publishers creating special imprints to honor the voices of those who have been traditionally left out from their publishing houses, but we don’t question why they were left out in the first place.  Why not publish them within their traditional branch?

When we are quick to “otherize” books and then hand them to kids as something that they can only identify with because of a shared trait, we are quickly teaching kids that they should only care about those that they share those same traits with.  That unless they can find a surface commonality with someone then their time is not worth investing.

And so we must continue to do better.  We must evaluate our learning spaces, our books, our displays, our book talks, and even who we hand which books to so that we can do better.  We must continue to push for better representation and for an end to the notion that certain books are for certain kids, rather than just waiting to be discovered by everyone.

If you like what you read here, consider reading my newest book, Passionate Readers – The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child, out August 2017.  This book focuses on the five keys we can implement into any reading community to strengthen student reading experiences, even within the 45 minute English block.  If you are looking for solutions and ideas for how to re-engage all of your students consider reading my very first book  Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students.      Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.



being a teacher, Literacy, Reading, Reading Identity

Some Small Ideas to Help Students Self-Select Books Better

I was asked this morning on Twitter how we move students beyond wanting hand-picked recommendations every time they book shop.  How do they move beyond needing someone, typically, the adult or trusted reading role model to help them find the next book to read?

The truth is there is no simple answer, however, there are things that we can do starting on our very first day that starts this process of independent book selection that will last beyond our classroom experience.  And while it certainly starts on the first day of school, there is no “too late” for this to be implemented.  These ideas make a difference no matter when, so it is not too late (nor too early) to start working toward student independence in self-selecting texts.  So where do we start?

We build our libraries, both whole school and classroom libraries. 

In fact, we need to become advocates for our school library and our certified librarians to make sure that everyone knows just how much they matter to our school and to our reading lives.  (If you need to see research on the importance of school librarians, here is a great place to start).  And then we build our own classroom libraries as well, filling them with a wide representation of topics, readability and format that fits all of our readers and not just a few.

In fact, we must bring classroom libraries into every classroom so that children can see that reading is something that can happen in any subject area and not just English.  While supporting classroom libraries and school libraries may seem costly, they make a difference, in fact, Morrow and Neumann both report that children read 50-60% more in classrooms with libraries in them than those without.  And we must think of the books that we surround our students with asking ourselves not just WHO is represented, but HOW are they represented and also who is NOT represented?  Students must be able to find themselves but also see others in the very books we place in front of them.

We carefully craft our book displays.

I was at my public library yesterday, a beautiful building that has a dedicated library staff, and yet their teen section is bland and boring.  Every time I go there, I wonder why?  Why not pull books and put them on display?  Why not use the power of visual representation to pull our readers in?  Why not show off the hottest new reads and help kids find the books they may not know they want to read?  SO in our classroom, the displays are always changing.  The books facing out rotate through.  Our book tree where students and I showcase our favorite books is always being reworked.  Books surround us because they need to be staring at us, calling to us at all times.  And I place books knowing where they will catch the eyes of students so that they want to grab them.  Not in haste, but carefully so that students feel the urge to read.

We have a to-be-read list.

This simple list in our reader’s notebook is our someday list to quote Nancie Atwell.  The books that perhaps we want to try reading.  The books we are enticed to read but may not have time to read just yet.  The book list is always growing and it is a must for all students to have it in some form, whether on paper or on their device.  Whenever a child book shops, I ask them to pull out their to-be-read list so that it becomes a habit.  Whenever a book talk happens, I ask them to pull out their to-be-read list so that they remember they have it.  We discuss them, we share them, and we remember that they should be filled with maybe books because they know that some of those books they will abandon.  This list is also sent home with students on the last day of school physically, and an image of it is emailed home or shared in some other way.

We book talk books almost every day.

I start every single day with 10 minutes of independent reading unless we are in book clubs where the time comes later in the period.  After this sacred ten minutes, it is time for a book talk, first by me and then by others.   I keep my book talk short and sweet, holding up the book and showcasing an image of the cover behind me so that students can write down the title.  If it is a student doing a book talk I quickly find the cover to project behind them as well. I remind students to write the title down if they are enticed by it, otherwise, many will forget to do this simple step.

When students do book talks, we either do it on the fly, asking simply if someone has a book they want to recommend or I have them fill out a notecard with a 30-second book talk and then give them their notecard when it is their time to recommend.  I will have the book cover images ready to project as well.

We do lessons on how to book shop.

One of the first lessons I do in the year is how to book shop, while this may seem crazy, I teach 12-year-olds after all, I have found it to be a necessary reminder.  Kids will tell you they know how to bookshop but then they simply go through the motions, not actually looking at the books or even finding any they want to read.  So we break it down into a whole lesson, described more in detail here so that students know what I am expecting and are also reminded of what they should do while browsing books.  Before we head to our school library every other week, they are also reminded of how to book shop down there, transferring their skills to a different environment as practice, because this is what they need to do once they leave us.

We just say no.

Many of my students would rather I book shop with them at all times, and while I will gladly support this in the beginning of the year, as the year progresses I pull back that support.  I tell them they have to book shop on their own, show me their pile, and then I can certainly help out after.  While it depends on the child, some get the idea pretty quickly and develop that independence, while others need repeated experiences.  While I feel bad telling a child “No,” I also see the necessity of it; if we never say no, they will never stop asking, because, let’s face it, it is much easier just to ask an adult than do the work themselves.  We have to teach children to not be helpless in our classrooms, and that includes when they select their next book.   If we never give them the opportunity to try to figure it out themselves then they will not have grown like they should have.

We dive into their reading identity.

If a child does not know how to self-select a text, independent of Lexile, levels, or other outside systems, then they do not know themselves as a reader.  So this becomes our mission throughout the year; having students reflect on who they are as a reader and how they create successful reading experiences for themselves.  After all, as an adult reader, this is how I keep reading; I am in tune with what I am in the mood to read.  This is what I describe a lot more in detail in chapters 4 and 5 of Passionate Readers.  After all, if a child does not know how to create a successful reading experience for themselves while they are with us, then how will they do so once they leave us.

Throughout the year, we set meaningful reading goals, we reflect on how we are growing, and we decide what’s next for our journey.  This ownership is vital for students to develop as readers and needs to be carefully cultivated throughout the year, not left to chance or happenstance.

We read every single day in class.

You may wonder what does actually reading have to do with selecting the book they are reading, but the answer is; everything!  If we do not have students read in front of us, we will not see their reaction to the book they have chosen to read.  We will not be there to notice when they start to skim the pages, pretend to read or shut the book completely.  So if we want students to successfully self-select their texts then we need to also give them the time to actually try the text out with our guidance if needed.  This also goes for those kids that consistently pick “Ok” books.  These are the kids that are having decent reading experiences, but not amazing ones, these are the kids we end up often losing as readers because they never have incredible experiences and thus never get what the magic is all about.

How do I know how students are feeling about their books?  I ask them in my quick reading check-ins during their independent reading time and we discuss how book abandonment as a major component of being a reader who knows themselves.  Because the ten minutes (and I only do ten because I have 45 minutes altogether, if you have a longer period do more!), allows me time to see my students reading, I can often point out things they have not noticed themselves yet.  It allows me a chance to connect with them, reader to reader and to individualize their instruction.

Helping students self-select a text has many different components, and in all honesty, this blog post is only the beginning.  For further reading, I highly encourage you to read Donalyn Miller’s Reading in the Wild, Teri Lesene’s Reading Ladders, Penny Kittle’s Book Love, and my own book Passionate Readers. 



Be the change, being a teacher, Literacy, Reading

On Which Reading Program to Purchase

I was recently asked if I could give a 2-minute answer to which reading program would be best for a district.  While I was flummoxed at first; 2 minutes, that’s not enough time to discuss the needed components?!  I quickly realized that I really don’t need even two minutes to answer this question, because here’s the thing…

If a program does not leave time for independent reading every day – don’t buy it.

If a program does not leave space for students to self-select their books independent of their level or Lexile at any time – don’t buy it.

If a program does not leave room for teacher’s to adapt it to the needs of their students – don’t buy it.

If a program tells you that students should sit in front of a computer every single day to be successful – don’t buy it.

If a program is based on short segments of texts, filled with lots and lots of things to do, with no room to build stamina or to go beyond the obvious in their answers – don’t buy it.

If a program dictates that every single teacher must follow every single lesson with fidelity or their students will not be successful – don’t buy it.

So what should we look for instead?

A program that supports choice, independent reading time, small group, one on one conferring, as well as lessons for ideas.

A program that focuses on the needs of the individual as much as the needs of the group.

A program that leaves teachers and students alike thinking that reading and being a reader is something good.

A program that builds hope for all readers to be readers.  That balances out between reading for skill and reading for pleasure.  A program with an emphasis on developing reader identity as well as reader skill.  A program that doesn’t kill the love of reading but instead bolsters it.

That is the program you should buy.  And then don’t ever forget that fidelity should always remain to the students and not to the program itself to quote my Assistant Superintendent, Leslie Bergstrom.

And if you are not sure if that is the program you have; ask the very students who are forced to endure it.  Ask the teachers who have to implement it.  Ask the caregivers and parents who hear the stories.  They will always tell you the answer if you are ready to hear it.

Ps:  Wondering what research says about best practices in reading instruction? Here are a few articles; one from NAESP, one from ILA and one from NCTE

If you like what you read here, consider reading my newest book, Passionate Readers – The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child, out August 2017.  This book focuses on the five keys we can implement into any reading community to strengthen student reading experiences, even within the 45 minute English block.  If you are looking for solutions and ideas for how to re-engage all of your students consider reading my very first book  Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students.      Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.

Be the change, being a teacher, Literacy, Reading, students choice, students teach me

How Do You Reach Your Vulnerable Readers?

This morning I was asked what we do for our most vulnerable readers to help them be successful.  As I took a moment to ponder this questions, I realized a big thing;  what we do for the most vulnerable is also what we do for all of our readers.

We have fidelity to our students, not to our programs.

I work in a district that believes in fidelity to the students and not to the program.  Think about that for a second.  Oregon School District believes in staying true to what the children need and not what an outside purchased program, no matter how research-based it is, tells us what to do.  We use components from incredible programs, but they do not dictate our decisions; our students do.

We place them with amazing teachers.

We give them the best teachers we have to work on interventions.  These teachers know their research and use best practices.  They are given longer books, they have choice, they do meaningful work.  We make sure they work on stamina in books, not chopped up passages to just check their skills.

And we do not put them in front of computer programs.  We need our students to read, to think, to work through a text and then come out on the other side with a deeper understanding.  We need face-to-face interactions to gauge what they really know, not what a computer may think.  There is no replacement for a qualified teacher and so every child deserves one, especially those who are not where we would hope they would be.

We have them surrounded by books. 

We have a beautiful school library, staffed by a fully certified librarian, and we also promote classroom libraries.  As Neumann researched, having a classroom library can increase reading up to 60% and so we believe in the power of great books within their reach at all times.  As one student told me Friday, “Mrs. Ripp, I love that we have great books right here, I never have to go far to find my next read.”

We are also mindful of the books we surround them with.  Inspired by the word of Dr. Simms Bishop, Chad Everett, Nerdy Book Club, and so many other passionate advocates for better library experiences, we think of how our library shapes our students’ identities.  Can they see themselves?  Can they see others?  Who is represented, how are they represented, and who is not?  All of this pushes us forward as we purchase more and better books.

We are careful with our language. 

I flinch a little whenever I hear the term “struggling readers.”  As Donalyn Miller has taught me, there is little hope in that term.  How about vulnerable?  How about careful?  How about developing?  How about just readers?  Our language promotes a growth mindset so we have to be aware of what our language does to shape their self-image.  How do we speak about our readers when they are around or not around?


We cultivate patience.

It is really hard to not lose hope when you have implemented best practices (choice, time, books, and a reading community) and then see little results.  And yet, sometimes we are working against years of a negative reading identity.  We are working on catching up years of stalled reading experiences.  We are working against unseen forces that derail us any chance they get.  So we must be patient.  Patient with the child who is trying.  Patient as the teacher hoping for results.  I have said it before and will say it again; sometimes we are just the tourniquet that stops the growth of the hatred of reading or the negative reading experiences, not the teacher that will see the actual seeds of change grow and bloom.

We balance our purchasing decisions.

While we may be going one to one with Chromebooks, my principal will also tell you that she always has money to purchase books.  Our literacy coach asks us if we want more books because if we do then she will get us some.  This speaks volumes because if a district is spending money on technology without spending money on books there is a serious imbalance in priorities.   And if that is the case, a conversation needs to be started about what is more important?

So when I think of what we do for our vulnerable readers, I once again see the thread that runs through our entire school community; every child a reader, every single day.  Every child deserves the best chance.  Every child deserves the best teachers.  The best experiences.  The best, period.

If you like what you read here, consider reading my newest book, Passionate Readers – The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child, out August 2017.  This book focuses on the five keys we can implement into any reading community to strengthen student reading experiences, even within the 45 minute English block.  If you are looking for solutions and ideas for how to re-engage all of your students consider reading my very first book  Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students.      Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.