Category Archives: Blogging

Brothers Heath

Brothers Heath

This post was originally published on the Times Union Books Blog

This past October Chip and Dan Heath, brothers and co-authors published their fourth book called The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact. It was a book that had a powerful impact on me like Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by Sherry Turkle (2015) did when I read it over a year ago. These kinds social psychology books shed light on everyday topics and encourage conversation around why people do the things they do, but provide examples and context for understanding it on a deeper level and making changes or becoming more aware. Both of the books are regular references in conversation for me. And with The Power of Moments, there was a relatable opportunity to use the book in my work as well as personal life. (You can see my post about that here).

Then I went on a binge; I downloaded through the public library or borrowed the print copies of their other three: Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work (2013), Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard (2010) and Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (2006). And again, I was either ferociously highlighting on my eReader or Post-iting the print book when a concept or example struck a chord. There was full engagement with each of them.

Why are the books important? First and foremost, there is a relaxed humor that shows the personality of the brothers. Every now and then you get a taste of it and smile. Second, the books are well-organized. Each has a formula that makes them accessible to every reader. There’s the identified issue that they’re discussing, a quick acronym or mnemonic device to remember the steps, then subsequent chapters that dive into the steps individually. Within the chapters are subchapters that highlight tangible examples. Think businesses like Southwest or the military. Usually it’s followed by a clinic or “what should you do?” that you can investigate (or skip) to apply your newfound knowledge. And then the ever-present summary of the main points. Like I said: well-organized and comforting when moving from book to book. Third, the examples are succinct and useful. Nary is there a long-winded bad example. They’re inspiring which is why the books have received awards from business and leadership fields. Fourth, there is plenty of backmatter like additional reading material and their website with one-page cheat sheets of the concepts, podcasts, and “how to” manuals: they’re not hiding their genius but spreading it around.

What did I learn from Moments? That any moment can use one to all four of the concepts of EPICness, so think 1) elevation, 2) insight, 3) pride, and 4) connection. What did I learn from Switch? That self-control is an exhaustible resource and that if you 1) direct the rider, 2) motivate the elephant, and 3) shape the path you can work toward change. What did I learn from Decisive? To WRAP: 1) widen your options, 2) reality-test your assumptions, 3) attain distance before deciding, and 4) prepare to be wrong. And, what did I learn from Stick? Achieve SUCCESs for ideas by 1) keeping it simple, 2) unexpected, 3) concrete, 4) credible, 5) emotional, 6) through stories and again, keep it 7) simple.
Whether you pick up one of the books or all four like I did in a two-week span, you won’t regret the added insight you’ll gain, especially if you’re a fan of social psychology. Have I steered you wrong yet? Right now, the only question you should be asking is which one you’ll start with. And if you’re thinking that, you might want to pick up Decisive first.

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Posted by on January 27, 2018 in Adult, Authors, Blogging, Nonfiction



For the #edublogclub year-long challenge to blog on education. While the official club has ended, they have shared posts to continue the journey through 2017. This week’s prompt is the final one to celebrate the success of completing the year-long challenge.

It’s a bit anti-climactic since I’ve celebrated two “endings” of the challenge. Well one reflecting on the blogging process midway through the year called Reflecting on Blogging (though I’d been blogging before the club began) and the second when they were going to end early called … and scene. So, unless they come back from the dead, this is really IT.

MatterhornHow do I feel? In one word, accomplished. I saw the yearlong activity through from January through December. I posted each week using the prompts and in between with other blogging-related content like book reviews and librarian activities. I’d say that it’s a characteristic of my personality, the need to accomplish an activity once it’s started. Ultimately every library activity from author visits (planned years in advance sometimes) to preparation for the year ahead is an exercise in perseverance. Students may change, the weather even, and administration or colleagues, but inside you need to revisit the concepts and the reasons, refining them and getting as close to perfection as they can before the launch. You hear this from authors whose published books began years before.

So again, thank you Edublogs for putting this together and keeping people connected. I’ve followed several blogs and connected with others professionally that I would not have otherwise. It’s inspiring and reinforces the need for educators to talk, share, and engage with one another. I’ll be closing the book on 2017 and a years worth of posts and can’t wait to see what 2018 will bring.


10 new prompt ideas

For the #edublogclub year-long challenge to blog on education. While the official club has ended, they have shared posts to continue the journey through 2017. This week’s prompt was to create a list of prompts like Edublogs did for the #edublogsclub.


Here are my thoughts on what I’d like to see from fellow educators including my librarian colleagues.

  1. Behavior and consequences— How have you dealt with difficult students? How do you feel about discipline in your building and in schools in general?
  2. Wardrobe– What do you wear everyday?
  3. Most creative thing you’ve done– What creative activity are you most proud of?
  4. Profile a student– Was there one student who won you over? A student that you’d like to see run the world one day? A student that you’ll always remember?
  5. What you do on holidays and breaks– Is this your time to decompress and unwind? Do you pack it with activities that you’re not doing while in school-mode?
  6. Encouraging memes, quotations, videos, or music– We all need a pick me up and there’s a reason I have a Pinterest board called “For One of Those Days”, so what meme, quote, video, or music do you use to encourage you on one of “those days”?
  7. Share a lesson or activity– Do you have a particularly awesome activity or lesson you’ve done with students that you’d like to share?
  8. Summer— Just like what what you do on holidays and breaks, how do you spend your summer?
  9. Gift-giving or gift-receiving— We share gifts with our mail people and neighbors, but what’s the best gift you’ve given or received during your time in education?
  10. Bulletin board or display— We don’t have to be Picasso’s to whip up (or steal) a great bulletin board or display, share the picture and the reason for the display!

Phewf! That was exhausting, how did Edublogs do that for a whole year? I’m sure a fabulous collaborative team, but I am only one person and ten was all I could handle. Any other ideas that you’d like to see?



The word gap

As part of the #edublogclub year-long challenge to blog on education. While the official club has ended, they have shared posts to continue the journey through 2017. This week’s prompt was to share a statistic and my interpretation of it.

The word gap.

That students in low socioeconomic households hear 30 million fewer words by age five than their peers in higher-income households as documented in articles like this one from The Atlantic in 2014. Initiatives were created, more interventions thought up, and a push for a flood of information so that all kids in their formative years could be ready to learn. The deprivation of words was only one factor but it contributed to an inability to function in grade school, led to higher dropout rates by high school, and earning less as adults.

This literacy crisis is not something that will solve itself nor will it go away. Society must work hard to engage young children in face-to-face activities. Read aloud, read to a dog, read to me. Read on a bus, on a train, on the couch before bed. Read, read, read. It’s like Dr. Seuss said

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

And the best place to start is at your local library. Let’s close the word gap.

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Posted by on December 11, 2017 in Blogging, Childrens, edublogsclub


We all “gotnicced”

This post first appeared on the Times Union Books Blog.


Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @getnicced

When Albany High School collaborates with the New York State Writers Institute, magic always happens. It was like that in 2015, when Jason Reynolds came hot off the publication of the nationally-acclaimed All American Boys. Fast forward to 2017 and Nic Stone. A fresh-faced debut author whose book is on the short list for the Morris Award and whose book, Dear Martin, is another contemporary look at social injustice.

As she explained to an room of fans, students, educators, and community members at the New York State Museum’s Huxley Theater yesterday evening in their capstone event, she hopes people who read the book take away the message to think critically in a world too quick to tweet, overshare, and not consider the experiences of others. Likewise, her entertaining presentation included a captivating reading of the first chapter of her book along with diving in to social movements past and present, and then taking questions from the audience before signing books. She was personable and relaxed, letting the message of her book speak for itself while indulging the audience in revealing a bit about her next few projects (can’t wait!) Plus, she writes a kick-butt book personalizations that show she’s paying attention and has a style to die for, making mention of her boots she bought to prepare her for heading to the arctic tundra that is upstate New York (she grew up in Atlanta before spending three years living in Israel, then moved back to Atlanta where she currently resides with her husband and two children).

And it was a different, more personal feel for her visit to Albany High School in the afternoon. While events that have already been shared in the media did interrupt the presentation for a brief time, students’ appreciation for her style and brains had them chatting on Washington Avenue during the fire drill and picking up where we left off once we were back inside. The questions from the students ranged from personal to professional and all needed a picture with her before leaving, looking forward to reading the book if they hadn’t already. It’s evident that she is comfortable discussing the issues that her books bring up and does not shy away from sharing her thoughts and picking the brains of the teens on what they think. It’s again what she wants the message of the book to be, think about your perspective but learn from the perspectives of others.

I’m sure the same could be said for the conversation that occurred in the University at Albany class that she taught earlier in the day, making for a long day but fulfilling day with an up-and-coming author. That she shared she’s working on a middle grade novel and literary fiction makes it known that she doesn’t plan on going anywhere soon. The fact that the New York State Writers Institute grabs these authors as their stars ascend is magical and to be applauded with the hard work of staffers like Mark Koplik.

Therefore, if you haven’t yet followed the New York State Writers Institute and their array of events, do so now. Their collaborative style is beneficial to the greater community and the institutions that they partner with enriching us all. But especially when it comes to connecting students with authors for those of us who work with a teen population and want to continue to encourage a love of reading, learning, and exploring.

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Posted by on December 8, 2017 in Authors, Blogging, Events, Young Adult


The drive

As part of the #edublogclub year-long challenge to blog on education. While the official club has ended, they have shared posts to continue the journey through 2017. This week’s prompt was to describe your commute to work.

Ah, my commute. Not too long, not too short. I judge how the day will go by whether my favorite songs end up being played on the radio. If it’s a special day, I’ll plug my phone in and play a specific playlist, but those days are few and far between.

Unfortunately I do what most others in our capital city do, I drive in to the city to work and leave the city (to return to my pint-sized home city to the north). If it’s my late day, it aligns more perfectly with this heavy traffic pattern but I frequent the interstates that run the smoothest, though I’ve had my fair share of stop-and-go or completely halted traffic. I often think that everyone who causes an accident during rush hour should be fined and that money disbursed to those that have driven by to relieve the annoyance. A thought– certainly never going to be a reality– but it makes me temporarily better.

And my usual route follows a river, so while it is a busy route, it’s lovely to look over at the peaceful water. This fast stretch of interstate is punctuated by city-driving which includes an awareness of pedestrians and traffic lights.

TrafficWhether I’m coming or going, my home city is always a sight and was actually the center of quite a lot of media attention recently due to a stupid mistake and a windy day. It is devastating to see the aftermath, but we’re a strong city and will recover. Work and home are two of my favorite places and I enjoy the journey between the them.


But the best thing about sharing this post with you is that I remembered about a book a librarian friend shared years ago that I never go around to reading, a book called Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (And What It Says About Us). It’s now in my queue, maybe it should be in yours too?



Is there a write way?

As part of the #edublogclub year-long challenge to blog on education. While the official club has ended, they have shared posts to continue the journey through 2017. I’m combining the next two prompts about teaching handwriting and embedding a poll.

2017-11-27 07.45.55

Good handwriting means something, like being well-dressed. It’s a skill and should be seen as such. Maybe I’m biased because I am often complimented on mine. But, I also appreciate it in others and can count on one hand colleagues and friends whose handwriting I admire.

With that out there, yes, I do believe teaching handwriting including cursive should be required, if for nothing else than knowing what’s out there and picking what’s best for you. Don’t tell me you’re a cicerone, but have only tasted a handful of beer. So, how would you know if cursive is your handwriting style of choice if you haven’t learned it? To quote Nike, “just do it”.

Yet I am only one person. What do you think?

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Posted by on November 27, 2017 in Blogging, edublogsclub, Miscellaneous