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One will change the way you look at technology. The other will change the way you plan. Either way, your paradigms are about to get shifted. Big time.


You can’t seriously call yourself a teacher nerd if you don’t use part of the summer to ramp up your pedagogical skills. For lots of us, that means digging into teaching books. If you don’t already have your summer reading planned, or if you’re teacher-nerdy enough to still want more, then join us for our first Summer Book Study.

How to Participate:

1. Start by choosing one of our two selected books and get your hands on a copy — you can purchase them through the links below.

2. Then tell me in the comments which book you’re choosing — this is not a requirement, but it will help me get motivated and excited to run this thing, knowing I have a few active participants.

3. On pre-scheduled “due dates,” I’ll post my own reflection on the assigned chapters, and you’ll be invited to share your reactions and questions in the comments. If you haven’t read all of the chapters, no big deal — join the conversation anyway. And if you jump in late and miss the deadline, no problem. The discussions will stay up in the comments section for late-comers to learn from, and more comments can be added way past the active book study dates. But for those of us who need deadlines to get things done, join us this summer and push yourself to learn something new before next term.

You have two books to choose from — you can pick one or both. Both are relevant to any subject area and any grade level — really and truly. Below you”ll find a description of each, plus a recommended audience, and a schedule of when I’ll post for certain chapters. If you click on the book links, you will be taken straight to Amazon, where you can purchase the book right away.


Note: These are Amazon Affiliate links, which means we get a small commission from any purchase you make on your visit to Amazon, at no cost to you. Thanks for your support!



Option 1:
Teaching Digital Natives: Partnering for Real Learning
by Marc Prensky

Recommended for: Teachers who aren’t sure how to implement technology into their classrooms, who are tech-shy, or who fear technology may replace good, quality instruction. The book is a pretty easy read — you’ll absorb the concepts quickly and start thinking about how you can implement them in your classroom.

Why I Chose It: This book introduces the idea of partnering with students, a concept that completely blew me away. In its purest state, partnering has the teacher set the learning goals, but allows students to reach the goals in whatever way they see fit, using technology as a tool to learn and demonstrate learning. I see a lot of stuff flying around out there about technology, but not as much about how to thoughtfully use it with students. This book does that.

What You Will Get Out of It: You’ll come away from this book with courage to try teaching in a whole new way. The book does NOT teach you how to use any specific kind of technology; rather, it shows you how to think about the way you design your lessons to keep the academic rigor, but give a lot more control to your students. Scary, but kind of thrilling, too.

Reading Schedule: I will post a response to the following chapters on these dates:

June 30: Chapters 1-5

July 15: Chapters 6-10


Option 2:
Understanding by Design, Expanded 2nd Edition
by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe

Recommended for: Teachers with at least one year of classroom experience. Teachers who sometimes wonder whether their students are truly learning in a long-lasting way, or if they’re just  memorizing and regurgitating. Teachers who can handle difficult reading.

Why I Chose It: Wiggins and McTighe are credited with introducing “backward design” into education. Rather than planning activities and lessons, then following them up with assessment, backward design has us plan meaningful assessments first, then work backward to plan the lessons that will lead to success on those assessments. Once I learned backward design from this book, I could never bring myself to go back to the old way of planning; it just seemed wrong. Although this book is very challenging to read, it will have a significant and permanent impact on your approach to teaching.

What You Will Get Out of It: First, you’ll have new tools at your disposal for thinking about how you teach certain skills and concepts, tools that will help you dig more deeply into your content. That kind of thinking is very satisfying, and it will take your teaching to the next level. Second, you’ll be able to participate in the UbD world — when other educators refer to the “UbD Framework,” you’ll know what they’re talking about. Finally, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you’re capable of taking a unit and making it GOOD. Not just creative, not just full of bells and whistles, but truly, deeply good.

Reading Schedule: I will post a response to the following chapters on these dates:

June 23: Chapters 1-4

July 7: Chapters 5-9 (All chapter responses are now on the same page.)

If there is sufficient participation and interest, I will post on Chapters 10-13 at the end of July.

UPDATE: These chapter summaries provided by the UBD Educators wiki are a great tool to help you check your understanding.


I’m SO EXCITED to get started on this with you. Please let me know in the comments if you’ll be coming along for the ride.

Here’s to dorking up the summer, baby!



  1. jeffkloss says:

    just ordered UbD. thanks for offering to help open this up for discussion. hope i can contribute! i know i’ll learn. will check back 6/23

  2. ron.towns says:

    Hey, everyone! I’ll be reading Teaching Digital Natives!. I’m really excited to participate.

  3. pocospaintedmac says:

    Just ordered UbD as well. Look forward to this!

    • I’m so glad to hear it. That brings our UbD group to a total of 3 (including me). Hopefully there are others who just aren’t being vocal about it!

  4. cmottau says:

    I will be reading UbD. I am looking forward to our discussions.

  5. exarizm says:

    I will be reading UbD. Glad I found this on Facebook!

  6. Also in for UbD. Looking forward to it.

    • Kelley says:

      UbD, I’m actually already reading it and love it so much, glad this was picked. Can’t wait to join in.

  7. Mellissa says:

    I will be reading both. I am leaving the classroom after 18 years and next year will be the curriculum director/tech integration person. I need lots of info to help me.

  8. Brit Sikes says:

    Understanding by Design

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