Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week

It’s Banned Books Week and I just love seeing all of the discussion, advocacy and events around the country. This week always inspires me to find new writers to love and to pull out and re-read books that have become best friends. I was browsing the American Library Association’s list, 100 Most Challenged Books Of The Last Decade, and am proud to say it included many of my beloved titles. Here are a few of my favorites from that list – all of which I highly recommend:

Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Monster by Walter Dean Myers 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

And although I tried to limit it to just 5, I can’t resist adding these challenged young adult books that I have loved and happily recommended. 

The Chocolate Wars by Robert Cormier

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

Happy, Happy Reading. I’ll leave you today with this beautiful quote from Maya Angelou. 

“When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.”

The Right Tool

The Right Tool

 Have you ever struggled to make something work and then all it once it comes together when you try another strategy – or tool?

That’s how learning is. When students find the right tools that fit the way they learn, they can conquer just about any material. Memorization, organizing ideas, notetaking, managing deadlines, putting together a paper or project are all easier with a system, a structure or a simple tool that brings the pieces together. Fortunately, there are some wonderful free, effective resources out there and my “Monday Mission” for the next few weeks is to tell you about my favorites.   

Today let’s take a look at the free learning and productivity app called GoConqr. Perfect name for a Monday, right? GoConqr is packed with versatile features that are useful for teachers, students and project/study groups alike. Create, save and share quizzes, mind maps, flowcharts, flashcards and notes and use them anywhere/anytime with easy from both a desktop or mobile device. You can also easily embed what you create into other tools you’re using. While you’re checking it out, take a look at the  library of materials that have already been created to help you get started. 

Here’s to a great week. And now, fly!



College Transition Advice Books

College Transition Advice Books

It was so fun to see photos of freshmen move-in day at my alma mater this week. It brought back so many happy memories and reminded me of what a huge leap it is to leave the security of high school and home and plunge all-in to a whole new journey. 

Today’s Weekly Reads represent my favorite “how to” books for students heading off to college. There are hundreds of these titles available but these are a few that stand out.

How to Win at College by Cal Newport

I’m not one to quote book jackets but in this case, the comments hit the mark. How to Win at College proves that “success has little to do with being a genius workaholic, and everything to do with having the right game plan.” 


Getting the Best Out of College. A Professor, A Dean and A Student Tell You How to Maximize Your Experience by Peter Feaver, Sue Wasiolek and Ann Crossman 

Great practical advice for a broad range of college challenges and choices that come up from students AND their teachers.  What I love most about this one though is that advice is given within the perspective that college is an investment and your first job as a student is to grow it through wise choices, saavy moves, and taking thoughtful advantage of what is offered. 


First in the Family. Advice About College From First-Generation Students by Kathleen Cushman

You might be the first in your family to go to college but with the community you’ll come to know in this book (and the first rate advice they provide) you’re not going it alone. From the introduction, “Whether you attend a private four-year college, a state university, or the local community college, you have much to learn from others who have gone before you. In this book, students like you lend a hand along your college journey.”


Making the Grade With ADD: A Student’s Guide to Succeeding in College With Attention Deficit Disorder by Stephanie Sarkis. 

Written by a licensed mental health counselor who has ADD herself, this guide covers academics, money management, health issues, relationships with friends and intimates, and planning for the future.


Congratulations New Collegians!



Happy Monday, How is back-to-school going?

Whether your classes are off to a fast start or are unfolding at a more leisurely pace, now is the time to get into a strong study groove.

How about a couple of indispensable tools to set the semester up right?!

The first is Quizlet. Every student I have worked with will tell you that note cards are my #1 go to. Quizlet ups this study technique by taking it virtual. You start by creating flashcard sets for the material you want to study using what we call spaced repetition. (Spaced repetition is just a fancy way of saying repetition over time.) Then, using your cards, Quizlet will help you review across your devices and in different study modes. Bonus – you can share your cards with classmates or, find cards that are already created in Quizlet’s library.  And, no paper cards to keep track of.

For some students, the worst part of writing a paper is formatting the bibliography. With ZoteroBib, that’s no longer a challenge. It’s free, you don’t need to download any software, and you can set up a bib in multiple formats such as APA, MLA, Chicago / Turabian, Harvard etc.

And now, fly!



    Weekly Reads

    Weekly Reads

    Weekly Reads

    Everybody ready for Back-to-School? Or, dreading the return of homework? Today’s Weekly Reads are a few of my top study skills guides that will make all the difference this year. 

    How to Learn. A Guide for Kids and Teens by Barbara Oakley, Terrance Synowsk and Allistair McConville.

    I like this one for late middle school and early high school. Teaches study and learning tips through the lens of understanding a bit about how the brain works. 


    Learning to Learn by Gloria Frender. 

    I’ve been recommending this book FOREVER. The illustrations are a little cliché but the tips and techniques still pack a punch. Mastering even just a handful of Gloria’s tools will yield happier study time and stronger grades. Great for early middle school students.  


    What Smart Students Know by Adam Robinson

    Way more than a collection of study hacks, the ideas in this book take some thought work and practice. But, the underlying idea is that you learn to teach yourself which is a transformative skill that will work with any subject and any grade level. For high school students.   


    How to Talk So Kids Can Learn by Adele Faber and Elaine Maslish

    For parents dreading the frustration of homework time, this might help. The sequel to the classic How to Talk So Kids Will Listen has great strategies for effective communication, reduction of conflict and ultimately will help you raise a self-directed, self-motivated learner. 



    Happy Reading!