#BIT15Reads: Passionate disagreement

“….ideas that inspire passionate disagreement can lead to success” (Clive Veroni, Spin, p. 27)

At last I’ve found a common thread between three #BIT15Reads books (two books is easy).  Veroni says that modern marketing has finally understood that being really disagreeable, can also make you memorable and he goes on to say that politicians have known this for years.  Spin is such a great book to be reading at the same time as a national election is happening as it spins the motivation behind every political sentence right now.

The data in Christian Rudder’s Dataclysm agrees. Rudder is the co-founder of OkCupid, a major matchmaking site in the U.S., and his fascinating book explains what our data can tell us when we’re not looking.  It also says that the most extreme answers often get the most attention either because they passionately disagree or maybe because they disagree passionately.  I can certainly attest that the fact that a certain significant male in my life first drew my attention by NOT reading the required books in our common Canadian Children’s Literature class and then argued vehemently for issues that he had no basis for.  (See? Still stirs me up.) According to Rudder, there are two polarizing questions to ask a potential mate:

  • Do you like scary movies?
  • Have you ever travelled alone to another country?

See what I mean?  The answers to these questions move me immediately to that deal breaker clause…..or do they?  Because what I most admire in other people is also what I am also looking to improve in myself.

So that’s the reason that I’m also currently reading (in audiobook) Nicholas Carr’s book The Glass Cage….because Carr makes me crazy.  His hyperbolic style of using ancient history to prove a very modern point makes me feel nauseated and foolish.  I say to myself: how could I not see this doomsday he speaks of coming?  Our reliance on the machine has been centuries in the making.  So despite my attraction for all things shiny and new, the archivist in me says: Yes, let’s slow down the automation and mindfully work to become more self-reliant.  I hate Carr and his smug smile because his skepticism is irritatingly well-grounded and his arguments push back all of my knee-jerk impulses to forge blindly ahead.

On that note: please if you’re reading any one of the fabulous #BIT15Reads choices, it is time for us to whittle down our list by rating your reading.  Please do so here in the long form version of “how many stars?” here:

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Posted by on September 30, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Rethinking Learning Spaces

Source: Rethinking Learning Spaces

A trait that I admire above all things is someone who is a creative risk-taker.  When Mark Carbone reached out and asked me to talk live about my experience with redesigning learning spaces, my introvert hesitated for about 15 nanoseconds, before I responded “yes!”!

Mark and Jamie and I come from diverse backgrounds in education and yet in Southwestern Ontario, we’re practically neighbours.  Here is our 1/2 hour discussion on how our classrooms are changing as our education paradigm shifts.  I really enjoyed the opportunity to capture my learning in a moment.  (I think I’ll have to include it as part of my annual learning plan.)

The experience itself has launched many new ideas in my mind so beware!  I’m not finished yet.

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Posted by on September 26, 2015 in Uncategorized


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The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An instant classic, The Girl on the Train is delicious from start to finish. With multiple narrators involved in the same crime, readers are sure to enjoy the twists and turns of reliability and complete dysfuntion that each voice brings to the tale. Each voice is female, and each suspect is male so I imagine that this will have wide appeal to women but nonetheless no one ends up looking heroic by the end.

I am sure to recommend this to the secondary students in my library as a good read. For style, author Paula Hawkins has taken a classic creative writing exercise of writing the same event in multiple perspectives and given it new life by extending it to a full novel. There are lots of sordid adult habits involving sloth, lechery and overindulgence, but nothing that an open-minded teenager couldn’t handle.

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Posted by on September 25, 2015 in Uncategorized


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#BIT15Reads Google hangout: Making Connections

This Sunday September 20th at 7:30 ET please join our Google hangout as we talk about the connections you’re making in your reading.

To join the Google Hangout on Air you need the invitation link here:

and you need to be in your Google + account.  If you have more than one Google + account, then you might need to see which one you’re invited to!  There has been some confusion in the past, but don’t give up. DM me on Twitter if you want me to invite you personally through Google+ or search for me there.  There are a number of tutorials on YouTube about joining a Google Hangout on Air but the main points to make it easier for you are:

a) it’s easier if you have a Google + account

b) it’s easier if you and I are already connected on Google +

Below is the livestream of the event for you to watch.  If you’re watching and can’t join us in the hangout, try tweeting others who are doing the same using the hashtag: #BIT15Reads

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Posted by on September 20, 2015 in Uncategorized


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#BIT15Reads: Connections text-to-text

This week Martha and Stepan made a connection to each other because they’re reading the same book and then made this beautiful connection to another text via Chapter 3 of Daniel Levitin’s book The Organized Mind

Stepan Radiohead connection

Do you ever have a piece of music come to mind when you’re reading?  As an English teacher and as a teacher-librarian, I often help my students engage with those voices in their heads that are making connections….and to trust that those voices are helping them read better and to reflect on their meaning.  If we redefine text to mean anything that has been expressed for communication, then the world opens up to possibility for connecting our reading to other texts.

Vikram Chandra’s book Geek Sublime reminded me of my lifelong goal to smoke a hooka because his book’s organization logic is completely tangential.  Luckily my brain works in the same way so I really enjoyed going down the rabbit hole with Chandra.  His own work in writing science fiction reminded him of his daily job in computers as a programmer which reminded him of how difficult it was to learn Sanskrit which reminded him of the marginalized voices of ancient Sanskrit female poets and how these voices are being lost to time as the parchment they are written on is disintegrating.  My favourite thing about reading popular non-fiction is that I often need to just pause and let those connections be made in my own mind.

I made another connection for #BIT15Reads as I had my quarterly meeting with the Ontario School Library Association Council and told them how thrilled I was that so many people had engaged with our online book club.  To date we have 66 members in the Goodreads club and many more following our hashtag.  The OSLA Council then asked me to make the connection to a very cool event called Treasure Mountain Canada  and I plan to talk about the evolution of #BIT15Reads.

Speaking of connections #BIT15Reads will continue to:

If you want to try something else in a different media type or at a different time, go for it!  Please invite me!  I’m just having fun and enjoying this new community so much.  It’s for all of us so make it suit you best.

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Posted by on September 20, 2015 in Uncategorized


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#BIT15Reads: Geek Sublime by Vikram Chandra

Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of BeautyGeek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty by Vikram Chandra
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Vikram Chandra’s final words of Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty, he says: “Makers tend to fetishize tools that they use successfully, and computer geeks are no exception—hackers will tell you in exacting detail about the first computer they ever used, the first program they ever wrote…All cognition is re-cognition, recognition; discover and rediscovery are both nourishing.” Chandra’s exploration of his love of both writing fiction and coding is complex but the way that he weaves in sociological research of culture and language and their effect on modern coding is mesmerizing. There were moments of code and computer science when he almost lost me, but then he appealed to my humanities’ nature with deep analysis of machismo in coding culture or the deconstruction of ancient Sanskrit poetry. I’m not sure what to take away from Geek Sublime, but I thoroughly enjoyed the ride.

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Posted by on September 17, 2015 in Uncategorized


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#BIT15Reads: Google hangout and making your reading visible

Today at 7:30 pm ET I’ll be hosting our second Google Hangout On Air so please join us if you’re able at:

or watch the live videostream here:

A few years ago now I worked with a team at my school in a Professional Learning Practice action research project where we learned how to help our students make their learning visible, by reflecting on our own teaching practice and making our professional learning visible.  That experience truly informed my career and I’ve found that being authentic and vulnerable in front of an audience, online or face-to-face, is a humbling and rewarding experience.  Ultimately it is sharing that leads to deeper personal connections and I aim to do this as much as possible.

In our book club #BIT15Reads, I invite you to share your reading as much as possible to join us as a community.  This week I found an upgrade to my favourite aggregator Zite….which has transformed into Flipboard.  I’m trying it out.  It might not be right for you…maybe you prefer Instagram or Tumblr but if you can, and you do, please share it to the hashtag #BIT15Reads as you’re making your way through a book.  It might be when a quote or graphic resonates with you, or it might be when you question or disagree with something written.

Jennifer Casa-Todd is reading Will Richardson’s book and she tweeted early into her book with a snapshot of the book (maybe an e-version?) of a quick quote she approved of.

Jennifer approval

Stepan Pruchnicky is reading Daniel Levitin’s book and took snapshots of his notes and his book highlighted  with tweets about his wondering.

Stepan wonder (1)Stepan Wonder 1

Stepan later turned his early thoughts into a blog post:

So how we can make our reading visible to each other is one of the things I hope we can talk about in today’s Google Hangout.  Hope to see you there.

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Posted by on September 13, 2015 in Uncategorized


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~ Mark's Musings ~

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