Laura Gibbs

Two Great Books about Teaching to Start the Summer

Blog Post created by Laura Gibbs on May 15, 2018

I've been flying a lot back-and-forth between Austin and my home in North Carolina (taking care of my dad), and one advantage of all that travel time is that I get to read a LOT. My summer folklore project took shape from a book I read on my way to Austin last time, and I also read two other books while in airports/airplanes that I thought would be of interest to fellow Canvassers.


59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot by Richard Wiseman.

Yes, the title sounds hokey, but this book was highly recommended to me by a friend, and it is really good! Richard Wiseman is a psychology professor in England (see Wikipedia), and in this book he provides a rapid-fire, highly focused summary of all kinds of psychology research into topics of huge interest to educators: happiness, persuasion, motivation, creativity, attraction, relationships, stress, and decision-making. parenting, and personality. He provides lots of simple exercises (including a lot of writing-based exercises, perfect for my writing-focused courses!) that take less than a minute but which are proven to work (i.e. supported by psychological research). I really enjoyed this book and plan to read more by this author.





How To Talk So Kids Can Learn by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
I found out about this book from Jennifer Gonzalez and her fabulous blog, Cult of Pedagogy. Specifically, I read her book review, which starts with this powerful opening sentence: "If I could only choose one book to put into the hands of teachers, it would be How to Talk So Kids Can Learn."


how to talk so kids can learn


So, based on that alone, I knew I had to read this book. And it is FABULOUS. I didn't exactly learn anything new, but I felt so affirmed because this book lays out clearly the kinds of strategies I developed over the past 20 years, making many mistakes along the way. So, you can skip years of mistakes and just read this book ha ha. I sure wish I had read this book all those years ago. It's excellent, and I sure hope the people working on the "Nudge" project have read this book and taken its lessons to heart, because there is nothing robotic about this. Instead, the basic theme of the book is that you have to start by accepting your students' emotions and crafting your words in full acknowledgment of those emotions. Acknowledging emotions is not something that college instructors talk about much. So, even though this book was written with K-12 teachers in mind, I actually think it could be of most value to people in higher ed for whom this might be entirely new territory, pedagogically speaking.


The use of cartoons to reinforce the strategies is a fun part of the book too. These are screenshots from my Kindle for the section of the book on "reasons and explanations" versus "fantasy" -- I use this fantasy strategy all the time with my students, but I never knew what to call it. Now I do! :-)


Instead of Reasons and Explanations

reasons and explanations

Give in Fantasy What You Can't Give in Reality



So, those are two good books I used to get my summer started. What are you reading.......?