Friday, August 28, 2015

Summer Reading Review

Technically, the summer is over as evidenced by our coming to the end of the second week of school, but since I just finished a book that I started when it was still summer, it counts as Summer Reading, and therefore inspires the Summer Reading Review.  Summer always presents an opportunity to find time for some great texts and this summer was no different.  Of note:

Contagious, Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger (a Wharton marketing professor) was a really interesting read that began with the example of the $100 Philly cheesesteak and dove into how social influence shapes so many of the decisions that people make every day.  He examines six principles that lead all sorts of things to become ‘contagious’.  The psychology behind his research is particularly interesting.

As this is the year we have committed to exploring Design Thinking I had the opportunity to read two important books on the subject.   Change by Design is a great introduction to Design Thinking by Tim Brown and Brown (president and CEO of IDEO) gives a wonderful explanation of how Design Thinking can be applied to nearly any industry, and used to approach seemingly any problem.  (Learn more:  Tom and David Kelley’s Creative Confidence is another terrific primer for learning more, and understanding Design Thinking, and I recommend both books wholeheartedly.

Shane Snow’s Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators and Icons Accelerate Success is a really interesting book about how some people use ‘lateral thinking’ to rethink convention and how some people achieve success through really non-traditional means.

Chade-Meng Tan is a Google engineer and ‘personal growth pioneer’ who wrote Search Inside Yourself.  This one is a little tougher to explain, but really worthwhile.  It has a great focus on developing emotional intelligence through practical and approachable ways.  It also serves as a bit of a primer to understanding more about mindfulness.

Perhaps the book I enjoyed the most was The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and in Business by Charles Duhigg.  The book is a really interesting explanation of why certain habits exist and what can be done to break habits, and the psychology and research behind his assertions.

Of course, the summer also included lots of fiction - some high brow and some not so much, but I will save those for another time!

Update on the iLab

Earlier in the year we announced the development of our makerspace, which we have since renamed the Innovation Lab (or iLab, for short).  As a reminder, a makerspace is a place where students can learn in a hands-on way, collaborate, experiment, prototype and share ideas.  Technology certainly has an important role as the iLab will house our two 3D printers, for example, but it’s not solely for advancing computer technologies.  It will be centered around the former computer room, but will extend out and down the hall as well.

The windows and doors have been installed, the concrete flooring has been scraped and polished, the shelves have been installed and supplies have been ordered.  In terms of developing the space further there is a faculty committee dedicated to it’s implementation, and the 8th grade committee, Communication and School Innovation, is meeting weekly with me to develop the space further.

The space will be utilized in different curricular areas, and before and after school programs.  Different parent groups may even decide to use the space as a center to utilize design thinking (  If you are interested in seeing the space in progress please don’t hesitate to send me an email at and we can meet to go and take a look at the progress.  To see the full set of plans click here: