Monday, July 27, 2020

Deep Work - Cal Newport

This book is about the importance of 'Deep Work', what it is, and how to implement it. Three to four hours a day of uninterrupted, thoughtfully directed, concentrated effort is productive, rare, and valuable in today's economy. Deep Work is fully concentrating on specific tasks, without distraction, whilst pushing cognitive abilities to their limit. A range of influential people across the ages applied Deep Work principles - from Carl Jung to Bill Gates; from Mark Twain to J.K. Rowling. Our world is becoming increasingly distracted and unproductive - it requires effort to change behaviours to incorporate deep working practices into our lives.

Interested in reading it? Get it here.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

About ‘Book Summaries’

As a teacher, coach, and voracious reader I regularly get asked for book recommendations. I’m also always on the hunt for good books too (my mum is a great source).

Some of my greatest learning and joy has happened when engaged in a book.

As I tell my students READ A BOOK!

In 2018 I started putting ‘currently reading’ and ‘just finished’ into my email signature. It meant I went from reading 8 books a year to 18. I’ve done it ever since.

The 'Recommended Reading' posts are a list of my favourite reads - both recent and ancient.

Reading books is also at the core of Self-Awareness Is Your Secret Weapon. Whilst non-fiction is the obvious starting point, fiction has a clear place too.

For how to make the most of the 'Book Summaries' posts, see here.

Photo Credit: Callum Shaw on Unsplash

Note: I use affiliate links for the books I suggest.

Using the 'Book Summaries' Posts


Teaching has demanded that I develop my ability to read and interpret information. And then make it useful for my students.

Summarising is a skill.

This means it can be taught, practised, and refined.

My posts on this page summarise the books I've read - but in a very particular way.

The purpose of each summary is for you to:

  • Understand the main ideas in the book
  • Make it easy for to choose which book you'd like to read

Creating Effective Summaries

When I was at school, we spent time summarising ideas, note-taking, and even discussing them in class. This included primary school too.

But now? Not so much.

The subjects I teach require pupils to be able to read and interpret text and graphical information under time pressure.

In response, I teach my students how to summarise and created two different structures for them to practise.

Three-sentence summary

  1. Describe what the article is about
  2. State a numerical fact
  3. Share an opinion (yours or the article's)

My thinking behind this type of summary was to get students to read and think. The numerical fact (which lends itself very easily to Business, Economics, and Psychology) forces specific reference to the written piece, but also gives the reader clarity about what's happening.

Five-Sentence Summary

  1. Describe what the article is about
  2. State a numerical fact
  3. Define a relevant key idea, concept, or term
  4. Apply the idea, concept or term in context/ Give an example
  5. Share an opinion (yours or the article's)

This summary goes deeper - and I tend to use it with older students. It forces pupils to think about the terminology - the basis of understanding any body of knowledge. From there, using the term in context develops higher-level thinking.

Ending with an opinion forces pupils to think carefully about what they've read. This is also encourages even higher order thinking skills.

Most case studies in exams deliberately don't have an opinion. They just present facts and issues in context. This is because the questions that follow force students to address the problems outlined.

In contrast, a book or newspaper article will have some kind of judgement. Following the thread of an argument and forming one's own opinion is so important in the world we live in.

Summarising is a skill that develops concentration, creativity, and critical thinking.

My posts here present the key ideas from books in an accessible way to allow you to choose if they are worth your time, energy, and money.

Most of them use the Five-Sentence Structure

Where you go from there is up to you!

Go to 'Book Summaries Posts'

Note: I use affiliate links for the books I recommend

Photo by Mike Tinnion on Unsplash