Book Review: Nothing You Can’t Do

bookcover.jpgI had the privilege to read the book Nothing You Can’t Do! by Mary Cay Ricci. This is a great book for middle school teachers and counselors to use with their students to either shore up their growth mindset or to assist them in changing from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.

If you are familiar with the work of Carol Dweck and Growth Mindset, you will appreciate this book. This book gives students the opportunity to write in it, and share their own goals, stories, and extended responses in to help them grow and to change their fixed mindset to a growth mindset.

Throughout the book there are tips that can help students who are in late elementary and middle school to help them to change their mindset. There are some examples that these students can use to help them understand the concepts discussed in each chapter. Also, this book is uses the vocabulary of this age-group, which to me is a great feature. For example, in chapter 2 the author talks about the words resilience, perseverance, and optimism, and how they relate to growth mindset.

Another aspect I like are the insertions of QR codes  throughout the chapters that link to short videos to help reiterate the author’s point. Many other resources are listed in the back several pages including growth mindset links, videos, movies, and websites to help educators and counselors to help middle school students better understand growth mindset.

Having just left the classroom, I feel like this book would have been a great book to go through  with some of my students who had a fixed mindset. Many of my students who are gifted struggled at times had issues with perfectionism, and with self-doubt. By using some of the tips and concepts my students would have benefited greatly.

To close, I highly recommend this book to all gifted educators to who have students who need a little help in changing their mindset. This book gives students the opportunity to interact with the concepts and tips to help them grow. Nothing You Can’t Do!  is a great resource that should be utilized by gifted educators who know their students would benefit from a change of mindsets.



Book Review: Differentiating Instruction with Menus: Science

51ngmwuarelScience….is hands-on and can be as fun as you can make it. Science teachers work real hard to teach complicated ideas in science to you children. This book is a great resource that many of those teachers need to get. Differentiating Instruction with Menus (Science) covers Physical, Biological, and Earth Science. Laurie took some of the most important topics of each and created some great menus for them.

These menus will help to deepen student engagement, and interest in science. Everyone of us have had students who has a desire to learn everything, and wants to learn it now. Well, this book and the series, will help you with those students. By creating a choice board, a menu or tic-tac-toe board you allow students the freedom to learn multiple topics over a selective period of time. Students love the fact they can pick and choose what they will learn, and what products they will do to share their learning.

I would encourage all teachers and home school parents to check this book out along with the whole series. These books contain so much information to help you not only use the menu, but you can use the information to make your own menus.

Book Review: Differentiating Instruction with Menus: Social Studies

e5383Social Studies is one of my favorite subjects to teach in every grade that I have been assigned to. I feel that this subject area is one of the most versatile subject areas because it is so diverse. This book, Differentiating Instruction with Menus: Social Studies, is a great resource you teachers and home school families to have. It aligns with the State curriculum, and is chalked full of ideas to use in the classroom.

What i really like about this series is the fact that each of Laurie’s books is written the same way. She includes a lot of different menus based on history, geography, U.S. documents, and people. All of these are major aspects of Social Studies. She has included several different menus to help bring out the creativity of your students, and to help deepen their knowledge of Social Studies.

I would recommend this book and the whole series to every teacher, and home school parent. I have used this series often in my gifted classroom, and I will continue to do so. They are written so well, and they have so many ideas you can use, or you can use as a starting off points.

Book Review: Differentiating Instruction with Menus: Language Arts

258_fcvAs I have stated before, Differentiating Instruction with Menus is one of my favorite book series. I have found that my students really enjoy the opportunity to have some choice in their work. Giving students ownership in their learning is a great aspect of Education.

What I love about this book, is the fact that it has menus for different types of literature including fiction and nonfiction. Each section has a treasure trove of ideas teachers can use to enhance their language arts classes for their gifted students, and their regular education students. Each section has discusses ways to use menus for genres of literature, and different types of books.

One aspect of this book that I really enjoy is the fact Laurie includes some rubrics. There are all purpose rubrics for students to use, along with rubrics for student taught lessons. I love rubrics just for the fact it gives students the expectations starting off. It allows teachers to quickly grade projects and presentations. There are also scales that can be used by both teachers and students to help rate their performance on projects and presentations.

Overall, this is book that I recommend to teachers, and home school parents to help their students to succeed in language arts. Using this book you can use the ideas in it just as they are written, or you can take the idea and change it to fit your own situation.


Book Review: Differentiating Instruction With Menus: Math

This is part 1 of 4 of this series.

20160523_101558The differentiating Instruction with Menus series is one of my favorite series. It happens to be one of my most used series to date. I have found that all gifted children are very smart, they still need some differentiation in the lessons.

I feel that giving gifted students a choice is a great idea. I want my students to feel as if they are in control of their learning, their grades, and their work. There is a lot of research that supports this idea, and Laurie discusses that in the introduction of the book.

As I began to read through the 3rd-5th grade second edition I started to get inspired about somethings I could do with the my upper grades students based off the menus Laurie has placed in this book. But, if I were a teacher who had 3rd through 5th grade students, this book series is one I would get. In regards to Math, what I like about this book are the menus. Laurie gives a short description of the type of menu along with the benefits, limitations, and time considerations. Everything that a teacher would need to know about a type of menu is there. There are also several menus that are listed that a math teacher can use in their classroom linked to State Standards.

If you do products with your students, you always need to have a rubric for your students to follow. This book has some great examples of rubrics. It also has idea for rubrics for students taught lessons, to teacher directed products. Laurie also has ideas and examples of how to get student feedback. All the menus and feedback forms are great, and can be used as is, or can be used a jumping off point.

I this book is a great resource for teachers and parents. I would hope that anyone who teaches math to gifted children would use this book. This resource can be used in a classroom setting, or homeschool setting.  Not only would I suggest you use this book, but also use the whole series. I have it, and I use it often in my teaching.


Book Review: Complex Systems in Our World

20160330_171221-1.jpgThis is part 4 of 4 in book reviews. These books are written by E.L. Strauss published by

 Part 1: Global Explorer.

Part 2: Chaos Theory Uncovered

Part 3: Our Universe Revealed

Complex Systems

I have always been interested in patters, and in relationships. Complex Systems in Our World helps to explain the science of relationships. Complex systems theory is “a transdisciplinary field of study concerned with the organization and functioning of different phenomena. The field examines the principles common to all complex systems, with the aim of discovering patterns and principles that can be applied to all types of systems, at all levels, in all fields of research.”


Like the other three books in their series, Complex Systems in Our World is structured similar. It starts by looking at interconnections, and emergence, moves to types of complexity, and finishes with superorganisms and thermodynamics. I enjoy the Questions we Ask and What we Uncover sections that help to guide the reader through the book. The outline of each chapter isn’t a traditional outline. Instead it is a series of questions that the author poses to get the reader thinking about the material they will interact with.

The book has great pictures to help the concepts of systems and their complexities. The activities that the author has connected to the material is challenging and makes the reader use their critical thinking skills.


I think Complex Systems in Our World is a great book to help students to understand how relationships work in the real world, and how communities, cities, and the environment are connected through these systems. This is a great resource for students. This book is best suited for high school students who want to get a more in-depth education of complex systems. The vocabulary is challenging. Complex Systems in Our World also requires you to use critical thinking in some of the activities that are presented to the reader.





Book Review: Our Universe Revealed


This is part 3 of 4 in book reviews. These books are written by E.L. Strauss published by

 Part 1: Global Explorer.

Part 2: Chaos Theory Uncovered

Our Universe Revealed 

I am a big fan of Cosmos. I love listening to Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson explaining the mysteries of the galaxy. If you like that show and many others like it, then you will love this book.

Our Universe Revealed is a great book that covers a multitude of topics including Antimatter, Dark Energy, Quasars, Supernovae, and Einstein’s Theories, and more. This book covers the study of Cosmology: “the scientific study of the large-scale properties of the universe; the field endeavours to use the scientific method to understand the universe’s origin, evolution, and ultimate fate.”


I love how this book is organized and structured. When you open Our Universe Revealed , you see there are a list of Questions we Ask, and a list of topics in the What we Uncover section. This gets the readers engaged in what will be coming up in the sections ahead. I also enjoy that before each chapter starts the author lays out a small time line of questions that the reader should keep in mind as they read. I believe this is a great way for students to get their critical thinking skills started.

Our Universe Revealed starts by looking at stargazing, moving to the beginning of the cosmos, how the universe is structured, and finally Relativity. I like how Our Universe Revealed has great pictures, illustrations, charts and graphs that help bring clarity to the reader on the subject at hand. Students will find these to be useful. The author also uses some illustrations made by artisits which are colorful, and detailed.


For someone who is interested in learning more about space, the galaxy, and parts of the universe then Our Universe Revealed is for you. It is very good at giving details, explaining different equations (such as Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and Hubble’s Law to name a few), and explaining how the universe works.

After reading Our Universe Revealed, I came to realize that I had learned a lot. In the back of the book there is a list of topics that students, adults, and teachers who want to learn more about the cosmos could check into. This book is only 127 pages in length, and can be read in just a few short sittings. It also has the opportunity to be a jumping off point for science students to take a topic and go in-depth further than what is in the book.

Our Universe Revealed is a great book to use in addition to the science curriculum that is used in school and in homeschools. This book is best suited for high school students who want to get a more in-depth education of space. The vocabulary is challenging. This book also requires you to use some critical thinking in some of the activities that are presented to the reader.

Overall, Our Universe Revealed is a great book. I hope that you check it out, along with the others in this set.