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Block Breaker by Brian Aspinall

The art of numbers... My first thought was ugh! I don’t know about you, but by 10th grade, I hated everything numbers, but I so badly wanted to understand it and apply it to architecture, music, creating fashion. I simply couldn’t and the teacher’s only suggestion was, “please, promise me you will never take a math class again!”

Aspinall’s Block Breaker shares a message that is timely not just for Canada, but for all of North America: math is an art and technology can allow students to find be a part of the living art all around them. This is not a MindCraft how-to book. This is a work with suggestions, that yes, include MindCraft lessons and other maker lessons relevant to the art of numbers. Some of the essential points from this work include personalized learning, what the real 1:1’s importance is (ps it’s not about tech!), and failing at school. Too often, we see students tossed away because they fail to conform when schools in the 21st c. should be redefining what failure is. Schools, working collaboratively with families and communities are able, without pain and agony, to create personalized learning. Cookie cutter education must cease to exist. Aspinall not only supports this notion but gives those on the fence wings and support to do so in his new book, Block Breaker. As an educator, Aspinall nails a teacher moment. Without a doubt that those young folks in our classrooms are individuals and we must meet them where they are. He heart-wrenchingly describes that moment when a parent is on your side, yet challenging you to be different, and wanting the best for their child. Adding MindCraft or integrating any technology can cause reluctance within a school and especially with a teacher who is not versed in curriculum-based, technology integration, Aspinall reassures the reader that it is okay to take small steps. The days of demanding compliance are part of industrial age education. The only thing Aspinall could have added about compliance and discipline, yes, children should learn when and where some behaviors such as good listening and being a respectful audience should occur. That is best learned in the band and chorus room!

Aspinall weaves stories, lesson plans, and explanations, and leaves you excited to provide a first step or another step for each of your students. Block Breaker leaves the reader wanting to have more conversations. This is a must read for all new teachers, all veteran teachers, all administrators, and all community members! Thank you Mr. Aspinall!

This book has cemented my own determination as a curriculum-based technology integrationist wiring a proposed dissertation about technology-integrated personalized learning.

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