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Educators’ Summer Reading List, 2016 Edition

Thursday, June 23, 2016 -- Scott Sterling

If you’re one of those educators who likes to develop yourself professionally at the beach rather than at a conference, books tend to be the tools you choose. Yet, because it’s summer, you might want to stay out of the realm of deep strategies and education theory. Here are some choices that are accessible while still being effectual.

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

You may have heard a lot about the concept of grit and whether it can help students grow as learners and people. Some educators are already discounting the model as a fad, but you should hear from the originator of the idea before coming to a verdict. Angela Duckworth started the research into grit, yet this is her first full-length discussion on the topic. 

Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why by Paul Tough

Tough is the author of the successful How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, in which he discussed research that points to grit and other personality traits that successful children tend to share. In his follow-up book, he talks about how to create these traits. Divergent from Duckworth, he mostly asserts that these traits cannot be taught effectively. Instead, he argues that we should create the kinds of environments that foster their development organically.

LAUNCH: Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring Out the Maker in Every Student  by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani

Maker education is a big topic, but we tend to think of it as the domain of computer science, engineering, and industrial arts classes. LAUNCH discusses and provides processes for instilling the kinds of skills students need to be makers in any class. Coincidentally, those skills, like questioning and critical thinking, are the same ones called for by next-gen standards.

For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood . . . and the Rest of Y'all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education by Christopher Emdin

With increasingly diverse schools and a persistent achievement gap, issues of race and equality are just as important today as they have ever been. Emdin offers plenty of cogent insights about the state of the nation’s urban schools and how teachers—of any race—can be more effective in them. His ideas are more than just strategies and getting-to-know-you activities. They can be transformative for a school. 

Who's Doing the Work? How to Say Less So Readers Can Do More by Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris

Even though it’s a part of many research-based models, such as gradual release, lots of teachers struggle with handing over control and letting their students figure out things for themselves. Although this book focuses on reading (and does offer strategies rather than general discussion), it can get teachers in other subject areas to think about the way their classrooms run too.

Looking for more ideas to work on your craft as a teacher this summer? Check out these Do-It-Yourself Summer Professional Development tips!