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New Education Books to Tackle This Summer

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 -- Scott Sterling

Summer is open season for reading. Wherever you turn, a publication is issuing their “summer reading list”. Normally they are populated by trashy mystery novels or “chick lit”. Very few places publish summer reading lists for perhaps the most prevalent segment of readers: teachers.

The Learning Network blog over at the New York Times was nice enough to publish a list of the 100 bestselling education books of 2014 so far, although their definition of “education” is a little broad. Yes, most of the books have classroom implications, but few of them are directed to teachers. Most are popular books that happen to deal with learning.

Here are some selections published this year that I believe have the most opportunity to change how you approach your craft come late August.

Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain

For some, a journey into a teenager’s brain might be the makings of a horror novel. Although this book is targeted to parents, middle and high school teachers can benefit from the research Dr. Daniel Siegel has accumulated into how the adolescent brain develops and how to maximize your interactions with them.

How to Read Literature Like a Professor (revised edition)

The original version was a bestseller targeted towards “civilians” who wanted to read novels like an academic. Although the purpose hasn’t necessarily changed in the new edition, it’s also full of reading strategies that can be used in any classroom in which literature is being read. In short, you can teach kids how you come up with all of those behind-the-meaning insights you provide during your MacBeth unit.

Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning

Perhaps you’re a theory geek and would like the latest in brain research. Nothing says summer like cognitive development! In all seriousness, devoting some professional development time to how the brain learns things is a valuable pursuit for any teacher and Make It Stick is being regarded as this year’s great brain book.

It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens

Although it’s softening a bit, schools and classrooms are still wary about opening up the social networking options for students (probably with good reason). However, this book argues that we should take the chains off our kids, pointing out the social and cognitive benefits of allowing students to do some 21st century networking. Understanding how kids use social sites is a big part of teaching them how to use them successfully.

F this Test: Even More of the Very Best Totally Wrong Test Answers

Perhaps this book best qualifies as summer reading for teachers. The latest in the “F” series is a collection of the funniest, most creative, and most aggravating test answers seen by teachers. You’ll marvel at students’ efforts to get around their lack of knowledge, finding yourself eager to get back so you can see what your students are capable of… or wanting to avoid the classroom at all costs.