Outside the Classroom

September’s Top Books on Education: See What’s Coming Out This Month!

Every month, hundreds of new books for educators are released, so finding the best ones can be difficult. To better help you, your students, and your coworkers, we’ve put together a list of September’s top books on education. Covering such topics as exploring new strategies in blended learning, guiding students through self-expression, developing new instructional practices for teaching, and discovering new ways to learn history, these books are full of great information to help you better serve your students and do your job. Check out what we picked for you this month!

Power Up Blended Learning: A Professional Learning Infrastructure to Support Sustainable Change
Catlin R. Tucker 

Take Blended Learning to the Next Level by Building an Effective Professional Learning Community!

Technology is permeating classrooms and offering teachers and students opportunities to reimagine teaching and learning. Many schools and districts are shifting from traditional teacher-led instruction to blended learning with the goal of placing students at the center of learning. It’s time to power up your approach to professional learning to ensure teachers feel inspired and supported as they make this shift and embrace technology. This book provides an effective and actionable framework for school leaders looking to implement a long-term professional learning plan that extends professional development beyond a handful of days each year to create “coaching culture” that supports teachers as they move toward blended learning.

Blended Learning expert Catlin Tucker provides a clear path for professional learning that is embedded in the school’s culture, blending targeted training (the “spark”), 1:1 coaching, and professional learning communities. This comprehensive approach to professional learning ensures that teachers in a blended environment work continually to improve learning outcomes for students, stay up-to-date on current technology, and learn with their colleagues. This text is full of concrete resources and strategies for leaders and blended learning coaches. It includes:

  • Coaching protocols
  • Templates for feedback
  • Lesson planning resources for designing blended lessons
  • Rubrics for evaluation
  • Stories and tips from blended learning coaches
  • Vignettes from teachers who have successfully shifted to a blended learning model
  • Reflection questions for leading book studies

This book provides the tools and tips you’ll need to support teachers as they move toward blended learning. From articulating the why behind a shift to blended learning, to creating and implementing an actionable roadmap for building a professional learning infrastructure, this must-have resource will take your PD plans to the next level!

Help! My Students Write Like They Text: Teaching Code-Switching to Improve Writing
Jennifer French

IMHO, LOL, OIC, OMG. If you’ve recently graded middle school or high school writing, chances are you’ve read terms like these; or my favorite, “wtf – idk” which also happened to be an answer on a student’s quiz. As a middle school English teacher, I became more and more perplexed to see students using texting talk on their homework, and classroom writing assignments; not to mention answers on the writing portion of the state standardized test. My students were not differentiating appropriate writing contexts. The answers written on the unit test were written the same way that they invited their friends to hang @ *$ (Starbucks).

How do we as educators and parents allow students to creatively express themselves, support them academically, and prepare them for a professional world built on written and verbal communication? Herein lies this text. Hopefully, it will alleviate the concerns of those who are worried about the disintegration of the English language and help those ISO (in search of) strategies to support textspeaking learners.

Owning It: Proven Strategies to Ace and Embrace Teaching
Alex Kajitani

Empowering teachers to own their careers, teach effectively, and develop strong relationships

Change is coming at us from all angles: technological, cultural, social, and environmental. This presents a great challenge—and a great opportunity—in schools and in the teaching profession. With Owning It, you’ll discover an array of easy-to-implement strategies designed to help you excel in the myriad of roles required of modern-day educators: classroom leader, mentor, colleague, team member, and public professional.

  • Acquire straightforward strategies for dealing with everyday situations found in classrooms, schools, and communities.
  • Understand the multifaceted roles that today’s teachers are expected to fulfill—from classroom management to relationships with colleagues—and how to balance those responsibilities.
  • Feel inspired to bring out the best in yourself as well as in your students.
  • Observe creative approaches to improve teaching strategies and student engagement.
  • Answer reflection questions to connect with and relate to the strategies covered in the book.

The Standards-Based Classroom: Make Learning the Goal
Emily Rinkema, Stan Williams

Win big in the standards-based classroom!

Get to know which practices related to curriculum, instruction, and assessment are essential to make learning the goal for every student! A how-to book for hands-on implementation, this resource provides useful strategies for making changes that will pave the way for major transformation. Culled from over two decades of classroom expertise, this essential guide shows readers how to

  • Create learning targets that are scalable and transferable within and across units
  • Develop instructional scales for each learning target that define the increasing complexity of the skill progression
  • Design non-scored practice activities, intentional formative assessments, and summative assessments to provide reliable, individual evidence of achievement toward learning targets
  • Introduce and model skills that will be assessed and design tasks that allow students to use these skills to practice with the content
  • Differentiate instruction and activities based on data from various types of assessments
  • Maintain a gradebook that tracks summative achievement of learning targets, and score assessments accordingly
  • Communicate clearly and efficiently with all students and families about progress and learning

The four sections—Articulate Desired Results, Develop Targeted Assessment, Design Effective Instruction, and Monitor and Communicate Learning—are chock full of examples, tools, templates, and initial PD scales.

Why Learn History (When It’s Already on Your Phone)
Sam Wineburg

Let’s start with two truths about our era that are so inescapable as to have become clichés: We are surrounded by more readily available information than ever before. And a huge percentage of it is inaccurate. Some of the bad info is well-meaning but ignorant. Some of it is deliberately deceptive. All of it is pernicious.

With the internet always at our fingertips, what’s a teacher of history to do? Sam Wineburg has answers, beginning with this: We definitely can’t stick to the same old read-the-chapter-answer-the-questions-at-the-back snoozefest we’ve subjected students to for decades. If we want to educate citizens who can sift through the mass of information around them and separate fact from fake, we have to explicitly work to give them the necessary critical thinking tools. Historical thinking, Wineburg shows us in Why Learn History (When It’s Already on Your Phone), has nothing to do with test prep–style ability to memorize facts. Instead, it’s an orientation to the world that we can cultivate, one that encourages reasoned skepticism, discourages haste, and counters our tendency to confirm our biases. Wineburg draws on surprising discoveries from an array of research and experiments—including surveys of students, recent attempts to update history curricula, and analyses of how historians, students, and even fact checkers approach online sources—to paint a picture of a dangerously mine-filled landscape, but one that, with care, attention, and awareness, we can all learn to navigate.

It’s easy to look around at the public consequences of historical ignorance and despair. Wineburg is here to tell us it doesn’t have to be that way. The future of the past may rest on our screens. But its fate rests in our hands.

Did you miss last month’s recommendations? It’s not too late to see our back-to-school reading list.

About the Author

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Sasha Wordlaw

Sasha joined Edgenuity in 2015 as a Success Coach where she helped teachers and students achieve success through mentorship and assistance with their education platforms. She is thrilled to now expand her experience with the marketing team, helping to inform people about the latest in edtech and education. As the oldest child in her family and a mother to one, Sasha has been dedicated to enriching the minds of children for most of her life. Her love for education combined with studies in theatre and film led her to teach children’s theatre for 3 years before working in special education with Scottsdale Unified School District in Arizona. Sasha continues her devotion to the arts within the Phoenix theatre community, working on stage and behind-the-scenes. A proud Nashville, TN native, Sasha and her son now call Arizona home.