I have been engaged in reading some interesting books and articles recently. Here are some recommendations for your bookshelf. With some of the articles you will only see the abstract because you need a membership to see the full article.
- Learning 21st Century Skills Requires 21st Century Teaching, by Saavedra and Opfer, Phi Delta Kappan, October 2012, page 8-13. An interesting article that outlines nine lessons for teaching 21st Century skills. The authors take us through each of the nine lessons. “Since education standards and the purposes of education are changing, curriculum frameworks, instructional methods, and assessment strategies must also change.” p.12
- Blending Education for high-octane motivation, by Patterson, Phi Delta Kappan, October 2012, page 14-18. This is an interview with Michael Horn, co-founder of Innosight Institute, a nonprofit think tank geared towards applying disruptive innovation ideas to education. “What I see when I go into good blended learning environments is students really understanding that they are going to be part owners in charting their own paths.” (page 17) (click here for recent post by CFT on putting students at the center of the learning) Horn reflects on blended learning environments. He speaks about emphasizing learning over teaching. Create effective outcomes for education that are not merely tied to test scores.
- 10 Reasons to Flip, by Fulton, Phi Delta Kappan, October 2012, page 20-24. I like this article because it does a nice job of outlining why a flipped classroom might be an effective approach for some students. This is a pretty comprehensive piece and the 10 reasons are laid out well in the article. Hard to argue that a standard lecture classroom is the way to go for most students. Mix it up!
- 7 Keys to Effective Feedback, by Grant Wiggins, Educational Leadership, September 2012, pages 11-16. Wiggins does a great job of outlining how we need to change our attitude and direction with regard to giving students effective feedback. “Basically, feedback is information about how we are doing in our efforts to reach a goal.” page 11. Do we have students develop a set of goals related to their learning? If not, shouldn’t that be priority #1? He writes about feedback being “goal-referenced, tangible, transparent, actionable, user-friendly, timely, ongoing, and consistent.” page 13. Put your assessment practices through that lens. Do your practices measure up?
- Know Thy Impact, by John Hattie, Educational Leadership, September 2012, pages 18-23. The “king” of formative assessment writes an engaging article that outlines how to ensure we are giving students useful feedback. “Gathering and assessing feedback are really the only ways teachers can know the impact of their teaching.” page 23. Do we as teachers use the feedback from our assessments to improve our own teaching? Seems to me this is an essential question we must address if we intend to improve student achievement.
- Assessing Creativity, by Susan Brookhart, Educational Leadership, February 2013, pages 28-34. Teachers sometimes struggle with how to engage the creative spirit in their students, but once they have figured that out they often talk about the challenges of assessing creativity. Brookhart writes a good article that outlines how to go about assessing creativity. She offers a rubric on page 31. This edition of Educational Leadership has a series of excellent articles on creativity. I would recommend buying this edition.
- Leadership in Challenging Times, by Elizabeth City, Educational Leadership, April 2013, pages 11-14. City advocates for leaders to look carefully how resources are invested in professional development to more effectively leverage school reform. “Learners of all ages are capable of far more than that! And if we’re asking teachers and principals to do low-level tasks, how can we expect them to turn around and give high-level tasks to students?” page 12 We need to entrust school leaders and teachers to make high-level decisions to improve the quality of education in their institutions. This edition also has great articles on being a principal or school leader. If you are a principal, this edition is well worth reading.
- Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work, by Chip and Dan Heath. Really enjoyed the way Heath brothers outline a process for making good decisions. A book that I would encourage for all school leaders. “A better decision process substantially improves the results of the decisions, as well as the returns associated with them.”
- The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life you Have, by Mark Nepo. This is truly one of the most inspiring and thought-provoking books I have read. While his book does not directly relate to education, the wisdom contained in Nepo’s ideas can benefit any person who listens to the stories he tells. After each chapter (a chapter is one day in a 365 calendar year), Nepo offers some exercises to try as a way to apply his ideas. In some ways, his book is a journey in meditation and self-discovery.
- Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Challenge the World, by Tony Wagner. Wagner presents and analyzes a series of cases that illustrate how young innovators came into their work. What factors led to their creative expression or their innovation? There are QR codes throughout the book that link to videos, usually interviews, with the young innovators or their mentors. He outlines the challenges we face and how innovative thinking will help us address global challenges. In addition, he writes about the seven skills that the innovators he studied possess: (1) critical thinking and problem-solving; (2) collaboration across networks; (3) agility and adaptability; (4) initiative and entrepreneurship; (5) accessing and analyzing information; (6) effective oral and written communication skills; and (7) curiosity and imagination. As educators, how do we measure up with regard to the focus of our classroom instruction. For example, is our teaching and the design of our curriculum set up to encourage and nurture a student’s curiosity and imagination? A critical question for educators to grapple with.
Hopefully, this list of readings will pique your interest or curiosity. If you have a reading, article or book, that you would like to recommend, add a comment to this post and share with the community of learners.
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