While on holiday vacation in Florida, a friend emailed me and asked for my top ten education books. Here is how I responded, verbatim. Please keep in mind that this list was created off the top of my head (so I may have missed a few), and the books are presented in no particular order.
- Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics by John Van de Walle, Lou Ann Lovin, Karen Sharp, Jennifer Bay Williams: There are versions for grades K-2, 3-5, and 5-8. In East Penn (my former district) we purchased a version for every teacher at the elementary level. It beautifully combines research with practice while clarifying the expectations of Common Core Mathematics.
- Strategies That Work by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis: This was my go to book for reading comprehension instruction, as the explicit strategies were frequently the focal point of whole class instruction and guided reading. This book defines what close reading should look like in the classroom. A comparable book for the primary level would be Reading with Meaning by Debbie Miller (which I have not read).
- The Understanding by Design Guide to Creating High-Quality Units by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe: While the Understanding by Design book is an indispensible resource, it is lengthy and very difficult to consume. This book does a great job of highlighting its main points in a much shorter format.
- Learning by Doing by Richard Dufour, Rebecca Dufour, Robert Eaker, Thomas Many: While the Dufours have written several books on Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), this is the one that is the most actionable, helping districts to determine where they are and then guiding them to where they need to be.
- How to Grade for Learning by Ken O’Connor: This book really encompasses pretty much any vital question that can arise when looking at standards-based grading procedures. It can be tough to get through, but different sections can be called upon as needed without reading the entire book. Many books touch upon different aspects of grading, but this has it all in one spot. The best resource for creating standards-based reports cards would be Developing Standards-Based Report Cards by Tom Guskey and Jane Bailey.
- Rigorous Curriculum Design by Larry Ainsworth: If you are going to use one book to assist in redesigning your curriculum, this has to be it. While your district does not have to adopt everything here, you can certainly adapt as needed in order to fit your specific needs.
- Creating Innovators by Tony Wagner: Everything by Tony Wagner is just awesome. This book takes a look at people who are innovators, and then explores their history in order to uncover what inspired them and what made them who they are.
- Embedded Formative Assessment by Dylan Wiliam: Probably the definitive book on formative assessment by the subject’s top researcher. Wiliam does a crystal clear job of explaining why formative assessment is so vital to student learning, and after reading this book I could not imagine any teacher not changing his practice in one way or another. Checking for Understanding by Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey (which I have not read), would probably be a nice follow-up read, supplying teachers with instantly usable strategies.
- Leading Change by John Kotter: As much as I like Michael Fullan, John Kotter’s work is easier to read and is just more “fun.” This is his most notable book. As an administrator with autonomy, I could see myself always keeping an extra copy nearby and referring to it often, especially when promoting change.
- The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo: Last year, I read this book along with John Kotter’s Buy-In, and they both have helped me in reimagining the ways in which I provide professional development, deal with resistance to change, etc. The Jobs book does get a bit repetitive after a bit, but it is easily a worthwhile read nonetheless.
What are your thoughts on any of these books? Also, are there any books that you would add to the list?
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