Winter Break Book Recommendations

Winter break is soon upon us (for some of you it might already be here). A chance to spend time with family and perhaps get a chance to learn something new. I don't know if I am the first person to say this but regarding professional development I always say, "It is a lot easier to work on a car not running." We all have a desire to grow and increase our ability to help our students but it is difficult in the midst of all of that happens in our daily lives as educators and as human beings.

I would like to recommend a few books that really got me thinking about education. I am only mentioning books that are truly the best of the best so as not to waste your time. These are excellent for generating conversations or challenging what or why we do things the way we do. I hope you enjoy them and leave a comment if you have read any or afterwards leave your thoughts.

Book Recommendations:
Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns- Written by 3 incredible authors, one of whom will be speaking at the 2011 CUE Conference. This book outlines how education is undergoing a dramatic shift towards personalized differentiated learning. Outlining the different technologies and resources that are making this happen, this book is full of stories that will have you cheering for the student as they find success in ways they couldn't possibly before.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us- By bestselling author Daniel Pink, this book has interesting and applicable research and information on every page about what keeps us going as human beings. By making a few simple changes you can dramatically increase you and your student's interest towards any activity or project.

The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing - Alfie Kohn makes a strong case for why we should consider how and why we give homework. He outlines all of the reasons that educators, administrators, parents, and lawmakers typically offer in support of it and provides data and research which refutes these claims. If you really want an eye opening book you can't go wrong with any of Alfie Kohn's articles or books.

Measuring Up: What Educational Testing Really Tells Us - We all want to see our students be successful and challenged. The question is how do we do that and afterwards check to see how we as educators and they as students are doing. Both private and public institutions are swamping our schools with tests and overwhelming us with data. The data is being misinterpreted and misused to portray a shortsighted and false image of how our schools are doing. This book, written by a Havard Professor of Statistics, makes the facts and data more understandable so we can properly communicate it to those who have a vested interest.

No More Secondhand Art: Awakening the Artist Within - Do not make the mistake in thinking this book is only for "art teachers". This educator explains why everything a student creates should be beautiful work and originality. Many parallels between his work and other subjects. Every time he mentioned the word art I thought of math. How often are we asking students to do the same thing as everyone else has for the last 100 years and then asking ourselves why they are not interested.

Tinkering toward Utopia: A Century of Public School Reform - Another great book by Tyack and Cuban who do a thorough and detailed job of showing us what education has looked like over the last hundred and fifty years or so. Every generation a politician will make an outcry for how schools are failing and need reform. This book shows how these same statements have been made repeatedly throughout history and why they failed. There is a more complete book review here. Just remember Roy Roger's poignant observation, "The schools ain't like they used to be, and they never was".

Do you have thoughts or suggestions for another great book to read? Leave a comment and share it with us!

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