Time for this year’s Summer Reading for Educators Top Ten List!  These are my ten favorite educational titles I’ve read in the past school-year, 2016-17, and that I recommend for summer reading.   Though I try to make this list pretty current, composed primarily of titles published in the past 18 months, sometimes I am slow to encounter older books, and so I’m not strict about that rule.

As you scroll down, you’ll also find honorary mentions, books that just missed the top ten, and additional suggestions for free educational reports and e-books of the past year or so, and a smaller set of reading for  pleasure suggestions.

For the past years’ recommendations/top ten lists, you can click the following for

Note: Asterisks attached to book titles below indicates the book would be a worthy selection for suggested (or required) faculty summer reading; asterisks by author names indicate (for full disclosure) that the author is someone I count as a friend—(though whether or not he or she views me the same way I cannot say.)

Also,this year, for the first time, I’m making available a complete list of the books I read all (or most) of in the past year.  If you are interested, it is available here. 

NeuroTeach+COVER1/ NeuroTeach: Brain Science and the Future of Education* by Glenn Whitman* and Ian Kelleher (and the 21k12 2016-2017 Book of the Year).    This is a great book, explaining with perfectly clear writing many key insights that mind and brain research is revealing for the improvement of teaching and learning.   It is careful, at least to my non-expert eyes, not to overclaim, but it is also not afraid to be very insistent about what we do know and what that knowledge means for good practice.    The chapter entitled “Top Twelve Research-Informed Every Teacher Should Be Doing with Every Student” ought most certainly to be required reading by every educator everywhere, but if there isn’t time for that, at minimum encourage folks widely to study the “The Unconscionable List (AKA The Despicable Baker’s Dozen): Things a Teacher Should Never Do Again.”  Please. Pretty Please: get this list into the hands of teachers everywhere.

There’s a lot more to say about this book, but I will just put particular attention to what to me is especially novel about it, the chapter on Teachers as Researchers, which brilliantly offers up a different way of thinking about an educator’s professional journey and an alternate career ladder that genuinely professionalizes a profession that has been humiliatingly de-professionalized in recent decades.  Through the embrace of this kind of learning science widely promulgated and deeply embraced, though,it can and I believe will rise again.   Over the past several months in conversation, this title has been my go-to recommendation to clients and colleagues everywhere.  Bravo.

41SqXaZtZ1L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_2/ The Space: A Guide for Educators* by Dr. Robert Dillon* and Rebecca Louise Hare (Book of the Year co-runner up).   This is a beautifully designed and illustrated book that is probably no more than 5,000 words: it is intended, I’d infer, less for reading straight through (and returning to a shelf) and more for scanning and skimming and visually appreciating and returning to again and again for inspiration and guidance on how to rethink and redesign your learning spaces.     It recalls in various ways the astoundingly comprehensive 2012 title, Make Space: Setting the Stage for Creative Collaboration book from Stanford Design School that was a 21k12 book of the year runner up on my 2014 list.  But as great as that book is, it is also a bit overwhelming, quite hard to fully appreciate and then internalize.  Part of the power of Dillon and Hare’s succinct book is that it is to the point using diagrams, white space and pictures, asking all of us to rethink how we can provide spaces to collaborate, create, showcase, and be quiet.  They suggest to readers as they peruse this to “take your time. Share with others.  Be the Change.”  And they ask, in something of an epigraph, “What is this book actually nurtured the soul of education and gave us reason to believe that a beautiful world is filled with thoughtful spaces.”

9781119253457.pdf3/Learning that Lasts: Challenging, Engaging, and Empowering Students with Deeper Learning* by Ron Berger, Libby Wooding and Ann Vilin. (21k12 Book of the Year Co-Runner up).    Regular readers here know that I’ve long been a Berger fan-boy; his 2003 Ethic of Excellence: Building a Culture of Craftsmanship is one of my all-time favorites, and his 2014 Leaders of their Own Learning was my 2014 Book of the Year.   Berger is that rare bird in any field, someone who is both a master of his domain and a wordsmith of gorgeous craftsmanship.   This book surveys four major academic disciplines to unpack and consider how disciplinary knowledge and skills can better be cultivated through deeper learning practices, and there are takeaways on almost every page.   Which word comes first in the subtitle?  “Challenging.”  That’s not an accident.   Deeper Learning isn’t something designed to make students more engaged, first and foremost; it isn’t, in Berger’s vision, something we do to make it more “student-centered.”  If it is to last, it has to be serious.   As he writes, “Grappling with new ideas and problems will productive challenge students when they have enough background knowledge to feel anchored, enough scaffolding to feel supported, and enough time and intellectual freedom to wrestle with complex ideas… First, students must be challenged with rigorous, sophisticated material that engages them in higher-order reading, writing, thinking and discussion.  Second,  students must be challenged to gain conceptual understanding they can apply to new situations.”   This is the through-line for Berger’s long career: shifting instructional strategies to student inquiry and production without every compromising on rigor or excellence– quite the opposite.    (more…)