This week my office was in need of cleaning and organizing, especially my bookcase. As I re-arranged the shelves to accomodate an ever growing library I found some gems that I had forgotten about. The books listed below changed the way I taught, or moved me to establish new practices to meet the needs of my students. Now there may be ideas that are considered antiquated in today's classroom but I am confident there are still great practices contained in them that would be valuable in any classroom today. Below are my personal favourites with a brief description of each.
The Teaching Gap (James W. Stigler and James Hiebert) - The description of math practices in Japan, Germany and the United States literally had me searching for more research on effective programming. It led me to implement a math program based in problem-solving. This wasn't lost on my principal and colleagues as I was asked to create a mutli-media resource for our board called "Best Practices in the Primary Math Classroom". All thanks to the ideas found in the Teaching Gap.
Mosaic of Thought (Ellin Oliver Keene and Susan Zimmermann) - This book totally changed my literacy program! I loved the mix of humour and practical examples detailed throughout the book. I learned how to really get the most out of read alouds by providing students a model of what it looks and sounds like.
Reading with Meaning (Debbie Miller) - If you're a primary teacher this is the book for you. Debbie skillfully leads you through teaching comprehension strategies to young readers. I learned how to model strategies with students and how they could use post-it notes as they read. Awesome book.
Reading Essentials (Reggie Routman) - A very easy to read book that outlines research based approaches to reading. She provides sample lessons that bring those research ideas to life. A book that compliments any program you run in your classroom.
A Mind at a Time (Dr. Mel Levine) - I came across Dr. Mel Levine after seeing him on Oprah. I immediately ran out to Chapters and purchased A Mind at a Time to help me support a special needs student in my class.
There are no Shortcuts (Rafe Esquith) - All I can say is WOW! The depths this man goes to engage his students are incredible. A few staff members went to hear him speak a few years ago in Toronto without knowing anything about his book and were blown away. Do yourself a favour and read this book, it is inspiring.
I Read it, but I don't Get It (Cris Tovani) - I came across this book during my time as a Learning Technologies Coordinator. As part of our professional reading program our group of techies loved to get involved with our colleagues in other portfolios. Easy to read with a great mix of current reading theory with practical ideas for the classroom make this one of my favourites. My only wish is that I found it a few years after I left the classroom, too late to put it into practice.
The Read Aloud Handbook (Jim Trelease) - This book is on the top of my "must read list". Maybe I should put it at the top of this then! After reading a vignette of a boy raised in the mountains by his family who never attended school I was hooked. Great reading for parents too. Oh yeah, that boy who never attended school, learned to read by being read to and ended up becoming a professor at the University of West Virginia (If I remember correctly...smile). The power of reading aloud!
Strategies that Work (Stephanie Harvey) - This book is full of practical lessons you could use tomorrow in your classroom to develop deep thinking and understanding. If you want your students to learn how to make connections, synthesize information and visualize what they read then give this book a read.
I have provided links to the website Good Reads so that you could see the ratings other educators have given my favourites (hint they are all over 4 stars out of 5). Did you notice that I didn't mention any tech books? Don't worry I've got lots of them too. Maybe next week I'll blog about them.
I would love to hear you thoughts on any of them...positive or negative.