kicksandgiggles asked:What are the best books you’ve ever read for professional development?
I think Harry Wong’s The First Days of School has some good points, although focus more on the elementary classrooms. Some of it isn’t practical, so you have to use your noggin’ to decide what will work for you. It is a good “calm yourself down you can handle this” book for new teachers to read before the beginning of the school year. I do think it is important to set expectations and procedures at the beginning of the school so that the rest of the year you can focus on learning.
I am a big fan of Classrooms that Work: They Can All Read and Write. Patricia Cunningham is one of the authors, and she developed the 4 Blocks Method which I like — but depending on the curriculum and set up for your school it may not work timing wise. This book gives the basic outline of what primary reading instruction should look like — and actual activities to use in the classroom, how to assess them, and why they work. I usually reread it every summer. You will find some of the activities described in teaching manuals, however, I’ve found that they leave out some of the steps that the book talks about that are essential to meeting the objective. For example, when working with words (moving letters around to spell, sound out, and find patterns) the teaching manual I have does not say anything about giving them a word to transfer the spelling pattern to. However, Cunningham and Allington explain this step and why it is the most important part of the activity.
Amazing Grace by Jonathan Kozol is a book I read at 19. It angered me, it made me cry, and it made me want to change the world. Every educator should at least be familiar with his work.
A Boy Called It is the true story of a boy who was abused beyond anything you’d ever be able to imagine. He fell through the cracks, but eventually people at his school were able to get him help. I think this is also a must read, because although it doesn’t tell you any “best practices” in teaching, it does show you how abuse happens, is hidden, and missed. If there is ever a situation where you’re not sure whether there is something to report — having read this book will always make you give the kid the benefit of the doubt and report it (as we are legally obligated to do, but there may be situations where you really doubt it. It is better to report it and be wrong, than to ignore it and be right).
Content Area Reading: Literacy Across the Curriculum is a book we used in one of my grad courses. In my current position, I work with kids in grades K-8. Most of my older students that struggle with reading, struggle with non-fiction texts. I use a lot of the ideas and strategies that I got from this book with them, and I’ve had some pretty successful results. Some of the strategies are more for high school, but it does cover a variety of grades.
When I taught in a special education classroom, I often referred to The Special Educator’s Survival Guide. It was published in 2004, and Spec. Ed law and practices can change pretty quickly. I’ve heard The Complete Guide to Special Education be recommended before, but I’ve never personally read it.
My go to places for education research and ideas, however, are the professional organizations I belong to and their journals. I pay extra for hard copies of The Reading Teacher from the International Reading Association and Young Children from the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
What about all of you?