Book Reviews

Over-Tested and Under-Prepared
By Robert Sornson

The curriculum-driven instructional model has been the standard method of teaching for more than a century, but it is consistently failing to produce well-educated citizens and lifelong learners. Pressured by standardized testing and rigid pacing guidelines, teachers are forced to cover too much content too quickly, without being able to meet the needs of individual students. In this powerful new book from acclaimed author and speaker Bob Sornson, you'll learn how shifting from curriculum-based instruction to competency based learning can help students become more successful, confident, and engaged learners. Topics include:

  • Understanding the curriculum-driven model and the problems with 'cover and sort' methodology;
  • Making the transition from curriculum-driven to competency based learning;
  • Identifying crucial learning outcomes and giving students all the time and instruction needed to fully master these outcomes;
  • Building a positive teaching and learning environment;
  • And more!

Each chapter is short and easy to digest, and provides compelling research, strategies, and anecdotes to inspire conversation and action. Teachers, administrators, and community leaders will all find helpful resources and arguments for re-working our current educational system into a new, dynamic model of teaching and learning.

Read More »

Learning Chaos
By Mac Bogert

Learning Chaos doesn’t pull any punches about our schools. Neither does the book blame the usual scapegoats—teachers, government, parents or children. Schools are failing because they rely on outmoded thinking about how we learn. Contrary to popular opinion, students, whether children or adults, don’t need to be shepherded and spoon fed. Learning is, and always has been, the default setting for human beings. To correct what’s wrong, we need to redesign our schools to remove the barriers that stifle learning.

Filled with powerful research, numerous case studies, and clear, practical suggestions for immediate change, Learning Chaos is for parents, teachers, trainers and learners who are not afraid to question the status quo. Learning Chaos will reignite in its readers a passion for learning—and for helping others to learn.

Read More »

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Be the Best You Can Be
By Amy Newmark and Dr. Milton Boniuk

Start a conversation with the kids and preteens in your life! Read about goals and hard work, compassion and tolerance, values and good choices. In this collection of relevant, true-life personal stories, you’ll meet great role models for today’s youthRead about:
  • Making Your Best Effort
  • Doing the Right Thing
  • Accepting Differences
  • Appreciating Your Family
  • Handling Bullies
  • Having Confidence in Yourself
  • Making True Friends
  • Accepting Responsibility
  • Being Kind and Grateful
  • Getting Through Tough Times
This book is also used in the new literacy-based proactive bullying prevention program Chicken Soup for the Soul Hallway Heroes. Read More »

Aligning Your Curriculum to the Common Core State Standards Standards (Foreword by Karen Young)
By Joe Crawford

Avoid “analysis paralysis” and just get started!

Now that most states have adopted the new Common Core State Standards, the next major challenge is to simplify and implement them by 2014. That is why it is important to begin this work now. Joe Crawford, Milken Award-winning educator and author of Using Power Standards to Build an Aligned Curriculum, shares his proven process for building a viable local curriculum based on the CCSS. Readers will find:

  • A system for creating local standards from the CCSS
  • Methods for connecting the common, formative assessments to quarterly instructional objectives
  • Ways to scaffold learning expectations
  • Examples taken from districts where CCSS is currently implemented
Read More »

The Problem with Math Is English
By Concepcion Molina, Joni Wackwitz (editorial support)

Published by Jossey-Bass in partnership with SEDL, The Problem with Math Is English illustrates how students often understand fundamental mathematical concepts at a superficial level. Written to inspire aha moments, the book enables teachers to help students identify and comprehend the nuances and true meaning of math concepts by exploring them through the lenses of language and symbolism. Using this perspective, the author delves into such essential topics as multiplication, division, fractions, place value, proportional reasoning, graphs, slope, order of operations, and the distributive property. Read More »

How to be a Great Teacher
By Wynn Godbold

“How to Be a Great Teacher: Create the Flow of Joy and Success in Your Classroom” is a new teacher help book by Wynn Godbold, founder of the International Academy of Bee Sharp Teachers. The book explains why the current paradigm in education sets teachers up for feeling overwhelmed and frustrated; then proposes a new paradigm for teachers everywhere to follow.

“I spent half of my career overwhelmed and frustrated in the job I believed I was called by God to do,” explains Godbold. “Finally, I made a decision to do things differently. I knew I had to get this message out to other teachers because it changed my teaching and my life for the best. I want all teachers to be in their classrooms filled with joy and success.”

Following the paradigm explanation the book jumps into a 9-step process helping readers on “How to be a Great Teacher.” The steps are broken into three major categories – Decide, Believe, and Share.

“I figured out these nine steps in my own practice and they changed my life,” says Godbold. “When I started traveling the country, I met tons of teachers who were like me in the first half of my career. One day, teachers who read this book will look back and say, ‘My worst day now is better than my best day used to be’.”

Read More »

Evocative Coaching
By Bob and Megan Tschannen-Moran

Evocative Coaching takes a person-centered, no-fault, and strengths-based approach to performance improvement. Bringing together the most reliable research and wisdom in educational leadership and professional coaching, Evocative Coaching presents a simple yet profound model for facilitating new conversations in schools through Story Listening, Expressing Empathy, Appreciative Inquiry, and Design Thinking. This inspirational process reinvigorates the passion for making schools better, one conversation at a time.

An innovative resource, Evocative Coaching contains research-based theory, helpful strategies, specific suggestions, and a wealth of anecdotes from coaches working in schools. The model presented in this book invites educators to focus on what they do best and to engage in larger, more integral conversations about their work and the things they care about most. Grounded in evidence-based practices, Evocative Coaching enables educators to better meet the challenges they face in today’s schools.

Read More »

Strategies for Common Core Mathematics Implementing the Standards for Mathematical Practice, K-5
By Leslie Texas, Tammy Jones

This new, practical book provides an explanation of each of the eight mathematical practices and gives elementary school educators specific instructional strategies that align with the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.

Math teachers, curriculum coordinators, and district math supervisors get practical ideas on how to engage elementary school students in mathematical practices, develop problem-solving skills, and promote higher-order thinking. Learn how to scaffold activities across grades and get strategies you can implement immediately in your classroom. All K-5 mathematics educators should have this book in their professional libraries!

Read More »

Rigor for Students with Special Needs
By Barbara R Blackburn

This practical, easy-to-read guide explains how to raise the rigor for students with special needs so they can achieve higher levels of learning.

Learn how to: set clear goals and expectations,establish a climate of success,scaffold and model lessons,use graphic organizers and "think-alouds",apply modifications and accommodations,use rigorous questioning strategies,differentiate instruction,increase family involvement... Read More »

Rigor Made Easy
By Barbara R Blackburn

Barbara Blackburn shares the secrets to getting started, maintaining momentum, and reaching your goals. Learn what rigor looks like in the classroom, understand what it means for your students and get the keys to successful implementation. Learn how to use rigor to raise expectations, provide appropriate support, and meet the Common Core State Standards - whether or not rigor is mandated in your district! This book is filled with practical, use-the-next-day strategies for all grade levels and subject areas. Use the ideas to raise the level of learning for all of your students! Read More »

Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Youth
By Ruth Herman Wells

You've never seen a behavior and classroom management strategies series like this before. The Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Youth series of lesson plans and reproducible student worksheets is your fastest resource to turnaround students' behavioral, social, emotional, and school problems. Read More »

The Parent Connection: An Educator's Guide to Family Engagement
By Dr. Joni Samples

Dr. Joni shares her Parent-Teacher A-G (P-TAG) system for helping school personnel engage parents in the education of their children in this practical, but research supported book. The A-G system represents a cycle of assessing attitude, building parent capacity for instruction, collaborating for success, developing site-specific plans, evaluating progress, following-through, and going for great success. Read More »