Usually, I don’t really think about teaching over the summer (aside from planning my first few lessons). This summer, I’ve gone teaching and learning crazy!
I’ve been doing some courses (Design and Development of Games for Learning, Introduction to DataWise: A collaborative process to improve learning and teaching and Teaching with Technology and Inquiry), on edX and this has opened my eyes to some of the resources out there. I’ve gone down the rabbit hole a little bit.
Here are my summer reading book reviews
The Politics of Distraction by John Hattie. A free pdf that all teachers need to download and read right now. Educational reform is ever present and yet the areas that would benefit the most from reform are ignored for areas that are more likely to win votes. He even has some answers about what to do about it.
Teaching: notes from the front line by Debra Kidd. This is a book about the state of teaching in the UK and what exactly is going wrong. Spoilers: bureaucracy has completely taken over and is causing the whole thing to spin out of control. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Also even to people who do not teach in the UK. The same story is playing out in the states and it’s coming to a country near you.
Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence by Rosalind Wiseman. Whilst this is a book aimed at parents rather than teachers, I felt I could do with a little guidance about how to help my students navigate adolescence. There are some good tips and things to look out for. This is the book that Tina Fey based Mean Girls on.
Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal. This is also not a book ‘for’ teachers but has some interesting insights into the new surge in game-based learning and gamification in classrooms. Video games design has taken advantage of the science of learning in order to be as diverting as possible, maybe applying their techniques to lessons would make learning more efficient. There are some interesting debates to have about the role of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in classrooms but it’s interesting that no one is suggesting that games stop having levels and points because gamers need to love games for themselves. (Then again, games have always rewarded persistence and hard work rather than ‘natural’ ability.)
Data Wise: A Step-by-Step Guide to Using Assessment Results to Improve Teaching and Learning by Kathryn Parker Boudett et al. This book is more for leaders and middle management at schools but is an essential companion to those who want to use evidence in order to improve learning and teaching in classrooms. There are some great resources about how to make that happen, including how to improve faculty numeracy so they are in a position to analyse data and ways of observing colleagues in a non-threatening and yet constructive way. It has inspired me to want to be part of a Professional Learning Circle.
Meeting Wise: Making the Most of Collaborative Time For Educators by Kathryn Parker Boudette, Elizabeth A City. A little cheat here: I read this in May before the school holidays. Teachers spend a lot of non-classroom time in meetings with other teachers. This book gives a great framework for making the most of that time. A lot of it is so obvious (have teachers work actively in problems, map out meeting topics at the start of the year), I don’t know why I have never done it in any of the schools I have worked at!
ASE Guide To Secondary Science Education. Editor: Martin Hollins. A collection of articles about teaching science. Some of them are really only relevant within the context of the UK system but there’s a lot of good information.