What are your plans this summer? Hopefully, you plan to do a whole lot of relaxing and enjoy every minute of your time off!
But, I know after a few weeks of soaking in all the free time, teachers start looking for opportunities to improve their teaching craft. If this sounds like you then I recommend you join me and over 200 other teachers this summer during The 2021 English Teacher Summer Reading Series! It’s completely free to participate. Here’s how it will work:
You’ll receive a brief video (15 minutes) overview of the book and recommendations about how you might use it to improve your teaching practice. These overviews can help you decide whether to read the book yourself or not!
Each video overview will also include the most important takeaways and insights gleaned from the book from the perspective of a former English teacher with 13 years of experience in the classroom.
You’ll have the opportunity to discuss each book in a private FB Group with other teachers who sign up for the event. The best part is there is no reading required to participate in the discussions! We’ll be talking about topics related to the book that English teachers care most about.
This book is written from a college vantage point but much of the ideas are applicable to middle and high school levels. One of the most important messages Chavez imparted to me through her book is that everything we do as writing teachers needs to be in the service of empowering students. Chavez shares many important insights about the way we set up our writing workshop classrooms. This book is full of inspiring ideas for how to evolve our workshop teaching practices.
This book advocates that in order to close the achievement gap, educators must: “read harder texts, close read texts rigorously and intentionally, read more nonfiction more effectively and write more effectively n direct response to texts.” The authors delve deep into these four components throughout the book. It’s full of excellent ideas about how to grow our skills as reading teachers! One of the biggest takeaways I had from reading it was how simple, powerful and rewarding teaching reading can be.
Culturally responsive teaching involves building awareness, forming partnerships with students and understanding how the brain learns. One of the most important messages I took from the book was that culturally responsive teaching is about more than decorating your walls with artifacts that highlight your students’ cultural background. It goes beyond reading literature by diverse authors. It is about creating an emotionally safe and responsive environment in our classrooms.
Planning an entire year is a huge undertaking. Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle take us through their entire year-long planning process and are wonderfully honest about the realities that all teachers face. The authors share that one of the most important elements teachers need to consider when planning is why. They share their beliefs about the teaching of reading and writing, which centers on serving the diverse students in front of them. One of the most important points I took from the book was that students should always be front and center when planning.
Liz Prather lays out exactly how we can support students in taking ownership of their writing lives. She explains how to teach students to pick writing topics that are meaningful to them, how to set goals and how to manage their time. She shares her 7-step structure for facilitating a writing project unit as well as how to support students through roadblocks they inevitably face. The biggest ah-ha moment I had while reading was how creative the writing cycle can be when planning units that are relevant and simulate the real world.
In his book, Joe Feldman provides the history behind our current traditional grading system, data backed research on student motivation and the practices we can use to make our grading equitable. I have yet to read this book and am very excited to dive in and share the most important takeaways I gleaned from the book once I’m finished! Sign up for the Summer Reading Series at the beginning or end of this post to participate.
Sarah M. Zerwin explains how teachers can work within their school systems to make grades more meaningful for both students and teachers. She argues there are many problems with traditional grading and that points hinder student learning. I completely agree because I’ve experienced this first hand as a teacher. One of the best things I learned from this book was all the methods I can utilize to support students in taking ownership of their learning and progress.
Natalie Wexler argues that the knowledge gap exists because of the lack of facts and information that is taught in schools, especially at the elementary level. Most teachers will admit that Social Studies and Science aren’t subjects that are prioritized in schools, especially elementary schools. Wexler delves into the roots of this problem, the history behind it and the research that supports a more knowledge acquisition approach to teaching and learning. This book was absolutely eye-opening and will definitely impact your teaching if you choose to read it!
The 2021 English Teacher Summer Reading Series starts soon! Will you participate? It’s sure to be a lot of fun and at the same time you’ll gain knowledge and inspiration to carry you into the 2021-2022 school year!