I did not always love teaching. I think the turning point came when I realized that it wasn’t about me having taught something, but about the kids having learned it. And if they weren’t learning, I had no control over anything but over how I was teaching. But I had an awful lot of control over that. And there were a multitude of resources to help.
Summer is my time to access those resources, and I’ve already got my summer reading ordered and stacked in a corner of my office. Last week I wrote about some of the books on reading (“Fueling Readers”--I already sneak-read one of them). Today I’ll share the rest of the topics I want to explore.
1. Teaching reading across the disciplines in secondary:
- Rigorous Reading: 5 Access Points for Comprehending Complex Texts (2013) by Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey. These are well-known names in education--authors of the collaborative group work book I led a discussion of a couple of years ago. I’m looking for a book more current than Cris Tovani on teaching reading in content areas. (I also led discussions of her 2 books on teaching reading strategies in secondary a couple of years ago.)
- Reading at Middle and High School Levels: Building Active Readers Across the Curriculum (2004) by Educational Research Service. This and the next just looked like sort of a broad overview.
- Adolescent Literacy (2009) by Rebecca Molineaux
2. Writing to learn and learning to write both in English class and across the disciplines:
- Write Beside Them: Risk, Voice, and Clarity in High School Writing (2008) by Penny Kittle. Her book on reading is also on my list. I’ve read a bit of Gallagher, have found writing with the kids meaningful for both of us, and what’s not to love about that subtitle?
- Writing to Learn Across the Curriculum (2010) by Elizabeth Shellard. This and the next book are the background reading. Unlike with reading strategies or with writing in English class, I haven’t done any previous professional reading in writing across the curriculum. It just makes a kind of gut-level sense that people in all professions write, writing is a way of learning as well as demonstrating learning, and every subject should have the opportunity and responsibility of inducting students into its uses of writing.
- Writing Across the Curriculum to Increase Student Learning in Middle and High School (2004) by Educational Research Service
- Teaching Grammar in Context (1996) by Constance Weaver. I’m wanting to do some research on teaching grammar, and Weaver seems to be the mother of teaching it in context, which is about the only thing anyone talks/writes about in the US any more. So I think this is one place to start. Though I tend to think this has something do to with Americans not really taking additional language learning seriously, so I think there’s also a place for teaching grammar as grammar--just not years and years of it for its own sake.
- Mechanically Inclined: Building Grammar, Usage, and Style into Writer's Workshop (2005), Everyday Editing (2007), and 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know (2011), all by Jeff Anderson. I’ve been experimenting this year with ways to make editing a significant learning exercise that actually sticks and is cumulative. With mixed success. I’ve seen this author recommended and thought I’d get a fresh voice.
3. Teaching thinking:
- Academic Conversations: Classroom Talk that Fosters Critical Thinking and Content Understandings (2011) by Jeff Zwiers. Here’s another title and subtitle that I love! In addition the vocabulary book I led a discussion on earlier this year said that high-level discussion is an important part of the rich and varied language experiences that foster vocabulary growth. (I wrote about that in “Growing My Vocabulary Angel”). This could be a part of our school improvement plan to ensure we are doing all we can to support English language proficiency.
- "Why Won't You Just Tell Us the Answer?": Teaching Historical Thinking in Grades 7-12 (2011) by Bruce Lesh. As a English teacher chairing the joint English/social studies department, I decided I should read at least one book this summer to grow my understanding of social studies, and this title caught my eye. (One of my department members has already borrowed it--I hope it’s good!)
4. And just plain teaching--with understanding of the learner and of the purpose of learning:
- Integrating Differentiated Instruction and Understanding by Design: Connecting Content and Kids (2006) by Carol Ann Tomlinson and Jay McTighe. I’ve mentioned a growing realization of the need to read something on differentiated instruction (I keep running up against necessity). I have had this on my bookshelf for a while, and these are big names in the field, so I think this is the summer to do it.
- Reading, Writing, and Rising Up: Teaching About Social Justice and the Power of the Written Word (2000) by Linda Christiansen. I’ve read her Teaching for Joy and Justice from the language arts field and her husband’s equivalent Rethinking Globalization from the social studies field, and while they are not Christian, per se, I’m really energized sometimes by seeing that teaching reading and writing for a purpose other than college success is not weird, seeing how other people frame and do it, and discovering jargon-free language in which to couch perspectival education.
One of the amazing opportunities in teaching as a career is to do the same thing over again next year--but better! Having learned from all your success and less-than-successes. With a whole summer of research and re-tooling in between.
What are you wanting to find out more about this summer to make next year even better? Feel free to choose a book off my list if it sounds interesting!