Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work (©2013) by Chip & Dan Heath, Crown Business: New York, NY shares research and cool stories that show how our decisions are disrupted by an array of biases and irrationalities. They go on to introduce a four-step process designed to counteract these problems. Their fresh strategies and practical tools will enable you to make better choices at work and beyond. If you want to increase your chances of making the right decision at the right moment, this book is for you. Click the icon at the bottom of any page to buy this important book for yourself and your key colleagues.
Archive for the ‘Book Summaries’ Category
Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives by Michael Specter deals with how large sections of our society are in denial about things that science supports. Included are topics like child immunizations, genetic engineering of our food supply, alternative medicine, and race-based medication. The following quote should give you some idea of what to expect:
“Denialism is not green or religious or anti-intellectual, nor is it confined to utopian dreamers, agrarians, or hippies. It is not right- or left-wing; it is a fear expressed as frequently and with as much fervor by Oxford dons as by bus drivers.”
Although the book is science centered, you don’t have to be a scientist to follow it.
Click here to see the excerpted summary of this book.
Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times by Eric Sheninger with forward by Yong Zhao (© 2014, Corwin: Thousand Oaks, CA) explains how digital leadership is a strategic mindset and set of behaviors that leverages modern technology resources to improve a school’s culture. It will help educational leaders use social media and Web 2.0 tools to engage students, communicate with the community, and improve professional development at no marginal cost. Click at the bottom of any page to get a copy of this book for every leader you know.
- Eric is the principal of New Milford High School in Bergen County New Jersey. He has emerged as an innovative leader in the use of social media and Web 2.0 technology tools. He blogs for the Huffington Post, has coauthored two books, and presents and speaks nationally. I’ve seen him several times and find him intelligent and interesting. If you want to spice up a conference you are planning, give him a call. To learn more about Eric visit his blog and be sure to follow @NMHS_Principal on Twitter.
In the Discipline Survival Guide for the Secondary Teacher, 2nd Ed, (©2011, Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, CA) Julia Thompson takes on what may be the most unpleasant part of the profession and a top reason why teachers leave. She draws on up-to-date research and theory that can help students become more self-disciplined, goal-oriented, and successful learners as teachers enhance leadership skills. She focuses on student motivation, classroom management, relationships, instructional techniques, safety, and high expectations. This 350 page effort is easy to read and can be used as a desktop reference. My summary contains key ideas, but there is a lot more I left out. Every student teacher, beginning teacher, and veteran teacher with discipline problems should have this at their side. Lots of advice for parents too. As a former secondary teacher and elementary principal, I can assure you most of this applies to students of all ages.
Do You Know Enough About Me to Teach Me? A Student’s Perspective by Stephen G. Peters (©2006, The Peters Group Foundation: Orangeburg, SC.) provides insight from students he gathered during extensive interviews and uses this perspective to let teachers know what they may have missed in college. His goal is to help teachers learn how to care for all students by listening with all their hearts to the voices of students. Click the icon at the bottom of any page to purchase this fine book.
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink (Riverhead Books: New York, NY ©2009) is a must read for educators and parents alike. Dan summarizes current research and does a great job turning it into interesting and understandable prose. Every school should have this on the shelf.
Driven by Data: A Practical Guide to Improve Instruction by Paul Bambrick-Santoyo offers a step by step approach to preparing your students for high-stakes tests while students work to master standards. While you may be hoping for the current testing madness to end, Paul offers a practical way for your school to out perform other schools with similar demographics while the current tests are still with us. Part two includes specific workshop activities for data leaders.
- Paul is managing director of Uncommon Schools, leading six schools in the North Star Academy network that have achieved some of the highest results in the country. He has trained over 2,000 school leaders nationwide, and is the Data-Driven Instruction faculty member for New Leaders for New Schools, an urban school leadership training program.
Physicals or Autopsies?
- Paul likens the analysis of end-of-year and high-stakes state testing to an autopsy where the purpose is to find out why the patient died. He prefers that educators spend their time looking at the results of interim tests and use them to inform instruction. This is similar to how a physician would use the results of a physical to determine treatment and recommend lifestyle changes. Paul also warns that data-driven instruction is not an elaborate stratagem for promoting “test prep.” While he sees many faults in the NCLB testing culture, he is happy to see educators focusing more on accountability for student achievement, and interim assessments hold them accountable throughout the year.
Excellent Interim Assessments
- In order to be effective, interim assessments must be of high quality, which is seldom what you get when individual teachers slap something together at the end of a unit. The tests need to be in place prior to the start of the school year and be available to the teachers. Every teacher at the same grade level or subject should be using the same tests at the same time. This allows teachers to analyze the results together. Paul recommends assessments every six to eight weeks. Too seldom allows weaknesses to go unrecognized. Too often and teachers may not have time for satisfactory analysis. It is also important that teachers be involved in test creation or selection. Paul is ok with purchased tests as long a teachers get to see them. Some vendors don’t allow this in order to maintain test validity.
- The tests are not seen as an end, but as a beginning. This is because they let the teachers know what needs to be taught and the desired level of rigor. When they are given, the results need to be available soon. (Doug: When I taught I always graded assessments the day they were given, and the students got the results as part of the next class. With some kinds of computerized testing, students can see their results immediately.)
The Standards Movement: Success or Failure? Two articles from Critical Education by Lawrence C. Stedman
- How Well Does the Standards Movement Measure Up? An Analysis of Achievement Trends and Student Learning, Changes in Curriculum and School Culture, and the Impact of No Child Left Behind - V1 No.10 Dec. 20, 2010. http://bit.ly/muBrDO
- Why the Standards Movement Failed: An Educational and Political Diagnosis of Its Failure and the Implications for School Reform – V2 No.1 Jan. 20, 2011 http://bit.ly/mN6vMe
Feel-Bad Education: And Other Contrarian Essays on Children and Schooling by Alfie Kohn (Beacon Press: Boston, MY ©2011) is his twelfth book where he argues that our schools are in the grip of a “cult of rigor” where harder is confused with better. Joy and meaningful learning are at risk. In nineteen recently published well researched essays, Kohn invites us to think beyond conventional wisdom. He questions much of what schools reflexively do and makes the reader understand why many current reform efforts are misguided. If you believe that NCLB and Race to the Top efforts make sense, you need to read this book. It will give parents and educators alike a fresh perspective they can use to shake the system for the better. Click the button below to purchase from Amazon.
Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland by Pasi Sahlberg (© 2010, Teachers College Press: New York, NY) is the story of Finland’s extraordinary reforms and one that should inform policymakers and educators around the world, most of whom are on the wrong track. Sahlberg has lived and studied these reforms for decades and is a clever and engaging story teller. Click below to purchase this book today, and share with your colleagues.