Summer Reading List 2017

IT WAS A SHORT, BUSY SUMMER…

The following lists of texts represent what consumed my summer and caused a temporary BLOG hiatus.   My summer was spent engaged in graduate work for my Ed.S., teaching a pre-service education course, and facilitating a collaborative inquiry cadre focused on digital literacy.  Limited opportunities for weekend road trips allowed me to enjoy a few examples of the best of young adult literature.  When all was said and done,  I spent relatively little time focused on literacy instruction specifically but still strengthen my resolve around the systemic (local, state, and national) need to advocate for our CLD students (and their teachers) in urban education.  My focus will always be literacy, but literacy instruction involves much more than skills.  We must provide all students with relevant, rigorous, and empowering learning experiences that incorporate resources present in the unique knowledge and experiences of each child.  You may see that as a common thread in many of the resources listed below.  These are not all of the texts I read this summer; here I seek to share resources I found most impactful to my thinking as a parent, an educator and an instructional leader.

Culturally Responsive/Sustaining Pedagogies

 

Culture in School Learning: Revealing the Deep Meaning, 3rd Edition
Etta R. Hollins (c) 2015

Culturally Responsive Teaching: Theory, Research, and Practice 
Geneva Gay (c) 2010

Culturally Responsive Teaching & the Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement & Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students
Zaretta Hammond  (c) 2015

Building Racial and Cultural Competence in the Classroom: Strategies from Urban Educators
Karen Manheim Teel & Jennifer E. Obidah (c) 2008

 

Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies: Teaching and Learning for Justice in a Changing World
Django Paris & H. Samy Alim (Eds.)  (c) 2017

Literacy Topics Across the Curriculum 

 

Developing Readers in the Academic Disciplines
Doug Buehl (c) 2011 – New Edition Released 2017

Literacy in the Disciplines: A Teachers Guide for Grades 6-12
Thomas DeVere Wolsey & Diane Lapp (c) 2017

Collaborative Coaching for Disciplinary Literacy Strategies to Support Teachers 6-12
L. Elish-Piper, S.K. L’Allier, M. Manderino, P. Di Domenico (c) 2016

Collaborative Inquiry for Educators 
Jenni  Donohoo (c) 2013

Connected Reading: Teaching Adolescent Readers in a Digital World
Kristen Hawley Turner & Troy Hicks (c) 2015

Young Adult Literature 

 

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe 
Benjamin Alire Saenz (c) 2012

The Hate U Give
Angie Thomas (c) 2017

Everything I Never Told You
Celeste Ng (c) 2014

Echo 
Pam Munoz Ryan (c) 2015

I am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World
Malala Yousafzai with Patricia McCormick (c) 2014

March: Book Three 
John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, & Nate Powell (c) 2016

SOME Still on the Book Pile (Or in Process) 

 

For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood…and the Rest of Y’all Too
Christopher Emdin (c) 2016

Collective Efficacy: How Educators’ Beliefs Impact Student Learning 
Jenni Donohoo (c) 2017

Developing Readers in the Academic Disciplines
Doug Buehl (c) 2017

Everything, Everything       
Nicola Yoon (c) 2017

American Street 
Ibi Zoboi (c) 2017

What summer reading impacted your practice as a teacher or your functioning as a citizen?  I can add those to the pending list.  Have a great school year!

Environment Matters

Engaging adolescents in literacy intervention, which is often the hardest kind of work for teenagers, requires something different. Intervention can never be more of the same, especially for students who have been intimately aware of their own actual and perceived deficiencies since early elementary school.  Too often intervention IS just more of the same.  The effort we are making with secondary intervention requires focus on motivation, improved self-efficacy and self-perception in addition to data-driven, differentiated skill development and vocabulary enhancement.  This all requires intentional relationship building in a brain-friendly learning environment.

When students visit our classroom, one I have shared with another literacy teacher,  the first thing they notice is our environment.  We even have students who wander into our room, without true awareness of the metacognitive torture we offer, and ask how they can get into our class.  Although the appreciation is nice, our goal is building a learning environment that makes it clear to students that this class is not just more of the same.  We attempt to build an environment that respects student needs on multiple levels.

I have the privilege of teaching in a summer academy with high school students who are interested in becoming teachers.   We offer students many real-world experiences and lessons about what it takes to be an effective educator.  One of their favorite “ah-ha” lessons is the jigsaw we do with the chapters from a book called Shouting Won’t Grow Dendrites: Twenty Techniques for Managing a Brain-Compatible Classroom by Marcia L. Tate. Our future-teachers make immediate personal connections between enjoyable learning environments and their best learning experiences. As a literacy instructor of students who find reading mostly painful, the environment is an important contribution to encouraging sustained periods of silent reading and enhanced learning through the intentional structure and organization of the classroom.  Since this post comes at the heels of a post on Thomas Armstrong’s book on effective instruction for the adolescent brain, today’s post is focused on the physical environment.  This can not be undervalued. 

Below is a review of some physical elements from Tate’s book (first edition) that are among those my colleagues and I apply to the general environment of our classroom. The pictures are from literacy classrooms all over our district.  

LIGHTING  

Classroom Application:

  • Reduce or reject fluorescent lighting
  • When natural lighting is not available, use lamps or alternative soft lighting
  • Blend options to reduce fluorescent lighting 

Benefits of more natural lighting:

  • Improves learning and cognitive processing
  • Improves behavior by reducing impact on central nervous system
  • Allows for more focus, more relaxation, and improved performance

img_20161017_124434776img_20160503_075430408

SEATING/ROOM ARRANGEMENT 

Classroom Application:

  • Create a structure that promotes easy movement, allows all students to engage with classroom action, and enhances classroom processes and procedures.
  • Provide alternative forms of seating (especially for independent reading)
  • Choose tables and chairs over desks for reciprocal teaching and other collaborative discussions
  • Develop locations where students can stand and work
  • Develop processes for efficient student movement into a variety of grouping structures 
  • Get students moving around to talk, share and present
  • Change groupings and seating locations regularly to build relationships and improve episodic memory

Benefits:img_20161005_101356978_hdr

  • Enhances episodic memory
  • Allows for movement to enhance connections and kinesthetic learning
  • Encourages curiosity, novelty, and anticipation for new learning
  • Facilitates comfortable and efficient transitions
  • Allows easier access to monitor and support student learning

COLOR

Classroom Application:

  • Use high-energy, warm colors for collaborative, engaging activities
  • Use relaxing, cool colors for calming and focus (silent reading, etc)
  • Provide feedback or corrections in cool colors
  • Ask students to add color for annotations and graphic organizers

Benefits with intentional application:

  • img_20161006_080704567_hdrBright colors (bold reds, oranges, & yellows) encourage activity and enthusiasm
  • Cool colors (blues, greens, lavenders) encourage relaxation or calmness.
  • Color assists in semantic memory and visual recognition  
  • Colors improve comprehension and retention

MUSIC

Classroom Application:

  • Develop a collection of music of different genres (catchy & calming)
  • Start your day/class with calming music
  • Use upbeat, catchy tunes for active engagement
  • Identify tunes that fit content or help enhance memory of content

Benefits of effective use of music:  

  • unspecified-21Creates positive emotional impact
  • Enhances personal connections
  • Fills the background space with positive sound
  • Contributes to increased relaxation, stress reduction, and improved memory
  • Awakens the brain for engagement
  • Improves of concentration 

SMELL

Classroom Application:  

  • Encourage alertness with cinnamon, lemon, or peppermint
  • Promote learning and reduce stress with lavender, rose, jasmine, or chamomile  
  • Consider student allergy concerns when using aromas
  • Pair calming aromas with calming music.

Benefits of use of scents:

  • Creates a direct pathway to the brain
  • Affects learning by enhancing mood and mental clarity (proven with lavender and vanilla)
  • Increases concentration and attention (proven with lemon, peppermint)

Of, course the physical environment is only a single piece of a complex practice that must include intentional, thoughtful instruction and consistent classroom processes and procedures for learning (also included in Ms. Tate’s book).  The physical environment should only enhance good teaching practices.  A safe, warm, functional environment promotes learning.   Intentionality and an understanding of the impact all of these elements on the adolescent brain make for an experience that extends beyond your room, beyond a given day, or even beyond a given school year.

Where do you see the benefits of being intentional about environment?  Do you think students value  a classroom that honors their minds?  Which of these elements are you implementing and how is it benefiting your students?

Other resources to enhance the physical learning environment:

3 Quick Tips for a Beautiful, Brain-Friendly Classroom by
5 Research-Based Best Practices for Brain-Friendly Learning Environments
10+ Tips for Using Brain-Based Methods to Redesign Your Classroom