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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Summer is the time when new teachers learn and when veteran teachers relax and then learn. Whether at the beach watching over your kid who is flinging the beach ball too hard, or at home with your face right on the full-power air conditioner, here's hoping the following five books give you something to enjoy and discuss. These books fall into three categories: leadership, race, or math (and in one case, all three). I'm recommending them all, and feel free to let me know what you think in the comments section below.

  1. Math Matters: Understanding the Math You Teach, Grades K-8
    by Suzanne Chapin and Art Johnson

    When I wanted to rethink my lesson planning, I remembered having this book somewhere on my bookshelf. I'd never read it before, but as I sifted through it, I found concrete and fresh approaches to the thinking behind the math I taught. It leaves enough room for the teacher to create lesson plans around it, but still demands rigor and understanding of the math being taught. For example, their chapter on percentages has a nice progression that might remind you of this new set of standards everyone keeps talking about.

  2. "Multiplication is for White People": Raising Expectations for Other People's Children by Lisa Delpit
    If you’re not familiar with her first book, Other People's Children, you’ll love this multi-dimensional update. Her book sets the record straight on the ways in which people had distorted her earlier work, and provides a plethora of examples for thinking about teaching children of color in all subject areas. For teachers of color, I might also recommend reading this if you're taking public transportation, and let the uncomfortableness simmer.

  3. The Art of Coaching: Effective Strategies for School Transformation
    by Elena Aguilar

    Full disclosure: the author writes for Edutopia. Since I got a chance to look at this book, I found myself enthralled with the idea that someone would integrate social justice with developing schools and teachers. Aguilar proves herself a transformational leader in the truest sense, managing the delicate balance of direct discussion with a nuanced coalition-building, all with hints of passionate people who've influenced her work. This is also great for anyone looking to lead better.

  4. Rethinking Mathematics: Teaching Social Justice by the Numbers
    by Eric Gutstein and Bob Peterson

    For experienced math teachers, we always want to find ways to bring "real-life" situations into the math class. Gutstein and Peterson make a great attempt at pulling math back from the abstract to the concrete. After reading just a few of these articles, I was already finding ways to talk about social issues without looking too contrived or off-track from my curriculum.

  5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
    I'll probably recommend this book to anyone and everyone who is or has been a teacher. As someone who has taught math in a special needs environment, I found this book truly shifted the way I thought about teaching children who don't fit the mainstream academically. Well-written and fast-paced, it has a narrative that captivated me to the point where I almost missed a few classes. I won't ruin it for you here. Just pick it up.

Well, that's as far as I got. By the time you read this, I hope you have a margarita in one hand and a highlighter in the other. Which means you have to drop one of these to pick up any of the aforementioned books. Best of luck!

Comments (25)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

M. A. Hauck, M.Ed's picture
M. A. Hauck, M.Ed
Life Skills Support Teacher

zep: that video has to be the biggest load of tripe this side of a Michael Moore or Al Gore propaganda hit piece. Nevertheless, to partially educate you on the topic correctly, pediatricians, psychologists, as well as highly qualified special ed teachers, issue thorough examinations to determine if a child exhibits the level of behaviors to warrant a diagnosis of emotional disturbance. It's part of special education law. I would suggest you read up on it.

M. A. Hauck, M.Ed's picture
M. A. Hauck, M.Ed
Life Skills Support Teacher

I see people with faith in higher powers as more happy and optimistic people. I see secularists as often bitter. unsatisfied, cynical, and given to moral ambiguity. I would prefer a teacher to be of the former mindset and I'm sure most parents in America would, too. Why would anyone want their child to be around the latter type?

zep's picture
Education Specialist

This is a bit of a repeat, but on a daily basis I work with students K-12 who supposedly are "special ed", erstwhile there is nothing wrong with 99% of these kids other than they upset an administrator due to their behavioral choices which challenged the status quo. Often these students go on to be the "thinkers" or those who act on their consciousness. You obviously rely heavily on diagnoses which are all highly subjective; the statistics in the film are all documented, sorry if you refuse to believe what's really happening to our urban students of color in particular, which brings us full circle, back to Delpit who understands that you can't fix the schools without stopping the capitalist leaching which has occurred in our urban centers for at least the last 50 years, but particularly the last 30, all under the guise of supply-side unregulated economics.

M. A. Hauck, M.Ed's picture
M. A. Hauck, M.Ed
Life Skills Support Teacher

As far as capitalist "leaching" (sic), the actual leeches are the career politicians who constantly throw taxpayer dollars at unsolvable problems in society in order to stay in power. Count me out of your hackneyed haves vs. have-not argument. I don't look at my at-risk students and see victims like you likely do. I prefer to focus on tangible issues like helping qualified students access the special education services they are entitled to by law. Besides, you have NO scientific basis for your argument against kids being diagnosed with emotional disturbance by qualified personnel. 99%? Amazing how some people can watch a film so biased and absent of credible peer reviewed research and treat the half-baked conclusions like gospel. The gullibility of some people just amazes me sometimes.

M. A. Hauck, M.Ed's picture
M. A. Hauck, M.Ed
Life Skills Support Teacher

As far as this website goes, I think it would benefit its credibility considerably by requiring that posters register under their real names and not anonymous monikers.

zep's picture
Education Specialist

Actually, every citation in The War On Kids is validated peer reviewed research. You or anyone else on this ;blog is encouraged to pull up the citations as I did and check them one by one which obviously any researcher worth their salt would do. The impact of policy (circa 1950's GI Bill) i.e. refusing low % loans for buying homes, to anyone considered non-white, is irrefutable, perhaps reality such as this is why you choose to ignore well respected authors such as Delpit? The impact of this one policy is substantial as white families were able to use their govt subsidized home as collateral for their children's college tuition and expand the wealth gap, perhaps you've noticed that wealth inequality has skyrocketed over the past 30 years? Racist policies &/or implementation of policies has had a snowball effect which creates major challenges for urban youth today. Failure to acknowledge this reality handicaps efforts to truly facilitate our children's growth.

Ben Johnson's picture
Ben Johnson
Administrator, author and educator


You rant an rave about others being subjective and biased and then you eloquently display your own biases. For example, no administrator could force a student to be in the special ed. program, it is a committee decision including the parents and teachers. Students need to be tested, and that costs the district money, teachers need to be surveyed and that takes away time, and special ed teachers are already spread thin with large case loads. You speak of administrators like some all powerful evil dictators. No administrator in his right mind would even think of that because of the morass of paperwork, testing, meetings and allocation of resources special education requires. And by the way, there is no life altering transformation that occurs when a teacher becomes an administrator. All administrators are still teachers, with other duties. Lashing out at the "establishment" and the white middle class only further establishes your agenda and racial biases. Give it a rest! Mr. Vilson and Edutopia are putting forth solutions, where are yours?

[quote]This is a bit of a repeat, but on a daily basis I work with students K-12 who supposedly are "special ed", erstwhile there is nothing wrong with 99% of these kids other than they upset an administrator due to their behavioral choices which challenged the status quo. quote]

Ben Johnson
San Antonio, Texas

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Online Community Manager

I'm going to step in and note that this discussion is drifting towards the personal. We appreciate a vigorous discussion, but please let's keep things respectful.

zep's picture
Education Specialist

Sadly in a day and age of CCSS & Race to the Top I have routinely witnessed kids who are quickly placed into special ed and then alternative ed so that hem standardized test scores won't effect their "home school", and by placing them into alt ed the cost is minimized. I wish your reality were the nation's Ben.

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