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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!

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