The past summer provided me with a little time and space to read. I wasn’t working any Jumpstarts, maintaining a farm, attending professional development for new “initiatives” at my school, or, thank God, moving across the country. So what did I read? These books*.
- Building Academic Language by Jeff Zwiers, is an add-on to the need I saw in my strategies following Constructing Meaning workshops, aimed at supporting English Language Learners. The book is not a quick fix in itself, although there are hundreds of subject-specific ideas that are simple to implement and that also, I can attest, pay dividends for ALL students (remember #AllmeansALL?)
- Science Formative Assessments Volume 1 and Volume 2. by Page Keeley are my very favorite go-to books. There are 75 and 50 strategies, respectively, in the books. All are simple to implement yet give students an opportunity to share their learning in diverse ways. While meant to give the teacher a quick snapshot of student understanding, students learn from these activities as well. Many involve students moving around and/or talking with one another, and they enjoy the variety in class activities. All assessments have specific and to the point instructions and suggestions for implementation and use to inform your instruction. All list pitfalls and suggestions for use with other disciplines. I totally love these books.
- Visible Learning for Science by John Almarode lists John Hattie as a 4th author. (Despite recent criticism of Hattie’s methodology, I’m still a fan.) The book is a great science classroom application of the principles in Hattie’s works on Visible Learning. I spent a few weeks reading and re-reading this book as I was revising some old units this summer. Almarode leads readers through strategies reinforcing Surface, Deep, and Transfer learning as well as linking Hattie’s effect size to each. There’s much rationale and theory explaining the strategies included, and many examples.
- Summarization in Any Subject by Rick Wormeli is a great resource for end-of class or end-of day strategies. The strategies are easily worked into most topics and reinforce academic vocabulary. And Rick Wormeli is an NBCT.
- Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler is a book I never knew I needed to read until my friend Alice Keeler suggested I read it. I’ve tweaked some of the problem-solving and graphing we do in both Chemistry and Biology. I have a better understanding of how students put their heads around math.
- Focus by Mike Schmoker puts an emphasis on literacy skills, such as argument in science. I read some of Schmoker’s earlier work and honestly was not a fan of his thought-leader babble. I’d probably not have picked up this book except that it was sent as a member choice with my ASCD membership. Happily, Schmoker’s explanations and arguments are reasonable to implement and are already making a difference in my classroom. I feel his frustration in the changes we need to make in schools to make them places students want to go to learn.
Older favorites are all of Page Keeley’s Formative Assessment Probes. As my approaches have changed, using them frequently in HS has become a bit more worksheet-looking (although the probes are definitely not worksheets when used properly.)
*Note: clicking the links may lead to Amazon donating a tiny part of your purchase to benefit my BFF Sue’s cat rescue group, SART. I hope you don’t mind as it will cost you absolutely nothing. Thanks.