8 New Books to Jump-Start Your Summer Learning


It's that time of year again. School leaders begin to make their plans for the summer months; from professional learning days to administrative PLCs. The best teachers begin counting up the time remaining to make a difference in the lives of their kids. Both groups also look forward to some needed downtime and finally the opportunity to relax with a good book.

To prepare for the upcoming summer, I wanted to share eight books that I've recently reviewed or read for my own personal growth. Each book - although very different in nature - supports dynamic teaching and learning practices. From those in official leadership positions to those looking to create dynamic and authentic experiences for kids in their classrooms next fall, these eight new books are worth the read!  Check them out!

Recommended for School Leaders:

Book: Start. Right. Now.
Authors: Todd Whitaker, Jeff Zoul, Jimmy Casas
Are You Ready to Take the First Step Toward Excellence? What does it take to be the very best teacher—or the very best leader? What sets excellent educators apart from their peers? And how can you join their ranks? In their work leading up to Start. Right. Now. Todd Whitaker, Jeff Zoul, and Jimmy Casas studied educators from across the nation and discovered four key behaviors of excellence: Excellent Leaders and Teachers... Know the Way From their content to best practices, these educators know their stuff. Show the Way Casting a bright vision for the future, these educators see possibilities where others see problems. Go the Way Leading by example is a way of life for the very best. and Grow Each Day A focus on personal and professional development helps these educators succeed. Wherever you are on your journey as an educator, choose to become even greater still—our kids are worth it. Start. Right. Now.


Book: BrandED
Authors: Eric Sheninger, Trish Rubin
BrandED shows school leaders how to move beyond mascots and clever taglines to showcase their school's assets—and enhance communication with students, parents and all stakeholders. Through smart conversations about the genuine power of branding in education, this book shows how a "BrandED" mindset can improve schools by strengthening relationships, improving communication, telling your story, and increasing resources. Ideas borrowed from the world of business are adjusted for the unique needs of education. Practical tools, templates, and resources allow you to implement the strategies presented quickly and easily, while stories of real-world schools illustrate what BrandED thinking can do for your students, teachers, and community.(I'll admit my obvious bias towards this next book - which ships in two weeks!)


Book: Learning Transformed: 8 Keys to Designing Tomorrow's Schools, Today
Authors: Eric Sheninger, Thomas C. Murray
With all that we know about how students learn, the nature of the world they will face after graduation, and the educational inequities that have existed for centuries, maintaining a traditional, one-size-fits-all approach to teaching and learning is tantamount to instructional malpractice.

Authors Eric C. Sheninger and Thomas C. Murray outline eight keys each a piece of a puzzle for transforming the K 12 education system of teaching and learning to intentionally design tomorrow's schools so today's learners are prepared for success . . . and stand ready to create new industries, find new cures, and solve world problems.


Recommended for Classroom Leaders:

Book: Teaching Math with Google Apps: 50 G Suite Activities
Authors: Alice Keeler, Diana Herrington
In Teaching Math with Google Apps, author-educators Alice Keeler and Diana Herrington reveal more than 50 ways teachers can use technology in math classes. The goal isn’t using tech for tech’s sake; rather, it’s to help students develop critical-thinking skills and learn how to apply mathematical concepts to real life.

Memorization and speed tests seem irrelevant to students who can find the solution to almost any math problem with a tap of the finger. But today’s digital tools allow teachers to make math relevant. Specifically, Google Apps give teachers the opportunity to interact with students in more meaningful ways than ever before, and G Suite empowers students to stretch their thinking and their creativity as they collaborate, explore, and learn.


Book: Hacking Project Based Learning
Authors: Ross Cooper, Erin Murphy
Project based learning can be messy, complicated, and downright scary. When done right, though, PBL and inquiry are challenging, inspiring, and fun for students. Best of all, when project based learning is done right, it actually makes the teacher's job easier.

As questions and mysteries around PBL and inquiry continue to swirl, experienced classroom teachers and school administrators Ross Cooper and Erin Murphy have written a book that will empower those intimidated by PBL to cry, "I can do this!" while at the same time providing added value for those who are already familiar with the process. Hacking Project Based Learning demystifies what PBL is all about with 10 hacks that construct a simple path that educators and students can easily follow to achieve success.


Book: Digital Writing for English Language Learners
Author: Rusul Alrubail

Digital Writing for English Language learners looks at practical ways educators can implement the use of technology in their English and Language Arts classroom for English Language Learners.

The book provides a variety of classroom activities and assignments that can be completed with English Language Learners using social media and other digital writing tools. The book also looks at creating a culture that fosters the necessary conditions for student voice to thrive in an English Language Learners’ classroom.


Book: How to Personalize Learning
Authors: Barbara Bray, Kathleen McClaskey
Create a powerful shift in education by building a culture of learning so every learner is valued.  This practical follow-up to Bray and McClaskey’s first book brings theory to practice. Discover how to build a shared vision that supports personalized learning using the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework.  Also included are:

  • Tools and templates to get started and go deeper

  • Lesson and project examples that show how teachers can change instructional practice

  • Links to electronic versions of tools, templates, activities, and checklists


Book: Hacking Google for Education
Authors: Brad Currie, Billy Krakower, Scott Rocco
What if you could leverage the full potential of Google for Education? Google Classroom, Google Docs, and Google Apps are changing how we teach, learn and lead, and now more than ever, teachers, principals and district administrators must understand the power and role of Google in their spaces.

G Suite — Google Drive, Apps, Docs, Gmail, and all Google Tools — is changing the landscape of progressive, technology-driven schools at a rapid pace that can be daunting. Google gurus Brad Currie, Billy Krakower, and Scott Rocco slow the pace and simplify the jargon with their all-in-one blueprint for everything you need to know about Google and how to use it at the classroom, school and district levels.


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So what's on your reading list this summer? Do you have another great new book recommendation? I encourage you to leave your thoughts - or must read books - in the comments section below.

This summer - be sure to recharge your batteries. You certainly deserve it. But, don't forget to get lost in a great book and take a few steps forward for the students that you'll serve this coming year.

All for the kids we serve,