The summer is not only a time to relax and rejuvenate – for students and teachers alike – but both seem to take a few months to get back into the swing of school. WPS’s Back to School Guide can help clear the mental cob webs with tips for more efficient studying with advice on getting back into the teaching and learning mindset as well as help with formatting Word documents for more impact and excellent study habits. But, by far, the best advice it can give teachers and students is to get ready for the next summer break with assignments.
For it to work best, homework needs to have a purpose and design or it runs the risk of being a dead-end time waster. That’s where Cathy Vatterott’s “Rethinking Homework: Best Practices That Support Diverse Needs” comes in. Published by ASCD, the $23.95 (18.95 for members) book takes the case for well-designed and enriching homework that helps with help in designing assignments and improving completion with a new generation of strategies.
Getting elementary- and middle-school boys to read anything can be a teacher’s biggest headache and chore, but B.C. Tweedt’s series of Greyson Gray books can excite just about any male reader. Rather than mono-dimensional sports stars, astronauts or rap singers, the series shows characters for what they are: human and full of fun and frailties. The fourth in the Greyson Gray series, “Rubicon” is out and ready for reading groups. Available in Kindle, Audible and good old paperback book, it’s essential adolescent reading where the hero tackles everything from intolerance to terrorism.
“Learn to Program with Small Basic” is the latest in a series of books that show how kids and teachers can learn how to do elementary app development using a free language. In this case, its Small Basic, an extension and update of Microsoft’s Basic. Small Basic can be a powerful introduction to programming for any middle- or high-school class. It starts with apps for having your computer greet you and culminates with creating games, treasure maps and geometric patterns. The print edition is available for $35 or for $28 as an ebook from No Starch Press.
Following in the footsteps of manga guides to statistics and physiology, the latest serious comic book is a look at what mathematical regression analysis is and how to use it. The 232 page book from No Starch Press is chock full of girls in Victorian costumes, big eyed characters with some high-level math thrown in. As is the case with earlier efforts, its key is that in a light-hearted way, the "Regression Analysis" treats the very serious topic with areas like calculating regression equations, confidence intervals and the ever-popular Chi-squared and F confidence tests. It costs $25.
Capstone’s MyOn curriculum has just added a library’s worth of classic books and short stories that can all be read on a phone, tablet or notebook. Aimed at middle and high school students, the virtual library has 10,000 items that are now available at no extra cost to MyOn subscribers. The unabridged volumes in MyOn Classics include everything from "Oliver Twist" to “The Scarlet Letter.” There are categories for middle- and high-school classes.
There’s nothing better for a teacher or district than a good test that provides the needed feedback about the school’s instruction, and Susan’s Brookhart’s “How to Make Decisions with Different Kinds of Student Assessment Data” can help interpret what the numbers say and don’t say about students, schools and districts. She explains how her four-quadrant framework for reading into assessments works. It includes examples and specific instances of how actual schools looked at specific test scores. The print and ebook versions edition go for $18.95 and $17.99 for ASCD members and $24.95 and $23.99 for non-members.
History books are all-too often dominated by huge blocks of text with a small map or painting here and there. No Starch Press’s “Medieval Lego” is totally different with scenarios made of the snap-together toy depicting historic events, from the Great Plague to the Norman Conquest. It may seem frivolous but kids will remember more about the Battle of Bosworth than from a conventional textbook, and maybe even make their own depiction of Henry Tudor and Richard III battling it out. It comes out in September for $15.
What does it take to collaborate in the classroom? Marilyn Swartz and Margaret Searle know and have put together “Teacher Teamwork: How do we make it work?” The 48-page book is deceptively small but is overflowing with real-world ideas and activities to bring teachers closer and create educational teams. It boils down to four ideas, from setting up guidelines and procotols and working through conflicts to fostering decision-making skills and building a teamwork state of mind. Published by ASCD, the print edition costs $10, but the ebook is only $6.
We all know that critical classroom visits can mean the difference between a static teacher and a growing one, but what’s the best way to do these observational visits? ASCD’s “17,000 Classroom visits can’t be wrong: Strategies that engage students, promote active learning, and boost achievement” may be a mouthful, but it’s a thorough how-to manual for classroom scrutiny with practical suggestions on creating engaging activities, using feedback and shifting the emphasis from teaching to learning. John Antonetti and James Garver show how to create valuable educational insight from classroom walkthroughs. The 190-page book costs $28.95, $21.95 for ASCD members.