I am a fan of giveaway contests, but I always wonder why my name is NEVER pulled out of that hat. It made me think about the great feeling of winning something, however small it may be, and how I have the opportunity to give someone else that feeling through Top Teaching. This has resulted in my "Win some of Angela's professional books for free holiday extravaganza!" The concept is simple. I have books. I will send them to you for free. You simply contribute a good book suggestion in exchange. Read on for some professional book recommendations and a list of books that are being offered to you for free!
Photo: Some of the titles I am offering to readers for free.
These Are a Few of My Favorite Things . . .
I'd like to start with a list of books that impacted me greatly as an educator. Many of my copies of these books are signed by the authors, so I will not be offering these today. However, if you are looking for some books that will make a difference in your thinking and in your level of motivation, read on.
Free books are listed at the bottom of the post with some disclaimers and regulations.
Until recently, it was a ritual for me to read this book before school started up each year. The first time I read it, I found myself wanting to say, "That's right, Mem!" over and over again. With a subtitle that includes "Passionate Opinions on Teaching" — written by someone who knows what they are talking about — how could I have anything but pure love for this book? This has to be one of my all-time favorite reads. It is gleaming with quotable sayings as well.
I remember stumbling onto this book online. I was struggling with how to make reading comprehension strategies more tangible and concrete in the classroom. I first found Tanny's reading comprehension songs and bookmarks and did a search to see if she had published any books. She had, and Comprehension Connections was a great find. It's practical, easy to read, and has many lesson ideas. There are plenty of photos that will support you in launching your own lessons in the classroom, and I even took the extra step of creating a tangible comprehension strategy board based on her book.
Katie Wood Ray
I have always had a special place in my heart for Katie Wood Ray. When I was first introduced to the workshop model, my teacher referenced her the most. When I was able to meet Katie Wood Ray in person, I was completely sold. What I loved most about her was her suggestion to simply study real pieces of writing. In Study Driven, you can find the confidence to launch your own writing unit focused on studying craft. It's not the easiest book to read, but my copy is highlighted from front to back, and the newspaper clippings she studies as a model have been used time and time again in our classroom.
Rafe Esquith made it onto Oprah for a reason. If you think you put in a lot of school hours, you will change your perspective after reading Esquith's process for making a difference in East L.A. His premise is simple and stands today: There are no shortcuts. That really goes for every teacher (and student) out there. When you imagine that another teacher has it all together, you have to remember that a) they have spent many, many hours to create that appearance and b) our job is never complete. To do well in this profession, we have to accept that there are no shortcuts. Teaching using a cruise control setting will never work.
This author seems to be overlooked. I don't see Taberski's book on many lists for balanced literacy, but I think this book includes one of the most thorough plans for launching, setting up, and maintaining a literacy-rich classroom. I really like Taberski's practical plans and no-frills approach to writing. This book really gave me a sense of what she was doing in the classroom day after day. Sadly, she has since retired.
Maybe it's because Richard Allington teaches at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, but I literally love every book he has written. He is a bit radical and outspoken in person, but I think it's healthy to have a little bit of Allington in your system in this profession. Too often we have to stop and defend what we do in the classroom. Allington can be your fire, if you let him. One of my favorite things about Allington is that he uses peer-reviewed, federally recognized research to make his point. My copy is littered with notes, post-it notes, highlighters, and even a spilled drink or two. It's been loved.
Another radical book, but also a huge eye-opener for me. Forever more I will think twice about extrinsic rewards and children. This is not the easiest book to read, but I can assure you that there is life beyond incentive plans, bribes, and trinkets.
If I had to say what professional book would be considered by Cliff Notes, this would be it. From spelling to basals, Garan carefully helps you support what we do in the classroom. Each section begins with a possible question you may receive from a parent. For example, "Why don't you use . . . ?" or "We did that when I was growing up . . . " I have used elements in the book in parent newsletters. It includes several key research findings and helpful lists as well.
This $6.99 book changed the way I looked at Writer's Notebooks. It is one of the reasons I push for students to carefully select and purchase their own Writer's Notebook each year. Each chapter is written so that you can read it in a few minutes and/or you can read it to your class. A great read-aloud for you and your students at the beginning of the year, it helps me remember what writing is REALLY about.
I am a huge Lester Laminack fan. I saw him when he was an SDE presenter and immediately cancelled all of my other sessions to spend the day with him. I gobbled up every word he had to say. After that, I saw him at three other conferences and attended any session I could with him. I have selected this book in particular because it includes a CD that demonstrates how Laminack might teach a lesson on certain elements of writing.
Let the Bunyi-Book-Giving-Fest Begin!
It's time to spread the cheer and give someone else the opportunity to read some great books. The giveaway works as follows:
~ Read my post.
~ Think about a book that has strongly impacted you in the classroom.
~ In the comments section, share that book title and why it's a great read.
~ Tell me how great I am. Just kidding.
~ Include a book off the list below and leave a contact email.
~ In one week I will raffle off any titles that have been requested by more than one person. The winner will receive that book for free, possible highlighter marks and all. I'll contact you via email for an address.
Ten Titles Up for Grabs:
Rafe Esquith — Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire and There Are No Shortcuts
Kathy Collins — Growing Readers (signed)
Katie Wood Ray — About the Authors
Debbie Miller — Reading with Meaning
Ralph Fletcher — Boy Writers and Poetry Matters
Harvey Daniels and Steven Zemelman — Subjects Matter: Every Teacher's Guide to Content-Area Reading
Ellin Oliver Keene — Mosaic of Thought
Janet Angelillo — Grammar Study
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics — Cartoon Corner (asked about in my last post)
Happy holidays to you and your family!