Spring 2015 Reading Recommendations From Eagle Rock

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We’re thinking it was Harry S. Truman who said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers,” and that rhymed remark certainly holds true for educators. The staff here at the Eagle Rock School are avid readers, each knowing full well that in order to be good educators, you have to keep up with trends in education — not to mention culture.

Here then are some books they suggest for your spring perusal:

TheGlobalAchievementGapThe Global Achievement Gap — By: Tony Wagner
Recommended by Sarah Bertucci, Professional Development Center Associate

The premise of this book is that there is a gap between what our schools are teaching and the skills and knowledge students actually need in today’s world. Tony Wagner, who currently serves as an Expert In Residence at Harvard University’s Innovation Lab, shows convincingly that even our “best” schools are not teaching key skills like critical thinking and adaptability. I’ve drawn upon Wagner’s work when helping Eagle Rock’s partner schools articulate their priorities for student learning, and to fuel work, finding better ways to assess what students are learning and how well schools are doing. Wagner recommends the College and Work Readiness Assessment (CWRA) as one of the very few assessments that measure the skills that matter. And that is a key assessment that we have chosen to use at Eagle Rock.

CoveringBookCoverCovering: The Hidden Assault of Our Civil Rights — By: Kenji Yoshino
Recommended by Philbert SmithDirector of Students

This book provides a different lens through which to look at civil rights. The premise is that we all have a tendency to tone down an identity that does not fit the mainstream. In other words “cover.”  I found this book to be insightful. I like the final paragraph, which reads, “We must use the relative freedom of adulthood to integrate the many selves we hold.” This includes uncovering the selves we buried long ago because they were inconvenient, impractical or even hated. Because they must pass the test of survival, most of the selves we hold, like most of our lives, are ordinary. Yet sometimes, what is consequential in us begins to shine.”

WhatKindOfCitizenWhat Kind of Citizen?: Educating Our Children for the Common Good — By: Joel Westheimer
Recommended by Diego Duran-Medina, Societies and Cultures Instructional Specialist

I’ve been reading this book for the last couple of weeks and it’s been instrumental in how I think about my teaching.

I love this book because it argues for placing citizenship as one of the most important goals of education, and argues that critical skills are not only useful for reading, writing and academics, but for shaping the kind of society that our students inherit and work to build. The book has been helpful in thinking about what we do in the Heartivism courses and Societies and Cultures Department here at Eagle Rock. Is should be required reading for anyone who teaches social studies or history. A key takeaway is understanding that education can be a force for conformity instead of intellectual and societal liberation.

BlackFacesWhiteSpacesBookCoverBlack Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors — By: Carolyn Finney
Recommended by Jesse Beightol, Instructional Specialist in Outdoor Education

“Finney reveals the perceived and real ways in which nature and the environment are racialized in America. Looking toward the future, she also highlights the work of African Americans who are opening doors to greater participation in environmental and conservation concerns.”

The above quote is from the back cover of this book. Many Eagle Rock School students arrive here with the perception that outdoor education is not for people of color. There are many institutional barriers to equal participation in outdoor pursuits, and books such as “Black Faces, White Spaces” help to explain why these barriers exist and what we can do to be a more inclusive field moving forward.

HowToDisciplineKidsBookCoverHow to Discipline Kids without Losing Their Love and Respect: An Introduction to Love and Logic — By: Jim Fay
Recommended by J. Jacques Fournet II, Residential Life Coordinator

I love this book because Jim Fay and Foster W. Cline’s Love and Logic philosophy and practice has defined the way I interact and support the youth I work with in a positive way that helps them live happier and healthier lives.

“Love and Logic” is built on sound psychology and Jim Fay of the Love and Logic Institute, has decades of experiences in helping adults be good role models and managers of young people. It has made my job more impactful — as well as more fun.

The Soul of Education:  Helping Students Find Connection, Compassion, and Character at School — By: Rachael Kessler
TheSoulOfEducationBookCoverRecommended by John Guffey, Instructional Specialist in Service Learning

Rachael Kessler (b. 1946, d. 2010), founder of the PassageWorks Institute, restores my sense of joy in teaching. The book tells how Kessler and her colleagues addressed the question of the inner life in the classroom. After listening for many years to the students in her classes, Kessler began to see a pattern that she labeled “The Seven Gateways” to the soul of young people. Just as each students spiritual path is unique,” wrote Kessler, “so is the form these gateways take.” This acclaimed book reminds me why teaching is so vital, necessary and rewarding when done well, and it provides abundant insights into how to get education right with the students.

The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners — By: Carol Ann Tomlinson
Recommended by Jon Anderson, Instructional Specialist in Human Performance and Outdoor Education

DifferentiatedClassroomBookCoverThis book works well with both the formative assessment work and the student-centered work we are advancing at Eagle Rock. I’m working on effectively using formative assessment to differentiate so I can give timely instruction to the different learners in my classes. For our Dragonfly Citizen Science class, we use both problem-based learning and group investigation to look into the risk and transfer of mercury around food webs (sampling for dragonfly larvae). We have specific sampling protocols we are using. I want students to initially struggle with the sampling protocol. In groups, and as a class, we are then obligated to find additional resources and information, describe the problem, generate and communicate solutions, and then evaluate the solution’s usefulness through feedback and goal setting. This process allows for students to make choices and to use their strengths and learning styles, which is something  Tomlinson advocates for through her book.

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