Sunday, October 07, 2018

Reach for Greatness

Reach for Greatness by Yong Zhao provides an introduction to personalizable education. This educational approach emphasizes creating opportunities for students to explore, experiment, and develop their strengths and passions. Zhao criticizes the assumptions underlying the traditional deficit-focused education model. He goes on to outline the concepts and theories supporting personalizable learning. He also briefly describes the qualities teachers need to implement this educational model. This is a book to be read by teachers, school leaders, policy makers, and parents. Zhao presents us with a challenge to design education at all levels for the needs and realities of the twenty-first century.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Challenging Mindset

In their new book Challenging Mindset, James Nottingham and Bosse Larsson provide educators with a detailed understanding of mindset and its application in facilitating learning. They explain the many nuances of growth and fixed mindsets and correct many misinterpretations of Carol Dweck’s original research. This book not only provides a solid theoretical foundation for the importance of mindset, it also includes exercises for the theory’s application. This book is written for teachers, but parents also can benefit from reading it. This is an incredibly thoughtful and clear presentation of how to properly foster a growth mindset in self and students.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Student-Driven Differentiation

Student-Driven Differentiation by Lisa Westman is a practical guide for how to implement differentiated learning in the classroom so that every student may learn according to his or her needs. Westman discusses how to build positive relationships with students, the four areas of differentiation, planning and implementing differentiation strategies, and experiential learning. She also addresses the need to reimagine our schools so we may create learning environments that promote student ownership of the learning process. The target audience for the book is K-12 educators, but the strategies and techniques within this volume are applicable to higher education as well. This is a useful and, at times, thought-provoking volume.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Coaching Conversations

Coaching Conversations by Linda M. Gross Cheliotes and Marcia F. Reilly provides basic instruction on how school leaders may facilitate the development and learning of teachers and students through formal and informal coaching conversations. Some of the skills the authors address include listening, asking powerful questions, and providing helpful feedback. Examples to illustrate the application of the skills are provided throughout the book. Appendices list sample questions that can be used in coaching conversations. The writing of the authors is precise, perhaps too much so. Cheliotes and Reilly provide basic explanations but a more detailed treatment might prove more instructive. While the book’s intended audience is school leaders, others inside and outside school settings may find this book useful. Anyone with responsibility for facilitating learning and skill development in others could benefit from the recommendations the authors put forth.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Differentiated Coaching

The specific audience for the new book Differentiated Coaching by Jane. A. G. Kise is those who coach primary through high school teachers to deal with change. Kise’s approach, however, can be applied to higher education as well as other professions. Her model will also prove helpful with facilitating student learning. The main premise of the book is that resistance to change occurs when people’s needs are not being met. Kise uses the model of Jungian personality types as framed in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to provide an understanding of people’s differing needs and how to handle those differences. Kise provides numerous charts to aid the reader in understanding and applying the differentiated coaching process. This is a worthwhile read for all educators. Those in other professions who facilitate change processes and provide coaching will also benefit from Kise’s approach.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Documenting Learning

A Guide to Documenting Learning by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano and Janet A. Hale is a detailed, in-depth guide to how to document learning for learners of any age. The majority of examples cited in the book focus on primary school students and teachers, but this is a manual that will prove useful to teachers of any grade level, higher education faculty, trainers, and self-directed learners. The authors describe various processes and tools for making learning visible and provide instruction on how to share that learning with local and global networks. QR codes throughout the book take the reader to additional resources and examples. More careful proofreading was needed, but the typos are not frequent enough to frustrate the reader. This is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to track, assess, and share their own learning or the learning of others.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

When Grit Isn't Enough

Linda Nathan has written a thoughtful book about the current state of education in America entitled When Grit Isn't Enough. During her tenure as founding headmaster of the Boston Arts Academy, Nathan was a vocal proponent of college for all high school graduates. She began to question her original stance as she interviewed BAA alumni and learned of their experiences after high school. In this book Nathan reflects upon five assumptions that drive the college-for-all promise—money need not be an obstacle, race doesn’t matter, all one need do is work harder, everyone can go to college, and dreams will come true if one believes hard enough. She profiles the experiences of BAA graduates, which caused her to question the assumptions she operated under as an educator. Her reflections highlight the obstacles that poverty and systemic racism create for young people striving to continue their education beyond secondary school. Nathan does not let herself off the hook. Though her intentions were good, she now recognizes that some of her views were uninformed. The voices of the young people that come through the book give the reader a firsthand account of how the American educational system is often rigged against people of color or in poverty. Nathan does not offer a panacea for correcting the injustices of the system. She does make carefully considered recommendations. She recognizes that there are no easy answers. However, she confidently proclaims the need for change. Anyone with a stake in the American educational system, which should be all Americans, will benefit from reading this thoughtful and compassionate volume.