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EdTech Classroom Summer 2021 Book List for Teachers

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For many teachers, summer brings a big sigh of relief, unstructured time, and more opportunities for rest and relaxation. At the same time, summer also includes prepping for the following school year, whether it be learning new tech skills, attending a virtual conference, or reading up on pedagogy. 

I hope this summer gives you the refresh you might be looking for.

I hope this summer gives you the relaxation you might be craving.

And I also hope this summer presents you with new learning opportunities that energize you.

My summers tend to consist of lots and lots of books. I am really looking forward to reading outside with a refreshing drink this summer. That’s exactly the type of rest and relaxation I want after the crazy school year we just had. 

About My Summer Book List for Teachers

Because I love to read so much, I put a lot of time and care into curating my summer reading list, and I’m excited to share the list with you too.

In creating this list, I first brainstormed the different areas I wanted to cover. I decided on the following topics:

  • Education technology
  • Project-based learning
  • Global citizenship education
  • Self-improvement

I knew I wanted to read and share books related to our profession, but I also knew that I wanted to read books that would give me broader inspiration, even beyond my life as an educator.

I chose these five books with intentionality, an eagerness to learn and grow, and a desire to improve as a teacher, friend, and global citizen.

I hope you enjoy and consider reading along with me!

1. Tasks Before Apps: Designing Rigorous Learning in a Tech-Rich Classroom by Monica Burns

Tasks Before Apps: Designing Rigorous Learning in a Tech-Rich Classroom by Monica Burns

I have often said that an issue in the education space is that technology develops so much faster than the literature and research surrounding it. 

I have noticed that it can be easy for many educators to jump to using the latest, greatest, and flashiest tech tools without taking a step back and evaluating how those tools might be used to amplify learning and achieve specific learning goals. 

Technology will continue to develop far more quickly than research on specific tools. That’s the nature of technology and our fast-paced world.

For this reason, I believe in the importance of prioritizing learning goals over the hottest new apps and tools. 

My opinion here isn’t new or unique. I know that a number of other educators might agree with me, and of course, others might not. 

While researching potential books for my summer reading list, I stumbled upon Tasks Before Apps by Monica Burns, and I immediately knew I wanted to include this selection on my list. The book centers on this exact idea of prioritizing learning goals before new edtech tools: tasks before apps. 

From the back of the book: 

“Content-hosting websites, videoconferencing apps, grade- or subject-focused social media accounts: with such a dizzying array of mechanical and virtual help at our disposal, it can be a challenge for educators to know where to even start. Educator and technology consultant Monica Burns can relate, which is why she wrote this book: to share strategies, tools, and insights that teachers can use, regardless of subject or grade level, to effectively incorporate technology in the classroom.

Focusing on the ‘three Cs’ of technology integration – creation, curiosity, and collaboration – Tasks Before Apps offers K-12 teachers

  • Detailed advice for (and copious examples of) tech-infused lessons that help students meet learning goals while also developing vital digital citizenship skills.
  • Customizable checklists and graphic organizers for planning tech-enabled activities; choosing appropriate programs, devices, and platforms; and setting unit and lesson goals.
  • Recommendations for and links to apps and online resources to facilitate and energize learning.
  • Reflection and brainstorming questions for use in book clubs and PLC discussions. 

Knowing how to navigate technology wisely – how to communicate effectively on posts and message boards, locate credible information on search engines, and select efficient, cost-effective equipment – is essential for both teachers and students. Whether you are a novice or a veteran, teach kindergarten students or high school seniors, this book is an indispensable guide to furthering academic skills, social development, and digital aptitude in the classroom.”

I am going to be reading Tasks Before Apps first this summer, and I hope you will consider joining me. It looks like the book will be a quick read at less than 100 pages, filled with graphic organizers and planning pages to help educators put their learning into action.

Link to book

2. Hacking Project Based Learning: 10 Easy Steps to PBL and Inquiry in the Classroom by Ross Cooper and Erin Murphy

Hacking Project Based Learning: 10 Easy Steps to PBL and Inquiry in the Classroom by Ross Cooper and Erin Murphy

On this podcast, we often discuss the difference between “doing projects” and project-based learning.

PBLWorks uses a metaphor to describe the relationship between the two: dessert vs. the main course.

A “dessert” project is one typically done at the end of a unit, after the content has been delivered through traditional lessons. 

With PBL, the project is the “main course:” “the project itself is used to teach rigorous academic content and success skills.”

“Main course” PBL is the end goal, in my mind, and what I strive to achieve in my classroom. The issue, however, is that many teachers do not have access to the proper support in order to effectively implement PBL. 

And I can relate. I have this problem too. 

I chose Hacking Project Based Learning: 10 Easy Steps to PBL and Inquiry in the Classroom by Ross Cooper and Erin Murphy for our summer book list in hopes that the book will provide teachers with the support they need to dive more deeply into PBL. 

From the back of the book:

“Despite the hype surrounding PBL, it is seldom made a reality in our schools and classrooms. Due to its countless layers and complexities, and despite best efforts, educators often implement something that only vaguely resembles PBL.

As questions and mysteries 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 this approach to teaching and learning. This book truly demystifies what PBL is all about with 10 hacks that construct a simple path educators and students can easily follow to achieve success. 

When you learn how to hack project based learning, you’ll be able to:

  • Create a culture of risk-taking to promote student inquiry and exploration
  • Maximize class time by prioritizing specific content and learning outcomes
  • Craft assessments and integrate feedback to ensure that every student learns
  • Provide intentional and purposeful opportunities for student reflection and publishing

Implement these strategies today and turn your school and classroom into a place that is dripping with inquiry-based learning, authentic learning, and a love of learning.”

I am really excited to read Hacking Project Based Learning this summer. It was previously recommended to me by Chris Nesi from House of #EdTech on our crossover episode, and I look up to him so much as an educator that I knew I had to find time to read his recommendation. 

I am particularly excited about this book because it breaks down PBL in ten easy steps for educators to follow, making high-quality PBL feel manageable and achievable. Let’s read and learn together.

Link to book

3. Empowering Global Citizens: A World Course by Fernando M. Reimers, Vidur Chopra, Connie K. Chung, Julia Higdon, and E.B. O’Donnell

Empowering Global Citizens: A World Course by Fernando M. Reimers, Vidur Chopra, Connie K. Chung, Julia Higdon, and E.B. O’Donnell

As I was researching books for this list, I couldn’t help but think about the heavy, overwhelming, and difficult year we have had. 

There are so many questions that are still circulating in my mind: “How do we help students work effectively with others from diverse cultural backgrounds? How do we help them understand the world? How do we prepare them for work and life in an era of globalization, volatility, and uncertainty?”

With these questions, I’ve become more interested in thinking critically about global citizenship education, a type of teaching and learning that “empower[s] learners of all ages to understand that these are global, not local issues and to become active promoters of more peaceful, tolerant, inclusive, secure and sustainable societies” (UNESCO).

I recently discovered the work of Professor Fernando M. Reimers and selected one of his books for my summer reading list: Empowering Global Citizens: A World Course.

From the back of the book:

“The world is changing rapidly and schools must evolve to prepare young people to invent the future. Reinventing education requires thinking anew about how to help students develop competencies that will empower them as architects of their own lives and contributing members of their communities.

Drawing on a synthesis of research and practice in global citizenship education, this book presents The World Course – a rigorous and coherent curriculum to foster student agency, empathy, and deep knowledge and skills to recognize the biggest global challenges and opportunities of our times, and to advance sustainability, human rights, and peace. Integrating current thinking on twenty-first-century competencies and deeper learning, and employing pedagogies that cultivate student responsibility, imagination, and creativity, such as project-based learning and design thinking, this book is a blueprint to reinvent education to empower global citizens.”

I will be reading this book with an open-mind and an eagerness to learn more about global citizenship education. I hope you join me in reading as we continue to find ways to empower our students to become global citizens.

Link to book

4. Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life By Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life By Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

Design thinking is an iterative process that designers use to tackle problems, and in education, it serves a similar purpose: it is “a mindset and approach to learning, collaboration, and problem solving” (HGSE). 

Many teachers use design thinking as a problem-solving approach with students in the classroom, but how often do we use design thinking in our own lives? 

That’s why I’m excited to include Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life on my summer book list. 

Authors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans are some of the pioneers of design thinking. Burnett is the executive director of the Stanford d.school (the design program), and Evans led the design of Apple’s first computer mouse. 

From the back of the book: 

“What exactly is a well-designed life? It’s a rich portfolio of experiences, adventures, and failures that teach us important lessons; that result in hardships that make us stronger; that help us know ourselves better; it’s a life of achievements and satisfactions.

In Designing Your Life, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans put forth the questions about life that we all ask about one’s meaning and purpose in the world; questions such as: How do I find a job that I like or maybe even love? … How do I balance my career with my family? … How can I make a difference in the world?

We all want the answers to these questions. We’re just not sure how to go about finding them, or where or how to begin. And we feel that we don’t have the tools to find our way. 

Designers love questions, but what they really love is reframing questions. The reframing for the question ‘What do I want to be when I grow up?’ is ‘What do I want to grow into?’

This is what Designing Your Life promises to show us – how to find what we want to do now, at any age, and how to answer who we want to grow into tomorrow.

Bill Burnett and Dave Evans show us how to design and build our way to a new life, a well-designed life that is productive and evolving: a life filled with the constant possibility of – what could be better? – surprise.”

I read Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life years ago, and I’d like to revisit the book this summer. I am hopeful that the book will help me find more purpose in my life, and at the very least, will encourage me to reflect on my experiences with more intentionality.

Link to book

5. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

There is a good chance you have heard about or even read Atomic Habits by James Clear. It is a #1 New York Times bestseller, and has sold over 2 million copies. 

I chose Atomic Habits for my book list because I think the book will provide helpful strategies and tools to transform our habits and to change the way we think about progress and success. Being an educator is challenging work, and I am hopeful that this book will allow us to design environments to make our lives and success a little bit easier.

From the back of the book:

“A revolutionary system to get 1 percent better every day.

People think when you want to change your life, you need to think big. But world-renowned habits expert James Clear has discovered another way. He knows that real change comes from the compound effect of hundreds of small decisions – doing two push-ups a day, waking up five minutes earlier, or reading just one more page. He calls them atomic habits.

In this ground-breaking book, Clear reveals exactly how these miniscule changes can grow into such life-altering outcomes. He uncovers a handful of simple life hacks (the forgotten art of Habit Stacking, the unexpected power of the Two Minute Rule, or the trick to entering the Goldilocks Zone), and delves into cutting-edge psychology and neuroscience to explain why they matter. Along the way, he tells inspiring stories of Olympic gold medalists, leading CEOS, and distinguished scientists who have used the science of tiny habits to stay productive, motivated, and happy.

These small changes will have a transformative effect on your career, your relationships and your life.”

Join me in reading Atomic Habits if you are looking to make tiny adjustments to your life that will help you achieve maximum results.

Link to book

Thank you!

If you want to join in on the conversation, tune into the EdTech Classroom Podcast this summer, as I share my learnings and thoughts from my summer book list for teachers.

As I share this list, I also recognize that there are hundreds of other incredible books we could be reading this summer! I picked books that stand out to me, but there might be plenty of others that pique your interest. What are you reading this summer?

You can also reach out to me via email myedtechclassroom@gmail.com or DM me on Instagram @edtechclass if you want to chat. I’d love to hear from you!

Happy reading, teachers!

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