The list author says: "Along with YA novels and grown-up books for me, I enjoy a good professional book on my everyday trade, teaching English, to keep me up-to-date on the latest research. These are the dog-eared books I have reached for again and again. Hey, a book that's got your back is a good thing! Hope they're as helpful to you..."
"Your students may talk too much, but are they talking the language of school (and college and career)? It's a rhetorical question, trust me. This book will answer why as you teach your students how to engage in academic conversations. A unique book! Worth your while (and your money), in other words."
"One of the best compilations of brief yet powerful writing ideas I have read. It's as if you've stumbled upon a master writing teacher's playbook. (Now you know how Harry Potter felt when he found the Half-Blood Prince's book of magic!)"
"New in 2011 and easily the best practical ideas book on writing argument I've come across. Written for Grade 6-12 teachers, Hillocks' book chronologically covers easier to more difficult concepts using the inquiry method. Principals and curriculum heads should go forth and multi-buy."
"OK, so you've read the new Common Core State Standards and they look fairly simple to you. Not so fast, though! This book explores not only what the CCSS say, but what they DON'T say. Meaning: you'd be wise to read this before you even begin to think about implementation."
"Short and to the point, this book tackles assessment and grading in a workshop environment that uses reading strategies. Practical? Obviously -- and especially if you've struggled with incorporating the reading strategy approach."
"Finally, Wilhelm and Smith turn their considerable inquiry know-how to that tough nut for every English teacher to crack, literary analysis. Kid-friendly, rigorous, and practical, the strategies in this book will help you to help them dive deeper into character, setting, point of view and theme. My advice? "Add to cart" sooner rather than later."
"A thinking man's (and woman's) look at our education system's rush to "socialize" education through constant group work. Senechal reconsiders the merits of individual work, independent thinking, and the solo rewards of deeper reading."
"OK, so this one works for teachers of ALL disciplines. Still, you have to read it because it distills great teaching into seven principles and #7 is the magical title (admit it, you're drawn to it!). Jackson challenged some of my time-honored beliefs about teaching, grading, and certain kids -- and challenge is good when it leads to change."
""The" book for clearly stating what's wrong with high-stakes testing and how it's undermining, not helping, literacy. Gallagher also delineates the difference between "overteaching" novels and "underteaching" them. He shows you how to hit the "sweet spot" in instruction. All in?"
"Passes muster on the "practical advice and concrete strategies" test, meaning this earns a "buy" rating for teachers of writing. Best advice? Write with the kids, use real-world models, and give them choice. Also, tips for revision and editing instruction."
"In this follow-up to IN THE MIDDLE, Atwell shows the value of choice and reading for enjoyment (i.e. "entering the zone") and argues that the reading strategy movement (sticky notes, anyone?) is better suited to efferent reading (e.g. textbooks in science, social studies) than it is for aesthetic reading (e.g. novels, short stories, and poems)."
"If you're using reading strategy instruction in your classroom, then you best read the latest advice from the experts themselves. The book shows you how to take the strategies to a deeper level (where they need to be in order to have any impact)."
"Fletcher is another workshop guru, a go-to guy who here offers advice on teaching character, voice, beginnings, endings, tension, setting, time manipulation, and specificity in language. Lots of anecdotes, exemplars (student and adult-written), and ideas."
"What if you stopped circling every dang mistake on your students' papers and instead noted anything you see that's done RIGHT or has great POSSIBILITY? Would students actually read your comments instead of ditching the graded paper? (Rhetorical questions) Real answers (along with rationale and techniques) provided here. Ditch the red pen and get positive! Buy this book!"
"Looking for practical teaching ideas? You're barking up the wrong tree here. How about a good argument -- backed with thorough and convincing documentation -- against NCLB and the "business solutions for education" mess it has wrought? Now your prey is treed! If you want to be informed on what's going on by one of our foremost historians of education, this is your book."
"Read it NOT for practical ideas, but for philosophical talking points on how to "do the right thing" in your classroom (that is, during these hard times of NCLB, standardized testing, and educational "research" run amok...). New and recommended."
"Hot off the press -- over 30 heavyweights in the literacy field write a chapter each on what they think is most important for you to know about teaching reading and writing. Not just theory, but loaded with practical ideas you can use this year. It's like taking a survey course!"
"My new favorite: Wilhelm's book is loaded with theory-based strategies ready for the road (read: your classroom). The key to student enthusiasm and learning here is inquiry -- that is, creating the guiding questions and planning the units such that students can relate the material to their lives and their world. My first 6-star book on amazon (the sixth star is invisible, is all)."
"Be a fly on the wall for six workshops from first grade to eighth grade. Be amazed at the possibilities this system of teaching provides. Allow Samantha Bennett to host you and provide expert commentary on the instruction, all grounded in recent research and practices for teachers of writing. Worth reading no matter what grade you teach."
"Grammar mavens and the grammar police can take a deep breath -- you don't have to teach it all, you just have to teach what's most important. Smith and Wilhelm share dynamite strategies for teaching ONLY what matters when it comes to grammar, usage, and correctness. Reading's believing, folks."
"The Bible for English teachers interested in a workshop classroom. If you believe kids learn by doing, then this book will show you how you can combine mini-lessons with one-on-one conferences to give kids the time and practice they need to become stronger writers and readers."
"Wondering why your kids forget 90% of their vocabulary words a few weeks after the quiz? Whitaker's got the cure with these concrete strategies that emphasize interaction, not dry assessment. You love words. Why not share the joy? Whitaker shows you how and ponies up the theory and research behind the fun and games. This just might be the jolt your vocabulary approach needs."
"Tired of getting better at editing while student writers do NOT and just look at their grades before tossing their papers? Anderson proposes teaching with models of GOOD sentences instead of BAD ones, where students must find the errors. So, "What do you notice, kids?" is the opening salvo for great sentences showing various grammatical concepts taken from interesting YA books. Great idea!"
"Another Anderson gem. Read about the "Editing Express Lane" where kids focus on specific editing skills and "scan the goods," providing a "receipt" at the end of the process. Of course, you're not to bring any more products (skills) than allowed into the Express Lane. A great (and fun) way to get your students editing their products. Oh -- and ring on deli, as they used to say."
"Many secondary English teachers assume that their kids can and should be able to read. Assume away! Tackling various reading issues, Kylene Beers' authoritative book describes not only what these issues are, but what practical measures teachers can take to help these kids improve. The work, specifically written for grades 6-12, will show you how you can be both literature AND reading teacher."
"Rick Wormeli leaps fearlessly into the fray as he takes on that elephant in the room -- grading. Focusing on differentiated and standards-based instruction, Wormeli asks: Should you grade kids on participation, behavior, effort? This book tackles the issue. Should you give zeros for work not handed in? This book demonstrates why it's not as simple as all that."
"What? Still handing out lists of 20 vocabulary words on Monday and giving a quiz on same come Friday? Sure, a lot of kids (good quiz takers) score A's on these exams, but try them two months later and see how many words they recall. Answer: not many. This book will show you another way. Word up!"
"Like Atwell's THE READING ZONE, a passionate plea for independent reading in the classroom. Somewhat vague on assessment, but unmistakeable enthusiasm for the power of choice and reading for young people."
"Grammar mavens and those who quake at the thought, read this book! Constance Weaver brings the latest research on teaching grammar as well as loads of practical advice on how to go about it, whether you love diagramming sentences or you typically avoid teaching grammar because it's too difficult for even you (come on, I know you're out there!)."
"Variation of the multigenre project, with details on how to focus on genres seldom taught in secondary or middle school (comics, profiles, blurbs, etc.). What's great: all genres are seen in the real world (as opposed to just unreal schools, home of the 5-paragraph essay)."
"Every teacher should have at least one Barry Lane in his/her go-to shelf. This book has a plethora of practical ideas for rewriting (yep, where the rubber meets the road), the part of writing that kids like least. Lane uses a sense of humor and a keen insight into how kids think to inform his methods. It'll show you how "the end" is really "the beginning" when it comes to writing."
"We assume that summarization is a simple skill that should be learned in the elementary grades. Please. It's quite a sophisticated skill in reality, requiring both the ability to determine importance, relationships, and even a degree of inferences. Wormeli provides over 50 ways to use summary, taking from as little as five minutes to an entire class."
"This is a series, so you want to get the edition that includes the Shakespeare play you teach. The Folger Library books offer complete daily lessons for entire plays, built on the premise that kids should ACT and not just read Shakespeare's works (hmn... novel thought, considering the plays were written for acting, not line-by-line parsing). An incredible resource!"
"I'm all for making grammar fun (because it was "anything but" when I was a lad), and Harry Noden puts the "grammar as painter's canvas" metaphor to good use. Kids love making a mess with paint (er... grammatical structures -- just don't tell), so have at it!"
"Invite Socrates into your classroom (uh, hold the hemlock) and see just how deep kids can go when you turn them loose in a structured discussion with proscribed rules. Copeland's is a good primer to get you started."
"If you're looking for a structure and a set rubric to evaluate papers (except poetry), the 6+1 Traits system may be worth a look. The book coaches you on how to rate papers for ideas, sentence fluency, organization, word choice, voice, conventions, and (the +1) presentation. Easier? With practice, yes."