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Teach English?  Keep These Books Within Reach!

Ken C.
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..."
Academic Conversations: Classroom Talk that Fosters Critical Thinking and Content Understandings
Academic Conversations: Classroom Talk that Fosters Critical Thinking and Content Understandings
"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."
Write Like This: Teaching Real-World Writing Through Modeling and Mentor Texts
Write Like This: Teaching Real-World Writing Through Modeling and Mentor Texts
"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!)"
Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer
Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer
"50 pithy strategies, most of them only 3-4 pp., from the nitty-gritty to the grand scheme of things. Great advice for writers along with excerpts from books and journalism as exemplars."
Teaching Argument Writing, Grades 6-12: Supporting Claims with Relevant Evidence and Clear Reasoning
Teaching Argument Writing, Grades 6-12: Supporting Claims with Relevant Evidence and Clear Reasoning
"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."
Pathways to the Common Core: Accelerating Achievement
Pathways to the Common Core: Accelerating Achievement
"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."
So What Do They Really Know?: Assessment That Informs Teaching and Learning
So What Do They Really Know?: Assessment That Informs Teaching and Learning
"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."
Fresh Takes on Teaching Literary Elements: How to Teach What Really Matters About Character, Setting, Point of View, and Theme
Fresh Takes on Teaching Literary Elements: How to Teach What Really Matters About Character, Setting, Point of View, and Theme
"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."
Republic of Noise: The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture
Republic of Noise: The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture
"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."
Never Work Harder Than Your Students and Other Principles of Great Teaching
Never Work Harder Than Your Students and Other Principles of Great Teaching
"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."
Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It
Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It
""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?"
Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Retelling: Skills for Better Reading, Writing, and Test Taking
Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Retelling: Skills for Better Reading, Writing, and Test Taking
"This pithy little text will break the mysteries of good summarizing, paraphrasing, and retelling into teachable parts.  Admit it.  Your kids could use the practice."
Teaching Adolescent Writers
Teaching Adolescent Writers
"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."
The Reading Zone: How to Help Kids Become Skilled, Passionate, Habitual, Critical Readers
The Reading Zone: How to Help Kids Become Skilled, Passionate, Habitual, Critical Readers
"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)."
Comprehension Going Forward: Where We Are and What's Next
Comprehension Going Forward: Where We Are and What's Next
"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)."
What a Writer Needs
What a Writer Needs
"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."
Hidden Gems: Naming and Teaching from the Brilliance in Every Student's Writing
Hidden Gems: Naming and Teaching from the Brilliance in Every Student's Writing
"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!"
The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education
The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education
"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."
The Art of Slow Reading: Six Time-Honored Practices for Engagement
The Art of Slow Reading: Six Time-Honored Practices for Engagement
"Wisdom on both reading AND writing, but mostly on slowing down, savoring, and truly making meaning. You don't have to be "old school" to appreciate this."
Holding On to Good Ideas in a Time of Bad Ones: Six Literacy Principles Worth Fighting For
Holding On to Good Ideas in a Time of Bad Ones: Six Literacy Principles Worth Fighting For
"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."
Adolescent Literacy: Turning Promise into Practice
Adolescent Literacy: Turning Promise into Practice
"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!"
The Essential Don Murray: Lessons from America's Greatest Writing Teacher
The Essential Don Murray: Lessons from America's Greatest Writing Teacher
"This 'Greatest Hits' of the late Donald Murray's works appeals equally to writing teachers and to teachers who are writers.  What?  You aren't BOTH?  Carpe diem, man!"
Engaging Readers & Writers with Inquiry (Theory and Practice)
Engaging Readers & Writers with Inquiry (Theory and Practice)
"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)."
That Workshop Book: New Systems and Structures for Classrooms That Read, Write, and Think
That Workshop Book: New Systems and Structures for Classrooms That Read, Write, and Think
"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."
Getting It Right: Fresh Approaches to Teaching Grammar, Usage, and Correctness (Theory and Practice)
Getting It Right: Fresh Approaches to Teaching Grammar, Usage, and Correctness (Theory and Practice)
"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."
In the Middle: New Understandings About Writing, Reading, and Learning
In the Middle: New Understandings About Writing, Reading, and Learning
"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."
Word Play: Building Vocabulary Across Texts and Disciplines, Grades 6-12
Word Play: Building Vocabulary Across Texts and Disciplines, Grades 6-12
"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."
Everyday Editing: Inviting Students to Develop Skill and Craft in Writer's Workshop
Everyday Editing: Inviting Students to Develop Skill and Craft in Writer's Workshop
"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!"
Mechanically Inclined: Building Grammar, Usage, and Style into Writer's Workshop
Mechanically Inclined: Building Grammar, Usage, and Style into Writer's Workshop
"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."
When Kids Can't Read: What Teachers Can Do: A Guide for Teachers 6-12
When Kids Can't Read: What Teachers Can Do: A Guide for Teachers 6-12
"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."
Fair Isn't Always Equal: Assessing & Grading in the Differentiated Classroom
Fair Isn't Always Equal: Assessing & Grading in the Differentiated Classroom
"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."
Words, Words, Words: Teaching Vocabulary in Grades 4-12
Words, Words, Words: Teaching Vocabulary in Grades 4-12
"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!"
The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child
The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child
"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."
Teaching Grammar in Context
Teaching Grammar in Context
"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!)."
Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone: Helping Students Navigate Unfamiliar Genres
Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone: Helping Students Navigate Unfamiliar Genres
"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)."
After "The End": Teaching and Learning Creative Revision
After "The End": Teaching and Learning Creative Revision
"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."
Summarization in Any Subject: 50 Techniques to Improve Student Learning
Summarization in Any Subject: 50 Techniques to Improve Student Learning
"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."
Shakespeare Set Free: Teaching Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth & A Midsummer Night's Dream (The Folger Library)
Shakespeare Set Free: Teaching Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth & A Midsummer Night's Dream (The Folger Library)
"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!"
Image Grammar : Using Grammatical Structures to Teach Writing(Bk & Cdrom)
Image Grammar : Using Grammatical Structures to Teach Writing(Bk & Cdrom)
"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!"
Socratic Circles: Fostering Critical and Creative Thinking in Middle and High School
Socratic Circles: Fostering Critical and Creative Thinking in Middle and High School
"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."
6 + 1 Traits of Writing: The Complete Guide, Grades 3 and Up
6 + 1 Traits of Writing: The Complete Guide, Grades 3 and Up
"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."