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Larry Ferlazzo: What I'm Reading This Summer

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This post, written by Larry Ferlazzo, is the third in BookMarks' summer reading series penned by www.edweek.org opinion bloggers.


Larry Ferlazzo pic.pngLarry Ferlazzo is an award-winning English and Social Studies teacher at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, Calif., as well as the author of The ESL/ELL Teacher's Survival Guide (2012), Helping Students Motivate Themselves: Practical Answers To Classroom Challenges (2011), and Building Parent Engagement In Schools (2009).


He writes the Classroom Q&A with Larry Ferlazzo blog for Education Week Teacher.

Summertime is here and, as I do at the beginning of every summer, I created a stack of books on my nightstand that I hope to enjoy over the following two-and-a-half months.

Unfortunately, getting through that stack tends to be more "aspirational" than reality-based, but we can all dream ...

Typically, in order to find its way into my summer reading stack, a book has to meet one of two criteria—it either needs to offer very practical applications to my teaching, or it has to be entirely mindless (in other words, bubblegum for the brain).

Here's my list:

Education-Related:

Notice & Note: Strategies For Close Reading, by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst (Heinemann, 2012). Though the Common Core State Standards make this book particularly timely, I suspect the strategies they suggest are useful in any class at any time.

The Complexity Of Greatness: Beyond Talent Or Practice, edited by Scott Barry Kaufman (Oxford University Press, 2013). I've read many of Kaufman's articles, and look forward to reading his take on recent research about topics like persistence and deliberate practice.

The English Teacher's Companion, Fourth Edition, by Jim Burke (Heinemann, 2012). Previous editions of this extraordinarily helpful book have been invaluable to me and countless other teachers. I'm looking forward to seeing all the new ideas that have been added.

Improbable Scholars: The Rebirth Of A Great American School System And A Strategy For America's Schools, by David L. Kirp (Oxford University Press, 2013). I've heard a lot about this book and the story it tells—a different narrative than the one many "school reformers" push. And, after I read it, I hope to interview the author for my blog here at Education Week Teacher.

Getting Teacher Evaluation Right: What Really Matters For Effectiveness and Improvement, by Linda Darling-Hammond (Teachers College Press, 2013). There is no one more knowledgeable about the research on, and the practice of, teacher evaluation than Linda Darling-Hammond. I'm sure there will be a lot here that all educators will be able to find useful.

Bubblegum For The Mind:

Inferno, by Dan Brown (Doubleday, 2013). Really, who doesn't have this on their summer list?

Two Fronts: The War That Came Early, by Harry Turtledove (Del Rey, 2013). The latest by the master of "alternative history." I'm a big fan of this genre, and using it in my classroom is one of my favorite lessons each year.

The King's Deception: A Novel, by Steve Berry (Ballantine Books, 2013). Was Queen Elizabeth I really a man? And what does that have to do with international terrorism and geopolitical intrigue today? (Remember, this is on the "bubblegum" list)

The Striker, by Clive Cussler (Putnam, 2013). It doesn't get more mindless than Clive Cussler novels, but they tend to be a lot of fun.

I'm looking forward to seeing more posts in this series. If you feel like it, share your own suggestions in the comments section.

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