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Tip of the Week: Summer Reading List

My wife is smirking at me. She’s feeling her oats. Yup. Yesterday was her last day of school. As a fourth grade teacher, the last week of school for her is usually pretty brutal and starting today she can relax a bit.

My summer? Pretty busy. Over the next eight weeks, I’ll have the chance to meet all sorts of people around the country. That’s a good thing, I suppose. I like busy.

But right now she’s rubbing it in just a bit.

Cause she knows. She knows I love to read and that summer has traditionally been the perfect time for me to race through my summer reading list. This year, it’s going to be tough.

For as long as I’ve been in education, I’ve had a summer reading list. One of my early mentors (Thanks Mr. Ortmann!) “forced” me to do it and I learned to love the idea. Develop a list of professional and fun books. Commit to reading them. Talk about the content with others.

Of course, in all of the years that I’ve been doing it, I’ve never actually finished the original list. Schedules change. Books aren’t as good as I had hoped. A couple of years ago, I went on a Civil War binge and got completely sidetracked.

But the idea is still a good one. It makes us better educators. And isn’t that part of the job?

So . . . the 2014 Summer Reading List:


Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds
The author claims that ideas are the true currency of the twenty-first century. So, in order to succeed you need to be able to sell yourself and your ideas persuasively. And what are we selling? Process. Engaging problems. Foundational knowledge. Using the best TED Talks as a foundation is a great way for educators to connect with your students.

Teaching History with Big Ideas: Cases of Ambitious Teachers
In the case studies that make up the bulk of this book, middle and high school history teachers describe the decisions and plans and the problems and possibilities they encountered as they ratcheted up their instruction through the use of big ideas. Framing a teaching unit around a question such as ‘Why don’t we know anything about Africa? ‘ offers both teacher and students opportunities to explore historical actors, ideas, and events in ways both rich and engaging.

Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World
The book cover suggest that people must possess two strategic assets in today’s world: a compelling product and a meaningful platform. How can we compete against all of the other “noise” in our students lives? What can we do differently to win them over in today’s crowded marketplace? yes. It’s a business book but it looks like it might have some useful stuff. We’ll see.

This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral—Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking!—in America’s Gilded Capital
Not sure if this is professional or fun. As a former poly sci major, it’s probably going to be both.

“. . . a blistering, stunning—and often hysterically funny— examination of our ruling class’s incestuous media industrial complex. Through his eyes, we discover how how an administration bent on changing Washington can be sucked into the ways of This Town with the same ease with which Tea Party insurgents can, once elected, settle into it like a warm bath.”

The Eve of Destruction: How 1965 Transformed America
One on the list that is true history nerds. In January 1965, President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed that the country had “no irreconcilable conflicts.” But this books claims that 1965 marked the birth of the tumultuous era we now know as “The Sixties,” when American society and culture underwent a major transformation. By the end of the year, a conservative resurgence was beginning to redefine the political scene even as developments in popular music were enlivening the Left.

Appomattox: Victory, Defeat, and Freedom at the End of the Civil War
The second history nerd book. We’ve always seen the events of Appomattox as the end. Good guys win. Slavery ended. Everybody happy. Maybe not so much. The aftermath of the Civil War was ugly and we often forget that. Did America’s best days lie in the past or in the future? For Lee, it was the past, the era of the founding generation. For Grant, it was the future, represented by Northern moral and material progress. This one looks good.


The Magicians
My daughter says I need to read more fiction. And so several weeks ago, I finished a book called The Magician King. Pretty good. The closest I can come up with is that it’s Harry Potter for grownups. But it was the second part of the a trilogy. So I’m going back to the beginning.

Here is Your War
Ernie Pyle. One of the best World War II correspondents and an amazing writer, he published several books before being killed during the battle of Okinawa. I’ve read his other stuff but for whatever reason, never made it to this one. So he’s on the list.

Yeah, I know. Pretty ambitious. But I’ve got my fingers crossed that this year, I’ll finish all them. I’ll keep you posted.



6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Andrew Kozlowsky– “This Town” is very entertaining. It’s an interesting and humorous look behind the veil of DC infighting. Very interesting to see how truly skilled the Clinton’s are at politicking. If I could add one more book (that I’m currently reading) it would be “Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away” by Rebecca Goldstein. Written by a Princeton educated philosopher who is currently a visiting professor at the New College of the Humanities in London. She uses her extensive knowledge of Plato and places him in the middle of 21st century debates (ie. nature vs. nurture, the applications of the internet in expanding democracy etc.). It’s a really interesting read and approachable to even to most neophyte philosophers (aren’t we all?).

    I feel that philosophy has been placed in the periphery of the humanities in the last few years and would like to see a resurgence. Unfortunately, I fear that many teachers aren’t willing or prepared to touch on the ambiguous writings if our greatest philosophers. However, at the end of the day, one of the main goals of humanities is to motivate students to be active and moral citizens and I can think of no better way to do this than by bringing philosophy back into the fold of the curriculum front and center.

    May 23, 2014
    • glennw #

      Terrible. Just terrible. Not even a day into this and the schedule is already scrambled! Your book sounds super and will probably end up bouncing something else off the list. But you’re right . . . it is important but difficult to teach.

      Will also share with son who is minoring in philosophy at Seattle Pacific.

      Thanks for sharing!


      May 23, 2014
  2. bookreviewdaily #

    Big props for mentioning Ernie Pyle!

    May 30, 2014
    • glennw #

      I love his stuff!

      Thanks for the comment.


      May 31, 2014
  3. bookreviewdaily #

    Reblogged this on bookreviewdaily and commented:
    Ernie Pyle mention and overall good post!

    May 30, 2014

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