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2019 summer reading list: 7 books that are gonna make me smarter

Smarter. That’s the goal.

Most of you already know about the History Tech summer reading program. For years, I’ve been intentional about selecting a stack of books to read through the summer months. Mike Ortmann, amazing teacher, social studies superhero, and unofficial mentor, encouraged me to use June, July, and August as a time for personal professional growth. Use the summer to build content knowledge and teaching chops with some individual book study.

It was great advice then. It still is. Getting better at what we do should always be a focus. And what better time to do that than right now? You’ve got a little free time. I’m guessing there’s an easy chair by an AC vent or an Adirondack set up outside somewhere.

I’m still a fan of print but feel free to go the e-book or audio route. Heck . . . there are great podcasts out there as well. But Mike was right. Summer’s the perfect time for personal professional growth.

Here’s what I got going. What’s on your list? Read more

Summer reading list 2018: Five books that will make me smarter

Long time History Tech readers already know this. Every summer, I make a list of books I plan to read between now and September. Long time History Tech readers also know this. Not once, not ever, a couple of times I came close but never ever, have I actually finished the list.

There’s always been something. I get distracted with a new book that comes out or some event happens that pulls me in a different direction. But some day . . . some day, it’s gonna happen. I’m trying to be realistic this year. Part of me says; yes, this summer it’s gonna happen – you’re going on a long anniversary trip to a tropical beach without the tech. Tons of time for book reading while sipping cool beverages under an umbrella.

The other part of me says; not a chance – as soon as you get home, the World Cup starts and the rest of June and part of July are shot to h, e, double hockey sticks. So we’ll see. (But it does help with the reading goal that the US team apparently forgot how to play the game and didn’t qualify, giving me less reason to watch. Go Iceland.)

The whole idea here got started moons ago when I first started teaching and some very smart people encouraged to not take the summers off. They’re the perfect time for learning, they said. Read a book, they said. Maybe two or more, they said.

So I did. And they were right. We need to keep learning, keep asking questions, keep moving forward. And what better time for that than between now and September? Some summers I start with a specific theme. This year? Not so much. Just a few books that look interesting or fun to read.

Here’s the 2018 list – fingers crossed: Read more

Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters book is disrupting my summer reading plans

I love my summer reading list.

You know the one. I put together a list of stuff I want to read over June, July, and August. Of course, not once have I ever been able to actually finish the list. I always get sidetracked by something. One summer, I got distracted and went on a whole Civil War tangent. Last year, it was old presidential election books like The Making of the President 1960.

This year’s distraction?

I just ran across the latest by literacy gurus Kylene Beers and Bob Probst. And I have to be honest, not that familiar with their work. I was part of a conversation several years ago that focused on their Notice and Note book. But I’ve gotten hooked by their current title: Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters.

Beers and Probst begin Disrupting Thinking with a quick story about a company called Read more

Tip of the Week: Summer Reading List 2017

This year may be a little tough. My July is scheduled full of days that I get to spend with social studies teachers around the country. But my hopes are high.

Regular History Tech readers already know this – every summer since I finished my first year as a middle school US history teacher, I’ve put together a summer reading list. Several teachers down the hall had taken me into their inner circle and suggested, very strongly, that I needed to do more during the summer months than life guard and paint houses – that growing professionally over the summer was a non-negotiable. This professional growth might include some sort of face to face professional learning opportunity but it definitely included creating a personal reading list.

Best. Advice. Ever. It’s really more than just a reading list – it’s the idea that teachers need to continually work on honing their craft and a summer reading list is a practical way to make that happen. So . . . I picked some books with content. Some with process. Some for fun. And started the fall semester smarter than when I left in the spring. So have been doing it ever since.

The problem is that I have never, not once, not ever, finished my summer list. And July obligations and an extensive honey-do list makes it unlikely that 2017 is the year I actually cross the finish line.

Sigh.

But I’m still creating the list. Cause . . . you know. It could happen. I could finish. I’m not kidding around this year. Seriously.

There’s no real theme this summer. Just a few books that look interesting and that should make me better at what I do: Read more

Summer reading list? Epic fail. Fall learning? 3 ways it can still happen

It really is a noble goal.

I start each June with the idea of working my way through 4-6 books before September that can help me grow professionally and personally. It’s a habit that started way back during my middle school teaching days and it makes a lot of sense – focus intentionally on finding ways to improve my content knowledge and teaching chops.

Of course, it never really happens. I set aside a pile of books – both print and digital – with the best of intentions. But . . . something always sidetracks me from my original list. One year, I got sucked away into a Civil War blackhole. Some years, it’s just that I was too ambitious with my list. Other times, my list turned out to be less than interesting than I thought they would be and I moved onto other titles.

This year? Pretty much the same result – I went four for seven. The theme this summer, of course, was politics and presidential elections. I did actually get through: Read more

Tip of the Week: Summer Reading List 2016

I’m not going to lie to you. It’s never easy but this year may be a bit rougher than normal.

Regular readers already know this – every summer since I finished my first year as a middle school US history teacher, I’ve had a summer reading list. A couple of very smart mentors suggested that I needed to take responsibility for my own professional growth and that reading for both work and pleasure during the slower summer months was a non-negotiable.

Best. Advice. Ever. And it’s was more than just a reading list – it’s more the idea that I needed to focus on continual improvement and the list was a practical way to make that happen. So . . . pick some books with content. Some with process. Some for fun. And start the fall semester smarter than when I left in the spring.

But this year could be tough. Both son and daughter are in the area and suggested that we do a summer family book group. Each of us pick a book, read it, discuss it, broaden the horizons. Great idea, right? Sure, who’s going to say no to that?

The problem is that I have never, not once, not ever, finished my own summer list. And the family book club idea just added four extra books that I can’t ignore to the list.

Sigh.

But I’m still creating the List. Cause . . . you know. It could happen. I could finish. I’m not kidding around this year.

The theme this summer? Politics and presidential elections.
Read more