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Posts tagged ‘summer reading list’

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.


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.
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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: Read more

Tip of the Week: Summer Reading List

It’s been a crazy spring. It was 90+ degrees back in February. We had snow and freezing temperatures into May. There’s been travel to different parts of the country. The Kansas City Royals led their division for the first time in years. I hit a wild turkey with my car, left my iPad on a plane, and witnessed my first high school spring formal promenade.

I’m ready for summer.

Most teachers are. And there are those who are suggesting year-round school. I understand some of the thinking behind the idea. But all of us need the opportunity for personal professional growth and summer is a great time to kick back, recharge the batteries, learn new stuff, and read some great books.

And I am so ready with my 2013 summer reading list.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve created a list of books that I plan to read between the end of summer and start of school. Working at ESSDACK makes it a bit more difficult to find the time but I’m always optimistic. This year I will get to all of the books on my list and finish every one.


This year? I’ve got a fun list and a work list. Read more

7 great books for your summer reading list

It’s my new equation.

(Hb * X) + (Hm * H3C6H5O7) = SMP

Where Hb = History Books, Hm = Hammock, H3C6H5O7 = lemonade, and SMP = summer reading pleasure. Pretty simple really.

Take a bunch of books that have been stacking up next to my nightstand, add a brand-new hammock, a cold beverage, and just that fast you’ve got awesomeness.

Teachers should always be looking for ways to get better at what they do and reading is a great way to learn new things, meet new people, get smarter. During the school year, most of us are too busy to sit down with a good history book and just read. Blogs, quick tweets, web sites, and personal learning network kinds of stuff are about all we have time for.

But summer. Summer was specially designed for relaxing somewhere cool with a great book.

I’ve always had a summer reading list. During my middle school teaching years, it was Red Cross instruction in the morning, books all afternoon, and co-ed softball at night. Summer was the juice that got me pysched about going back to 13 year-olds.

I don’t have as much time during the summer anymore but I still have my reading list. This year? Five books for fun and two for work.


America Aflame
David Goldfield offers the first major new interpretation of the Civil War era since James M. McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom. Where past scholars have limned the war as a triumph of freedom, Goldfield sees it as America’s greatest failure: the result of a breakdown caused by the infusion of evangelical religion into the public sphere. As the Second Great Awakening surged through America, political questions became matters of good and evil to be fought to the death. The price of that failure was horrific, but the carnage accomplished what statesmen could not: It made the United States one nation and eliminated slavery as a divisive force in the Union.

A Nation Rising
The narratives that form A Nation Rising each exemplify the “hidden history” of America, exploring a vastly more complex path to nationhood than the tidily packaged national myth of a destiny made manifest by visionary political leaders and fearless pioneers. Instead, Davis explores many historical episodes that reverberate to this day. The issues raised in these intertwined stories—ambition, power, territorial expansion, slavery, intolerance, civil rights, freedom of the press—continue to make headlines. The resulting book is not only riveting storytelling in its own right, but a stirring reminder of the ways in which our history continues to shape our present.

Paradise General
Dr. Dave Hnida never forgot the horror of his alcoholic father’s WWII experience, revealed as he drove his son to college, their last time together. The need to understand that horror later drove Hnida, as a middle-aged doctor, to war himself. He signed up for two tours of duty in Iraq. On the first tour, he was equipped with an M16 and medical tools and worked with convoys along the highways of Baghdad. His second time in Iraq, during the surge, Hnida worked at a combat-support hospital, the equivalent of a MASH unit. Hnida recalls the experience of working with much younger soldiers and doctors and the struggle to adjust to army discipline and protocol on top of the rigors of war and a hostile desert environment. Through it all, he developed close and abiding friendships with the other doctors and admiration for the young soldiers who risked their lives on a daily basis.

Nothing Like It In the World
The account of an unprecedented feat of engineering, vision, and courage. It is the story of the men who built the transcontinental railroad — the investors who risked their businesses and money; the enlightened politicians who understood its importance; the engineers and surveyors who risked, and sometimes lost, their lives; and the Irish and Chinese immigrants, the defeated Confederate soldiers, and the other laborers who did the backbreaking and dangerous work on the tracks. In Ambrose’s hands, this enterprise, with its huge expenditure of brainpower, muscle, and sweat, comes vibrantly to life.

Lost Rights
Near the close of the Civil War, as General Sherman blazed his path to the sea, an unknown infantryman rifled through the North Carolina state house.The soldier was hunting for simple Confederate mementos—maps, flags, official correspondence—but he wound up discovering something far more valuable. He headed home to Ohio with one of the touchstones of our republic: one of the fourteen original copies of the Bill of Rights. Lost Rights follows that document’s singular passage over the course of 138 years, beginning with the Indiana businessman who purchased the looted parchment for five dollars, then wending its way through the exclusive and shadowy world of high-end antiquities—a world populated by obsessive archivists, oddball collectors, forgers, and thieves— and ending dramatically with the FBI sting that brought the parchment back into the hands of the government.


Child-Sized History
For more than three decades, the same children’s historical novels have been taught across the United States. Honored for their literary quality and appreciated for their alignment with social studies curricula, the books have flourished as schools moved from whole-language to phonics and from student-centered learning to standardized testing. Books like Johnny Tremain can stimulate children’s imagination, transporting them into the American past and projecting them into an American future. As works of historical interpretation, however, many are startlingly out of step with current historiography and social sensibilities, especially with regard to race. Teachers who employ historical novels in the classroom can help students recognize and interpret historical narrative as the product of research, analytical perspective, and the politics of the time. In doing so, they sensitize students to the ways in which the past is put to moral and ideological uses in the present.

Reading Like a Historian: Teaching Literacy in Middle & High School History Classrooms
This practical resource shows you how to apply Sam Wineburg’s highly acclaimed approach to teaching, Reading Like a Historian , in your classroom to increase academic literacy and spark students’ curiosity. Each chapter begins with an introductory essay that sets the stage of a key moment in American history–beginning with exploration and colonization and the events at Jamestown and ending with the Cuban Missile Crisis. Following each essay are all the materials you’ll need to teach this topic–primary documents, charts, graphic organizers, visual images, and political cartoons–as well as suggestions for where to find additional resources on the Internet and guidance for assessing students’ understanding of core historical ideas. Reading Like a Historian will help you use your textbook creatively and give you ideas for how historical instruction can enhance students’ skills in reading comprehension.

What’s on your list for the summer?

(Descriptions via Shelfari)

Tip of the Week – EDSITEment reading list (and a few others)

A couple of days ago I posted my annual Summer Reading List. Of course, I never actually finish the list. There’s always something that ends up changing my direction – usually it’s because a book sounds a lot better than it actually is.

But there’s hope. There are tons of lists lurking out there ready to help me find just what I need. So if you’re looking for some summer reading or even if you’re looking for some great reads for your kiddos, check out the following:

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Summer Reading List?

Love reading. Love summer. Love a good hammock.

So . . . perfect time of the year. I had a great two hours on Sunday – wife and daughter gone to a movie, son at work, slight breeze, cool beverage, shady trees and my 15 year old hammock.

Seriously, what else can beat that?

I’ve always been a big supporter of reading for kids and especially for teachers. We need to stay current and up-to-date with the latest in our field and content. So . . . if we’re not reading, our kids suffer because of it.

And for as long as I can remember, I’ve had a summer reading list. Of course, I’ve never actually finished one. Work, time schedules and changing tastes always work against me. But this is what I’ve got planned for 2011.

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