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Posts tagged ‘summer reading’

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

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.

Fun

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.

Work

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)

Good books, hammocks and summer free time

I planted a couple of trees several years ago and finally . . . finally, they’re big enough to hold the hammock. So this summer, I’ve been spending as much time outside, reading and relaxing in extreme comfort.

Progress is being made on my summer reading list, working my way through The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History (interesting but a bit slow), The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible (kinda slow but very interesting) and a couple of sidetracks to Roadfood: The Coast-to-Coast Guide to 700 of the Best Barbecue Joints, Lobster Shacks, Ice Cream Parlors, Highway Diners, and Much, Much More (delicious) and Assassination Vacation (kinda creepy but so much fun).

My point?

You gotta set some time aside to read. I’m convinced that good readers make great teachers and we often ignore the simple pleasure and individualized staff development potential of reading a good book.

Need a few starting places? Try one of the handy social networks for books and readers at:

Get rid of some of your old books and find new ones at:

And find everything you need to know about books at:

So grab a book, find a quiet place and enjoy.

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