Coffee and book

In 2 short weeks most of my summer days will start like this…pour coffee, ease into my recliner, and start reading. I CAN’T WAIT! I love summer for so many reasons. The pace of the day is so much slower, I can take longer runs, spend long days with my family in Michigan and on day trips, and loads and loads of baseball. But one of my absolute favorite things about summer is the ability to read so much more. Don’t get me wrong, I read a ton during the year, but during summer I really up the page consumption.

As summer approaches I’ve been combing Twitter, and asking colleagues for book recommendations. I have started to assemble my to read stack. It presently looks like this:

To Read Stack

My hope is that I burn through that stack in a couple of weeks!

As I add titles to this stack through recommendations of friends and colleagues, I find myself repeating some of the same titles over and over again that I’ve been recommending to others. I will share the professional development books, YA/MG novels, and blogs that I’ve been recommending to my friends to checkout over summer.

Professional Development: 

Shift This by Joy Kirr ( @JoyKirr ) Shift This is applicable no matter what subject you teach. The book addresses classroom environment, homework, grading, social media, student directed learning and so much more. Some of these things could be daunting undertakings such as implementing genius hour or rethinking grading and homework, yet the premise of Joy’s book is to give teachers a variety of small steps that they can easily make and not be overwhelmed. At the start of each chapter Joy shares the questions that drove her to make the changes she did in her own classroom. After she details the shifts she made she includes further reading and viewing options, as well as reflection questions for the reader. Some of the ideas I really liked were having students decorate the classroom. I love fish bowl discussions and Joy has students “feed the fish” by having outer students give the fish questions and discussion points on Post Its. I also need to try Edcafes in the fall. Joy also recommends starting a classroom blog. My work on this blog, reading John Raby’s (  @JohnHRaby ) class blog each day and Joy’s Scholar’s in Room 239 blog definitely have me inspired to create my own classroom blog in the fall. If your looking for more fantastic resources from Joy check out her blog , her Shift This blog , and her Genius Hour/20% Time Live Binder.

Hacking Engagement by James Alan Sturtevant ( @jamessturtevant ) I’m always looking to increase student engagement. I truly believe if students aren’t engaged they aren’t learning. James Sturtevant offers 50 different strategies to increase student engagement in this book that could apply to any content area. Two of my favorite “hacks” I can’t wait to try in the fall are “Classroom Procedure Night at the Improv” in which students create improv skits to demo the classroom procedures and the “Break The Ice Ice Baby” hack an icebreaker in which students create their own living movie marquees. I’m a big fan of story time and in James’s book he recommend having students gather around the campfire and projecting the campfire app on the SmartBoard. The book is filled with clever ideas to up student engagement. If you are looking to learn more check out James’s blog and podcast

History Class Revisited by Jody Passanisi@21centuryteachr) Unlike the previous book, this one is geared specifically to middle school social studies. This is my wheel house as I’m a 7th grade world geography teacher. I loved that all the activities and the strategies I could easily use in my classroom. I also loved that the book emphasized teaching skills especially reading like a historian and writing in a social studies classroom. I loved the different strategies to tackling current events that target teaching point of view and making connections to other topics in the course. I also liked the historical figure body bio assignment and the simulation ideas. In addition to the book, Jody is often a frequent contributer on Middle Web’s Future of History blog

A History Teaching Toolbox by Russel Tarr ( @russeltarr ) This is another one for social studies teachers of all ages. The great thing about this book is that it is ALL strategies. I hate when I get a PD book and it is 90% theory and only 10% strategies. This book gets right into the good stuff. There are strategies for discussions, group work, assessments, writing, and so many more. My favorites are hexagon learning which has students grouping and connecting key ideas they have learned about. I also liked the idea to create wedding invitations and report cards for people that they are studying. I also like the idea of creating currently being studied posters for your classroom. So many of the templates and resources can be found at If you are looking to add some new ideas to your classroom toolbox for the fall this is the one for you!

Well Spoken by Erik Palmer ( @erik_palmer ) I agree with Erik Palmer that all teachers should be teaching communication skills. We teach reading and writing but are we teaching oral communication? Palmer explains that teachers shouldn’t be just assigning presentations but coaching their students on how to do them effectively. His concept revolves around the acronym PVLEGS. (Poise, Voice, Life, Eye Contact, Gestures, & Speed). Palmer gives a wealth of strategies to teach each of these components. Our schools language arts teachers have made use of this acronym in their classes. Having this common langauge that all teachers in the building can use when addressing student speaking has taken presentations up a level across the board!

The Hyperdoc Handbook by Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton, and Sarah Landis ( @lhighfill @kellyihilton & @SARAHLANDIS ) If you are on Twitter, you probably have seen hyperdoc referenced thousands of times this past year. This book will lead you step by step into how to design hyperdocs for your classroom no matter what content you teach. Hyperdocs can be packaged in almost any G Suite tool. They can be used for blended learning, PBL, or inquiry based instruction. They are perfect for differentiating instruction. I love all of the examples linked through QR codes. I also loved all of the ideas for student to demonstrate what they learned. Learn more at Teachers Give Teachers and check out so many awesome examples on their Padlet page.  

Master the Media by Julie Smith ( @julnilsmith ) Just like Palmer contends all students must be taught to communicate effectively, Julie Smith highlights another important area, media literacy. Julie stresses that in the media saturated environment in which are students live they must be able to evaluate what they consume with a critical lens. She explains how to do this as it pertains to T.V., music, movies, the news, books, magazines, advertising, the Internet, social media, and politics. Just like Hacking Engagement, Julie includes tons of QR codes linking to examples. The QR codes link to current examples that allow the book which could become dated based on the topic to remain evergreen. Learn more about media literacy by checking out Julies fantastic blog

Play Like A Pirate by Quinn Rollins ( @jedikermit ) Learning should be fun and Quinn’s book is all about creating a classroom that does just that. This is another book filled with ideas and strategies to bring your content to life. Make use of toys from your childhood such as Transformers, Hot Wheels, Legos, Pay-Doh and more. I love the idea of students creating trading cards for topics they are studying. I also plan on creating super heros for climates like Sam Mandeville did after reading this book. Read about her experiences in this post. This book had me smiling and my head filled with ideas throughout the read and long after. Learn more about Quinn’s ideas on how to make learning fun at his blog

Say you have a day full of summer activities and you don’t have time for a book. Blogs are ideal morning coffee reading. I linked the blogs from the authors above, but there are many other great teacher blogs out there. Many of our frequent #worldgeochat contributors blogs are listed here. Some of the blogs I routinely check out are:

Edtech: by Matt Miller ( @jmattmiller ) by Kasey Bell ( @ShakeUpLearning )

Edtech PLUS Social Studies by Ryan O’Donnell ( @creativeedtech ) by Kevin Zahner ( @ZahnerHistory ) by Ben Brazeau ( @Braz74 )

Social Studies by Chuck Taft ( @Chucktaft ) by Glenn Wiebe ( @glennw98 ) by Lance Mosier ( @mosier_histgeek ) by Tim Smyth ( @historycomics ) by National Geographic Education ( @NatGeoEducation ) by PBS News Hour ( @NewsHourExtra )

If you are looking for some great YA/MG fiction these are some of my favorites that I’ve read this past year:

Uprooted: The Japanese American Experience During World War 2 by Albert Marrin

Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century by Sarah Miller

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club by Phillip Hoose

Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes

The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner

Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin

The March Trilogy Book Series by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell

Night Witches: A Novel of World War Two by Katryn Lasky

Enrique’s Journey: The True Story of a Boy Determined to Reunite with his Mother by Sonia Nazario (The Young Adult Adaptation)

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

What are you planning on reading this summer? What books and blogs should I add to my to read list?






5 thoughts on “Summer Reading: 1 Of My Favorite Things

  1. I love a great summer reading list! I’ve had the chance to read the Quinn Rollins book and Make Just One Change. Loved them both! Interested in History Class Revisited: Tools and Projects to Engage Middle School Students in Social Studies. Looks like some practical ideas.

    I’m looking forward to my own list – you might like one titled The Geography of Genius: Lessons from the World’s Most Creative Places. The book claims to “examine the connection between our surroundings and our most innovative ideas by exploring the history of places like Vienna of 1900, Renaissance Florence, ancient Athens, Song Dynasty Hangzhou, and Silicon Valley, to show how certain urban settings are conducive to ingenuity.” Looks really good.

    (You can find my entire list at:

    Thanks for sharing your list!



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