Reading Year in Review – 2013

Inspired by Regie Routman’s most recent post about what she’s reading, I thought I would do the same on my blog. Below are the books I read in 2013. I am sure I read a few more than what was listed here, but I was too busy reading to post them on Goodreads! Some of these titles are rereads, noted with an *. These books deserved another read because they had more to offer than one round would provide.

The Sandwich Swap
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (Portfolio Edition)
The End of the Beginning
Tiny Titans Vol. 8: Aw Yeah Titans!
Odd Boy Out: Young Albert Einstein
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
Underwater Dogs
Coaching Conversations: Transforming Your School One Conversation at a Time
Teaching Students to Read Like Detectives: Comprehending, Analyzing, and Discussing Text
Motion Leadership in Action: More Skinny on Becoming Change Savvy
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Projecting Possibilities for Writers: The How, What, and Why of Designing Units of Study, K-5
The Fault in Our Stars
Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning
Shift Omnibus Edition (Silo, #2) (Wool, #6-8)
Wool
Everything Bad is Good for You
Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives
Wherever You Go, There You Are (ROUGH CUT)
Big Red Lollipop
Doctor Sleep (The Shining, #2)
Assessment in Perspective:  Focusing on the Reader Behind the Numbers
Marty McGuire
Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer's Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits
No More Independent Reading Without Support (Not This But That)
Learning Targets: Helping Students Aim for Understanding in Today's Lesson
Galaxy Zack: Hello, Nebulon
To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others
An Orange for Frankie
Hamlet's BlackBerry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age
The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way
Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
John, Paul, George & Ben
Abe Lincoln's Dream
So What Do They Really Know?: Assessment That Informs Teaching and Learning
The Read-Aloud Handbook: Seventh Edition
Embedded Formative Assessment
Each Kindness
The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave, #1)
World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students

Books of Note

Favorite Fiction: The Wool trilogy by Hugh Howey

Humanity is sequestered to a silo underground, due to some event that made the surface of Earth uninhabitable. How the remaining members of civilization live and interact in this alternative world makes for a fascinating read. I have read the first two installments and plan to read the final book soon. If you investigate the back story on this series, you will discover the author self-published his writing online as a short story, in order to sustain ownership and to get feedback on how the story should proceed. Using his fans’ input, he crafted the rest of the Wool series, which then lead to a larger book deal. Is this the future of writing? If excellent science fiction like Wool is the result, I wouldn’t mind.

Suggested Nonfiction/Informative: The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

This resource should be in the home of every young family. Some hospitals hand this book to new mothers and fathers after delivery. Whenever a parent asks me about what they can do to help their child become a reader, my response is usually, “Read aloud to them, every day.” My school received a grant to promote reading aloud with our families. We will be hosting a book study on The Read Aloud Handbook with parents starting in January, along with putting up Little Free Libraries in our community. Look for a post on the Nerdy Book Club blog on January 4th to learn more about this essential title.

Recommended Paired Reading: The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way by Amanda Ripley and World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students by Dr. Yong Zhao

Although I did not read both titles at the same time, I believe they would work well together if someone were studying education in the age of technology and globalization. In The Smartest Kids, Amanda Ripley follows three U.S. students as they participate in foreign exchange programs in South Korea, Finland, and Poland. That all three score higher than the U.S. on the PISA, an internationally-based standardized test, is no accident. This piece of investigative journalism gives the audience an anecdotal perspective of the difference between the U.S. educational system and these three countries. Although I felt the author gave too much credence to one assessment, she does make a compelling case that the U.S. does need to ramp up our expectations for students’ learning, especially in mathematics. Ripley also showcases the greater amount of respect other countries have for the teaching profession.

Where The Smartest Kids gives the reader an up close and personal report about education, World Class Learners provides a more aerial, 20,000 feet in the air point of view on learning. Dr. Zhao also looked at the PISA scores, and placed them side-by-side with an assessment on students’ engagement and entrepreneurship potential. The result: A strong correlation between high test scores and low creativity. The author, a professor in the University of Oregon’s College of Education, surmises that when schools focus on one right answer due to tests, students’ imagination and innovation skills are not as developed. When you combine this evidence with the fact that standardized test results cannot be used to teach more responsively, one wonders what we are really measuring and why. As Dr. Zhao astutely points out in his most recent post on his blog, “Global benchmarking can only give you the best of the past.”

Where their two philosophies converge is the belief that U.S. schools can do better. Whether it is through better teacher preparation programs, or through professional development focused on student interests and project-based learning, both authors believe life long learning and high expectations are the key to our country’s future success.

What’s On Deck? Books I Want to Read in 2014

Sophia's War: A Tale of the Revolution
The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains
The City of Mirrors (The Passage, #3)
Life Itself: A Memoir
Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance
Dust (Silo, #3)
Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age
High-Impact Instruction: A Framework for Great Teaching
Unmistakable Impact: A Partnership Approach for Dramatically Improving Instruction
Let the Great World Spin
Sunshine
The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z.
Children Want to Write: Donald Graves and the Revolution in Children's Writing
Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man's Fundamentals for Delicious Living
Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation
The Long Earth
The Abominable
Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time

Any thoughts on the titles and perspectives I share? What books did you thoroughly enjoy this year? What’s on your to-read pile for 2014? Please share in the comments.

Author: Matt Renwick

Matt Renwick is a 17-year public educator who began as a 5th and 6th grade teacher. After seven years of teaching, he served as a dean of students, assistant principal and athletic director before becoming an elementary principal in Wisconsin Rapids. Matt is now an elementary principal for the Mineral Point Unified School District (http://mineralpointschools.org/). Matt tweets @ReadByExample and writes for ASCD (www.ascd.org) and Lead Literacy (www.leadliteracy.com).

2 thoughts on “Reading Year in Review – 2013”

    1. Thank you Tammy and Clare. Speaking of your book, my wife asked me to make several copies of your “messy sheet” template to plan for her 2nd grade classroom. We both have found Assessment in Perspective to be a great resource for the classroom. I ordered six copies for my school, and I don’t have any more to speak of!

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