Wow, this year has flown by.
Last Friday, I walked out of my school for the last time this school year.
(This morning, I will re-enter it for world history curriculum work, but let’s ignore that for a moment.)
The beginning of summer means, to me, the beginning of some semblance of reflective leisure. Sure, this summer includes an epic family road trip to reconnect with friends out east (a road trip, mind you, that includes a 10-day detour flight to and from Mexico to visit with Pablo, our “Mexican son” who became a part of our family during a foreign exchange two years ago), finishing our basement, traveling to Germany like a boss, celebrating our five-year anniversary, and doing some consulting work in the beautiful states of Oklahoma and Missouri — so, sure, it’s going to be a busy one.
But still. Reflective leisure is a state of mind. And it’s coming, too.
So what, you may be wondering, do I intend to read this summer when I’m not wrangling toddlers, muddling through Spanish convos, wooing my wife, or adventuring in some other way?
I’m categorizing this summer’s reading menu by books I haven’t read yet, books I’ve started but have basically gotten pwned by, and books I have read previously but want to read again.
College Knowledge: What It Really Takes for Students to Succeed and What We Can Do to Get Them Ready, by David T. Conley: This obviously isn’t on the light reading list, but it is a book that I’ve had on my shelf for over a year. I’ve peeked into it, but haven’t read it yet. The reason I first became interested in Conley’s work is because the “power standards” Schmoker refers to throughout Focus are derived from this book. I saw a significant increase this year in the amount of my freshmen who came to desire a college degree, and I’m hoping this book will help me determine what my students will need to not just gain acceptance to college, but to graduate.
Pathways to the Common Core: Accelerating Achievement, by Lucy Calkins, Mary Ehrenworth, and Christopher Lehmen: So I feel like a tool for having a Common Core-ish blog and having not read Pathways yet. From what I gather, it’s kind of the thoughtful book on the topic, and it has been around since before I started Teaching the Core.
Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business, by Patrick Lencioni: Psst… Patrick Lencioni… this might be the most painful problem in business, but it’s pretty high on the list of painful in most schools, too. My father-in-law gave me this book, and I want to read it to honor him and to get insight into how to make meetings better, whether they’re with colleagues, with students, or with those I’m consulting.
Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi: One of my independent study students this past year could not stop raving about this book when she finished it. I’m looking forward to an enjoyable, escapish read, Paolo. Don’t let me down, sir.
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by Daniel H. Pink: I heard about this book at a conference years ago, and I still want to read it, so I’m going to bite the bullet and get after it this summer. It’s going to be my new book splurge because it’s not currently on the shelf and I don’t know anyone else who has it.
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, by Dee Brown: I almost forgot this one — I got a classroom set donated for my world history kids next year (woot woot DonorsChoose!), and now I need to read it and figure out how to get all of my freshmen to read it as an in-depth study of imperialism. I first learned of this book from the list of texts Rafe Esquith reads with his kids each year.
Reads that I’ve started in the past year but haven’t finished
How Children Succeed, by Paul Tough: As you know if you’ve been around for awhile, it was a Paul Tough article that originally led my colleagues and I to try character strengths as the missing link in our freshmen academy. In How Children Succeed, Tough shares the stories and findings of people ranging from Nobel-winning economists to preschoolers, from teachers to social workers, and it’s hard to put down (unless, of course, you are getting dominated by the demands of a school year, in which case it’s apparently quite possible to put it down).
Cross-X, by Joe Miller: I got into this book a few months ago because I was interested in debate, but then the end of the year craziness set in and, well, I got pwned for a little while. Now I’m excited to get back to it and finish up. Joe Miller’s subject is a debate team in Kansas City, but while chronicling their adventures he examines race, power, and education on a national scope. Awesome book.
What the Dog Saw, by Malcolm Gladwell: Good friends gave us this book a few summers ago when I picked it off their shelf and immediately got sucked into one of its middle chapters. Since then, it has sat on our living room bookshelf. But I was recently talking with my homie Erica Beaton, and she’s looking at adding one or two Malcolm Gladwell-ish, really-well-written-and-really-intriguing-yet-rife-with-quantitative-reasoning non-fiction texts into her humanities classes, and I’m super jealous because I think that’s a great way to push the students I had this year even further next year. Anyways, our discussion made me think of the book, so it’s on the list.
How to Write a Book Proposal, by Michael Larsen: This book is partially why I started the Teaching the Core blog. I’ve always been curious about how one goes about writing a book and getting it published. I was in that section of the bookstore one day, and I picked this off the shelf. In one of the early chapters, Larsen mentions how you pretty much need to have some kind of way that people already know you if you’re ever going to write a book.
Well, that was a fail, because at the time about three people knew me.
So I got to thinking about what I could blog about… and then I remembered that I kind of wanted to read the Common Core standards through so I’d understand them… and then I realized that I could blog while I read through them, and then, boom, next thing you know I’ve got a ridonkulously awesome ebook for sale for a gigantic, whopping dollar!
So yeah, I want to finish this book so I can figure out how to write a real(er) book, eventually. But the ebook is cool.
World War Z, by Max Brooks: Yes, I’m a nerd. This book is so good, though. I wasn’t really into the whole zombie thing, but my students were crazy about it, so I read the first page, and about an hour later found myself still reading and unwilling to release the book. I’m excited about the movie coming out, but I doubt it can match the journalistic, bleak tone of this book’s post-apocalyptic interviews.
Life of Pi, by Yann Martel: This is the other book I got donated through DonorsChoose recently. I need to re-read it from a world history student’s perspective because I want each of my students to read it. Why, you ask? 1) It won a freaking Booker Prize; 2) it’s beautiful; 3) I think it will be a great way to start discussions about world religions; 4) I saw Yann Martel speak once while we lived in NYC, and he seemed pretty cool.
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