Books for a new elementary teacher?
January 10, 2011 8:42 PM   Subscribe

I've begun an alternative certification program to become an elementary teacher. Looking for good books about teaching.

The details:

Half of my family are elementary teachers, and I've been around it my whole life, so I'm not exactly moving into completely unfamiliar territory here. And I've taught college underclassmen as a T.A. and a community college adjunct. My primary professional background is congregational ministry, from which I am taking a long--perhaps permanent--break.

What I DON'T want are schmaltzy, sugary inspirational, heart-warming "Chalkdust" or "Chicken Soup for the Teacher's Soul" type books. On the other hand, I really liked Kozol's "Death at an Early Age," so more books along those lines--what you might call an ethnography of teaching--would be good. But I'm also very interested in well-written, research-based books about how to be a competent elementary teacher. I'm an INTJ, and really love evidence-based "best practices" kind of books. I'm the kind of person who likes to be able to explain exactly why I'm using the strategies that I've adopted, and why they are likely to be successful. Anything that would help me master the practice of teaching younger children is what I want.

Thanks in advance, guys!

P.S. As I think about it, there's no need to limit this to books. Lectures, articles, whole journals that I should become aware of would be wonderful to know about, too.
posted by Pater Aletheias to Education (8 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Harry Wong's "The First Days of School" is a great book and is practically a bible in my education program. Some of it is common sense, but it also has a lot of good, applicable techniques and strategies.
posted by kro at 8:54 PM on January 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Seconding The First Days of School. Another amazing book along similar lines is Tools for Teaching by Fred Jones. Both have incredibly useful advice.

As far as lesson planning, I learned a ton from reading the TFA manual for Instructional Planning and Delivery (link to pdf).

Other books that I think are excellent for all teachers (not just science teachers like me):

Science Formative Assessment: 75 Practical Strategies for Linking Assessment, Instruction, and Learning
Teaching Outside the Box: How to Grab Your Students by Their Brains
Teaching Content Outrageously: How to Captivate All Students and Accelerate Learning
posted by danceswithlight at 9:19 PM on January 10, 2011

Best answer: I'm a secondary person (who went through an alt cert program) and read professional development stuff constantly. I just sent all these links to my student teacher the other day - good timing! Most of this stuff would apply no matter the grade level but it probably skews older.. sorry..

Alfie Kohn is always interesting.

I don't particularly care for Rick Wormelli's writing style but Fair Isn't Always Equal is a great book to get you thinking. Here is a presentation that summarizes it.

My favorite differentiated instruction book is by Heacox.

I love this article about fixed vs. growth mindsets by Carol Dweck.

I'm very interested in brain based research and really enjoy Brain Rules by Medina (and it's associated website - check out the videos) and Brain Based Learning by Jensen.

Finally, check out the Marzano website - go to bottom of the page and look around.
posted by adorap0621 at 9:28 PM on January 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Doug Lemov's Teach Like A Champion is the new "it" book in Ed right now.

It is a secondary experience, but Holler If You Can Hear Me. Any Greg Michie will be good.

Vivian Gussin Paley's White Teacher is a classic, and El Ed.

I am in teacher education, so...anything even more specific?
posted by oflinkey at 9:50 PM on January 10, 2011

Best answer: Just saw your PS...Pardon me if I cover anything that you think is too textbooky or off "ethnography." I am going on the "should be aware of."

So, an Oldie but a Goodie, everyone reads it-- Jean Anyon's Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work.

The American Educational Research Association, and its main journal, AERJ, is the big one in Ed. There are other very, very prestigious journals, of course, but it seems that AERJ dominates along with British Ed Research Journal. Anthropology & Education Quarterly is a good, Harvard Ed. Review is sometimes looked at as even more prestigious as AERJ, Review of Educational Research, Teacher's College Record, which is Columbia's Journal... there are a lot. You want literacy? Early Childhood? Social Justice? Urban Ed? This selection of journals will have a number of topics.

The Marzano suggestion upthread is great.

Ways with Words by Shirley Brice Heath.

A Class Divided-- the famous blue-eye/brown-eye experiment.

If you end up liking Alfie Kohn, you will also be interested in Michael Apple. For extra interestingness, read John Taylor Gatto and The Six-Lesson Schoolteacher. Also, The Albany Free School.

James Paul Gee, one of my Main Men, talks about video games, literacy and other cool stuff. He has a background in Linguistics, but click on his vita. Not only is it long, but it is impressive in its scope. And very much worth looking through. What is Literacy? is a classic by Gee.

Vygotsky's Mind in Society is a good one.

You should also make sure you cover a bit of Dewey-- Democracy and Education if nothing else. Art as Experience is also nice.

Arthur Applebee wrote for English Ed (my area) but his book Curriculum as Conversation is slim and worth it for anyone.

Richard Allington's work is also necessary as a response to the oppressive atmosphere created in schools by standardized tests. That book is now 9 years old, but also still worth it. Other things.

Getting tired. More if you like. MeMail me!
posted by oflinkey at 10:36 PM on January 10, 2011

Best answer: Tracy Kidder's Among Schoolchildren is a good fictionalized ethnography of an elementary school teacher.

Elliot Eisner is awesome if you're interested at all in the arts. If you're not interested in the arts, then you should still read him to figure out why you should be. :)

Mem Fox's Radical Reflections is a good one about early literacy.

I've found Joyce, Weil and Calhoun's Models of Teaching incredibly helpful in thinking about lesson planning.

If you're willing to read something a little bit dated (1963) and from another country (New Zealand), then Teacher, by Sylvia Ashton Warner, is a really good read.

The journal suggestions above are really good.

Good luck!
posted by bardophile at 11:23 PM on January 10, 2011

Best answer: I also came to recommend Among Schoolchildren, and A Lesson is Like a Swiftly Flowing River, by Catherine Lewis and Ineko Tsuchida. Elementary and Middle School Mathematics: Teaching Developmentally, by John Van de Walle, is a great resource.

I am an INTJ as well, and when I was getting my certification we were given some materials about how different types worked as teachers. I remember it said that the average stay of an INTJ in teaching was 5 years, and that they tended to gravitate toward curriculum development. I taught in public schools for 6 years, and now spend a lot of my time doing curriculum development. Sort of scary.

Just based on your posting history here, you are going to be a great teacher, and I envy your students and their parents. Don't forget that we need you to continue teaching here as well!
posted by Killick at 8:46 AM on January 11, 2011

Response by poster: I remember it said that the average stay of an INTJ in teaching was 5 years, and that they tended to gravitate toward curriculum development.

Ha! I was already thinking about three or four years in the classroom and then moving into curriculum development or administrator. Maybe I'm finally starting to know myself well enough to figure out which direction to paddle. I think I'll like the classroom just fine, but not forever.

Glad to hear good things from others about the Harry Wong book. It's the main text for the alt cert program here.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:28 AM on January 11, 2011

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