Professional Reading

Books Connected to Excellence in Teaching

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A booklist curated from speakers at the PYP Leaders Boot Camp, 2020.  Concept-Based Curriculum Design and Developing Transformational Leadership, these books are sure to refresh your learning and bring new perspectives to your leadership journeys.  Happy Reading.

**Also, see the Leadership Page

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From Agency to Zest presents a captivating exploration of concepts integral to inquiry-based learning, skillfully penned by the esteemed educator and inquiry authority, Kath Murdoch. 

The book takes an alphabetical approach, dissecting and contemplating 26 pivotal words (alongside numerous related terms) that encapsulate the core of inquiry. 

Serving as an invitation to introspection, From Agency to Zest encourages educators to engage in meaningful professional dialogues, fostering a deeper grasp of inquiry as a teaching and learning methodology. 

Amidst elucidating these concepts, Kath generously imparts practical insights on leveraging the book to enhance and enrich professional learning endeavours within and beyond educational institutions. 

This thoughtfully crafted work serves as a valuable resource for educators seeking to navigate the intricacies of inquiry-based education.

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“This book is Kath Murdoch's masterpiece. It is immaculately researched, carefully argued, elegantly written, beautifully produced, and above all, incredibly useful and practical.”—Guy Claxton, author of The Future of Teaching

In Getting Personal with Inquiry Learning, world-renowned inquiry expert, Kath Murdoch, draws on decades of experience to offer a thorough, practical guide to supporting young learners’ investigations into their passions, interests and questions. 

Following her best-selling Power of Inquiry, this book invites teachers to take their thinking about inquiry to the next level and to truly honour both their own and their students’ agency.

Getting Personal with Inquiry Learning offers educators a compelling argument for providing young people with opportunities to pursue their interests at school and provides a myriad of practical strategies to make this effective and manageable. Rich with classroom examples, templates to guide planning and accompanied by advice from a range of highly respected educators from around the world, this book beautifully connects theory and practice—achieving depth and accessibility.

Bonus: Check out this video where Kath chats about her new book - it's worth a view.


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How can we create learning environments that cultivate curiosity and grow young people as confident, capable and creative inquirers?  How can we ensure that our teaching nurtures rather than diminishes the sense of wonder with which we are all born? How can we become better inquirers as we teach? 

How can we help our students grow as thinkers, collaborators, self-managers, communicators and researchers as they inquire? The Power of Inquiry is an inspiring and comprehensive guide to the implementation of quality inquiry practices in the contemporary classroom. Organized around ten essential questions, each chapter provides both a theoretical and practical overview of the elements that combine to create learning environments rich in purpose and passion. 

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In his 2015 book Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools, Ron Ritchhart makes the case that in order to prepare students for a complex, rapidly changing world, schools need to focus less on rote learning and more on developing students' thinking skills.

Ron identifies 8 cultural forces that shape an environment where thinking is valued, visible, and actively promoted: expectations, language, time, modeling, opportunities, routines, interactions, and environment. 

With compelling examples from real classrooms, he demonstrates how teachers can thoughtfully leverage these forces to transform their classroom culture into one where curiosity is nurtured, ideas are explored, and reflection is practiced.

Ron's central thesis is an important one: critical and creative thinking skills must be woven throughout the fabric of school culture in order for students to reach their full potential. 

Key Ideas

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Cultures of Thinking in Action [2023] provides a practical guide for educators looking to foster critical thinking skills in their classrooms. 

Authors Ron Ritchhart and David Perkins draw on years of research from Project Zero at Harvard to outline strategies for developing "cultures of thinking" where creative thought and deep understanding are valued.

While thinking skills are often viewed as fixed abilities, the authors make the case that thinking can be taught and improved through thoughtful classroom culture and deliberate instruction.

The book provides specific techniques for encouraging thinking dispositions like curiosity, open-mindedness, and metacognition. Stories and examples from real teachers demonstrate how to integrate thinking routines into curriculum and model inquisitive habits.

The book gives teachers concrete tools to transform their practice and engage students in higher-order thinking. Cultures of Thinking in Action convincingly shows how classrooms can move beyond rote learning by making thinking visible, valued, and actively practiced.

Watch Chapters International Webinar: Cultures of Thinking Book Launch by Dr. Ron Ritchhart.

Key Ideas


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The Power of Making Thinking Visible by Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church, and Karin Morrison [2015]

In The Power of Making Thinking Visible, the authors argue that cultivating thinking skills is just as important as teaching content knowledge in schools. 

They provide practical strategies for making students' thinking visible, enabling teachers to guide and advance it. A key idea is that thinking routines, such as See-Think-Wonder and Circle of Viewpoints, provide structures to consistently develop thinking dispositions over time.

When used collaboratively, these routines help create a classroom culture focused on inquiry, exploration and meaningful learning. 

The book highlights the importance of documentation as well - using words, images and artifacts to capture observations of student thinking. This serves to make progress visible and supports teacher and student reflection. 

Overall, this book offers an insightful framework and useful tools for intentionally bringing thinking to the center of the classroom. The authors convincingly convey that visible thinking leads to deeper learning and empowers students to become reflective, self-driven learners.

Go to Visible Thinking Resources.

Key Ideas

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Curating Inquiries: Curriculum Design and Mapping for Primary Schools by Grant Lewis

"Curating Inquiries" by Grant Lewis is an indispensable resource for curriculum coordinators, teachers, and administrators which I highly recommend. Grant, drawing from over 20 years of experience in curriculum design and inquiry-based learning in primary schools across Australia and globally, presents his insights in a friendly, sometimes humorous, conversational style that makes the book a pleasure to read.

This comprehensive guide is designed for educators who aim to establish a robust inquiry-focused framework that enhances teaching and learning through meaningful inquiries. While suitable for all educators interested in inquiry-based teaching and learning, it serves as an excellent support resource for IB PYP teachers, coordinators and administrators.

Grant begins by highlighting the importance of a well-structured conceptual framework for curriculum design. He underscores the necessity of long-term planning, advocating for curriculum mapping over a year or more to ensure continuity and depth, which fosters substantial and interconnected inquiries.

A significant portion of the book is dedicated to defining and illustrating inquiry-based learning. Grant clarifies its purpose and benefits, demonstrating how it can be effectively integrated into the curriculum while adhering to educational standards and incorporating student voices. He dissects the components of successful inquiry, offering practical examples from his extensive experience.

The core of "Curating Inquiries" lies in its practicality. Grant provides a wealth of strategies and protocols that teachers and administrators can immediately apply to support and enhance inquiry-based teaching and learning. These include methods for designing inquiry questions and provocations, structuring learning activities, assessing student progress, and championing student agency, including student voice and action.

One of the key challenges in inquiry-based learning is balancing the freedom of exploration with the need for accountability. Grant addresses this by illustrating how to align inquiries with curriculum standards without stifling creativity. He advocates for a flexible approach that respects student interests and voices while ensuring that learning objectives are met.

"Curating Inquiries" is particularly recommended for school leaders and teachers looking to deepen their understanding of inquiry-based learning. Grant provides guidance on planning and implementing inquiries that are memorable, powerful, and engaging. The book aims to empower educators to create rich learning experiences that resonate with students, allowing learner agency, voice, and action to flourish.

In summary, Grant Lewis's "Curating Inquiries" is a valuable resource for educators seeking to enhance their curriculum through inquiry-based learning. With its blend of theoretical insights and practical advice, the book equips teachers with the tools they need to create meaningful and effective learning journeys for their students.

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"How Children Learn" by John Holt is a seminal work that challenges traditional notions of education and offers profound insights for teachers. Holt emphasizes the importance of understanding children's innate curiosity and their natural inclination to learn through exploration and experimentation. His observations underscore the significance of creating environments that foster active engagement and allow for authentic learning experiences.

One of the book's strengths lies in Holt's ability to debunk myths surrounding education, such as the idea that learning is solely achieved through formal instruction or standardized tests. Instead, he advocates for a more child-centered approach that respects individual interests and learning styles.

Teachers will appreciate Holt's emphasis on the role of play, hands-on experiences, and meaningful interactions in the learning process. By embracing his perspective, educators can better support their students' intrinsic motivation and intellectual growth.

Overall, "How Children Learn" offers valuable insights that can inform and inspire teachers to create dynamic learning environments that honour the natural curiosity and creativity of children. It's a must-read for educators seeking to cultivate a genuine love for learning in their classrooms.

** Must read: Review of How Children Learn by Peter Gray.

Key Learnings



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"I'm the Kind of Kid Who . . .: Invitations That Support Learner Identity and Agency" is a professional development book for educators written by Debbie Miller and Emily Callahan. The book provides guidance and strategies for helping students develop their identities and agency as learners.

As a professional development resource, "I'm the Kind of Kid Who . . .: Invitations That Support Learner Identity and Agency" could be used in an inquiry-based instructional setting to support the professional growth of educators and help them develop strategies for promoting student agency and identity in their classrooms. 

Here are a few ways that the book could be used in an inquiry-based lesson:

As a starting point for a discussion about student identity and agency: After reading the book, you could ask educators to reflect on their own practices and consider how they can create an environment that supports student identity and agency.

As a source of ideas and strategies: Educators could use the book as a resource for finding new ideas and strategies for promoting student identity and agency in their classrooms.

As a basis for an inquiry-based project: Educators could use the book as a starting point for an inquiry-based project focused on student identity and agency. This could involve researching best practices and developing a plan for implementing these strategies in their classrooms.

Debbie Miller and Emily Callahan believe that it all begins with choice. In "I'm the Kind of Kid Who . . .: Invitations That Support Learner Identity and Agency" they provide a framework for introducing choice making in small, medium, and large ways through "invitations" that ask children to consider:

Debbie and Emily use a predictable structure to describe each invitation from beginning to end, offering practical suggestions for how to fit invitations within the day and across the year.

"There are no magical programs to call upon to develop learner identity and agency" write Debbie and Emily, "because the truth is, children and their teachers don't need them! What kids really need are invitations from their teachers to discover themselves for themselves, invitations that encourage them to find out even more about who they are, how they learn and what they need to thrive."

Overall, "I'm the Kind of Kid Who . . .: Invitations That Support Learner Identity and Agency" is a valuable resource for educators looking to support the development of student identity and agency in their classrooms.

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It’s time for the educational slugfest to stop. ‘Traditional’ and ‘progressive’ education are both caricatures, and bashing cartoon images of each other is unprofitable and unedifying. The search for a new model of education – one that is genuinely empowering for all young people – is serious and necessary.

Some good progress has already been made, but teachers and school leaders are being held back by specious beliefs, false oppositions and the limited thinking of orthodoxy.

Drawing on recent experience in England, North America and Australasia, but applicable round the world, The Future of Teaching clears away this logjam of bad science and slack thinking and frees up the stream of much-needed innovation. This timely book aims to banish arguments based on false claims about the brain and poor understanding of cognitive science, reclaim the nuanced middle ground of teaching that develops both rigorous knowledge and ‘character’, and lay the foundations for a 21st-century education worthy of the name.

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A leading expert in childhood development makes the case for why self-directed learning -- "unschooling" -- is the best way to get kids to learn. In Free to Learn, developmental psychologist Peter Gray argues that in order to foster children who will thrive in today's constantly changing world, we must entrust them to steer their own learning and development.

Drawing on evidence from anthropology, psychology, and history, he demonstrates that free play is the primary means by which children learn to control their lives, solve problems, get along with peers, and become emotionally resilient. A brave, counterintuitive proposal for freeing our children from the shackles of the curiosity-killing institution we call school, Free to Learn suggests that it's time to stop asking what's wrong with our children, and start asking what's wrong with the system. It shows how we can act—both as parents and as members of society—to improve children's lives and to promote their happiness and learning.



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Taking the Complexity out of Concepts is a practical resource designed by Innovative Global Education (IGE) to assist educators in making the shift from a content-based curriculum to a conceptual curriculum.

 The authors’ aim is to do what the title suggests, taking the complexity out of concepts in learning by providing practical strategies and ideas for teachers that can be implemented in any educational setting. 

To meet the demand for better professional learning materials devoted to conceptual learning, IGE has formulated the IGE Model for Formulating Conceptual Understandings and the three-stage IGE Template for Planning Conceptual Learning. In support of these pivotal resources, Taking the Complexity out of Concepts also includes a number of case studies adapted from IGE’s professional learning work with schools to serve as exemplars of how real-life educators are actually using the resources in their classrooms. 

Although the IGE approach to conceptual learning can be used with any syllabus, the case studies given in this book derive from the Australian Curriculum. Teaching though concepts is the best way to ensure coherency and transferability of learning. In making our method available through this book, IGE hopes that many more teachers and other educators will be able to avoid the complexities and harness the many benefits of conceptual learning.

Innovative Global Education Website

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"An Ethic of Excellence" by Ron Berger is a compelling exploration of educational philosophy and practice. Berger draws upon his own teaching experiences to advocate for the fundamental importance of quality work and critical thinking in education, transcending the traditional versus progressive teaching debate.

Recommended: Video featuring Ron Berger. It's excellent and connects to his book.

Key Ideas

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In the third edition of UDL, Katie Novak provides practical insights and savvy strategies for helping all learners succeed in a post-pandemic world using the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

Novak presents examples throughout the book to make the content relevant and digestible. She concludes each chapter with reflection questions to help teachers apply key concepts to their work. UDL Now! is a fun and effective playbook for great teaching.

This powerful guide for educators covers timely topics including:

**Learn more about UDL


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Every generation faces challenges, but never before have young people been so aware of theirs. Whether due to school strikes for climate change, civil war, or pandemic lockdowns, almost every child in the world has experienced the interruption of their schooling by outside forces. When the world we have taken for granted proves so unstable, it gives rise to the question: what is schooling for?

Thrive advocates a new purpose for education, in a rapidly changing world, and analyses the reasons why change is urgently needed in our education systems. The book identifies four levels of thriving: global – our place in the planet; societal – localities, communities, economies; interpersonal – our relationships; intrapersonal – the self. Chapters provide research-based theoretical evidence for each area, followed by practical international case studies showing how individual schools are addressing these considerable challenges. Humanity's challenges are shifting fast: schools need to be a part of the response.

**Listen to the podcast (The Purpose of Schools in a Changing World) about her book and more

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How do we see children? How do we observe what they are doing? The art of observing children is more than merely the act of watching them—it is also using what you see and hear to craft new opportunities in your classroom. The book provides a wealth of inspiration and practice and will help early childhood educators learn to observe in new ways, witness children's remarkable competencies as they experience childhood, and find new joy in their work with children

"When we neglect to see who children really are, we deprive ourselves of deeper sources of delight. We miss the opportunity to witness the profound process of human development that is unfolding before our eyes. Becoming a careful observer of young children reminds us that what might seem ordinary at a superficial glance is actually quite extraordinary" Deb Curtis and Maggie Carter

The third edition updates include:

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Trust and Inspire by Stephen M.R. Covey is a book that explores the importance of building trust in both personal and professional relationships. Covey argues that trust is essential for creating a culture of collaboration and innovation, and that it is the foundation for effective leadership. The book is divided into two sections: the first focuses on building trust, while the second discusses how to inspire others.

Throughout the book, Covey provides practical advice and examples from his own experiences to illustrate his points. He emphasizes the importance of listening to others, being transparent, and aligning actions with values. Covey also highlights the role of empathy and emotional intelligence in building trust and inspiring others.

Overall, Trust and Inspire is a valuable resource for anyone looking to improve their leadership skills and build more meaningful relationships with others. Covey's insights are both practical and inspiring, making this book a must-read for anyone looking to make a positive impact in their personal and professional lives.

View this wonderful Toddle School Leaders Bootcamp 2023 keynote presentation by Stephen MR Covey where he focuses on what he believes is the leadership crisis today. In his speech, he offers a simple yet bold solution: to shift from this “command and control” model to a leadership style of “trust and inspire.” 


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How to teach big understandings and the ideas that matter most. Everyone has an opinion about education, and teachers face pressures from content standards, high-stakes testing, and countless other directions. But how do we know what today's learners will really need to know in the future? Future Wise: Educating Our Children for a Changing World is a toolkit for approaching that question with new insight.

There is no one answer to the question of what's worth teaching, but with the tools in this book, you'll be one step closer to constructing a curriculum that prepares students for whatever situations they might face in the future.

K-12 teachers and administrators play a crucial role in building a thriving society. David Perkins, founding member and co-director of Project Zero at Harvard's Graduate School of Education, argues that curriculum is one of the most important elements of making students ready for the world of tomorrow. In Future Wise, you'll learn concepts, curriculum criteria, and techniques for prioritizing content so you can guide students toward the big understandings that matter.

Future Wise presents a brand new framework for thinking about education. Curriculum can be one of the hardest things for teachers and administrators to change, but David Perkins shows that only by reimagining what we teach can we lead students down the road to functional knowledge. Future Wise is the practical guidebook you need to embark on this important quest.

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When used effectively, quality questions and student dialogue result in self-regulated learners and formative feedback that reveals progress toward learning goals.

"While most educators agree that giving students a voice in their own education and designing learning with the students in mind are sound and meaningful practices, many educators struggle to bring this approach to fruition. 

Understanding the importance of quality questioning, purposeful dialogue, and formative feedback is important; being able to transfer this understanding into classrooms with students is a critical challenge for educators. Dr. Walsh provides an easy-to-understand, familiar GPS voice to help us make this transfer of principles into actual daily classroom practice." (Stoney M. Beavers, Assistant director, Alabama Best Practices Center)

Learning knows no boundaries. The potential for learning exists whenever and wherever we interact with our environment. So how can we infuse school learning with the authenticity and excitement associated with real-life experiences?

In Questioning for Formative Feedback, Jackie Acree Walsh explores the relationship between questioning and feedback in K–12 classrooms and how dialogue serves as the bridge connecting the two.

Quality questioning, productive dialogue, and authentic use of feedback are a powerful trifecta for addressing the needs of a new generation of learners. In fact, the skillful use of these three processes can fuel and accelerate the academic, social, and emotional learning of all students.

In this book, Walsh provides a manual of practice for educators who want to engage students as partners in these processes. To that end, she offers the following features to help create a classroom in which everyone learns through intentional practice:

Working together, questioning, dialogue, and feedback can transform learning for all. This book supports you in embracing and bringing that vision to fruition.

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Children are born full of curiosity, eager to participate in the world. They learn as they live, with enthusiasm and joy. Then we send them to school. We stop them from playing and actively exploring their interests, telling them it's more important to sit still and listen. The result is that for many children, their motivation to learn drops dramatically. The joy of the early years is replaced with apathy and anxiety.

This is not inevitable. We are socialized to believe that schooling is synonymous with education, but it's only one approach. Self-directed education puts the child back in control of their learning. This enables children, including those diagnosed with special educational needs, to flourish in their own time and on their own terms. It enables us to put wellbeing at the centre of education.

Changing Our Minds brings together research, theory and practice on learning. It includes interviews with influential thinkers in the field of self-directed education and examples from families alongside practical advice. This essential guide will give you an understanding of why self-directed education makes sense, how it works, and what to do to put it into action yourself.

**Recommended: Listen to a Rethinking Education podcast about the book. Dr Naomi Fisher talks about self-directed learning and how schools can do more harm than good.


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Discover a groundbreaking book that will revolutionize your perspective on failure for yourself and for your students, crafted by Amy Edmondson

**View a short video clip of Amy discussing her book.

Gone are the days when failure stood diametrically opposed to success. Today, we grapple with two contrasting "failure cultures": one advocating for the avoidance of failure at all costs, while the other encourages embracing failure swiftly and frequently. However, both paradigms lack the necessary nuance to distinguish between beneficial and detrimental failures, depriving us of the opportunity to fail constructively.

Drawing from years of acclaimed research, Amy Edmondson challenges conventional notions of failure in her latest work, "Right Kind of Wrong." 

In this transformative guide, Edmondson offers a comprehensive framework for contemplating, discussing, and navigating failure with wisdom. By delineating three distinct categories of failure—basic, complex, and intelligent—she demonstrates how to minimize counterproductive failures while extracting valuable insights from a spectrum of mistakes. 

Through compelling anecdotes spanning business, popular culture, and history, Edmondson elucidates tailored strategies, competencies, and mindsets to replace feelings of shame and blame with curiosity, vulnerability, and personal development.

In "Right Kind of Wrong," readers gain invaluable insights into embracing human fallibility, discerning when failure serves as an ally, and mitigating avoidable errors. By internalizing these lessons, individuals, schools and organizations alike can cultivate an environment conducive to taking calculated risks and averting unnecessary harm.

Prepare to redefine your and your students relationship with failure as Edmondson equips you with practical tools and perspectives that ensure failure becomes a catalyst for growth and progress. After delving into this illuminating text, your perception of failure will never be the same.

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Setting the Standard for Project Based Learning by John Larmer is a comprehensive guide for educators looking to implement project-based learning (PBL) in their classrooms. The book offers a practical approach to designing and managing projects, providing step-by-step guidance and essential design elements. The author emphasizes the importance of student leadership, ownership, and collaboration in PBL and offers compelling arguments for its widespread use. 

While the book includes a lot of anecdotal information, the final chapter provides many examples of units and resources that are helpful to professionals looking to implement this strategy. The author suggests that administrators should support professionals and implement only one thing at a time, which could lead to great success in the rollout of PBL in any community. 

Overall, Setting the Standard for Project Based Learning is an excellent resource for educators looking to enhance their teaching and promote student engagement and growth. The book offers practical advice, compelling arguments, and helpful examples for implementing PBL in any classroom or school.

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For the last 15 years, Dr James Mannion and Kate McAllister have been working to design, implement and evaluate the Learning Skills curriculum - a systematic approach to helping students become more confident, practice, self-regulated learners.

An eight-year evaluation with the University of Cambridge revealed that Learning Skills led to significant gains in subject learning across the curriculum, with accelerated gains among students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

This is a book about what happened when a small group of teachers seized an opportunity to provide their students with the knowledge, the skills and the confidence to take control of their own learning. On the other side of fear is the teacher you want to be, and the children you'd like to teach.

Also check out the "From Page to Practice" podcast about the book: Series 2 - Episode 16 - Fear is the Mind Killer by James Mannion and Kate McAllister or HERE


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See Podcast about the book

Redesign education to meet the needs of 21st century students. In the second edition of Leading Modern Learning, authors Jay McTighe and Greg Curtis outline a reworked version of their blueprint for major education reform. More than a simple refresh, the latest edition incorporates new insights, experiences, and tools that will help you implement modern learning practices in your department, school, or district.

Use this book to guide education and curriculum reform and empower modern learners:

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Recommended by Kath Murdoch

Far too often, our students attain only a superficial level of knowledge that fails to prepare them for deeper challenges in school and beyond. In Teaching for Deeper Learning, renowned educators and best-selling authors Jay McTighe and Harvey F. Silver propose a solution: teaching students to make meaning for themselves.

Contending that the ability to "earn" understanding will equip students to thrive in school, at work, and in life, the authors highlight seven higher-order thinking skills that facilitate students' acquisition of information for greater retention, retrieval, and transfer. These skills, which cut across content areas and grade levels and are deeply embedded in current academic standards, separate high achievers from their low-performing peers.

Drawing on their deep well of research and experience, the authors

If our goal is to prepare students to meet the rigorous demands of school, college, and career, then we must foster their ability to respond to such challenges. This comprehensive, practical guide will enable teachers to engage students in the kind of learning that yields enduring understanding and valuable skills that they can use throughout their lives.

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In Leading and Managing a Differentiated Classroom, Carol Ann Tomlinson and Marcia B. Imbeau explore the central priorities and mindsets of differentiation and provide practical guidelines for making effective student-centered, academically responsive instruction a reality. 

Updated with new research and insights, the second edition of this foundational guide to the how of differentiation provides the thoughtful strategies teachers need to create and maintain classrooms where each student is recognized and respected and every student thrives.

Their classroom management approach is based on three critical understandings:

Written for K–12 teachers and instructional leaders, this book is packed with strategies for structuring and pacing lessons, organizing learning spaces and materials, starting and stopping class with purpose, setting up and managing routines, and shifting gears if something isn't going well. It also gives teachers the guidance they need to help students, colleagues, and parents understand the goals of differentiated instruction and contribute to its success. Along with examples of recommended practice drawn from real-life classrooms at a variety of grade levels, you will find answers to frequently asked questions and specific advice for balancing content requirements and the needs of learners. You'll gain confidence as a leader for and in your differentiated classroom and be better prepared to teach in a way that's more efficient and rewarding for you and more effective for every student in your care.


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Develop students’ critical thinking, abstract reasoning, and creative learning skills with concept-based teaching!

Take learning beyond the facts with a teaching approach that develops conceptual thinking and problem-solving skills.

A Concept-Based curriculum recaptures students’ innate curiosity about the world and provides the thrilling feeling of using one’s mind well. Concept-Based teachers will learn how to:

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Recommended by Kath Murdoch

The book rallies educators around a mission of transforming classrooms into cultures of curiosity and inquiry. But it is also meant to be highly practical, filled with real-world examples and case studies that illustrate simple, proven ways to bring more questioning into classrooms. 

Also see:

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Recommended by Kath Murdoch

"Michael Parker’s book 'Talk with your Kids about the Things that Matter' is a fabulous addition to your school library.  The book contains over 100 conversation starters (including some great questions to ask kids) tackling some of the most important and challenging issues connected to big ideas such as inequity, identity, empathy, relationships and sustainability. In addition, Parker uses these questions and conversation prompts to introduce young people to some of the most famous thinkers in history including Plato, Aristotle and Kant. Whether you recommend this book to families or use it to inform your own teaching, it’s a terrific resource." [Kath Murdoch]

Inside this book you’ll find over 100 conversation starters for creating meaningful, thought-provoking discussions. From Plato to veganism, cancel culture to consent, and politics to basic kindness, these topics are set to engage, inspire, and even divide. 

Designed to have no real answer, but rather, stir even more questions, this provocative and deeply engaging book will kick your philosophical gears into action. Ethics encourages readers to dig deeper, put yourself in others’ shoes, and be the best human you can be.


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Recommended by Kath Murdoch

Choice Without Chaos is a book about all about learner agency in the art room.  

What is your goal as an art teacher? Do you want to help build students who know how to be self-directed, find joy in their work, and are able to recognize emerging possibilities in all kinds of situations?

Teaching with choice is in the best interest of students. It not only respects them as learners, but it also helps them to develop traits we value in adults; creativity, perseverance, flexibility, self-expression, and diligence. 

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Philosophical Inquiry shows how to use the tools of philosophy for educational purposes. It is a practical guide to the philosophical arts of questioning, conceptual exploration and reasoning, with wide application across the school curriculum. It provides educators with an effective means of teaching students to think critically and creatively, to use their knowledge to solve problems, to deal with issues, to explore possibilities and work with ideas.  Philosophical Inquiry emphasizes the use of collaborative learning, through class discussion, working with a partner, and small group work. This approach teaches students to think in socially responsible ways. It means that students become not only thinking individuals but also good team-players, with benefits that extend beyond the classroom and the school to community life and the world of work.

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"It is a pleasure to have a full-length treatise on this most important topic and may this focus on transfer become much more debated, taught, and valued in our schools." - John Hattie

Teach students to use their learning to unlock new situations.

Learning That Transfers empowers teachers and curriculum designers alike to harness the critical concepts of traditional disciplines while building students’ capacity to navigate, interpret, and transfer their learning to solve novel and complex modern problems. Using a backwards design approach, this hands-on guide walks teachers step-by-step through the process of identifying curricular goals, establishing assessment targets, and planning curriculum and instruction that facilitates the transfer of learning to new and challenging situations. Key features include:


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"What Makes a Great Principal" provides an insightful look at the key qualities and practices that define truly effective school leaders. Authors George Couros and Allyson Apsey, both experienced educators themselves, outline five core "pillars" that they believe are essential for principals to embody:

Through a mix of research, relatable examples and practical advice, the authors make a compelling case that integrating these five pillars is crucial for creating positive school cultures and driving student success. While targeted primarily at principals, the book offers valuable insights for any current or aspiring educational leader.

Overall, "What Makes a Great Principal" is an insightful and actionable guide for cultivating the mindsets and practices needed to lead an effective 21st century school. The authors' passion for great leadership shines through.

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"This is the right book for right now. Yes, learning requires focus. But, unlearning and relearning requires much more—it requires choosing courage over comfort. In Think Again, Adam Grant weaves together research and storytelling to help us build the intellectual and emotional muscle we need to stay curious enough about the world to actually change it. I’ve never felt so hopeful about what I don’t know.”  —Brené Brown, Ph.D., #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dare to Lead 

The bestselling author of Give and Take and Originals examines the critical art of rethinking: learning to question your opinions and open other people's minds, which can position you for excellence at work and wisdom in life

Intelligence is usually seen as the ability to think and learn, but in a rapidly changing world, there's another set of cognitive skills that might matter more: the ability to rethink and unlearn. In our daily lives, too many of us favor the comfort of conviction over the discomfort of doubt. We listen to opinions that make us feel good, instead of ideas that make us think hard. We see disagreement as a threat to our egos, rather than an opportunity to learn. We surround ourselves with people who agree with our conclusions, when we should be gravitating toward those who challenge our thought process. The result is that our beliefs get brittle long before our bones. We think too much like preachers defending our sacred beliefs, prosecutors proving the other side wrong, and politicians campaigning for approval--and too little like scientists searching for truth. Intelligence is no cure, and it can even be a curse: being good at thinking can make us worse at rethinking. The brighter we are, the blinder to our own limitations we can become.

Organizational psychologist Adam Grant is an expert on opening other people's minds--and our own. As Wharton's top-rated professor and the bestselling author of Originals and Give and Take, he makes it one of his guiding principles to argue like he's right but listen like he's wrong. With bold ideas and rigorous evidence, he investigates how we can embrace the joy of being wrong, bring nuance to charged conversations, and build schools, workplaces, and communities of lifelong learners. You'll learn how an international debate champion wins arguments, a Black musician persuades white supremacists to abandon hate, a vaccine whisperer convinces concerned parents to immunize their children, and Adam has coaxed Yankees fans to root for the Red Sox. Think Again reveals that we don't have to believe everything we think or internalize everything we feel. It's an invitation to let go of views that are no longer serving us well and prize mental flexibility over foolish consistency. If knowledge is power, knowing what we don't know is wisdom.

** This would be an informative book to read alongside listening to the podcasts/videos in the Reimagining Education section.

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Creating a Learner-centred Primary Classroom is an essential resource to improve teaching practice, examining the key elements that contribute to a learner-centred classroom and offering strategies to encourage children to take a shared role in their learning.

Including case studies describing teachers' methods for linking theory to practice, this user-friendly, photocopiable resource demonstrates how to:

Any teacher who wants to practically tailor their teaching practice to meet the needs of individual learners will find this an invaluable resource.


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Concept-Based Inquiry in Action by Carla Marschall, Rachel French

Create a thinking classroom that helps students move from the factual to the conceptual.

Concept-Based Inquiry is a framework for inquiry that promotes deep understanding. The key is using guiding questions to help students inquire into concepts and the relationships between them.

Concept-Based Inquiry in Action provides teachers with the tools and resources necessary to organize and focus student learning around concepts and conceptual relationships that support the transfer of understanding. Step by step, the authors lead both new and experienced educators to implement teaching strategies that support the realization of inquiry-based learning for understanding in any K–12 classroom.

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The Element & Finding Your Element by Sir Ken Robinson

Two books written by Sir Ken Robinson and recommended by Kath Murdoch are: The Element which introduces readers to a new concept of self-fulfillment through the convergence of natural talents and personal passions and Finding Your Element which helps people find their own Element. 

**Finding Your Element: Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk video

The Element is the point at which natural talent meets personal passion. When people arrive at the Element, they feel most themselves and most inspired and achieve at their highest levels. 

With a wry sense of humour, Ken Robinson looks at the conditions that enable us to find ourselves in the Element and those that stifle that possibility. 

Drawing on the stories of a wide range of people, including Paul McCartney, Matt Groening, Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, and Bart Conner, he shows that age and occupation are no barrier and that this is the essential strategy for transform­ing education, business, and communities in the twenty-first century.

Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk video and groundbreaking book, The Element, introduced readers to a new concept of self-fulfillment through the convergence of natural talents and personal passions. 

The Element has inspired readers all over the world and has created for Robinson an intensely devoted following. Now comes the long-awaited companion, the practical guide that helps people find their own Element. Among the questions that this new book answers are:

Finding Your Element comes at a critical time as concerns about the economy, education and the environment continue to grow. The need to connect to our personal talents and passions has never been greater.  As Robinson writes in his introduction, wherever you are, whatever you do, and no matter how old you are, if you’re searching for your Element, this book is for you.

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For students to benefit from lessons, they must attend, listen, and try their best. But at times, almost all teachers struggle to manage classroom behaviour, and to motivate students to learn. Drawing on decades of research on behavioural science, this book offers teachers practical strategies to get students learning. The key is students’ habits. This book reveals simple, powerful ways to help students build habits of success.

Harry Fletcher-Wood shows how teachers can use behavioural science techniques to increase motivation and improve behaviour. He offers clear guidance on topics such as using role models to motivate students, making detailed plans to help students act, and building habits to ensure students keep going. The book addresses five challenges teachers face in encouraging desirable behavior:

Workshops, checklists and real-life examples illustrate how these ideas work in the classroom and make the book a resource to revisit and share. Distilling the evidence into clear principles, this innovative book is a valuable resource for new and experienced teachers alike.

**Listen to the podcast (Behavioural Science, Habit Change and Our Failing Public Institutions) about his book and more


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The Ministry for the Future is a masterpiece of the imagination, using fictional eyewitness accounts to tell the story of how climate change will affect us all. Its setting is not a desolate, postapocalyptic world, but a future that is almost upon us. Chosen by Barack Obama as one of his favorite books of the year, this extraordinary novel from visionary science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson will change the way you think about the climate crisis.

Set in the near future, the novel follows a subsidiary body, established under the Paris Agreement, whose mission is to advocate for the world's future generations of citizens as if their rights are as valid as the present generation's. While they pursue various ambitious projects, the effects of climate change are determined to be the most consequential. The plot primarily follows Mary Murphy, the head of the titular Ministry for the Future, and Frank May, an American aid worker traumatized by experiencing a deadly heat wave in India. Many chapters are devoted to other (mostly anonymous) characters' accounts of future events, as well as their ideas about ecology, economics, and other subjects.

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“Democracy requires the ability of a population to pay attention long enough to identify real problems, distinguish them from fantasies, come up with solutions, and hold their leaders accountable if they fail to deliver them.” Johann Hari has published another knock-out book that is an important read for educators and parents.  In the United States, teenagers can focus on one task for only sixty-five seconds at a time, and office workers average only three minutes. 

Like so many of us, Johann Hari was finding that constantly switching from device to device and tab to tab was a diminishing and depressing way to live. He tried all sorts of self-help solutions—even abandoning his phone for three months—but nothing seemed to work. So Hari went on an epic journey across the world to interview the leading experts on human attention—and he discovered that everything we think we know about this crisis is wrong. 

We think our inability to focus is a personal failure to exert enough willpower over our devices. The truth is even more disturbing: our focus has been stolen by powerful external forces that have left us uniquely vulnerable to corporations determined to raid our attention for profit. Hari found that there are twelve deep causes of this crisis, from the decline of mind-wandering to rising pollution, all of which have robbed some of our attention. In Stolen Focus, he introduces readers to Silicon Valley dissidents who learned to hack human attention, and veterinarians who diagnose dogs with ADHD. He explores a favela in Rio de Janeiro where everyone lost their attention in a particularly surreal way, and an office in New Zealand that discovered a remarkable technique to restore workers’ productivity.

Crucially, Hari learned how we can reclaim our focus—as individuals, and as a society—if we are determined to fight for it. Stolen Focus will transform the debate about attention and finally show us how to get it back.