When I look at my bookshelves, I have come to a realization… I am a hoarder! I have so many teacher professional development books… but there are few that have really shaped my thinking about “best practices.” These are the books that I return to and reread. These are the books that are littered with Post-its and scribbled notes in the margins. Does your administration want to know the research behind the practices in your classroom? These books are PACKED with research!
Writing Professional Development
Teaching writing to emergent writers is my thing! I sincerely LOVE it, but that was not always the case. I used to feel overwhelmed and a wee bit paralyzed by the subject. So… I started reading!
During my years as a literacy coach, we read Scaffolding Young Writers by Linda Dorn and Carla Soffos. Using this book, we formed our beliefs about writers’ workshop. This is a fantastic book that addresses writing development for K-3 students.
These next two books REALLY are my favorite MUST have books when it comes to teaching young writers to write. Because it is one thing to think about teaching writing to students who know letters and sounds, but what does it look like when students don’t have transcription skills? Engaging Young Writers by Matt Glover was written for ME! Ok… not really, but it sure sounded like it.
I could go on and on about In Pictures and In Words by Katie Wood Ray. In fact I did! Several years ago, I lead a book study on this VERY book! You will find a TON of mentor text ideas in these posts:
- In Pictures and in Words (Chapters 1-6)
- In Pictures and in Words (Chapters 7)
- In Pictures and in Words (Chapter 8)
- In Pictures and in Words (Chapter 9)
- In Pictures and in Words (Chapter 10)
- In Pictures and in Words (Chapter 11)
After reading these books and adjusting my beliefs about writing, Deanna Jump and I sat down and wrote our BEST selling writers’ workshop units. These units are designed for emergent writers, so they are perfect for kindergarten and first grade. They take the guess work out of HOW to teach writing. Each day is planned for you in detail. All you have to do it TEACH! You can see these units by clicking HERE.
Reading Instruction Professional Development
If you are struggling with curriculum that has been handed down to you and you feel it is not meeting the needs of your classroom, Teaching with Intention is the book for you.
Reading with Meaning is simply the gold standard in my opinion.
Text Dependent Questions by Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey helped form my thinking around close reading. This books walks teachers through the process of planning lessons around a particular read aloud.
These are the books that we (Deanna Jump and I) used to write our Guiding Readers Series. We have heard from scores of teachers who have said our series has transformed their classroom. Teachers report that their students are connecting deeply with texts like never before! Here is just one teacher’s feedback:
I used “Ice Bear” for my formal observation. The kids were so ENGAGED! I had never heard of the book before, but my kids loved it. I rocked my observation and my principal was so impressed!
Small Group Professional Development
Making the Most of Small Groups by Debbie Diller is a great place to start when you are thinking about small group instruction. Again, as an instructional coach, we used this book (among others) to guide our professional development. This is a simple, easy to ready, book that is filled with practical ideas and tips!
The Next Step in Guided Reading by Jan Richardson is fantastic. This would make a sensational whole school book study!
These are the books that helped shape my understanding of guided reading. Small group instruction is not sitting around a table doing “Round Robin” reading… please do not do “Round Robin.” Small group instruction is about differentiating your lessons to meet the needs of your individual students. Deanna and I created leveled readers based on the research that has been provided in these two books (among others). You can see those leveled texts HERE.
I have also created a series of small group activities that are specific to teacher-lead instruction. You can see those activities HERE.
Math Professional Development
Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics: Developmentally Appropriate Instruction for Grades Pre-K-2 is a MUST. Besides having the world’s longest title, it is packed with a gazillion “best practices” for teaching math.
Math Work Stations by Debbie Diller is phenomenal. This book offers practical ideas and so you can keep your students practicing math skills independently. I lead a professional book study on this book. You can read more about that book study by clicking below:
What are some of your favorite teacher professional development books?