Our Summer of 2023 Book Review Festival

We’ve had so many good reviews of insightful and helpful books during the past 12 months. You can browse them all, chronologically, by visiting our book review category.

Here are 20 frequently clicked examples – written by our pool of educator volunteers across a range of topics – that MiddleWeb visitors found informative and often illuminating. You’ll discover lots of professional learning opportunities in these pages. (Want more choices? See our 2022 list here.)

Bring the Power of Patterns Alive in Gr. 6-8

Patterns of Power for grades 6–8 is a teacher-friendly, easy-to-navigate book that uses the invitation process to help student writers move beyond the traditional study of grammar so they can appreciate the patterns of language and conventions, writes consultant Anne Anderson.

Infuse Your Classroom with Meaning and Fun

To infuse classrooms with meaning, relevance and lots of fun, Joyful Learning author and instructional coach Stephanie Farley calls for keeping your teaching student-centered, Develop essential questions, make connections, support effective small group learning, and assess for progress, not just a grade. A super summer read, writes consultant Cathy Gassenheimer.

Leadership Traits That Engage and Transform

School leaders and leaders-to-be will find a rich resource in Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey’s Leader Credibility. The authors and their contributing co-authors use research, anecdotes and their own experiences to help readers engage, inspire and transform their schools, writes teacher/leader Jeny Randall.

How to Implement Rigor by Design, Not Chance

Rigor by Design, Not Chance by Karin Hess is well researched, clear in providing the essentials to increase rigor and engagement, and timely in helping educators plan for the deeper learning needed now more than ever to build lifelong learners, writes NBCT Kathleen Palmieri.

Use Quick Conferences to Grow Mathematicians

Gina Picha’s book offers advice, examples and resources to sustain brief math conferences that focus on listening and observing, naming students’ strengths, and encouraging them to share ideas. Fifth grade math teacher Kathie Palmieri finds it a practical, easy-to-implement guide.

Implementing Antibias and Antiracist Work

In Start Here Start Now, Liz Kleinrock explores the challenges educators face in bringing antibias and antiracist work into the classroom. Kleinrock writes with humor and empathy, says teacher leader Jeny Randall, offering simple-to-implement strategies for every subject and school setting.

Dynamic Strategies to Integrate Arts into ELA

Integrating the Arts in Language Arts is a treasure trove of instructional ideas with thorough explanations for each activity, key vocabulary, recommended resources, and additional support exclusive to each art form. Research based, too, writes consultant Anne Anderson.

What Students Need in Civic Education Now

In Becoming Active Citizens Tom Driscoll and Shawn W. McCusker offer a compendium of the latest approaches and ideas in civic education. Their strategies equip teachers across academic disciplines with the tools to navigate this ever-changing landscape, writes teacher/leader Sarah Cooper.


Keys to Questioning for Formative Feedback

Questioning for Formative Feedback by nationally recognized expert Jackie Acree Walsh is full of insightful, thought provoking, and practical ways to infuse a classroom with formative questioning, encourage student dialogue, and lead to deeper learning for all. A great professional learning adventure, says reviewer Kathie Palmieri.

Use Mentor Texts to Multitask: Less Is More!

Mentor Texts That Multitask by Pam Koutrakos is a perfect ELA resource for working smarter, not harder, says reviewer Pam Hamilton. It leads readers through the why, what and how of using mentor texts to design flexible, integrated, multifaceted literacy learning – and includes free online resources.

Team Leader Moves That Impact Adult Learning

Intentional Moves: How Skillful Team Leaders Impact Learning by bestselling Corwin author Elisa MacDonald is a treasure for any educator who is a coach, a team leader, a school-based administrator, or spends a significant amount of their time working with professional colleagues, writes adult learning consultant Cathy Gassenheimer.

SEL: Empower Teachers to Support Students

Social-Emotional Learning Starts with Us by Trisha DiFazio and Allison Roeser offers SEL stories from educators, experts, and students, along with grade-level activities. The authors not only share their knowledge and expertise, writes consultant Anne Anderson, they share their hearts.

How Reimagining Book Clubs Deepens Learning

If you’ve found class book clubs frustrating, it’s time to read Sara Kugler’s Better Book Clubs: Deepening Comprehension and Elevating Conversation. She guides teachers through each step in developing clubs that will have students eager to read and talk about books. Literacy leader Sarah Valter highly recommends this resource.

Strengthen Instructional Leadership Teams

We cannot continue to subject students to practices that are clearly not working. In Collective Leader Efficacy, former principal Peter M. DeWitt shows how to move forward in a team effort, empowering educators to center on students, writes reviewer and district HR leader Brian Taylor.

How Can We Create a Dynamic Classroom?

In the compact, action-oriented Answers to Your Biggest Questions about Creating a Dynamic Classroom, Serena Pariser and Victoria Lentfer address teachers’ five most common questions about high-functioning classrooms, offering practical ways to build routines, minimize off-task behaviors, and engage students in truly meaningful ways. A great resource, says NBCT Kathie Palmieri.

Stepping Forward in Word Study and Phonics

Richardson and Dufresne’s The Next Step Forward in Word Study and Phonics helps educators differentiate and imbed phonics and word study skills within a variety of literacy contexts. Reading specialist Beth Hassinger shares how she plans to use the book’s resources with in her everyday teaching.

Translating Research into Coaching Practice

With increasingly limited time in schools to support staff and students, curating a collection of concise strategies can facilitate deeper coaching conversations to improve the craft of teaching. Teacher and instructional coach Amy Tucker has found a timely resource in Jim Knight’s The Instructional Playbook: The Missing Link for Translating Research into Practice.

Supporting the Growth of Bright, Complex Kids

Bright Complex Kids: Supporting Their Social and Emotional Development by Jean Sunde Peterson and Daniel B. Peters is highly readable and highly evidentially rigorous in helping educators, families and health professionals identify and work with gifted children of all socio-economic backgrounds, writes educator Amy Estersohn.

Add Movie Magic to Boost SEL in Class

Educator and former AMLE Middle School TOY Amber Chandler has written a feel-good book that prepares any teacher to guide students through 10 films that address a range of SEL topics, says teacher/leader Sarah Cooper. Movie Magic in the Classroom focuses on movies that create a sense of belonging and help build an inclusive community. For ELA, history and more.

Classroom Management Anchored in Community

We Belong: 50 Strategies to Create Community and Revolutionize Classroom Management by middle school leaders Laurie Barron and Patti Kinney offers a community-forward approach to classroom management, writes middle school leader Michael McLaughlin. The authors promote a culture in which schools become “places where [students] can discover who they are and who they want to become” through the year.

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MiddleWeb is all about the middle grades, with great 4-8 resources, book reviews, and guest posts by educators who support the success of young adolescents. And be sure to subscribe to MiddleWeb SmartBrief for the latest middle grades news & commentary from around the USA.

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