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Top Books for Teachers: Guaranteed to Make Teaching Easier

June 8, 2024 No Comments

Navigating the challenges of modern education requires the right tools and insights. In this blog post, I’ve curated a list of essential books for teachers. These selections cover classroom management, science instruction, and culturally relevant teaching. Each book offers practical advice, research-based strategies, and real-world examples. Whether you’re looking to enhance your teaching methods or find new ways to engage your students, these books will be invaluable additions to your professional library. Let’s explore these top picks that can help transform your teaching experience.

Top Books for Teachers: Science and Beyond

I read A LOT of books on education. Some of them are incredible and transformative. Others are not. To save you time and energy, I’ve curated a comprehensive list of the top books for teachers. This list includes books specifically written for science teachers and others that are general. One of the books on this list isn’t even written for teachers.

What I look for in Educational Books

Although I read a lot of books on education, I’m quite picky about what I recommend. Many of the books I read feel like they are trying to hit a certain page count, restating their thesis over and over. And, other books don’t align with the realities of working in a classroom. So, I’ve weeded out the list and only included the best books.

Here are my criteria:

  1. The books must be concise. Our time is precious and the books I’ll suggest reflect that.
  2. They need to be transformative. They present new or updated ideas. If the books are
  3. They must be readable. One of the books I refer to most often didn’t make the list because its just too dense.

Top Books for Science Teachers

Finding the right books can transform a science teacher’s approach. The right resources spark curiosity and make complex topics understandable. This list includes books that offer research-based strategies and real-world examples. Whether you’re new to teaching or looking to refresh your methods, these books are essential additions to your collection. Let’s dive into these top picks that will enrich your teaching and inspire your students.

Exploring Instructional Sequences

When I started exploring the NGSS, I struggled to understand instructional sequences. This book, however, was concise and made the explore-before-explain approach totally clear. It clarified complex concepts and connected them directly to NGSS standards, making it easier to implement effective teaching strategies.

There are different versions for different grade-level bands so here are the additional links.

Instructional Sequence Matters, Grades 6–8: Structuring Lessons With the NGSS in Mind

This book unlocks the explore-before-explain approach for me and was vital for helping me understand instructional sequences.

Versions of this book include:

Pros:
  • Explains why instructional sequences matter
  • Clarifies the 5-E model
  • Discusses best practices for designing instructional sequences that improve learning
Cons:
  • Different version for each grade level so you may need to purchase more than one version
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Cultural Relevance and Science Education

This book delves into the complex interplay between race, language, and science culture in the classroom. It highlights how the nature of science teaching can amplify these conflicts. With solid evidence, it explores the cognitive and emotional impacts on students. Additionally, it clarifies what culturally relevant science education looks like in practice, offering valuable insights for creating an inclusive learning environment.

Science in the City: Culturally Relevant STEM Education (Race and Education)

Culturally relevant teaching practices are often unclear to science teachers because they aren't given examples of what these practices look like in science education. This book solves that problem and provides clarity around practices that may be limiting the potential of students in the science classroom.

Pros:
  • Clarifies what cultural relevance looks like in science education
  • Focuses on the funds of knowledge students bring to the classroom
  • Exposes sources of implicit bias in the science classroom
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Decoding the NGSS

With the release of the NGSS, many educators have questions about integrating the standards into their curriculum. Rodger W. Bybee’s book, Translating the NGSS for Classroom Instruction, offers essential guidance. It provides an introduction to NGSS and examples of how to apply the standards in elementary, middle, and high school classrooms. Bybee emphasizes the importance of teachers enabling students to learn science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas. This book is a crucial resource for adapting instruction to meet NGSS requirements.

Translating the NGSS for Classroom Instruction

This book explains the relationships between the 3 dimensions of the NGSS and how it relates to your curriculum. It also clearly explains the significance of instructional sequences, phenomena and other shifts that aren't always apparent when reviewing your content standards.

Pros:
  • Decodes all three dimensions of the NGSS and explains the relationship between them
  • Provides a wide-range of examples in various content areas
  • Clarifies common misconceptions surrounding the standards
Cons:
  • Focuses on many content areas so some readers feel there aren't enough examples for their content area
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Help with Classroom Management and Effective Learning Environments

More and more often, I’m hearing from teachers that traditional methods for classroom management aren’t working, leaving teachers feeling overwhelmed and dissatisfied. Many educators aren’t receiving adequate training to handle today’s classroom realities. The books on this list offer enormously helpful strategies and insights. They provide practical advice and innovative approaches to create a positive and effective learning environment. These resources can help teachers regain control and satisfaction in their profession.

Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain

This is not a classroom management book. However, after reading this book I understood the factors that were preventing my students from learning to their full capacity. And, with this new understanding, I adjusted my practices. Employing the ideas from this book made it so I didn’t have to rely on traditional “management” of students. Instead, I built a more inclusive community in my classroom. As a result, there were less behaviors to manage.

If you are only going to read one book, this is the one I’d recommend.

Better than Carrots or Sticks

Before reading this book, I didn’t understand the benefits of restorative practices. I had a group of students I had trouble connecting with, and I knew I needed to make some changes in my classroom practices. However, I didn’t know where to start.

I started using the strategies from this book and immediately saw changes in that class. Students were excited to come to class and participate in restorative circles. Also, I found that it was easier for me to build relationships with students despite large class sizes.

Better Than Carrots or Sticks: Restorative Practices for Positive Classroom Management

The strategies provided in this book will make a huge difference in your classroom. This book provides practical examples of restorative practices in simplified terms that make them easy to implement. If you are looking for a good place to start, this book is for you.

Pros:
  • Clarifies the reasons behind many classroom behaviors
  • Simplifies restorative practices
  • Strategies that work quickly
Cons:
  • This book is a brief overview so you may need to look elsewhere for more example of strategies
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Picture This

The strategies in this book are a game changer. For example, there are several examples of visual procedures with examples and non-examples. Also, there are visual cards to redirect students engaging in unwanted behaviors. The central premiss is that these strategies allow teachers to talk less so that they can teach more. And, these strategies wouldn’t take long to implement in your classroom. But, they could cut down on so much stress and aggravation.

But, this is the only book that I will issue a strong warning about. I believe strongly in the ideas presented in the book and believe they are valuable. However, there are some things that feel a bit antiquated. For example, the authors spend a lot of time discussing behavior issues that are quite minor, like dress code and hat wearing. Many districts are shifting away from strict dress codes and hat policies at this time.

Picture This! Visuals and Rubrics to Teach Procedures, Save Your Voice, and Love Your Students

This book will help you make your expectations incredibly clear through visual expectations, non-verbal redirection strategies and more.

Pros:
  • Helps make classroom expectations more clear without adding a ton to your task list
  • Ideas for redirecting students non-verbally
  • Tons of examples
Cons:
  • Some of the expectation included are outdated (ie. dress code)
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Other Books for Teachers to Consider

There are several other titles that I wanted to include. But, they didn’t fit into a specific category. So, here are a few more books that will make a difference in your classroom.

Rethinking Grading

Many grading practices are questionable and don’t focus on learning. Unfortunately, this is a huge source of bias in the classroom. As a result, many districts are rethinking their grading practices. This book is an excellent resource if you want to explore your own grading policies, but don’t want to delve into some of the meatier works.

Rethinking Grading: Meaningful Assessment for Standards-Based Learning

There are many issues with grading systems. These systems often emphasis organization, good behavior and compliance over learning. This book addresses many of those issues clearly and concisely.

Pros:
  • Addresses common issues with grading policies
  • Thought Provoking and Insightful
  • Concise and Easy to Read
Cons:
  • Teachers still have questions about effectiveness
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50 Strategies to Boost Cognitive Engagement

I love cooperative learning strategies. And, increasing discourse in your classroom is one of the most effective ways to improve learning in the classroom. This book is a comprehensive list of strategies that boost engagement without sacrificing learning.

Fifty Strategies to Boost Cognitive Engagement: Creating a Thinking Culture in the Classroom (50 Teaching Strategies to Support Cognitive Development)

If you are struggling to maintain behavior and your students are disengaged, this is an excellent resource. These strategies will keep your students moving and engaging in discourse.

Pros:
  • Easily scannable
  • Lots of examples
  • Includes the reasoning behind using these strategies
Cons:
  • Longer than it needed to be
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Your Brain’s Not Broken

Most people don’t know that I was recently diagnosed with ADHD. Since then, I’ve been reading a lot about it. And, part of the reason I wasn’t diagnosed until now is that I didn’t know the symptoms I experienced were common in women with ADHD.

This book is incredibly helpful in understanding the symptoms. Author Tamara Rosier uses analogies to help readers understand the different aspects of the disorder. This book isn’t written for teachers. However, I’d highly recommend it for anyone who suspects that they have ADHD or who recently received a diagnosis. Also, this book is short and valuable for anyone interested in learning more about ADHD.

Your Brain's Not Broken: Strategies for Navigating Your Emotions and Life with ADHD

This book was personally eye opening and helped me understand the complex nature of ADHD. This is a great book for anyone with ADHD or who would like more information about it.

Pros:
  • Uses analogies to discuss ADHD symptoms
  • Provides insight about how ADHD affects self esteem
  • Emphasizes the use of skills
Cons:
  • Not specifically written for teachers
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Books for Teachers to Add to their Classroom Library

I’ve curated a list of books for elementary teachers to add to their libraries. The list includes titles for early elementary and upper elementary. Click here to check out the list.

Erin Sadler

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