A Summer Reading List for Educators

Mary Beth Hertz is a certified Instructional Technology Specialist and K-7 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA. She has presented at a number of conferences and is a blogger and avid user of social media. She is also a co-organizer of Edcamp Philly and sits on the Edcamp Foundation Board. She was also named an ISTE Emerging Leader in 2010. She is passionate about making school meaningful and about all things edtech.


Now that school has wound down and we can all come up for air, it’s time to start thinking about next year. If you’re like me, you’ve been thinking about next year and how you will do things differently since May. Now that you have some time to reflect and learn to inform your planning for next year, here are some suggested titles for your summer beach reading and viewing.

Digital Life

Crap Detection 101: How to Distinguish Good and Bad Information Howard Rheingold, video 2011

Rheingold has been writing about the digital world since the 1980s and this video is a must-see for any educator navigating the overloaded world of information with their students or as a professional.

NetSmart: How to Thrive Online Howard Rheingold 2012

While I haven’t had a chance to read Rheingold’s newest book, it is on my to-read list because of his wide range of expertise and experience in the field of digital life.

About Teaching

Understanding the Common Core John Kendall 2011

This tiny, inexpensive book is great guide to the events leading up to the adoption of the Common Core along with some of the thinking behind its structure and purpose. Although it is a bit biased, since it is written by a drafter of the document, I found it a great introduction to what is coming down the line.

The Power of Our Words Paula Denton 2007

This book, part of the Responsive Classroom model’s book series, changed the way I speak to my students. It provides practical, real examples of how changing your words can change your classroom dynamic and your teaching.

Never Work Harder Than Your Students Robyn Jackson 2009

As the title suggests, this book is focused on getting you as a teacher to put more of the responsibility for learning onto your students. It is practical and realistic and gave me a lot to reflect on.

Curriculum 21 Heidi Hayes Jacobs 2010

Although this book came out a decade into the new century, Jacobs argues that it is time to completely overhaul our curriculums and create a new ‘operating system’ for our schools. An important read for any current educator.

Brain Rules John Medina 2008

This book created in me a sort of obsession for brain-based learning theories for a while. Medina approaches highly scientific concepts in an easily digested way that makes simple connections to learning for educators to reflect on. Not only does what he describe make sense to anyone who has ever taught, it is based on hard science.

Making Learning Whole David Perkins 2008

After I finished Brain Rules, I picked up this wonderful book about creating learning experiences for students that break the current mold of subjects and segmented learning by thinking about teaching and learning the same way we think about teaching and learning how to play games like baseball. Perkins builds out this metaphor in a way that not only ‘sticks’ but offers guidelines and examples for educators.


Walk Out Walk On Deborah Frieze, Margaret Wheatley 2011

All I can say is that this book made me begin to question a lot of things. The authors take you on a journey through a non-fiction, first-person account of communities around the world stepping up and taking charge of their communities rather than waiting around for experts to come save them. If you have ever been part of a grassroots community (like Edcamp) this book will speak to you. If you haven’t, it will open your mind.

Teacher Man Frank McCourt 2005

My grandparents gave this book to me years ago (probably when it first came out) and it took a while for me to pick it up. When I did, I was immediately glad I had. This is an autobiography of a teacher in New York City. McCourt’s story is one of persistence, dedication and inspiration for anyone who has ever taught.

The Element Sir Ken Robinson 2009

By now, Robinson is almost a hero in the education world for his influential TED talk about creativity. After watching his video for the umpteenth time, I finally purchased his book. I was not disappointed. While not an educator, I found the stories inside inspiring and the message to discover and follow your passions a powerful one.

Feel free to share your own recommendations!

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