By: Gene Kerns, EdD, Vice President and Chief Academic Officer, Renaissance USA
There’s nothing quite like reading a great book on a warm summer day—whether it’s in the comfort of an air-conditioned home or outside under the shade of a backyard tree. Summer is a good time to play a bit of catch up with your “to read” list—and as an educator, you’re no doubt happy to have some downtime to research the latest education trends. Below are six books that were on my reading list—and the lists of many educators I speak to—during this past school year. Each one explores different ideas for maximizing student growth in and out of the classroom:
1. The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle
Journalist Daniel Coyle visited nine places known for producing huge amounts of talent and noticed similar methods of training, motivation, and coaching. In The Talent Code, Coyle dives into how we can unlock our own talents and those of our students using the same methods.
2. The End of Average by Todd Rose
Despite knowing that people learn differently, many schools and businesses are designed around a one-size-fits-all model. Rose offers an alternative to understanding individuals through averages: the three principles of individuality. The jaggedness principle (talent is always jagged), the context principle (traits are a myth), and the pathways principle (we all walk the road less traveled) help us understand our true uniqueness—and that of others—and how to take full advantage of individuality to gain an edge in life.
3. Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertiseby Anders Ericsson
Have you ever wanted to learn a language or pick up an instrument, only to become too daunted by the task at hand? Peak condenses three decades of research to introduce an incredibly powerful approach to learning. Ericsson offers invaluable, often counter-intuitive, advice on setting goals, getting feedback, identifying patterns, and motivating yourself. At Renaissance, we’re especially excited about Peak, as Ericsson has agreed to host a webinar for us—you can watch the recording here.
4. Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin
Did you know scientific evidence doesn’t support the notion that specific natural talents make great performers? According to distinguished journalist Geoff Colvin, what really makes the difference is a highly specific kind of effort—deliberate practice—that few of us pursue when we’re practicing. Based on scientific research, Colvin shares the secrets of extraordinary performance and shows how to apply these principles.
5. The Genius in All of Us by David Shenk
In The Genius in All of Us, Shenk debunks the long-standing notion of genetic “giftedness” and presents new scientific research showing how greatness is in the reach of every individual. Shenk argues that our genes are not the blueprint for our futures. Instead, they are a product of complex interplay between genes and outside stimuli—a dynamic that we, as educators and parents, can influence.
6. Revolutionize Assessment by Rick Stiggins
In Revolutionize Assessment, Stiggins combines decades of experience with international research to define a vision that uses assessment to supercharge student learning, not merely measure it. Stiggins analyzes the motivational psychology of being evaluated in the classroom from the student’s perspective, offers strategies for engaging students in self-assessment in ways that maximize their engagement and confidences as they learn, and details the long-missing conditions of classroom assessment literacy that must be in place in local schools.