Five Powerful Professional Books

By Justin Lim on November 10, 2009

Anybody who has gone through a credentialing program knows of the plethora of  professional literature for teachers. For many educators, much of the challenge is the simple act of determining which of these many texts to use. During my first year teaching, I was overwhelmed with the amount of available professional books. For those of you who have had similar experiences, I would like to share with you a few of the texts that have made it to the top of my list. That Don’t Bore ‘Em: Young Adult Books That Speak to This Generation
By Jim Blasingame

For any teacher who has a classroom library, this is an awesome resource. For me, it's been extremely useful for the simple fact that I don't have time to read all of the books that are in my class library. Books That Don't Bore 'Em is essentially a list of high interest books and short summaries. It's very practical in that it provides useful information, such as what grade level a book is written at and what similar books a reader might enjoy. When I look for texts to add to my library, I use this book along with the Scholastic Book Wizard. in Action
By Judith Dodge

Differentiation in Action, is a text that focuses on how to address the needs of students who learn in different ways. This book will be particularly valuable for teachers who work with English Learners and Special Populations. There is a heavy emphasis on Bloom's Taxonomy, which means that it provides ideas for how to get students to access higher level thinking skills. I appreciate Differentiation in Action because the strategies are practical and can be implemented in the classroom immediately. There are also a lot of reproducible pages and a "How Am I Smart?" self-assessment.

Scholastic Read-Aloud Anthology

By Patrick Daley, Janet Allenby Patrick Daley, Janet Allen

This is a book that I use to show struggling readers that reading can be really enjoyable for them. It's a collection of short stories that are two to three pages each. I like this resource because the stories are short and interesting, which makes them ideal for a quick read as an opener or a closer. I've also noticed that for many of my English Learners, the stories in this anthology are great supplements to more difficult grade level anthologies. Powerful Writing: 25 Short Read-Aloud Stories and Lessons That Motivate Students to Use Literary Elements in Their Writing
By Bob Sizoo

This is a book that will be useful for English teachers who want to stay focused on meeting state content standards while teaching writing. Essentially, it contains short stories that focus on specific literary elements (e.g., flashback, plot, characterization, etc.). Each story then has a writing assignment, where students are asked to apply that same literary element. I find the text useful because while students are learning content (the specific literary element) and they are also practicing a skill (writing). I also like the fact that the stories are all relatively short and easy, because the ones contained in the standard grade level texts are often too difficult for English Learners. We Teach
By Linda Alston

Why We Teach is actually a sort of professional/motivational hybrid book. It's a collection of real life accounts of Linda Alston, a teacher who has experienced more than her share of tough situations working with low-income students. I like this book because, quite frankly, the stories are moving and they really speak to me. At the end of each chapter (each chapter is a story) is a list of reflection questions about the principles being taught. This is a book that I would recommend to all teachers because not only is it inspirational, but it's also full of insights and lessons about how to deal with children.

As always, if any of you have other professional books that you would highly recommend, please do not hesitate to share!

Warm regards,

Justin Lim

Rosemead High School

El Monte Union High School District


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