LAC Book Recommendations

  • Academic Conversations

    by Jeff Zwiers and Marie Crawford Year Published: 2011
    Where would we be without conversation? Throughout history, conversations have allowed us to see different perspectives, build ideas, and solve problems. Conversations, particularly those referred to in this book as academic conversations, push students to think and learn in lasting ways. Academic conversations are back-and-forth dialogues in which students focus on a topic and explore it by building, challenging, and negotiating relevant ideas.

    Unfortunately, academic conversations are rare in many classrooms. Talk is often dominated by the teacher and a few students, or it does not advance beyond short responses to the teacher's questions. Even certain teaching approaches and curriculum programs neglect to train students how to maintain a focused, respectful, and thoughtful conversation.

    To address these challenges, authors Jeff Zwiers and Marie Crawford have identified five core communication skills to help students hold productive academic conversations across content areas. These skills include: elaborating and clarifying, supporting ideas with evidence, building on and/or challenging ideas, paraphrasing, and synthesizing. This book shows teachers how to weave the cultivation of academic conversation skills and conversations into current teaching approaches. More specifically, it describes how to use conversations to build the following:

    • Academic vocabulary and grammar
    • Critical thinking skills such as persuasion, interpretation, consideration of multiple perspectives, evaluation, and application
    • Literacy skills such as questioning, predicting, connecting to prior knowledge, and summarizing
    • Complex and abstract essential understandings in content areas such as adaptation, human nature, bias, conservation of mass, energy, gravity, irony, democracy, greed, and more
    • An academic classroom environment brimming with respect for others' ideas, equity of voice, engagement, and mutual support
    The ideas in this book stem from many hours of classroom practice, research, and video analysis across grade levels and content areas. Readers will find numerous practical activities for working on each conversation skill, crafting conversation-worthy tasks, and using conversations to teach and assess. Academic Conversations offers an in-depth approach to helping students develop into the future parents, teachers, and leaders who will collaborate to build a better world
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  • Access to Academics- Planning Instruction for K-12 Classrooms with ELLs

    by Joy L. Egbert and Gisela Ernst-Slavit Year Published: 2010
    Access to Academics: Planning Instruction for K-12 Classrooms with ELLs takes a different look at language than most other books – it addresses it as something students must use constantly, in a variety of school venues and in different ways depending on the context. The book shows language as vital to content access and thereby academic achievement, but, more importantly, it also provides step-by-step instructions explaining how to help students acquire the language they need. Although the main emphasis is on English language learners (ELLs), the term “diverse learners” used throughout also encompasses the great variety in any classroom of student backgrounds, abilities, needs, and interests.
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  • Core Six- Essential Strategies for Achieing Excellence with the Common Core

    by Harvey F. Silver, R.Thomas Dewing, Matthew J.Perini Year Published: 2012
    Six research-based, classroom-proven strategies that will help you and your students respond to the demands of the Common Core.
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  • Switch- How to Change When Change is Hard

    by Chip Heath and Dan Heath Year Published: 2010

    Switch asks the following question: Why is it so hard to make lasting changes in our companies, in our communities, and in our own lives? The primary obstacle, say the Heaths, is a conflict that’s built into our brains. Psychologists have discovered that our minds are ruled by two different systems—the rational mind and the emotional mind—that compete for control. The rational mind wants a great beach body; the emotional mind wants that Oreo cookie. The rational mind wants to change something at work; the emotional mind loves the comfort of the existing routine. This tension can doom a change effort—but if it is overcome, change can come quickly.

    In Switch, the Heaths show how everyday people—employees and managers, parents and nurses—have united both minds and, as a result, achieved dramatic results:

    • The lowly medical interns who managed to defeat an entrenched, decades-old medical practice that was endangering patients.
    • The home-organizing guru who developed a simple technique for overcoming the dread of housekeeping.
    • The manager who transformed a lackadaisical customer-support team into service zealots by removing a standard tool of customer service.

    In a compelling, story-driven narrative, the Heaths bring together decades of counterintuitive research in psychology, sociology, and other fields to shed new light on how we can effect transformative change. Switch shows that successful changes follow a pattern, a pattern you can use to make the changes that matter to you, whether your interest is in changing the world or changing your waistline.

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  • Thirty Million Words- Building a Child's Brain

    by Dana Suskind MD Year Published: 2015
    *Nominated for the Books for a Better Life Award*

    The founder and director of the Thirty Million Words Initiative, Professor Dana Suskind, explains why the most important—and astoundingly simple—thing you can do for your child’s future success in life is to talk to him or her, reveals the recent science behind this truth, and outlines precisely how parents can best put it into practice.

     
    The research is in: Academic achievement begins on the first day of life with the first word said by a cooing mother just after delivery.

    A study by researchers Betty Hart and Todd Risley in 1995 found that some children heard thirty million fewer words by their fourth birthdays than others. The children who heard more words were better prepared when they entered school. These same kids, when followed into third grade, had bigger vocabularies, were stronger readers, and got higher test scores. This disparity in learning is referred to as the achievement gap.

    Professor Dana Suskind, MD, learned of this thirty million word gap in the course of her work as a cochlear implant surgeon at University of Chicago Medical School and began a new research program along with her sister-in-law, Beth Suskind, to find the best ways to bridge that gap. The Thirty Million Word Initiative has developed programs for parents to show the kind of parent-child communication that enables optimal neural development and has tested the programs in and around Chicago across demographic groups. They boil down to getting parents to follow the three Ts: Tune in to what your child is doing; Talk more to your child using lots of descriptive words; and Take turns with your child as you engage in conversation. Parents are shown how to make the words they serve up more enriching. For example, instead of telling a child, “Put your shoes on,” one might say instead, “It is time to go out. What do we have to do?” The lab's new five-year longitudinal research program has just received funding so they can further corroborate their results. 

    The neuroscience of brain plasticity is some of the most valuable and revolutionary medical science being done today. It enables us to think and do better. It is making a difference in the lives of both the old and young.  If you care for children, this landmark book is essential reading
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