Outside the Classroom

April’s Top Books on Education: See What’s Coming Out This Month!

Got some free time on your hands? Every month, countless books designed to help teachers, administrators, students, and parents are published, but figuring out which ones to read can be difficult. Looking to learn more about mindfulness and how to use it in the classroom? We’ve got a book for you! Or maybe you’d like to explore how gardening can be used to help children learn more about science. Well we’ve got a book for that, too! We’ve even got a bonus book for those of you feeling overworked this month, where comedian Gerry Brooks shares stories from his time as a principal to help you remember that yes, doing what you do is difficult, but there’s also humor and lots of joy to be found in it, too.

We’ve done the work of finding April’s top books on education so you don’t have to. All that’s left for you to do is visit your local bookseller or library, choose one (or all six), and start reading!

Mindful Classrooms: Daily 5-Minute Practices to Support Social-Emotional Learning (PreK to Grade 5)
James Butler

Teaching students how to focus and self-regulate at a young age can provide them with skills that will help throughout their schooling and adult lives. Like anyone, they need easy-to-remember tools and strategies to calm their minds and focus on the moment. This interactive, research-based curriculum helps preK and elementary teachers integrate simple, ready-to-use stretching, breathing, and reflective exercises as well as other mindfulness practices into their daily classroom routines.

How (and Why) to Get Students Talking: 78 Ready-to-Use Group Discussions About Anxiety, Self-Esteem, Relationships, and More (Grades 6–12)
Jean Sunde Peterson

In our digital era, young people need a safe, supportive place to connect and “just talk” with caring peers and an attentive adult. With more inclusive language, new discussion topics about social media, and a revised introduction, this updated edition of How (and Why) to Get Students Talking addresses the unique issues faced by today’s middle and high school students. Through guided group discussions, young people gain self-awareness, build important verbal communication skills, cope with difficult emotions, practice problem-solving, and more.

The book’s guided conversations are proven ways to reach out to young people and address their social-emotional development, and the discussions can be easily adapted and customized. Introductory and background materials prepare group leaders of all experience levels to feel confident as discussion facilitators. Includes digital content with reproducible handouts from the book.

The School Garden Curriculum: An Integrated K-8 Guide for Discovering Science, Ecology, and Whole-Systems Thinking
Kaci Rae Christopher

The world needs young people to grow into strong, scientifically literate environmental stewards. Learning gardens are great places to build this knowledge, yet until now there has been a lack of a multi-grade curriculum for school-wide teaching aimed at fostering a connection with the Earth.

The School Garden Curriculum offers a unique and comprehensive framework, enabling students to grow their knowledge throughout the school year and build on it from kindergarten to eighth grade. From seasonal garden activities to inquiry projects and science-skill building, children will develop organic gardening solutions, a positive land ethic, systems thinking, and instincts for ecological stewardship.

The book offers:

  • A complete K–8 school-wide framework
  • Over 200 engaging, weekly lesson plans—ready to share
  • Place-based activities, immersive learning, and hands-on activities
  • Integration of science, critical thinking, permaculture, and life skills
  • Links to Next Generation Science Standards
  • Further resources and information sources

A model and guide for all educators, The School Garden Curriculum is the complete package for any school wishing to use ecosystem perspectives, science, and permaculture to connect children to positive land ethics, personal responsibility, and wonder, while building vital lifelong skills.

50 Strategies to Boost Cognitive Engagement: Creating a Thinking Culture in the Classroom
Rebecca Stobaugh

Transform your classroom culture from one of passive knowledge consumption to one of active learning and student engagement. In this well-researched book, author Rebecca Stobaugh shares how to build a culture of thinking that emphasizes essential 21st-century skills—from critical thinking and problem-solving to teamwork and creativity. Gain 50 teacher-tested instructional strategies for nurturing students’ cognitive abilities, and utilize the book’s Take Action activities to help you put the student engagement strategies to work in your classroom.

Use these teaching strategies to foster student engagement and cognitive skills:

  • Gain an understanding of the concepts of critical thinking and cognitive engagement, as well as the relationship between the two.
  • Study Bloom’s revised taxonomy, the cognitive processes associated with its various levels, and how they relate to cognitive engagement in the classroom.
  • Access 50 strategies for use in the classroom that will encourage the cognitive development of students and grow their critical thinking skills.
  • Learn about three important aspects for sustaining classroom engagement—movement, collaboration, and media literacy—and how these connect with the 50 strategies.
  • Utilize effective teaching strategies and new knowledge of critical thinking and cognitive skills to build a thinking culture in the classroom.

A Meaningful Mess: A Teacher’s Guide to Student-Driven Classrooms, Authentic Learning, Student Empowerment, and Keeping It All Together Without Losing Your Mind
Andi McNair

How do you organize what may seem like a chaotic mess into a classroom that empowers students to engage with content and pursue their passions? A Meaningful Mess offers suggestions and specific tools that can be used to engage this generation of students in meaningful, relevant, and student-driven learning experiences—even if things in the classroom may get messy, both literally and figuratively. Such strategies and tools include Genius Hour, Makerspaces, flexible learning spaces, meaningful technology, global learning experiences, critical and creative thinking, collaboration, and reflection. Packed with relevant evidence and research, A Meaningful Mess helps teachers understand why traditional teaching strategies are no longer working and what they can do to engage and empower this generation of learners.

This month, we have a bonus book for you! With the school year starting to wind down, the stress is surely piling up, so make sure to take some time for yourself. We think this book can help you do that!

Go See the Principal: True Tales from the School Trenches
Gerry Brooks

From an elementary school principal and popular YouTube personality, inspiration and humor for educators to tackle the challenges they face day-in and day-out

Gerry Brooks is an elementary school principal turned YouTube celebrity, and the creator of YouTube videos such as “First Week of School Stress” (over 1.6 million views and counting). He tells jokes with the kind of mocking—yet folksy and good-natured—humor that gets a laugh from teachers and administrators (yet can be safely shared in school). Served up with a dash of humor and a healthy dose of wisdom, Go See the Principal expands on the author’s viral video fame and offers comic relief and inspiration to educators. Ranging from practical topics like social media use in the classroom to parent-teacher conferences to more humorous sections such as “Ten Ways to Spot a Teacher in Public” and “Seven Gift Ideas for Your Teacher’s Birthday,” Go See the Principal is both the comic relief and practical advice all educators need. Brooks also shares suggestions, ideas, and declarations commonly heard in and around the classroom–as well as illustrations, both from students and inspired by them.

Did you miss last month’s recommendations? It’s not too late to see March’s top books on education!

About the Author

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Laura Almozara

As a child, Laura spent a lot of time reading and telling stories, at one point reading a new book every day. She took that interest with her to college, where she studied English and journalism. She then started working in publishing and eventually made her way to edtech. Laura is excited to be a part of the Where Learning Clicks team, helping to provide innovative education tools to some of the people who need them most.