Outside the Classroom

February’s Top 5 Education Book Releases

Now that you’re back in the swing of things gearing up for testing season, why not take the time to consider a few different ways of doing things? Perhaps you’re interested in incorporating more art into your curriculum—if so, we’ve got a couple of books that can help you out. Or maybe you could use a good reminder of why you do what you do. Reading our first pick, Why Teaching Matters, offers you a chance to do that. Maybe you could use some guidance on incorporating technology into your school or classroom; we’ve got books for that, too.

Whatever your interests, we’ve got some great books for you to check out, so take a look at our picks for February’s top 5 education book releases to learn what other educators are doing and what works for them.

Why Teaching Matters: A Philosophical Guide to the Elements of Practice
Paul Farber, Dini Metro-Roland

Why Teaching Matters is an introductory guide to the core “elements” of teaching, getting to the heart of what teaching is, and why it matters. Paul Farber and Dini Metro-Roland introduce the following 8 “elements,” which encompass the many issues, themes, and social complexities of teaching:

  • Authority
  • Virtue
  • Care
  • Subject matter
  • Judgment
  • Purpose
  • Place
  • Presence

The elements are used to frame discussions of practical issues teachers face such as testing, technology, and stress. It also provides an accessible introduction to philosophical theories from a range of thinkers including Nel Noddings, John Dewey, and bel hooks that can inform a deeper understanding of teaching. The theoretical discussions are grounded with examples, case studies, and anecdotes from the classroom so that theory is always connected with practice. The book also includes sample questions at the end of each chapter as well as a glossary of terms. Why Teaching Matters brings out and celebrates the inherent complexity of teaching, offering a full and practical understanding to students of education and new and experienced teachers alike.

STEAM Power: Infusing Art Into Your STEM Curriculum
Tim Needles

There are numerous books on STEAM, but most are either arts and crafts project books designed for children or high-level books that can be weighty and inaccessible for new teachers. As an artist/educator who has taught art and technology for years, Tim Needles brings a fresh and unique approach to these topics, focusing on creativity, innovation, and collaboration.

This accessible and engaging book offers creative ideas for blending arts and STEM learning (STEAM). It covers the fundamentals of STEAM, with project ideas and best practices, while providing insight from educators in the field. Technologies covered include: coding, robotics, 3D printing, virtual and augmented reality, photography, video, animation, and digital drawing. In addition, the book addresses several different approaches to bringing STEAM learning to the next level, such as collaboration, global learning, project-based learning, makerspaces, and social-emotional learning.

The book:

  • Features a breadth of technology and project possibilities, with project ideas organized by technology type.
  • Explores long-standing concepts that are relevant regardless of specific advances in technology, providing the pedagogy behind the projects rather than technology for technology’s sake.
  • Offers a highly visual approach, incorporating illustrations by the author.
  • Illustrates concepts through author examples as well as a series of interviews featuring STEAM professionals and expert teachers.
  • Presents topics in a clear, concise manner that’s useful for repeated reading and as a practical resource.

With its friendly style and visual design, the book is a practical guide for new and emerging educators, and for educators looking for fun and creative ways to invigorate their STEAM curriculum.

The School Librarian’s Technology Playbook: Innovative Strategies to Inspire Teachers and Learners
Stacy Brown 

Using concrete examples, The School Librarian’s Technology Playbook offers strategies for school librarians to initiate and support innovative practices throughout their school community.

The role of school librarians has evolved: no longer do they primarily support teachers with reading and literacy resources. Many librarians now support teachers in integrating technology tools and innovative teaching practices in their classrooms.

At her school, author and learning coordinator Stacy Brown has pioneered the transition to innovation and technology use in the classroom. In The School Librarian’s Technology Playbook, she showcases different technology tools and innovative strategies that can be incorporated into the classroom, such as 3D printing, augmented reality, green screen applications, gamification, coding, makerEd, and more. She details the many ways in which school librarians can support teachers as they implement these new practices into their curriculum.

School librarians will learn how to collaborate with teachers and how to empower them to step outside of their comfort zones to try new tools and teaching methods. Readers of this book will also learn how to support teachers as the technology continues to change in this dynamic educational landscape.

  • Readers will be inspired to reimagine the role of the school librarian as a primary influencer of innovation within the school community.
  • Readers will discover specific strategies to achieve buy-in from administrators and managers to allow school librarians to lead the school in innovation and professional learning.
  • Readers will learn about relevant resources in technology and innovation and practical approaches to using them in an elementary and middle school curriculum.
  • Readers will acquire specific strategies for librarians to form partnerships with teachers to introduce resources and alternative teaching strategies into the classroom.
  • Readers will learn practical approaches for shaping the school library as an innovation hub to pilot ideas and resources and launch them into the larger community.

With Great Power Comes Great Pedagogy: Teaching, Learning, and Comics
Edited by Susan E. Kirtley, Antero Garcia, and Peter E. Carlson

An unparalleled gathering of top educators, comics artists, and writers advocating the vital utility of comics in the classroom

More and more educators are using comics in the classroom. As such, this edited volume sets out the stakes, definitions, and exemplars of recent comics pedagogy, from K–12 contexts to higher education instruction to ongoing communities of scholars working outside of the academy.

Building upon interdisciplinary approaches to teaching comics and teaching with comics, this book brings together diverse voices to share key theories and research on comics pedagogy. By gathering scholars, creators, and educators across various fields and in K–12 as well as university settings, editors Susan E. Kirtley, Antero Garcia, and Peter E. Carlson significantly expand scholarship.

This valuable resource offers both critical pieces and engaging interviews with key comics professionals who reflect on their own teaching experience and on considerations of the benefits of creating comics in education. Included are interviews with acclaimed comics writers Lynda Barry, Brian Michael Bendis, Kelly Sue DeConnick, and David Walker, as well as essays spanning from studying the use of superhero comics in the classroom to the ways comics can enrich and empower young readers.

The inclusion of creators, scholars, and teachers leads to perspectives that make this volume unlike any other currently available. These voices echo the diverse needs of the many stakeholders invested in using comics in education today.

Balance With Blended Learning: Partner With Your Students to Reimagine Learning and Reclaim Your Life
Catlin R. Tucker

Rethink the roles, responsibilities, and workflow in your blended learning classroom and enjoy balance in your life.

Blended learning offers educators the opportunity to reimagine teaching and learning. It allows teachers to partner with their students to assess, track, and reflect on learning. This partnership gives teachers more time and energy to innovate and personalize learning while providing students the opportunity to be active agents driving their own growth.

Written by blended learning expert Catlin Tucker, this resource provides teachers with concrete strategies and resources they can use to partner with their students to actively engage them in setting goals, monitoring their development, reflecting on their growth, using feedback to improve work, assessing the quality of their work, and communicating their progress with parents.

Balance With Blended Learning includes:

  • Practical strategies for teachers overwhelmed by their workloads
  • Routines and protocols designed to move feedback and assessment into the classroom to eliminate much of the work teachers take home
  • Ready-to-use templates and resources designed to help students take an active role in tracking, monitoring, and reflecting on their progress
  • Vignettes written by teachers across disciplines
  • Stories from the author’s extensive experience both as a teacher and blended-learning coach

Redefining roles in a blended learning classroom encourages students to take ownership over their learning journeys and helps teachers feel more effective, efficient, and energized.

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

About the Author


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.