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Professional Reads for the Summer Break

Student suggested novels and top takeaways from professional reads

Well, we made it! Here we are, the last week of the 2023 school year, and what a moment. Bare classrooms, still hallways, silent gathering spaces, boxed files, spotless staff rooms, and empty school grounds as school staff make their way to their summer resting places for a relaxing break.

Over the summer holidays, one of my favourite things to do is bake. When I used to mention that to my former Principal, she'd immediately discuss all things Anna Olsen and tell me about her one and only favourite kitchen tool, the Thermomix! I had to let her know that my form of baking didn't require a recipe, had nothing to do with desserts, and was definitely not done in the kitchen. My form of baking takes place at the beach - baking on the sand following a Pilates class and a beach walk.

St Leonards, on the Bellarine Peninsula, is where I spend most of my summer holidays, as I've done since I was a child (actually, since I was a baby!), before people knew where it was on the map of Victoria! Before the Bellarine became known for its peaceful and tranquil atmosphere, its wineries, and its beaches, I used to tell my classmates that I was holidaying 'near Geelong.'

After they looked at me strangely, not knowing where this tiny town was located. It's here, on the right side of the St Leonards pier, where I find it easy to relax and unwind. It's usually where I'd leave my year's worth of reading until the six weeks of school holidays over the summer. Fortunately, this year, I had more time and energy to engage with a plethora of texts over the course of the year, which is a new thing for me! I challenge you to try and scatter your reading over the course of next year!

Some of the texts I engaged with were from my usual spiritual and personal development corner, such as Brené Brown, James Clear, Gabor Maté, Gabby Bernstein, and Eckhart Tolle (just to name a few!). I spent time analysing professional reads, with texts from Sheena Cameron, Jennifer Serravallo, Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, Nell Duke, Kelly Cartwright, Isabel Beck, Lyn Stone, Kath Murdoch, Lyn Sharratt, and John Hattie. I also delved into numerous research articles and sifted through multiple studies centred around coaching, literacy approaches, Inquiry-based learning, and instructional classroom practices.

One of the things I really enjoyed this year was reading, and rereading with intent, student fiction texts. I absolutely LOVED seeing my Novel Study Templates being used with a wide range of novels.

'Once' again, as a refresher, but how can you ever get sick of this book and this series?! (From Years 4- Year 8)

'Runt,' a must-read. (From Years 3- Year 6)

'The Book of Chance,' with all the twists and turns. (From Year 5-Year 8)

'Parvana,' great for competent readers.

'Blueback,' again and with so many connections to other learning areas.

(From Year 6-Year 9)

I've added 'The Happiest Refugee' and 'Black Cockatoo' to my summer reading list…perhaps there may even be some resources aligned with these texts for next year 🤫🫣

In case you're like me, and after you've had some R and R, or perhaps while you're R and R-ing, you delve into some professional learning or professional reading. One of my colleagues has said she's waiting for the holidays to complete The Comprehension Coach course! That's dedication and commitment, a classic teacher trait - saving PL for the school holidays!

Here are some of my top professional titles that may interest you while you choose to eat whenever you feel like it, go to the bathroom without a bell, and while you disrupt the usual routine.

Key Takeaways

  • Many articles, a vast range of evidence and research, models from experts in the field, theoretical examples, practical classroom implementations.

  • Majority of the evidence around reading comprehension and content knowledge in one place.

  • Can you tell how much I thoroughly enjoyed this one?! Those sticky notes are at it again!

Key Takeaways

  • It's not what you think, so don't judge the book by its cover! If the word 'balanced' wasn't in the title, you wouldn't think twice about the evidence and research presented in this book.

  • Explanation of The Gradual Release of Responsibility Framework mixed with Instructional Practices.

  • Defining Explicit Direct Instruction - what it is and what it isn't.

  • Whole class reading and writing instruction- the role of the students and the role of the teacher. Independent reading and writing instruction- how it looks and what to do.

Key Takeaways

  • How to select words to teach students in order to expand their vocabulary and support their reading comprehension. Instructional vocabulary practices to use in the classroom.

  • Strategies to support students in defining and using unfamiliar vocabulary.

  • Vocabulary in reading and vocabulary in writing. Tiered vocabulary (and what this actually means).

Key Takeaways

  • The research and evidence to support Inquiry-based learning.

  • How inquiry learning impacts the engagement of learners through analysing and delving deep into the Inquiry Cycle for students - their roles, responsibilities, dispositions, behaviours, skills, knowledge, and suggested resources.

  • Effective thinking routines and assessments for 'check for understanding.'

  • Teaching students to employ skills such as collaboration, self-management, communication, thinking, and research across all learning areas.

  • Inquiry learning seen as 'AND' not 'OR' with Direction Instruction.

If reading or professional learning isn't your thing over the holidays, then I encourage you to do a very short reflection and consider your own W.W.W and E.B.I. In a previous blog post, I shared my 2023 reflections and insights which may just spark a prompt for your own professional or personal reflection. I'm not sure if it's just me, but I can't seem to 'do' the 'Even Better If' part and prepare for the following year unless I find the ultimate 'teacher diary' to map out important dates and organise key events. I also love a diary where there's space for me to set intentions, reflect on goals, and work towards a feeling of success - everything we do in the coaching space!

Whether you're baking 🥧 or 'baking' 🏖 or choosing to spend your time doing something else, I wish you a safe, peaceful, and restful break with family and friends. Merry Christmas and best wishes for the 2024 year - it's going to be amazing! 😊

Amanda x

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