My Summer Reading List – 2013

Summer Reading 2013Last summer I was a little too ambitious in my plans for summer reading. While I did get most of the books read, it took me through Christmas break to get through the list (and I did skip a couple of the books altogether). This year, I am more realistic. I have picked three professional learning books and four young adult novels, but I’m also planning to use the audio versions of a couple of the books to keep me company this summer while I train for the my first marathon, run errands, chauffeur my kids, mow my yard, and complete other daddy chores. I’ll also continue reading blogs and tweets along with new issues of Phi Delta Kappan, Mac|Life, and Runner’s World.

Here’s my summer reading list (as it now stands) and why I’ve chosen each book:

  • An Ethic of Excellence: Building a Culture of Craftsmanship with Students by Ron Berger – I picked this book based on Suzie Boss‘s recommendation, but Berger has worked with Project Zero, which holds a lot of weight around these parts. I’m especially looking forward to reading more about the topics of chapters three (work of excellence) and four (teaching of excellence).
  • Thinking Through Project-Based Learning: Guiding Deeper Inquiry by Jane Krauss and Suzie Boss – This book is part of my ongoing professional development connected with project-based learning. I’ll explain more later, but I’m continuing to refine and redesign my class to use PBL, and I hope this book will help me on my journey.
  • The Falconer: What We Wish We Had Learned in School by Grant Lichtman – Jamie Feild Baker recommended this book to me last summer before I’d met Grant and host him in my classroom. Unfortunately, I haven’t read his book even though Bo and Jill refer to it all the time in the posts so I feel like I’ve read it. Soon, I’ll truly be in the know.
  • Inexcusable by Chris Lynch – I picked this book because it was a National Book Award finalist and apparently is “an interesting companion piece to Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak.” The subject matter is disturbing, but Speak moved me so I’m interested in reading this book, too.
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart – I’ve had this book on my shelf for several years, but I’ve never read it. Recently, I’ve noticed it recommended on several lists of good “read aloud” books. I’ll let you know my thoughts after I read it.
  • Sway by Amber McRee Turner – I was in the middle of this great story in April when my life got crazy and I dropped everything to take care of family business. I just found time to pick Sway up again this week. It’s wonderful so far, and I think you ought to read it, too. Full disclosure: I went to school with the author and consider her a dear friend.
  • One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia – This is another book that I’ve had on my shelf for a while, but just haven’t taken the time to read. It’s won tons of awards, and I’m betting it will fit well in the Civil Rights unit that I teach.

What about you? What’s on your summer reading list? What feedback do you have about the books on my list? I’d love to hear your thoughts.



My 3 “Go-To” Aggregators for Professional Reading

Reading on the iPad MiniI love to read. I also love learning, and I’m pretty passionate about teaching. I love to read about teaching and learning. I’m also a little geeky so I spend a fair amount of time reading about teaching and learning online. Some might consider it work, but I find it interesting and fun. I also like to share what I’m reading and learning especially if  it might help a friend or colleague. I read a lot, and I share a lot–particularly on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. I will occasionally share things on Google+, too.

A couple of weeks ago, a colleague asked me where I find  the articles about teaching and learning that I regularly read and share. In response to her question, I explained that I rely on several aggregators to collect articles and blog posts for me, but she looked confused. So, I thought it might be helpful to explain what I mean and share my “go-to” aggregators for professional reading and learning.

What is an aggregator? Collins English Dictionary defines it as “a web application that draws together syndicated content from various online sources and displays it in a single location for the user’s convenience.”¹ In other words, an aggregator grabs articles, blogs, podcasts, or videos from around the web and puts them in one place for me, and it keeps them there until I’m ready to view them. I don’t have to scour the internet checking all my favorite sites. Aggregators bring them to me, and they don’t fill up my email inbox either.

So what aggregators do I use? Here are My 3 “Go-To Aggregators for Professional Reading:

  1. Google ReaderI know. I know. Google is planning to kill Reader this summer. It’s in its last days, and I’m still trying to decide on a replacement. I’ve tried several including Feedly, Good Noows, and NetNewsWire, but I’m leaning more toward Newsblur² or The Old Reader (TOR). My RSS reader is my first stop for professional reading. Through Google Reader and now Newsblur and TOR, I subscribe to over 220 blogs and websites. Honestly, that’s too many, but they aren’t all updated daily. If you don’t use an RSS reader, I suggest you give it a try. You can subscribe to this blog by adding to your feeds. My RSS feeds are my first source for professional reading and learning.
  2. – I use this aggregator to pull links shared by my professional learning network on Twitter. (I primarily use Twitter as a professional tool.) Unfortunately, as a full-time classroom teacher and a father of four, I don’t have time to hangout online and read Twitter feeds all day. allows me to create a daily newspaper that highlights items posted by my network. I don’t manage to read this aggregator every day, but I do read it when possible. (Note: This is one of the reasons I am particular about who I follow on Twitter. I don’t want too much irrelevant, uninteresting, or inappropriate material finding its way to my reading list–even if I choose to ignore it.) also works with Facebook, Google+, RSS , and YouTube feeds. 
  3. Zite – If I’ve managed to read my way through my RSS reader and my, my last stop is the Zite app on my iPad. In Zite I’ve identified topics that interest me. Zite identifies the content that matches my selected topics and shares them with me in a magazine-like format. Currently, my topic list includes: teaching, learning, educational technology, critical thinking, creativity, reading, literacy, and mindset. I also read articles in Zite related to running, faith, and Memphis. The more you “like” articles in Zite, the better their algorithm becomes at finding content related to your interests.

There you have it. That’s my 3 go-to aggregators for my professional reading. What about you? Do you use aggregators for professional reading and learning? If so, which ones do you use and why? I’d love to hear what tools you use.


  1. aggregator. (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Retrieved May 05, 2013, from website:
  2. I chose to pay for a 1-year subscription to explore Newsblur.