Did you arrive at this post after googling something like “Best ELA PD Books”? If you’re a secondary English teacher, whether you’re here on accident or on purpose, this post is for you!
I tore open the Amazon box, bubbling with excitement. It engulfed a quarter of my kitchen table, and I’m sure I had invested a small fortune in its contents. As I lifted the flaps, visions of lesson planning, engaging students, and leveling up my teaching flashed before me. And, all this excitement? It was about PD books.
Yes, that’s right. Few things are more refreshing to me than opening a box of books that will inspire my teaching. Each spring, I begin planning the PD books I want to curl up and study over the summer months. Post-its, highlighters, and warm coffee…sigh.
Last year, I wrote about fifteen professional development titles that many of my colleagues and I love. While I haven’t read all of them cover to cover, I’ve found value in pieces of each of them.
Not all educators are actively teaching over the summer; still, we’re busy! Summer is meant for time with family and friends, but it’s also often the time of year when we refuel our teacher creativity tanks by attending conferences, collaborating with departments, and reading the latest in educational research.
With all the titles available, choosing books that are worth the time can be overwhelming. That’s why I talk with friends to get ideas. If you’d like to dive into some of the best ELA PD books for teachers, here are six game changers to consider. I hope this list saves you time.
MUST-READ ELA PD BOOKS
Powerful Teaching is an excellent book for all teachers! It delves into the brain science of how students actually learn. Instead of wading through pages of research, the authors curate it in a user-friendly format. This book has inspired me to incorporate specific metacognition and retrieval practice techniques to help students take charge of their learning and retain information long-term.
The evidence-based practices don’t really require prep time but make a huge difference in student learning and retention. This is one I’ve already begun to implement, and the benefits are visible. And….bonus…it applies to ALL content areas.
THEY SAY I SAY
My friend Kim from OCBeach Teacher has a passion for teaching writing. She highly recommends They Say I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing.
This book is essential for teaching your students argumentative writing. I first came across this book when I worked as a facilitator for the College Career and Community Writers Program (C3WP) with the National Writing Project. They Say/I Say describes academic writing as a “conversation” and provides scaffolding with sentence templates that teach students to use key rhetorical moves in their writing.
Kim is a National Board Certified high school English teacher who specializes in Advanced Placement classes. You can find her on her blog, OC Beach Teacher.
THE ENGLISH TEACHER’S COMPANION
Caitlin from EB Academics suggests reading The English Teacher’s Companion.
This book is perfect for any English teacher – new to the profession or experienced teachers alike will benefit from Burke’s various strategies, ideas, and curriculum concepts. From samples for how to teach grammar to more in-depth discussions about literacy and teaching reading, this book holds immense value for middle school and high school English teachers looking to really nail down a curriculum that works best for kids.
Caitlin and her best friend Jessica run the blog EB Academics out of the Bay Area. Together, they’re committed to teaching evidence-based writing strategies for middle school English teachers.
CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE TEACHING AND THE BRAIN
Danielle @nouvelle_ela thinks Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain by Zaretta Hammond is the perfect blend of theory and practice.
No classroom is “neutral”. Hammond carefully leads the reader (us!) to understand how our own cultures impact our teaching styles and classroom management. My attitude towards late work? Strongly informed by how my family treated tardiness! Going through Hammond’s Cultural Touchpoints made me realize a lot about my assumptions about what made “good students” and “bad students.” I also really honed my thoughts on Asset-Based Thinking and how we can use it to build classroom community. This is a great book for all teachers!
Danielle runs the blog Teach Nouvelle. As an English teacher for over a decade, she writes about a variety of timely topics, including using music in the classroom, building diverse classroom libraries, and creating escape rooms.
SENTENCE COMPOSING FOR HIGH SCHOOL
It has become my go-to book for grammar instruction that makes sense. Through unscrambling, imitating, sentence combining and sentence expanding exercises, Killgallon’s approach to teaching grammar becomes less about “kill and drill” and more about style and sentence fluency.
Lindsay is a secondary English teacher who strives to create engaging ELA lessons for older students. Plus, she’s from Illinois, like me! Find her on her blog, lindsdayannlearning.com.
THE ESSENTIAL 55
Julie’s Classroom Stories recommends if you’ve never dove into The Essential 55, now is the time.
Ron Clark is the real deal and his tips are practical and fun. Good tips for anyone! I like that he promotes the success of students. Here’s a quote from the book: “Rule #50: Be positive and enjoy life. Somethings just aren’t worth getting upset over. Keep everything in perspective and focus on the good in your life.”
Julie is one of the most creative high school English teachers I know. In addition to teaching ELA, she is passionate about journalism, Sunday school, and photography. Find Julie on her blog, Faulkner’s Fast Five, where she’s busy creating success stories.
And there you have it! Six of our favorite ELA PD books for middle and high school teachers. I hope you’ve found something to use in your classroom and to enjoy with your teacher book club.
I don’t necessarily plan on buying enough books to cover a sizable portion of my kitchen table this year, but I’m definitely digging into some of these. Talking with friends about books that are sound in pedagogy certainly has helped me develop the PD portion of my summer reading list.
Full Disclosure: The book links in this post are Amazon affiliate links. If you click through and purchase, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.