summer-readingSummer Reading Suggestions

Here is a list of suggested reading by written by CMK 2010 faculty or recommended by them.

Whether you can join us July 12-15th or not, learning is a lifelong pursuit fueled by the powerful ideas and joy contained within the pages of the following books!

James Loewen

Constructing Modern Knowledge attempts to bring math, science, engineering and the arts to life through creative computing, authentic inquiry and project-based learning. This year, Dr. James Loewen, author of the bestselling books, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your High School History Textbook Got Wrong and Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong will help participants learn history by learning to be historians!

His most recent book, Teaching What Really Happened: How to Avoid the Tyranny of Textbooks and Get Students Excited About Doing History, is a critically important addition to any professional library and teacher bag of tricks!

Alfie Kohn

Alfie Kohn has written some of the most popular, provocative and acclaimed books about education in the past quarter century. Alfie Kohn writes and speaks widely on human behavior, education, and parenting. The latest of his eleven books are The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing (2006) and Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason (2005). Of his earlier titles, the best known are Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes (1993), No Contest: The Case Against Competition (1986), and The Schools Our Children Deserve: Moving Beyond Traditional Classrooms and “Tougher Standards” (1999).

Perhaps most exciting of all, two riveting hour-long presentations by Alfie are now available on one low-cost DVD. No Grades + No Homework = Better Learning allows you take Alfie Kohn home with you after CMK 2010 and share him with your colleagues!

Check out all of Alfie Kohn’s books in the Constructivist Consortium Bookstore!

Deborah Meier

Legendary school teacher, principal, reformer, activist and blogger, MacArthur Genius Deborah Meier had a new book just released, Playing for Keeps: Life and Learning on a Public School Playground. This book should be on your shelf next to her classics, The Power of Their Ideas: Lessons for America from a Small School in Harlem and In Schools We Trust: Creating Communities of Learning in an Era of Testing and Standardization.

The rest of her books may be found here.

Peter Reynolds

Peter Reynolds has written or illustrated popular children’s books that have sold millions of copies and are beloved around the world. He will also host us at his fabled FableVision Studio!

Pete loves chilren’s books so much, he owns his own children’s bookstore, The Blue Bunny.

Check some of Peter’s books here!

Dr. Cynthia Solomon

In addition to being a veteran educator, researcher and one of the three inventors of the Logo programming language, she has written two important books on computers and learning! Cynthia’s doctoral research at Harvard led to the publication of the critical book, Computer Environments for Children: A Reflection on Theories of Learning and Education. Cynthia Solomon is also the co-author of Designing Multimedia Environments for Children, with Allison Drum.

I can’t imagine Constructing Modern Knowledge without Cynthia’s generosity of spirit!

Read all about the Constructing Modern Knowledge 2010 faculty here


While not all of the CMK 2010 faculty have books in-print, they all love to read. They were asked to recommend books to enjoy before, during and long after CMK 2010!

Brian Silverman

Brian recommended the following ecclectic collection of books.

The Mind’s I: Fantasies and Reflections on Self & Soul by Douglas R. Hofstadter & Daniel C. Dennett
A collection of essays about the philosophy of mind. Some are amusing, others profound, several are both.

He, She, and It by Marge Piercy
An artificial intelligence robot love story told from a Jewish feminist perspective. Amazingly it works. It reads like something that could have been co-authored by Marvin Minsky and Margaret Atwood.

The Recursive Universe: Cosmic Complexity and the Limits of Scientific Knowledge by William Poundstone
The book starts by describing Conway’s Game of Life. Then uses the game as a metaphor to explore a collection of interesting topics in math, physics, and information theory.

Machinery of Life by David Goodsell
A molecular biology picture book. It gives a gentle but thorough introduction to the molecules that are the construction kit that living things are made of.

On Education by Betrand Russell
Bertrand Russell’s riff on Mindstorms. It was written a couple of years before Seymour Papert was born and foreshadows many of his ideas.

John Stetson

John said, “The first two have been favorites for some time; the rest of the list is current reading.”

Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood by Oliver Sachs
Oliver’s mother gave him a cadaver for his birthday. The Wright Brothers visited his home when they were in London. Oliver tried to relive the joy of discovery by reproducing the experiments of Humphrey Davey. The book is filled with chemicals that when mixed explode.

The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance by Henry Petroski
The history of how the pencil came to be and the history of engineering in the U.S., i.e., the Erie Canal, the first engineering schools in the 1850’s, etc.

Infinite Ascent: A Short History of Mathematics by David Belinski
A history of mathematics, Euclid, Euler, all the greats …

Astronomical Sketching: A Step-by-Step Introduction by Erika Rix
Some of my students have followed the guidelines in this book and published their sketches at the Astronomy Sketch of the Day website

The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance by Ron Chernow
Yes, Louisiana and Florida defaulted on bonds (issued in London) during the 1840’s. One of Morgan’s board members advocated for socialism. How did we get into the current banking mess? Read this book.

Sylvia Martinez

Painting Chinese: A Lifelong Teacher Gains the Wisdom of Youth by Herb Kohl
A gorgeous meditation on learning, teaching and life by one of the world’s great educators and education writers!

The Children’s Machine: Rethinking School In The Age Of The Computer & The Connected Family: Bridging the Digital Generation Gap by Seymour Papert
You can’t think about thinking with computers without being well-versed in the wisdom of Seymour Papert!

The Book of Learning and Forgetting by Frank Smith
One of the best books ever written about learning…

Teaching as Story Telling: : An Alternative Approach to Teaching and Curriculum in the Elementary School by Kieran Egan
An overlooked classic that should be part of any creative teacher’s library

Dr. Gary Stager

Making Learning Whole: How Seven Principles of Teaching Can Transform Education by David Perkins
A critically important book for curriculum planners and teachers – a much more thoughtful alternative to the much more pedestrian and coercive Understanding by Design

Meanwhile: Pick Any Path. 3,856 Story Possibilities by Jason Shiga
An absolutely gorgeous, fascinating and fun choose-your-own adventure book in the form of a graphic novel

A Schoolmaster of the Great City: A Progressive Education Pioneer’s Vision for Urban Schools by Angelo Patri
This book identifies and SOLVES every problem facing public education today. Oh yeah, Patri published this book in 1917! An amazing read!

To Teach: The Journey in Comics by Bill Ayers
Bill Ayer’s classic tale of teaching republished as a graphic novel

HowToons: The Possibilties are Endless by Saul Griffith
Wicked cool science experiments and engineering projects for kids presented in cartoon form.

In Dialogue with Reggio Emilia: Listening, Researching and Learning by Carlina Rinaldi (President of Reggio Children and Director of the Loris Malaguzzi International Center in Reggio Emilia, Italy)
There are many fabulous books that help you learn from the innovations of the educators in Reggio Emilia, Italy. (list here) This book is so heavy, you can read and re-read it for years to come!

Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World by Mark Frauenfelder
The Editor of Make Magazine shares his DIY adventures, the values of tinkering and learning to learn.

Number Freak: From 1 to 200- The Hidden Language of Numbers Revealed by Derrick Niederman
You might think of this as an exciting biography of numbers!

Geek Dad: Awesomely Geeky Projects and Activities for Dads and Kids to Share by Ken Denmead
Cool modern high and low-tech projects you can do with your kids

Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do) by Gever Tulley
‘Nuff said

The Society of Mind by Marvin Minsky
Dr. Marvin Minsky’s seminal book

The Emotion Machine by Marvin Minsky
Dr. Marvin Minsky’s most recent book on artificial intelligence

Ordinary Resurrections: Children in the Years of Hope by Jonathan Kozol
Kozol has published countless gems, but this book moves me in incalcuable ways. This may be his most beautiful book.

El Sistema: Music to Changes Life (DVD)
Theere be no more exciting youth movement in the world than Venezuela’s El Sistema. This film will remind you of the potential in each child and make you want to sing, dance and change the world.

Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character) by Richard Feynman
This may be the only great ROTFL “beach read” by a Nobel Laureate for Physics you’ll ever read. I have given countless copies away as gifts to teenagers, colleagues and even grandparents!

Landon Carter’s Uneasy Kingdom: Revolution and Rebellion on a Virginia Plantation by Rhys Isaac
My Aussie friend, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for History, recreates life in Colonial America through the diaries and artifacts of a Virginia plantation owner.

The Next Fifty Years: Science in the First Half of the Twenty-First Century by John Brockman
Provocative thinkers and great scientists speculate about how life and science may change by 2050

History in the Making: An Absorbing Look at How American History Has Changed in the Telling Over the Last 200 Years by Kyle Roy Ward
What we may not know or understand incorrectly about US History.

Not Written in Stone: Learning and Unlearning American History Through 200 Years of Textbooks by Kyle Roy Ward
A classroom edition of “History in the Making”

American History Revised: 200 Startling Facts That Never Made It into the Textbooks by Seymour Morris Jr.
Another book about the wonders of history

Read all about the Constructing Modern Knowledge 2010 faculty here


Be sure to explore many more recommended books and resources for creative educators at Thc Constructivist Consortium Bookstore!


Subscribe to Gary Stager’s blog, Stager-to-Go or peruse his articles and papers.


Learn more about The Constructivist Consortium!


Some of the best minds and accomplished innovators in education are gathering at Constructing Modern Knowledge 2010, July 12-15, 2010 in Manchester, NH. Popular author, researcher and fearless provocateur Alfie Kohn, was a guest speaker at the inaugural event in 2008 and will be with us again.

To help spread the word, we have posted several compelling clips from Alfie’s last conversation at Constructing Modern Knowledge.

There is still plenty of time to register for the best professional learning event of the year. Where else can you engage in conversations with the likes of Alfie Kohn, Deborah Meier, James Loewen or Peter Reynolds and design exciting creative high-tech projects with support from Sylvia Martinez, Brian Silverman, Gary Stager and John Stetson? Exciting social events are planned as well!

Don’t miss out!

Register

Register for Constructing Modern Knowledge 2010 by May 1st and save save $75!

Take advantage of the Lifelong Learner Package by registering Constructing Modern Knowledge and receive free registration to the June 27th Constructivist Celebration – all for just $575. That’s five days of professional learning for only $575.

New Ravitch bookEducation historian and former Assistant Secretary of Education for the first President Bush, Diane Ravitch has just published an extraordinary book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education. The book should be required reading for every policy-maker, citizen and educator.

The extraordinary reporting found in the book can not help but convince Americans that their public education system is endangered by the politicians, billionaire mischief-makers, foundations and business groups professing to “fix” the “broken” system.

Similar accusations have been leveled before in books by Alfie Kohn, Susan Ohanian, Gerald Bracey, Herb Kohl, Jonathan Kozol, Deborah Meier, Linda Darling-Hammond and others. What makes this book so extraordinary is that it was written by a proponent of many of the reforms Ravitch herself now admits are destroying public education.

That’s right, Dr. Ravitch is the rare scholar/leader who when confronted by the actual application of theory is capable of rethinking her assumptions. Ravitch has also severed ties to many of the conservative think-tanks with whom she no longer shares similar views and has had the courage to expose her change-of-heart and mind publicly in this book and in the spectacular blog, Bridging Differences, she writes with (CMK 2010 guest speaker) Deborah Meier.

Ravitch challenges the current fetishes of merit pay, mayoral control, charter schools, vouchers and standardized testing while also questioning the statistical plausibility of the test score miracles being touted by politicians like Arne Duncan and NYC Mayor Bloomberg. At the same time, Ravitch advocates a national curriculum (albeit a richer one than proposed), an idea I find extremely troublesome. Without sentimentality, Ravitch’s new book is a love letter to public education and the democratic ideals it fosters.

The story of personal transformation late in life is generating an unprecedented level of publicity for a book about education. I am most grateful to Dr. Ravitch for placing these issues at the center of mainstream media debate for the first time. I intend to write something substantive about the book once I have an adequate chance to digest it. In the meantime, I recommend you read the following reviews of the book.

  1. Little Dead Schoolhouse – Boston Globe 2/28/10
  2. “Teacher Ken’s” comprehensive review of the book for the Daily Kos – 2/28/10 (highly recommended)
  3. Business principles won’t work for school reform,  former supporter Ravitch says – Washington Post – 2/26/10
  4. Los Angeles Times review – 2/28/10
  5. Why You Should Read Diane Ravitch’s New Book – Washington Post – 2/26/10

You might also find these resources useful:

Check out the transcript chronicling a debate between Alfie Kohn and Gene Wilhoit, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers. The subject of the debate was national curriculum, I mean “common core standards.”

Alfie Kohn: “There’s a strong political interest in representing national standards as being merely “core” standards and to emphasize that the feds aren’t driving it (just funding it!)…

I’m troubled by the P.R. campaign I see: We’ll satisfy the politicians and corporations that want “rigorous, specific, enforceable, clear, defined standards” — but we’ll also reassure teachers that we won’t tell you how to teach. This doesn’t add up.”

Alfie eats his opponents lunch. Note how mr. Wilhoit refuses to answer even the most basic of questions Mr. Kohn asks of him.

I am delighted to have Alfie Kohn on the team for Constructing Modern Knowledge 2010, July 12-15, 2010 in Manchester, NH. Educators across the United States and in countries emulating our race-to-the-bottom owe Alfie a great debt of gratitutde for his wisdom and courage.

CMK 2010

Come hear me speak or lead a workshop at the following events:

  • January 14 – Orlando Florida Speaker A Vision of 1:1 Computing Worth Sustaining at Florida Educational Technology Conference
  • January 29 – Atlantic City, FL Keynote speaker Ten Things to Do with a Laptop: Learning and Powerful Ideas at NJ Techspo (superintendents), along with Alan November

Educon 2.2

Several weeks ago, I enjoyed the great privilege of leading a webinar for the Discovery Educator Network. Despite some technical hiccups and mortal fear that my cordless phone battery would soon die, the webinar, Creative Computing and the Case for Project-based Learning, went extremely well. I’m proud of the presentation, even if the audio sounds a bit like a first-time caller to Dr. Laura.

I am grateful to the folks at Discovery, especially Steve Dembo, for working so hard to make the archive available for others to enjoy.

Feel free to share this link with friends and colleagues. While you’re at it, please take a moment and vote for me to keynote ISTE 2010!

If the embedded video doesn’t work, click here

James Loewen and his best-selling books

Super Early-bird Registration ends December 11th!

Constructing Modern Knowledge is thrilled to announce that best-selling author and history teacher, Dr. James Loewen, will be a guest speaker at CMK 2010, July 12-15, 2009!

The addition of Jim Loewen to our faculty further distinguishes Constructing Modern Knowledge from other conferences and professional development events. CMK 2010 is the place where modern educators can learn with master learners and thinkers. Dr. Loewen joins a faculty already featuring MacArthur Genius Deborah Meier, prolific author and provocateur Alfie Kohn, artist and children’s author Peter Reynolds and edtech pioneers – Dr. Cynthia Solomon, Brian Silverman, Gary Stager, Sylvia Martinez and John Stetson.

About James Loewen

James Loewen’s gripping retelling of American history as it should, and could, be taught, Lies My Teacher Told Me, has sold more than 800,000 copies and continues to inspire K-16 teachers to get students to challenge, rather than memorize, their textbooks. Loewen’s most recent book, Teaching What Really Happened: How to Avoid the Tyranny of Textbooks and Get Students Excited About Doing History, helps teachers learn to teach history more authentically based on inquiry and access to primary sources.

A sociologist who spent two years at the Smithsonian surveying twelve leading high school textbooks of American history only to find an embarrassing blend of bland optimism, blind nationalism, and plain misinformation, weighing in at an average of 888 pages and almost five pounds. A best-selling author who wrote Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your High School History Textbook Got Wrong and Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong. A researcher who discovered that many, and in many states most communities were “Sundown Towns” that kept out blacks (and sometimes other groups) for decades. (Some still do.) An educator who attended Carleton College, holds the Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard University, and taught race relations for twenty years at the University of Vermont.

Jim Loewen taught race relations for twenty years at the University of Vermont. Previously he taught at predominantly black Tougaloo College in Mississippi. He now lives in Washington, D.C., continuing his research on how Americans remember their past. Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong came out in 1999. The Gustavus Myers Foundation named his new book, Sundown Towns, a “Distinguished Book of 2005.”

His other books include Mississippi: Conflict and Change (co authored), which won the Lillian Smith Award for Best Southern Nonfiction but was rejected for public school text use by the State of Mississippi, leading to the path breaking First Amendment lawsuit, Loewen et al. v. Turnipseed, et al. He also wrote The Mississippi Chinese: Between Black and White, Social Science in the Courtroom, and The Truth About Columbus.

He has been an expert witness in more than 50 civil rights, voting rights, and employment cases. His awards include the First Annual Spivack Award of the American Sociological Association for “sociological research applied to the field of intergroup relations,” the American Book Award (for Lies My Teacher Told Me), and the Oliver Cromwell Cox Award for Distinguished Anti-Racist Scholarship. He is also Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians.

Read the James Loewen Wikipedia entry.

Visit the Constructing Modern Knowledge Faculty & Friends Bookstore