Growing Independent Learners: From Literacy Standards to Stations, K-3

Product DetailsGrowing Independent Learners: From Literacy Standards to Stations, K-3
By Debbie Diller
Retail Price:  $39.00
Amazon Price: $36.00

Book Description:  Debbie Diller has revolutionized literacy instruction in countless classrooms over the years with her seminal books Literacy Work Stations, Practice with Purpose, and Spaces & Places on how to effectively use literacy work stations to engage students in critical literacy learning. In Growing Independent Learners, she provides a comprehensive guide with more than 400 full-color photos to help you plan instruction focused on literacy standards, organize your classroom for maximum benefit, and lead your students to independence through whole-group lessons, small-group focus, and partner learning at literacy stations.

The first four chapters lay the foundation with planning, organizing, and instruction that are essential for success with literacy work stations. From creating a model classroom and developing planning tools to using anchor charts, Debbie gives you creative ideas for making the most of your classroom environment to support student independence.

Later chapters focus on standards-based instruction built around key reading, writing, and foundational skills as well as speaking, listening, and language standards. Each of these chapters provides the following:  Detailed explanations of each focal standard importance and real-world application. Planning tools that include

  • Academic vocabulary, plans for whole-group instruction, and suggestions for literacy work stations
  • Complete whole-group lesson plans that you can use and modify again and again
  • Connections to help you extend the lessons into other areas of daily instruction, including independent reading time, small-group instruction, and work stations
  • Mentor texts to use during whole group, small group, or stations
  • Teaching tips that can help build skills from grade to grade. Growing Independent Learners will help you create a vibrant classroom filled with independent learners. This book will quickly become an essential resource for any teacher who believes, as Debbie does, that all children can learn to work independently in a classroom that s well organized and mindfully planned.



I have purchased many books on using work stations in classrooms, but still was not successful with small group time. After reading Diller’s books I was able to implement work stations that were not only successful, but that stemmed from whole-group lessons with connections to help the kids really “get it”.  The author does a fantastic job of coaching teachers to make learning practical and fun.  While this isn’t entirely “new” information, the author takes work stations one step further by including common standards that must be met.  This book is full of great ideas for organization, standards alignment, anchor charts, and balancing whole group, guided groups, and independent learning! It is a must for early elementary school teachers!

~Reviewed by Emily M.

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    Cracking the AP Calculus AB Exam, 2016

    Product DetailsCracking the AP Calculus AB Exam, 2016 Edition (College Test Preparation)
    By Princeton Review
    Retail Price:  $19.99
    Amazon Price: $11.99

    Book Description:  EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO SCORE A PERFECT 5. Equip yourself to ace the AP Calculus AB Exam with The Princeton Review’s comprehensive study guide—including thorough content reviews, targeted strategies for every question type, access to our AP Connect online portal, and 3 full-length practice tests with complete answer explanations.

    We don’t have to tell you how tough AP Calculus is—or how important a stellar score on the AP exam can be to your chances of getting into a top college of your choice. Written by Princeton Review experts who know their way around Calc AB, Cracking the AP Calculus AB Exam will give you:

    Techniques That Actually Work.
    • Tried-and-true strategies to avoid traps and beat the test
    • Tips for pacing yourself and guessing logically
    • Essential tactics to help you work smarter, not harder

    Everything You Need to Know for a High Score.
    • Comprehensive content review for all test topics
    • Up-to-date information on the 2016 AP Calculus AB Exam
    • Engaging activities to help you critically assess your progress
    • Access to AP Connect, our online portal for helpful pre-college information and exam updates

    Practice Your Way to Perfection.
    • 3 full-length practice tests with detailed answer explanations
    • Practice drills throughout each content review chapter
    • Handy reference guide of key calculus formulas


    I have looked around at the plethora of Test Prep Guides and Princeton Review Guides stand out as the best guide available.

    Get ready for your AP Calculus BC exam with this straightforward, easy-to-follow study guide―updated for all the latest exam changes  This guide is an excellent preparation program that will help you build the skills, knowledge, and test-taking confidence you need to succeed. This fully revised edition covers the latest course syllabus and matches the latest exam.  It is comprehensive and up to date with 3 full length practice tests with detailed explanations for the answers.  I highly recommend it!

    ~Reviewed by Mr. Boz, Calculus Teacher

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      Product Details

      Story: Still the Heart of Literacy Learning
      By Katie Egan-Cunningham
      Stenhouse Publishing
      Retail Price: $21.00

      Book Description:  Stories surround us, support us, and sustain us. We see and hear them when walking down the street, on our digital newsfeeds, in our interactions with one another, in the ways our students play, and in literature, poetry, music, images, multimedia, and dramatic works.

      While acknowledging the importance of teaching students strategies to read different kinds of text, to write across genres, and to speak and listen with purpose, Katie Egan Cunningham reminds us that when we bridge strategy with the power of story, we deepen literacy learning and foster authentic engagement. Story: Still the Heart of Literacy Learning compels us to ask crucial questions: Why do stories matter? Whose stories count? Where do stories live? How do stories come alive? How do we build stories? How do we talk about stories? And why does this work take courage?

      Katie shares her story as a classroom teacher, literacy specialist, staff developer, and professor. She shows teachers how to create classrooms of caring and inquisitive readers, writers, and storytellers. Katie explains specific ways to build a classroom library that reflects our diverse society through rich, purposeful, and varied texts. She also provides numerous examples of multigenre and multimodal stories from children’s and young adult literature, poetry, songs, and multimedia. The practical toolkit at the end of each chapter demonstrates how to make stories come alive in any classroom.


      As middle school English teacher I am well aware that stories play an important role in learning, not only English, but other subjects as well. The author does a wonderful job explaining to us why stories attract young learners and gives us resources and instruction on how to use stories in our classrooms to help strengthen literary skills.  She gives great advice on how to build a class library and what books should be included.  I believe that this book is a wonderful tool for using literature for classroom learning and how to make the most of your time spent in the story.

      ~Reviewed by Jennifer W.


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        Cracking the CBEST, 3rd Edition (Professional Test Preparation)

        Cracking the CBEST, 3rd Edition (Professional Test Preparation)
        Princeton Review
        Retail Price: $19.99
        Amazon Price: $14.94

        Book Description:  THE PRINCETON REVIEW GETS RESULTS. Get all the prep you need to ace the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) with 3 full-length practice tests, thorough topic reviews, and proven techniques to help you score higher.

        Techniques That Actually Work.
        • Tried-and-true tactics to help you avoid traps and beat the test
        • Tips for pacing yourself and guessing logically
        • Essential strategies to help you work smarter, not harder

        Everything You Need to Know to Help Achieve a High Score.

        • Comprehensive content reviews for all test topics
        • A helpful essay template to break down the writing section piece-by-piece
        • Math fundamentals to help you review the basics, as well as estimation, measurement, statistical principles, computation, and more

        Practice Your Way to Excellence.
        3 full-length practice tests with detailed answer explanations
        • Tons of practice problems and drills
        • Summary lists at the end of each content review chapter


        If you want to teach public school in California or Oregon (or if you want the option to!) You have to pass CBEST,  a standardized test administered throughout the state of California and Oregon for individuals who gain their teaching credentials in these states.  My fiance just got a job in Oregon and, while I am currently certified to teach in my home state, I will be having to take this test when I move there. The test is designed to provide information about basic proficiency in reading, mathematics, and writing.  This Test-Prep guide will help you to reach your goal and ace this test!  It provides a comprehensive review of all the test topics, math fundamentals, and correct essay structure.  And the three practice tests will help you to get used to the actual test.   I highly recommend this Test Prep Guide!

        ~Reviewed by Jeni H.

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          Still Teaching the Key of Life

          Still Teaching the Key of Life
          By Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld
          Redleaf Press
          Retail Price $11.95
          Amazon Price: $9.84

          Book Description: 

          Early childhood educators face many challenges and stresses today. This heartwarming collection of 20 stories by Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld will help you remember why you became a teacher and why what you do every day is so important in the lives of young children. You’ll read about classrooms filled with joy, laughter, love, and a celebration of learning.

          This book was co-published by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and Redleaf Press.

          Born and raised in New York City, Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld began her teaching career in Albany, New York, in 1956, teaching fourth grade. Since that time, she has taught adults and children of all ages and grades, from Head Start to Upward Bound, from New York to Hawaii. Her special love is celebrating the arts and creativity in all her programs. Since 1970, Mimi has been totally immersed in the education and arts community in Columbus, Ohio, now her home base from which she travels extensively to be with teachers, university students, and children. The author of many poems, stories, and novels, her books Teaching by Heart, Celebrating Young Children and Their Teachers, and Creative Experiences for Young Children are widely used. Her children’s novel, The House at 12 Rose Street, one of the first controversial stories for children, was adapted for an After School Special and nominated for an Emmy. The recipient of many honors, Mimi’s favorite comes from a child who wrote, “Mimi, you are the Queen of Fun!”


          While I feel that teaching is a rewarding profession, discouragement is also a reality for many teachers.  This book will bring teachers back to a place where they remember why they chose this field to begin with! Every teacher from the novice to the experienced professional will laugh, cry, and nod their head in agreement as they read these incredible stories.  It is truly a “must read”.

          ~Reviewed by Jen W.

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            The Behavior Code

            The Behavior Code
            By Jes
            sica Minahan
            Harvard Education Press
            Retail Price $29.95
            Amazon Price: $28.85

            Book Description: 

            Based on a collaboration dating back nearly a decade, the authors a behavioral analyst and a child psychiatrist reveal their systematic approach for deciphering causes and patterns of difficult behaviors and how to match them with proven strategies for getting students back on track to learn.

            The Behavior Code includes user-friendly worksheets and other helpful resources.


            This was an excellent book with really unique ideas on how to help children with challenging behaviors channel their energies in acceptable ways. This is the best book I’ve ever read on the topic, hands down.   The author covers the most typical areas of need as well as some more challenging behaviors tackled in clasrooms. There is something on every page I could take right in to my classroom and try! I have worked with children with behavior disorders for almost 20 years and this book has about every program and solution that I have come across plus some that I have never seen before.  The strategies in this book were effective in reducing a number of my students behaviors.



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              Making Number Talks Matter

              Product DetailsMaking Number  Talks Matter
              by Cathy Humphreys and Ruth Parker
              Retail Price: $23

              Book Description: 

              Making Number Talks Matter is about the myriad decisions facing teachers as they make this fifteen-minute daily routine a vibrant and vital part of their mathematics instruction. Throughout the book, Cathy Humphreys and Ruth Parker offer practical ideas for using Number Talks to help students learn to reason numerically and build a solid foundation for the study of mathematics. This book will be an invaluable resource whether you are already using Number Talks or not; whether you are an elementary, middle school, high school, or college teacher; or even if you are a parent wanting to support your child with mathematics.

              Using insight gained from many years of doing Number Talks with students of all ages, Cathy and Ruth address questions to ask during Number Talks, teacher moves that turn the thinking over to students, the mathematics behind the various strategies, and ways to overcome bumps in the road. If you’ve been looking for ways to transform your mathematics classroom—to bring sense-making and divergent thinking to the foreground, to bring the Standards for Mathematical Practice to life, and to bring joy back into your instruction—this book is for you.

              Making Number Talks Matter is a powerful resource to have in your teacher’s toolbox as they use Number Talks with their students. It provides  powerful strategies for building number sense and mental math fluency for students and how to make the best use of your instruction time.  It is helpful tool to analyze where a child’s “holes” are in number sense development, how to get them on the right track, and empower them.  I highly recommend it.

              ~Reviewed by Betsy H.



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                The Opportunity Equation

                The Opportunity Equation
                by Eric Schwarz and Lawrence H. Summers
                Beacon Press
                Retail Price $26.95
                Amazon Price: $18.43

                Book Description: 

                Schwarz, founder of the groundbreaking Citizen Schools program, shares his vision for reducing inequality by pairing successful adults with low-income students.

                Parental wealth now predicts adult success more than at any point in the last hundred years. And yet as debates about education rage on, and wealth-based achievement gaps grow, too many people fix the blame on one of two convenient scapegoats: poverty or our public schools. But in fact, low-income kids are learning more now than ever before. The real culprit for rising inequality, Eric Schwarz argues in The Opportunity Equation, is that wealthier kids are learning much, much more—mostly outside of school. In summer camps, robotics competitions, sessions with private tutors, and conversations around the dinner table, children from more affluent families build the skills and social networks that propel them to success.

                In The Opportunity Equation, Schwarz tells the story of how he founded the pioneering Citizen Schools program to combat rising inequality by bringing these same opportunities to children who don’t have access to them. By increasing learning time in schools and harnessing the power of an army of volunteers with various skills and professional backgrounds—lawyers, engineers, carpenters, journalists, nonprofit leaders, and grandmothers who sew—Citizen Schools offers after-school apprenticeships that provide the building blocks for adult success.

                Recounting the triumphs and setbacks he’s encountered in implementing the program, Schwarz shows that some of the nation’s lowest-performing schools in its lowest-income cities can, with help, provide their students with many of the same experiences wealthy communities afford to their children. The results have been proven: in the dozen school districts, from New York to Oakland, that have partnered with Citizen Schools, rates of attendance, proficiency, graduation, and college acceptance have gone up—and the achievement gap closes.

                At a time when many stakeholders in the education debates are looking for new, silver-bullet shortcuts to educational excellence, Schwarz shows that the best solution is human-centered, rooted in the American tradition of citizen voluntarism, and, most important, achievable. We can provide quality education for all students and close the opportunity gap in this country—and we can do it together.


                This book gives an overview of the author’s educational program that literally leveled the playing field in the educational system.  He gives educators a blueprint for closing the educational gap in a quick and organized manner.  It is a clarion call to act to bring quality education to all children in our country, empowering low-income children to dream big dreams and achieve their life goals and improving the economic future.   Through this book educators will hopefully catch the vision and work to change the educational future of America.

                ~Reviewed by David H.

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                  The Roles of Young People in Schools of Poverty

                  The Roles of Young People in Schools of Poverty
                  by Jay Gillen and Bob Moses
                  AK Press
                  Retail Price $15.95
                  Amazon Price: $12.12

                  Book Description: 

                  Desegregation has failed. Schools filled with black and brown students have become plantations of social control, where the policing of behavior trumps the expanding of minds. Radical teachers and organizers in American public schools must help young people fashion an insurgency. That means, at the very least, seeing each student’s rebellion not as violation, but as communication.Jay Gillen writes with passion and compassion about the daily lives of poor students trapped in institutions that dismiss and degrade them. In the spirit of Paulo Freire, and using the historical models of slave rebellions and Civil Rights struggles as guides, Gillen explains what sort of insurgency is needed and how to create it: the tools and techniques required to build social, intellectual, and political power.

                  This poetic manifesto of revolutionary “educational reform” belongs in the pocket of anyone who currently works in, suffers through, or simply cares about public schooling in this country.

                  Jay Gillen teaches English in a Baltimore public school and has worked with the Baltimore Algebra Project since 1995, building math literacy among youth of color and youth experiencing poverty in US public schools.


                  This is a very interesting read, written by a teacher right there in the trenches in a city school where poverty reigns supreme.  While we thought desegregation would help equal educational opportunities, we have seen it fail.  Gillen a clarion call for change and how to go about achieving it.  This is a must read for teachers and administrators and parents as well.

                  ~Reviewed by David H.


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                    Social And Emotional Well-Being

                    Social And Emotional Well-Being
                    by Connie Jo Smith and Charlotte M. Hendricks
                    Redleaf Press
                    Retail Price $14.95
                    Amazon Price: $11.62

                    Book Description: 

                    Young children are better able to cope with their ever-changing world, overcome obstacles, and grow into emotionally healthy adults if they are provided opportunities to build their self-awareness and confidence. Help children appreciate themselves and others, explore relationships, and develop coping mechanisms for dealing with change and difficult events in their lives as they learn about self-esteem, emotions and feelings, family, friends, and changes in life.

                    The curriculum includes
                    Overviews of the six social and emotional well-being topics
                    Suggested interest area materials and supports for creating the learning environment
                    Learning objectives and vocabulary words to intro¬duce and use
                    Suggestions for evaluating children’s understanding of each topic
                    More than 30 hands-on classroom activities
                    Family information and take-home activities

                    This book is part of the Growing, Growing Strong series, a whole-health curriculum for children age three though kindergarten. Together, the books provide a complete set of activities and resources to help you support children’s growth and wellness.



                    Some skills are absolutely necessary to teach at an early age and this book  is a unique approach to education, saying that the most important thing for a child to learn is not a truly academic subject at all, but instead seven emotional and social skills that will prepare a child for the other tasks. The authors touch on things such as confidence, empathy, willpower, and more.  This is a great resource for teachers to better help them mentor their students in what is really important.  It is full of fun and exciting activities that are full of life lessons.

                    ~Reviewed by Emily G.


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