Teacher Book Groups Get Food For Thought

Piñon Elementary School teachers show off the books they’ll be reading thanks to the LAPS Foundation. Courtesy photo


Professional Book Groups for Los Alamos Public Schools teachers and instructional assistants are a rewarding and low-cost way for the LAPS Foundation to provide professional development. Two types of professional book groups were considered for funding:

  • Educators will examine instructional techniques with the goal of implementing new or refined practices in the classroom or broadening their pedagogical knowledge.
  • Educators will select and discuss books of interest to their students or themselves for future use in the classroom setting.

Piñon Elementary School was awarded 48 books for four book groups and Smith’s gift cards for refreshments for their newly formed groups. Jennifer Guy, kindergarten teacher and administrative intern at Piñon wrote each of the grant proposals. In addition, Piñon was awarded an additional copy of each book to add to the professional development section of their school’s library so that others may check it out and read them once they have heard about the enthusiasm and great discussions surrounding each book.

For different books are being studied by four groups of teachers  interested in reading, discussing and implementing the new found knowledge or techniques learned from the books. The groups are composed of eight to 12 teachers or instructional assistants. The Piñon book groups are reading the following books:

  • Good Questions for Math Teaching: Why Ask Them and What to Ask by Peter Sullivan  Open-ended questions, coined “good questions” by the authors, can prompt children to think creatively and critically. This useful book helps teachers define good questions, offers teachers tips on how to create their own good questions, and presents a wide variety of sample questions that span 16 mathematical topics, including number, measurement, geometry, probability, and data.
  • Teach Like a Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator by Dave Burgess   Based on Dave Burgess’s popular “Outrageous Teaching” and “Teach Like a Pirate” seminars, this book offers inspiration, practical techniques, and innovative ideas that aimed at helping teachers increase student engagement and boost their own creativity. Topics include learning how to tap into and dramatically increase their passion as a teacher, and developing outrageously engaging lessons that draw students in like a magnet.
  • The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller Donalyn Miller says she has yet to meet a child she couldn’t turn into a reader. No matter how far behind Miller’s students might be when they reach her 6th grade classroom, they end up reading an average of 40 to 50 books a year. Miller’s unconventional approach dispenses with drills and worksheets that make reading a chore.
  • Mindfulness: An Eight Week Plan to Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams The book is based on Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). MBCT revolves around a straightforward form of mindfulness which takes just a few minutes a day for the full benefits to be revealed.

Los Alamos High School Librarian Ken Holmes received a grant for teachers of all subjects fifth grade through middle school, K-12 librarians and the Mesa Public Library youth services Librarians to review a variety of young adult literature. The group will select contemporary young adult novels across a number of genres that would be appealing to 10 to 14 year old students. They will divide the titles among the participants and will read the selected titles and provide a “book talk” about the novel at the next meeting by telling about its appeal or lack of appeal and applications within the classroom curriculum.


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