What I’m Reading – October.

I managed to keep the balance between school and personal reading over the holidays. Here are a few that I am enjoying at the moment.

Making Thinking Visible, How to Promote Engagement, Understanding and Independence for All Learners (Ritchhart, Church & Morrison, Jossey-Bass 2011)

After seeing a huge amount of discussion about this book between educators on Twitter, and having discussed it with a few members of my PLN, I was keen to see what all the fuss was about. I have already found the content to be relevant to current practice, and the arguments to be concise and well explained. I love the analysis of the revised taxonomy early in the book. It is a must read for any teacher who wishes to expand their understanding of how our students apply their thinking and knowledge in everyday context.

What’s the Point of School? Rediscovering the Heart of Education (Guy Claxton, Oneworld Oxford 2008)

This was also recommended to me by a member of my PLN. Claxton is touted as one of the UK’s leading academics and thinkers on creativity, thinking and the brain. I’m not finding that this is necessarily a text that I can pick up/put down (as I like to do), and that is making it quite heavy going. This has lead to me being slightly out of touch with Claxton’s argument. Having said that, there are some interesting points raised that have made me reflect elsewhere in my studies and discussions with my PLN. Hopefully I get a chance to follow this up in more detail in a future post.

Inca-Kola, A Traveller’s Tale of Peru (Matthew Parris, Phoenix 1990)

I have been reading as many accounts of South American travel as I can in the lead up to my big trip next year, and this 90’s gem from journalist Matthew Parris was no exception. It is an extremely well-written, gripping, often humorous tale of his experiences in and around Peru in the late 80s. If you are planning on any travel yourself, a great idea is to read as much as you can before you go. It is exciting and incredibly informative, I have added so many travel plans since reading this book!

The Snowman (Jo Nesbo, Vintage Books 2010)

I’ve been a little bit sneaky here, because I’ve actually been too busy to start this one. However, I have read The Leopard (another of Nesbo’s thrillers) and I am convinced this book will be worth the wait. As the cover indicates, if you’re a fan of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy you will enjoy this series too. The dark, twisted plots aren’t for those with a weak stomach though!

Twitter has been a great tool for me so far in terms of receiving recommendations from other educators. However, it is difficult to keep a record of great texts to read that everyone can access. For this reason, please use the comment space to share what you are reading, and any other recommendations so that we can all comment and enjoy!




4 Comments on “What I’m Reading – October.”

  1. Sam Boswell says:

    Hi Teddy,
    Love the omnivorous reading diet you’ve offered here; can’t comment on the fiction (though I did love the Stieg Larsson trilogy until it was disrupted by his untimely death), but summer holidays will be a great catch-up opportunity!
    So to your non-fiction picks: I’ve had the Ritchart et al text as a must-read item since discovering, like you, via Twitter. From what I understand, its the practice of questioning that facilitates visible thinking in our classrooms – using ‘what makes you say that?’ as a strategy for illuminating thinking. Have you applied the technique? I’d love to hear about your experience. Personally, I find I am often reminding myself to allow wait/ think time as a measure of respect for the learners’ process. Tricky to sustain within the maelstrom!
    As for Claxton, I love his “learning gymnasium” which reminds me of old-style gym outfits with parallel bars, medicine balls, and swinging ropes to wrestle muscle control against. Teaching brain theory and mind maintenance? Makes sense. How to fit into the curriculum? I can hear the outcry now….. Yes, what’s needed is a new paradigm, not ongoing tinkering on the periphery when we all know it’s merely another doomed reform measure….
    Thanks for sharing.

    • teddymercer says:

      Thanks for your detailed and thoughtful reply, Sam, and for taking the time to respond to my post.

      I’m still getting my head around how I could most effectively introduce the visible thinking questions. As you say, sometimes throwing another ball into the air can cause another one to fall down!

      I look forward to sharing with you on Twitter and in future posts.



  2. Liz says:

    Hi Teddy,

    I have been using the visible thinking routines for the last few years and don’t find them to be “another ball” at all. They are a meaningful way for kids to think about science (I’m a science teacher) content- depending on HOW I want them to think about it. This is really the key. How do I want kids to understand the current content- and that is how I choose the routines that we’re going to use. For example, if it is the beginning of something, I might use a Chalk Talk like the picture I tweeted. At this point, a chalk talk allowed us silently share our background knowledge about the next upcoming part of our unit.

    After we did the Chalk Talk, I asked the kids what they thought of it and they like that they can have a silent “argument” where everyone’s voices are heard AND that it is anonymous because they don’t put their names by their thoughts/questions. So, for accessing background knowledge, I use the Chalk Talk and we get quite practiced at them. But, for other types of thinking, I use other routines- this is just what really has to be pre-planned and thoughtfully decided upon. I think that the next stage I want to get to is having kids choose for themselves what routines work the best for what kind of thinking they want/need to do to understand. I’m really thinking about how to move in this direction.

    Would love to hear about how you are using routines and thinking about them yourself for your own instructional practices.

    • teddymercer says:

      Thanks for your honest and well-articulated reply, Liz. It is pleasing to know that it won’t be too hard to integrate into my practice at the expense of my organization elsewhere!

      When uni is finished and reports are written I promise I’ll get my teeth I to it properly and be sure to keep you updated on Twitter!



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