Staff Recommended Read/Podcast List

The staff of State Support Team 4 would like to use this space to share with you our favorite books and podcasts. Each month you will be introduced to a new staff recommended book or podcast. We hope that you find something new to consider and possibly impact your personal professional development. 
Happy Reading!

May Recommended Podcast

PBIS Teach By Design: Implicit Bias

By: Dr. Erik Girvan, Univ. of Oregon School of Law

(Click image to go to Podcast) 

Podcast reviewed by: Carrie McClure

Podcast Synopsis:

In this episode of Expert Instruction: The Teach by Design Podcast, the guest is Dr. Erik Girvan from the University of Oregon School of Law. Dr. Girvan's research focuses on how stereotypes, attitudes, and other biases might impact the decisions you make in schools. He joins the podcast to talk specifically about implicit bias: the automatic, unconscious associations we make about people and their social roles. Addressing the way these biases make their way into our school policies and procedures is exactly the kind of work we need to do in order to create supportive environments.

Why I Recommend This Podcast:

The importance of investigating our own unconscious bias is central to gaining ground in understanding how this can impact our district policies, procedures and practices that may inadvertently lead to disproportionate discipline and exclusionary practices.  Student voice and representation is critical in developing a climate that is inclusive and restorative.  How do we start this journey?

April Recommended Read

Reduce Change to Increase Improvement

By: Viviane Robinson 

Book reviewed by: Crystal Bryski

Book Synopsis:

 “The practical purpose of this book is to help system and school leaders to increase improvement while reducing ineffective change and innovation.  Whether change is thrust upon them or pursued through their own choice, I want to help leaders increase its payoff so that planned change is undertaken less frequently and, when it is, more successfully.”

Why I Recommend This Book: 

I appreciate the author’s focus on helping school leaders work on improving their systems while giving them permission to stop engaging in practices that are not making an impact.  School leaders work hard to get things right, a process that requires intentional, purposeful and meaningful action.  Improved outcomes happen when we understand our challenges, eliminate distractions and “lead from the front.” 

March Recommended Read

Processing Perspectives by Examining Beliefs, Biases, and Reality Through Stories

By: Steve Gill and Ushani Nanayakkara


Book reviewed by: Pam Kennedy

Book Synopsis:

At a time when educational communities are dealing with disproportionality in areas such as special education, discipline referrals, and access to gifted programs, it’s only wise to examine our belief systems and the role they play in any decision process.  Through touching short stories, the authors illustrate that our perspectives often don’t reflect reality. Only when we acknowledge how this disconnect limits our understanding can we move on to really exploring an issue and searching for solutions.   

Why I Recommend This Book:

Mainly because on every other page I’ve posted a sticky note with a name of a colleague who simply must read that particular story due to a recent coaching conversation about an issue in the classroom or district.  The appendices alone make this a worthwhile read.  One focuses on belief systems issues and the one provides a way to examine issues our students may face as they work to develop and master new skills.  

February Recommended Read


By: Allison Posey and Katie Novak 


Book reviewed by: Steve Ramos 

Book Synopsis:

Unlearning, a 2020 publication by UDL gurus Allison Posey and Katie Novak challenges readers to think about what, why, and how they teach.  This book takes the reader through the “unlearning cycle” by exploring the importance of variability, knowing and clarifying goals for the lesson, transforming techniques we’ve used in the past, prioritizes student engagement, and scaffolds expert learning.  This book is essential for those on their UDL journey and provides exercises and examples that will help us all on our cycle to unlearn and learn again!

Why I Recommend This Book: 

I enjoyed the brevity and succinctness of this book.  Coupled with applicable strategies, this book is a must read for UDL practitioners!

January Recommended Read

Caffeinated Learning
By: Anne M. Beninghof 
Book reviewed by: Merrie Darrah

Book Synopsis:

The January book-of-the-month "Caffeinated Learning" , by Anne Benninghof, is a great professional development resource. This book is helpful for school leadership, coaches, or anyone involved in facilitating meetings, delivering presentations or webinars. 

This books' ease of use, straight-forward key takeaways, and reflective questions presented after each chapter is helpful.  I especially appreciate Anne's view of the adult learner as an integral part of the whole professional development process and the importance of interactive engagement. Reading this book generated new thinking, and rejuvenated the whole process of professional development. This book is a great tool for generating ideas in the delivery and planning of professional development.  Chapters are concise, delivering insight through humor, example and illustration. Key takeaways are summarized and the reader is drawn into participation through next-step questions. 

Beninghof's book is the perfect balance. She brings to the table extensive real-world experience doing professional development and a wealth of knowledge about best practices. In this book, Beninghof provides a concise but thorough guide that takes you from conception to implementation, seamlessly connecting research with practical suggestions to make our lives as trainers easier and create the most effective sessions possible.


Why I Recommend This Book:

I highly recommend this book to anyone involved in facilitating meetings, delivering presentations or webinars, whether two days or two hours in length. Beginners and "pros" alike will glean plenty of valuable nuggets from this book. 

December Recommended Read

The Distance Learning Playbook

By: Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, and John Hattie  

Book reviewed by: Liesl Blackwell

Book Synopsis:

The February book of the month is The Distance Learning Playbook: Teaching for Engagement & Impact in Any Setting Grades K-12. This Playbook is designed to walk educators through the identification of how best practices look in face-to-face learning as well as in virtual/distance learning. The central themes driving the work are:

  • Teacher clarity and feedback is used to fuel students’ ability to become their own teachers (they are assessment-capable learners).

  • Methods for measuring the impact of teaching are used to understand each student’s progress and achievement, with adjustments to teaching made accordingly.

  • Investment in collaboration with adults and relationships with students is continuous.

The playbook is broken into modules: 

  1. Take Care of Yourself

  2. The First days of School

  3. Teacher-Student Relationships from a Distance

  4. Teacher Credibility at a Distance

  5. Teacher Clarity at a Distance

  6. Engaging Tasks

  7. Planning Instructional Units for Distance Learning

  8. Feedback, Assessment, and Grading

  9. Learning, Distance or Otherwise

The modules are designed to move educators through a process that begins and ends with the standards, from analysis through assessment. The ultimate goal is to aid teachers in building a habit of mind for how it is that we systematically and efficiently analyze standards, build curriculum, teach, and assess, and to do it regularly for our instruction.

Why I Recommend This Book: 

Educators are working in unprecedented ways in 2020. Never could it have been predicted that virtual instruction would become the new normal. This book provides teachers with a framework that can be used to plan for effective and impactful learning for students in online environments.

November Recommended Podcast

Self-Care for Educators

By: Dr. Tina H. Boogren

(Click image to go to Podcast) 

Podcast reviewed by:  Krista Dickens

Podcast Synopsis:

STOP and OiP (Open immediately Please)!! Pause your reading of this review, go to where you get your podcasts and subscribe to this one RIGHT NOW, then hustle back so I can tell you what it’s all about and why you should listen. Self-Care for Educators is the podcast for creating happy, healthy, and inspired educators. Host Tina H. Boogren is a lifelong educator, the author of numerous books, and an associate for Solution Tree and Marzano Resources. Each week, Tina helps educators dig into the essential work of self-care via bite-sized episodes that fit into a busy schedule and highlights a self- care strategy to focus on for the week. THIS is the kind of continuous improvement you will want to engage in...and if not, there’s someone in your life you will want to share this with, I promise. 

Why I Recommend This Podcast: 

I have spent months listening to and looking for the just- right podcast to share with you for 2020-21 and I found it! From Classroom staff to Central Office staff and all departments in between, this podcast will fit. It’s short, I might even call it “concentrated”. All episodes are 10 minutes or less so even those of you with a super short drive to work can listen to it on a Monday morning to get your week started right. Each week you get a simple but powerful strategy with a prompt to work on during the week and even ways to share with your students. You know when the work of Marzano, Maslow and people like Gretchen Rubin are being referred to, it’s the real deal. SO write yourself a permission slip to spend time listening to this--- at least one episode. If it’s not for you, no worries! I’m confident you’ll know right away who would appreciate this podcast and you can share this with them. For those of you who may be like me and start with the episode that looks the most interesting, I encourage you to listen to the 4 minute introduction...which will then slide you right into the first episode about music as self-care. Actually, as I write this review, I’m listening to her Educator 911 playlist which you can learn more about here.  

Happy listening! #selfcaresquad

October Recommended Podcast

KindSight 101
By: Morgane Michael
 (Click image to go to Podcast)

Podcast Reviewed By: Sonia Stevenson

Podcast Synopsis:

KindSight 101 is a podcast that highlights educational leaders who are mobilizing the power of kindness. This podcast is compiled of compelling interviews with guests, who are experts in their field. The premise of the podcast is that by challenging our assumptions and going beyond the status quo in education, small acts can make a lasting impact. 


Why I Recommend This Podcast: 

During these unprecedented times, these are helpful conversations for teachers, parents, and anyone hoping to create positive change. 

September Recommended Podcast

The Five Moore Minutes' Podcast
by: Shelley Moore
(Click image to go to Podcast) 

Podcast reviewed by: Teresa Brown

Podcast Synopsis:

The Five Moore Minutes' Podcast is an extension to Shelley Moore's Five Moore Minutes video series dedicated to empowering schools and classrooms to support ALL Learners! The website and video series offers resources, research, professional development activities and inspiration in 5 minute chunks. The podcast supports and connects to the video series with additional interviews and conversations.

Why I Recommend This Podcast:

Shelley Moore challenges your thinking about inclusion using dynamic storytelling and humor. She makes research easy to understand and offers strategies that can make a meaningful impact in any classroom. 

August Recommended Read

The UDL Educational Technology Guide 2020
by: John F. O'Sullivan 

Book Reviewed By: Lori Pinchot

Book Synopsis:

"This is the most comprehensive educational technology guide for special education. The best technologies are highlighted in each chapter. You can completely transform your teaching practices with the technologies within this book. You will learn about the best technologies for executive function, visual impairment, learning disabilities, speech and language, and technology for engaging hands-on projects for special needs students. Only the very best technology makes the book. The information in the book is based on many years of research."

Why I Recommend This Book: 

This is a must have resource for all teachers but especially special education teachers. All websites and apps are rated and only the best are included in this book with links provided. Sections of the book focus on assessment, executive function, calendar/organization, student communication, behavior, occupational therapy, speech language therapy, physical disabilities, deaf and hearing impaired, preschool, projects. Subject specific areas of math, reading, writing and spelling are included as well. This should be in every teacher’s tool kit!!

Previously Recommended

     Recommended in 2017-18                    Recommended in 2018-19                 Recommended in 2019-20