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Good Reads: A Pedagogical Summer Reading List

By Will McClure

There's nothing better than relaxing with a good book in the warm shade over the summer. Anyone looking for pedagogical resources to peruse with your lemonade in hand, this is the blog post for you. Below is a curated list from the FlexTeaching listserv and members of the LTC of books, articles, and podcasts designed to get your teaching and learning wheels turning.  

Books and Articles

  1. Distracted: Why Students Can't Focus and What You Can Do About It 
    by James Lang
    Contributor: Susan Brown, Director of Faculty Development

    James Lang's latest book, Distracted: Why Students Can’t Focus and What You Can Do About It, makes a compelling argument that we should shift our focus away from eliminating distractions (which are endemic to the human condition) and toward the cultivation of attention. As in his previous book Small Teaching, Lang offers a solid theoretical grounding for his argument, dozens of practical recommendations for the face-to-face and online classroom, and accessible prose. You can read more about the book on his website. If you are looking for a summer book club read for your faculty, it would make a great choice during this year of many distractions. If there's not enough appetite for a full book, check out these articles by Lang that summarize some of the key points of his book:

    Why Your Students Can’t Focus
    Believe it or not, a distracted mind is not a new concept, despite our lofty conceptions of the deep thinkers of the past. In fact, humans and other creatures have evolved to be distracted, so in some sense, pursuing deep focus is fighting against our nature. In this 10-minute read, Lang provides many historical examples of the distracted mind, but then addresses the unparalleled draw that phones and technology have on our students (and ourselves) today.

    3 Ways to Get Their Attention in Class
    Lang argues that part of the way to get students to pay attention is to pay attention to them. The more they feel like an individual person to you and to the class, the more likely they are to feel invested in the instruction. I'll spoil the article for you and tell you the 3 things Lang recommends: (1) Begin the semester by asking students to identify the strengths they bring to the class; (2) Use student's names regularly; (3) Make full use of physical classroom space (when we can again). I'm sure you have questions on how to achieve these goals - read the article to find out how to take the first steps! 

    The Role of Tempo in Good Teaching
    Attention itself has a tempo, as I'm sure we've all acutely experienced in the pandemic. Sometimes you have a full spurt of attention for an hour or two, but other times you can't seem to find any focus. The same is true for our students, even in learning spaces that incorporate active teaching strategies. Lang suggests adding even more variety into your teaching - but this doesn't necessarily have to mean more work. It can mean simply taking a quick stretch break or pausing to watch a fun video clip. Lang provides 3 practical strategies for helping determine and utilize the rhythm and structure of your course in this 10-minute read. 

  2. 21 Ways to Structure an Online Discussion: Part 1 and Part 2
    by Dr. Annie Prud'homme-Généreux
    Contributor: Leah Bergman, Senior eLearning Specialist

    Note: Not all online classes should have discussion boards!
    But, if you do have discussion boards, these are some helpful articles for you. Students often don't like asynchronous discussions because they can feel repetitive, tedious, and meaningless. Help mitigate those feelings by designing discussion boards that motivate students to explore and apply course concepts in their posts. Many articles about discussion boards are abstracted out to high concepts, but the articles in this series get down to actual, practical tips with plenty of fully formed examples that can be used in many disciplines. Parts 3, 4, and 5 are forthcoming, so be on the lookout for more from this author!

  3. Teaching for the Two-Sided Mind: A Guide to Right Brain/Left Brain Education
    by Linda Verlee Williams
    Contributor: Will McClure, eLearning Specialist

    In Teaching for the Two-Sided Mind, author Linda VerLee Williams explores how the right brain applies to the classroom, covering current research and its impact, and showcasing practical teaching applications that draw upon the right side of the brain. Educators will find Teaching for the Two-Sided Mind an interesting journey into how modern psychological findings can be put to use in the classroom.

  4. Ungrading: Why Rating Students Undermines Learning (and What to Do Instead)
    edited by Susan D. Blum
    Contributor: Julianne Morgan, Academic Engagement Lead

    It feels like I'm playing with fire even just mentioning this book because immediately you can it's controversial. "Ungrading" is a buzzword being tossed around academic Twitter of late, and the word means pretty much exactly what "un-grading" implies: removing grades from your teaching. Scary, right? By no means should you get the idea that I'm an advocate for this idea, but after reading a few articles about the concept, I am at least curious and want to know more. Anyone interested in playing with the fire of Ungrading with me this summer, please feel free to email me at so we can coordinate a group reading!

  5. Faculty Focus: Higher Ed Teaching Strategies
    Contributor: Michael Key

    Faculty Focus is a veritable warehouse for short articles from educators around the world about all subjects of teaching in higher education. When visiting the website, make sure to click on the Topics button at the top to locate articles most interesting to you. Categories include Online Student Engagement, Course Design, Effective Teaching Strategies, Equity Inclusion and Diversity, and many more. If you find any articles, series, or books mentioned while perusing this site that could benefit you and your peers, we encourage you to reach out to about available programming. 


  1. Educational Duct Tape
    "Hosted by 8th-grade science teacher Jake Miller, this podcast focuses on viewing #edtech as a tool used to meet goals, address learning standards, and solve problems in the classroom, much as duct tape is used as a tool that solves a plethora of problems in our lives. In each episode, Jake sits down with a different inspiring guest to share and discuss some awesome ideas for using tech in the classroom." Here are a few recommended episodes:

    Teaching Mathematical Problem-Solving Digitally: Featuring Dr. Robert Kaplinsky who provides a whole host of suggested tools for demonstrating and engaging students in math problems. 

    Strategies for UDL-Friendly Learning Experiences: Edtech presents a bit of an accessibility conundrum. Tech opens doors to many learners who might not otherwise have access, but technology can also be limiting for students with disabilities, students with poor internet access, etc. This podcast features Joe Marquez, director of Computer-Using Educators, who discusses how to incorporate principles of universal design for learning with edtech. 

  2. Kindsight 101
    "KindSight 101 is a podcast where you’ll hear from world-renowned educational leaders about the mobilizing power of kindness. Together, by challenging our assumptions and venturing beyond the status quo in education, we can make a big impact . . . one small act at a time."

  3. Ignite EdTech Podcast
    "The Ignite EdTech Podcast is a weekly discussion around the world of educational technology, led by leading, global EdTech consultant Craig Kemp. Each week Craig gives insights into EdTech tools for your K-12 school. He gives advice and tips on how to use technology authentically and purposefully and chats to leading educational experts and thought leaders from all over the globe."

We hope you find something good to read and/or listen to this summer. If you end up finding anything valuable, feel free to email the FlexTeaching listserv with any feedback, suggestions, or questions! 

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