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Research School Network: Books Useful and insightful reads to help you embed evidence-informed practice

Books


Useful and insightful reads to help you embed evidence-informed practice

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Whilst we would highly recommend that you read these books written by well-respected and renowned authors in the Edu-Research world, these reviews are not written by Unity Research School, they are taken from the books’ websites or reviewed by independent parties. 

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Teachers Vs Tech: The case for an ed-tech revolution – Daisy Christodoulou

Ed tech has so much potential, both for teachers and learners, so why hasn’t it yet had the transformative impact on education that has long been promised? Daisy Christodoulou tackles both sides of the ed tech debate in answering this question, critiquing missed opportunities about how we learn, as well as areas of success. Rooted in research, and written from the educationalists’ perspective, Teachers vs Tech? examines a broad range of topics from the science of learning and assessment, to personalisation, and the continued importance of teaching facts. It explores international examples from both big brand digital teaching programs and up-and-coming start-ups in considering what has and hasn’t worked well. The author draws throughout on her experience in the classroom and from working within the education community. She outlines a positive vision for the future: one where technology is developed in conjunction with teachers’ expertise, and is ultimately used to improve educational outcomes for all.

Making Every Lesson Count – Andy Tharby & Shaun Allison

This award-winning title has now inspired a whole series of books. Each of the books in the series are held together by six pedagogical principles – challenge, explanation, modelling, practice, feedback and questioning – and provide simple, realistic strategies that teachers can use to develop the teaching and learning in their classroom.

Packed with practical teaching strategies, Making Every Lesson Count bridges the gap between research findings and classroom practice. Shaun Allison and Andy Tharby examine the evidence behind what makes great teaching and explore how to implement this in the classroom to make a difference to learning. They distil teaching and learning down into six core principles – challenge, explanation, modelling, practice, feedback and questioning – and show how these can inspire an ethos of excellence and growth, not only in individual classrooms but across a whole school too.

Combining robust evidence from a range of fields with the practical wisdom of experienced, effective classroom teachers, the book is a complete toolkit of strategies that teachers can use every lesson to make that lesson count. There are no gimmicky ideas here – just high impact, focused teaching that results in great learning, every lesson, every day. To demonstrate how attainable this is, the book contains a number of case studies from a number of professionals who are successfully embedding a culture of excellence and growth in their schools. Making Every Lesson Count offers an evidence-informed alternative to restrictive Ofsted-driven definitions of great teaching, empowering teachers to deliver great lessons and celebrate high-quality practice.

Suitable for all teachers – including trainee teachers, NQTs, and experienced teachers – who want quick and easy ways to enhance their practice and make every lesson count.

Why Don’t Students Like School? – Daniel Willingham

Kids are naturally curious, but when it comes to school it seems like their minds are turned off. Why is it that they can remember the smallest details from their favourite television program, yet miss the most obvious questions on their history test? 

Cognitive scientist Dan Willingham has focused his acclaimed research on the biological and cognitive basis of learning and has a deep understanding of the daily challenges faced by classroom teachers. this book will help teachers improve their practice by explaining how they and their students think and learn — revealing the importance of story, emotion, memory, context, and routine in building knowledge and creating lasting learning experiences.

In this breakthrough book, Willingham has distilled his knowledge of cognitive science into a set of nine principles that are easy to understand and have clear applications for the classroom. Some of examples of his surprising findings are:

  • Learning styles” don’t exist – The processes by which different children think and learn are more similar than different.
  • Intelligence is malleable - Intelligence contributes to school performance and children do differ, but intelligence can be increased through sustained hard work.
  • You cannot develop thinking skills” in the absence of facts – We encourage students to think critically, not just memorize facts. However thinking skills depend on factual knowledge for their operation.

The Hidden Lives of Learners – Graham Nuthall

The Hidden Lives of Learners takes the reader deep into the hitherto undiscovered world of the learner. It explores the three worlds which together shape a student’s learning – the public world of the teacher, the highly influential world of peers, and the student’s own private world and experiences. What becomes clear is that just because a teacher is teaching, does not mean students are learning. Using a unique method of data collection through meticulous recording – audio, video, observations, interviews, pre- and post-tests – and the collation and analysis of what occurred inside and outside the classroom, Graham Nuthall has definitively documented what is involved for most students to learn and retain a concept. In the author’s lifetime the significance of his discoveries and the rare mix of quantitative and qualitative methods were widely recognised and continue to be one of the foundation stones of evidence-based quality education. This book is the culmination of Professor Graham Nuthall’s forty years of research on learning and teaching. It is written with classroom teachers and teachers of teachers in mind. But realising time was short and that his life’s work was laid out in learned papers for fellow researchers, he wrote this brief but powerful book for a much wider audience as well: for all those who seek a better understanding of classroom learning.

What Does this Look Like in the Classroom: Bridging the Gap Between Research & Practice – Carl Hendrick & Robin Macpherson

Educators in the UK and around the world are uniting behind the need for the profession to have access to more high-quality research and evidence to do their job more effectively. But every year thousands of research papers are published, some of which contradict each other. How can busy teachers know which research is worth investing time in reading and understanding? And how easily is that academic research translated into excellent practice in the classroom? In this thorough, enlightening and comprehensive book, Carl Hendrick and Robin Macpherson ask 18 of today’s leading educational thinkers to distill the most up-to-date research into effective classroom practice in 10 of the most important areas of teaching. The result is a fascinating manual that will benefit every single teacher in every single school, in all four corners of the globe.

What Every Teacher Needs to Know About Psychology – David Didau & Nick Rose

Much of what we do in classrooms is intuitive, steered by what feels right’, but all too often intuition proves a poor, sometimes treacherous guide. Although what we know about the workings of the human brain is still pitifully little, the science of psychology can and has revealed certain surprising findings that teachers would do well to heed. David Didau and Nick Rose attempt to lay out the evidence and theoretical perspectives on what we believe are the most important and useful psychological principles of which teacher ought to be aware. That is not to say this book contains everything you might ever need to know – there is no way it could – it is merely a primer. We hope that you are inspired to read and explore some of the sources for yourself and see what other principles can find a home in your classroom. Some of what we present may be surprising, some dubious, but some in danger of being dismissed as blindingly obvious’.

Before embracing or dismissing any of these principles we urge you to interrogate the evidence and think carefully about the advice we offer. While nothing works everywhere and everything might work somewhere, this is a guide to what we consider the best bets from the realm of psychology.

Closing the Vocabulary Gap – Alex Quigley

As teachers grapple with the challenge of a new, bigger and more challenging school curriculum, at every key stage and phase, success can feel beyond our reach. But what if there were 50,000 small solutions to help us bridge that gap? 

In Closing the Vocabulary Gap, the author explores the increased demands of an academic curriculum and how closing the vocabulary gap between our word poor’ and word rich’ students could prove the vital difference between school failure and success. 

This must-read book presents the case for teacher-led efforts to develop students’ vocabulary and provides practical solutions for teachers across the curriculum, incorporating easy-to-use tools, resources and classroom activities.

The Learning Rainforest – Tom Sherrington

The Learning Rainforest captures different elements of our understanding and experience of the art and science of teaching. It is a celebration of great teaching and the intellectual and personal rewards that it brings. It’s aimed at all teachers; busy people working in complex environments with little time to spare. The core of the book is a guide to making teaching both effective and manageable using a three-part structure: establishing conditions; building knowledge; exploring possibilities. It provides an accessible summary of key contemporary evidence-based ideas about teaching, curriculum and assessment and the debates that all teachers should be engaging in. It’s packed with strategies for making great teaching attainable in the context of real schools. The author’s ideas about what constitutes great teaching are drawn from his experiences as a teacher and a school leader over 30 years, alongside everything he has read and the debates he’s engaged with during that time.

Boys Don’t Try? Rethinking Masculinity in Schools – Matt Pinkett & Mark Roberts

There is a significant problem in our schools: too many boys are struggling. The list of things to concern teachers is long. Disappointing academic results, a lack of interest in studying, higher exclusion rates, increasing mental health issues, sexist attitudes, an inability to express emotions.… Traditional ideas about masculinity are having a negative impact, not only on males, but females too. In this ground-breaking book, Matt Pinkett and Mark Roberts argue that schools must rethink their efforts to get boys back on track.

Boys Don’t Try? examines the research around key topics such as anxiety and achievement, behaviour and bullying, schoolwork and self-esteem. It encourages the reader to reflect on how they define masculinity and consider what we want for boys in our schools. Offering practical quick wins, as well as long-term strategies to help boys become happier and achieve greater academic success, the book:

  • offers ways to avoid problematic behaviour by boys and tips to help teachers address poor behaviour when it happens
  • highlights key areas of pastoral care that need to be recognised by schools
  • exposes how popular approaches to engaging” boys are actually misguided and damaging
  • details how issues like disadvantage, relationships, violence, peer pressure, and pornography affect boys’ perceptions of masculinity and how teachers can challenge these.

With an easy-to-navigate three-part structure for each chapter, setting out the stories, key research, and practical solutions, this is essential reading for all classroom teachers and school leaders who are keen to ensure male students enjoy the same success as girls.

The Curriculum: Gallimaufry to Coherence – Mary Myatt

Increasingly, across the system, people are talking about knowledge and curriculum. In this timely new book, Mary Myatt is at her brilliant best as she passionately argues that the solutions to overcoming achievement barriers lie in understanding the curriculum and in what children are meant to know. For the education system to reach coherence on the curriculum, it’s going to require teachers in schools to engage in the conversation; it’s a journey we need to share if we’re going to deliver a curriculum we understand and believe in. In a series of crystal clear chapters, Mary guides teachers and school leaders through one of the most important debates in education.

Teach Like Nobody’s Watching: The Essential Guide to Effective & Efficient Teaching – Mark Enser

In Teach Like Nobody’s Watching: The essential guide to effective and efficient teaching’, Mark Enser sets out a time-efficient approach to teaching that will reduce teachers workload and enhance their pupils levels of engagement and attainment.

At a time when schools are crying out for more autonomy and trust, teacher and bestselling author Mark Enser asks educators the critical question How would you teach if nobody were watching? and empowers them with the tools and confidence to do just that.

Mark argues that a quality education is rooted in simplicity. In this book he convincingly strips away the layers of contradictory pedagogical advice that teachers have received over the years and lends weight to the three key pillars that underpin effective, efficient teaching: the lesson, the curriculum and the school’s support structure.

Teach Like Nobody’s Watching’ explores these three core elements in detail, and presents teachers with a range of practical, time-efficient approaches to help them reclaim their professional agency and ensure that their pupils get the excellent education they deserve.

  • Part I considers the individual lesson and explores how lessons can be built around four simple elements: recap, input, application and feedback. Each chapter considers one aspect of the lesson in turn and discusses its importance with a particular focus on how educational research can be applied to it in the classroom, how it might look in different subjects, and the potential pitfalls to avoid.
  • Part II recognises that lessons don t happen in isolation but as part of a wider curriculum. This section tackles: the creation of a programme of study that takes pupils on a journey through your subject; the super-curriculum of what happens outside the classroom; the principles of assessment design; and how time in departments can be used to reduce workload and support a culture of excellence.
  • Part III looks at the role of the wider school in supporting teachers to teach like nobody’s watching and how leaders can help to set them free from some of the more burdensome pressures. In this section, Mark draws on the experience of school leaders in a range of different contexts to illustrate what they have done to support effective and efficient teaching in their schools.

Suitable for all teachers in both primary and secondary schools.

Making Good Progress: The Future of Assessment for Learning – Daisy Christodoulou

Making Good Progress? is a research-informed examination of formative assessment practices that analyses the impact Assessment for Learning has had in our classrooms. Making Good Progress? outlines practical recommendations and support that Primary and Secondary teachers can follow in order to achieve the most effective classroom-based approach to ongoing assessment. Written by Daisy Christodoulou, Head of Assessment at Ark Academy, Making Good Progress? offers clear, up-to-date advice to help develop and extend best practice for any teacher assessing pupils in the wake of life beyond levels.

How to Explain Absolutely Anything to Absolutely Anyone – Andy Tharby

In How to Explain Absolutely Anything to Absolutely Anyone: The art and science of teacher explanation’, Andy Tharby talks teachers through a set of remarkably simple techniques that will help revolutionise the precision and clarity of their message.

Explanation is an art form, albeit a slightly mysterious one. We know a great explanation when we see or hear one, yet nevertheless we struggle to pin down the intricacies of the craft …Just how exactly is it done?

In How to Explain Absolutely Anything to Absolutely Anyone’, Andy Tharby eloquently explores the art and science of this undervalued skill and illustrates how improving the quality of explanation can improve the quality of learning. Delving into the wonder of metaphor, the brilliance of repetition and the timeless benefits of storytelling, Andy sets out an evidence-informed approach that will enable teachers to explain tricky concepts so well that their students will not only understand them perfectly, but remember them forever too.

By bringing together evidence and ideas from a wide range of sources including cognitive science, educational research and the study of linguistics the book examines how the most effective writers and speakers manage to transform even the most messy, complicated idea into a thing of wondrous, crystalline clarity. Then, by provoking greater thought and contemplation around language choices in the classroom, Andy spells out how the practical tools and techniques discussed can be put into practice.

Andy also puts the important role of learner autonomy in context, recognising that there is a time for teachers to talk and a time for pupils to lead their own learning and contends that, in most cases, teachers should first lay out the premise before opening the space for interrogation. Ultimately, How to Explain Absolutely Anything to Absolutely Anyone’ argues that good teaching is not about talking more or less, but about talking better.

Brimming with sensible advice applicable to a range of settings and subjects, this book is suitable for teachers and educators of learners aged 7 – 16.

Dual Coding with Teachers – Oliver Caviglioli

As part of the discovery of cognitive science, teachers are waking up to the powers of dual coding – combining words with visuals in your teaching. But cognitive scientists aren’t graphic designers, and so their books don’t show teachers how to be competent in producing effective visuals. Until now. Dual Coding With Teachers is a truly ground-breaking educational book. No other book has been designed with both cognitive science and graphic principles in mind. Every page contains diagrams, infographics, illustrations and graphic organisers. It has been designed to cater for both the busy teacher in a rush, as well as the research-hungry colleague. Over 35 teachers, teacher developers, psychologists and information designers are profiled, each with a double-page spread, highlighting their dual coding practice.