The MSU Office of K-12 Outreach is dedicated to bringing the best educational research to the practitioner in the field. Here in Book Reviews you'll find summaries of books written by nationalyl and internationally renowned education researchers like Dr. Joseph Murphy, Joyce Epstein and Franklin CambellJones. We will be adding summaries often, so keep checking back.

collaborative school improvementBook Author: Trent Kaufman,  Emily Grimm, and Allison Miller

Data-based decision making is standard practice in districts and schools across the globe. Often, school-level personnel find data-based inquiry to be challenging for a variety of reasons, many of which are beyond their control. Collaborative School Improvement is an examination of three districts' efforts to reform and support teaching and learning in their schools through an increased emphasis on building capacity at the school level to employ data-based inquiry into instructional reform strategies. The authors identify eight practices that districts can use in connecting with schools toward improving instructional performance.

cultural proficiency journeyBook Author: Campbell Jones et al. (2010)

The diversity in today's schools is continually increasing and educators are being called upon to teach every child, regardless of race, class, gender, disability, or other indicators of difference. This raises questions such as:

  • What are the most effective instructional techniques needed to educate students from diverse backgrounds?
  • What levels of cultural knowledge do teachers and leaders need to educate children from diverse backgrounds?
  • And in what ways can schools fulfill their responsibility to educate every child? (p. iv)

visible-learning-meta-study-by-john-hattie-book-coverBook Author: Hattie, J. (2013)

After collecting and analyzing 15 years of research, John Hattie’s review of 800 meta-analyses provides a compelling perspective on the key influences to student achievement. Visible Learning incorporates research on several areas of influence including the student, home, school, curricula, teacher, and teaching strategies. The major takeaway from Hattie’s work is that those influences that have the largest impression on students, are strongly related to those influences which have the largest impact on teachers.

Visible teaching and learning occurs when learning is the explicit goal, when it is appropriately challenging, when the teacher and student both (in their various ways) seek to ascertain whether and to what degree the challenging goal is attained, when there is deliberate practice aimed at attaining mastery of the goal, when there is feedback given and sought, and when there are active, passionate, and engaging people (teacher, student, peer, and so on) participating in the act of learning. (p. 22)

EpsteinBook Author: Joyce Epstein et al.

The book, School, Family, and Community Partnerships Your Handbook for Action, is a comprehensive how-to guide for schools to use to cultivate productive partnerships with the community. Prior to reviewing this book, a reader might wonder why are community partnerships so vital to schools reform efforts? According to the text's author Joyce Epstein, "Community partnership activities can lead to measurable outcomes for students" (p. 34). The text presents a number of resources and materials for a school to use, to plan, and execute community (and parental) partnership initiatives. A shortened list of the materials offered by the book include: presentation materials for professional development sessions, group discussion activities, an example school survey on community and family participation, a rubric to measure a school's progress on partnership development, and a strategic planning matrix for schools to use for creating new partnership-related initiatives. School, Family, and Community is also accompanied by a corresponding CD-ROM that contains PDF copies of all of the resources and materials contained in the book.

KochanekBook Author: Julie Reed Kochanek (2005)

The text Building Trust for Better Schools Research-Based Practices (published by Corwin Press in 2005) intends to aid school practitioners in developing a better understanding of the importance of cultivating and maintaining trust among school stakeholders (i.e., administrators, teachers, students, and parents). According to the author, Professor Julie Reed Kochanek from Southern Oregon University, trust within schools is a "key resource in school reform" (p. XV). The level of trust within a school is "linked to increased participation among faculty in school reform efforts, greater openness to innovations among teachers, increased outreach to parents, and even higher academic productivity in a school" (p. XV). Namely, trust aids in creating a school culture that is focused on collaboration and a narrowed set of goals—which translates into a higher-quality learning environment for students.

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