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April 19, 2021

Essential Reading List for Deeper Learning

To provide you with more information about Deeper Learning and the approaches some schools are taking, we’ve compiled a list of “great reads” written by our Deeper Learning experts.

  1. Ron Berger, Chief Academic Officer at Expeditionary Learning
Leaders of Their Own Learning

Leaders of Their Own Learning: Transforming Schools Through Student-Engaged Assessment by Ron Berger, Leah Rugen, Libby Woodfin and Expeditionary Learning. (2014)

Leaders of Their Own Learning tackles the issue of student assessment by having students continually track, reflect, and report on their progress in achieving targets or goals they set for themselves. By engaging students in their own assessment, learners become more motivated and take greater ownership over their learning.

An Ethic of Excellence: Building a Culture of Craftsmanship with Students by Ron Berger. (2004)

Ron Berger lays out the case for creating a school-wide “ethic of excellence,” providing realistic tips on how teachers, parents, and students can commit to a higher quality of education.

  1. Suzie Boss, journalist and PBL advocate

PBL for 21st Century Success: Teaching Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity by Suzie Boss, John Larmer and John Mergendoller; Buck Institute for Education. (2013)

A practical guide to building 21st-century student competency in the “4 C’s” — critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity/innovation — during a project. Designed for middle school and high school teachers, instructional coaches, and school leaders, this book details how the 4 C’s align with the Common Core State Standards.

Thinking Through Project-Based Learning: Guiding Deeper Inquiry by Jane Krauss and Suzie Boss. (2013)

Thinking Through Projects shows how to create a more interactive classroom environment where students engage, learn, and achieve.

  1. Milton Chen, Senior Fellow, The George Lucas Education Foundation

Education Nation: Six Leading Edges of Innovation in our Schools by Milton Chen and George Lucas. (2012)

Education Nation explores the revolutionary changes in K-12 learning over time, identifying innovative reform and the growth of technology.

  1. Kathleen Cushman, journalist and author; co-founder, What Kids Can Do (

The Motivation Equation by Kathleen Cushman. (2013)

Using a lively multimedia platform, Kathleen Cushman brings the actual work of teachers, the feedback of students, and the commentary of learning scientists to describe how — and why — high motivation and academic mastery develop in the classroom.

Guided by an “actual adolescent brain” named Ned Cephalus, readers listen in as six case studies of highly effective curriculum and instruction unfold in diverse middle- and high-school settings.

Fires in the Mind: What Kids Can Tell Us About Motivation and Mastery by Kathleen Cushman. (2012)

Fires in the Mind poses an important question: What does it take to get really good at something? The book uses students’ first-person accounts of their learning to illuminate research from the learning sciences on motivation and engagement, deliberate practice, and academic challenge. A blog of the same name offers 6 short video case studies of students working toward mastery in school and out.

  1. Angela Duckworth, Associate Professor of Psychology at University of Pennsylvania and MacArthur Foundation grant winner

Angela Duckworth has performed extensive research on the topic of grit, which she defines as “the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals.”  Her website also offers resources for educators.

  1. Carol Dweck, Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor, Stanford University

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck. (2007)

Carol Dweck contrasts the pros and cons of a fixed versus growth mindset.  She details how, with the right mindset, we can motivate students and instill a love of learning that is the basis for life accomplishments.

More of Carol Dweck’s research can be found on the Stanford University website.

  1. Anthony Jackson, Vice President for Education at the Asia Society

Educating for Global Competence by Veronica Boix-Mansilla and Anthony Jackson. (2011)

A resource on how to prepare all students for success in an interconnected world.

  1. Bob Lenz, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Envision Schools

The Deeper Learning Transformation: Using the Common Core, Project-based Learning and Performance Assessment by Bob Lenz, Justin Wells, Sally Kingston. (expected release September 2014).

Check out Bob Lenz’s posts as a regular blogger for Edutopia.

  1. Adria Steinberg, Associate Vice President, Jobs for the Future

Schooling for the Real World: The Essential Guide to Rigorous and Relevant Learning by Adria Steinberg and Kathleen Cushman. (1999)

Schooling for the Real World

Schooling for the Real World presents examples of successful schools implementing work-based learning, not just as a specialized program, but as a school-wide effort. It offers practical strategies for designing effective learning programs, developing a strong curriculum, setting standards and goals, assessing student work, supporting rewarding internships, and much more.

Real Learning, Real Work: School-to-Work As High School Reform (Transforming Teaching) by Adria Steinberg. (1997)

This book is an examination of the school-to-work movement. Is this movement a new version of the old vocational education program? Or is it a new paradigm for the education of all students? Steinberg addresses topics such as project-based learning, grounding projects in community life, building science understanding through work-based learning, and uncovering the humanities in work-based learning programs.

  1. David Stern, Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of California, Berkeley

Career Academies: A Proven Strategy to Prepare High School Students for College and Careers by David Stern, Charles Dayton and Marilyn Raby. (2010)

This paper describes the growth and evolution of career academies, reviews the evaluation evidence, explains how career academies reflect widely accepted principles of high school reform, and considers prospects for the future.

  1. Tony Wagner, Expert In Residence at Harvard University’s Innovation Lab

Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World by Tony Wagner. (2012; new additions coming spring 2014)

Arguing for the importance of developing an innovation-driven economy, Tony Wagner profiles young innovators who are changing the world. Wagner identifies a pattern: a childhood of creative play leading to deep-seated interests, which blossoms into a deeper purpose for career and life goals.

The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don’t Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need–and What We Can Do About It by Tony Wagner. (2010; updated addition March 2014)

Tony Wagner lays out “Seven Survival skills” — the core competencies he  believes are necessary for success, both in college and in the 21st-century workforce. These include problem solving and critical thinking, collaboration across networks, adaptability, initiative, effective oral and written communication, analyzing information, and developing curiosity and imagination. Wagner visits a wide spectrum of schools, both public and private, meets with teachers and administrators, and demonstrates how these survival skills have been forgotten in the preparation for mandatory tests.

  1. Elliot Washor, Co-Director of Big Picture Learning

Leaving to Learn: How Out-of-School Learning Increases Student Engagement and Reduces Dropout Rates by Elliot Washor and Charles Mojkowski

Leaving to Learn looks beyond schools’ expectations of students and asks: what do students expect from their education? With high school dropout rates so high, how do we engage students in learning? Washor and Mojkowski address ways to make education more relevant and engaging to students.

For more articles and videos by Elliot Washor, please visit his profile on Big Picture Learning.


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