What We’re Reading: 13 Books to Keep Your Learning Alive this Summer

Summertime: it is a time to relax, spend time outdoors, and possibly catch up on those tasks that fell to the wayside during the school year. Though the following books are not exactly “beach reads”, we invite you to join us in some fun summer reading that will stretch your mind as you stretch out at the beach. Here is what our staff is reading this summer. Be sure to let us know what you are reading in the comment box below!

Note: If you’re inspired by this list and decide to purchase a book or two through Amazon, we invite you to use AmazonSmile and designate the Christian Learning Center. When you do this, Amazon will contribute a percentage of your purchase to us! Simply click this link to enroll! 

  • Adam, God's BelovedAdam, God’s Beloved” by Henri Nouwen

    This is truly an excellent book that talks about the profound impact Adam had on Henri Nouwen’s life. Henri was assigned to come alongside Adam in the L’Arche Community called Daybreak in Canada. – Barbara Newman, consultant and director of church services

  • Design and Deliver“Design and Deliver: Planning and Teaching Using Universal Design for Learning” by Loui Lord Nelson, Ph.D.

    This is an easy to read, practical, and idea filled resource book on Universal Design for Learning (UDL). It explains key principals of multiple means of engagement, representation and action/expression for diverse learners. It also gives practical ways to put them into action. – Becci Zwiers, teacher consultant

  • Flipping 2.0“Flipping 2.0: Practical Strategies for Flipping Your Class” by Jason Bretzmann

    The chapters range from details on flipping certain content areas to philosophical reasoning and empirical evidence on the benefits of flipping.  I’m finding great details and suggestions so far! – Becci Zwiers, teacher consultant

  • Have the Guts to Do it Right“Have the Guts to Do It Right: Raising Grateful and Responsible Children in an Era of Indulgence” by Sheri Moskowitz Noga

    This obscure book is a treasure of common sense wisdom and practical strategies to assist parents in understanding their relationship with their children in their own styles of parenting.

    For example, in a section titled, “Manners”, the author points out the importance of teaching children to say “please” and “thank you”, a process which should begin as early as possible. The parent’s clear expectation is for their child to treat people with politeness, good manners, respect and appreciation. The author adds, “If you want your children to be polite and have good manners, work on relating to them [with good manners].”

    Other compelling topics in this gem of a parenting resource include: respect, autonomy, gratitude, boundaries, self-control, work/chores, computer use and access to media (as in “do not allow your children to have television sets in their bedrooms”). –Doug Bouman, S.Psy.S.

  • Lost at School“Lost at School: Why Our Kids with Behavioral Challenges are Falling Through the Cracks and How we Can Help Them” by Ross Greene D.

    I’m finding that this book is a really great reminder that when students are struggling, it is important to meet them where they are and work with them on developing the lagging skills, either behavioral or academic. – Linda Weemhoff, teacher consultant

  • No Greatness without Goodness“No Greatness without Goodness: How a Father’s Love Changed a Company and Sparked a Movement” by Randy Lewis

    I’ve recommended this book to several people in the short time since I’ve read it. Randy Lewis goes over the steps he took and lessons learned from helping Walgreens re-design their distribution centers to employ persons with disabilities. Although pithy at times, it challenged me to think more purposefully about how we design our work and organizations to unlock the gifts of every person. – Elizabeth Lucas Dombrowski, advancement director (as of September 2015)

  • Quiet“Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain

    This book is PACKED with cool stuff.  This writer looks at introversion/extroversion from every possible angle.  She includes interesting data from psychology, sociology, history, neuroscience, anthropology, economics, politics, and education.  You could pretty much make a meal out of each section.  It would be a fun book to study with a book club…at least if the book clubbers want to gain personal insight and cultural awareness  It is possibly more a winter read rather than a summer read…but with that being said, it is very readable, full of stories and fun facts.  It feels like both a novel and a textbook.  – Dr. Sherri Rozema

  • The Wounded Healer“The Wounded Healer” by Henri Nouwen

    I was so taken with “Adam, God’s Beloved”, that I also intend to read “The Wounded Healer”as a way to understand Henri Nouwen’s encouragement to engage in ministry in our faith communities today. – Barbara Newman, consultant and director of church services

  • UDL in the Classroom“Universal Design for Learning in the Classroom: Practical Applications” by Tracey E. Hall Ph.D., Anne Meyer Ed.D., and David H Rose D.

    This textbook-type book dives into the theory, practice and evidence of UDL. – Becci Zwiers, teacher consultant

What are you reading? Leave us a comment in the box below!

Comprehension: A Key Component to Successful Reading

Reading is one of the most important keys needed to unlock learning for your child. Many children just learn to read by themselves. For others, the reading process does not come easily. These children need to be purposefully taught

Teaching Reading at Home

the strategic activities and decision-making processes that good readers naturally use on their own.

Over the next month, Sandra Vroon and Susan Harrell will share strategies they’ve learned through their experience as parents, teachers and home educators to help children become successful readers. We will be sharing excerpts of
their new book Best Practices for Teaching Reading at Home with hopes that you can apply their suggestions to help your own son or daughter.

Let’s begin with a story.

Young girl imageKatie was an excited early reader. She enjoyed listening to stories and her emerging ability to read them herself. Many good teaching lessons were put into her decoding, fluency, expression and accuracy. Katie sounded very good when she read a story. She often had difficulty, however, predicting what might happen next in the story, as well as remembering the order of events. This made retelling a story difficult for her.

Katie struggled with comprehension – the understanding of what is read. Comprehension is the heart and soul of reading. It is not the product of reading, but the process of reading. Comprehension strategies enable a reader to make connections and make sense of the text. This meaning is a strong support in maintaining fluency, detecting and correcting errors and solving words while reading.

How do you detect comprehension?

You may notice that your child already has a good sense of stories and what they are about. He knows stories are about getting a message and meaning. Keep building on this with each text your child reads, whether it be fiction or nonfiction. Your child might need extra support in this area if you notice him saying words that make no sense at all in a sentence or story. You might ask your child a question about the story during or after his reading and realize that he missed the main idea that the author intended to convey. You might find that your child has difficulty predicting what might happen next in the story, showing that he hasn’t fully understood what has happened so far and where that is leading to.

If this is the case, stay tuned for strategies to help your son or daughter comprehend what they’re reading.

Sandra Vroon IMG

Sandra Vroon has served as a general education teacher, Reading Recovery teacher, adjunct reading and literacy professor and most recently, a home educator. She received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Calvin College.


Susan Harrell IMG

Susan Harrel has spent the last 30 years in a variety of educational settings including a one-room mission school in Uganda, a K-12 school for LD students, multiple elementary grades, a Reading Recovery room, private tutoring of home school students and more. She received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Calvin College. 

Understanding the Human Mind

Elephant Illusion

Image courtesy of AR Miller

How many legs does this elephant have? 5, 6, maybe 7?  How developed are your visual-spatial skills?  What role does your experience with elephants have in your answer?

I’m guessing you’ve seen other optical illusions as I have.  I personally find them fascinating.  At times, I get a bit angered by the designer as I sense my mind is being “played with”.  Do you know what I mean?

The human mind is truly amazing.  Only a divine creator could create the human mind.  Even more amazing, is the reality that no two minds are the same. As a facilitator, teacher consultant and educator, I continue to marvel at the various ways students learn.  Some learn well through a verbal approach, others through a visual approach and many of us, through a combined visual/auditory approach.  I’ve seen some students increase their memory skills and processing ability when they are moving.  Try learning math facts with students while bouncing a ball or doing laps.  If a student has weak receptive language processing, what can you as a teacher do to increase the student’s opportunities for success?  How do you even begin to know that this is a problem for some?

AKOM logo

Image Courtesy of All Kinds of Minds

All Kinds of Minds (AKOM) has a great framework composed of 8 neurodevelopment systems to understand how students learn.  These systems are like a set of “file folders” or constructs that explain how the brain functions and how this affects student learning and performance.

As an educator and AKOM facilitator, I use this framework to determine a student’s profile of strengths and challenges.  I then adjust my instruction and/or expectations to better match their profiles.

 Understanding Attention 

For example, one of the 8 systems is Attention. AKOM defines attention as:

Maintaining mental energy for learning and work, absorbing and filtering incoming information, and overseeing the quality of academic output and behavior

Attention is to learning as a pilot is to the cockpit or a conductor is to an orchestra. Your attention directs where your focus must be. The main components of attention are mental energy, process controls and production controls.  For some individuals, a breakdown in attention can lie in either one of these primary components, a combination of two or of all three.

What may appear as an attentional weakness for a student may actually be a struggle with language components or memory components.  It’s important to understand where a student’s strengths and weaknesses lie within a student’s neurodevelopmental profile – once you do, you can implement strategies that will help them be successful.


This framework allowed one previous AKOM participant to think about her students in a way that provided depth, rather than lumping the challenging students together.

She learned how to reach these students through decreasing her amount of words and allowing additional time to process oral language. Her increased sense of confidence transformed her classroom:

I used to think I could never reach my most challenging student, now I think I have tools to understand and reach that student.

What’s your learning style? Visit the All Kinds of Minds website and use the free Learner’s Sketch to find out. I also highly recommend the book Schools for All Kinds of Minds.

Do you have a challenging student? I’d invite you to participate in an AKOM training – to find one in your area, click here. I offer a one-day and three-day AKOM training session, email me to find out more.

Pam Maat ImagePam Maat received her BS from Calvin College and her MA in Learning Disabilities from Grand Valley State University. She also holds endorsements from GVSU in Cognitive Impairments and Emotional Impairments. Pam currently is a Teacher Consultant and Professional Development instructor for CLC Network, Director of Educational Support Services for the Holland Christian Schools, and is a Field Coordinator for Hope College and GVSU.