Brain-Based Teaching in the Digital Age

by Marilee Sprenger



In a nutshell: A resourceful guide to teaching and understanding students with a “digital brain.”

If students’ talk of wikis, blogs, Skype and Twitter sounds like a foreign language, this book has answers. And even for teachers who consider themselves tech savvy, Marilee Sprenger gives a deeper understanding of how advancements in technology affect students’ thinking and learning patterns. In addition to detailed descriptions of how the “digital brain” functions, she elaborates on less complicated but still enigmatic essentials like decoding abbreviations (LOL, TTYL) and emoticons ( :-> ). While Sprenger encourages educators to embrace the changing times, she recognizes the problems that today’s children face, such as becoming easily overwhelmed and having less-developed social skills. The author explains that striking a balance between digital and non-digital experiences is key. She uses personal anecdotes and case studies to put her advice into context, and she gives activity suggestions, like using music to manage movement within the classroom or creating mind maps to help students visualize. “Instant Messages” and “Text Messages” pop up throughout the 164-page book to offer extra facts and tips, along with a helpful “Glossary of Digital Terms.” —Rachel Zar


The New Teacher’s Companion: Practical Wisdom for Succeeding in the Classroom

by Gini Cunningham



In a nutshell: How to deliver high-quality instruction.

For teachers just entering the field or those bogged down by the heavy responsibility of their job, Gini Cunningham has advice. Through comforting wisdom and humorous anecdotes, the veteran educator shares tips and tools to achieve daily excellence in the classroom. Readers will discover how to coordinate academic standards with lessons, how to prepare for the new school year during the summer, learn students’ names, create lesson plans that excite students (tip: factor in amazing facts and mind ticklers), monitor students’ growth, manage the classroom and avoid stress (hint: get up 15 minutes earlier each day to do something you enjoy). From her 28 years of experience, Cunningham has come to believe that the most successful teachers are those who take time to learn and grow every day. This ideal melds nicely with her book’s format, which allows readers to delve in by topics of interest. —Erica Hochstedler


Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization

by Yong Zhao



In a nutshell: An opinionated theoretical critique of America’s education system.

Yong Zhao believes that American education is at a crossroads—we can either catch up to other countries’ test scores or lead the way in producing innovative and creative thinkers. Zhao argues that the enforcement of standardized testing coupled with a lack of knowledge about the global community does not nurture strong, creative, independent and innovative individuals. He states that reforms like No Child Left Behind “leads to homogenization of talents,” and he fears that schools will become test-prep institutions. His belief: “Education is about helping each and every child to realize his or her potential, not molding them into economic working beings for a state.” Zhao takes a look at the history of educational reforms and how they’ve been misguided, details the damage of standardization, using China as an example, and provides suggestions on how to prepare the next generation of students to be good global citizens. He believes it’s done by expanding the definition of success and how it’s measured, elevating the status of other subjects and teaching global and digital competency. —EH

How Remarkable Women Lead: The Breakthrough Model for Work and Life

by Joanna Barsh and Susie Cranston

Crown Business

In a nutshell: Five necessary elements for creating balance.


This book tells the stories of women at the top, like Andrea Jung, CEO of Avon, and Gerry Laybourne, founder and former CEO of Oxygen Networks, and how they juggle a leadership role with their “second shift” as wife and mother. Authors Joanna Barsh and Susie Cranston spent several years conducting interviews, and through their research, they found that these successful women shared five things: meaning (having a sense of purpose), framing (being an optimist), connecting (building relationships), engaging (taking action) and energizing (managing your energy flow). This uplifting read is packed with positive reinforcement and ideas on how to integrate these five elements into your life.


How to Thrive as a Teacher Leader

by John G. Gabriel

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

In a nutshell: A practical guide that will take you from teacher to leader.


In response to a lack of material he found on the topic, John G. Gabriel penned a preparation manual for teachers moving into leadership positions, a challenge he himself faced when transitioning from high school English teacher to department chair. Teachers are natural catalysts for positive change, he says, and in this book he details strategies on how you can become a stronger voice within your academic system by embracing six elements of leadership: organizational, strategic, interpersonal, adaptive, motivational and instructional. He offers some basic career-counseling advice, and he emphasizes that part of becoming a good leader is creating a supportive team and helping those around you grow. The text is full of firsthand knowledge and examples, including a 54-page resource section with sample letters and e-mails, evaluation surveys, memos, interview questions and checklists to help put his suggestions into practice.


Other Duties as Assigned: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Expert Teacher Leadership

by Jan Burgess with Donna Bates

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

In a nutshell: Simple strategies for becoming an effective leader.


Author Jan Burgess mined her 30 years of experience in public education to create a teacher-friendly reference manual on leadership. In six parts, she addresses strategies for success, including how to build your team, adapt to changes in personnel and policy, encourage collective team brainstorming and gauge your progress. Using real-life scenarios, Burgess provides solutions for some common dilemmas teacher leaders face. At the end of each chapter, teacher-leader mentor Donna Bates (“Dear Donna”) responds to questions from teachers about specific leadership challenges. Also helpful are the list of resources for further research, small sidebars with thought-provoking questions and “A Teacher Leader’s Toolkit,” which includes checklists and templates for planning guides, meeting agendas and feedback surveys.

Ballet Pedagogy: The Art of Teaching

by Rory Foster

University Press of Florida


In a nutshell: A must-have manual for ballet teachers.


With this book, author Rory Foster, professor of dance emeritus at DePaul University, provides a valuable instruction tool for ballet teachers of all experience levels and training methods, whether Bournonville, Royal Academy of Dance, Vaganova or Cecchetti. The former American Ballet Theatre dancer urges teachers to focus on not only what to teach but also how they utilize their pedagogical skills. In nine chapters, including a foreword by master teacher David Howard, Foster explains the mechanics of teaching ballet. He briefly covers the genre’s extensive history—encouraging teachers to incorporate historical facts into lessons—and all aspects of conducting class, including musicality, the student/teacher relationship, injury prevention, proper demonstration, corrections and counting. Foster even gives readers advice on establishing a dance school. But what teachers will find most useful are the precise diagrams and photographs that illustrate how to correctly work with a dancer’s body.



On Technique

by Dean Speer

University Press of Florida


In a nutshell: Insight into the teaching philosophies of 18 respected artists.


Dean Speer, director of Chehalis (Washington) Ballet Center, presents a well-rounded cast of respected teachers, including Finis Jhung, Gwenn Barker and Yvonne Cartier. Each contributor provides a context for their training philosophies and addresses the questions: What is the difference between skill and technique? What does a good class look like? What are the expectations of a good teacher? Readers will learn how Pacific Northwest Ballet Artistic Director Peter Boal defines technique and how Nina Novak of Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo describes the always elusive concept of perfection. By allowing contradictions to exist amongst the various viewpoints, Speer lets readers decide which methods work best for their teaching practices.



Site Dance: Choreographers and the Lure of Alternative Spaces

edited by Melanie Kloetzel and Carolyn Pavlik

University Press of Florida


In a nutshell: A window into the theory and practice of site-specific dance.


Two university dance faculty members have produced the first anthology ever to examine site-specific dance performance. Editors Melanie Kloetzel of the University of Calgary and Carolyn Pavlik of Western Michigan University seek to raise awareness about the lack of support for this 40-year-old dance genre and push it into the realm of serious art. Through poignant personal interviews and essays from American choreographers, including Meredith Monk, Joanna Haigood and Eiko Otake, the editors reveal “what compelled these artists to find a way of working outside the norm, why site dance developed when it did and what continues to make it relevant in our current cultural framework.” Readers will find the book’s four sections easy to navigate—the choreographers are grouped together by similar themes in their processes and works—and will enjoy seeing the dances come to life through more than 80 black-and-white photographs.



Photo by Emily Giacalone

Mary Day: Grande Dame of Dance in the Nation’s Capital


compiled by Elvi Moore

The Laurel Fund for the performing arts


In a nutshell: A collection of personal conversations with Mary Day, the pioneer of ballet in Washington, DC.


At the request of Mary Day, who never wanted her biography written, Elvi Moore tells the story of the legendary teacher and founder of The Washington School of Ballet and The Washington Ballet through transcribed interviews, chronological photographs and personal remembrances. In the book’s first section, Day honestly reveals the high and low points of her personal life and career, including notes on her teaching methods and details about training the daughters of former U.S. Presidents. “Remembering Mary Day” features loving reflections from former students, including Amanda McKerrow, Chelsea Clinton, Virginia Johnson, Patrick Corbin and Kevin McKenzie, who wrote, “Mary Day was like a great gardener . . . I was blessed to be a seedling on whom Mary Day kept her watchful eye; she virtually gave me my life.” The book closes with a section of tour anecdotes in which Moore, former general director of the school and company, shows readers the softer side of the often quick-tempered Day and the company to which she devoted 60 years of her life.

For a chance to win a copy of Mary Day: Grande Dame in the Nation's Capital, click here.


Mim’ A Personal Memoir of Marie Rambert

by Brigitte Kelly

Dance Books Ltd.


In a nutshell: An honest portrayal of Marie Rambert, the self-proclaimed “midwife at the birth of English ballet.”


Former Rambert Dance Company member Brigitte Kelly highlights the life of Marie Rambert, an often forgotten contributor to English ballet. Through 26 concise chapters, “Breegy” illuminates the many sides of Rambert, or as her friends nicknamed her, Mim: a temperamental yet determined woman whose questionable (sometimes harsh) teaching techniques and lack of business or personal skills did not deter dancers from seeking her tutelage. Kelly reveals that it was, in fact, Mim who nurtured the careers of many notable dance artists, such as choreographers Frederick Ashton, Antony Tudor, Agnes de Mille and Andrée Howard and future Royal Ballet stars Alicia Markova and Anton Dolin. Taking readers on an emotional journey, the author details the eventful life that led Mim to study eurhythmics with Émile Jaques-Dalcroze and at the Ballets Russes with Sergei Diaghilev and, later, to open a school and start her own company, the Ballet Club, which preceded Sadler’s Wells Ballet School by five years. Kelly’s memoir paints a clear picture of the dame responsible for the creation of modern English ballet.



BRAVURA! Lucia Chase and the American Ballet Theatre

by Alex C. Ewing

University Press of Florida


In a nutshell: The rich history of Lucia Chase and American Ballet Theatre.


In his book, Alex C. Ewing, Lucia Chase’s son, weaves together personal insights with stories from his mother’s diary and those who were part of her dance world, to narrate how Chase’s life became an everlasting part of American Ballet Theatre. In the book’s four sections, Ewing reveals that though the widow and mother of two began a career as a ballerina at an age when many dancers would have been considering retirement, her persistent passion led to a 35-year reign as artistic director of one of the world’s greatest ballet companies. Ewing details, with awe and respect for his fearless mother, Chase’s tireless devotion to ABT’s preservation, exemplified by bringing in great dancers like Rudolf Nureyev and working with the legendary choreographers Agnes de Mille, Antony Tudor and Jerome Robbins. His bright descriptions of her sense of comedic timing onstage, contrasted with her harrowing financial troubles offstage, bring Chase to life in a realistic yet nostalgic manner. A true testament to Chase’s character comes from her successor Mikhail Baryshnikov, who said, “When Ballet Theatre dances, it dances for Lucia.”



Photo by Emily Giacalone


Dancewave, a Brooklyn based nonprofit arts organization, was stunned recently to discover they had been the victims of a fraudulent transaction. Their pre-professional youth dance ensemble had  begun making travel plans to Scotland for the 2010 Aberdeen International Youth Festival. They were excited to be the only group from the United States selected to attend. This festival, a once in a lifetime opportunity for Dancewave company members, will be held from July 28th to August 7th and feature youth performances from all over the world, giving participants the opportunity to meet friends from other cultures and introduce them to new ways of thinking and performing.


According to Diane Jacobowitz, artistic director of Dancewave, the company had made travel plans through an airfare consolidator who took more than $8,000 of their money without purchasing tickets. Dancewave is working hard to recover the money. Despite the setback, Jacobowitz says the trip is going to take place as planned, and “no child or parent will lose a penny.”


To help make it possible for all 16 teens to make the trip, Dancewave is accepting donations. To learn more about how you can help, visit and click “Donate to Aberdeen.” When you specify that you want your donation to go towards the Aberdeen trip, S Club Fitness will match 100% of each donation.


Dancewave is on a mission to make performing arts training accessible to New York City’s youth. Most recently, they put together Kids Café Festival 2010: Kids Café Goes to College to show young dancers the possibilities awaiting them when they pursue the performing arts in college. For more info on Kid’s Café and other Dancewave programs visit:

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