Welcome! Professional Development Courses is pleased to offer a unique opportunity to hear directly from some of the most well- known authors of educational books in the United States! Every few weeks a new author will be featured.

Meet the writers of the textbooks used in our most in demand courses! Authors of our most popular textbooks have written brief descriptions about the contents of their books and why they are relevant and applicable to today's 21st-century teacher. Find out directly from the author why these textbooks and accompanying courses will have a positive influence on your teaching and in your classroom. We hope this intimate connection will aid you in your journey to finding courses that will help you reach your professional goals.

  • Author: Dr. Peter Johnston, Ph.D.

    Posted: June 18, 2019

    Course: EDUC 715I Effective Feedback to Improve Student Achievement


    My name is Dr. Peter Johnston, and my book Choice Words is used in a course offered at Professional Development Courses at the University of La Verne. For teachers considering enrolling in this course, let me introduce my book and myself. Over the years, I have been a teacher and a researcher. Choice Words is based on our research into the practices of exemplary teachers. It explains the language choices teachers make in the classroom that foster growth, collaboration, and achievement. It explains how (and why) seemingly small changes in classroom language can profoundly affect not only students’ academic development, but also their social development. The Literacy Research Association recently cited Choice Words as having “demonstrably and positively influenced literacy teaching in classrooms and districts nationally,” for which they honored me with the P. David Pearson Scholarly Influence Award, an award that recognizes research that has actually made a difference for teachers.

    1 Comment(s)

  • Author: Dr. Eric Sheninger, Ph.D.

    Posted: June 3, 2019

    Course: EDUC 717K Designing Learning for the Common Core

    Description: My name is Dr. Eric Sheninger, and my book Uncommon Learning is used in a course offered at Professional Development Courses at the University of La Verne. I am a Senior Fellow and Thought Leader on Digital Leadership with the International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE). Prior to this, I was the award-winning Principal at New Milford High School. My work focuses on leading and learning in the digital age as a model for moving schools and districts forward. This has led to the formation of the Pillars of Digital Leadership, a framework for all educators to initiate sustainable change to transform school cultures. I have provided the following paragraphs to introduce my book.

    Uncommon Learning provides a process for schools to initiate sustainable change resulting in a transformation of the learning culture to one that works better and resonates with our students. It lays out the elements necessary for establishing innovative initiatives that will support and enhance learning while increasing relevance to personalize both the school and learning experience for all students. Uncommon learning refers to initiatives and pedagogical techniques that are not present in scale in a typical school or district. If present they are more likely to be isolated practices that have not become systematically embedded as part of the school or district culture. 

    These initiatives allow students to use real-world tools to do real-world work, focus on developing skills sets that society demands, respond to student interests, empower students to be owners of their learning, and focus on ways to create an environment that is more reflective of the current digital world. They take advantage of an emphasis on deeper learning that new national and state standards provide while allowing students to demonstrate mastery in ways that not only prove attainment but also afford them the ability to acquire and apply skill sets necessary in today’s digital world. New standards are not seen as impediments, but rather opportunities for students to demonstrate conceptual mastery in more authentic ways. In this book, I present successful uncommon learning initiatives that I helped implement as a school principal as well as examples from other schools across the country. I also pull on leadership strategies presented in the best-selling book Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times (2014).

    1 Comment(s)

  • Author: Susan M. Brookhart

    Posted: May 29, 2019

    Course: EDUC 715I Effective Feedback to Improve Student Achievement


    My name is Sue Brookhart, and my book How to Give Effective Feedback to Your Students (2nd ed.) is used in a course offered at Professional Development Courses at the University of La Verne.  I am a former classroom teacher, a teacher educator, and now an independent consultant and author.  I’d like to tell you why I wrote the book and why I think it’s important to read.

    Really, I wrote the book to help students as much as teachers.  Feedback that describes what students did well and what they need to do in their immediate next steps is a powerful tool for enhancing learning.  Both of those things are critical, and without a clear understanding of how to do that, many teachers either only focus on what needs improvement (not the best for motivation) or just score or grade the work (not the best for understanding).  Of course, you have to give students an opportunity to use the feedback, as well, a critical step sometimes missing in lessons.  The book describes the feedback process, using lots of examples, so readers can develop these critical skills.  I just love it when teachers tell me they have changed their feedback practices and their students are doing better and enjoying their work more, and I’d love for you to be one of those teachers.  

    2 Comment(s)

  • Author: Dr. Steve Brusatte

    Posted: May 6, 2019

    Course: EDUC 710R Hunting Dinosaurs

    For students who enrolled in this course prior to February 25, 2019, Professional Development Courses is sending, upon request, a copy of this sensational book, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs, free of charge. This will bring you up-to-date on the latest information concerning these magnificent animals that once ruled the Earth for 200 million years.


    The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs is a biography of the most amazing animals that have ever walked the Earth. Everyone loves dinosaurs, and in the book I tell the story of dinosaur evolution: how they started humbly as small cat-sized critters living in the aftermath of a great extinction, how they gradually bested their early rivals and spread around the world, how some grew to enormous sizes and others developed feathers and wings and became birds, and then how the rest of the dinosaurs suddenly died out 66 million years ago when a six-mile-wide asteroid fell from the sky. Alongside the dinosaur story, I also discuss how paleontologists study dinosaurs, how the field of paleontology has changed over time, and how the diversification of the scientists themselves and the development of new technologies have combined to usher in a golden age of discovery, as a new dinosaur species is now being found once a week on average! To enliven the story, I bring in personal details of how I became a paleontologist, some of my adventures traveling around the world to dig up dinosaurs, and stories of many of my amazing colleagues who have made astounding discoveries. I am so pleased that students at the University of La Verne are using my book, and I'm especially happy that the students are themselves teachers. I was blessed to have some great science teachers when I was in school (and it is no coincidence that I dedicate the book to two teachers: one of my high-school science teachers who inspired me like no teacher ever had before, and my wife, who is now a primary school teacher).


    Steve Brusatte

    4 Comment(s)

  • Author: Nancy Mather

    Posted: May 1, 2019

    Course: EDUC 717M Understanding Dyslexia


    My name is Nancy Mather. I am a Professor at the University of Arizona. I am pleased that you are using our book on dyslexia for a class offered through Professional Development Courses at the University of La Verne. I think you will find the information included useful in your career as an educator. I have provided two short paragraphs to introduce this book. 

    This straightforward book will provide you with the answer to this question: Why is it that some students struggle to learn to read and spell? One major reason is a neurobiological disorder called dyslexia. Aiden, a fourth-grade student with dyslexia, described how he made little progress in reading for two years. He said he didn’t understand why it was so hard for him, but not the other students.  Now that he is getting the kind of structured help he needs, he has realized that his teachers really wanted to help him, but they just didn’t know how.

    In a testimony to the House, Dr. Sally Shaywitz said regarding the implementation of treatment programs for students with dyslexia, we don’t have a knowledge gap, we have an action gap. This book will provide you with an understanding of the assessment of dyslexia, as well as the most efficacious interventions- essential knowledge that all special education and classroom teachers should possess. You will learn about numerous evidence-based interventions you can use immediately to help students like Aiden who are struggling to learn to read. We know how to identify students with dyslexia, as well as what we need to do to teach them how to read. We just need to do it.

    2 Comment(s)

  • Author: Dr. Ellen J. Langer

    Posted: April 15, 2019

    Course: EDUC 711X Creating a Mindful Environment


     My name is Dr. Ellen Langer, and my books Mindfulness and The Power of Mindful Learning are used in a course offered by Professional Development Courses at the University of La Verne. For educators considering enrolling in this course, I would like to introduce these books. The books make forty years of research available in an accessible form for teachers, and show how they might use the ideas to help their students approach their classes more mindfully. Sadly, this research makes clear that mindlessness is pervasive. The majority of us — teachers and students alike—are mindless most of the time. Happily, the research also makes clear that mindfulness is easy, fun, and does not require meditation. For example, simply teaching with conditional language like “perhaps,”from one perspective,” “could be” has been shown to lead to mindful learning and engenders creative use of the presented information.

    The experiments described in these two books have shown that Mindfulness helps us to be innovative, less stressed, improves our memory, and also our relationships. When we’re mindful, we’re seen as charismatic and trustworthy. A mindful outlook also leaves its imprint on the products of our labor. Essentially, it feels good and is good for us.

    In The Power of Mindful Learning we see that when we learn mindfully, we recognize that information looks different from different perspectives. As a result, we come to accept uncertainty and stay open to information. When I lecture on Mindful Learning, for example, I often start by asking people “How much is 1+1?” Everyone dutifully answers “2.” But 1+1 is only sometimes 2. If you add one pile of laundry to one pile of laundry, 1+1= 1; one piece of chewing gum plus one piece of chewing gum = 1 piece of chewing gum. Because we tend to learn mindlessly, we’re frequently in error but rarely in doubt. In contrast, Mindful learning reveals all sorts of opportunities to which we’d otherwise be blind.

    4 Comment(s)

  • Author: Dr. Shirley Cohen, Ph.D.

    Posted: April 1, 2019

    Course: EDUC 712Z Understanding Autism


    Material for New Blog for Professional Development Courses at the University of La Verne

    Shirley Cohen, Ph.D.

    Author of the book Targeting Autism used in EDUC 712Z

    My book, Targeting Autism, seeks to help teachers and other professionals understand the world of autism from various perspectives including those of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), families of such children, and educational professionals. This book reflects my direct experience teaching children with autism as well as my later experiences observing such children in their educational settings, interviewing staff of the programs that serve them, meeting with parents, and training teachers who will be working with children on the autism spectrum.

    The goal of this book is to establish a strong foundation of understanding that will guide and support the variety of educational strategies helpful to children with ASD as well as to other children with special needs.

    5 Comment(s)

  • Author: David R. Dupper

    Posted: March 18, 2019

    Course(s): EDUC 712O Bullying


    My name is Dr. David Dupper, and my book is used in a course offered at Professional Development Courses at the University of La Verne. I want to let you know about my book and how it may be useful to teachers who wish to enroll in this course.

    The reason I wrote this book is because bullying is one of the most prevalent and insidious forms of violence in schools today and the fact that many teachers and other school professionals lack sufficient understanding of the phenomenon of bullying as well as best practices in bullying prevention and intervention. In my book, I expand the current discussion of bullying in schools to include all the ways in which power is misused and abused in schools including adult-student relationships. Rather than a “rite of passage” and “normal part of growing up,” I argue that bullying must be viewed for what it is: a systematic abuse of power that impacts the learning environment of schools in profound ways.

    I discuss bullying within the larger cultural context of the United States, and I also incorporate international perspectives on bullying. I utilize a whole-school approach as a framework for developing and implementing comprehensive interventions to combat bullying. A whole-school approach seeks to engage all members of the school community (e.g., students, teachers, staff, parents, community members) in developing a common vision and a commitment to combat all forms of bullying in schools. A whole-school approach seeks to change the entire culture and climate of the school.

    I dispel myths about bullies, and I discuss the increasingly important role that peer witnesses play in combating bullying in schools. A unique feature of my book is the discussion of several “under-the-radar” forms of bullying in schools (i.e., religious bullying, bullying by teachers and other adults in schools). Perhaps most importantly, I discuss specific steps, based on best practices, that can be taken to combat all forms of bullying in schools in as comprehensive a manner as possible. My hope in writing this volume is that it will assist educators, parents, students, and other interested individuals to understand bullying in all its forms and complexity and to plan and implement comprehensive and effective interventions across a number of levels based on this complex understanding. I firmly believe that we have the knowledge and tools necessary to change our schools from a culture of bullying to a culture of compassion.

    4 Comment(s)

  • Author: Todd Whitaker

    Posted: March 4, 2019

     Course: EDUC 712X Understanding and Dealing with Difficult Parents


    Todd Whitaker wrote the following paragraphs about his and Douglas J. Fiore’s book, Dealing with Difficult Parents, which is used in the course EDUC 712X Understanding and Dealing with Difficult Parents.

    Do you have parents that you just dread dealing with? When they call on the phone, walk into your classroom, or you see them in the office, do you get a sinking feeling? Do you ever have to deliver bad news to nice parents? This book is designed to provide valuable tools for educators to deal with hostile parents, build relations with all parents, and learn new techniques that can help you effectively deliver tough news in a positive manner. You will develop skills which will allow you and everyone in your organization to be more effective in dealing with these most challenging people.

    You will learn specific language to defuse the toughest situation. There are scripts to assist in starting every conversation. Confidence is the most valuable gift we can have, and this book is designed to fill your toolbox with immediately applicable approaches for every situation with parents. Good reading and good luck! -- Todd Whitaker

    2 Comment(s)

  • Author: Sandra Rief

    Posted: February 19, 2019

    Course(s): ADD/ADHD Strategies and Interventions for the Classroom


    I have been an educator for over 40 years.  Prior to the years I spent consulting to school districts and presenting teacher workshops/seminars nationally and internationally on best practices for helping students with ADHD and LD succeed in school, I taught in San Diego Unified School District as a resource specialist.    I have authored and co-authored several books and other teacher resources that provide practical strategies and key information for teaching students with learning, attention, and behavioral challenges.  I am happy to learn that one of my books, How to Reach and Teach Children and Teens with ADD/ADHD, 3rd edition (published by Jossey-Bass) is used in a course offered at Professional Development Courses from the University of La Verne.  

    Unfortunately, many students with ADHD are struggling in school due to their lack of identification and effective treatment/intervention, as well as the misinterpretation of their behaviors by teachers and others who don’t really understand this brain-based disorder and its impact on their functioning.  Of all the books I have authored, this one is my favorite.  It has my heart because of the numerous contributions from other teachers, parents, and teens/adults who generously shared their personal stories, insights, and strategies with me, and granted me permission to be able to share with you. I am sure that you will find the interviews, case studies, and particularly Section 5.1: A Parent's Story...What Every Teacher, Clinician, and Parent of a Child with ADHD Needs to Hear to be compelling and enlightening.    The message I would like you to take away from this book, above everything else, is that it is never too late to help a child or teen, and often the kind of help that can make a huge difference doesn’t take a lot of effort.  Sometimes it's even small changes, such as the way we respond to a student ’s behavior, or a few supports and accommodations provided by the teacher that can lead to significant improvements.  Those teacher efforts go a long way in building a close home-school relationship, as well.  Don’t underestimate the power of your encouragement, guidance, and support.  A quote on a plaque my friend saw summed it up nicely: “Teachers affect eternity.  One can never tell where their influence ends.” I am truly delighted that my book is being used as one of your textbooks and hope you will find it to be a valuable resource. Thank you!

    2 Comment(s)

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