Professional Resource Books for the PYP 


This is a short list of books which we hope will provide some useful professional resources for teachers of the Primary Years of the International Baccalaureate. We have tried to choose books which do not have a narrow focus but which are trans-disciplinary in concept.


Recommended by Kate Shepherd and Mandy Clarke




Taking the PYP Forward: The Future of the IB Primary Years Programme edited by Simon Davidson and Steven Carber pb 9781904724711 $65
Teachers of the Primary Years Programme of the International Baccalaureate will find this book thought-provoking and extremely helpful. Published in 2009, it consists of a collection of articles on wide-ranging aspects of the PYP. There are a number of articles on inquiry and also on assessment and also planning frameworks. Other articles discuss English as a Second Language, Third Culture Kids, Information Technology, the pre-primary schools of Reggio Emilia and the workings of the human brain and how it learns. The authors include Jay McTghe, Dr Jeb Schenck and Kathy Short, the two editors and others. The article that I found the most interesting and illuminating was Kathy Short’s article called “Inquiry as a stance on curriculum”. Kathy discusses Inquiry from her own personal experience, of how she herself learnt as a student and how, when she later began teaching, she realised the limitations of the way she had been taught and was now trying to teach. She gradually moved to the Inquiry method as she found this to be the most effective way of encouraging students to learn, and also to learn how to learn. All the articles are interesting, and they add to an understanding of the broad range of thinking about inquiry education and will generate lots of discussions in schools which offer the PYP now or which aim to do so in the future. This is a very helpful book for all practitioners of the PYP. KS

Take a moment! 40 frameworks for reflective thinking by Kath Murdoch pb 9780975841204 $35.95
This book has a very different appearance from the other books that Kath Murdoch has written. It contains many practical activities to help teachers encourage students to “take a moment” and think about why, what and how they are learning. It is a collection of the strategies and structures that Kath Murdoch has found useful in supporting reflective thinking. It aims to help students become self-aware and engaged in their learning and has many tasks which are carefully designed to direct students’ reflective thinking in different ways. It aims to make reflection part of the learning process and contains many frameworks and structure which teachers will find very helpful. KS

Classroom Connections: Strategies for Integrated Learning by Kath Murdoch pb 9781875327485 $39.95
This is an immensely helpful book. It puts the case for an integrated curriculum and also for using inquiry as a framework of learning. However the emphasis is on a wide range of very practical strategies to support teacher’s plans and teaching of integrated units of work. Strategies suggested are structured to support the various stages of implementation of a unit of work. These stages come under the headings of Tuning In, Finding Out, Sorting Out, Going Further, Making Conclusions, Taking Action and Sharing. The final chapter, Putting It Altogether contains two sample integrated units of work; Night and Day for grades 1 & 2 and Water, Water Everywhere for grades 4 – 6. These sample units show how strategies from each stage can work together to enhance planning. The book also shows how the strategies suggested can be adapted for different age levels and topics and how these ideas will help in the development of flexible learners. The book is written in very readable, accessible language. KS

Planning Curriculum Connections: Whole-School Planning for Integrated Curriculum by Kath Murdoch and David Hornsby pb 9781875327492 $39.95
Some schools which are enthusiastic about integrated curriculum find there are difficulties in its implementation because of problems with planning, management and organisation. The main purpose of this book is to assist teachers in planning and implementing integrated curriculum both within individual classrooms and across the school. It provides a range of ideas to assist with planning, documenting, record keeping, assessment and evaluation for an integrated curriculum and is therefore useful for administrators as well as classroom teachers. As a non-teacher, I found the section where the authors challenge some of the misconceptions that have arisen about an integrated curriculum especially interesting and also their discussion of the development from a thematic approach to the advantages of an integrated curriculum. Again this is a very practical book which will help in basic planning and documenting and also in discussion about what constitutes an integrated curriculum. KS

How to succeed with Creating a Learning Community by Kath Murdoch and Jeni Wilson pb 9781863667739 $32.95 (One of the series of Little Books of Big Ideas)
A constructive learning community is a place where students want to come each day and is also satisfying and motivating for teachers. Feeling valued as a team member can encourage risk taking and motivate learners to think, perform and make responsible learning decisions. As well as discussing the advantages of creating a learning community, this book introduces structures and strategies for building a constructive student-centred classroom environment. The role of the teacher, the physical environment and assessment and record-keeping tasks and techniques are all discussed. It is a very helpful reference which is engaging and always interesting in its practical ideas for teachers. KS

How to succeed with Cooperative Learning by Kath Murdoch and Jeni Wilson pb 9781863667562 $32.95 (One of the series of Little Books of Big Ideas)
This is another title in this series of small books concentrating on one aspect of classroom learning. The authors discuss the benefits of a group of students working together as a team, sharing resources, ideas and a shared goal. They also stress that cooperative learning works best when used with a variety of teaching approaches. The book outlines the essentials for developing cooperative learning skills for use at school and beyond. It suggests strategies and structures for developing cooperative learning in the classroom, including the role of the teacher, the organization necessary and recording and assessment and recording tasks and techniques. Again a very accessible and helpful book. KS

How to Succeed with Learner-Centred Assessment by Jeni Wilson and Kath Murdoch pb 9781863666879 $32.95
Strategic leaner-centred assessment is primarily intended to inform students and teachers about how students can improve their learning. By using a range of assessment types all students can demonstrate what they know and what they can do. This book includes practical suggestions for planning and managing assessment and ways to actively involve students in the process. KS

Improving Student Achievement: A Practical Guide to Assessment for Learning by Toni Glasson pb 9781742003078 $44.95 (2009)
This book provides practical guidance to teachers in the way they consider and use assessment in the classroom. It highlights the learning partnership between students and teachers as they plan, set goals and respond to feedback to improve student learning and teaching focus. There are chapters on, Learning Intentions, Success Criteria, Strategic Questioning, and Effective Teacher Feedback. Many helpful examples are given. KS

Thinking Strategies for the Inquiry Classroom by Darryn Kruse pb 9781742003139 $40.95
Published in 2009. It is a more specific teaching tool as it gives suggestions for many activities linking inquiry to thinking skills. These strategies are structured around the stages of inquiry – Tuning In, Finding Out, Sorting Out, Making Conclusions, Going Further, Reflecting and Taking Action. It gives examples of the classroom experience of teachers putting these strategies to work and gives examples of how these strategies can be adapted for the needs of individual students. For upper elementary and middle years. KS

Thinking Tools for the Inquiry Classroom by Darryn Kruse pb 9781742003115 $40.95
This book builds on the ideas of Thinking Strategies for the Inquiry Classroom. Each tool is linked to a key stage of inquiry and described in context. Use of each tool and how it can be used in the classroom is discussed. There is also discussion of the inquiry stages, multiple intelligences and the critical and creative thinking. KS

Assessment Strategies for the Inquiry Classroom by Darryn Kruse pb 9781742005454 $40.95
This book links ideas from the first two titles Thinking Strategies and Thinking Tools for the Inquiry Classroom. There are six chapters and each one highlights a specific phase of the inquiry process and five key assessment processes. KS

Smart Thinking by Jeni Wilson and Lesley Wing Jan pb 9781863666787 $43.95
This book aims to help teachers develop in students the ability to take responsibility for their learning and to be able to evaluate and regulate their own thinking. It encourages the establishment of thoughtful classrooms where students have the opportunity for student negotiation, goal setting and decision making. It will be helpful for teachers of students of all ages. KS

Learning for Themselves: Pathways to Independence in the Classroom by Jeni Wilson and Kath Murdoch (includes CD-ROM) pb 9781863666657 $45.95
Another very helpful book from this impressive team. It is increasingly recognised that classrooms are places where students learn to learn and learn how to become effective, independent learners. This book aims to give teachers a repertoire of effective strategies and structures which will give students the opportunity to be independent in their learning. The chapter are organised into four broad areas: Thinking, Learning preferences, inquiry and personal challenges. The learning tasks given draw from commonly addressed topics in primary school curriculums and are designed to be adapted by students and teachers to suit particular interests and a range of teaching and learning goals. The accompanying CD-ROM provides all learning task proformas as well as a further 28 proformas to assist teachers and students when planning, managing, monitoring and keeping records associated with independent learning. KS

Thinking Globally: Global perspectives in the early years classroom by Julie Browett and Greg Ashman (includes CD-ROM) pb 9781863666404 $40.95
This book, published just in 2008, incorporates and acknowledges many of the ideas and activities from Think Global: Global Perspectives in the lower primary classroom by Rebecca Reid-Nguyen - now out of print. The first part discusses what it means to teach with a global perspective and considers the theoretical basis for this. However I especially like the many practical activities which are incorporated into the discussions of the ideas. There is an emphasis on various types of thinking and how the understanding of this can be encouraged as well as ideas of how children’s literature can be used to help develop a global perspective. The second part concentrates on Teaching and Learning Experiences and discussions are organized according to the following learning emphases: Interdependence, Identity and Cultural Diversity, Dimensions of Change, Social Justice & Human Rights, Peace Building & Conflict and Sustainable Futures. This book will be immensely useful to teachers as it has so many ideas about how these concepts can be taught across a range of early years subjects. Many of the fiction books suggested are included in the lists that I have compiled for the Primary Years Project. The accompanying CD-ROM has many additional resources for teaching with a global perspective including digital content, photographs, graphic organising and a video. KS


For Librarians


These books are not specifically for PYP Librarians. However I think they will be helpful generally for librarians and therefore have included them here.

The Connected library: A handbook for engaging users (2006) by Suzette Boyd pb 9780646461380 $65.95
This is a challenging book with a wealth of practical idea. It is an extremely creative, lively and engaging account and gives an amazing number of ideas on how to increase the level of engagement with users of the library. It is written in a very clear format, and is compact and accessible. John Marsden has written the very complimentary forward to the book and he writes that a “ librarian’s success in effecting change depends on her ability to achieve status and influence in school and to assert herself “ and The Connected Library has many ideas on how this can be achieved. As a result the book is not just a how-to manual but has considerably more significance. It emphasises the importance of building connections and trust with students, of communicating with and enlisting the support of all users, of being positive, upbeat and enthusiastic, of marketing and promoting the library, and in becoming the cultural and education hub of the school. Perhaps a problem could be that there are so many ideas that some librarians, especially new librarians could find it overwhelming, In addition I am very aware that many libraries do not have the staff levels which would be necessary to put many of these ideas into practice. However I do think it is a very worthwhile book and so have reviewed it here. (Apologies for the cost of the book but we get very little discount and have to cover the cost of postage for sending the books to us.) KS

Learning for the Future: Developing information services in schools 2nd edition 2007 pb 9781863667104 $39.95
Many librarians have found this book to be extremely helpful. Prepared by the Australian School Library Association and also the Australian Library and Information Association, it focuses on the advancements in technology over recent years and the ever increasing role of Information and Communication technologies in the school learning environment. It gives guidelines for developing information and ICT literacy in the school, and also a planning structure for ICT implementations. (It was originally published in 2001.) KS


Guides for Writers


Martin’s Writers Guide fifth edition 2011 by Rodney Martin pb 9781741205152 (without CD) $29.95
This is an updated and revised edition of the Young Writers’ Guide 4th edition. It is a very useful guide for older writers and also as a teacher resource and so the name has been changed to reflect this wider use. All the entries are very clearly set out and explained and pertinent examples given. It has proved very popular in schools. I find it fascinating. As the book explains, it is not at all a grammar textbook. It is a style guide and should be used as a reference book. It explains and gives examples of English language in use and techniques for writing. The setting out is very simple and makes for easy browsing. I guess the main attractions for me are the examples of usage and writing styles. Many are very funny and all are interesting. There is also a very interesting section on word histories. This guide is an excellent reference to help young writers think about the different ways of structuring reports, recounts or arguments etc and it is also full of information on writing conventions. I have had feedback from a number of teachers who also think that that it is an excellent resource. The fifth edition of the Young Writers Guide + CD is available as an e-book for one user only 9781741205220 $46.95 For upper elementary and also middle school students. KS

Martin’s Junior Writers Guide pb 9781741202496 $23.95
This Junior Guide was published in 2006. It is aimed mainly at Grades 3 to 5. It is an alphabetical reference for 8 – 10 year old students and offers basic explanations and examples on a wide range of writing-related subjects such as abbreviations, capital letters, grammar, confusing words, punctuations, style, and text types. The language is simple and many of the examples are humorous. It is extremely well set out and easy to use and will be a very helpful resource for the library, the classroom and also for each student. The book + CD is also an e-book for one user only 9781741441338 $35.95. KS

Books about Reading for parents (and teachers)

It’s interesting that the following three books on learning to read by Australian authors are each very good and yet each has a different focus. 


Rocket Your Child into Reading by Jackie French pb 9780207199264 $19.95
Jackie French wrote this book because she has dyslexia and is the mother of a dyslexic child and the aunt of another. Her problem of dyslexia is surprising since she is a well known and loved writer of many books. However she has seen how reading problems can take over a child’s life and wrote this book in order to give some guidance in how to spot reading problems in children. She also suggests different ways of helping children to read. Naturally she first talks about how children can be encouraged to love books so that they want to learn to read. However this book is different from others I have read in its emphasis on the difficulties some children have in reading and how this can be helped through coordination skills. Many suggestions are given for games that are fun but which also help with developing focus and coordination. Jackie French also outlines problems to watch out for and steps which can be taken to get professional help. She emphasises that there is no one way to learn to read and that a combination of methods is often best. KS

In Mem Fox’s book Reading Magic pb 9781742612690 $9.99 you can hear Mem’s own very distinctive voice talking about the wonders and delights of sharing books with children. KS

The Reading Bug ... and how you can help your child to catch it (revised edition in 2008) by Paul Jennings pb 9780143007456 $29.95 also emphasises the delights of sharing books with children but he also analyses in much more detail the various methods of teaching reading and I found this fascinating. Paul Jennings cuts through the jargon and the controversies and explains in simple terms about reading and how parents can help their child catch the reading bug. The book also contains many very helpful book lists containing suggestions of books to read to children at all age levels. These have been updated in this new revised edition for 2008. There is also a supplementary chapter on the special reading needs of boys. KS

Daniel Pennac has also written for adults a very entertaining book on reading called The Rights of the Reader, translated from the French by Sarah Adams with a Forward to this edition by Quentin Blake pb 9780763677015 $14. Originally published in 1992, Pennac writes passionately of the delights as a parent of reading aloud to young children and how too many parents stop too early before children really understand the pleasures that books offer. Pennac writes with great flourish and drama and is often very funny. The book also offers an insight into popular French books for children and about the more structured French education system while giving us ten Rights of the Reader which include The right not to read, The right to skip, The right not to finish a book, The right to read it again and The right to read anything. Highly recommended. KS

The Ultimate Book Guide : Over 600 great books for 8 – 12s editors Daniel Hahn and Leonie Flynn and Susan Reuben pb 9781408104385 $33 2nd updated edition 2009 
 This is a very inviting book for browsing. Dozens of well-known writers have written lively reviews of some their favourite books. As a result there are many classics but also recent titles. A few of the books listed are out of print but most are still available. The book is organised as an A – Z by title. But from time to time there are also lists of the top ten best adventure, or fantasy or school stories or stories from other cultures and with each review there are some other suggestions of books that may be similar in some way. It is lively, inviting easy to use and extremely helpful. A good book for parents for teachers or for students. KS
Also The Ultimate First Book Guide: Over 500 great books for 0 – 7 years 2008 pb 9780713673319 $33
The Ultimate Teen Book Guide 2nd ed: Over 700 Great Books for Anyone 12 Plus 2010 pb 9781408104378 $29.99



Right Book Right Time: 500 great reads for teenagers (2007) by Agnes Nieuwenhuizen pb 9781741148831 $35.00
Agnes Nieuwenhuizen has an extraordinary knowledge about books for young adults and has written over the years a number of books on this subject. I was especially impressed with this book, published in 2007, because its layout makes it so accessible and it is a book which invites browsing. Books are reviewed by a variety of reviewers and discussed under various subject areas such as action, adventure and crime, life, love and loss, extreme & edgy, this sporting life and fantastic worlds. About 200 of the entries are recent books, by writers from Australia and also from many overseas countries. Throughout the book there are suggestions of other titles that teenagers could try next. If you like this author, then try … If you like crime, then try this classic. Agnes hopes that this will provide stepping stones and links for readers to take them to more books that they will enjoy. A number of translations are also reviewed. This is still a helpful reference for teachers, librarians and parents even though it is a long time since it was first published and some books may be out of print. It is also a book that teenagers can browse through and where they will hopefully be directed to other books that they will love. (12 years up) KS

Beating the Bullies How Did Ben Help Himself? by Dr Lucy Blunt illustrations by (her daughter) Chloe Osborn pb 9780987227539 $18.95
This was a surprise. Books about bullying are normally not at all pleasurable to read. However this one is written as an innovative guide for 7 – 11 year olds. Ben is the young narrator and the book is written as a chapter story. Ben describes how his parents found out that he was being bullied at school and what they and the teachers then did about it. Ben sees a psychologist called Teresa and she works out a six-part action plan which is described in detail. This plan is very positive and quite amusing and includes # 2 Learn the Tough Talking Game, # 3 Use your Personal Force Shield, # 4 Learn to Walk Away and # 6 Try New Games and New People. She and Ben take turns in acting out the Plan. Ben enjoys talking tough and even enjoys acting out being bullied with Teresa though he dreads going back to school and acting it out there. Ben describes what happens when he goes back to school and puts the action plan in to action. It wasn’t easy but it did work. Presenting the book as a story in chapters enables children to read the book and to get advice and tips on what to do if they are bullied themselves but it also is very helpful for parents and for teachers. There are additional resource guides for parents and also for teachers (with class specific questions and activities.) For children 7 – 11 years and also for parents and teachers. KS