Back-to-school Resources for Teachers from the Staff at PLACE

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Our staff is made up of educators who are committed to providing transformational learning opportunities for all. To that end, we are always reading and listening to a variety of media to ensure that our programs address the most pressing needs of educators today. At the start of a new school year, these podcasts, websites, and books have provided us with the inspiration to continue this important work so we wanted to share them with you.


The Argument

Recommended by Mark Dziedzic | Grades 6–12, Social Studies, English Language Arts

This is a fabulous resource for engaging with current events and issues for classroom argument/debate/discussion. Each episode pulls together opposing views on a current topic and demonstrates that even in today’s polarized climate, it is possible to have thoughtful, constructive, and honest arguments.

Dare to Lead with Brené Brown: “Brené with Charles Duhigg on Habits and Productivity”

Recommended by Sandra Taylor-Marshall | All Grade Levels, All Content Areas, Leadership, Coaching

In this podcast, Charles Duhigg challenges us to think about productivity in relation to our daily to-do lists. Are our daily tasks connected to our deeper purpose? Are they tasks connected to someone else’s deeper purpose? Or are they simply tasks we’re mindlessly working our way through so we can cross them off our list? Thought-provoking!

The Ezra Klein Show: “This Conversation Will Change How You Think About Thinking”

Recommended by Bryn Orum | All Grade Levels, All Content Areas

This episode features a discussion with Annie Murphy Paul about the common flaws we have in thinking about the brain and understanding work and learning. (Note: AMP has a book about this that is listed under the book section.)


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Healthy Schools

Recommended by Rigoletto Lopez | All Grade Levels, All Content Areas, Leadership

The CDC has compiled a virtual space full of information regarding school health for both student and school employee wellness. There are several pages covering different topics—from physical activity and health conditions to eating behaviors and school COVID-19 guideline updates.

Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC)

Recommended by Lisa Barker | All Grade Levels, English Language Arts

We are so fortunate to have the CCBC right here in the School of Education at UW–Madison. I love their book recommendation lists and encourage all literacy teachers to explore this vast archive.

Field Day Learning Games

Recommended by Amanda Kelly

The amazing staff at Field Day Labs have created a number of learning games that teach curricular content through interactive, virtual experiences. Some of my favorites are Jo Wilder and the Capitol Case (Grades 3–5, Social Studies), The Yard Games (Grades 5–7, Science) and Lakeland (Grades 7–12, Science, Agriculture).

The Learning Network at The New York Times: “140 Picture Prompts to Inspire Student Writing”

Recommended by Bryn Orum | All Grade Levels, English Language Arts

A school year’s worth of short, accessible, image-driven posts that invite a variety of types of writing.

Madison Metropolitan School District: Welcoming Schools

Recommended by Cory Roseth | All Grade Levels, Inclusive Schooling

Curated by educators at MMSD, this website is a treasure trove of resources to support LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, asexual, and more) students. The website’s organization makes it really easy to navigate, and there are pages for families, educators, and kids. It includes lesson plans, grade-level book lists, educational videos, and frequently asked questions. The best part is that it’s accessible by anyone, and there’s even more content for MMSD staff.

A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction

Recommended by Christina Stefonek | All Grade Levels, Mathematics

This resource has been helpful for identifying ways to imagine and create more welcoming spaces in schools and particularly in math classrooms.

Wisconsin First Nations: American Indian Studies in Wisconsin

Recommended by Lisa Barker | All Grade Levels, Social Studies

This website features a variety of instructional resources for all grade levels. It includes maps, videos, lesson plans, and so much more.


“The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters” by Priya Parker

Recommended by Lisa Barker | All Grade Levels, All Content Areas

This book encouraged me to think about why and how we gather with children and how our purposes should guide our lessons and activities. Parker provides an introduction to this work in her TED Talk.

“The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain” by Annie Murphy Paul

Recommended by Bryn Orum | All Grade Levels, All Content Areas

Research and findings that conceive of intelligence that exists beyond our brains.

“The New Teacher Book: Finding purpose, balance, and hope during your first years in the classroom” edited by Linda Christensen, Stan Karp, Bob Peterson, and Moé Yonamine

Recommended by Cory Roseth | All Grade Levels, All Content Areas

The short essays featured in this book cover a range of topics which include starting a new school year strong, overcoming challenges, staying committed, and teacher activism.

Learn More

If these back-to-school resources are interesting to you, then you’ll love the professional learning opportunities for educators at PLACE. Stay up-to-date with the latest programming catered to you—click here to choose your interest areas and subscribe.