Recommended Books on 21st Century Learning

Here are the books I am currently reading and that I recommend to teachers, administrators, and education innovators on 21st Century Learning.

-- Bob, October 2009.

Updated: September, 2018

September, 2018: 3 Outstanding new books on 21st Century Learning
November, 2017: Becoming Self-Directed Learners: Student & Faculty Memoirs of an Experimenting High School 40 Years Later, by James A. Bellanca (Editor), Arline Paul (Editor), Mark Paul (Editor), January 9, 2014
April, 2015: Suzie Boss, Bringing Innovation to School: Empowering Students to Thrive in a Changing World.
January, 2015:Bob Lenz, Justin Wells, and Sally Kingston, Transforming Schools Using Project-Based Learning, Performance Assessment, and Common Core Standards.
January, 2015: James A. Bellanca et al, Deeper Learning: Beyond 21st Century Skills

Timeless Learning: How Imagination, Observation, and Zero-Based Thinking Change Schools, by Ira Socol, Pam Moran, and Chad Ratliff. Jossey-Bass. August 2018.

In Timeless Learning, an award-winning team of leaders from Albemarle County Public Schools, VA, Chief Technology Officer Ira Socol, Superintendent Pam Moran, and Lab Schools Principal Chad Ratliff demonstrate how you can implement innovative practices that have shown remarkable success. The authors use progressive design principles to inform pathways to disrupt traditions of education today and show you how to make innovations real that will have a timeless and meaningful impact on students, keeping alive the natural curiosity and passion for learning with which children enter school.

Order at Wiley and Amazon.

The Human Side of Changing Education: How to Lead Change with Clarity, Courage, and Conviction, by Julie M. Wilson. Foreword by Arthur Levine. Corwin, 2018.

The purpose of this book is to equip education change leaders with a practical framework and human-centered tools and resources to lead meaningful, sustainable change. In the last two to three years, the conversation has shifted from "We need to change from the factory model and here's why" to, "OK, we know that level of change is needed. But how do we change?"

Order at Amazon.

What School Could Be: Insights and Inspiration from Teachers across America, by Ted Dintersmith. Princeton University Press, 2018.

What School Could Be offers an inspiring vision of what our teachers and students can accomplish if trusted with the challenge of developing the skills and ways of thinking needed to thrive in a world of dizzying technological change. Innovation expert Ted Dintersmith took an unprecedented trip across America, visiting all fifty states in a single school year. All across the country, he met teachers in ordinary settings doing extraordinary things, creating innovative classrooms where children learn deeply and joyously as they gain purpose, agency, essential skillsets and mindsets, and real knowledge.

Order at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

21st Century Skills: Rethinking How Students Learn By John Barell, Linda Darling-Hammond, Chris Dede, Rebecca DuFour, Richard DuFour, Douglas Fisher, Robin Fogarty, Nancy Frey, Howard Gardner, Andy Hargreaves, David W. Johnson, Roger T. Johnson, Cheryl Lemke, Jay McTighe, Alan November, Bob Pearlman, Brian M. Pete, Douglas Reeves, Will Richardson, Elliott Seif

Go to New Learning Environments to download Chapter 6: Designing New Learning Environments to Support 21st Century Skills by Bob Pearlman.

Elliot Washor and Charles Mojokowski, Leaving to Learn: How Out-of-School Learning Increases Student Engagement and Reduces Dropout Rates, Heiniman, 2013.

A website with significant 21st Century learning resources accompanies the book at

The book can be purchased here.

Bob Lenz, Justin Wells, and Sally Kingston, Transforming Schools Using Project-Based Learning, Performance Assessment, and Common Core Standards, Jossey-Bass, January 2015.

In this book, the authors from Envison Learning explain how project-based learning can blend with Common Core-aligned performance assessment for deeper learning. You'll discover how many schools have successfully made the transition from traditional, teacher-centered learning to project-based, deeper learning and find many practical ideas for implementation. The Companion DVD and website include videos showing how to implement deeper learning strategies in the classroom

The book can be purchased at Amazon.

Bernie Trilling and Charles Fadel , 21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in our Times, Wiley, 2009.

A website with significant 21st Century learning resources accompanies the book.

The book can be purchased at Amazon .

Edited by James A. Bellanca, Deeper Learning: Beyond 21st Century Skills, Solution Tree, 2014. Chapters by: Suzie Boss, Stacey Caillier, Barbara Chow, David T. Conley, Arthur L. Costa, Ben Daley, Linda Darling-Hammond, Rebecca DuFour, Richard DuFour, Deborah Rosalia Esparza, Charles Fadel, Michael Fullan, Valerie Greenhill, Bena Kallick, Ken Kay, Steven Paine, James W. Pellegrino, Rob Riordan, Helen A. Soulé, Bernie Trilling, Tony Wagner, Yong Zhao, Steven Zipkes.

Education authorities from around the globe explore deeper learning, a process that promotes higher-order thinking, reasoning, and problem solving to better educate students and prepare them for college and careers. Relying on research as well as their own experience, the authors show how to use intensive curriculum, instruction, assessment, and leadership practices to meet the needs of 21st century learners

Printed Reproducibles & Resources

The book can be purchased at Amazon.

Milton Chen, Education Nation: Six Leading Edges of Innovation in our Schools, George Lucas Educational Foundation, Jossey-Bass, 2012

As a result of constant innovation, learning is no longer limited by traditional confines and we're moving beyond students tied to their chairs, desks, and textbooks-and teachers locked away in classrooms. In Education Nation author Milton Chen draws from extensive experience in media-from his work on Sesame Street in its nascent years to his role as executive director of the George Lucas Educational Foundation-to support a vision for a new world of learning.

Order at Amazon.

Suzie Boss, Bringing Innovation to School: Empowering Students to Thrive in a Changing World, Solution Tree, 2012.

Are you preparing a new generation of innovators? Activate your students' creativity and problem-solving potential with breakthrough learning projects. Across all grades and content areas, student-driven, collaborative projects will teach students how to generate innovative ideas and then put them into action. You'll take learning to new heights and help students master core content.

Order at Solution Tree and Amazon.

Ken Kay and Valerie Greenhill, The Leader's Guide to 21st Century Education: 7 Steps for Schools and Districts, Pearson, 2012.

The book can be purchased at Amazon .

Tony Wagner, The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don't Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need--and What We Can Do About It, Basic Books, 2008.

See Tony's School Change Consulting website.

Order at Amazon.

Tony Wagner, Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change The World, Scribner, 2012.

Order at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

David Thornburg, From the Campfire to the Holodeck: Creating Engaging and Powerful 21st Century Learning Environments, Jossey-Bass, October 2013

Order at Amazon or Wiley.

The Atlantic interviews David Thornburg on his new book on 21C Learning Environments (November 2013).

James Bellanca, Enriched Learning Projects: A Practical Pathway to 21st Century Skills, Solution Tree Press, 2010.

See Bob Pearlman's foreword to Enriched Learning Projects. Order the book here.

Solution tree has also provided a superb reproducible resources page.

Lydotta M. Taylor and Jill M. Fratto, Transforming Learning through 21st Century Skills: The Who Took My Chalk? Model for Engaging You and Your Students, Pearson, 2012.

See Foreword by Bob Pearlman: Letter to a 21st Century Teacher.

Order at Amazon.

The Language of School Design: Design Patterns for 21st Century Schools, by Prakash Nair, Randall Fielding and Dr. Jeffery Lackney

Prakash Nair, Blueprint for Tomorrow: Redesigning Schools for Student-Centered Learning, Harvard Education Press, 2014
In Blueprint for Tomorrow, Prakash Nair—one of the world’s leading school designers—explores the hidden messages that our school facilities and classrooms convey and advocates for the “alignment” of the design of places in which we teach and learn with twenty-first-century learning goals. Blueprint for Tomorrow provides simple, affordable, and versatile ideas for adapting or redesigning school spaces to support student-centered learning.

Order at Harvard Education Press or on Amazon.

Tom Vander Ark with Mary Ryerse, Smart Cities That Work for Everyone: 7 Keys to Education & Employment, 2014.

Every person, organization and region needs to get smart—to skill up, learn more and build new capacities faster and cheaper than ever. In the long run, education is the economic development agenda. Innovative new tools and schools are making it possible for individuals, organizations, and cities to boost learning outcomes. Most learning innovations occur in ecosystems—and these unique environments begin with leadership and an innovation.

Order at Amazon.

Allan Collins and Richard Halverson, Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology: The Digital Revolution and Schooling, Teachers College Press, 2009.

Order at Amazon or Teachers College Press.

Yong Zhao, Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization, ASCD, 2009.

See Yong Zhao's Blog.

Order at ASCD or Amazon.

The Third Teacher: 79 Ways You Can Use Design to Transform Teaching & Learning by OWP/P Cannon Design (Author), VS Furniture (Author), Bruce Mau Design (Author)

Linda Darling-Hammond, The Flat World and Education: How America's Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future, Teachers College Press, January, 2010

See Books by Linda Darling-Hammond.

Order at Teachers College Press or Amazon.

Grant Lichtman, #EdJourney: A Roadmap to the Future of Education, Jossey-Bass, September 2014

Over the course of a 3-month solo road trip across the United States, author Grant Lichtman discovered that there is much to be positive about in today's K-12 schools. Lichtman, one of the country's leading experts in educational innovation, interviewed over 600 teachers, administrators, students, parents, and trustees to find out what kind of innovations they're doing right—and how others can leverage their successes.

Also see: The Learning Pond Blog; Website: The Furute of K-12 Education; Twitter: @GrantLichtman; and TEDxDenverTeachers, March 2013: What 60 Schools Can Tell Us About Teaching 21st Century Skills

Order at Amazon.

Becoming Self-Directed Learners: Student & Faculty Memoirs of an Experimenting High School 40 Years Later, by James A. Bellanca (Editor), Arline Paul (Editor), Mark Paul (Editor), January 9, 2014

In 1972, an intrepid group of teachers and students at New Trier High School (Winnetka, IL) formed the Center for Self-Directed Learning. Each student would design their own program instead of following the daily grind of standardized courses with off-the-shelf textbooks, canned lectures, and, of course, the all-important final exam. Approximately 600 students took the plunge into the unknown during the Center’s 10 years. Now, more than 35 Center graduates look back on their experience, each of them writing about why they left the standard curriculum and joined the Center, what they did in the Center, and how the Center has affected their adult lives.

See Amazon Reviews and Review by Bob Pearlman: An Inspiration for Today's Innovators

Order at Amazon.