During the school year, I have a cycle of starting a book, putting it down for a few weeks, picking it back up, reading a few pages, putting it down again, and repeating. I’m not proud but I acknowledge that our jobs are demanding. When school is in session, I just want to prioritize the needs of my students. Once summer hits, I am thrilled for the opportunity to read and I take a book in my bag with me wherever I go. If you’re like me, and hope to read a lot this summer, I hope that this summer reading list will inspire you. I asked members of the Mastery Portfolio team to provide book recommendations: one that is education related and one that isn’t. If you’re interested in other summer learning opportunities, check out our last blog post.

Constance Borro

Constance Borro founded Mastery Portfolio, LLC, in 2019 in order to give teachers and students greater access to tools that empower and motivate learning. As Chief Executive Officer, she directs the company’s various departments in order to deliver upon this mission, while also working directly with teachers and leaders at their central Ohio-based schools. During her 15-year tenure as a teacher and instructional coach, Constance saw that clear feedback aligned with goals or standards provided the best fuel for improved student (and teacher) outcomes. Known as an assessment expert in the schools in which she taught, Constance contributed to the work of Dr. Nancy Krasa in her recent book, How Children Learn Math: The Science of Math Learning in Research and Practice. 

Education Recommendation:

Krasa, N., Tzanetopoulos, K., & Maas, C. (2023). How children learn math: The science of math learning in research and practice. Routledge. 

This book seeks to fill the gap in the education community’s collection of knowledge about how children best acquire conceptual knowledge in mathematics, an area of sparse research in comparison to research on reading acquisition, for example. The book includes practical scenarios and anecdotes from real classrooms, including Constance’s elementary math classrooms at Columbus School for Girls in Columbus, OH. 

Krasa, N., & Shunkwiler, S. (2009). Number sense and number nonsense: Understanding the challenges of learning math. Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

Non-education Recommendation: 

I also enjoy reading classic literature for pleasure. I recommend Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier, as a psychological thriller for those who might be inclined to celebrate Halloween with dramatic readings of Edgar Allen Poe. Pair your reading with prohibition-era cocktails and a screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s Academy-award-winning film rendition, Rebecca, from 1940. Both book and film will leave you on the edge of your seat and in wonder at the creative arts of writing and filmmaking- vivid sensory details will leave you with the same goosebumps that young Mrs. De Winter must have felt in the haunted, austere Manderlay estate where the story takes place.      


Du Maurier, D. (1938). Rebecca. Victor Gollancz Ltd.

Hitchcock, A. (Director). (1940). Rebecca [Film]. David O. Selznick.

Starr Sackstein

Starr Sackstein is the COO of Mastery Portfolio. She is also the author of many assessment and grading reform books. Starr speaks globally and is passionate about shifting the way we learn in schools.

Education Recommendation:

Hacking Group Work; 11 Ways to Build Student Engagement, Accountability and Cooperation with Collaborative Teams by Connie Hamilton If you’re looking for a practical read that will undoubtedly increase your success rate using group work in your classes, then this book is for you. Hamilton has 11 hacks that are great for improving the students’ collaboration and learning in cooperative environments. The best part is that you can use so many of the tips right away. And for a little extra, if you love this book, Hamilton’s Hacking Questions is another excellent read.

Non-Education Recommendation: 

The Light We Carry by Michelle Obama – I loved Michelle Obama’s first book, and I knew this follow-up wouldn’t disappoint. Obama speaks about her journey and how we can lift each other. It’s an inspiring read that will make you want to take action.

Crystal Frommert

Crystal Frommert is a teacher/administrator in Houston. She is honored to work with Mastery Portfolio on the Learner-Centered Spaces podcast as co-host/producer. 

Education Recommendation:

I highly recommend Building Thinking Classrooms by Peter Liljedahl if you are a math teacher of any grade level. After reading this book, I no longer stand front and center of the room while my students passively receive the lessons. Now my students are doing the talking, thinking, and problem solving in my classes. 

Non-education Recommendation: 

ANY book written by Liane Moriarty, Curtis Sittenfeld, or J. Courtney Sullivan. 

Katie Mead

Katie Mead is a School Liaison for Mastery Portfolio.  That means that she helps triage any problems or concerns that our schools, users, or Mastery Coaches have about their MasteryBooks. I also communicate with our IT team in regards to any updates or changes that need to be made.

Education Recommendation: 

Project Based Learning: Real Questions. Real Answers. by Ross Cooper & Erin Murphy. This was a fantastic way to learn more about incorporating Project Based Learning into my classroom.  The writing is easy to process and written in a very true-to-life, almost conversational tone which makes it easy to process and put into action.  If you’re interested in using PBL, this is a great resource.

Non-Education Recommendation: 

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab.I’ve been reading for a long time, and this is one of the most magical books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.  It doesn’t come with any of the typical features of either fantasy or romance, but somehow manages to feature both beautifully.  It completely shifts the idea of what a story needs to be, and speaks to the reader from one book-lover to another.

Emma Chiappetta

Emma Chiappetta is a Mastery Coach for Mastery Portfolio. She is passionate about amplifying the strengths of each teacher and student she works with. 

Education Recommendation: 

One of my favorite education books is “Small Teaching” by James Lang. He does an amazing job of bringing research to life and weaving relatable anecdotes into his writing. Each chapter of the book introduces one small research-backed change that teachers can make in the classroom to improve the student experience and learning. The tips are practical and inspiring. 

Non-Education Recommendation: 

I am a huge Dave Eggers fan. He has a way of making characters feel like people you know. My favorite of his books is A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius but I was also enraptured by The Monk of Mokha, The Parade, and The Circle.

Books by the Mastery Portfolio Team

Starr Sackstein: Assessing with Respect, Hacking Assessment, Hacking Homework, Teaching Students to Self-Assess, From Teacher to Leader, and more.

Crystal Frommert: When Calling Parents Isn’t Your Calling.

Emma Chiappetta: Creating Curious Classrooms.

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