Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology

Book Circles - Spring 2019

Book CirclesThe CTLT hosts book circles every academic quarter and during summers. They are open to all Cal Poly educators. Selected books draw from a broad array of thoughtful and inspiring educational literature. These are opportunities to enrich your knowledge about timely and significant topics related to higher education while engaging with colleagues from across campus. Themes for book circle selections include: inclusive educators, mastery teaching, mindful educators, navigating academia, educating for sustainability, and writing instruction. Participants receive a complimentary copy of the selected book with the expectation that they will engage in three or more discussion sessions. Our cumulative Book Circles list of titles is available here.

Register for Spring Book Circles

White Fragility: Why It's So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism

by robin diangelo

White Fragility book cover

Why can it be so challenging for white people to talk about race and racism? When faced with challenges to their assumptions about race and racism, white people oftentimes respond with emotions characteristic of white fragility—such as denial, guilt, anger, and withdrawal—that prevent meaningful engagement and, in turn, uphold racial inequality. In this book, Robin DiAngelo draws on academic scholarship and her extensive experience as an educator on racial and social justice issues to explain the phenomenon of white fragility and to suggest ways to engage in more meaningful conversations about racism. (Here's a link to a recent New Yorker magazine article about her and her book)In this book circle, we will have the opportunity to reflect on our experiences of white fragility, to think through how to respond to white fragility in our work as educators, and to engage in more significant dialogue about racism in our personal and professional lives.

NOTE: This book has been so popular and participants' responses so positive that we are offering it for the third quarter in a row. This circle is an excellent way for members of the Cal Poly community to engage in helping to create a more inclusive campus culture.

This Book Circle is now full. Please proceed to the registration page if you would like to receive priority notification for fall 2019.

Meeting time/dates: Wednesdays 10:10-11 am (April 17, 24; May 1, 8)

Facilitator:  Sarah Macdonald (CTLT)

A Diversity, equity and Inclusion Selection

The Power Of Neurodiversity: Unleashing The Advantages of A Differently Wired Brain

by Thomas Armstrong 

Out Of Our Minds book cover

Among the many dimensions of diversity, there is one form that has been largely overlooked: diversity among human brains. Exploring “neurodiversity” can help us understand the fascinating differences among our students' brains -- and our own. Armstrong’s book offers an alternative to the deficit model of neurological characteristics that are often disparaged wholesale and labeled as disabilities: hyperactivity, autism, bipolar, dyslexia, anxiety and mood fluctuations. Armstrong explains that while each presents challenges to individuals with these characteristics, they also provides distinct capabilities that can also be understood as assets. “The lessons we have learned about biodiversity and cultural and racial diversity need to be applied to the human brain,” Armstrong writes. “...(D)iversity among brains is just as wonderfully enriching as biodiversity and the diversity among cultures and races.” Armstrong's ideas can provide us with new perspectives on the neurodiversity that we encounter among our students and insights into how we can be more inclusive in our teaching. They might even help us to recognize and appreciate the neurodiversity within our own brains.

NOTE: The popularity of this book winter quarter has prompted us to offer it again this quarter. Participants will be eligible to participate in a project to create and exchange pedagogical techniques in support of neurodiverse learners.

Proposed meeting dates/time options (one or two will be selected to maximize participation):

  • Tuesdays 9:10-10 am (April 23, April 30 and May 7)
  • Wednesdays 4:10-5 pm (April 24, May 1 and May 8)
  • Thursdays 12:10-1 pm (April 25, May 2 and May 9)

Facilitator: Patrick O'Sullivan (CTLT)

A Mindful Educator Selection 

Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers

by Thomas Angelo and Patricia Cross 

Sustainability in Higher Education book cover

There are a select set of essential resources that all college instructors should have on their shelves, and this is one of them. Don't be put off by the administrative-sounding title -- if I could, I would rename it to a more accurate and descriptive title: "A Treasure Trove of Easy and Powerful Ways to Engage Your Students." It is a rich compendium of practical and effective methods for prompting student to do the cognitive work essential for learning. A well-written Part 1 makes a compelling case for educators to create opportunities for students to make their thinking and knowledge visible to themselves and strengthen their metacognitive skills. Classroom assessment techniques (CATs) provide excellent ways to do just that -- while also providing instructors with crucial insights into their students' learning that is otherwise obscure or invisible. Part 2 provides an extensive compilation of fifty (50!) CATs to explore for possible use, including detailed instructions for implementation. Most are quite easy and quick to implement, and when used for formative assessment (for improvement, not grading) requires very little time from instructors. Expect to come away with an array of useful methods that you can use immediately to transform your teaching with active learning that engages all students. 

Proposed meeting dates/time options (one or two will be selected to maximize participation):

  • Tuesdays 4:10-5 pm (April 23, April 30 and May 7)
  • Wednesdays 9:10-10 am (April 24, May 1 and May 8)
  • Thursdays 9:10-10 am (April 25, May 2 and May 9)

Facilitator: Patrick O'Sullivan (CTLT)

A Mastery Teaching selection

Braving The Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging And The Courage To Stand Alone

by brené brown

Braving The Wilderness book cover

"Social scientist Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW, has sparked a global conversation about the experiences that bring meaning to our lives—experiences of courage, vulnerability, love, belonging, shame, and empathy. In Braving the Wilderness, Brown redefines what it means to truly belong in an age of increased polarization. With her trademark mix of research, storytelling, and honesty, Brown will again change the cultural conversation while mapping a clear path to true belonging...Brown argues that we’re experiencing a spiritual crisis of disconnection, and introduces four practices of true belonging that challenge everything we believe about ourselves and each other. She writes, 'True belonging requires us to believe in and belong to ourselves so fully that we can find sacredness both in being a part of something and in standing alone when necessary. ' "

Meeting time/dates: 11:10 am-12 pm Thursdays (April 18, April 25 and May 2)

Facilitators: Dianna Winslow (CTLT) and Ritch Woffinden (COMS)

A Mindful Educator selection

Flourishing: A Frank Conversation About Sustainability

By andrew hoffman and john ehrenfeld

Professor Mommy book cover"Flourishing: A Frank Conversation about Sustainability invites you into a conversation between a teacher, John R. Ehrenfeld, and his former student now professor, Andrew J. Hoffman, as they discuss how to create a sustainable world. Unlike virtually all other books about sustainability, this one goes beyond the typical stories that we tell ourselves about repairing the environmental damages of human progress. Through their dialogue and essays that open each section, the authors uncover two core facets of our culture that drive the unsustainable, unsatisfying, and unfair social and economic machines that dominate our lives...To shift the pendulum, this book tells a new story, driven by being and caring, as opposed to having and needing, rooted in the beauty of complexity and arguing for the transformative cultural shift that we can make based on our collective wisdom and lived experiences...There is no middle ground; without a sea change at the most basic level, we will continue to head down a faulty path. Indeed, this book is a clarion call to action. Candid and insightful, it leaves readers with cautious hope."

Meeting time/dates: Thursdays 11:10 am-12 pm (May 9, 16 and 23)

Facilitators: Dianna Winslow (CTLT) and Rebekah Oulton (CEE)

An Educating for Sustainability selection

Register for Spring 2019 Book Circles


Related Content

CTLT Workshops

Want to learn more?




Cal Poly Canvas...

Learn More


Diversity & Inclusion in the Classroom.

More about inclusion


image of a person writing

​Writing across the curriculum.

Writing in the classroom