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UnCommon Learning

UnCommon Learning
Creating Schools That Work for Kids

Co-publication with Learning Forward

October 2015 | 264 pages | Corwin

UnCommon Learning techniques set the stage for mastery and true student engagement

Integrate digital media and new applications with purpose and build a culture of learning with pleasure!
Let students use real-world tools to do real-world work and develop skills society demands. Be the leader who creates this environment. UnCommon Learning shows you how to transform a learning culture through sustainable and innovative initiatives. It moves straight to the heart of using innovations such as Makerspaces, Blended Learning and Microcredentials. Included in the book:

  • Vignettes to illustrate key ideas
  • Real life examples to show what works
  • Graphs and data to prove initiatives’ impact

1. The Challenges That Schools Face
2. Culture Shock
3. Digital Learning Across the Curriculum
4. Makerspaces
5. Blended and Virtual Learning
6. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
7. Digital Badges and Micro-Credentials
8. Academies and Smaller Learning Communities
9. Connected Learning
10. Schools That Work For Students
Appendices A-D

“In Digital Leadership, Eric Sheninger trail blazed the path many educational leaders followed to become digitally connected and now, in Uncommon Learning, he gets right to the heart of exactly what we need to do to create schools designed to empower today’s students. Eric doesn’t just talk about change; he has actually led change in his system and his story is both inspirational and filled with practical tips for implementation.“

Dave Burgess
New York Times Best Selling author of Teach Like a PIRATE and co-author of P is Pirate: Inspirational ABC’s for Educators

"Educational transformation can happen and this book tells how. In UnCommon Learning, former teacher and school principal Eric Sheninger shares practical strategies and processes to create sustainable positive changes to better serve our children."

Yong Zhao, Author of World Class Learners and Never Send a Human to Do a Machine’s Job

"Every educator who truly wants to maximize the learning opportunity for every student will benefit from the thought provoking questions, challenges and solutions Eric provides in UnCommon Learning. He artfully provides a roadmap for creating a bold new vision for learning for both educators and students through empowerment, mindset change, blended learning, re-designing instructional practices through a true integration of digital strategies to enable students to be creative, problem solvers and owners of their learning. His lessons learned and those of  teachers will provide schools with the foundation for transforming their schools for uncommon learning."

Susan Gendron, President
International Center for Leadership in Education

"Eric's vision and collection of resources to create a student-centred learning experience for schools is something that all educators should read. Although he shares great ideas on what opportunities could look like, he challenges us to push our own thinking of what school could really look like and move forward to become the innovative educators our students need."

George Couros
Innovative Teaching, Learning, and Leadership Consultant

"With a strikingly fresh and practical perspective,  Eric Sheninger takes contemporary learning to a new level of possibility with UnCommon Learning: Creating Schools That Work for Kids. Educators throughout the world agree that we need to support "right-now" learners,  but the big question is HOW to transform the schools in our own communities. Eric has created a modern leading-manual which promises to be a must have classic for principals, headmasters, administrators, parents, and teachers. If our students read the book they will find an advocate. Sheninger's thinking on learning communities, curriculum, digital tools, networking, and makerspaces is genuinely designed to work for kids of all ages."

Heidi Hayes Jacobs
Author and international expert on contemporary curriculum and instruction

"UnCommon Learning is a book that is long overdue! In this most important book for educators at all levels, Eric Sheninger has put into writing what he has “preached’ all over the country for years – that in order to effectively maximize student learning, the technology that is all around us cannot be ignored but instead must be incorporated into the classroom learning process. UnCommon Learning will prove to be a game-changer for how we educate children!"


Baruti Kafele Principal, Education Consultant, Speaker, Author

"Unlike so many experts offering prescriptions for our beleaguered schools, Eric Sheninger has walked the walk, running an actual school and striving each day to make it better. In UnCommon Learning, his ideas, born out of real experience, not wishful thinking, will resonate with smart educators who have seen the Next Big Thing come and go with little to show. Our kids deserve to be surrounded by educators like Sheninger who are willing to examine their own prejudices and practices, then think long and hard about what needs to change."

Greg Toppo,National Education writer and author of The Game Believes in You: How Digital Play Can Make Our Kids Smarter
USA Today

Uncommon Learning is a narrative-style written textbook which made it very easy to read. It offers a ton of examples educators are using and is very applicable to current educators working in the field. Author Eric Sheninger continues to expand upon building schools to meet the needs of 21st Century Learners. I would suggest it as a book study for schools.

Dr Brian Cook
Education Dept, Salisbury University
January 15, 2017
Key features

There is a clear focus in every chapter on school culture, relevance, personalization, and sustainability. Throughout each of these chapters are vignettes illustrating key ideas and implementation tips so that the reader can begin the change process. Relevant links have also been incorporated into these chapters to add depth and provide further details on each initiative. Pertinent graphics and data related to how each initiative has had a positive impact on student achievement are also included throughout the book. An appendix at the end of the book provides additional resources to assist leaders with implementation.


Examples of successful uncommon learning initiatives that have been implemented at the AU school and elsewhere are described in most chapters.


Most chapters have a step by step implementation process (see Ch 3)

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1

For instructors

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