Reading Circles

The Reading Circles program was launched in Spring of 2009. The program has been profiled in the NC State Bulletin. Circles are offered each Fall and Spring. Registration is announced via the OFD Newsletter. To subscribe to the newsletter, please contact Jonathan Holloway (

Spring 2020 Reading Circles

We offered two selections for our Spring 2020 Reading Circles:
Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone: Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education by Thomas J. Tobin and Kirsten T. Behling (West Virginia University Press, 2018, 312 pages). Co-author Thomas J. Tobin will be the keynote speaker at OFD’s Annual Teaching and Learning Symposium on February 28, 2020 at the McKimmon Center.

“I have learned new perspectives, garnered helpful information for my own teaching, and shared experiences through this very worthwhile program.” — Jeanette Moore, Alumni Distinguished Professor, Animal Science

Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone book coverAdvocates for the rights of people with disabilities have worked hard to make universal design in the built environment “just part of what we do.” We no longer see curb cuts, for instance, as accommodations for people with disabilities, but perceive their usefulness every time we ride our bikes or push our strollers through crosswalks.

This is also a perfect model for Universal Design for Learning (UDL), a framework grounded in the neuroscience of why, what, and how people learn. Tobin and Behling show that, although it is often associated with students with disabilities, UDL can be profitably broadened toward a larger ease-of-use and general diversity framework. Captioned instructional videos, for example, benefit learners with hearing impairments but also the student who worries about waking her young children at night or those studying on a noisy team bus.

Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone is aimed at faculty members, faculty-service staff, disability support providers, student-service staff, campus leaders, and graduate students who want to strengthen the engagement, interaction, and performance of all college students. It includes resources for readers who want to become UDL experts and advocates: real-world case studies, active-learning techniques, UDL coaching skills, micro- and macro-level UDL-adoption guidance, and use-them-now resources.
Bandwidth Recovery: Helping Students Reclaim Cognitive Resources Lost to Poverty, Racism, and Social Marginalization by Cia Verschelden (Stylus Publishing, 2017, 170 pages). This book argues that the cognitive resources for learning of over half our young people have been diminished by the negative effects of economic insecurity, discrimination and hostility against non-majority groups based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity, and other aspects of difference. Recognizing that these students are no different than their peers in terms of cognitive capacity, this book offers a set of strategies and interventions to rebuild the available cognitive resources necessary to succeed in college and reach their full potential.

Bandwidth Recover book coverMembers of these groups systematically experience conditions in their lives that result in chronic stress and, therefore, decreased physical and mental health and social and economic opportunity. The costs of the many kinds of scarcity in their lives – money, health, respect, safety, affirmation, choices, belonging – is seriously reduced “mental bandwidth,” the cognitive and emotional resources needed to deal with making good decisions, learning, healthy relationships, and more. People who are operating with depleted mental bandwidth are less able to succeed in school, starting in childhood, and are much less likely to make it to college. For those who do make it, their bandwidth capacity often interferes with learning, and therefore, persisting and graduating from college.

This book presents variety of evidence-based interventions that have been shown, through implementation in high schools and colleges, to help students to regain bandwidth. They are variously intended for application inside and outside the classroom and address not only cognitive processes but also social-psychological, non-cognitive factors that are relevant to the college environment as a whole.

Beginning with an analysis of the impacts on mental and physical health and cognitive capacity, of poverty, racism, and other forms of social marginalization, Cia Verschelden presents strategies for promoting a growth mindset and self-efficacy, for developing supports that build upon students’ values and prior knowledge and for creating learning environments both in and out of the classroom so students can feel a sense of belonging and community. She addresses issues of stereotyping and exclusion and discusses institutional structures and processes that create identity-safe rather than identity-threat learning environment.

This book is intended for faculty, student affairs professionals, and college and university administrators, all of whom have an interest in creating learning environments where all students have a chance to succeed.

Virtual Reading Circles

Do you want to meet and have discussions about our Reading Circle book with faculty colleagues from across campus without the frustration of driving and parking, waiting for the bus, or walking in the heat, cold, or rain? Consider signing up for OFD’s new Virtual Reading Circles. Save time and gas by participating in a Reading Circle from the comfort of your office, home, or even while traveling! Using our Reading Circle Registration Form, indicate that you would like to participate in a Virtual Reading Circle, and indicate your available days and times. You will be matched with a Reading Circle and enrolled in a Moodle page from which you will access your specific Zoom meeting room at the scheduled day/time. To participate virtually, you will have an internet-capable device that has at least a microphone, and ideally has a camera (smartphone, tablet, laptop) in order to attend virtual, synchronous sessions via Zoom.

“Reading Circles give me time to reflect on teaching. Too often I just fly from class to class without being able to pause. Reading the book and talking to others about it builds those pauses and moments to reflect into my schedule.” - NC State Faculty Member

How do Reading Circles work?

Reading circles are small, self-regulated groups of faculty who meet several times a semester to discuss a common book. Each group is composed of participants from several different disciplines and at varied stages of their careers. The reading circles are designed to provide colleagues with an opportunity to share ideas about teaching and learning in an informal setting with peers from across the University.

The OFD provides the book (paper or eBook), facilitates the formation of small reading groups, and arranges initial meetings. When participants register, they indicate when they are available, and they are assigned to a 6-8 person reading group on the basis of their availability. During the first meeting, each group will decide its own meeting frequency and schedule. Reading circles typically meet 4-8 times during the semester.

Participating reading circle teams are invited to use the OFD rooms in Clark Hall for meetings or may choose to volunteer potential meeting sites elsewhere.

If you have further questions, please contact us at

What is expected of registered participants?

All registered participants agree to

  1. attend reading circle meetings;
  2. contribute to discussions;
  3. take a turn leading their reading circle in a form of shared leadership; and
  4. complete an evaluation of the experience.

All virtual participants also agree to using an internet-capable device that has at least a microphone, and ideally has a camera (smartphone, tablet, laptop) in order to attend virtual sessions via Zoom.

How do I participate in a Reading Circle?

Registration takes place each semester and is announced via the OFD Newsletter. To subscribe to the newsletter, please visit

Can I recommend a book for Reading Circles?

Yes, please send us an email at We will also be soliciting suggestions for future books and topics from each semester’s reading circle participants.