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Posts from the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

Book Review: Oh, Yeah?! Putting Arguments to Work Both in School and Out by Amy Ahart

As part of an independent book study for the Reading and Writing Argumentative Texts course, Amy Ahart created the following flyer. The advertisement highlights key parts of the book that directly affect English instruction.

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After checking out some of the key concepts in this book, what do you want to learn more about? What are some of your go-to professional texts for teaching argument writing?

180 Days Book Review

by: Bruning, Cardillo, Clarke, Coladonato, Patton, & Peltier

180 days

Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle’s new book, 180 Days: Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents, published by Heinemann, is a stimulating read during a time of educational dismay. Gallagher and Kittle disrupt the mold of state-mandated testing as well as tightly bound curriculums and bring educators back to their original teaching philosophies. While many education texts provide quick-fix teaching strategies for a specific skill set, this book, as the title suggests, opens up a discussion on what 180 days in the classroom looks like with engaged and motivated students. Gallagher and Kittle work together on lesson plans and teaching approaches in two very different environments—Gallagher in an urban, California school with a diverse student population and Kittle in a rural, New Hampshire school with a homogenous student population. They base their year of collaboration on research and core beliefs, all in hopes of sharing what they believe is most important: creating student readers and writers that are engaged, inspired, and curious about the world around them. Read more

Book Review: Sparks in the Dark by Travis Crowder and Todd Nesloney

by: Anne Busciacco, Marissa Caldwell, Lauren Foley, Erika Hunsicker, Tom Lang & Dan Lonsdale

sparks in darkNavigating through a maze of students absorbed in their independent reading books, I pause before Ryan. Our second-day-of-school conversation echoes in my mind . . .
“I don’t like to read,” he declared, doubtful seventh grade would change anything.
His friend, Charlie, smirked at him, “That’s because you only read teacher-assigned books.”
Now, four weeks later—after interviewing many texts and abandoning two—Ryan sits nestled in a bean-bag chair, engrossed in Booked by Kwame Alexander. During our last conference, he claimed it as one of the best novels he had ever read.
“ # What child have you seen impacted by a different kind of teaching style?” (79).
In Sparks in the Dark, by Travis Crowder and Todd Nesloney, you will meet a plethora of  students like Ryan whose lives were forever impacted by the power of choice. Read more

Books on the Blog: YA Books to Spark Real Discussions about American Race Relations

by Kelly Virgindear martinIn the first chapter of Dear Martin by Nic Stone Justyce McAllister, an Ivy League bound, black teenager, is handcuffed and detained by the police when they mistakenly assume he is up to something as he attempts to keep his drunk and slightly belligerent ex-girlfriend from driving herself home. This incident is understandably jarring for the teen and he thinks to himself:

Yeah, there are no more “colored” water fountains, and it’s supposed to be illegal to discriminate, but if I can be forced to sit on the concrete in too-tight cuffs when I’ve done nothing wrong, it’s clear there’s an issue. That things aren’t as equal as folks say they are.

In an attempt to come to terms with the experience and to deal with the pressures he feels from the neighborhood he managed to escape and the prep school he doesn’t entirely fit into, Justyce starts a journal to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. However, tragedy strikes his life and he starts to question whether Dr. King’s teachings still apply to the world we live in today.  Read more

When Rubrics Reign is it Time for a Coup?

By Mary Buckelew

41G46TubLhL._SS500_“Rubrics make powerful promises. They promise to save time. They promise to boil a messy process down to four to six rows of nice neat, organized little boxes. Who can resist their wiles? They seduce us with their appearance of simplicity and objectivity and then secure their place in our repertoire of assessment techniques with their claim to help us to clarify our goals and guide students through the difficult and complex task of writing” (2). Rethinking Rubrics in Writing Assessment (2007), by Maja Wilson

How many points is this assignment worth? How many lines do I need to write? How many pages? Where’s the rubric? Why did I get a 3 in organization? Why didn’t I get full credit? How do I get an A?

Students enter my college freshman writing classes with the above litany of questions, sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken, but ever present. These questions are as natural as breathing and begin early in students’ K-12 school careers. Read more

Books on the Blog: I Survived Preschool Storytime

by Linda Walker

Oh my gosh! I went solo for preschool storytime and I survived. I brought out one of my grandson’s favorite books The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood. What a great way to draw in the listener. The reader speaks directly to a young audience by asking , “Hello, little Mouse. What are you doing?” The simple text and large colorful illustrations encouraged childen to make predictions and discover cause and effect relationships.

Of course any storytime should include partcipation and what better way than going on a bear hunt. Read more