Igniting a Passion for Reading by Steven L. Layne

March 30, 2011

Themes: Love of Reading, Inspiring Students to Read

Genre: Adult Non-Fiction

At first glance, I could have said there’s nothing new in this book.  Reading aloud and sharing my own passion for reading have always been the best tools in my toolbox as a language arts teacher.  Layne’s own teaching experience as well as his dogged determination to get every child in his classroom loving reading are the clear inspiration in sharing easy to implement and well thought out strategies that can immediately be used in the classroom.  Layne’s anecdotes about his own experiences in engaging reluctant readers, and at times reluctant parents or colleagues create an easy to read book with tonnes of ideas. 

Paperback: 184 pages

Publisher: Stenhouse Publishers (November 28, 2009)

ISBN-10: 1571103856

ISBN-13: 978-1571103857


Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts – by Will Richardson

March 30, 2011

  Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms by Will Richardson is an excellent guide for educators to learn how to use these low-cost Web 2.0 tools in classrooms. Even though the book was written in 2006, it is still a good reference for those who are now just joining the tidal wave of our changing world.

Richardson starts off by explaining the Read/Write Web and the extraordinary changes that are occurring because of it. He cites great examples of how Web 2.0 has transformed many areas of our lives. He also writes about how to keep students safe and that is a must read section for educators!

Richardson has outlined how to use weblogs (blogs), wikis and podcasts in a direct manner. Included in this book are things like the following:

  • Blogging Across the Curriculum
  • Blogging with Students
  • Blogging Safety
  • Wikis in Schools
  • Wiki Tools and Resources
  • Podcasting
  • RSS (what it is and how to use it)
  • The Social Web

Richardson ends the book with a chapter entitled – What It all Means. This chapter includes New Literacies – which is crucial for educators to understand and implement, The Big Shifts – open content, many, many teachers and 24/7 learning as well as collaboration and what I think is the biggest shift – Teaching is Conversation, Not Lecture.

So, this entire book is recommended as a must read for educators. It really describes how education is changing, and how we, as educators, must change with it. It is a practical guide but also a “wake-up” call for those who have not explored the Web 2.0 tools and what they will do for learners.

Read it!

Extreme Earth

March 30, 2011

      Extreme Earth – 100 facts

      ISBN:  978-1-84810-232-3

     Pages 48

     Author:  Miles Kelly

     Genre:  Non-Fiction

    Grade level:  4-7


     This non-fiction text explores various land features and discusses different types of natural disasters.  There are quick facts given on each type of feature, for example Fact 18 talks about the world’s longest river and Fact 44 tells us that deserts aren’t always hot.  There are little blurbs about each fact that would interest and engage young readers.  Real natural disasters that have occurred are presented in an educational manner.  Facts are enhanced through pictures, diagrams and cartoons.  There are inserts of quick quizzes and “I Don’t Believe It” boxes.  This text would be an excellent resource to illustrate the various text features associated with a non-fiction text.  It would be suitable for Grades 3 and 4 as a guided reading text or teacher directed activity, and would interest the older students from Grades 5 to 8 as an independent reading activity.  I would recommend this text as a resource in the junior/intermediate classroom.

Good Questions Great Ways to Differentiate Mathematics Instruction

January 19, 2011

   ISBN:  978-0-8077-4978-4

Author:  Marian Small

Level:  Adult

This text outlines the importance of differentiating mathematics in the classroom and offers some effective and easy-to-implement ideas for use during instructional periods.  Open ended questions and parallel tasks are provided for every strand in every grade from prekindergarten to 8.  The author provides tasks that reach students who are at a variety of developmental stages and allow a variety of responses that enables all students to feel successful.  In the first chapter, she outlines why differentiation is important, and how to use the text itself to assist with the implementation.  The questions provided link directly to the “big ideas” in each strand and she offers a brief discussion on possible answers that may be provided by students and other extending questions that a teacher may want to use to consolidate the activity and enrich the students’ learning.  One of the questions I found effective in my Grade 5/6 Classroom was for the Number and Operations Strand.  Page 33 suggests the question, “A number can be written 0.24242424….What do you know about the size of the number?”  This question lent itself to an excellent discussion among my students, who at first thought it looked like a “big” number.  As they further investigated, and identified the decimal, they realized it was actually less than one whole.  The grade six students extended this question to recognize proportion and percentages.  I would recommend this text as a great resource to help enrich a math program in the elementary grades.

The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick

December 3, 2010

Level: Adult

Genre: Non Fiction

This is an adult non fiction read but is very necessary for anyone who works with teenagers. Facebook only began in 2004 and has 500 million users! It has changed our world but even more so, it has changed our students’ world.

The Facebook Effect details how Facebook began – for Harvard University students – and how it has grown to a multi billion dollar industry. One part that I found extremely interesting was that the the author implies that Mark Zuckerberg is in the advertising business. When looked at from that perspective, I  realized that this was very true and even though Mark’s goal was to network the world, it is even more true that Facebook is making huge sums of money from its advertisers. What is particularly disturbing, is that, all of our information is being collected so that advertisers can target their ads much more specifically than even Google.

The book is a worthwhile read and really describes the history of Facebook well. There were parts of the story that were too detailed for my non financial brain though. However, I certainly understood enough of the Silicone Valley “wheelings and dealings” to realize that Facebook is a very powerful force and has shaped our world in a completely new direction in just six short years.

Mark Zuckerberg was interviewed extensively in the book and he often stated that his goal was to make the world more transparent. Well, it certainly is now! I just hope that all of this information will be used for a good purpose and not for manipulating us to the extreme. My worry, of course, is that everything we have done, are doing, and will do, will be recorded forever.

Very insightful and it gives me a better understanding of the social networking world. I wish Kirkpatrick would write a teenage version of this and make it mandatory reading. Then the kids might think twice before they post so much personal information.

On that note, I must go and update my status!

Why Gender Matters by Leonard Sax

November 27, 2010

Level: Adult

Genre: Non-Fiction

Theme: Gender

I first started reading this book because of my present teaching assignment: a class of 28 grade 7 GIRLS!  What I learned has really surprised me, and has gone on to guide much of my teaching this year.  Dr. Sax basically argues that the brains of girls and boys are different….not one better than the other, but biologically different.  He argues that the differences must lead to changes in the way we teach all-girl classes, all-boy classes, and mixed-gender classes.  He does not suggest that we change the material which we teach, but how we teach it.  He believes that many of the world’s social problems could be reduced through appropriate gender education.  Feelings, risk-taking behaviours, bullying, age and gender appropriate discipline, self-esteem, and drug and sex education are just some of the other topics that are explored through the lense of emerging brain research.

ISBN: 0-7679-1625-5

Pub: Broadway Books, 2006

Big Fat Lies: Advertising Tricks by Slim Goodbody Corp.

November 25, 2010

 Big Fat Lies:  Advertising Tricks by Slim Goodbody Corp

ISBN: 978-0-7787-3931-9,  Copyright: 2008

32 pages

This text describes the tricks that advertisers use to make their products more appealing to people.  Persuasive advertising is outlined, including topics such as food stylists, nutritional value of foods and characters that are used in ads in order to appeal to children.  We follow the learning of Martina, a student who learns many advertising tricks and questions the reliability of advertisements.  She ends up learning how to make informed, educated decisions about what she purchases, and learns to set reasonable, attainable goals for herself.  This text lends itself to awareness of media literacy and includes many pictures and interesting facts to engage the learners.  Great discussion about connections can be generated after reading just a few paragraphs of this text.

Genre:  Non Fiction

Theme:  Media Literacy

Reading Ability:  Junior and Intermediate Grades

Who Would Like This Book?  Teachers who are presenting media literacy.  Those who are interested in advertising.