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Recommended Reading: “In a Mother’s Library, Bound in Spirit and in Print”

favicon Nick Bilton last week wrote an ode to physical books in “In a Mother’s Library, Bound in Spirit and in Print.” It strikes all the key notes: his mother’s passing, the inheritance of a 3,000-book library, her notes in the books’ margins, memories of childhood, and plenty of emotion.

In the piece, Mr. Bilton does not take sides on the perennial e-books vs. physical books debates. Each is good for its purpose. But if the purpose is to remember a loved one, then we know which format is better.

Excerpt
“In late March, a few days after my mother died from cancer, I sat in a cold living room in the north of England with my two sisters as a lawyer read my mother’s last will and testament. We were told that her modest estate would be divided evenly among her three children, with one exception.”

It always gets me thinking: Will people say the same thing about photographs? Many funerals now include hand-constructed tributes that include physical prints. What about a slideshow projected on a screen? Less emotional and impactful?

As for physical books, yes, there will always be that tactile experience, the feeling of the paper, the quality that an object takes on in an environment. It’s maybe true that a physical book offers a better reminder of having read a book.

But on the other hand, I don’t think I’ll forget reading Last Chance in Texas or Just Mercy anytime soon. Those books will stay with me even if their contents live inside my Kindle rather than on my bookshelf. favicon

Source: http://j.mp/1d7CUCM (via Pocket). You can also find this article at Iserotope Extras, a curated list of my favorite articles about teaching, reading, and technology. favicon

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Recommended Reading: “Where Are the Teachers of Color?”

favicon Motoko Rich’s latest piece in the New York Times asks a basic, perennial question: “Where Are the Teachers of Color?”

Ms. Rich reports that 80 percent of teachers in the United States are white. This isn’t surprising news. I don’t have the data, but my gut says that fewer people of color are going into the teaching profession now than have in the past.

This is a big problem, but it’s not one that will be solved quickly or easily. This is because teaching is underpaid and carries low status in society. The emphasis on testing — and the resulting cheating scandals, Atlanta being the most famous — probably doesn’t help, either.

Please check out the article (link below) and let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt
“The majority of those who successfully attend college choose careers other than education, mainly because of the pay,” said Marvin Lynn, dean of the School of Education at Indiana University in South Bend, who is starting a scholarship program for minority students interested in education careers.

Source: http://j.mp/1Cz4sX6 (via Pocket). You can also find this article at Iserotope Extras, a curated list of my favorite articles about teaching, reading, and technology. favicon

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Recommended Reading: “Home Schooling: More Pupils, Less Regulation”

favicon Motoko Rich is my favorite education reporter. She never disappoints. Her latest article, “Home Schooling: More Pupils, Less Regulation,” is solid as usual.

Though I don’t think about home schooling too often, it’s still a topic in education that gets me going. There are some cases where home schooling is probably the best move. But it’s not often, in my opinion.

From Ms. Rich’s reporting, I can infer that home schooling, for the most part, is (1) loosely regulated, and becoming less so, (2) becoming more popular with the ascent of the Common Core, (3) a Christian parents’ response to the dangerous anti-religious teachings of public schools, (4) a white parents’ response to sending their children to schools with too many kids of color. (To be fair, Ms. Rich does not discuss race directly in her article.)

Please read the article — particularly the Minecraft anecdote! — and let me know what you think, particularly if you are an advocate of home schooling. It’s important that I’m open to opposing views.

Excerpt
“Unlike so much of education in this country, teaching at home is broadly unregulated. Along with steady growth in home schooling has come a spirited debate and lobbying war over how much oversight such education requires.”

Source: http://j.mp/1DspEzZ (via Pocket). You can also find this article at Iserotope Extras, a curated list of my favorite articles about teaching, reading, and technology. favicon

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Recommended Reading: “School Segregation, the Continuing Tragedy of Ferguson”

favicon I’m very impressed by the reporting and writing of Nikole Hannah-Jones. In April, she published in ProPublica a major article about the resegregation of Tuscaloosa schools.

Now, following the killing of Michael Brown, Ms. Hannah-Jones is back with another important piece, “School Segregation, the Continuing Tragedy of Ferguson.”

The article is well-researched, well-written, and deeply disturbing.

Excerpt
Students who spend their careers in segregated schools can look forward to a life on the margins, according to a 2014 study on the long-term impacts of school desegregation by University of California, Berkeley economist Rucker Johnson. They are more likely to be poor. They are more likely to go to jail. They are less likely to graduate from high school, to go to college, and to finish if they go. They are more likely to live in segregated neighborhoods as adults.

Source: http://j.mp/1w7KPRG (via Pocket). You can also find this article at Iserotope Extras, a curated list of my favorite articles about teaching, reading, and technology. favicon

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Recommended Reading: “The Day I Knew For Sure I Was Burned Out”

favicon Sometimes you read something about teaching and say, “Yep, that’s exactly it.” Ex-teacher Ellie Herman has written such a piece.

In “The Day I Knew For Sure I Was Burned Out,” Ms. Herman perfectly depicts what it feels like to teach in an urban public school.

I really want you to read this article — I wish Ms. Herman were a contributor to TEACHER VOICES — so I’ll share with you a few quotes:

No matter how fast or long I worked, I could not get everything done. I developed a body memory of exactly how much I could accomplish in five minutes, in one minute, in thirty seconds. I was always in a panic because I had limited control over my circumstances. Everything felt like an emergency.

And:

There were literally days when I did not have time to go to the bathroom. What else could I cut out of my day? Breathing?

Excerpt
“The day I definitively and conclusively gave up, it was after six o’clock and I was making 100 copies of 11 different scenes for my Drama class. I’d been at work since before 7 a.m.; it was dark when I arrived at school and dark now. Since our school was mainly windowless, and we were always too busy to leave the building during the day, I had not seen sunlight for three days.”

Source: http://j.mp/1qPPWdt (via Pocket). (Credit to Clare Green at Impact Academy in Hayward for sharing this article with me.) You can also find this article at Iserotope Extras, a curated list of my favorite articles about teaching, reading, and technology. favicon

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Recommended Reading: “The War of the Words”

favicon This Vanity Fair article, “The War of the Words,” tells the story not only of the recent Amazon vs. Hachette conflict but also of the publishing business, e-books, the Apple collusion case, Goodreads, Kindles, and much more.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the ascension of e-books (27 percent of book sales in 2013) and what that means for physical books and the imminent “death of print.” This article does a good job, I think, in not casting characters as heroes and villains. After all, traditional New York publishers, backed by media conglomerates, may not the bastions of reading freedom.

It’s a long article, but if you’re interested in the book industry, I think it’s worth it.

Excerpt
“Amazon’s war with publishing giant Hachette over e-book pricing has earned it a black eye in the media, with the likes of Philip Roth, James Patterson, and Stephen Colbert demanding that the online mega-store stand down.”

Source: http://j.mp/1whurTh (via Pocket). You can also find this article at Iserotope Extras, a curated list of my favorite articles about teaching, reading, and technology. favicon

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Recommended Reading: “Is there any reason to own paper books beside showing off? Not really.”

favicon I like this piece by Andrew Couts, who argues that the only point to maintaining a library of physical books is to demonstrate your academic sophistication and snobbery.

Of course, this isn’t entirely true. Especially in schools, it’s important that students see real, physical books in classrooms. Otherwise, reading becomes even more private, where the reading “have-nots” are marginalized.

But once students are reading, there’s no need to keep buying the same physical books, over and over, and waiting for them to get lost or torn or overly used or stuck on shelves.

kindle bookshelf

Excerpt
“My book collection, I realized this weekend, is one of the few things in my home that makes me seem smart. Visitors step into my living room to see shelves and shelves of tomes – Hemingway, McCarthy, Kafka, Tolstoy, Franzen, Sedaris, Bukowski, Fitzgerald – each creased spine revealing more about my interests and intellect. At least, that’s what my subconscious likes to believe. Just as vacation photographs show off where we’ve been, books show where our minds have traveled. They have, in other words, become little more than an elaborate way to brag.

Source: http://j.mp/120VBSH (via Pocket). You can also find this article at Iserotope Extras, a curated list of my favorite articles about teaching, reading, and technology. favicon

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Recommended Reading: “As Apprentices in Classroom, Teachers Learn What Works”

favicon Motoko Rich is my favorite education reporter. In “As Apprentices in Classroom, Teachers Learn What Works,” Ms. Rich writes about best practices in preparing new teachers for work in urban public schools.

Instead of flinging new teachers out to classrooms and letting them survive through grit and luck, Aspire Public Schools helps newbies gain confidence and skills in classroom management over a one-year residency program, focused on a much longer apprenticeship than what’s usual in teacher preparation programs.

There are some critics, of course — those who say that charter school organizations like Aspire are mechanizing teaching and teacher practices. But classroom management is by far the most important skill to master. As someone who sometimes struggled with promoting a smooth and easy classroom environment, I likely would have benefited from this program.

Please check out this article and let me know what you think!

Excerpt
The idea is that teachers, like doctors in medical residencies, need to practice repeatedly with experienced supervisors before they can be responsible for classes on their own. At Aspire, mentors believe that the most important thing that novice teachers need to master is the seemingly unexciting — but actually quite complex — task of managing a classroom full of children. Once internalized, the thinking goes, such skills make all the difference between calm and bedlam, and can free teachers to focus on student learning.

Source: http://j.mp/ZBzZej (via Pocket). You can also find this article at Iserotope Extras, a curated list of my favorite articles about teaching, reading, and technology. favicon

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Recommended Reading: “Why Poor Students Struggle”

favicon I appreciated Vicki Madden’s recent op-ed piece, “Why Poor Students Struggle,” in the New York Times. Her argument is nothing new — that the achievement gap does not explain why poor students have low college graduation rates (see “Who Gets to Graduate,” by Paul Tough). For Ms. Madden, an instructional coach and former teacher, the issue is social and emotional. It’s an issue of belonging.

But the article did get me thinking: What’s the role of a high school, given limited time and resources? Let’s say that a student is poor and enters high school several years below grade level. What’s the best approach?

If you’re a school, what do you do with those four years?

Excerpt
“As the income gap widens and hardens, changing class means a bigger difference between where you came from and where you are going. Teachers like me can help prepare students academically for college work. College counselors can help with the choices, the federal financial aid application and all the bureaucratic details. But how can we help our students prepare for the tug of war in their souls?.”

Source: http://j.mp/1mqecR8 (via Pocket). You can also find this article at Iserotope Extras, a curated list of my favorite articles about teaching, reading, and technology. favicon

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Recommended Reading: “Read Slowly to Benefit Your Brain and Cut Stress”

favicon There are more and more articles about the therapeutic value of reading. I think these articles have merit. My gut says that schools with reading cultures also promote mindfulness and empathy in students.

In “Read Slowly to Benefit Your Brain and Cut Stress,” Jeanne Whalen reports on a “slow reading movement” that is growing among adults. Instead of book clubs that discuss books that are read at home, more people are joining book clubs where silent communal reading is the goal.

There’s the controversy, of course, about whether e-readers are allowed. Ms. Whalen does a good job of distinguishing between distraction-prone devices (like tablets with wifi) vs. E Ink devices, where reading is the norm.

Excerpt
“Once a week, members of a Wellington, New Zealand, book club arrive at a cafe, grab a drink and shut off their cellphones. Then they sink into cozy chairs and read in silence for an hour.”

Source: http://j.mp/1meeeLM (via Pocket). You can also find this article at Iserotope Extras, a curated list of my favorite articles about teaching, reading, and technology. favicon