Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Book Review: Take Five!

I got a pre-release reviewer copy of Kaye Hagler's Take Five! from LibraryThing

First a couple of comments then I will describe the good points of the book.

1. The author started with

During my twenty plus years as a teacher in elementary, middle, and high school classrooms, I have tried almost every bell-ringer on the market. After all, the bell-ringer serves as a valuable classroom management tool for those crucial (and all-too-often chaotic) minutes at the beginning of the class period.

After I read the book, I still do not know what and how bell-ringer are supposed to be used in a classroom. I suppose that would be a technique common in USA classrooms. When I did a google search, I cannot find any information as well. If someone can explain that to me, I will be grateful.

2. There is a section called "A Little Learning Theory" in which the author listed a few educator such as John Dewey, Joanne Hendrick and focussed on their criticism of learning. However, this little section tells us nothing about the theories. I suppose readers would be familiar with these names - then what is the point of including such a section. However, for this book, this is OK because this book is not an education theory book. This is a teacher resource book!

So what is this book?

After I went through the first 10 pages, there are the meat of the book. An alphabetical list of 182 "prompts". Here is one example:

Paper or Plastics? 2
Plastic doesn’t seem to be going away, at least not today! How would life be different if plastic had never been invented? For example, there wouldn’t be AstroTurf for teams who play in covered stadiums or disposable silverware.

Without plastic, there would be more broken glass from bottles, meaning more cut fingers—and yet no Band-Aids to cover them. In fact, if you were to look around right now, you would see numerous items made of plastic: pencil sharpeners, pens, contact lenses, crates and shelving, clocks, table surfaces and chairs, computers, televisions . . . the list goes on and on.
Now it’s your turn. Brainstorm to list the many ways life would be different without the invention of plastic.

Language link : cause-and-effect
Learning setting : individual
Supplies : Student W.A.L.L.*
Standards :
Use words, phrases, and clauses to clarify the relationships among claim(s) and reasons Develop the topic with relevant facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other and examples

Introduce a topic clearly, previewing what is to follow; organize ideas, concepts, and information, using strategies such as definition, Classification, comparison/contrast, and cause/effect; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., charts,tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension

*W.A.L.L. (Write A Language Link) is a folder on students' computers which the teacher can read and comment. Kind of like the wall in facebook.

If you are a language teacher, there are 182 ready-to-use templates which the author called "prompts" for immediate application or modification. "100-plus extensions lessons are also provided through the Teacher Tips."

It is good to see thinking skills being incorporated into any lesson. The fact that such skills can be learnt via fun and collaboration is the greatest strength of this book. However, the collaboration part, which is at the core of my own teaching, may improve slightly by adding a "debriefing" part to each and every activity. There is no mention of "debriefing" in the book (I did a search on "debrief" in the reviewer pdf of the book and found no reference to it). Debrief is the process of reinforcing the learning. When students can articulate what they have learnt - especially in thinking skills - in front of the peers, such a process also serves the purpose of spreading the thinking skills to other members of the class.

As a teacher resource for language teacher, I would give this book 4.5 stars out of 5.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Was Linda Katechi sincere?

As the Chancellor of a University, was she naive enough to believe that police would not use inappropriate force? If yes, she did not deserve to be the Chancellor. If no, she did not deserve to be the Chancellor.

Hindsight is always prefect. But the moral call, which is the critical attribute of a leader, is not to commit wrong so that hindsight would be unnecessary. That's the leadership. Has Lida Katechi demonstrated sufficient leadership to remain as the chancellor of any university?

As the police retreat, was it clear who were on the moral high ground? The cowardice of the police was in plain sight. When it was a few students, they used excessive brutality. When they were out-numbered, they just retreated and could not stand up for what they were supposed to do in the first place.

cross posted to Atheist Bible Reading and Forum