Monday, May 26, 2014

Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire by Rafe Esquith (Not YA)

Okay, so I admit that this is not Young Adult Literature. In fact, it's not fiction.  This is one of my nonfiction selections for the summer.  Specifically, it's about teaching--surprise!

If you're a student of mine, or a teenager, you may want to skip this one, but feel free to read if you'd like.

If you're a fellow teacher, you may enjoy the review below.

Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire reads more like a memoir than it does a book on teaching.  Rafe Esquith details how he runs his classroom and what areas he focuses on (all of them it seems).  He discusses building character with his students, creating a film club, a problem solving club, book clubs, a theater troupe, and all sorts of different activities for his students.  I'm amazed by Mr. Esquith's dedication and also the dedication of his students, with his optional classroom hours before and after school each day, plus time on Saturdays, past students staying after to be involved in different activities, and the trips he takes with his traveling theater troupe. He truly has some amazing ideas and techniques, but I will be honest: most of it seems impossible to me, a new mother, who already feels the lack of time with my daughter eating away at me.   In fact, his extreme dedication has actually made me feel guilty for not also doing these things, and I know that I already do quite a lot.  So teacher friends, although I did enjoy some chapters quite a lot and found them helpful (chapter two details his central behavior plan using the six levels of moral development and is just fascinating to read), be prepared to feel inadequate after reading this--unless you too are able to devote hours before and after school, on the weekends, every day and have the most wonderfully behaved students ever--all of them, all of the time.  I, for one, have quite a lot of growing to do in order to become such a phenomenal educator.

Stay tuned for To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  I am revisiting this book after quite a few years. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

May 23, 2014--
I know it's a bit early, but I already finished one of the books on my summer reading list!  

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage is a page turner. Eleven year old Mo LeBeau, whose arrival in Tupelo Landing was a mystery in itself, is a founding member of the Desperado Detectives, along with her best friend Dale Earnhardt Johnson III.  Mo and Dale have a lot on their plates this summer as they search for missing cats and Mo's Upstream Mother who sent her floating down river during the worst hurricane ever eleven years ago.  Add to that the arrival of a big city detective and soon after a murderer.  There's a whole lot of mystery out there and Mo is going to find out the truth behind it all.

Mo is a fun character to read.  She's bright and to the point, sometimes telling others exactly what they don't want to hear, even they need to hear it.  Her friendship with Dale is open and feels like it really exists.  Sheila Turnage has done a great job developing these two characters and building a friendship that survive sworn enemies, missing cats, a murderer, and Mo's big mouth.  This is a great adventure that will pull in readers as they try to figure out who the murderer is and so much more!