The Omnivore's Dilemma Michael Pollan. A critical look at the American food chain from cornfield to factory farm to drive-thru window. What impact does this have on education, learning and schools?
This I Believe Jay and Dan Gediman, eds. The editors collected essays from the National Public Radio series about people's guiding values. What role does the teaching of values play in the classroom?
The Soloist Steve Lopez. In this memoir turned movie, a journalist befriends a homeless violinist and tries to help him find success onstage. How best do we deal with mental health and special needs in the classroom? Enrique's Journey Sonia Nazario. A 17-year-old boys risks his life traveling from his native Honduras to the U.S. in search of his mother, who left when he was 5. How do immigration issues impact our teaching?
“To Understand: New Horizons in Reading Comprehension” Ellin Oliver Keene
"This is a work of incredible scope: adventurous, ingratiating, challenging, genuinely groundbreaking, and gorgeously written. It will knock the socks off this profession."" - Harvey Daniels Author of "Subjects Matter" and "Content-Area Writing" The renaissance in comprehension instruction launched by "Mosaic of Thought" has led to changes in hundreds of thousands of classrooms, where teachers now model reading strategies, and students probe meaning more deeply. But no book in the field has satisfactorily answered the question: "What does it really mean to comprehend?" In "To Understand," Ellin Oliver Keene not only explores this important question, but reveals what teachers can do to encourage all students to engage in deep understanding far more consistently than before. In discovering what's really behind comprehension, "To Understand "goes well beyond comprehension strategy instruction. Keene identifies specific Dimensions and Outcomes of Understanding - characteristics identified in readers with a highly developed ability to make sense of text - to help you rethink what comprehension is. She demonstrates how to leverage the Dimensions and Outcomes into relevant, provocative, memorable instruction. "To Understand" proposes a model that incorporates all aspects of literacy instruction - word learning and comprehension - and describes how teachers can focus on what matters most in literacy content. Keene shows that when teachers target the most essential content, they have the time to help every student engage more deeply with texts and discover a passion for reading and learning. The model is founded on four simple, but powerful concepts: Focus on what's important by teaching vital concepts in depth rather than skimming over nonessential skills Use research-based teaching and learning strategies, including proven-effective comprehension and language-based strategies, then taking them further by showing students how the strategies lead them to a fuller understand of a text Teach the essential concepts over a long period of time so that children have an opportunity to learn not only a comprehension strategy, but to explore where that strategy leads in their understanding Give students numerous opportunities to apply the concepts in a variety of texts and contexts. With "To Understand" in hand, you'll find new ways to draw out the innate intellectual interest in every student and spark dramatic improvements in literacy learning and comprehension, even among students who struggle. You'll see that by rethinking what it means to understand - by teaching children the Outcomes and Dimensions of understanding - you can help students exceed expectations while broadening your vision of their abilities, their capacity, and their energy for learning. There's still more - much more - to learn about comprehension. Read "To Understand, "join Ellin Oliver Keene, and discover that what's at the very core of comprehension can not only reinvigorate your teaching but take your students to new, uncharted levels of learning.
“The Blind Side” Michael Lewis
As he did so memorably for baseball in Moneyball, Lewis takes a statistical X-ray of the hidden substructure of football, outlining the invisible doings of unsung players that determine the outcome more than the showy exploits of point scorers. In his sketch of the gridiron arms race, first came the modern, meticulously choreographed passing offense, then the ferocious defensive pass rusher whose bone-crunching quarterback sacks demolished the best-laid passing game, and finally the rise of the left tackle—the offensive lineman tasked with protecting the quarterback from the pass rusher—whose presence is felt only through the game-deciding absence of said sacks. A rare creature combining 300 pounds of bulk with "the body control of a ballerina," the anonymous left tackle, Lewis notes, is now often a team's highest-paid player. Lewis fleshes this out with the colorful saga of left tackle prodigy Michael Oher. An intermittently homeless Memphis ghetto kid taken in by a rich white family and a Christian high school, Oher's preternatural size and agility soon has every college coach in the country courting him obsequiously. Combining a tour de force of sports analysis with a piquant ethnography of the South's pigskin mania, Lewis probes the fascinating question of whether football is a matter of brute force or subtle intellect.
“Three Cups of Tea” Greg Mortenson and David Relin Some failures lead to phenomenal successes, and this American nurse's unsuccessful attempt to climb K2, the world's second tallest mountain, is one of them. Dangerously ill when he finished his climb in 1993, Mortenson was sheltered for seven weeks by the small Pakistani village of Korphe; in return, he promised to build the impoverished town's first school, a project that grew into the Central Asia Institute, which has since constructed more than 50 schools across rural Pakistan and Afghanistan. Coauthor Relin recounts Mortenson's efforts in fascinating detail, presenting compelling portraits of the village elders, con artists, philanthropists, mujahideen, Taliban officials, ambitious school girls and upright Muslims Mortenson met along the way. As the book moves into the post-9/11 world, Mortenson and Relin argue that the United States must fight Islamic extremism in the region through collaborative efforts to alleviate poverty and improve access to education, especially for girls. Captivating and suspenseful, with engrossing accounts of both hostilities and unlikely friendships, this book will win many readers' hearts.
“Mountains Beyond Mountains” Paul Farmer The title "Mountains Beyond Mountains" is a metaphor for life - once you have scaled one mountain (challenge), there are more to come. This is especially true for Paul Farmer, MD, who has devoted his life to what most people call "the impossible." He has faced mountain after mountain in his quest to help mankind. Farmer starts out devoting his life to providing the most rudimentary medical care to impoverished Haitians (the shafted of the shafted). By age 27, he had treated more illnesses than most doctors would see in a lifetime. With time, he finds himself on the world stage trying to find a cure for drug resistant tuberculosis, undertaking the difficult role of a global fundraiser, and fighting big pharma for lower drug prices. He is a modern day medical hero.
“Disrupting Class” Clayton M. Christensen
According to recent studies in neuroscience, the way we learn doesn’t always match up with the way we are taught. If we hope to stay competitive-academically, economically, and technologically-we need to rethink our understanding of intelligence, reevaluate our educational system, and reinvigorate our commitment to learning. In other words, we need “disruptive innovation.”
Now, in his long-awaited new book, Clayton M. Christensen and coauthors Michael B. Horn and Curtis W. Johnson take one of the most important issues of our time-education-and apply Christensen’s now-famous theories of “disruptive” change using a wide range of real-life examples. Whether you’re a school administrator, government official, business leader, parent, teacher, or entrepreneur, you’ll discover surprising new ideas, outside-the-box strategies, and straight-A success stories.
You’ll learn how * Customized learning will help many more students succeed in school * Student-centric classrooms will increase the demand for new technology * Computers must be disruptively deployed to every student * Disruptive innovation can circumvent roadblocks that have prevented other attempts at school reform * We can compete in the global classroom-and get ahead in the global market
Filled with fascinating case studies, scientific findings, and unprecedented insights on how innovation must be managed, Disrupting Class will open your eyes to new possibilities, unlock hidden potential, and get you to think differently. Professor Christensen and his coauthors provide a bold new lesson in innovation that will help you make the grade for years to come.
The future is now. Class is in session.
Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan
was released on December 1, 2009. Over the past sixteen years, Greg Mortenson, through his nonprofit Central Asia Institute (CAI), has worked to promote peace through education by establishing more than 130 schools, most of them for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The story of how this remarkable humanitarian campaign began was told in his bestselling 2006 book, Three Cups of Tea. Mortenson’s philosophies about building relationships, empowering communities, and educating girls have struck a powerful chord. Hundreds of communities and universities, as well as several branches of the U.S. military, have used Three Cups of Tea as a common read. Just as Three Cups of Tea began with a promise—to build a school in Korphe, Pakistan—so too does Mortenson’s new book. In 1999, Kirghiz horsemen from Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor rode into Pakistan and secured a promise from Mortenson to construct a school in an isolated pocket of the Pamir Mountains known as Bozai Gumbad. Mortenson could not build that school before constructing many others, and that is the story he tells in this dramatic new book. Picking up where Three Cups of Tea left off in late 2003, Stones into Schools traces the CAI’s efforts to work in a whole new country, the secluded northeast corner of Afghanistan. Mortenson describes how he and his intrepid manager, Sarfraz Khan, barnstormed around Badakhshan Province and the Wakhan Corridor, moving for weeks without sleep, to establish the first schools there. Those efforts were diverted in October 2005 when a devastating earthquake hit the Azad Kashmir region of Pakistan. Under Sarfraz’s watch the CAI helped with relief efforts by setting up temporary tent schools and eventually several earthquakeproof schools. The action then returns to Afghanistan in 2007, as the CAI launches schools in the heart of Taliban country and as Mortenson helps the U.S. military formulate new strategic plans as a road map to peace. As the book closes, the initial promise to the Kirghiz is fulfilled.
"The Flat World and Education: How America's Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future"
In her new book The Flat World and Education, Stanford University professor (and Forum Convener) Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond offers an eye-opening wake-up call concerning America's future and vividly illustrates what the United States needs to do to build a system of high-achieving and equitable schools that ensures every child the right to learn.
As former U. S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley puts it, ''We are so fortunate that Linda Darling-Hammond has provided this road map for educational excellence for all children in today's flat world. She thoughtfully emphasizes the basic strengths that we need in these changing times and then outlines what our schools must do to respond to 21st-century learning needs. Linda is one of the education researchers whom I most respect. 'All children' must mean all children and this book shows us how to do it.''
New York University professor (and Forum Convener) Pedro Noguera agrees. ''Linda's arguments are sound, rooted in evidence, and unencumbered by the kinds of ideological partisanship that characterizes too much of current educational debates. After reading this book, one will understand why it was that Barack Obama, when seeking advice from the sharpest minds in education, turned to Dr. Linda Darling Hammond.''
“Stumbling on Happiness” Daniel Gilbert
Several years ago, on a flight from New York to California, I had the good fortune to sit next to a psychologist named Dan Gilbert. He had a shiny bald head, an irrepressible good humor, and we talked (or, more accurately, he talked) from at least the Hudson to the Rockies--and I was completely charmed. He had the wonderful quality many academics have--which is that he was interested in the kinds of questions that all of us care about but never have the time or opportunity to explore. He had also had a quality that is rare among academics. He had the ability to translate his work for people who were outside his world. Now Gilbert has written a book about his psychological research. It is called Stumbling on Happiness, and reading it reminded me of that plane ride long ago. It is a delight to read. Gilbert is charming and funny and has a rare gift for making very complicated ideas come alive. Stumbling on Happiness is a book about a very simple but powerful idea. What distinguishes us as human beings from other animals is our ability to predict the future--or rather, our interest in predicting the future. We spend a great deal of our waking life imagining what it would be like to be this way or that way, or to do this or that, or taste or buy or experience some state or feeling or thing. We do that for good reasons: it is what allows us to shape our life. And it is by trying to exert some control over our futures that we attempt to be happy. But by any objective measure, we are really bad at that predictive function. We're terrible at knowing how we will feel a day or a month or year from now, and even worse at knowing what will and will not bring us that cherished happiness. Gilbert sets out to figure what that's so: why we are so terrible at something that would seem to be so extraordinarily important? In making his case, Gilbert walks us through a series of fascinating--and in some ways troubling--facts about the way our minds work. In particular, Gilbert is interested in delineating the shortcomings of imagination. We're far too accepting of the conclusions of our imaginations. Our imaginations aren't particularly imaginative. Our imaginations are really bad at telling us how we will think when the future finally comes. And our personal experiences aren't nearly as good at correcting these errors as we might think. I suppose that I really should go on at this point, and talk in more detail about what Gilbert means by that--and how his argument unfolds. But I feel like that might ruin the experience of reading Stumbling on Happiness. This is a psychological detective story about one of the great mysteries of our lives. If you have even the slightest curiosity about the human condition, you ought to read it.
Some of you, especially those who read and reviewed Gatto's book, questioned whether incentives and bribes actually negatively impact learning. Well, in the April 19 edition of TIME (see: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1978589,00.html)the author suggests that bribing kids, if done correctly (what?!), can actually improve learning. So there..... take that John Gatto, Alfie Kohn, Barry Schwartz and all of those others out there who don't have a grip on the "real world" and what that means for teaching students.
Anyhow, judge for yourself; read "Should Schools Bribe Kids" and see if you agree that we just need to come up with some financial buyout plans for students, master contracts, and other "get paid to learn" strategic plans.
How can we make education, teaching, and our work with children a "Magic Carpet Ride?" Please watch this clip to see if you can get some hints as to how we can transform the concept of teaching from being a worker on a factory production line (a better, more efficient, higher paying factory line doesn't do much to inspire me either) where specialization on a narrow, narrow piece of the human experience is moved to the teacher being an artist with a canvas and with limitless possibilities of bringing the whole range of human expression alive in the lives of the children and people with whom we interact.
OK, some people give pop quizzes so I've decided to do pop skits. In the spirit of giving you some time to get your minds around the concept, have a look at the video clips on this blog and the reading for this week in PAII. Monday during class, I want you to plan a "before and after" skit with your study group related to the case studies I cooked up and passed out in class on Friday. The idea is to look at the historical and analytical readings and clips and relate them to current decisions made in schools that reflect similar values.
The "before" version of the skit (total length of the skit should be no more than 10 minutes) would be how you might handle a situation and decision as described in the case study handout before PAII and your thinking related to this decision and an "after" version of the same decision based on your reflection on this reading and viewing. You can use this as a basis of your group discussion this week. We will share these skits on Friday.
And, if you would like to come up with another case study example not listed on my handout, GO FOR IT. Be thoughtful, be clever, be creative, and have fun.
This Friday we will break into groups surrounding some essential questions posed by some of you related to the readings and discussions for the week. Based on your readings and on your personal values we will see if you can come to some level of consensus on how best to respond to these questions. I will also post some web links related to the questions that might help inform a response.
1. Taxes and Investment in Public Education (see Greg Schutte's Blog) I like to think about this question in terms of developing the human infrastructure of our society in much of the same way we invest in physical infrastructure like highways, bridges, libraries, park systems, and the rest. Do our taxes and investment in children make sense from an economicstandpoint? Is it a matter of either paying now or paying later in deferred costs to society through reduced productivity, retraining costs for employers, unemployment costs, additional prison numbers, social welfare programs and other "costs" to society related to lack of academic skills?
2. Do Delpit's links between color and culture (see Mya Scarlato's Blog and Will Maddox's response) actually create more segregation and more separation between people? Is a cultural of poverty more of an issue than a cultural of color? Do rural poor white students and urban poor students of color have more issues in common than urban affluent students of color and urban poor students of color? Do we expect less because of any of these categories and therefore shouldn't differentiate between any culture related to teaching and learning?
3. "Where are the directions?" (see Kelly Bandman's Blog) Because of the complexity of cultures, communities, values, schools, individual students, and uniqueness of each classroom setting, what "directions" can be provided for you, as future teachers, with regard to how best to deal with your future students and classroom to maximize their learning? How much is it about finding the "perfect method for teaching" or is it about "developing dispositions of inclusiveness" or about "examining your own values and motivations and concepts of power?" Can anyone teach you to become a good teacher or is it something you need to discover on your own and based on your own experiences in the classroom?
4. English only? (see Madeline Allen's blog) How does this compare with the expectation for "Every effort should be made to encourage them to abandon their tribal language" as written about in the 1880s Annual Report of the Commission on Indian Affairs?
Where do you begin to unravel the issues related to the New York City School District's issues? How would you analyze these issues from a Frankena framework? What are the conflicting values operating in this clip?
Welcome to a new semester and to Paideia II: Decision Making in US Schools. I am looking forward to meeting all of you. I am going to be asking each of you to create a Paideia II blog that will serve as one more way for everyone in the class to share ideas.
You will also be a part of a discussion group that will serve as my way to hold you accountable for the reading material. Each group will be expected to meet for one hour each week to discuss the readings and to talk about the reflective papers required for the class. The groups have been intentionally designed to have a mix of majors in them so that you can come at the issues from different perspectives.
Group 1- M. Allen, L. Forst, E. Gonia, J. Tweten, G. Schutte Group 2- K. Bandman, J. Hare, A. Hanson, M. Voights, K. McAllister Group 3- H. Berlin-Burns, J. Ohnemus, A. Martinson, B. Van Slotn, A. Krebsbach Group 4- P. Burleson, M. Scarlato, A. Streck, D. Sonnicksen Group 5- M. Drees, M. Vejdani, E. Schmitt, K. Roberts, C. Fisher
Class #1 will focus on: 1) Introductions 2) One difficult decision that you have had to make or that you were the for of the decision. 3) What conflicting values were involved with the decision and how did that influence it. 4) What is ultimately the purpose of schools, of education and of teaching?
For Wednesday: 1. Read pp. 1-3 in the Reader. 2. Think of a difficult decision you have had to make in your life. 3. Watch a couple of these clips: Shift Happens Shame of the Nation
This is my 33rd year in education. Prior to beginning at Luther, I was an elementary teacher, guidance counselor and principal. My wife, Jane, works as a media specialist in the North Winneshiek and Decorah Schools. My oldest son, Nathan, is a graduate student at UCLA and my youngest son, Ben, is a senior at St. Olaf College.