On the blog:
I was listening to Stamped on audio when Covid hit and my commute time/audiobook time decreased to zero. I just managed to finish the last 60 minutes this week. Jason Reynolds’s “remix” is really an amazing achievement, and the whole time I was listening, I kept thinking why can’t this be a model for how textbooks could be written? Full of voice and perspective and connections. I was originally listening to this book and reading Dr. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning simultaneously–listening to a section of Jason’s book and then catching up on that section of content from Dr. Kendi’s book. But then I got ahead of myself in my listening and never caught up with the book. So I need to go back and finish because I’m finding that I still have so many questions and need the slower pace and depth and detail of Dr Kendi’s book to really take all of this history in. (Also the audiobook is narrated by Jason Reynolds, and it’s brilliant.)
I loved Nnedi Okorafor’s graphic novel, Laguardia. Pregnant Dr. Future Nwafor Chukwuebuka has fled Nigeria for her grandmother’s apartment building in New York City with an alien Floral who needs her protection, leaving behind one very confused boyfriend, college professor Citizen. The cast of characters–Nigerian, American, Nigerian-American, and alien–is so endearing, the fast-paced plot keeps things moving, the colorful art is dazzling, and Okorafor also has much bigger things on her mind that get woven into this narrative–the Nigerian Civil War and 45’s travel ban. It’s all pretty glorious and left me smiling and happy as a reader.
Also, if you don’t follow Okorafor’s cat, Periwinkle Chukwu, on Twitter, you probably should. Isn’t he gorgeous?
No More Teaching Without Positive Relationships is an important book for teachers to read–even experienced teachers who would consider building positive relationships one of their strengths. Co-authors Jaleel Howard, Tanya Milner-McCall, and Tyrone Howard bring a culturally responsive framework to the work of relationship building in the classroom. It’s really challenging to write a teaching book that has plenty to offer both new and veteran teachers, but this slim book (just 77 pages!) packs enough research, theory, and practical ideas to appeal to that wide audience. Heinemann featured an excerpt of the book on their blog, where you can also download a sample chapter.
Ralph Fletcher’s Focus Lessons: How Photography Enhances the Teaching of Writing reads more like the outline for a book with topics and teaching points sketched out but not fully developed. The most compelling part, for me, was Fletcher’s writing about what it feels like to be a learner in a new field and to fail–repeatedly. I did enjoy his personal stories and photographs and felt that I did learn some skills for looking more carefully and thoughtfully at and analyzing photographs. But few of the connections he’s trying to make between photographs and writing really landed for me.
I got a lot out of Liz Prather’s Project-Based Writing. My head was spinning a bit from all the planning and scheduling–this is SO not how I work, though I see how much more productive I would be if I did. I think these organization, time, collaboration and project management skills are vital to teach, so I can imagine myself putting a lot of this into practice this fall. There are so many good ideas here, too, for building community and helping students discover their “writing territories.”