College Survival

college dorm

Reading my way through the education section of the Fulton County Public Library, I have shared books about many aspects of education. To this point all blog entries have been about mandatory educational requirements. For students going off to college after high school life is about to take a drastic change. These students are walking into unknown territory which can be exciting, thrilling, terrifying, and awkward all at the same time.

There are so many good books on this aspect of education that I couldn’t decide which few to review! Therefore, I’m going to share a couple of groups of books that I found helpful.

Just as incoming college freshman have done all of their lives, they must get prepared for “back to school.” Unlike they’ve done all of their lives, this time “back to school” not only means new clothes, shoes, and school supplies, it also means dorm or apartment supplies. This can be overwhelming for some students. Fortunately, those who have gone before them are full of advice. Some even write books like:

The Everything College Survival Book    Ready for College

The Everything College Checklist Book

These books all contain the types of information you might expect in a college preparedness book: how to study, how to manage time, how to strive for balance with a study schedule and a social life, finding friends, getting involved in campus life, etc. All of the above books have great information of this type and all would be helpful if you happen to be entering college for the first time.

Let’s face it though, there can be college situations that are well awkward to deal with. A student may be living with a total stranger or strangers who may be very different from anyone he or she has ever known. There are books to help both parents and students through this new environment. A parent wants to make sure their college student is as safe as possible while away at college and may have questions that could be awkward and embarrassing for the student. A college student may encounter very awkward situations in the dorm, with roommates in an apartment, or on campus. The following two books are recommended for such happenings:

Sex, Drugs and Flunking Out

The Naked Roommate

Both of these books will answer questions that you may not feel comfortable asking and/or help a student and parent to navigate sticky situations when one must speak up. They can at times be both funny and serious.

There can be a dark underside of college as evidenced by this book:

The Shadow Scholar

This is an interesting and eye opening book. While the majority of college students do their own work, we need to be asking some serious questions about our colleges and universities. The book is entertaining and funny, but brings up many valid points as well.

If you went to college, did you have some awkward moments? Did you have any surprising roommates?

 

 

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College Entry / Graduate Tests

SAT-test-taking

In the United States certain tests and test scores are required for college admission. The most popular of these tests seem to be the Scholastic Aptitude Test (better known as the SAT) and the American College Testing (better known as the ACT). Interesting facts about both tests can be learned by following the above links to Wikipedia and reading about them. Students must pay to take these all important tests and the most common test takers are Juniors and Seniors in high school. As you might expect there can be tremendous pressure on students to perform well on these tests. Obviously the higher a student scores on the test(s) the better chance of getting into the college or university of his/her choice.

Because of the importance of these tests, it is becoming even more important for students to prepare for them. Obviously by paying attention in their high school courses and maintaining a high GPA, this increases the likelihood of doing well on the tests. However, if a student wants to get higher scores on the tests, he/she must find other ways to study for them. This is where Fulton County Public Library can help. The library has all sorts of study resources. Some of the ones I checked out to peruse are:

Barron's SAT

Inside the SAT

There are many more of these types of books. Some have actual practice tests that you would use a pencil and a piece of paper to practice with. Some have have CD Roms that are tutorial or that allow you to take the “online” version of the test for practice. You can even find kits to help you study. I found this one:

Picture These SAT WORDS in a Flash

This particular kit has 200 vocabulary flash cards. The kit makes a humorous pun using a vocabulary word and illustrates it with a funny picture. Here is an example:

Adulation

The flip side of the card has the definition of the vocabulary word and three examples of its use in a sentence.

There are resources for students with Learning Disabilities:

SAT Strategies for Students with Learning Disabilities

There are very similar resources for the ACT as well. Below is just one example:

Cracking the ACT

As you can see (and possibly as you may have noted previously), this study resource is an older 2016 edition. Many libraries are beginning to move away from this sort of dated material due to many resources going digital, but Fulton County Public Library does order some things like this upon patron request. Even dated study guides can still help you to study. You would see similar types of questions if you try to stay within a couple years of the current year.

The library closest to you may have quiet zones or even rooms available for students to come and study, do the practice test, or in some cases allow students to come and take the actual test with a proctor provided by the library (all services offered by Fulton County Public Library). This is particularly an increasing event with graduate students. Thanks to technology some students are able to take their tests almost anywhere on computer (which the library can also provide if needed),  monitored by camera and an onsite proctor who views the test taker remotely. Libraries and technology are definitely merging.

Getting through college entrance exams is a huge accomplishment, but what comes next? Some students have an idea of what they would like to study in college, but many do not. For those students who don’t yet know what they want to be when they grow up, there are books like:

Book of Majors

Again, these may be somewhat dated sitting on library shelves, but similar (and more up to date) online resources are available. The ideas remain basically the same. There may be majors of interest the student hasn’t considered and what major a student wants to pursue may influence the college choice. Obviously a student has to go where the course of study is offered.

Having made it this far, a student has passed college entry exams and chosen a major (hopefully). Now it’s time to think about if a student wants to try to “Clep out” of a particular class. There are, of course, books to help students study for these tests as well. CLEP stands for College Level Examination Program.

CLEP Study Guide

There are usually requirement classes in college. For instance, most colleges require some basic math or English courses. If a student is strong in a particular area, he or she may opt to take the CLEP exam. If passed, the student gets credit for the class without having to actually take it. This can save both time and money if the student successfully CLEPs out of classes.

After a student has jumped through all of the hoops and tests and has actually finished college, he or she will then decide whether or not to pursue graduate school. If the answer to that question is yes then, of course, there will be more studying and another test. Study materials can still be found at the library to help study for the Graduate Record Exam (better known as the GRE). A few examples of these types of books are below:

6 GRE Practice Tests

GRE

After completing the GRE, students will decide whether or not to pursue a Doctorate program. Testing, working on a thesis, and the actual coursework is generally quite unique to the area of study. However, the library can still help by providing a place to study, ordering specialized books or acquiring them through the consortium.

Learning is a lifelong process and we never stop learning. The next time that you need or want to study a particular topic/subject, the library will be there to help accommodate your needs, even if they are unique.

Did you have to take any of the tests mentioned? Did you know the library had these study resources? Have you used these types of resources from your library?

 

 

True (School) Stories!

US graduatesSchools across the US have primarily one purpose – to prepare students for what comes after high school. Not every student has the same plan after high school. Success doesn’t necessarily mean that every student goes on to college, although that may be a goal for many students. Some students may be ready to enter the workforce immediately after high school. There are many options.

What happens when students spend time in high school varies tremendously. Students are affected by such things as location of their high schools. Small rural high schools are vastly different from inner city high schools in a large metropolis. Other factors that may vary are socioeconomic status of the students, whether students attend a public or private school, extracurricular opportunities, and types of support staff offered at a given school just to name a few things.

One thing that is true for all students in high school across this great land is that they are all part of intricate stories playing out in our high schools.  Many teachers write books about their own teaching experiences such as Ed Boland did in The Battle for Room 314.: My Year of Hope and Despair in a New York City High School.

The Battle for Room 314

Boland was intricately involved in the world of fundraising. He had a passion to raise money for disadvantaged students and in part through his efforts many disadvantaged students were given opportunities of a lifetime. Many went on to Ivy League schools and successful careers. At some point, Boland wasn’t satisfied with just fundraising and decided he actually wanted to teach disadvantaged students. This book differs from others of it’s type in which a first year teacher takes over a classroom and wins educational victories. In Boland’s case, this is a story of an idealistic first year teacher meeting reality head on and trying to figure out how to navigate through a broken educational system that is seriously failing students. For anyone wishing to get a big dose of reality of what American high school is like in our large cities, this is the book for you.

The next story I came to was very different. In light of all of the recent school shootings, this is a heart wrenching book worth taking a look at. It is written by the mother of  Dylan Klebold, one of the two shooters from Columbine High School. This mother agonizes over what went wrong.

A Mother's Reckoning

Dylan Klebold and Eric shot and killed 12 students and a teacher at Columbine High School. They also wounded 24 other people before taking their own lives. Dylan’s mother was as horrified as everyone else but had the added stigma of being a shooter’s mother. For about 16 years, Sue Klebold poured over all of Dylan’s possessions looking for clues as to how (or if) she had missed warning signs. How could her child be involved in something so horrific? Could she have stopped it? Sue lived with grief and shame and shares how she began to come to grips with what happened.

I did not personally know anyone at Columbine, but I do personally know some of Rachel Scott’s family. Rachel was one of the first victims. She was shot for her faith, making her one of the first American Christian martyrs. There is a movie about the Columbine shootings and shows how Rachel became a victim. I highly recommend the movie I’m Not Ashamed.

I'm Not Ashamed

Years before Columbine ever happened, I was working as a Special Education teacher in a Middle School. One of my students was labeled Learning Disabled/Gifted. He was a very bright student who had some academic struggles. Rex (obviously not his real name) was also a very troubled young man. He was extremely bright-and had absolutely no conscience. I remember telling other teachers that Rex was either going to end up a multi-billionaire or in jail. He was the type of student who was bored easily and would try inappropriate things just to see if he could get away with them. His plots could be elaborate. Though I tried not to show it, I always had one eye on Rex. I was tipped off by another student  that Rex was planning something during a school dance–one that I happened to be chaperoning. I knew Rex…I informed the administration about his possible plot during the dance, and sure enough all adult eyes were on him that evening and an unloaded gun was confiscated from him at the dance. Thankfully no students were harmed during this incident and Rex was disarmed easily. I do not know if he brought ammo with him, but his offense was enough to get him expelled from the school. It was actually quite sad. I lost track of Rex but it would not surprise me at all if he ended up a career criminal. Rather than actually chaperoning the dance that night, I ended up doing all sorts of paperwork trying to get Rex placed in a different school where hopefully he could also get in depth emotional help.

Do you have a true school story you’d like to share? Do you have a favorite true school story?

 

 

 

 

Primary Education

Books and Apple

In the United States, there isn’t a national curriculum like in many other countries. Curriculums, in general, are left up to the discretion of each individual state. States set educational standards that are used to design curriculums, but that also allow school districts to have some input as to what the children are taught.  Click this link to find out about Educational Standards in Indiana.

Although there is no national curriculum in the United States, there is fairly consistent thought on what things should be taught at what grade level. Whether there should be a national curriculum is a serious debate for another day. Today, I’m just interested in discussing some of the books offered at the Fulton County Public Library that can be used to help design curriculums.  This is true if you homeschool, teach in a public or private school, or even just are looking to incorporate good materials into your grade level or subject matter. Some parents may just want to use these materials to supplement their children’s learning experiences.

When I was learning how to teach and also when my children were in school there was a lot of talk about the “Dumbing Down of America.” An internet search of this topic will turn up all sorts of interesting hits. For my purposes here, I will suffice it to say that what our children are currently learning in school isn’t necessarily what we (or the generations before us) were taught.  Sometimes this fact is understandable due to updated information that made previous information irrelevant. For example, we no longer teach children that the earth is a flat plane which ships could sail off of if they got too close to the edge. Due to advances in Science, we can now confidently teach that the Earth is a spherical object in space and that ships will not sail off the edges of the Earth, but can in fact safely sail around the world. However, in other instances there is concern that we are intentionally not teaching students information that hasn’t changed and that actually should still be taught. This type of information may include aspects of history, economics, mathematics, and many other topics. This has led to all sorts of conspiracy theories which I couldn’t even begin touch on in one post, but I will just say that I think there is some room for concern. I’m not promoting conspiracy theories, just the need to be aware of what is and isn’t being taught.

One way to know how much subject matter has changed is by frequently reviewing older textbooks or educational  type books. That is why I am a big fan of book series such as The Core Knowledge Series and similar type series. These books are titled things like What Your Kindergartener Needs to Know.

What Your Kindergartener Needs to Know

These books go up at least through the 6th grade and it’s a fascinating thing to use one of these older books (c. 1990’s) to compare to your child’s current school books. Although in the US schooling is compulsory, it’s still a parent’s responsibility to ensure their child receives the best education possible and there may be times when you will fill the need to “fill in the gaps.”

Even a school cannot teach literally everything. I believe that the very best teachers teach students how to learn by giving them the skills to find information on their own. They need to know how to use resource materials and where to find those resource materials. Good teachers also instill in students a love of learning.

Libraries such as Fulton County Public Library and other similar libraries are great learning resources. Libraries perform a vital function by protecting books by preventing censorship. For instance where would you go to get an older textbook? Many are now out of print and though you may stumble on one in a used book store, your luck at finding one would be much better at a library.

There are times when community members might challenge a book from a school district–or even from a library. What would happen if all of those challenged books were suddenly banned and/or destroyed?

Libraries will protect books in their collection by defending their right to exist. I don’t have to agree with every single book in a library in order to respect it’s right to be there. I do not personally agree with censorship efforts even though there are books that I wish were not in the collection. If I object to say the Koran in my library and successfully get it removed, I wonder how long it would be until someone else objected to the Bible in my library? Censorship is not the answer, education is. Children need to be taught critical thinking skills and how to evaluate information objectively. As I’ve mentioned before, I am a Christian, but I invite people to objectively examine the Bible. I also think that there may be reasons I need to examine what’s in the Koran.

Libraries usually have a “Banned Book Week” to draw attention to books that have been challenged.  Below is a previous display of banned or challenged books at Fulton County Public Library.  Libraries have protected these and many other books over the years. Banned book week  is usually the end of September into October–thus the somewhat Halloweenish theme. During this time period, patrons are encouraged to read the “banned books.”

No automatic alt text available.

Though that might have seemed like a bit of a tangent, my point was that libraries will protect even old text books so that patrons like all of you Dewey Hop readers can go and compare them to current text books and make up your own minds as to whether or not schools (or other institutions) are censoring information to lead-or mislead- in a particular direction. Education and critical thinking skills are vital.

In addition to finding curriculum content information, there are also resource books available designed to help enhance the actual teaching of concepts. Here are just a few books of this nature available at the library:

A+ Activities For First Grade

Glues, Brews, and Goos

Phonics Patterns

Do you think the US has a problem with censorship? Do you have ideas to help prevent censorship?

 

 

The Gifted Child

Hello I'm Gifted

(Image from Arlington Magazine)

Many people do not realize that the category of “gifted” also falls under the broad umbrella of Special Education.  Many gifted children reveal themselves before the school years, but others do not. Unfortunately, unlike the girl in the image above, children do not come with labels that explain them.

As both a former Special Education teacher and the mother of a gifted child, I can tell you that gifted children create quite a challenge. My daughter mumbled a few syllabic words like “dada” and “baba” and then refused to verbally communicate until she spoke in perfectly constructed full sentences.

I once knew someone who was gifted and when he learned to speak as a child everyone thought he was babbling nonsensically. His mother took him to an expert who recorded him and slowed down the recording. Not only was this guy speaking in full sentences, he was speaking so extremely fast that no one could understand him. It was like his brain was in hyper-drive.  At times he was speaking perfectly constructed sentences in reverse order as well. The expert hypothesized that he was just bored because no one could understand him so he was playing with the sentence structure. Once he learned to slow down, people could understand him so he no longer spoke sentences backwards. Speech can be one of the first introductions to a gifted child’s ability. Often gifted children will use words and express ideas well beyond their years.

I knew I was in trouble when my 2 1/2 year old started asking me questions that I couldn’t answer and asking about things far beyond her years. No parent wants to admit that her toddler is actually smarter than her mother! At 2 1/2 my child told me things like she wanted to study the pyramids of Egypt in depth. I brought home movies and books from the school library on a middle school level for my child to watch and was promptly informed that the material didn’t cover enough information. She then discovered PBS and other educational programming and couldn’t get enough of it.  Since I didn’t want her parked in front of the TV every waking moment, I made sure to get her out into the community and took her to all sorts of educational exhibits and events.  In addition to learning about ancient civilizations, my child was very scientifically curious. Again at 2 1/2 she wanted me to explain things to her like why water from a drinking fountain came out in an arc rather than shooting straight up or outwards. She wanted to know everything about everything. She learned to read early and I couldn’t keep up with her demand for books. She learned to love the library! At around 3 or 4, my child was doing vision therapy to avoid developing a lazy eye. The vision therapist’s office used a reward system where tickets were earned and then used to purchase toys and various other prizes. My daughter exploited a weakness in the system to get tickets and thus earn the bigger/better prizes and finally was told she couldn’t have so many tickets because they thought she was cheating (!). She also exploited a weakness in a similar reward system at Chuck E. Cheese but they never caught on to her method; inventive. (That weakness in the system still exists, by the way.) By the time she was in elementary school she was already doing math at a level well beyond my capability. Her first grade teacher once told me that she had to constantly remind herself that my daughter was just a child–since she often communicated and acted like an adult. She was reading at college level in elementary school and read classic books such as Moby Dick for her book reports (I don’t even know any adults who have actually finished that book!). Around 4th or 5th grade, my daughter scored in the top 1 percentile of a national standardized test–and that got the attention of the school district. I didn’t need a test to tell me what I already knew about my daughter. Did I think she was brilliant? Of course! All parents think their kids are brilliant. However being a Special Ed teacher, I knew this went far beyond just being proud of my daughter-and it was both exhilarating and frightening!

This book, which covers just about everything I’m talking about in this post, may have been helpful to me had I known of it’s existence at the time:

Your-Gifted-Child

I never pushed the school district to place my daughter in gifted classes. Yes, I wanted her challenged on her academic level, but I also wanted her to actually be a kid. This is a hot topic in the lives of gifted children.  There are other gifted children in my extended family. Some of them have been skipped several grade levels ahead. In one case a child should have been skipped up significantly by grade level but his mother also worried about his socialization and still wanted him to have exposure to other children near his own age, so he only skipped 2 grades despite the school’s pleas to move him higher up. Gifted children can appear to be so adult like that a teacher  (or parent) can forget they are dealing with a child. They still need time to develop emotionally and socially.

Many gifted children, my daughter included, develop tempers which I believe are created by frustration. They may understand things significantly beyond their years in the academic realm, but they may not be aware of social rules and may in fact have missed learning them (by things such as being skipped ahead multiple grades). They also haven’t had time to develop emotional maturity to contend with social rules. For instance, we’ve all heard about child geniuses that have completed doctorate programs before their teens. A child like this functions (and is expected to behave as a college student) in a college environment but may have never learned things the rest of us think should be obvious–such as not answering every question before someone else has a chance, sharing, consideration, being sensitive to other people’s feelings, respecting personal space, being compassionate to people less fortunate than yourself,  etc. You’ve probably heard of (or can think of) people that are very intelligent, but seem to have no common sense. There’s probably a reason for that. Highly intelligent people were likely accelerated in some areas too fast. They actually need time to catch up!

There is a movie called Gifted* which explores a gifted child’s need to just be a child vrs. exploiting their abilities. I highly recommend this movie!

Gifted

Other gifted children may not reveal themselves via speech or academics. Many gifted children get poor grades in school because they are simply bored and fail to see the point of doing things like homework when they already understand the concepts far beyond what is being taught. Gifted children may have been difficult to potty train because they just didn’t want to stop doing whatever had their interest at the time and go.

Another helpful book to go along with this concept is:

Why Bright Kids Get Poor Grades

Teachers are trained to identify other aspects of giftedness such as creativity which may come out in art, for instance, and express concepts far beyond a child’s years or it may be unexpected for a child’s age and experience. I remember a story the Mister told me about when he was in the first grade. The teacher had given her first graders a picture of a duck to color. Most of the children colored their ducks yellow, but the Mister perfectly colored a Mallard Duck! Now imagine all those ducks taped up in a line across the room. One duck stood out. This is often the type of stuff teachers must be constantly looking for. The Mister was one of those students who didn’t particularly see the point of school. (Fortunately through the efforts of many alert teachers–and his parents who were also teachers, he did develop a lifelong love of learning.)

Gifted children may share certain attributes, but all children are unique. A gifted child may have just some of the characteristics listed below or they may have other unique characteristics which are not listed. The list below is only meant to give indicators.

According to the National Association for Gifted Children some common characteristics of gifted children are:

  • Unusual alertness, even in infancy
  • Rapid learner; puts thoughts together quickly
  • Excellent memory
  • Unusually large vocabulary and complex sentence structure for age
  • Advanced comprehension of word nuances, metaphors and abstract ideas
  • Enjoys solving problems, especially with numbers and puzzles
  • Often self-taught reading and writing skills as preschooler
  • Deep, intense feelings and reactions
  • Highly sensitive
  • Thinking is abstract, complex, logical, and insightful
  • Idealism and sense of justice at early age
  • Concern with social and political issues and injustices
  • Longer attention span and intense concentration
  • Preoccupied with own thoughts—daydreamer
  • Learn basic skills quickly and with little practice
  • Asks probing questions
  • Wide range of interests (or extreme focus in one area)
  • Highly developed curiosity
  • Interest in experimenting and doing things differently
  • Puts idea or things together that are not typical
  • Keen and/or unusual sense of humor
  • Desire to organize people/things through games or complex schemas
  • Vivid imaginations (and imaginary playmates when in preschool)

Another fascinating book that Dewey Hop readers may find interesting is:

Off the Charts

This is a fascinating book that explores childhood geniuses and the changing role of parents and counselors across centuries. The book also explores the feelings and psychological concerns with highly intelligent children. Many famous and not so famous (but still important) child prodigies are included in this account; recommended reading.

Do you know any gifted children? Do you have ideas about how gifted children can express themselves but still be kids?

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*The move Gifted is not currently available at the Fulton County Public Library. However, if you are interested in seeing it, we can order it for you through the Evergreen system. For those of you outside the state of Indiana, the Evergreen system is a coalition of libraries throughout the state of Indiana that shares library materials which include movies, books, magazines, and various other items.

 

Special Education

God Created Special Education Teachers

Continuing along in the Education section of the Fulton County Public Library, I’ve reached a section on Special Education. This is a topic quite near to my heart as I was a Special Education Teacher in a “former life.”  I would probably still be in the classroom if not for a family emergency that forced my life in a different direction.

A Child With Special Needs

Having said that, I haven’t been in the classroom for years.  I continue to have the utmost respect for everyone involved in the special education process.

Special Ed Ninja

There is no way I can do justice to the topic of Special Education in just one blog post so I will just share some books that I checked out and encourage anyone interested in this topic to seriously explore it. I tried to choose broad spectrum books that touch on some important aspects of special education.

The Everything Paren’ts Guide to Special Education: A Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Advocating for Your Child with Special Needs by Amanda Morin is just what it sounds like it is.

The Everything Parent's Guide to Special Education

This book is an excellent resource for parents who are just encountering the Special Education process. It explains such things as what to do if you suspect your child may have some special needs.  The book explains to parents how to approach school officials with your concerns to methods that may be tried before your child is tested for special education placement.  The author takes parents through a discussion of special education terminology, laws affecting special education, categories of disability, steps the school may want to take before actually assessing a child, and what takes place during the referral and placement process just to mention a few things. This book also addresses problems that might occur after placement–such as what to do if a parent believes the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) isn’t being followed and explains a parent’s right to due process. This is one of the most comprehensive books I have seen on this topic. I highly recommend it to parents as well as all  teachers who will surely encounter students with special needs.

The next book I came to was Helping Kids with Special Needs:Resources for Parents and Teachers of Children with Emotional and Neurological Challenges compiled by Julie Nekola. Again, this book is just what it sounds like it is. It is full of resources that anyone involved in the education of special needs students will find very helpful.

Helping Kids with Special Needs

The final book I checked out this time is Just Another Kid by Torey Hayden. This book is a story of a teacher and six emotionally troubled kids.

Just Another Kid

Because I can’t say it better, this is what is on the back of the book:

“Just Another Kid is an enchanting, inspiring book…impossible to put down.”   –The Washington Post

Torey Hayden faced six emotionally troubled kids no other teacher could handle –three recent arrivals from battle-torn Northern Ireland, badly traumatized by the horrors of war; eleven-year-old Dirkie, who only knew of life inside an institution; excitable Mariana, aggressive and sexually precocious at the age of eight; and seven-year-old Leslie, perhaps the most hopeless of all, unresponsive and unable to speak.

With compassion, rare insight, and masterful storytelling, teacher Torey L. Hayden once again touches our hearts with her account of the miracles that can happen in her class of “special” children.

A Literary Guild Alternate Selection

This is an inspiring story about how one teacher can make a difference in the lives of some very special students. I would definitely recommend this book.

This week happens to be Teacher Appreciation week. Be sure to thank a teacher for all teachers are special!

Have you had encounters with Special Education teachers and/or students? Were your encounters positive or negative? Have you ever considered a career in Special Education?

 

Bullying

Bully-Free Zone

(A personal addendum to all of the faithful Dewey Hop readers will follow this blog.)

Bullying, or I should say bullying prevention, is a topic near and dear to my heart. As you have probably surmised the library read through has landed us in a section about bullying.  While the books I checked out deal primarily with children, bullying isn’t a problem limited to children.

Weakfish: Bullying Through the Eyes of a Child was written by Michael Dorn.

Michael Dorn as Wharf

Just kidding. Not this Michael Dorn.

This is the author, Michael Dorn.  His book, Weakfish: Bullying Through the Eyes of a Child is a very informative, eye opening book which follows a student, Stephen, through the school years and explains how and why the bullying started.

Michael Dorn Author

Throughout the story, the author inserts his comments concerning what preventitive things could have happened, incidences that should have been reported to the police, how so called “responsible adults” made the problems worse, and how people in charge were more concerned with the image of their various schools than the actual safety of students.

Weakfish

I do not want to say too much about this book and give away the ending. However, if this is a topic that interests you or you currently have school aged children or grandchildren, I do recommend you read this book.

At the end of the book Michael Dorn gives several practical ideas of what can be done to prevent bullying from happening in the first place as well as exercises to help you identify bullying environments.

Other books I checked out were:

Bullying and Cyberbullying

Bullying Prevention and Intervention

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Personal Addendum: Many of you have noticed that the Dewey Hop blog has been more or less off schedule since the end of January. I apologize for the interruption of posts but I was forced to deal with several medical emergencies with various family members. Both my mother ( Jan. 25) and my husband (Apr. 2) passed away after brief illnesses and there have been all kinds of follow up responsibilities. During the time the Mister was in the hospital, my sister had to have emergency surgery and still has ongoing medical issues and two other family members were also hospitalized at the same time (This involved 8 different hospitals, a rehab center, and a hospice. One family member is still in rehab at the time of this writing.)

Unfortunately, the day my mother went into hospice care a coworker was involved in a terrible car accident and died in February, a few weeks after my mother. Because of this, the entire library staff was out for that funeral as well.

I have now returned to work after three funerals and about a month bouncing back and forth to the hospital and hospice to be with family members.

I want to thank all of you Dewey Hop readers for your extreme patience and faithfulness to the Dewey Hop blog.  I appreciate you all. Moving forward I will continue my read through and commenting on the resources of the Fulton County Public Library.

 

Career Paths

Career Paths

One of the primary objectives of educating our children is to prepare them for a career path. There are choices other than going to college after high school.While college is certainly an acceptable path to a career, it isn’t the only path.

In this post, I would like to highlight a series of books called Success Without College by Robert F. Wilson, et al. There are many books in this series. Here are some of the ones I perused.

Careers with AnimalsCareers in Art and Graphic Design Careers in Cosmotology Careers in the Food Service Industry

Careers in HealthcareCareers in the Law

Carreers in sports, fitness, and recreation

This is a series of books that the reader doesn’t necessarily have to read word for word. Written on about a 5th grade reading level, the books can be used as reference books to find specific information. There is good information and guidance in each book. This series could be used easily in middle or high schools as well as for adults.

In addition to the Success Without College series, I also ran across a Careers For series by McGraw Hill. This series also has various authors. Of the three books I perused in this series, two were written by Jan Godlberg and one was written by Marjorie Eberts and Margaret Gisler. These are the books I checked out:

Careers For 002.JPG

This series is similar to the previous one. However, this series has the added goal of helping people find ways to be paid for pursuing their passions. These books would be appropriate for almost any age.

Did you choose a career without college? Do you know successful people who opted out of college and went right into a career?

Classroom Management

Classroom

Teachers may be highly educated and up to date on all the latest teaching techniques, but without proper classroom management students will not be learning up to their potential. In The Everything Classroom Management Book by Eric Groves, Sr., classroom management is discussed in depth. Being a former teacher, I still found this book very impressive.

The Everything Classroom Management Book

One day a fellow coworker  at the Fulton County Public Library (also a former teacher and principal) passed by and saw this book laying on my desk. He stopped to look at it and even he was very impressed with it. If there are any first year teachers or aspiring teachers out there I would highly recommend this book for you. Veteran teachers will also find it useful. Filled with content about organization, time savers, and everyday routines this book is already impressive. However, the book goes far beyond the expected. Other topics discussed include legal issues, building relationships, job protection, and alternative careers in the education field.

The next book I came to was The Laughing Classroom: Everyone’s Guide to Teaching with Humor and Play by Dianna Loomans and Karen Kolberg.

The Laughing Classroom

This is a book that basically describes creating a classroom where learning can occur through humor and laughter. To outsiders, these classrooms can sometimes appear out of order, this may be when students are learning the most. It’s important to engage students to hold their interest and this is the primary objective of this book.There are many activities / lessons in this book to help promote humor and laughter in the classroom. This would be a good resource for teachers and others who work with children.

Among Friends: Classrooms Where Caring and Learning Prevail by Joan Dalton and Marilyn Watson promotes a teaching philosophy of building relationships among students and teachers. When students feel a sense of inclusion (no outcasts) they are better able to learn and want each other to succeed.

Among Friends

This philosophy is very similar to The Big Idea by Dennis Littky with Samantha Grabelle which was discussed in my previous post Educational Product.

There is so much that needs to be happening in the classroom environment before any learning can occur. These books will certainly point educators in the right direction.

What do you remember about classroom atmospheres when you were in school? If you’ve been in a classroom recently, how do the classroom atmospheres compare now to when you were in school?

 

Teaching

Teaching

As I continue my read through of the Fulton County Public Library, I find myself immersed in nostalgic memories of my own former teaching career as well as laughing myself silly.  I have really enjoyed reading the books for this post.

The first book that I read was I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had by Tony Danza.

I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had

(Yes, for those of you old enough to remember this is the actor, Tony Danza.) For those of you not old enough to know who Tony Danza is, he acted in the sitcoms Taxi

Tony Danza, Judd Hirsch and Danny DeVito (from left) 
Taxi

and Who’s the Boss?

Who's the Boss

Before Danza was an actor, he was a professional boxer.

Danza Boxer

It was during his boxing career that Tony Danza was “discovered” and then became an actor. What most people don’t know is that even before Danza’s days as a boxer, he trained to be a teacher.

Life has a strange way of taking twists and turns. After college, Danza intended to actually be a teacher but his boxing career took off and he pursued it for awhile. Because of his boxing, he then became an actor, and because of his acting career and his desire to return to his love of teaching, he was offered a reality show called Teach. Teach is a one season DVD series with 7 episodes.

Teach Tony Danza

Tony Danza was actually hired at an inner city school in Philadelphia as a first year teacher. Danza bravely agreed to be filmed as a first year teacher.  There were some concessions that had to be made to the Philadelphia school district to ensure that students would actually receive a legitimate education during the reality show. A teaching coach was assigned to the classroom. He sat at the back during the classroom sessions and then made recommendations and suggestions afterwards. Danza was expected to be like any other teacher in the school and he had extracurricular duties.

This first year teaching experience led to writing I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I’ve Ever Had, a book which I totally enjoyed. Danza truly does have a heart for kids. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that Danza’s eyes got opened. According to him, teaching is the hardest thing he’s ever done in his life. It’s harder than being a professional boxer. I would totally recommend the book. I liked Teach, the DVD series, but I actually liked the book better.

The next book I read was “Why Do Only White People Get Abducted by Aliens?” Teaching Lessons from the Bronx by Ilana Garon. I had to read this book for it’s title alone. I also perk up when I hear about aliens (for more about this see my post Shelf Browsing Leads To Memory Lane.)

Why Do Only White People Get Abducted by Aliens

Garon is a young Jewish teacher who explains the realities of teaching in an inner city school in the Bronx. Her book follows the first 4 years or so of her teaching career through two different schools and a sabbatical. While I liked the overall story in the book, I have to admit that I did have some difficulty relating to some of the cultural elements of the students and teachers. Since I’ve never lived in a huge city like New York, many of the concepts were quite foreign to me. For instance, rather than having huge school systems, many of the larger school buildings have been reinvented and may house multiple schools within the same building complete with their own staffs of support people and administrators. In both this experience and also in Tony Danza’s experience, all three schools discussed house their own police department to control their students and the students are sometimes dragged out of class in handcuffs.

The next book I came across was Hugs for Teachers by Martha McKee, Caron Loveless, and LeAnn Weiss.

hugs for teachers

This book is a very quick read book which is faith based, inspirational, and motivational. It is one of those books that you may want to give as a gift to your child’s teacher.

Finally the last two books I read (and laughed myself silly reading) were:

F in Exams   F for Effort

Both of these books by Richard Benson are compilations of wrong (but often quite creative) test answers. I literally laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes and trouble catching my breath! If you need to laugh, I highly recommend these books!

Were you aware that Tony Danza is a certified teacher? Have you ever been to a school that has it’s own police department? Have you ever given “creative” test answers when you didn’t know the real answer?