9780307464972By Andrew Warner, Rolla High School (Rolla, MO)

For struggling readers, the simple act of finishing a book can be a challenge. In addition to obstacles that reading ability may present, some students are so discouraged by past classroom experiences that the sight of a high school textbook instantly turns them off. Additionally, the emphasis that Common Core places on complex and nonfiction reading leaves many students, and even some teachers, feeling that nothing they read in class can be interesting or relevant.

To help these students, my department created a class focused on graphic novels. We wanted to provide students with accessible—and relatable—nonfiction that would align with CCSS standards. After reading Max Brooks’s The Harlem Hellfighters last year, I decided to include it in our class. I was intrigued to learn about a part of history that was previously unfamiliar to me, and I admired the author’s honest depiction of war and its portrayal in the media. It seemed like the perfect complement to a more traditional graphic novel like Art Spiegelman’s Maus. (more…)

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FREEDOM INVITE HTML v6On Tuesday, April 7th Broadway Books and The Freedom Writers Foundation are hosting a free screening of the forthcoming Freedom Writers Foundation documentary “Freedom Writers: Stories from an Undeclared War” for educators. The event will include a book signing and comments by guest speaker Erin Gruwell, teacher and founder of the Freedom Writers Foundation. To RSVP, click here.

Space is limited and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.   Please note that children and students will not be admitted.

Date/Time: Tuesday, April 7th at 2:00 PM

Location: Penguin Random House Building | 1745 Broadway | (Between 55th & 56th Streets) | 2nd Floor Café Auditorium

To read more about Erin Gruwell’s The Freedom Writers Diary, click here.

9780307464972By Lakeya Omogun, New Design Middle School (Harlem, New York)

 Whose perspective is told? Whose perspective is missing? Whose voice is heard? Whose voice is missing? What might this person say if they had a voice? These were some of the questions my students explored while performing critical readings of various historical texts.

After learning about World War I, my students were also challenged to consider the missing perspectives and voices in the stories of this historical event. What better way to learn about them than from an author? On Friday, December 12th, 2014, Max Brooks visited my seventh-grade classroom in Harlem, New York, at New Design Middle School to tell my students about one missing perspective in the stories of World War I, The Harlem Hellfighters. (more…)

What does Tony Danza know about education?!

As an actor, Tony Danza had conquered nearly every entertainment realm—TV, the movies, even Broadway—when one day three years ago, he felt a powerful urge to chase a childhood dream and become a teacher. He’d been inspired by a documentary made by Teach for America, the organization that trains college graduates to teach in rural and urban public schools, and he wanted to give something back. After dazzling viewers of such hit TV shows as Taxi and Who’s the Boss? and delighting Broadway audiences, he figured that, even with his lack of teaching experience, he still stood a good chance of keeping a classroom of high school kids engaged. How hard could it be?

As he found out, really hard. Entering Philadelphia’s Northeast High School’s crowded halls in September 2009, Tony found his way to a tenth-grade classroom filled with twenty-six students who were determined not to cut him any slack.

In his new book, I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High,Tony shares experiences that ranged from the infuriating to the deeply rewarding as he relives the amazing story of what happened. In his tenure at Northeast High Tony did it all, teaching Shakespeare, working detention, assisting the music and drama departments, coaching football, and helping a special group of young people through some of the most daunting personal and emotional issues.

We invite you to watch Tony’s message to educators on his site, TonyDanza.com, where you can also find more information about the book and his upcoming events.

Click here to read a conversation with Tony Danza and Erin Gruwell, author of The Freedom Writers Diary.

Not Quite Adults by Richard Settersten and Barbara E. Ray

by Richard Settersten, co-author of Not Quite Adults: Why 20-Somethings Are Choosing a Slower Path to Adulthood, and Why It’s Good for Everyone (Bantam, 2010)

One of the inescapable burdens of being an educator relates to this simple truth: We grow older, but our students are forever young. Yet, as new students file into our classrooms each year, we’re aware of a complementary truth: Just because our students are always young doesn’t mean they’re always the same. Recent years have brought a seismic shift in the kinds of students we face.

Anchored in nearly a decade of collaborative research conducted by an interdisciplinary team of scientists assembled by the MacArthur Foundation (myself included), Not Quite Adults provides an intimate look at today’s young people.

Writing this book with my co-author, Barbara Ray, has changed how I teach and relate to my college students. Here are a few lessons that will be helpful for high school teachers, too: (more…)

Feel-Bad Education by Alfie Kohn

The four years that students spend in high school are excellent preparation for the real world—assuming that they plan to live in a totalitarian society. To the detriment of students as well as teachers, most American high schools continue to embody the sort of traditional, and antidemocratic, practices that I call into question in Feel-Bad Education: And Other Contrarian Essays on Children and Schooling.

In this new book, as in my earlier work, I try to ask the radical questions—by which I mean those that get to the root of what we’re doing rather than looking for ways to tweak the status quo. For example, why do most 15-year-olds have less to say about how they spend their time in school (what they’re learning, and how, and when, and with whom) than do most 5-year-olds in kindergarten? Why do high schools seem designed to make sure that kids won’t feel part of a caring community and won’t really come to know, or be known by, any adults? (more…)

The Social Animal by David Brooks

Several years ago I did some reporting on why so many kids drop out of high school, despite all rational incentives. That took me quickly to studies of early childhood and research on brain formation. Once I started poking around that realm, I found that people who study the mind are giving us an entirely new perspective on who we are and what it takes to flourish.

We’re used to a certain story of success, one that emphasizes getting good grades, getting the right job skills and making the right decisions. But these scientists were peering into the innermost mind and shedding light on the process one level down, in the realm of  emotions, intuitions, perceptions, genetic dispositions and unconscious longings.

I’ve spent several years with their work now, and it’s changed my perspective on everything. In this book, I try to take their various findings and weave them together into one story. This is not a science book. I don’t answer how the brain does things. I try to answer what it all means. I try to explain how these findings  about the deepest recesses of our minds should change the way we see ourselves, raise our kids, conduct business, teach, manage our relationships and practice politics. This story is based on scientific research, but it is really about emotion, character, virtue and love.

We’re not rational animals, or laboring animals; we’re social animals. We emerge out of relationships and live to penetrate each other’s souls.