Tag Archive: reading

2007
02/12

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Teaching

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Book Review – How Children Think and Learn

Gaaaaagh! Have finally (all but) waded through one of the hardest books I’ve ever had to read. Wood’s How Children Think and Learn was the driest, most densely written texts I’ve ever had the misfortune to wade through. It was on our “recommended reading” list so I figured I’d give it a go… after the first chapter or so it became a matter of pride that I would finish the damn book! I’m glad I did, as it not only produced that wonderful quote about tribes in Papua New Guinea having a base 27 counting system but finally had some useful information (in the final chapter, wouldn’t you just know it) for my assignment. But… at the risk of repeating myself… gaaaaagh!

I was eventually reading it section by section (no more than a few pages at a time) of an evening as I sat outside Ted’s room while he settled. The last time I had to work so hard to read a book was for my OU studies (and that was Wide Sargasso Sea, if you’re interested in knowing another book that I’d thoroughly recommend you avoid if don’t absolutely have to read it).

Still – I did finish, and it did contain some useful information. *phew*

2007
02/08

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Teaching

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Book Review – Formative Assessment in Action

A bit of a cheat this one, as I’ve not strictly finished reading it… but I’ve been finding it so useful that I’ve actually returned the library copy and bought Formative Assessment in Action: Weaving the Elements Together, by Shirley Clarke, for myself.

It’s a wonderful book, demonstrating how to go about personalising learning for children (i.e. tailoring the meat of your lessons to their interests and needs) whilst still meeting the curriculum.

The book covers a whole plethora of strategies to use, from talk partners to questioning styles, through how to set “decontextualised” (ugh!) learning objectives (which, from my perspective as an ex-computer programmer, means “abstracted” – so the LO for the lesson isn’t tied directly into the current topic in the children’s minds) and success criteria, to self-assessment and even peer-assessment where the children learn, are able and profit from marking their own and others’ work.

Funnily enough, it’s not straightforward – but it is worthwhile. We’ve been using elements of it at my school, especially in literacy, this year (helped largely by the interests and leanings of the new head – an educational consultant in literacy in his previous role) – and the results have been excellent! The children are all thoroughly enjoying literacy, with some excellent work coming out of (very nearly) all the children – even the ones who, traditionally, haven’t given their all to the subject.

All in all, thoroughly recommended.

2007
01/09

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Teaching

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Random quote time

“Not all societies adopt 10 as the base for their numerical calculations. Saxe (1981) for example, cites a system used by the Oksapmin of Papua New Guinea which is based, not simply on counting fingers, but on many body parts (such as elbows) which are used according to a convention governing the sequence for counting (i.e. to provide a model) which goes from 1 to 27. When exposed to an imported currency system (based on 20 shillings to the pound, the Oksapmin adapted their system to create a base 20 counting system which utilized only the first 20 elements of their original one.”

David Wood, How Children Think and Learn (2nd Edition)

2006
12/01

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Teaching

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Book Review – How Children Learn

As a kind of sequel to “How Children Learn“, John Holt’s “How Children Learn” is another wonderful reminder of how children are, by nature, learning machines. They want to learn. They live to learn. All we have to do is be careful not to drum it out of them in school.

Again, an annotated collection of memos and journal entries, this takes us through a later period of Holt’s life – after he’s had much more experience running a scheme to assist parents in home-schooling their children – but no less fascinating. Again, Holt reminds us that children do wasnt to learn but that the worst we can do is to try and force that education on them – letting them elect to learn is the best way. Admittedly, this doesn’t always fit in a school setting (I’m reminded of a pupil of mine who keeps wanting to read her book during lessons in which she thinks she’s already suitably qualified) but nevertheless it’s a wonderful read and inspirational, to boot.

Again, read it.

2006
10/12

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Teaching

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Book Review – How Children Fail

Well, despite a depressing start (see here) John Holt’s “How Children Fail” this is a corking book for anyone thinking of being, or training to be, a teacher. Aside from the whole range of tactics displayed by children to avoid having to learn, this sows the seeds of how to go about trying to educate children in school.

Admittedly, the author, is mostly in of educating children at home, or in “free-range” schools (my words, not his) such as Montessori schools, but the point of all his musings (and such they are, the book being a chronological collection of annotated memos and diary entries) is that children need to be in an environment that they feel is safe and secure before they can even begin to learn. Given today’s climate of school leagure tables and SAT exams for children at such regular intervals, this is definitely worth reading to remind you that there are children behind all those statistics – children who need personal attention (yes, even the gift and talented ones) in order to feel safe enough to learn.

Read it. Seriously.

Book Review (the first of many, hopefully) – The Language of Discipline

Finally waded through my first non-fiction book (completely, as in all of, as in from start to finish) in… let’s see… um… ages. Definitely months. Almost certainly years.

I read a classroom behaviour management tome by Bill Rogers, “The Language of Discipline: Practical Approach to Classroom Management“; and a fine book it was, too. It wasn’t all rocket science, by any means, in fact there were several parts which, as a parent, rang very familiar indeed. But even those ideas were expanded upon to make them relevant to a “whole class” scenario. Thoroughly recommended.

As a footnote, I’m starting “How Children Fail” by John Holt; so far, so depressing. All I’m being told in the opening pages is how many ways children have of pretending to learn wihtout actually learning. Way to go!

*sigh*