On the blog:
- A curated list of some great online reading from last week
- 10 suggestions for getting started with #summerPD
- A slice about what my son has taught me
I enjoyed the first of Jeffrey Brown’s cartoon collections set in the Star Wars universe. My knowledge of Star Wars is limited to the first three movies (the real first three movies), and I was able to get the jokes. But Brown’s knowledge of Star Wars far outpaces mine, and he lost me many times in Darth Vader and Friends. There were a few jokes that made me laugh, but I also made a lot of blank faces. A fun choice for the more hardcore Star Wars fan.
Abigail Thomas is one of my favorite memoirists (if you haven’t read Safekeeping or A Three Dog Life, start there). Her new book, What Comes Next and How to Like It, focuses on friendship, family, art, and, most of all, aging. It’s a hard memoir to describe, as it meanders and Thomas often seems to be trying to capture whatever is on her mind that day rather than focusing on a particular thread, theme, or set of experiences. Perhaps the best way to describe it is to say that Thomas is trying to capture life here, in all its mess and contradictions, serenity and despair.
I’ve been reading several professional development books and finally finished one, Cathy Fleischer and Sarah Andrew-Vaughan’s Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone: Helping Students Navigate Unfamiliar Genres. In this book, the authors, a college professor and high school teacher, share several versions of a writing project that serves as the core of their writing workshop. In this major project (which, in its shortest version, takes about four weeks of workshop time), students select a genre that’s unfamiliar and challenging to explore, analyze, and write in. Fleischer and Andrew-Vaughan have created a well-designed project with many different components that balances research, reading, and several types of writing. And they do have some interesting things to say about why it’s useful to study genre as well as interesting approaches to genres familiar (memoir, journalism) and not (author blurbs). If you teach through genre study, you’d probably find this book a valuable read. It’s a bit heavier on the how-to than I like my professional development books now, but that makes it a good choice to share with my pre-service teachers, who tend to be much more concerned with the how than the why. The authors do attempt to balance the how-to with a chapter of why-to at the beginning.
A Rule Is to Break: A Child’s Guide to Anarchy is really a book after my own heart. I’ve never met a rule that I don’t want to break. But I thought the premise and promise here were greater than the ultimate product. There is something unresolved in the concept. The message isn’t quite coherent throughout. There is the spread early on with “When someone says, ‘Work,’ you say ‘WHY?'” but the rest of the book contains quite a bit of work. Making your own costume. Growing your own vegetables. I wasn’t really sure what rules were meant to be broken–or why. Ultimately, this is a rather tame and sweet little book about listening to yourself to figure out what’s true and best for you.
I’ve got to keep my Monday post short today. My son broke his finger this weekend, and I am on beck and call. But we did also enjoy: