1. May 2018 Book Review: “Deeper Reading”

    Photo of the book Deeper Reading by Kelly Gallagher with a quote from the book.

    Deeper Reading explores the difference between “assigning” reading and “teaching” reading. Gallagher believes that teachers are the critical factor in helping students to become better readers. The strategies presented assist teachers in crafting lessons that help students achieve deeper meaning when reading complex text.

    Based upon research and classroom-tested experiences, Deeper Reading outlines:

    • A Model for Teaching Challenging Text. The model moves the student from a surface level understanding to a deeper level of understanding. In essence, the model provides techniques on how to frame the text, strategies to engage the reader, and the significance of collaboration, metaphors, and reflection.
    • How first- and second-draft reading strategies focus the reader and support student comprehension. The strategies presented can be adapted to any type of text (e.g., novels, textbooks, primary sources, etc.).
    • The importance of designing activities that foster student collaboration. When working in groups, students’ increase skills in critical thinking, communication, reading and writing.
    • The value of reflection as students learn to connect the text to themselves and the world.

    Across the country, teachers encounter students who ask the question, “Why do we have to read this?” Gallagher’s model supports educators in not only addressing this question, but also provides guidance on effective lesson planning that delivers engaging reading instruction. The strategies shared in this resource empower students to think critically, think metaphorically, and to reflect–all which will lead to deeper comprehension.

    Book Study Questions for Deeper Reading

    1. According to the author, the adolescent reader needs support and scaffolding prior to a reading assignment. What ways do you provide support/scaffolding for your students?
    2. Describe the dangers of not spending time “focusing” the reader.
    3. Throughout the text, the author describes the importance of a second reading. Discuss your position on second readings.
    4. Consider how you have grouped students in the past for collaboration on an assignment. Based on your reading, summarize how you will modify your grouping techniques.
    5. In Chapter 7, the author addresses the visual side of metaphor creation, providing several examples. Describe why the use of metaphor is such a powerful strategy.
    6. “Why do we have to read this?” is an all too common question voiced by adolescents. Using the suggestions in the text, describe how you will respond the next time students ask this question.


    Deeper Reading, Kelly Gallagher; Stenhouse Publishers, Portland, ME. 2004.

  2. March 2018 Book Review: “Engaging Students With Poverty in Mind”

    Photo of the book Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind by Eric Jensen with a quote from the book.

    Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind by Eric Jensen is a follow-up to January’s book review of Teaching with Poverty in Mind. Here, Jensen digs deeper into engagement as the key factor in the academic success of economically disadvantaged students.

    Drawing from research, experience, and real school success stories, Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind outlines:

    • Smart, purposeful engagement strategies that all teachers can use to expand students’ cognitive capacity, increase motivation and effort, and build deep, enduring understanding of content.
    • The unwritten rules for engagement that are essential for increasing student achievement.
    • How automating engagement in the classroom can help teachers use instructional time more effectively and empower students to take ownership of their learning.
    • Steps teachers and leaders can take to create an exciting yet realistic implementation plan.

    Too many  students are tuning out and dropping out because of the school’s failure to engage them. It’s time to set the bar higher. Until learning is made the best part of every student’s day, schools will struggle with attendance, achievement, and graduation rates. This resource helps educators take immediate action to revitalize and enrich instructional practice so that all students may thrive in school and beyond.

    Check it out!

    Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind – Practical Strategies for Raising Achievement, Eric Jensen; ASCD, Alexandria, VA. 2013.

  3. January 2018 Book Review: “Teaching With Poverty in Mind”

    “When educators believe students are competent, students tend to perform better; conversely, when educators believe students have deficits, students tend to perform more poorly.” Eric Jensen, Teaching with Poverty in Mind

    Jensen’s comments relate directly to last months’ book review of Mindset by Carol Dweck. If educators engage a growth mindset regarding students from poverty, positive results are possible.

    But in order to achieve these positive results, educators need first to understand how poverty affects students and their learning and then implement action steps that lead to success. In Teaching With Poverty in Mind, Jensen combines research, experience, and stories from successful schools to outline:

    • What poverty is and how it affects students in school;
    • What drives change both at the macro level (within schools and districts) and at the micro level (inside a student’s brain);
    • Effective strategies from people who have succeeded and ways to replicate best practices;
    • How to engage resources to make change happen.

    Living in poverty can cause detrimental changes to the brain and have profound life-long affects; however, providing a rich, balanced learning environment and caring relationships has the potential to enrich the minds and lives of all students.

    Check it out!

    Teaching With Poverty in Mind – What Being Poor Does to Kids’ Brains and What Schools Can Do About It, Eric Jensen; ASCD, Alexandria, VA. 2009.

  4. December 2017 Book Review: “Mindset-The New Psychology of Success”

    “Experts agree that Jackson Pollock had little native talent for art, and when you look at his early products, it showed. They also agree that he became one of the greatest American painters of the twentieth century and that he revolutionized modern art. How did he go from point A to point B?” Carol Dweck, Mindset

    Oprah Winfrey
    Bill Gates
    Billie Jean King
    Benjamin Franklin
    Charlize Theron
    Simon Cowell
    Steve Jobs
    Vincent Van Gogh
    Michael Jordan
    Nelson Mandela
    Joan of Arc
    Hellen Keller
    Benedict Cumberbatch
    Rosa Parks
    Jackie Joyner-Kersee
    Stephen Hawking
    Jesse Owens
    J. K. Rowling
    Thomas Edison
    Malala Yousafzai

    What does this list of amazingly successful people have in common?
    All have persevered and overcome challenges in their lives to achieve great things.

    Did they struggle?

    Were there obstacles in their way?

    So what quality did each person possess that propelled them to greatness?
    A growth mindset.

    “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”

    Contrast this concept of growth mindset with that of a fixed mindset – the belief that basic qualities, such as intelligence or talent, are fixed traits; that talent alone creates success without effort.

    Would Michael Jordan have been one of the greatest basketball players of all time with a fixed mindset? Not only was Jordan cut from his high school’s varsity team, he never got recruited to play for his top college team, and was passed up during the first two draft picks in the NBA. He used these “failures” as motivators to propel him to success. “I’ve missed more than nine thousand shots. I’ve lost almost three hundred games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot, and missed, and that is why I succeed.” (Dweck, 2006) He succeeds because he has trained his mind to see failure as a challenge and an opportunity for growth.

    Carry the idea of fixed and growth mindsets not only into sports, but into business, school, and relationships. How could a growth mindset positively affect a student, parent, teacher, principal, or board member? How might a fixed mindset be holding someone back? Thomas Edison understood the mindset concept even before Carol Dweck conducted the research. “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” (Thomas Edison)

    How do you approach goals? Could a shift in mindset be a shift in success?

    Growth MindsetFixed Mindset
    I can learn anything I want to.I'm either good at it, or I'm not.
    When I'm frustrated, I persevere.When I'm frustrated, I give up.
    I want to challenge myself.I don't like to be challenged.
    When I fail, I learn.When I fail, I'm no good.
    Tell me I try hard.Tell me I'm smart.
    If you succeed, I'm inspired.If you succeed, I feel threatened.
    My effort and attitude determine everything.My abilities determine everything.

    Check it out!

    Mindset – The New Psychology of Success, Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.; Ballantine Books, New York, NY. 2006.