Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Showing Students What Real Writers Do

     Kate Messner, an award-winning writer of children's books and a classroom teacher, now offers a book that should help other teachers and their students. Real Revision gives both of them an inside look into what actual writers must do on a daily basis. And what is that, exactly? Revise, revise, revise -- and revise even more.
     As a former English teacher (middle and high school), I know this is the furthest from many students' interest. I also know that we have some excellent writers under the age of 18. I hope some of them take Messner's book to heart. I'd love to see their talent grow.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Book: "Who's Teaching Your Children?"

     It has taken me a month to read through Vivian Troen and Katherine Boles's well-researched Who's Teaching Your Children? No, it's not because it wasn't written well or didn't engage me -- quite the opposite. I kept pausing to breathe, to think, to vent.
     The authors blasted many of the problems of today's schools. With politicians around blaming the teachers, teachers, teachers for the poor performance of some schools, Troen and Boles take aim at the way public schools are viewed by society -- as a second-class profession. Education schools are notoriously easy to enter and graduate from, the pay is poor, and the profession itself is flat, giving little encouragement or opportunity for teachers to better their instruction in the schools, and those with advanced knowledge and skills perform the same tasks as the novice. No wonder charter schools, home schooling, and private schools are flourishing, they argue, and the immense drain those cause on public schools would diminish significantly if the public policy designed a route entering professionals would take to grow from student teacher to master teacher.
     I applaud the efforts by the authors. Perhaps someone out there will take notice. And someone needs to -- fast.