22 Mar 2012
I was reading and blog posting in a nice orderly fashion there for awhile. *Pats self on back* And then suddenly things went hay wire. My reading is quite disorganized lately and my lack of blog posting reflects that! New interests have come up and I am waffling about writing about them here on the blog or keeping it completely focused on literature “reviews”.
The new direction my reading and life are taking, is towards education. Well, self education is nothing new to me. I always have to be learning something or I am bored with life! So I guess this is just a new facet of that. When I started helping my daughter in a more focused way with her school work and began to introduce new subjects to her, I realized I really love teaching her. I love our discussions, love searching and finding new curriculum and books for both of us (seriously I am becoming a curriculum junky!) I love to see her enjoy learning. We have so much fun together talking deeply about books, working out new math strategies (although sometimes we have meltdowns over that lol), and learning about history.
I decided I will probably go to school in the Fall and work towards an Education degree. I don’t plan to be a teacher in the traditional, public school setting. But maybe tutoring or writing curricula for homeschool use. I don’t know yet but I am just enjoying learning about the art of teaching. So a lot of my book purchases and reading reflect that. I am not abandoning my literature quest at all. I am still very determined to read all the great books. But I have to find time for both fiction and non-fiction.
With that in mind here is what I have been reading or adding to my book shelf. The shelving situation btw is now completely beyond all hope lol.
1- A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
I’m not sure what’s going on with me and this book. I just can’t seem to get into it. The problem may be that the story and narration feels so different to me than the other Dickens I’ve read. The bigger issue though, is probably that I just can’t concentrate on it. I’m not giving the book my full attention. Too many things pulling me in too many directions right now. I don’t like the idea of setting it aside and starting over, so I will probably pick it up again next week and try to give it a fair chance and full attention.
2- The Catcher in The Rye by J.D. Salinger
I could not resist picking this up from the library the other day. I read it about 5 times as a teen and have been wondering how different I will feel about the book now 15-20 years later. Right off the bat, I notice that the narration feels different. When I was a kid I felt Holden was talking directly to me. As an adult I read it as him talking to an adult. A doctor maybe? I will probably finish this up over the weekend and then get back to A Tale of Two Cities.
Now for my new non-fiction books…
3- Perrine’s Sound and Sense and Introduction to Poetry
You know I was reading Mary Oliver’s intro to poetry but it was taking me forever and I decided I should stop bogarting it from the library. I heard good things about the Perrine book, so I ordered a used copy off Amazon for a nice price.
Sound and Sense introduces the major elements of poetry in simple, easy-to-understand terms– and offers interesting examples of each– walking students through the process of close reading, with in-depth guidance on how to think and write critically about poetry.
4- The Lively Art of Writing by Lucile Vaughan Payne
I ordered a couple books to brush up on my writing and grammar skills prior to enrolling in school. This one is primarily focused on the art of writing an essay. I am not used to writing to form, so I am a little worried about how I can meld my own writing instinct with the structured demands of a college essay.
For all too many, good writing seems a gift reserved for the “talented” few. Yet this is far from the case. Writing is a skill that can be mastered by anyone willing to learn its relatively few basic principles, and to put them into action. With superb clarity, this book strips away the mystery from wirting. It illumines the uses- and misuses- of words, sentences, paragraphs, and themes.
5- The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need by Susan Thurman
I purchased this book to revisit the parts of a sentence. Not sure yet if it will turn out useful but it was part of Amazon’s 4 for 3 sale, so why not? I’ll use the above two along with a couple other books I already have on my shelf to get my writing in order, hopefully! I already have Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style and On Writing Well by William Zinsser. Zinsser’s book changed the way I wrote after the first read so I am looking forward to reading it again.
6- The Art of Teaching by Gilbert Highet
This is a rather old book, written in the 50s. Some say it is completely out of date and useless. Others say is it one of the best books on teaching ever. So I had to find out which it was for myself!
The noted classicist presents his educational methodology, within the context of history, from the Sophists to modern teaching.
“This book is called The Art of Teaching because I believe that teaching is an art, not a science. It seems to me very dangerous to apply the aims and methods of science to human beings as individuals.”
7- Elementary Mathematics for Teachers complete package
This book focuses exclusively on K-8 mathematics. It develops elementary mathematics at the level of “teacher knowledge”.
(a) How the nature of a mathematics topic suggests an order for developing it in the classroom.
(b) How topics are developed through “teaching sequences” which begin with easy problems and incrementally progress until the topic is mastered.
(c) How the mathematics builds on itself through the grades.
I’ve been wanting to read this for a while but was waffling about buying just the teacher manual or buying the whole set. Finally I decided, with Dh pushing me over the edge lol, to just get the set since the teacher manual refers to the student books and Dd will be able to use all the student books at some point anyway.
This book is from the Singapore Math website, which is the curruculum that I have been using with Dd at home. What I like about the Singapore method is that it really stresses a full understanding of math, not just a superficial procedural understanding. In other words, I want to make sure dd knows what she is doing with numbers and becomes flexible with them vs learning how I did, which was a teacher just telling you “follow these exact steps to the answer” without any greater understanding of why those steps worked.
I don’t know why, but I suddenly find myself fascinated with how to teach math and I am turning into a real math nerd
8-Arithmetic for Parents by Ron Aharoni
Since I was ordering for Singapore’s website, I figured I might as well get the last teacher book I was interested in. This one is written by a professor of mathematics turned elementary teacher and I am really interested in reading his point of view.
One of the insights I came by while teaching in elementary school is that elementary mathematics isn’t simple at all. It has depth and beauty. This message slowly found its way into the book and gave it an additional direction: a description of the beauty of elementary mathematics and, consequently, mathematics in general. Thus my original target audience expanded to include the reader who wishes to return to his childhood mathematics, from a different angle. For this group of readers the book provides a second chance. Those who have learned how to multiply fractions or how to perform long division, but never understood why it was done exactly so, are invited to take a look from a new, mature perspective.