Sunday, February 1, 2009

New Favorite Teaching Book

Esteemed colleague and good friend John Marzion introduced me to a book he read for his master's class: Star Teachers of Children in Poverty by Martin Haberman.

Last summer, I plowed through a book What Every Middle School Teacher Should Know by Trudi Knowles and Dave F. Brown. In it, the authors distill many years of research into how adolescents learn, much of it gleaned from brain research. The book instantly became a favorite because it crystallized so much of my thinking about how we should be teaching kids. How most traditional middle schools organize teaching is not the way to prepare kids.

In Star Teachers, and I've only read one chapter, Haberman, a UW-Milwaukee professor, talks about how star teachers operate. For instance, in chapter 1, star teachers:
- don't hammer kids with mistakes. They find out how to reach the kid with work that is meaningful and important to the child.
- realize that a safe and productive learning environment is the most important factor in reducing classroom discipline issues.
- homework should be meaningful, exploratory, available for all students, and should be shared, not checked off in a gradebook.
- look for effort and grade that, not ability.
- use some kind of project-based learning.
- realize that their biggest task is to turn kids on to learning, to become independent learners.

I can't wait to read the rest of this.

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