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Thursday, February 21, 2008

My Current Book Reviews: PBL, Special Needs, Instruction Design, Photography, and a Fiction Novel



I've been reading a lot lately and have come across several books I'd like to share with you. (I'm starting to get some books from publishers, and am overjoyed to get them... I like to share the best!)

Project Based Learning & Technology

Reinventing Project-Based Learning: Your Field Guide to Real-World Projects in the Digital Age - This book by Jane Krauss and Suzie Boss is a gem. Julie Lindsay and I were talking today about what a great overview this book is. I think this book is a must buy for those who are looking to implement flat classroom-type projects. Excellent book!

My recommended audience:
  • I think that curriculum directors and teachers will enjoy this book because it is very practical and will help with implementation of projects using technology that also support research-based best practices.
  • It is also a must read for professional developers who focus on technology.

What is is in this book: The book covers many examples of projects and covers preplanning, management of the projects, and assessment. They have also covered many Web 2 tools and their usefulness in the classroom. It is practical and jargon-free.

Instructional Design
Gadgets, Games and Gizmos for Learning: Tools and Techniques for Transferring Know-How from Boomers to Gamers (Pfeiffer Essential Resources for Training and HR Professionals) by Karl Kapp is another fascinating read.

My recommended audience:
  • Book publishers,
  • software developers,
  • anyone creating websites, software, or simulations designed to teach today's student (or employee.)
  • I also recommend this book for innovators and professional developers who want to understand the tools and methods for teaching today's students -- I found it helpful as a teacher to understand the types of activities that I should look for based upon what I'm trying to teach.

What is is in this book: If you want to understand the best online activities based upon the types of knowledge you're trying to convey, then this is a great book for you. It is a vital book for software / interface / online activity designers and I wish I could MAKE every textbook company read this book. They need to understand the types of tools they need to develop as ancillary products to the textbooks for the classroom teacher.

Special Needs, Differentiated Instruction, Proven Methods for Improving Student Results
Co-Teaching in the Differentiated Classroom: Successful Collaboration, Lesson Design, and Classroom Management, Grades 5-12 - by Melinda L. Fattig and Maureen Tormey Taylor

Recommended Audience:
  • All special needs teachers,
  • gifted and exceptional children coordinators and directors,
  • teachers who love differentiated instruction,
  • educational researchers who want to see what differentiated instruction looks like in the classroom.
  • This is a great resource for your school's educational library.

What is is in this book: This is what more classroom teachers need to do... write books. These two teachers partnered to bring together a full range of student ability levels in one classroom. This book discusses a co-teaching model that works and why they are using the model. It is chock full of simple explanations of things like Blooms Taxonomy but also shows HOW to do this in the classroom. They actually teach their students Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences!

The authors say:

"In the first year, the results-both academic and behavioral - were astonishing. Detentions were down 66 percent and suspensions reduced 50 percent for the same group of kids. Three-fourths of the learning-dsabled students mastered their academic goals and objectives compared to 45 per cent the previous year... I evolved from despising both the teacher I had become and the students I taught to wanting to do nothing other than work with these kids... This is why I became a teacher. This is why I now love my job."


I found many ideas for my own classroom (including a phenomenal set of activities for the first week of school to talk about feelings and respect for one another.) I'm relying heavily on this book for a presentation I'm doing next week in Illinois. While it doesn't talk a lot about technology, it is a great book! I learned a lot from it!

Photography

The Digital Photography Book and The Digital Photography Book, Volume 2 (Digital Photography) by Scott Kelby

Audience:
  • Those who want to learn more about photography or who teach graphic design and photography.
  • ALL yearbook staff photographers and photo retouchers and advisors.
  • Anyone who owns a NICE Canon or Nikon camera. (You will need a camera that you can set manually to follow a lot of the instructions, but you can learn a lot even if you cannot.)
  • People who want to take photos and make money selling them on a place like istockphoto.com.
  • Someone getting ready to BUY camera equipment for any purpose. (Get this BEFORE you buy!)
What is is in this book: I've ordered volume 2 and it is coming in the mail tomorrow, however, volume 1 has taken me from photobug to more of a photopro. I've bought at least 5 photography books and this is honestly the only one that makes sense to me.

Rather than explain the fstop or the ISO, it talks about the types of pictures you may want to take: flowers, people, landscapes, sports, weddings, travel, and city shots. It tells you the EXACT camera settings to use depending on what you want to do. (I just write in the book what I want to do after I find the instructions in my camera's user manual.) He teaches you how to retouch the photo AND how to print the photo. He also shares lots of little gadgets to get and lower priced versions of them.

This is not a book to share! I was going to share it with my sister, however, I have written all over my book with the specific information for my camera. I bought her her very own. I think it would be helpful for each photographer or camera to have their very own copy of this book -- keep it in the camera bag. I'm not kidding!

Heart Thumping Action Novel (Fiction)
Deception Point by Dan Brown

Audience:
  • People who like action, mystery novels
  • Conspiracy theory kind of people!
What is in this book:
I'm probably the only one on the planet who hadn't read this book. When I had a turbo cleaning session this weekend, I listened to this book. I really LOVED this book. It inhaled me and didn't let me go until the end. It reinforced my thoughts that things are often not what they seem, especially in Washington DC (I worked there... I can say that!) I loved this book!
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