Category Archives: reading

Mindsets in the Classroom by Mary Cay Ricci

I’m reading this book to prepare for professional development which I am leading in the fall.

I just hit something I want to remember and didn’t quite know where to put it so, here I am. It’s been three years since I blogged anything. I write my reviews on Goodreads and I tweet periodically things I find which interest me but for more in-depth work, I guess this is where it goes.

From Guy Kawasaki’s book Enchantment p. 33: “Eaters and bakers. Eaters want a bigger slice of an existing pie; bakers want to make a bigger pie. Eaters think that if they win, you lose, and if you win,, they lose. Bakers think that everyone can live with a bigger pie.”

This quote makes me think about life in competitive dance. It’s very hard to keep your child remembering that all of their class can improve as dancers and yet that’s what makes dance so engaging and exciting. Just because you dance well doesn’t mean I can’t dance well. On one day to one examiner or adjudicator one of us may be ranked higher but that isn’t the end or beginning. It’s just one day.

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My fixed mindset

I have a fixed mindset when it comes to my athletic ability. I stopped thinking of myself as an athlete long ago – grade nine or so. I was one of 90 girls who tried out for Junior and Freshman basketball. They cut to 40 after one day. I didn’t make it. Then in the later part of the year, I spent the whole track season looking for something at which I would be competent. This meant that I would be among the top three in my age category because it didn’t seem to matter if you were less good than that. My school was large. I wasn’t that good at anything. They recommended middle distance running. It didn’t interest me. That was the complete end for me in athletics. I spent the rest of my high school career in fine arts and academics. I was in the top of my class but there were 60 or so of us in the higher academic stream. I ‘belonged’ there. I was among the best of the musicians.

I married an athlete. I see him take so-so runners and encourage them to be active and enjoy their own improvement. I wish I had considered improving my own athletic ability before I got arthritis in my feet. I’m not sure I would have ever loved to run but perhaps if I had been better earlier in my life, it would have made a difference.

I struggle with my fixed mindset when I work with disadvantaged students. Students who have already given up on themselves and are not motivated to learn are hard to teach. It’s not that I don’t think they can, I don’t think they will. I’m not sure how to move that part of my thinking. It’s not a long distance from ‘they won’t’ to ‘they can’t’.

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Egg Money Edited by Deana Driver

EggMoney1

Photo Credit:  http://www.saskatoongermandays.ca/eggmoney.html

Egg Money is a collection of biographies about Saskatchewan pioneer women and their experiences in the early 1900’s in Saskatchewan.  The stories are told by family members and friends of the women and give a glimpse into the life and times of the early colonial period in Saskatchewan.  History does not often spend time on women and daily life, so these stories expand a person’s understanding of this time period.  The book includes maps and photographs to enrich the text.  While I wouldn’t put this book into every school library on the prairies, it is a worthy addition to the historical record and would be helpful for talking about how we view history and discussing which voices get heard and which are silent.

Genre: biography, history

Rating:  Good

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The Inferior by Peadar O Guilin

Wood carved Shipibo ornamental Spear

Stopmouth and his Tribe battle for their daily existence against other rival species in an environment largely devoid of plant life and small animals. They must hunt to survive and often exchange their weakest members with their rivals to secure food. Life is hard, brutish and short.
Stopmouth is the younger, less talented member of his family.  His brother is known for his courage and skill. They have been both companions and rivals. On his brother’s wedding day, Stopmouth is betrayed when their hunting excursion goes terribly wrong. Not long later, a woman falls from the sky and through both his life is irrevocably changed. Stopmouth is a complex and well-developed character.  The first person narrative keeps us embedded in the plot and fully aware of his thoughts and feelings.
Guilín’s book is one of action and intrigue. The quest for power and for knowledge, the nature of religious belief and rituals, and the relationship between justice and punishment make this an interesting read. Guilín’s world and its primitive society some perseverance to keep straight. A good book to recommend for readers who enjoyed Hunger Games and are interested in a different take on the reality-television-game-to-the-death.
Tackles the themes of survival, relationship between hunter and prey, ethics of hunting, the role of communication in inter-personal and national relationships, the complexity of cultural understanding. Genre: adventure, fantasy. Gr. 7-up.
Rating: good

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Wolf Blood by N.M. Browne

crossbowman

Trista, a runaway slave, and, Morcant, a deserting Roman soldier, are on the run in the wilds of Britain.  Each of them has a powerful gift and need each other to survive the harsh winter, the warring tribes and the Roman attackers.  Browne’s story is adventure, fantasy and history well-mixed.

It is refreshing to read a story of early Britain which includes druids but not King Arthur.  Browne’s language and story will challenge and reward the young adult reader.  While I would not hesitate to put this book into a high school library, I would think twice for a small elementary school.  The language and complexity would require a skilled reader which although present in my school population are of more limited numbers.  Themes include: survival, conflict, trust, loyalty and courage.  Curriculum connections:  fantasy, adventure

Rating:  Very Good

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Escape Velocity by Robin Stevenson

crow

Lou Summers is getting by.  Her father is a good guy but he’s been injured at work and is in chronic pain. They’ve moved around a bunch and have landed most recently in Drumheller.  Lou is so used to moving, she doesn’t bother to try to make friends anymore just duck in under the radar and stay that way. Lou’s mother left when she was born and has only recently had even minimal contact with her. But when her father has a heart-attack, Lou has to go and live with her mother.  A women, she hardly knows who doesn’t like her or seem to want her to stay.
Robin Stevenson is a capable writer who takes the coming of age story and makes you care. Her characters and situations feel real and plausible.  A well-written and well-paced story for young adults.  Suitable for students grade 5 and up. A selection which will appeal particularly to female fans of realistic fiction.  Possible curricular tie-ins – growing up, family, search for identity.
Rating: excellent –  well worth purchasing for the K-8 library and 7-12 lib

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Crypt – The Gallows Curse by Andrew Hammond

The Harley Man

Jamie Goode, aka Jud Lester, is a teenaged agent in a special covert division of MI5 investigating the paranormal.  A string of brutal unexplainable crimes are sweeping London and the witnesses have remarkably similar yet totally unbelievable stories.  Dark and swirling offenders, accompanied by cold and cockroaches, and bearing the scars of a noose.  Lester and his fellow agents must find out the source and set things right without allowing their work or even the existence of their organization to be discovered.
 Andrew Hammond tells modern and technologically infused scary story and while I expect it will appeal to quite a number of my students, this kind of fiction is not my  cup of tea.  A spy adventure/horror story set in modern-day England, it is suitable for the YA section of the library.  Edges of a romance will aid the books appeal to some while the gruesome macabre scenes will appeal to others.  Recreational reading material.
Rating: Very Good
Review – Fringe

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