Wow! What a read. Certain books are eye-openers, and this is certainly one of them. I admire the author's skill in writing about Smith honestly and opWow! What a read. Certain books are eye-openers, and this is certainly one of them. I admire the author's skill in writing about Smith honestly and openly. He begins by confessing that he is a believer, but tries (and succeeds, in my opinion) to be true to the subject as a historian. The result is a book that will push the boundaries of what some Mormons are comfortable with discussing, but that feels authentic and inspiring nonetheless. In the end, Joseph Smith is a big pill to swallow whole. However, for the first time in my life I feel like I have a grasp of who he was.
My life was changed in reading this book. It would be on my short list of books I think everyone should read....more
I got sucked into this book while on staying at my brother's house. This was on the shelf. I read "Stolen Innocence" a few years ago (the autobiographI got sucked into this book while on staying at my brother's house. This was on the shelf. I read "Stolen Innocence" a few years ago (the autobiography of the woman who escaped the FLDS & took on Warren Jeffs in court.) Jessop's account is more mature--obviously, she was more educated & older when she left & wrote her book. Heartbreaking. I still can't believe that this stuff was happening in my very midst as a child, & still is. So sad that her daughter returned...(I saw her on Oprah. A less than stellar show, I thought.)...more
Basically good ideas, although this should have been labeled K-2. You could stretch it to 3rd, but to say it's relevant for 5th grade is unreasonable.Basically good ideas, although this should have been labeled K-2. You could stretch it to 3rd, but to say it's relevant for 5th grade is unreasonable. You really need Fountas & Pinnell or Lucy Calkins to do justice to literacy education....more
Nazario receieved a Pulitzer Prize for her series in the LA Times, which ultimatley became this story. The extent she went to to deliver this story waNazario receieved a Pulitzer Prize for her series in the LA Times, which ultimatley became this story. The extent she went to to deliver this story was impressive Enrique is a seventeen-year-old Honduran who hazards the journey through Mexico & across the Texan border, largely on trains, in order to find his mother, who left him at age five. I didn't know that approximately 45,000 children complete this journey each year! This number represents only a third of those that are estimated to start the journey, the remaining two thirds are killed, maimed or caught & sent back. Enrique was only successful on his eighth try--altogether lasting four months. Nazario retraced as much of the journey as she dared, & even rode the top of a few trains in order to personalize the experience.
The true tale is a timely one right now, with all the controversy raging about illegal immigration, especially from Mexico & Central America. Don't expect any heroes. These are real folks with real flaws. There are no happy endings, & no easy answers either. Nazario paints the real picture here, with all its complexities & heartaches. She leaves it up to the reader to make their own judgments, which you are less likely to do after seeing the whole picture....more
This was Isaiah's first real novel (read aloud), & he was engrossed from beginning to end. I was surprised at how much he understood (everything)This was Isaiah's first real novel (read aloud), & he was engrossed from beginning to end. I was surprised at how much he understood (everything) & how long the story kept his attention (50-100+ pages in one sitting). After we finished the book I let him watch Disney's animated version & he was excited to tell me all the ways the stories were the same and different. Not bad for a four-year-old! I can see that this book wouldn't be for everyone, but I thought it was delightful. Isaiah really related to the boy puppet right now, for he too is always promising to "be good" & yet, is easily tempted...The version we read had the original illustrations, which we also loved! They aren't Disney, but that was good, because it helped Isaiah see this book as its own story....more
My rating has to do with the writing, not the KIPP idea, although I will address that later. Mathews was all over the place, & there were chaptersMy rating has to do with the writing, not the KIPP idea, although I will address that later. Mathews was all over the place, & there were chapters stuck in places that made no sense. He starts the book in the middle of Feinberg's class in 1995. Jump back to 1992, when Feinberg & Levin first met. No big deal. The transition was choppy, but it made sense. From there it mostly follows the narrative of two guys learning to teach, getting better, starting out on their own...then. 43 pages in, we interrupt this program for a chapter on Feinberg's upbringing. Odd. Then one on Levin. Then, back to the story. 100 pages later Mathews does it again. In the middle of the story he interrupts with a chapter about Ball falling in love & getting married & losing her husband in a tragic death. All this happened several years before she ever met Levin, & had nothing whatsover to do with the KIPP story. Besides these weird chapters, the narrative was completely lost in the back & forth. Not only do you have to keep two sites clear, but he jumps from 1995 to 2005 & every year in between. I got sick of trying to keep all the vignettes in context. It was annoying.
Now for the KIPP idea itself (which I would rate significantly higher, but not a 5.) When I first heard of KIPP I knew Rafe Esquith HAD to be somewhat connected to it. The longer school days, the slogans, the belief that inner city children can achieve...so when I found this book about the KIPP story I had to read it. It turns out Esquith was one of two teachers that inspired two guys doing their Teach for America stints, and they created KIPP. I think there's a lot of merit for KIPP, & I look forward to actually visiting a school one of these days, but my reaction is somewhat mixed, & I think they failed to pick up on the aspects of Esquith's teaching that I was most impressed by.
Esquith has accomplished a great deal with his 5th graders. Unabridged Shakespeare shows every year, trips around the world, students in Ivy League schools, & high test scores. But what I like most about him is his approach to discipline & classroom management. He uses Kohlberg's Levels of Morality, & challenges his kids to be level six thinkers. (Level six thinkers have a pesonal code of behavior & follow it.) He expends tremendous amounts of energy teaching his children the meaning of character. Best of all, he teaches by example. He tries his best to walk the walk, (& tells about all the bumps in the road when he messed up) in spite of the crazy education bureaucracy he has to deal with. It is possibly the most important thing he teaches.
Feinberg & Levin picked up on all the outward aspects of Esquith's teaching: the trips, the glossy test results, the long school days, the lessons on decorum. But they come up short on Kohlberg's Levels of Morality. In short, they are level one thinkers, turning out level one thinker students. It's hard to teach students integrity & then teach them to lie & steal in order to get a better deal at a motel. They use intimidation & shame to bring their kids in line. They do not treat others well & make total nuisances of themselves, throwing tantrums & screaming at supervisors. Throwing chairs--& breaking a window--when students come up short on assignments!? (I find it intriging that they use Esquith's "Be nice. Work hard." mantra with their students when they fail to do so themselves.) Yes, they work hard (& I do give them credit), but niceness? Not by a long shot. I do believe that working in the system has its annoyances, but again, I credit Esquith for rising to that higher level. Mostly. (He was also known as a nuisance among colleagues, but I don't think he ever threw any chairs or screamed. I can't imagine he ever told his kids to lie or steal during one of his DC trips. He mostly just raises difficult questions at faculty meetings & fails to conform to ridiculous expectations.)
The other bone I have to pick is that Levin & Feinberg concentrated on hiring TFA teachers rather than those of us with traditional teacher preparation backgrounds, as if we were inferior. Feinberg & Levin would have gone nowhere if it hadn't have been for Esquith & Ball, two teachers with traditional backgrounds. TFA has been criticized for putting ill-prepared teachers in front of the classroom, at poor kids' expense. I didn't see anything in this book that made me think otherwise. Feinberg & Levin themselves were poor teachers their first years. I found myself getting angry over the chapter when they fired the 6th grade math teacher after 3 months. They admitted he wasn't bad, he just hadn't found his rhythm. I guess they must have forgotten their own start! It's not that I object to firing bad teachers. And I understand the pressure they are under at KIPP to achieve high scores, but I just found their actions supremely hypocritical.
The chapter on KIPP critics was glossed over. It's a big deal that nearly half of the students drop out of the program before they finish eighth grade, the largest block leave after only one year in the program. (Mathews does not draw this conclusion.) Esquith comments in his book that he was aware of some teachers who he had mentored who are starting schools that are nothing short of Dickensian workhouses. I am pretty sure he was talking about KIPP, although I can't be sure. They use the trips, the fast-food, & the perks as rewards for hard work. But in Esquith's classroom it is the hard work that the kids become addicted to. Esquith is focused on the PROCESS, not the PRODUCT. At KIPP, I get the feeling that it's the other way around. After reading Esquith's books I found myself wishing I could be in his class, or at least teach next door! After reading this book I am scared to teach at KIPP. Way too much pressure! The part where Dippel breaks down after her kids' test scores come in...well, that says volumes to me. If there is that much pressure on the teachers, you have to know there is that much pressure on the kids too.
So these are my criticisms of KIPP after reading this book, but I'd still give it high marks. The jury is still out. KIPP seems to be doing good work out there, & it's still young. ...more
A book full of stereotypes, but useful nonetheless. I think the point of the book is to paint a broad picture of students in poverty. I think any teacA book full of stereotypes, but useful nonetheless. I think the point of the book is to paint a broad picture of students in poverty. I think any teachers in urban, low-income districts would find this book helpful. More concrete applications would have been nice. The annotated footnotes at the end of the book were very good. ...more