Thirteen Ways to Read More in 2013

January 1, 2013 // 2 Comments

I did not make 52 books this year, but I’m OK with that. For the past three years, Mark and I have read and blogged about a book a week here. It’s been one of the best goals that I’ve set out and accomplished. I loved reading so much and talking about those books with others. This year was slightly different. We adopted our second son Josiah in May. When he came, I knew that there was no way for me to continue reading at that pace, but I still wanted to read and blog what I could. I made it to 38 having two young sons, a busy time traveling in the States, and teaching five advanced English courses with lots and lots of essays to grade. With all that, I’m happy with 38. With all this going on, I still wanted to carve out time to read not just to meet a self-imposed goal, but because reading is valuable. Books are important, and reading them adds to our quality of living. Many people say, “I’d love to read more, but I can’t because________.” This blank is filled with reasons that are legion. If this is you, let me […]

Ron’s #30: I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had by Tony Danza

November 17, 2012 // 1 Comment

I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had by Tony Danza is my winner for the most surprisingly good book that I’ve read this year. I had no intention of reading this when I found it on the rack in the on-base thrift store. I remember hearing something about Tony Danza from Taxi and Who’s the Boss? making a reality show about teaching. It sounded pandering and hokey, so I didn’t think more about it until I saw this book. I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had is the account of the year he spent in Northeast High School in Philadelphia. I read a few pages, and then a chapter, and then I couldn’t seem to stop. There are two main points that I learned from reading this book. The first is that Danza is a sincere and humble man who tried so hard to do a good job teaching this class of 10th grade English. There was no sense of doing it only for the cameras, or to show off his acting chops (the kids hardly knew who he really was). This is a man who took the job of teaching seriously, and worked […]

Ron’s #22: Write Like This by Kelly Gallagher

August 28, 2012 // 0 Comments

Reading a book or two about teaching is something that is important to me as I keep trying to develop my skills as a teacher. I read another book by Kelly Gallagher a few years ago, so I wanted to read this one. I’m glad I did because it offered many excellent tips in how to help students write better. His main philosophy stems from these two premises: 1. Teach kids to write in the modes that they will need to write in college and in the real world. 2. Write along with your students. Gallagher is a seasoned teacher who clearly loves writing and teaching writing. He is a good mentor to have as I try to better equip my students to improve in writing. Here’s a brief video of Gallagher discussing the book. Share on Facebook

Ron’s #2: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

January 29, 2012 // 0 Comments

When I was in Mrs. Neidz’s 9th grade English class, I tried to bluff my way through discussions using only the Cliffsnotes version of reading Huck Finn. I hoped it was good enough to help me pass the quizzes. During the class, I found myself interested in the story and actually wished I had read the book. Never enough to actually read it, though. It took me over ten years to actually read it for myself. I earned a D in 9th grade English, by the way. Huck Finn is a classic for a reason: it is really, really good. Part adventure down the Mississippi, part friendship between Huck and Jim, part social commentary on the treatment of blacks in the South. It is an important book, and no high school student should graduate without reading it. Sadly, many teachers today shy away from it because of the overabundance of the use of the N-word, a hyper-reaction to political correctness. Most educated readers will quickly see that this is as racist as Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” is cannibalistic. I’ve taught Huck Finn many times, and I still find new aspects to appreciate and enjoy about the book. And for […]

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