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New Releases: Atypical Classroom Texts

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It's been a while since we've done a book list here at BookMarks, but I have a growing pile of books at my desk from the last academic year that I thought would be fun to share. They involve unusual lesson plans and ideas that you might be interested in as summer approaches, things wind down, and you have time to decompress and think about your plans for the coming year.

Being Visual: Raising a Generation of Innovative Thinkers, by Bette Fetter (Grape Lot Press, 2012). According to Fetter, approximately 70 to 90 percent of the information received by the brain arrives via visual channels. The current test-focused education system fails the majority of students because it neglects visual clues, she says. In this book she discusses different learning styles, visual study techniques, effective writing strategies, and the visual needs of students with autism, ADD, and dyslexia.

The Coombes Approach: Learning Through an Experiential and Outdoor Curriculum, by Susan Rowe and Susan Humphries (Continuum, 2012). The Coombes School in the United Kingdom has spent 40 years developing its approach to early-childhood education, an approach for which it is internationally known. This book by the founder and the former head teacher of the school focuses on the school's outdoor classroom and its cultivation as a sustainable environment for children to learn and play within.

From Inspiration to Red Carpet: Host Your Own Student Film Festival, by William L. Bass, Christian Goodrich, and Kim Lindskog (ISTE, 2013). This book was designed by technology integration specialists to bring technology into the classroom. They created a film festival for the Parkway School District, in Chesterfield, Mo., and have pulled together a volume that shares how they did it. (Who knows? The next Tim Burton, Edgar Wright, Michael Bay, or Kathryn Bigelow could be lurking in your classroom.)

Inspiring Writing through Drama: Creative Approaches to Teaching Ages 7-16, by Patrice Baldwin and Rob John (Bloomsbury, 2012). In a world that is becoming shorter and terser as social media and technology-based conversations become standard forms of communication, the authors of this book argue for a creative approach to the development of literacy: using drama to inspire students to become both writers and actors.

Jake's Fishing Facts: All You Need to Know About Freshwater Fishing, by Jake Bussolini (AuthorHouse, 2013). This is a self-published book, but it's written by a retired aerospace engineer who has been freshwater fishing for more than 70 years. It reads like your granddad telling you about the ins and outs of fishing, which you might find useful if you're contemplating throwing in a fishing lesson as part of a field trip.

Serious Comix: Engaging Students with Digital Storyboards, by Eydie Wilson (ISTE, 2013). Wilson uses her own experiences working through the Serious Comix project with her special-needs students and outlines the measures she put in place to ensure differentiated student learning. (For those interested in having their students create their own comics in a digital online environment, this Marvel website is worth checking out.)

Why Think? Philosophical Play from 3-11, by Sara Stanley (Continuum, 2012). Philosophy for Children—also known as P4C, according to Stanley—is a "method of introducing philosophical thinking into the child's curriculum." Everyone is a philosopher at heart, she says, and the methods she proposes are a way of unlocking children's innate curiosity by giving them the tools for "genuine enquiry."

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