Check out these valuable resources, reviewed by Rethinking Schools editors and Teaching for Change colleagues.
*The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
By Sherman Alexie
(Little, Brown, 2007)
230 pp. $16.99
Award-winning author and filmmaker Sherman Alexie’s new book is an engaging coming- of-age tale of a young boy called Junior on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Junior’s short, easy-to-read yet profound diary entries about sports, romantic interests, family, identity, fights, and racism are illustrated with cartoons. Junior explains: ‘I think the world is a series of broken dams and floods, and my cartoons are tiny little lifeboats.” Readers are introduced to many of the floods in Junior’s life as he leaves the reservation each day to attend a wealthy white school, and to the lifeboats he finds not only in his cartoons but also in family, friends, and himself. The text, laugh-out-loud hilarious at times and bitingly sad at others, is ideal for high school students and adults.
Connected and Respected:
Lessons from the Resolving Conflict Creatively Program K-2
By Ken Breeding and Jane Harris
(Educators for Social Responsibility, 2007)
296 pp. $35
Based on the successful Resolving Conflict Creatively Program, this collection includes 16 lessons for each grade level that help teachers address issues of conflict resolution and emotional literacy. The lessons are easy to follow and can be used as a whole or separately.
49 Ready-to-Use Activities for Grades 4-8
By Patricia Warren and Janet Galle
(NSTA Press, 2005)
252 pp. $28.95
These activities bring hands-on science into the classroom-helping students explore important issues of ecology, relations between living things in different habitats, food webs, and cycles of water, carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen.
Introducing Economics: A Critical Guide for Teaching
By Mark Maier and Julie Nelson
(M.E. Sharpe, 2007)
229 pp. $24.95
High school economics texts are generally paeans to capitalism, offering students lessons in the joys of supply and demand. Introducing Economics is not meant as an alternative economics textbook, but more as a teacher’s companion to provide some critical perspective on how the ‘dismal science” is conventionally taught. As the authors point out, standard texts say little about the environment, distribution of wealth and income, discrimination, unions, and corporate power. Economics teachers will find this a readable and helpful supplement.
Letters from Mississippi:
Reports from Civil Rights Volunteers and Freedom School Poetry of the 1964 Freedom Summer
Edited by Elizabeth Martinez
(Zephyr Press, 2007)
400 pp. $16.95
These letters were written while Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) volunteers were living and working in Mississippi during the 1964 Freedom Summer. Mostly from the north, the young activists wrote passionate, informative, from-theheart letters home to friends and family members. Martinez has organized the letters by key events and this new edition has poetry by teenagers who were Freedom Summer students — adding the voices of the South to this rich, very readable collection. Middle and high school students will enjoy and learn from these personal letters and poetry.
A Teacher Resource Linking Math and Social Justice
By David Stocker
(CCPA Education Project, 2006)
304 pp. $24.95
Fifty high-school level math lessons that address a wide variety of social justice issues. The lessons address a range of math topics, providing background information, specific problems and answers. Many lessons are Canadian-based, but teachers in other countries can easily adapt them with other data. Lessons would be most useful if teachers provide more in-depth contextual background information.
*Moving Beyond Icebreakers:
An Innovative Approach to Group Facilitation, Learning, and Action
By Stanley Pollack with Mary Fusoni
(Center for Teen Empowerment, 2005)
442 pp. $40
Over 300 activities to get groups moving and interacting in thought-provoking ways. Nicely organized into categories such as: warm-up questions, name exercises, 5-minute and 15-minute springboard exercises. Each activity includes goals, materials needed and suggestions for processing. Developed for use with teens, also useful for adults and in elementary classrooms.
Teach Us to Live:
Stories from Hiroshima and Nagasaki
By Diana Wickes Roose
(Intentional Productions, 2007)
144 pp. and CD. $15.95
Eleven hibakusha — survivors of the atomic bombing — tell their own detailed stories of survival and offer moving viewpoints on why nuclear weapons should be abolished. Photos, written transcripts, and quality audio recordings are all useful to teachers and students.
An Exploration of the Lives of Gay and Lesbian Teachers
By Janna Jackson
(Rowman and Littlefield, 2007)
218 pp. $27.95
This unique book examines in-depth the lives of several gay and lesbian teachers and how their own identities and experiences in the broader communities affected their classroom practices of promoting social justice. Provides both theoretical background and practical ideas for teachers and administrators.
When School Reform Goes Wrong
By Nel Noddings
(Teacher College Press, 2007)
92 pp. $19.95
In a short, highly readable book, Noddings debunks many myths about standards, testing, and accountability as she challenges the core tenets of NCLB. Nodding’s level-headed call for the repeal of NCLB and her proposals for fundamental revisions of the NCLB if a repeal is impossible, are timely as public debate around the NCLB reauthorization heats up.
No Presents Please, Bruno Dreams of Ice Cream, and Up and Down
By Peter Whitfield, Illustrated by Nancy Bevington
(Simply Read Books, 2006)
28 pp. $15.95.
These three beautifully illustrated books each contain a philosophical tale. The first is on the need to control angry feelings, the second is on the need for focused attention and caring for others and the third is on the need to calm the mind and enjoy the present.
*’Have You Heard from Johannesburg?”
Directed by Connie Field
(California Newsreel, 2007)
Have You Heard from Johannesburg? tells the inspirational story of the anti-apartheid movement in the United States. These days, with South Africa pushed off the headlines, too many of us seem to have forgotten the African American-led grassroots movement that transformed U.S. foreign policy, and contributed to comprehensive sanctions against the apartheid regime. This is a film that trumpets the message: People make history. Although the film starts slowly and begins with a PBS-like talking-head feel, when it launches into the story of the Free South Africa Movement, it offers viewers a stirring lesson in the power of social justice activism.
A book that makes a nice companion to the film is No Easy Victories: African Liberation and American Activists Over a Half Century, 1950-2000, edited by William Minter, Gail Hovey, and Charles Cobb, Jr. (Africa World Press, 2008; $29.95). Like Have You Heard from Johannesburg?, No Easy Victories unearths a too-often-neglected history of grassroots U.S. solidarity and anti-racist activism. Short sections that focus on individual activists are easily excerpted for classroom use.