Have You Read…?

June 23, 2006 at 5:28 pm | Posted in uncategorized | 26 Comments

Sharing books you've read for pleasure or those related to your subject area with your students addresses the following:

  • Allows your students to see you modeling reading for pleasure.
  • Connects you with your students on a more personal level.
  • Helps to create a reading community within your classroom.
  • Introduces your students to books they might not discover on their own.

Reflect on the book you read for pleasure.  Include the title and author, a brief summary, favorite part, and any recommendations.  Check the replies of others in the class to see if you have already read one of the titles or are now interested in reading one of the books. 

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  1. I am having a fabulous time reading the most entertaining book called How to Dunk a Doughnut: The Science of Everyday Life by Len Fisher.

    Using common every day events, as the focus, Fisher explains not only the history, but the philosophy, and concepts that propels the phenomenon in science that is sure to get a laugh. For instance, Fisher starts off by explaining how a leading English Advertising firm, hired him to explain how coffee, of all things, ends up being sucked into a “doughnut” or a cookie, when dunked; and what is it about the cookie that tends to make it fall apart first. So, he set about to explain the physics and chemistry of these two popular foods, how they can be dunked longer with out falling apart, and give a humorous rendition of how capillary action works to boot.

    Fisher believes that Scientists have a real disadvantage as far as the public eye is concerned. Science seems so disconnected and abstract from reality. It requires a lot of background knowledge or explanation in order for the listener or viewer to understand and appreciate what is going on. His hope is to help make the public see that Scientists do not set out to make discoveries they try to uncover stories about the way things work.

    In consequent chapters, Fisher explains how to properly boil an egg, the phyisics of tools, how a boomerang “works”, and catching a ball, the physics of sex, and taste.

    The best part about the book is how the author uses a story format-describing his account of solving these everyday mysteries with the help of Scientists. He also includes interesting explanations for why he chose specific methods and teaches the reader about the history of science with out sounding like a text book.

    I can definitely see myself reading parts of this book or having the students read the whole book over the course of the year. It is funny and packed with practical application to the concepts learned in a Biology or Chemistry classroom. I am already imagining guide-o-rama’s that can go along with the book or read alouds in class.

  2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince written by J.K. Rowling is a engaging story that all ages can enjoy if reader enjoys mystery and fantasy. It is easier to follow this book if you have read the previous books so you understand the kids growing up in this unique society. The book touches social issues, school issues and deals with crazy things that happen in the world. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a very creative book that is visual in your mind because you get so involved with the story. These books are frequently discussed at our house and that can go on long after the books have been read. I don’t know that this is my favorite part but it touches feelings about abuse.
    “ But I got him, Father!” cackled Morfin.” I got him as he went by and he didn’t look so pretty with hives all over him, did he, Merope?
    “You disgusting little Squib, you filthy little blood traitor!” roared Gaunt, losing control, and his hands closed around his daughter’s throat. (p. 210)
    If you read on you find out this child abuse has future ramifications in the next generation. To bring back to reality one episode of abuse doesn’t just hurt one person it can hurt hundreds. Rowling deals with the wonderful things about life as well as the terrible. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a very creative book that I enjoyed reading because you can relate to it personally and keeps life into perspective.

  3. I’m going to be very honest. I’m not a big reader. It’s not that I don’t enjoy books; I just can think of other things that I could be doing instead of sitting down and reading a book for an hour or two. This might be the result of being so busy all the time, but I wish I had the time to sit down and enjoy a book every now and then. So, when I was thinking about reading a book, I really wanted to read Angels and Demons. But, the reality set in, and there was NO way I’d be able to get through that book in a month. Finally, I decided to read The Notebook by Nicholas Spark. I had seen the movie, and I was interested to see how similar the book was to the movie.
    Those of you, who are not familiar with The Notebook, be ready with Kleenex! It is a romantic novel/love story. It follows a couple from when they first met (when they were 15), until they are living in a nursing home together. No matter how far apart they are in distance or mind, they still love each other and long to be with each other. It touches upon Alzheimer’s disease, and the heartache it causes the victim’s families. I don’t want to tell too much without giving anything away here.
    I was surprised to find that the movie and book were very similar. It seems that usually books and movies have significant differences. It was easier to have seen the movie before I read the book, because visualizing the book was that much easier. On the other hand, I really enjoyed the book. It was able to keep my attention for an extended amount of time! I really didn’t want to put the book down; I would have read this in one day if I could.
    I would recommend this book and movie to everyone. As for the guys in the class, it is a proclaimed “chick flick”, so beware!

  4. Even though I am a scientist through education, I am a history buff through recreational reading. The tomes on the Vietnam War have always intrigued me, however, since my daughter and son were born in Saigon and Phnom Penh respectively, it has become more of a necessity. But, my favorite historical topic is the Civil War. This national tragedy takes on a more personal nature when one researches the local regiments that were mustered close to home. Such is the case with “The Plymouth Pilgrims: A History of the Eighty-fifth New York Infantry in the Civil War” by Dr. Wayne Mahood. The 85th New York was predominantly from the Finger Lakes region and was mustered in Elmira, NY in the 1861. This book chronicles the regiment’s baptism and only battle at Fair Oaks (Seven Pines) in 1862. The regiment was captured virtually intact at Plymouth in 1864. They were then sent to the infamous Andersonville Prison in Georgia where nearly 200 of its original roster perished of disease. This is not for the weak of heart, but is a factual account based on numerous diaries, letters, and unpublished sources. The fact that the author lives in Geneseo and was a Professor of Social Studies at SUNY Geneseo lends some credibility to his work.
    An interesting historical side bar and emotionally touching story is that of Wyman Johnson who on October 29, 1861, placed his scythe in the crotch of a small poplar tree near Waterloo, NY. He reportedly said, “Leave my scythe in the tree until I return.” He was mortally wounded in April 1864. The scythe blade still remains in that same poplar tree to this day. I cycled to this spot with a fellow Civil War buff and was touched by what I saw. I would highly recommend the book and a trip to the scythe tree on Routes 5 & 20 outside Waterloo, NY. Only a small portion of the scythe is visible in this now massive tree, but it is an emotional experience nonetheless.

  5. Just like Jessica, I have to come forward with the honetsy that I have not been reading for pleasure for quite some time. Honestly, with all of the work we have in our program here at Fisher, it seems that I do not have the time or energy to read for pleasure. I recall that I used to enjoy pleasure reading (when I was a teen, before college started) and now that I am almost finished with my masters, I think this assignment has shown me that I should get back to it once I graduate next spring.
    Also, like Jessica, I chose to read The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. I have not yet seen the movie, and I generally prefer to read the book before I see the movie anyway. For me, this book was very slow to start. I had a hard time staying awake and staying interested. After about 30 pages, the book really picked up for me and I did not want to put it down. It is a love story that talks about dating across different economic standing and the difficulties that presents. It also talks about endless love that will survive anything, including time and illness. The hardest part for me was hearing about the time one spends in a nursing home and how the person living there feels. That brought back bad memories for me and I wished I had read that part of this book before I lost my Grandmother, because I believe if I had read this when she was still in the nursing home, I would have made a greater effort to see her on a daily basis.
    All in all, it was a fast and easy read and I recommend it to anyone looking for a good tear-jerking love story.

  6. I will be the rebel and admit that I do love reading! Unfortunately, during the school year my own reading revolves around books that my students are reading (that way I can have informed conversations with them about books) and therefore reading a book that was not intended for an elementary audience was a thrilling ordeal. As soon as you have your own classroom you will soon realize that teaching is not a 9-5 type of job. It can be consuming and your brain never really rests because even when you are out grocery shopping you will be reminded of something new that you could try out in your classroom. Don’t get me wrong, I love this aspect about teaching but believe me when I say that you could work 24 hours on end and still have more that could be done! In saying that, I want to share with you that teaching is about following your passion. Upon completing my undergraduate study I never once had to guess what type of career I would end up with. I knew I wanted to be a teacher. My older brother did not have that same fortune of knowing what he was going to be doing when he was done with college. He spent many years searching for a job that would inspire him. A Working Stiff’s Manifesto appeared to be a page out of his life story! It is a laugh-out-loud memoir of a man’s quest to maintain a steady paycheck. It discusses his endless search for a job that will bring to fruition all the dreams he once had for his English degree. This book illuminates the social dilemma that many college grads encounter which is trying to find a better job when nothing better ever seems to come along. Iain Levison has crafted a book that so many people can identify with (and I’m sure you know at least one person that is still looking for that “dream” job). As I sympathetically read about the numerous dead-end jobs he embarked on, it reminds me that teaching might take a lot out of me at times but it also is very meaningful which is something that not many jobs provide. To perhaps entice you a little I will share the opening, “It’s Sunday morning and I am scanning the classifieds. There are two types of jobs in here- jobs I’m not qualified for and jobs I don’t want. I’m considering both… Eight dollars an hour is low for New York. After taxes that’ll leave about six. Still, I can deal with that. The problem is the guaranteed overtime. They are obviously understaffed and are trying to make it look like keeping me at work for fourteen hours a day will be doing me a favor. They’ll think because I answered this ad that I’m going to be enthusiastic about showing up on Sundays and holidays. “You wanted overtime,” they’ll crow. “Isn’t that why you answered this ad?” I move on down the page.” Manifesto was a very concise and well articulated book that I highly recommend to anyone especially those of you that are changing careers- you have lived through this unsatisfied lifestyle!

  7. I have been enjoying reading The Revenge of the Substitute Teacher by Jan Lawrence. I have really wanted to read this book to see if it could be a fun read aloud to my class. I like to find good books to read to them. As we have learned from our Think Alouds, it is beneficial to the students to hear your thoughts and make their own connections.
    This is a high interest book to 5th graders. By this time in their educational career, they know a lot about substitutes. This is a mystery book that has many types of personalities in the book, and it’s realistic enough to keep the kids listening. With a mystery, there are lots of chances for the kids to make inferences about a clue from early in the book.
    I know it is highly unlikely, but I would really like to read as many of the books in my classroom as I can. I made sure to bring a few of them home with me today.
    I am psyched to get the chance to do more reading for pleasure. It feels like you have given us permission to read again! Not just boring old textbooks, or Teacher Editions….but something we actually WANT to read.

  8. The book that I have just completed is: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe; Book 1 in the Chronicles of Narnia, written by C. S. Lewis. Although it does not exactly have anything to do with my specialty area, it does spark the interest of Imagination. All too often these days we are lost in a world of facts and information. Every generation seems to complain that the current generation has lost the ability to Dream. Although this book takes place during World War II it allows the reader to easy get caught up with the book. It is a timeless classic that all generations can enjoy.
    The reason I chose to read this book is that I recently saw the movie. I barely remembered reading the story when I was a child and wanted to relive the fantasy and see how different the book was.
    The book is about four sibling children, two boys and two girls, and their adventure in a different land: Narnia. They are sent to a Professor’s house out in the country to get away from the war. The house is extremely large and has hundreds of different rooms. In this house there is a room with a wardrobe (closet) in it. By accident the youngest little girl finds that at the back of the wardrobe it leads to another land. She meets a nice creature that tells her about Narnia and how an Ice Queen has ruled and kept everything frozen. Her immediate older brother unknowingly meets the Queen and is lured into believing she is good. The queen wants all four of them to meet her so she can destroy them before they destroy her. All four children enter Narnia and that is when the adventure really begins. They find out that they where destine to be there and rule the land.
    My favorite part of the whole thing was at the end (with out giving too much away), they grow-up in Narnia and forget how they got into it. They stumble upon the entrance (back) of the wardrobe and climb back through it. When they enter into the Professor’s house it was if they never left-they are children again.
    There are seven books total to the Chronicles of Narnia and I intent to read them all. I have never read all of them and this has sparked my interest once again. If you do not have time to read this book the movie is fairly close to the book-but as we all know when a movie is made about a book-the book is ALWAYS better.

  9. Wow, I have noticed a couple people reading Nicholas Sparks. He is my all time favorite author. Actually, I am a reading convert! I rarely ever read before I met my fiancé and he really encouraged me to start reading. Basically, in the summer that is all I do. Vacations, forget it, I’m in the sun reading up a storm. Last February I read a 300 page book in one day! For me that is amazing… I never thought that would ever happen. Anyways, those of you that read The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks, you should read the wedding it’s my favorite!!! Actually you should pretty much read just about every other one of his books. He really draws you in when you are reading and I am a big fan of love stories. As for the book I just finished, it’s from the same author that John is reading, C.S. Lewis. The book is called Mere Christianity. This book was suggested to me by my father who is strong in his Christian faith. C.S. Lewis takes the perspective he had of religion, which was atheist, and teaches the readers about Christian faith and how it relates to your every day thoughts and beliefs. I have always struggled with the sermons when attending church. All of the biblical jargon really confused me. After reading this book, I felt more comfortable with religion and Christianity. In addition I enjoyed his ability to make connections that I actually understood. For example, on faith C.S. Lewis makes his connections to a boy learning to swim. “His reason knows perfectly well that an unsupported human body will not necessarily sink in water: he has seen dozens of people float and swim. But the whole question is whether he will be able to go on believing this when the instructor takes away his hand and leaves him unsupported in the water- or whether he will suddenly cease to believe it and get in a fright and go down.” If you are interested in a good Christian read this would be a perfect book for you.

  10. I love to read books, magazines and more. However, I have to agree for the most part with what Jessica said in her comment. It is just so difficult to do a significant amount of book reading when there are a million other things (OK, I am exaggerating) on the “to do list” not to mention daily meals, laundry, family / friends to call or visit, and yard work or exercising to engage in. I think that reading is just one of those things that you have to “make” time for, until it becomes a part of your daily schedule so that you no longer have to even think about trying to “fit it in.”
    As far as the book that I have been reading for pleasure during this course, I chose “Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: 30 True Things You Need to Know Now” by Gordon Livingston, M.D. This book was recommended to me by my sister. It is an easy read, and it is divided into (you guessed it) 30 chapters, so you can get through an entire chapter even if you only have 15 minutes or so to spare at a given time. I have to admit that I really enjoyed reading this book. Livingston has had a lot to deal with in his own personal life, (including the loss of one son from Leukemia, and another son from suicide), which was likely an inspiration for him to get a better grasp on some of the really important things in life. He touches on some subjects that are pretty controversial, such as nature vs. nurture, alcoholism being classified as a “disease,” and many other topics. However, he also puts a lot of important concepts into words that almost everyone can agree on. There are many of them that I would like to put on a bulletin board to remind myself of daily! For instance, one of my favorite quotes is in the 2nd chapter where Livingston states,
    “We are always talking about what we want, what we intend… We are not what we think, or what we say, or how we feel. We are what we do.”
    In my opinion, these are the type of thoughts that motivate people to change their lives. I believe that we should remind ourselves of our favorite “philosophies of life” on a daily basis in order to be the people that we want to be. I would certainly recommend this book to a friend.

  11. A mysterious phone call startles a man awake late into the night. The man on the other line simply requests the presence of the sleepy eyed man, but at 3 in the morning! Is he in trouble? Did a family member pass away? What could it mean?

    Well, if that little tid bit sounds at all enticing then the book that I just read will definitely be worth it. It is a story about a historian that is drawn into a mysterious series of hair raising, thrilling, life threatening events. This book is a story of a slightly above average man becoming an ulikely hero. The main character uses brains, braun, charm, and LOTS of logic to solve puzzles, dazzle a young damsel and save the world all at the same time. You may be thinking that this guy could be you (or your significant other) but this person is none other than Robert Langdon. The character is most famous for his role in the DaVinci code. The book that I am talking about however is “Angels and Deamons” by Dan Brown.
    This book is fabulous. I like it because the chapters are particularly short which keeps you engrossed and makes you want to keep reading. I found this book after reading “The DaVinci Code.” It is VERY similar to the DaVinci code but basically a different cast of characters and a slight change in the plot, but more or less the same thing. So if you liked that, you’ll love this. So, if you think it may interst you, give it a shot!

  12. Like Michael (comment above), I am also a avid reader, with history, (Civil War and WWII), and sports generally being my favorite topics. However, from time to time I stumble on something else that turns out to be fascinating. This is the case with “Einstein’s Universe” by Nigel Calder. This is a book I found at a shop in Lake Placid last year while looking for something else. In the past, during physics classes in college, I always found relativity to be interesting, but very difficult to comprehend. This book claims to put the topic into plain English, so I thought I’d give it a shot. To put it succinctly, this is one of the very best books I have ever read. Imagine, a book on relativity that you just can’t put down – that’s just how I found this book to be!

    The book describes three main aspects of Einstein’s theory of General Relativity: Gravity bends light, warps space, and slows time. It includes many idealized examples using everyday items such clocks, flashlights, and waterfalls as well as stars, planets, and black holes to help the reader visualize these principles of General Relativity. Examples include clocks running slower in the presence of gravity, how the bending of light affects the future of an object, and matter (including ourselves) moving in curved space. Calder also describes a number of experiments that have been run in the last century to prove many of Einsteins ideas (some were successes and some were failures).

    I found the most interesting part of the book to be a comparison of Newton’s description of why an apple falls from a tree with Einstein’s. Being an engineering student, I have had a number of physics and dynamics classes involving the calculation of movement based upon forces (Newtonian physics). But Einstein observed from an account of man who had fallen from a 3 story building (and survived!) that the man did not “feel” any force while he was falling. Newton would say that the Earth’s gravity places a downward force on the apple. With no upward force to counteract it, the apple falls with an acceleration that satisfies F=ma (force = mass x acceleration) which is approx 32 ft/s2 for Earth. But Einstein would say that the apple must fall toward the center of the Earth because it is the only direction it can move WITHOUT any applied force. As the apple moves closer to the earth, time at the apple’s location, with respect to an outside observer, slows down, causing its rest energy to be reduced (ever so slightly). Because its total energy must remain constant, the apple’s energy of movement must increase, and thus its acceleration. WOW! And I actually understood it! (At least I think so!)

    While this book is written in plain English, the subject matter still demands an understanding of physics at a high school level minimum. There are many mathematical connections relating to relativity (calculations of time, energy, and distances to name a few) in addition to the obvious scientific ones. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know why the Sun would have burned out long ago if it weren’t for E=mc2!

  13. I came across a great find. When I was doing some research for my annotated bibilography, I found a book entitled In The Wake Of The Plague by, Norman F. Cantor.
    It starts off by stating “Infectious disease was the leading cause of death worldwide and the third leading cause in the U.S.A,… The situation could soon become much worse.” This was an eye catcher. It really wanted me to keep reading more. Then it goes on to say that, “As the world becomes more of a global village, said one expert, infectious disease could by natural transmision become more threatening in the United States.” Isn’t that a scary thought. You really don’t think that this could happen to us because of our improving medical field but this is where it hurts us the most, not thinking it could happen to us. The author claims that “Here [United States] monitoring is lax because of a mistaken belief that the threat of infectious disease has been wiped out by antibiotics. ”
    The book proceeds to go into a lot of history about the plague or what is known as the black death. The author descirbes how scientists have been mistaken in the past on how it was transmitted to humans and what virus/parasite caused it in the first place. The book also goes into a lot of history about the many people that it affected back in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It affected anyone from nobility, to the archbishop, to women and men of property, and peasants. If you are a history buff this is a great book to read. If you love science and are interested in how people delt with the horrific disease, this is a great book for you.
    One of my favorite parts is reading about the history of the time. I am the first one to admit that I don’t like history but this book really kept me wanting more.
    The most interesting fact that I can give you so that you will want to read this book is, “The Black Death was the fourteenth century’s equivalent of a nuclear war. It wiped out one-third of Europe’s population, taking some 20 million lives. And yet, most of what we know about it is wrong…” To hear more, you can pick the book up at Barnes & Noble for about $14. You will not regret buying this book for your classroom or yourself.

  14. The book I chose is a collection of essays, reports, and other works of Richard Feynman. The full title of the selection is “The Pleasure of Finding Things Out”, or in “APA-Speak”:
    Feynman, R. & Robbins, J. (Ed.). (1999). The pleasure of finding things out. New York: Perseus Books.
    Richard Feynman, who died at age 69 in 1988, was a Nobel Prize winning theoretical physicist who was a graduate of MIT and Princeton, participated in the Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb, and was a professor at Cornell and The California Institute of Technology. In other words, a really smart person.
    Not only was Feynman a gifted theoretician, but had a talent for making physics accessible to mere mortal brains. His “Feynman Lectures on Physics” were given at Cal Tech in the early 1960’s as a one time only introductory course. This series of lectures was audio recorded and photographs were taken of Feynman’s diagrams and blackboard notes. Although Feynman worked only with a piece of chalk, these lectures were noted as “the encapsulation of the entire field of physics by its greatest living practitioner”.
    These lectures were transcribed and published as a series of books, most recently just last year in a newly edited hardcover version titled “The Definitive Edition”.
    While he was extremely famous for the lecture series, Feynman’s Queens accent and affable but eccentric personality contributed to his popularity. Examples of his style can be seen in a lecture on photons and more to the point, a 1981 BBC interview called “The Pleasure of Finding Things Out”. Oops, oh yeah! – the book I’m reading.
    The first essay in the book is an edited transcript of that interview, and goes to the core of Feynman’s philosophy about knowledge and learning. He describes things as wide ranging as the nature of beauty and questions if an aesthetic sense exists in lower life forms, using the example of a flower, all the way to his work on the atomic bomb.
    I’m about halfway through this book right now, and the essays I’ve read so far are somewhat similar in tone, taking a philosophical slant on science, the use of scientific principles, and recommending that we all need to look at the world with a skeptical eye. If he were alive today, I’m sure Feynman would be at the forefront in the defense of climate scientists cautioning us about global warming, and in the criticism of the anti-science conservatives who refuse to accept reality. I’m sure he wouldn’t be too thrilled about Intelligent Design theorists either.
    Finally, I wanted to note that Richard Feynman served on a panel investigating the 1986 explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. His report is one of the essays in the book, and at the time his opinions were considered a minority view and were added to the final report only as an appendix. It turns out he was correct, both in his overall estimates of space shuttle reliability and in the particulars related to the o-rings that were the cause of the explosion. Sadly, his estimate of 98% reliability has turned out to be right on target, as there have been 2 shuttles lost in 114 launches.
    I’ve mentioned before that non-fiction is my favorite genre, so this book is an easy read for me because of the subject. However, I also admire Feynman’s attitudes regarding skepticism, something is short supply is some areas of American society in recent years.
    PS: It seems maybe Shelley and Greg are joining me as the most determined “Geek Science” readers – come on, boiling eggs and Einstein! OK, I’ll check them out…….

  15. In keeping with my typical mode, I have chosen to read non-fiction for my pleasure reading. I chose to read “The Promise of a Mother’s Prayers”, written by Scharlotte Rich. It is totally unrelated to my content area and would be inappropriate topic for my classroom. However, I am certain that it would be helpful for students to hear that if needed, they can find support and encouragement in books, too. This book is comprised of 31 easy to read chapters, each covering a different aspect of mothering. The chapters begin with one or two beautiful quotes that are followed by touching stories and insights. The chapter ends with “A Mother’s Prayer” and “Positive Parenting Plans.” Some of my favorite chapters were “I Can’t Do It All,” “Overcoming Battle Fatigue” and “Delighting in Creation.” I found great encouragement from the words and would recommend it to any mother. This book will continue to be a resource to me and will find its home in the water closet reference library.

  16. I must agree with Jessica, I am not much of a reader myself, and ironically enough, I also chose a Nicholas Sparks book, The Guardian. I have read one of his books before and I enjoyed it. The themes of his stories are always love – with a twist; in this book that twist is danger. This is a story about a young lady who became a widow at a very young age. When her husband passed away had arranged for a puppy to be delivered to her shortly after his death. This dog was named Singer and was her life for four years, until she began dating again. Singer is her “Guardian” and protects her has she begins dating two different men. This story has many twists and turns as her relationships change and Singer reacts to the different relationships.
    I would recommend this book to everyone because it explores different friendly and romantic relationships. It was a quick read, and very entertaining. If you need a good book to read this summer, I would recommend any of the Nicholas Sparks books, you can check them out at:
    http://www.nicholassparks.com/
    Happy Reading!!!

  17. Like Kelsey, I find myself loading the corner of my desk with books that my kids are diving into full force. Hey, if they love it, what’s better than me reading it and having a awesome conversation with them about a book we both might love?? I am passionate about modeling…If I expect my kids to be crazy about books, than I better have a bunch of favorite authors and genres to share with my students. I better do book recommendations like I expect them to and help them find books that they love. I better demonstrate those habits and the love of reading I hope my students will have. When the Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket first came out, I read the first book. I found myself addicted and unable to put it down for the day and half it took me. For some reason or another though, I never read the following books. This fall, my students begged me to read the series as our read aloud and I was thrilled! We read books 1-6 during the course of the year. I found my students having conversations on their own about the stories and trying to figure out what would happen next. My relucant readers even went to the library on their own to borrow the book I was reading and would follow along as I read aloud. Then they would go back during reading workshop and work on building their fluency when they re-read it independently. My class was using and applying strategies they saw on a daily basis with these books. It was a teacher’s dream! If you haven’t read this series, here’s a little preveiw for you. Count Olaf always finds a way to make the lives of Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire as miserable as he possibly can. He has a way to sneak into the lives of these orphans with the hope that somehow he can sneak away the family fourtune that was left behind when their parents passed away. Will he find away to get back to the children and steal the fourtune? Read the Series of Unfortunate Events to find out!

  18. Like Tamara and Jess, I am not an avid reader, at all! I do not like to read for pleasure and when and if I do pick up a book it will fall into either a non-fiction book that deals with a topic that interests me, or a fiction book based in math. The book I chose to read for pleasure is a book that is fiction, but based on true events and deals with the math concept of cryptology. The book is Digital Fortress by Dan Brown.
    In Digital Fortress, Dan Brown takes the reader into the NSA. The most secretive division in the government is opened to us in this book. The story deals with a cryptographer, Susan Fletcher, and she is called into work on a weekend because of a problem with one of their code breaking machines. There is a code that has not been broken in over twelve hours and worries the cryptographers that their most expensive secret code breaking machine is being beaten in the wicked game of secrecy. While this machine is breaking down, there is a murderer and a spy in the NSA that starts to eliminate people and threatens to ruin the NSA’s machine TRANSLTR if the NSA does not come out and make a public announcement of all of the secret spying techniques and programs they have in place that monitor the public.
    I cannot go into more detail, or else I will give away the big mystery of whom that someone is. The book is very suspenseful and is written to give you enough information to make a guess, but you never know who it is until the end.
    After reading the book, I realized that the content was not so much about math and cryptology, but rather about suspense and mystery in a government agency that I was aligned to join back at RIT. After reading this book, I am glad that I became a teacher instead of a computational mathematician in the NSA.
    Like Mike, I am a very big fan of Dan Brown and I finished all of the books he has out. The way the chapters are short and the anticipation and suspense that he builds with his writing, keeps me reading. I cannot wait for a new book to come out. But until then, I do not see many books in my future, but there is a chance.

  19. I definitely like reading and I’ve been trying to catch up on some of the classics. I read The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka. A college professor recommended the book to me, but I hadn’t had an opportunity to read it. I enjoyed this book, but the ending was sad. The narrative is very forthright, which leads me to believe there’s more behind the story than meets the eye. Luckily, there was a commentary included in the book, which I found helpful. The story is about Gregor Samsa, a traveling salesman that lives with his mother, father, and brother. One day, Gregor awakes to find that he has been transformed into a massive bug. Due to the transformation, Gregor loses his job, which was the livelihood for the whole family. Since he’s a bug, he’s unable to express himself to his family and the family has difficulty relating to him. Due to the fear that Gregor evokes, his mother’s health begins to deteriorate and his father becomes violent. During a violent episode, Gregor becomes badly wounded. Things are not looking up for Gregor, but you’ll have to read the rest of the story to find out how he fares. I would recommend this book, but it is a bit sad. However, it is interesting to explore how a change in a person can lead to intolerance and conflict.
    I think this would be an interesting book to read in a science classroom. It’s not very long and the students could imagine what it would be like if they suddenly turned into a bug. It would also provide the impetus for a discussion on the similarities and differences between humans and insects.
    It’s been great reading about the variety of books that everyone has enjoyed. I agree with Andrea and Mike that Dan Brown writes intriguing and suspenseful books. I’ve read a few of his books, but I am definitely going to place Digital Fortress (along with many of the other recommendations) on my list of books to read. I’m looking forward to spending the rest of the summer reading!

  20. “Then the sound came, a long, deep, powerful rumble increasing in crescendo until the windows rattled, cups danced in their saucers, and the bar glasses rubbed rims and tinkled in terror. The sound slowly ebbed, then boomed to a fiercer climax, closer.”

    How would you react to this event? – not finding out until much much later that two nuclear explosions had just occurred. The people of Fort Repose, Florida and the rest of the United States had no idea what they were in for. Those in Fort Repose quickly began to realize what necessities really were and how to cope with the loss of electricity, communication, transportation, food, water, loved ones, and the Nation’s capitol.

    Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank is a book full of imagery and connections to economics and history. I knew nothing about the book other than what I had read on the back cover. It sparked my interest and I wanted to know more. I have never had a great interest in history but have found this book to be very interesting. It was a little slow to start but picked up quickly. I found that I was putting myself into the situation of many of the characters throughout the book. What would I do if I woke up one morning and the entire country had been pretty much destroyed? The opportunities for discussion are endless throughout the book. I imagine that the ideas that could be generated in a classroom of students would be amazing. “What if…?” is such a strong question that existed for me throughout the book. I recommend this book to others with the same question – What if…?

    Shelley sparked my interest with her book How to Dunk a Doughnut. It’s interesting how some things work. I do enjoy reading and I spend 18 minutes of every school day reading with my students. Unfortunately I have found it so difficult to read for pleasure over the past few years (I have to read so many grad books). I do hope to read a few more books this summer and might even try a few of the recommended books from others in the class.

  21. The book Radical Equations: Civil Rights from Mississippi to the Algebra Project by Bob Moses was recommended to me by Dr. Barrett during the Assessment course this past spring. We had been discussing the presence of social issues in the classroom, and the subject really fascinated me. I picked up the book at the bookstore, and became instantly absorbed.
    The book begins by discussing the puzzling analogy of civil rights and algebra. Moses, who fought for voting rights in Mississippi believes that the next big hurdle for the civil rights movement is math literacy, specifically algebra. His reason for pushing algebra is its alignment with “a technology that places abstract symbolic representations front and center” (13). It is essential to understand these representations to use the technology, and “the place that society has assigned for young people to learn his symbolism – this is algebra” (13). There are many passages in this section that had me thinking “That is so true” and “Oh wow”. One of my favorites was the passage “[in] our culture illiteracy in math is acceptable the way illiteracy in reading and writing is unacceptable…not being “good” in math does not in any way imply inferiority, rather, it confirms that you’re just like most everyone else” (9-10).
    In the next section of the book, Moses describes his contribution to the fight for the right to vote in the South. He discusses the origins of the movement, its leaders, the shortcomings of the group, and how success was eventually obtained.
    Next, he depicts his own issues with math education, and the birth and development of the Algebra Project. In this section, he compares and contrasts the voting rights movement to the algebra movement, making recommendations for the success of the Algebra Project. Much like the second section, he depicts the algebra struggle as a civil rights movement, but one that is still in the works.
    His descriptions of the Algebra Project’s ideologies and teaching methods have me re-thinking all my lesson plans and possible future lesson plans to think like my students. He greatly stresses the importance of adapting the curriculum to the students, giving them “ownership”.
    This is a great book for anyone who loves discussing social issues and holds a passion for teaching. It reads really easy, more like a story book than a history book, although it will have a greater impact on you than any story you’ve ever read before!

  22. I will first say that similar to Jessica, I am not a big reader. I read the paper every morning, sports Illustrated every Thursday, and that is about it. I did read a very compelling book for my pleasure reading. It is called Stepping Up;The Story of Curt Flood and His Fight for Baseball Players Rights. It was written by Alex Belth. This is a book that any baseball fans would be interested in. Curt Flood was the first player in the major leagues to challenge the system in baseball that gave players no say in where they could play. Before this time, players were signed to lifelong contracts and could be traded at any time with no say at all. Looking at baseball now with millionaires moving to greener pastures seemingly every year, it is hard to imagine a time when the players had absolutely no power. Curt Flood was the player that made this possible. His refusal to accept a trade from the St. Louis Cardinals and subsequent case that went all the way to the Supreme Court, paved the way for the game we see today. If this had been the only issue, it would have been a hard one for Curt Flood to face. But he also had to deal with one fact that he could not escape from; The fact that he was black. The book takes you through a journey of his life from a childhood in the ghetto of Oakland to playing minor league ball in the Jim Crow south. My favorite part is the first chapter where Flood goes into detail about how Jackie Robinson had affected his life as a kid growing up. This book is recommended for any History/Sports buffs out there.

  23. “The Radioactive Boy Scout” by K. Silverstein

    As a Chemistry teacher I thought, awesome, a fictional chemistry book. After reading the book it’s kind of scary to think that this really happened: a pre-teenage boy starting to experiment with chemistry. Through the use of a book he was able to create chemical experiments in his bedroom, basement, and tool shed with materials he collected from everyday, ordinary items. As he grew older and the experiments grew more complex he used other means to acquire materials… he became a boy scout. By high school he had created a breeder nuclear reactor in his backyard. That’s no small feat. He did that and much more.

    This book would definitely peak the interest of some of my students, you know the ones I refer to… The students that show up to class and ask “So, Nettnin, we blowing something up today?” I think after reading what can actually be done by a student at such a young age, it may not be good to completely share this with students. If it were a fictional story I think it would not be so scary, the fact that it’s truth, is scary. This book also makes me question the background and intentions of all of my students. A particular boy comes to mind. It was a “story time Monday” and this young man decides to tell the story of how he used some dry ice in a pop bottle to make it explode. The purpose of doing this… “It’s cool”. In chemistry there are demos that are “cool” and educational, but there are also demos that are “cool” and just plain dangerous. My fear is that the students today may lean for the dangerous route. I would hate to recommend a book for students to read and have them take it seriously and try it themselves. I believe this book may do that for the student who is looking for some chemical thrills. The text didn’t leave too much out about how this Boy Scout did things, some of which I wouldn’t even dream of showing students.

    This was a great read, very interesting, and it shows that students can learn on their own but we, as teachers, need to be careful and make sure we guide students down a right and safe path.

  24. I chose this book because I believe there are so many problems that we are going to have to face when we walk into a classroom. I have come to the realization that I don’t have all of the answers, and this book helped me to think about these issues before hand. That is why I recommend this text to teachers. We can implement all the nice reading strategies, content area knowledge, and classroom management strategies all day, but if we are not able to understand the struggles that come alone with teen identity development–everything else will go out the window. Many of us forget about the things that “mattered” when we were teens, and that is why I chose this book.

    In this book Dr. Lynn Ponton presents to the reader some important stories that reveal what adolescence are experiencing, their emotional state, and how others around them feel about some of the choices these young adults are making. Ponton also tells stories of teens struggling with sexual identity, curious about normal sexual function, and dealing with pressure to have sex before they feel ready. She also present stories of individuals who experienced sex in an unnatural state through sexual abuse. In addition, sprinkled throughout are the voices of parents who struggle to cope with their teens’ problems and, for the most part, seek to offer guidance and support, though not always successfully.

    Dr. Lynn Ponton unveils plenty of overwhelming scenarios in The Sex Lives of Teenagers. On these pages, we meet Naomi, an African American pregnant teen who wants to have her baby; Lara, who is infected with HIV; Tom, who is hooked on pornographic videos; and Angie, who was sexually assaulted after getting drunk at a party. Some of these situations may discourage parents and teachers, who have educated themselves about more common situations and who simply can’t believe these types of things could happen to their children.

    Though some of the stories may seem too graphic, it is worth reading. I know that these cases may seem too extreme, but these things actually happen. As a future educator, I feel that the content covered in this book will be useful. If I was hit with some of these issues before reading this book; I can honestly say that I would not know how address these issues because I was a little uncomfortable with many of the topics covered in this book. After going through this book and having time to reflect on these problems, I am a bit more comfortable.

  25. I forgot to include the book that I read: “The Sex Lives of Teenagers: Revealing the Secret World of Adolescent Boys and Girls” By Dr. Lynn Ponton

  26. I just finished my undergraduate studies a year ago this past May and during my final year I took 2 full semesters of gross anatomy which required that once a week for three hours per week, I spend time dissecting, probing, and learning the human body on a cadaver in the cadaver lab. The first day of anatomy lab I walked into the room and looked around there were several metal tables with which had drop doors which were in the closed position so as to shield whatever was lying beneath them on the table. I remember thinking to myself o my gosh how am I ever going to do this, how am I ever going to walk over there unlatch that door to reveal whatever is waiting for me underneath it! Well I am here today to prove that I made it through the class, and it turned out to be the absolute best class I have ever taken. I was actually—don’t think I’m weird—excited for when Tuesdays at 12:30 came around and I could spend time exploring the human body. I took a huge interest in everything this opportunity had to offer—how many people get to hold a human heart in their hands?? Not many I was one of the lucky ones, I got to see the inner most workings of what makes us all tick—physiologically that is. I know that is a long introduction to my book but I don’t think I would be doing it any justice to skip the background on why I love this book so much. The book I would like to share with you all is titled Anatomy of Anatomy and it is written a better word would be documented by Merly Levin. Now this woman came to my college last year to speak about her book, when I was about ¾ way done with gross anatomy, and this is where I was first introduced to the book. The author is a documentary photographer with an interest in social interests related to health care and has long been intrigued by intense training of physicians. This book is a documentation of first year medical students in their journey through gross anatomy. Now if you have a weak stomach this book may no be for you the pictures are graphic but if you can stomach it they are absolutely amazing. The book gradually goes through all systems of the body that the medical students go through and several excerpts the student’s journals along with notes from their note books and pictures of them in the lab dissecting. This book was amazing for me to read. All the feelings they had from the morning before their first anatomy lab to the first time they got to see the brachial plexus were so familiar to me. I don’t know of there is an exact favorite part I can pinpoint it was just so amazing to read this book with all he journal entries from the students and to realize wow they were all thinking and going through the same things as me. It is so unbelievably awesome to have that to relate to. As a teacher this would be an excellent tool to share with your students. I wished that my teacher had given this book to all of us to read as we were going through out gross anatomy lab. I really enjoyed this book and it was something that if I were an anatomy teacher (who knows I maybe someday be—or at least that is my hope) this would defiantly be something I would be sure to make available to all of my students. This is a book students can relate to and be engaged by.


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