October 2012 • Volume 16 • Number 2 • Pages 46-47
Reviews & Resources
No More "Us" and "Them": Classroom Lessons and Activities to Promote Peer Respect
by Lesley Roessing. 2012. $24.95. 135 pp.
Rowman & Littlefield Education. https://rowman.com/RLEducation
Teachers often search for books that are based less on research and more on application. They have found it in No More "Us" and "Them," which seems to have been created specifically for the working teacher—the practitioner on the front lines. I thoroughly enjoyed this quick, easy read. The book is full of useful ideas that teachers can implement immediately.
Roessing, a former middle grades teacher, focuses on a multitude of useful strategies, resources, and activities that promote peer respect. If you dig deeper, you'll find that she goes beyond promoting peer respect and focuses on relationship-building in general. The activities are completely inclusive and will appeal to students at all grade levels, in all content areas, and at all learning levels.
The manner in which the activities build on collaboration and student similarities is encouraging and helpful to teachers. The activities Roessing offers use student similarities as a springboard for building successes in the areas of peer respect and relationships. She stresses that when students have respect for and a strong relationship with their peers, their academics can be strengthened and deepened.
The activities and lessons in this book will help teachers break down boundaries, integrate fun into the classroom, promote respect, strengthen social skills, build community and, most important, offer students the life skills they need in high school, college, and the work force—skills such as collaboration and tolerance.
Reviewed by James Davis, a school principal in Cabarrus County, North Carolina, and an adjunct professor for the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Response to Intervention in the Core Content Areas: A Practical Approach for Educators
edited by Jeffrey P. Bakken. 2012. $39.95. 400 pp.
Prufrock Press. www.prufrock.com
As a social studies teacher with limited knowledge of the Response to Intervention (RtI) process, I found this book quite valuable as it guided me through the basic RtI concepts, provided interventions, and tied everything together for me. Intended for content area teachers who follow the RtI process at their schools, this is a great guide for what works.
One of the reasons this book is so helpful is that the initial chapter describes the RtI concept in detail. Other chapters address how to use data-driven instruction, how to intervene with English Language Learners, and how to use RtI in all the major content areas, including English, social studies, science, and math.
Each of these chapters includes research-based data regarding screening, interventions, and progress monitoring. Each chapter also includes case studies that personalize the RtI process.
The final chapter, which describes data-based decision making across a multi-tiered system of support, provides six questions to help educators evaluate the effectiveness of the interventions. The authors then offer suggestions for making changes across the tiers and tweaking interventions within them.
I recommend this book for those educators who are new to RtI and those who need extra guidance in continuing the Response to Intervention process at their school.
Reviewed by Karen Ashton, an ESOL Resource Teacher in Pasco County, Florida.
The School Mission Statement: Values, Goals, and Identities in American Education
by Steven E. Stemler and Damian J. Bebell. 2012. $39.95. 256 pp.
Eye on Education. www.eyeoneducation.com
Often, the development of a school's mission statement is time wasted in constructing an ideal–never instilled and soon forgotten. Mission statements change when a new principal or superintendent arrives, perhaps because they are more a personal reflection than the collective synergy of a thoughtfully involved school staff.
For school mission statements to have any validity and staying power, they must reflect an inclusive process in which all staff contribute to an ideal that is doable and valued. In their book, The School Mission Statement: Values, Goals, and Identities in American Education, Stemler and Bebell present quantifiable data to help schools establish precise, concise mission statements.
The book shares the mission statements of numerous K–12 schools (public as well as private), including demographic information that allows readers to match their school community with a similar one. The intent here, I believe, is to reduce the amount of time it takes to craft a well-constructed, defining mission statement. However, the investment of all staff in the development process may be as important as the finished product. Ownership of the mission statement improves all possibilities for it becoming imbedded in the culture of the school.
The School Mission Statement is a "how-to" handbook with much to offer. Users must guard against the impetus to pick/modify an existing mission statement, forgoing the synergistic rewards of collaboration. I suggest carefully reading Chapter 16, "Crafting Your Own School Mission Statement," before pouring over the actual mission statements to ensure the process has equal footing with the finished product.
Reviewed by William Grobe, an associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at East Carolina University and past president of the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
How can parents best influence their young adolescents' education given the fact that their advice and guidance don't hold as much weight as they did in the elementary grades?
Researchers Angela Valdovinos D'Angelo, Lauren Rich, and Amelia Kohm at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago recently talked with parents of middle grades students in the Chicago-area Elev8 program, which works in high-poverty areas to ease the transition from middle school to high school. Based on their findings and those from previous studies, the researchers offer the following recommendations for improving parent involvement:
- Provide parents with information about how to motivate and communicate expectations to their children in ways that reinforce the developmental goals of early adolescence.
- Build individual connections and strong relationships with parents. Consider having a staff member who is dedicated to school-parent relationships.
- Address language barriers between parents and school staff.
- Limit the number of programs that require parents to be at the school and schedule events in the evening to accommodate working parents. Offer childcare.
- Encourage parent leaders to spearhead parent engagement efforts.
Download the entire policy brief, School Engagement Among Parents of Middle School Youth, at www.chapinhall.org/research/brief/school-engagement-among-parents-middle-school-youth.
Copyright © 2012 Assocation for Middle Level Education