I've unintentionally been reading a lot of nonfiction this month and have two more quick reviews.
The first is education-guru Kelly Gallagher's In the Best Interest of Students, a look at the new strengths and weaknesses of the new secondaryELA Common Core Standards. Like I told my colleagues in an email I sent them recommending it, I generally loathe "teacher" books, but I can't say enough good things about this quick, helpful read. There are many misconceptions about the news standards, partially in thanks to those outside of education weighing in on a system they don't understand (including those stupid articles you see on Facebook that link to difficult math problems that of course show CCS is the devil). Gallagher breaks down the positives and the negatives, helping teachers understand how to take what they've been doing so that they're in compliance and so that the kids' needs are being met. I picked up a ton of great strategies that I hope to implement this year and next. And what I love about Gallagher is that his ideas can be adapted to fit any sort of level.
The second book I just finished is an ARC I received from Penguin. Leigh Ann Henion's Phenomenal is her story about a quest she embarked on to take indifferent "phenomenal" experiences around the globe, hoping to sort of experience a rebirth of her own, after becoming a mother. Her book is divided into section that detail her adventures in Puerto Rico swimming in the bioluminescent waters, in Venezuela seeing the Catatumbo Lightening, in Sweden watching the Northern Lights and in Australia experiencing a total solar eclipse. I appreciated this written voyage- many of the places I had no idea existed. What did get old was her actual writing; her self-realization process often felt that it was being too explicitly spelled out in a spelled out poignant quotes from people she encountered and frequent moments of clarity while out of her element. In a word: forced.