February 2014 Reads

February brought more nonfiction, but that's not a surprise since I'm always drawn to it.

Monkey Mind:  A Memoir of Anxiety
amused me while I traveled in the early part of the month.  A tragicomedy by Daniel Smith,  the book made for a perfect read while traveling because it kept me smiling. Smith's narrative reminded me of the stories I enjoyed by Oliver Sacks during my college years as a psychology major.  An intense desire to learn more about self and others can drive a person to major in psychology.  Indeed, my degree and psychology studies have proved useful in multiple aspects of my career and work in education.  While reading Smith's memoir, I thought about my students and family members who cope with anxiety, and I realized even while lauging at Smith's hilarious portrayals of anxiety, that it's not funny when you're helping someone who deals with massive amounts of debilitating anxiety.  If you are a teacher, parent, spouse, or friend of someone with anxiety disorders, you should consider reading this book because the raw material Smith describes might help you better understand people who suffer from anxiety.

Hatching Twitter inspired an entire blog post of its own because of my fascination with the world of business and start-ups and my lack of experiential knowledge around either.  The book still has me thinking about the power of social media, and I'm even dismayed when I hear of others who think social media is a useless waste of time given that entire revolutions began in places around the world because of social media.  The activists and educators who use Twitter for making change are most interesting to me, I guess because those are ideas that matter to me in the grand plan of making a difference in the world.

Formative Assessment:  Making it Happen in the Classroom fed a professional need to revisit a topic for a post on this important aspect of a more balanced approach to teaching and learning.  For my book a week goal, I didn't set out to read a certain number of professional books, nonfiction or fiction, I just knew I would read what was most relevant to me in a given week.  The week I read this book began with a Twitter edchat (#nctechat) about formative assessment, and instead of speaking only from experience and knowledge I've gained over the years, reading this book by Margaret Herritage reminded me of important pieces of research that have been written to prove the impact formative assessment can have on student achievement and learning.

The Three Weissmanns of Westport, the only work of fiction I read this month, was not my favorite read of the month.  Initially when I purchased this book by Cathleen Schine off a bargain table at Barnes and Noble, the blurbs on the back sounded interesting, literary, and reminiscent of a Jane Austen novel.  The book has won awards and is listed as a New York Times Bestseller, but it's not one I would ever read again or recommend.  For me the contemporary version of a genteel society is not one for which I have any care or interest.  Had I known the book is classified as "chick lit" I might have known better than to pick it up since that genre typically does not appeal to me.  I'll make a better choice next time and pay better attention to why a book is on the bargain table in the first place.


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