Thursday, March 29, 2012

Create Dangerously

Osip Mandelstam (M.A.Reilly, March 2012)
"We live, not feeling the country beneath us," writes Osip Mandelstam in his poem, "We Live, Not Feeling." Mandelstam, as you might know, was shortly arrested after the poem came to the notice of Stalin, who had the poet tortured and imprisoned. He was sentenced to five years hard labor in May 1938 and died at the transit camp in December 1938 from starvation and madness.

Here's the full poem:

We Live, Not Feeling

We live, not feeling the country beneath us,
Our speech inaudible ten steps away,
But where they're up to half a conversation -
They'll speak of the Kremlin mountain man.

His thick fingers are fat like worms,
And his words certain as pound weights.
His cockroach whiskers laugh,
And the top of his boots glisten.

And all around his rabble of thick-skinned leaders,
He plays through services of half-people.
Some whistle, some meow, some snivel,
He alone merely caterwauls and prods.

Like horseshoes he forges decree after decree-
Some get it in the forehead, some in the brow,
some in the groin, and some in the eye.
Whatever the execution - it's a raspberry to him
And his Georgian chest is broad.

I think about Mandelstam and his courage, as well as that of his wife, Nadezhda Mandelstam, who preserved his work at considerable cost.  I think of this poet in light of what it means to write and read and how we situate these acts at school. I worry that we are forgetting (perhaps have yet to learn?) that writing is not five paragraph test responses (regardless of those who would elevate such nonsense to a genre), nor is it a race through 10 different genres crammed into a sad map.  I wonder what will become of us if these understandings become what writing and reading mean to our children and their children.  Who would want to do such things unless forced?

II. Professional Texts

I grow weary of the number of professional texts that are about reading and writing and are poorly written, inaccurate, cite research that seems not to have been actually read or at least comprehended, and make gross assumptions about teaching, learning, and children.  Tonight I read a section of a literacy text that will be published in the summer.  The author is so grossly misinformed about so many of the topics--that it seems impossible that anyone would publish such nonsense.  But it will be published and countless school educators will read it and some will actually act on it. This is the great race through nothing: Every few weeks the students are to read and write some different type of genre. And now that technology needs to be embedded--they are to create films, digital comic books, picture books, short stories, advertisements, legends, fantasy stories, performance works and so on.  I think of it as the great units of study scheme.

Such nonsense. When does one dwell? I have lived a half century, authored numerous books, and I could not accomplish the list of writing tasks this author sets out for 10-year-olds.  No one has time to breathe, let alone think.

As the book mentions the Common Core a lot, I suspect it may become a best seller. Mores that pity.

III. Embracing Danger

It seems so demeaning to art to tell our children that writing and reading are about testing genres and that text can be understood by listing the literary components of a specific genre (even when the list is erroneous).  Whereas this is demeaning to art, it is a spirit killer too. Each time my son comes home with a silly writing task to do or a cereal box response to construct based on a book he was forced to read or a pseudo close reading response log-- I shudder and I think of Mandelstam who died because of the power of the written word.  That's what I want my child to understand: that composing are acts of bravery, acts of danger.

Edwidge Danticat (2011) offers an inspiring interpretation of composing.  She advises the writer to "[c]reate dangerously, for people who read dangerously." She explains that she has lived by this adage:
This is what I’ve always thought it meant to be a writer. Writing, knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them. (Kindle Location, 181-182).
That seems a fair litmus test. Let's ensure our children feel their country beneath them.  Resist the recipe book professional texts that insults you by offering to do the thinking for you.

I can imagine an entire literacy curriculum summarized as such:  
Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously.

Works Cited
Danticat, Edwidge (2011-09-20). Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work (Kindle Location 181- 182). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Spring into Spring: Picture Books for Children about Spring

Addie, Boswell. 2008. The Rain Stomper. Illustrated by Eric Velasquez. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish Childrens Books.
Alarcón, Francisco X. 2005. Laughing Tomatoes: And Other Spring Poems / Jitomates Risuenos: Y Otros Poemas de Primavera. Illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez. San Francisco, CA: Children’s Book Press.
Anderson, Maxine. 2007. Exploring Spring: 25 Great Ways to Learn About Spring. Chicago, IL: Nomad Press.
Arnosky, Jim. 2001. Rabbits and Raindrops. New York: Puffin.
Asch, Frank and Devlin Asch. 2008. Like a Windy Day. New York: Sandpiper.
Ashton, Dianna Hutts, 2007. A Seed is Sleepy. Illustrated by Sylvia Long. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle.
Berger, Carin. 2010. Forever Friends. New York: Greenwillow.
Blexbolex. 2010. Seasons. Enchanted Lion Books.
Brown, Peter. 2011. The Curious Garden.  New York: Hachette Book Group.
Clifton, Lucille. 1973/1992. The Boy Who Didn’t Believe in Spring. Illustrated by Brinton Turkle. New York: Puffin
Cole, Henry. 1997. Jack’s Garden. New York: Greenwillow.
Davies, Nicola. 2012. Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature. Illustrated by Mark Herald. Cambridge MA: Candlewick Press.
Florian, Douglas. 2006. Handsprings. New York: Greenwillow.
Fogliano, Julie. 2012. And Then It’s Spring. Illustrated by Erin E. Stead. New York: Roaring Brook Press.
Frost, Helen. 2008. Monarch and Milkweed. Illustrated by Leonid Gore. New York: Atheneum.
Galbraith, Kathryn. 2011. Planting the Wild Garden. Illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin. Atlanta, GA: Peachtree.
Gibson, Amy. 2012. Split! Splat! Illustrated by Steve Bjorkman. New York: Scholastic.
Glaser, Linda. 2011. Not a Buzz To Be Found. Illustrated by Jaime Zollar. Minneapolis MN: Millbrook.
Glaser, Linda. 2002. It’s Spring. Illustrated by Susan Swan. Minneapolis MN: Millbrook.
Good, Elaine W. 1996.  That’s What Happens When It’s Spring! Illustrated by Susie Shenk Wenger. Good Books.
Gray, Rita (Ed.) 2010. One Big Rain: Poems for Rainy Days. Illustrated by Ryan O’Rourke. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.
Havill, Juanita. 2002. Brianna, Jamaica and the Dance of Spring. Illustrated by Anne Sibley O’Brien.  New York: Houghton Mifflin.
Hobbie, Holly. 2012. Gem. New York: Little, Brown.
Honey, Elizabeth. 2011. That’s Not a Daffodil! Allen & Unwin.
Jackson, Ellen. 2005. Earth Mother. Illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon. New York: Walker Books.
Jackson, Ellen. 2003. The Spring Equinox: Celebrating the Greening of the Earth. Illustrated by Jan Davey Ellis. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook Press.
Kimura, Ken. 2011. 999 Tadpoles. Illustrated by Yasunari Murakami. Boston, MA: NorthSouth Books.
Kurtz, Jane. 2002. Rain Romp: Stomping Away a Grouchy Day. Illustrated by Dyanna Wolcott. New York: Greenwillow.
Lee, Huy Voun. 1998. In the Park. New York: Henry Holt.
London, Jonathan. 1999. Puddles. Illustrated by G. Brian Karas. New York: Puffin.
Manushkin, Fran. 2008. How Mama Brought the Spring. Illustrated by Holly Berry.  New York: Dutton.
Na, Ll Sung. 2010. Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Newman, Leslea. 2007. Skunk’s Spring Surprise. Illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev. Boston, MA: Harcourt.
Oelschlager. 2009. Ivy in Bloom: The Poetry of Spring from Great Poets and Writers from the Past. Illustrated by Kristin Blackwood. Vanita Books.
Ouellet, Debbie. 2009. How Robin Saved Spring. Illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli. New York: Henry Holt.
Pelletier, Andrew. 2001. Sixteen Miles to Spring. Illustrated by Kayta Krenina. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman & Company.
Pfeffer, Wendy. 2008. A New Beginning: Celebrating the Spring Equinox. Illustrated by Linda Bleck. New York: Dutton.
Plourde, Lynn. 2002. Spring’s Sprung. Illustrated by Greg Couch. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Purmell, Ann.2008. Maple Syrup Season. Illustrated by Jill Weber. New York: Holiday House.
Ray, Mary Lyn. 2001. Mud. Illustrated by Lauren Stringer. New York: Sandpiper.
Reed, Lynn Rowe. 2011. Basil’s Birds. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish Childrens Books.
Roberts, Bethany. 2001. The Wind’s Garden. Illustrated by Melanie Hope Greenberg. New York: Henry Holt.
Rockewell, Anne F. 1996. My Spring Robin. Illustrated by Harlow Rockwell and Lizzy Rockwell. New York: Aladdin.
Schnur, Steven. 2000. Spring Thaw. Illustrated by Stacey Schuett. New York: Viking Juvenile.
Shannon, Patrick. 1996. Spring: A Haiku Song. Illustrated by Malcah Zeldis. New York: Greenwillow.
Sidman, Joyce. 2005. Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems. Illustrated by Beckie Prange. New York: Houghton Mifflin.
Spur, Elizabeth. 2012. In the Garden. Illustrated by Manelle Oliphant. Atlanta, GA: Peachtree. (Note: Board Book)
Stein, Peter. 2012. Bugs Galore. Illustrated by Bob Staake. Cambridge. MA: Candlewick.
Ward, Lindsay, 2012. When Blue Met Egg. New York: Dial.
Yang-Huan. 2007. Where is Spring? Illustrated by H.Y Huang and A. Yang. Alhambra, CA: Heryin Books.
Yolleck, Joe. 2010. Paris in the Spring with Picasso. Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman. New York: Schwartz & Wade.
Zagwyn, Deborah Turney. 2004. Turtle Spring. San Francisco, CA: Tricycle Press.

(Spring by Bibloblex)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Thinking About Adrienne Rich

An Atlas for Our Time (M.A. Reilly, 3.28.12)
I am so inspired each and every time I hear or read work by Adrienne Rich.  Once, years ago, Rob and a friend of ours, Michael listened to Adrienne read. It was autumn and night and I have not forgotten. The bright light in the tent, the surrounding darkness, and how transformed I felt listening to her read.  It was the closest thing I know to grace.

So when word came of her death, I began to reread and to work on the image that tops this post.

A few words from Adrienne Rich....

from Penn Sound (audio)

from An Atlas of the Difficult World

I know you are reading this poem
late, before leaving your office
of the one intense yellow lamp-spot and the darkening window
in the lassitude of a building faded to quiet
long after rush-hour. I know you are reading this poem
standing up in a bookstore far from the ocean
on a grey day of early spring, faint flakes driven
across the plains' enormous spaces around you.
I know you are reading this poem
in a room where too much has happened for you to bear
where the bedclothes lie in stagnant coils on the bed
and the open valise speaks of flight
but you cannot leave yet. I know you are reading this poem
as the underground train loses momentum and before running
up the stairs
toward a new kind of love
your life has never allowed.
I know you are reading this poem by the light
of the television screen where soundless images jerk and slide
while you wait for the newscast from the intifada.
I know you are reading this poem in a waiting-room
of eyes met and unmeeting, of identity with strangers.
I know you are reading this poem by fluorescent light
in the boredom and fatigue of the young who are counted out,
count themselves out, at too early an age. I know
you are reading this poem through your failing sight, the thick
lens enlarging these letters beyond all meaning yet you read on
because even the alphabet is precious.
I know you are reading this poem as you pace beside the stove
warming milk, a crying child on your shoulder, a book in your
because life is short and you too are thirsty.
I know you are reading this poem which is not in your language
guessing at some words while others keep you reading
and I want to know which words they are.
I know you are reading this poem listening for something, torn
between bitterness and hope
turning back once again to the task you cannot refuse.
I know you are reading this poem because there is nothing else
left to read
there where you have landed, stripped as you are.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Thinking About Power, Schools, Teaching, Technologies, and God

 I. Channeling God

A few weeks ago, Pam Moran (@pammoran) sent me the transcripts of extended talks that Drs. Ackoff and Deming had back in the early 1990s.  It was most fascinating. This one extended comment by Ackoff really caught my ear.

"And when we started to talk about an enterprise, we looked at it exactly the way that Newton looked at the world. The enterprise was a machine created by its god, the owner, to do his work, and the worker was a replaceable machine part. Okay? The owner was a visible power that had virtually no constraints imposed on him by government or anybody else. He could hire who he wanted to, when he wanted to, pay them what he wanted to, and so on. That concept went through a transformation after World War I for a very important reason.
The American economy grew so rapidly that even if all the profit the corporations were making were reinvested in them, they would not be able to grow as rapidly as was possible. Therefore, the fundamental problem that confronted American management in the 1920's was: Do we constrain growth and retain control, or do we encourage growth and sacrifice control in order to get the financing necessary to get the growth. In other words, do we stay private or go public? And the 1920's was the major period in which corporations converted from private ownership to public ownership.
What happened? God disappeared --a very fundamental change. God was no longer present and powerful. He became an abstract spirit - two hundred and fifty thousand shareholders out there. Now, there's a difficulty in communication between the ordinary worker and that abstract spirit. Peter Drucker recognized that was a problem we had confronted almost 2,000 years ago when God disappeared in the Western World, and he said industry did exactly what the Western World did. It created an institution whose function it was to communicate between man and God, and he called that institution management. And management knew the will of god, the owners, the shareholders, exactly the way that the clergy knows the will of God, by revelation, because they sure don't know it any other way. 
 - Dr. Ackoff (Transcript: Conversations between Ackoff and Deming, 1992)

Wondering what you make of this...what, if any, parallels you see with the shift from private to public in the 1920s and the  increasing interest to make public schools private now. What should we make of that? Are the motivations connected?

II. Thinking About Learning

Today I watched this excellent screencast (Embracing Uncertainty) by Dave Cormier (@davecormier) who boldly states that we need to embrace uncertainty and that cannot measure learning.

Take a look:

Now take a look at this quote by Deming.

Is the push for making public schools private, a response in part to the indeterminacy one might feel when God has been replaced by an abstraction?  Take a look at Will Richardson's (@willrich45) recent column in District Administrator, "Coming to Terms with Five New Realities." Specifically, I connect Will's first assertion with the idea of an uncertain future. Will writes:
It’s becoming clearer by the minute that, as Web technologies open more and more doors for learners, they also pose more and more challenges to traditional thinking about schools. At the center is figuring how best to prepare students for the vast learning opportunities they have outside of the traditional education system.
How do we respond to such challenges? How do institutions respond?

I see these ideas as being connected.  How do we respond to uncertainty? How do we leverage uncertainty and how might it connect to economic methods?

Some things I am thinking about and wonder what you think:
  1. Do private institutions create a public need for certainty by establishing its role as interpreter of God--thus reasserting God, not as an abstraction, but as the Deity? (Great Chain of Being, revisited?) Is this related to the increased pressure to move from public schooling to private forms of schooling?
  2. What do we do when faced with uncertainty?  Is embracing uncertainty a learned behavior?
  3. What does it mean that we need to learn to live in a world of mistakes? How do we do that and how do we avoid that?
  4. What role(s) might web technologies play in leveraging/attending to/obfuscating/intensifying these tensions? Is the current backlash against and imposed restrictions of web technologies connected to how well we attend and/or fail to attend to uncertainty?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Looking at a Writing and Reading Process Connected to Research

Lately I am thinking about the amount of reading I am doing as I write two articles & wondering about how that process compares to research methods that middle and high school students are required to do at school. A few observations:
  1. My reading list emerges alongside the writing.
  2. My reading list is fueled by what I read. I read a lot of  the works referenced in a text. Like Frost knew: way leads on to way.  For example, I am anxiously awaiting Full House (Gould, 1996) as I need to read it in order to better understand a point that Brian Sutton-Smith makes concerning evolution and play. I could never have predicted this would be a text of importance as I began this work.
  3. Sometimes an unrelated article I have read will later inform the work I am composing in surprising ways.
  4. Sometimes I stop the writing and create a work visually. Not sure how this matters but it seems to help me write.
  5. I know very little and am aware of this as I read and write. 
  6. I could never list the resources I will read/view/listen to for any single article I write until I have the work ready for publication. Even then, my experience has been that editors and peer reviewers will raise questions that send me back to rewrite, reread, and select works to read I had not considered. If I was required to make a list of the resources I planned to use before I actually started, it would make me not want to write.
  7. I never know what will emerge even when I think I have a good idea.  
  8. Talking with key people as I have drafts completed helps me enormously. 
  9. I have a handful of people (and now since Twitter some of that is changing) that I share initial drafts with and these confidants actually read and respond to the work. I am selective with whom I share drafts.
  10. My husband is the best editor (not only in the narrow sense of surface text, but also in the deeper structure and thinking of the text) I know and thankfully he loves me enough to suffer through those early drafts and push me to think in ways that stretches my thinking and often my intentions.
  11. I meticulously list the works cited as I write.  I don't leave this to some end time. 
  12. Making the works cited page somehow makes me feel productive even when I am not producing pages.
  13. What I am wondering about alters as I read and listen to taped interviews and classroom sessions. 
  14. I could never write a thesis statement or chose one from a list of four choices (A, B, C, or D). Meaning emerges.
  15. Just because I am writing it, doesn't mean I understand. Often I don't.
  16. I listen to the interviews and classrooms sessions a lot, often.  
  17. Vacuuming, driving, walking in the woods are all ways that help me to think about the work while not directly thinking about it.
  18. As ideas flow, I visualize cognitive bifurcation happening inside my brain. It's a lot like tree lights blinking On. Off. Growing stronger.
  19. I locate what will become *the article* in several different documents and later join some of these initial writings. Collage seems to be a method I employ.
  20. I like to join dissimilar things and see what pops.
  21. I write far more that I will ever use in any one article.
  22. I reread a lot.
  23. I do a lot of things not directly related to reading or writing, and yet so much informs the work.  Even when I am not consciously thinking about the work, my mind seems to be busy seeking patterns, etc.  For example, on a trip to have lunch with a friend one day I listened to Brian Lehrer show and had the opportunity to hear Jonah Lehrer discuss his new book. I though I heard him say something about reinvention of self.  And yet when I listened to the show again (thank you Stitcher) I couldn't find what I though I had heard. The insight nonetheless was important and will likely be a critical understanding in one of the articles: in a classroom I am studying, reinventing one's self is the curriculum. It is what play looks like inside of school.  The play is not the Minecraft. The play is the many ways reinvention occurs.
  24. I rely on story in most of my 'non-fiction' works. Narrative informs everything. (Sorry Common Core people who think these things are unrelated. Not so for me.) 
  25. I appreciate deadlines.
  26. I detest deadlines.
  27. I often doubt I will finish the work at hand.
  28. I abandon writing and return it at time.
  29. I am continuously amazed by how much I don't know which helps me to understand.
  30. I read obsessively. It's like a hunger. 
  31. I reread my work on screen as I am composing.  
  32. I reread my work on paper when I need to do a deeper revision or edit. 
  33. I need to hear the work aloud and find a pen in hand matters in that physically writing with a pen  helps me to find the 'right' word, phrase.  
  34. I abandon most processes related to revision and editing and return to writing on screen as soon as these initial ways of delving catches some fire I need to follow.
  35. I see in pictures, wholes. There is a logic to this that is critical for me as I revise.
  36. I never use a rubric, checklist to guide my work.  I don't want an ending imposed. Impose an ending and I probably will find I have nothing to say.


Now I wonder about how we guide students to think and compose as readers and writers. How does the list above compare with the expectation of school-based authoring? How do we manage the constraints and freedoms, both needed to compose well?  How is agency realized at school?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Undo the Folded Lie

Wing Left Behind

"Creativity is the residue of time wasted," wrote Albert Einstein. I think about this observation as I recall the last few months spent visiting city schools where 'wasting time' is an anathema. The efficient education reform machine is juiced on the single test performance of children.  I think of this as I recall my own son's teachers who in the past have who told me in hushed tones that he spends a lot of time looking out the window, daydreaming, as if such behavior was aberrant. Some seemed a bit surprised when I acknowledged what had been said and added, "Yes I know. He's learned that at home."

Nurturing the child's imagination ought to be our concern, our wonder, our delight, our obligation.  It needs to be our national interest and we need to stop pouring tax dollars into testing regimes and the awful prepping that accompanies such national attention. In the classrooms I have been visiting, the imagination is largely undetected.  Truth be told? These visits break my heart.  Recently, I met two young teens who were characterized by their teacher. One was characterized as 'mentally retarded' and the other,  'autistic'.  The teacher agreed that I would have the opportunity to meet the boys and to work with each of them. She expressed concern about the boys' reading given the directive that she had received that limited her choice of texts to 'grade level texts' and ones that exceeded the students' reading ease.  Her school is 'readying' fro the Common Core. We have to use hard books, she says. Her mission is to 'move students from level 1 to to level 2' in state testing.

"I don't know how I am going to move them to level 2," she confided. I know of no other way to characterize many of the teachers I meet other than to say they seem beleaguered, frightened, and terribly uncertain of themselves as teachers--as thinkers.  Student performance on a single state test matters more than anything else. It is no longer hyperbole to say that their very livelihood depends on how their students perform on this single measure.


I had an iPad with me and asked the first boy if he had ever used an iPad.  He said he had not and as we sat next to each other I showed him how it turned on and opened a folder of books.  He indicated that he wanted to see The Three Little Pigs.  I opened it and eased the iPad in front of him.  As we moved through the first screen, he quickly took over figuring how to interact with the text. After a lot of huffing and puffing, I asked if we might stop the book even though we had not reached the end. I asked if he could return to the beginning of the book and perhaps he might show the story to the other boy (who had been sitting near by watching his class give an efferent retelling of a  story).  He agreed and he was quickly joined by the other boy.  What was pretty remarkable was the amount of language the boys generated talking to one and to the book. There were no questions to answer, main ideas to determine, or details to name.  Story existed, at least for the moment, as pleasure.

Their laughter and chatter must have been contagious as it seemed to attract another boy who quickly took my seat and half way through the story the three were joined by another four boys. Within a minute or so, another teacher appeared and herded the boys back to their desks explaining that they needed to write a test-prep essay. One boy squawked and I asked if he might remain until the story was concluded as he had been following along from the beginning. The teacher agreed.

Because these children had not passed the state test during previous administrations, they are subject to two periods of ELA and two periods of mathematics. As a result, they do not have art, music, dance, woodworking, culinary arts, gaming, language, or any type of elective.  They know nothing of hanging out, messing around or geeking out as Mimi Ito describes.  Such worlds are not only banned from school, but are also not valued.  There is the mistaken belief that adding more test prepping time will lead to better test results. In addition to these double periods--social studies and science classes are also offered. At some schools, social studies is simply an excuse to do more "literacy" AKA: test prepping. Once a week the children participate in physical education. In most schools I visit there are no computers, handhelds, or any other type of potential assistive technologies in use or in some cases even present. 

At some schools the teens remain in a single classroom all day. They do not have an occasion to move. One teacher confided how hard this is for some of the learners as they have ADHD. She says how she couldn't do what is required of her students.  Her comment about ADHD had me recalling a comment Jonah Lehrer made recently on a radio show. He was discussing his new book, Imagine: How Creativity Works, on the Brian Lehrer Show (3.22.12) and it got me wondering:
What if school was based on the continuous reinvention of self, rather than accumulation of information?
Jonah discussed how it was once thought that creativity declined as one aged.  Lehrer says this has been found to be false. It appeared to be so as when one ages some become "weighted down with too much conventional wisdom" (Lehrer, Kindle Locations 1789-1790).  In contrast, creative people consistently reinvent themselves.

Imagine school based on reinvention?  Imagine how differently students and teachers would be understood and situated if the retrieval and remembrance of information ceased to be the main emphasis and instead occasioning the definition and reinvention of one's self were privileged.  Would we need to refer to children as 1s, 2s, partially proficient, ELLs, Speds? Would terms such as 'mentally retarded' still find voice? Would we need to classify children?  Might we redefine malady as sources of creativity?  Lehrer makes this observation:
Or look at a recent study led by Holly White, a psychologist at the University of Memphis. White began by giving a large sample of undergraduates a variety of difficult creative tests. Surprisingly, those students diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) got significantly higher scores. White then measured levels of creative achievement in the real world, asking the students if they’d ever won prizes at juried art shows or been honored at science fairs. In every single domain, from drama to engineering, the students with ADHD had achieved more. Their attention deficit turned out to be a creative blessing (Kindle Locations 602-606).
This capacity to be distracted--a stimulus for creativity--is ruthlessly removed from the day-to-day lives of children and teachers at school. The efficient machine does not recognize distraction as an asset.  This efficiency is a human spirit killer. From the President to the town realtor--from the parent bragging about his/her child's state test score to the CEOs of companies raking in billions on selling tests, scoring services, curricula, test prepping materials, resources, and professional development--we each bear the blame of limiting children and we have the voice to undo it.

Auden, in "September 1, 1939"  said it best, when he wrote:
All I have is a voice 
To undo the folded lie
Of the sensual man-in-the-street 
And the lie of Authority 
Whose buildings grope the sky: 
There is no such thing as the State 
And no one exists alone; 
Hunger allows no choice 
To the citizen or the police; 
We must love one another or die.

How do you unfold the lie?
Where have you started?

Work Cited
Lehrer, Jonah (2012-03-19). Imagine: How Creativity Works. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Children's Books Focusing on Special/Exceptional Needs, Strengths and Graces

Picture Books

Anderson, Peggy Perry. 2004. We Go in a Circle. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.
Altman, Alexandra Jessup. 2008. Waiting for Benjamin: A Story about Autism. Illustrated by
Susan Keeter. Grand Rapids, MI: Albert Whitman  & Company.
Asare, Meshack. 2001. Sosu’s Call. La Jolla, CA: Kane/Miller.
Burton, Linda. 2011. Pay Attention, Emily Brown! Illustrated by Carl Burton. Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House.
Cottin, Menena.  2008. The Black Book of Colors. Illustrated by Rosana Faria. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
Cowen-Fletcher, Jane.  1996. Mama Zooms. New York: Scholastic.
Davis, Patricia. 2000. Brian’s Bird. Illustrated by Layne Johnson. Shen’s Books.
Ely, Lesley. 2004.  Looking After Lewis. Illustrated by Polly Dunbar. Grand Rapids, MI: Albert Whitman  & Company.
Fleming, Virginia. 1993. Be Good to Eddie Lee. New York: Philomel.
Fraustino, Lisa Rowe. 2001. The Hickory Chair. Illustrated by Benny Andrews. New York: Arthur Levine.
Golden, Barbara Diamond. 2010. Cakes and Miracles: A Purim Tale. Illustrated by Jaime Zollars. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish.
Greenberg, Jan & Sandra Jordan. 2000. Chuck Close: Up Close. DK Children.
Gregory, Nan. 2002. How Smudge Came. Illustrated by Ron Lightburn. Ontario: Fitzhenry & Whiteside.
Hamilton, Virginia. 2002. Bluish. New York: blue Sky Press.
Harshman, Marc. 1995. The Storm. Illustrated by Mark Mohr. New York: Dutton Juvenile.
Heelan, Jamee Riggio. 2000. Rolling Along: The Story of Taylor and His Wheelchair. Illustrated by Nicola Simmonds. Atlanta, GA: Peachtree,

Herrera, Juan Felipe. 2004. Featherless/Desplumado. San Francisco, CA: Children’s Book Press.
Holub, Joan. 2004. My First Book of Sign Language. New York: Scholastic.
Keats, Ezra Jack. 2004. Louie. New York: Puffin.
Keats, Ezra Jack. 1999. Apt. 3. New York: Puffin.
Kostecki-Shaw, Jenny. 2008. My Travelin Eye. New York: Henry Holt.
Larkin Patricia. 1994. Dad and Me in the Morning. Illustrated by Robert G. Steele. Grand Rapids, MI: Albert Whitman  & Company.
Lears, Laurie. 1998. Ian’s Walk: A Story about Autism. Illustrated by Karen Ritz. Grand Rapids, MI: Albert Whitman  & Company.
Lears, Laura. 2005. Nathan’s Wish: A Story about Cerebral Palsy. Illustrated by Stacey Schuett. Grand Rapids, MI: Albert Whitman  & Company.
Lee, Jeanne M. 1994. Silent Lotus. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Lewis, Beverly. 2007. In Jesse’s Shoes. Illustrated by Laura Nikiel. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House.
Millman, Isaac. 2002. Moses Goes to a Concert. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Moon, Nicola. 1997. Lucy’s Picture. New York: Puffin.
Moss, Marissa. 2002. Amelia Lends a Hand. American Girl.
Osofsky, Audrey. 1994. My Buddy. Illustrated by Ted Rand. New York: Henry Holt.
Peete, Holly Robinson. 2010. My Brother Charlie. Illustrated by Ryan Elizabeth Peete. New York: Scholastic.
Peters, Brian and Paul Howey. 2009. Tic Talk: Living with Tourette Syndrome. Illustrated by  Zachary Wendland. Little Five Star.
Polacco, Patricia. 2001. Thank You, Mr. Falker. New York: Philomel.
Rogers, Fred. 2000. Let’s Talk About It: Extraordinary Friends. New York: Puffin.
Robb, Diane Burton. 2004. The Alphabet War: A Story about Dyslexia. Illustrated by Gail Piazza. Grand Rapids, MI: Albert Whitman  & Company.
from Babu's Song
Stuve-Bodeen, Stephanie.2003.  Babu’s Song. Illustrated by Aaron Boyd. New York: Lee & Low.
Thompson, Mary. 1996. Andy and His Yellow Frisbee. Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House.
Uhlberg, Myron. 2005. Dad, Jackie, and Me. Illustrated by Colin Bootman. Atlanta, GA: Peachtree Publishers.
Uhlberg, Myron. 2003. The Printer. Illustrated by Henri Sorenson. Atlanta, GA: Peachtree Publishers.
Woloson, Eliza. 2003. My Friend Isabelle. Illustrated by Bryan Gough. Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House.
Wood, Douglas. 2009. Miss Little’s Gift. Illustrated by Jim Burke. Cambridge MA: Candlewick.
Yolen, Jane. 2009. The Seeing Stick. Illustrated by Daniela Terrazzini. Running Press Kids.

from The Seeing Stick.

Longer Works (Grades 4-8)
Abbott, Tony. 2008. Firegirl. New York: Little, Brown.

Alexander, Sally Hobart & Robert Alexander. 2008. She Touched the World: Laura Bridgman, Deaf-Blind Pioneer. New York: Clarion Books.
Bang, Molly. 2001. Tiger’s Fall. New York: Henry Holt.
Baskin, Nora Raleigh. 2010. Anything But Typical. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Cheaney, J.B. 2008. The Middle of Somewhere. New York: Yearling.
Choldenko, Gennifer. 2006. Al Capone Does My Shirts. New York: Puffin.
Codell, Esme Raji. 2004. Sahara Special. New York: Hyperion.
Draper Sharon. 2010. Out of My Mind. New York: Atheneum.
Erskine, Kathryn. 2011. Mockingbird. New York: Puffin.
Gantos, Jack. 2011. Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key. New York: Square Fish.
Hesse, Karen. 1999. Just Juice. New York: Scholastic.
from The Sound of Colors
Johnson, Angela. 2003. A Cool Moonlight. Illustrated by Kamil Vojnar. New York: Dial.
Kochka, Sarah Adams. 2006. The Boy Who Ate Stars. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Laird, Elizabeth. 2012. Red Sky in the Morning. Haymarket Books.
Lauren, Jill. 2009. That’s Like Me! Star Bright Books.
Liao, Jimmy. 2006. The Sound of Colors. New York: Little, Brown.
Lord, Cynthia. 2006. Rules. New York: Scholastic.
Martin, Ann M. 2004. A Corner of the Universe. New York: Scholastic.
Meyer, Donald Joseph (ed.). 1997. Views from Our Shoes: Growing Up with a Brother or Sister with Special Needs.  Illustrated by Cary Pillo. Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House.
Miller, Sarah. 2010. Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller. New York: Atheneum.
Porter, Pamela. 2006. The Crazy Man. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
Ray, Delia. 2006.  Singing Hands. New York: Clarion.
Sullivan, George. 2007. Helen Keller: Her Life in Pictures. New York: Scholastic.
Weeks, Sarah. 2004. So B. It. New York: HarperCollins.
Wright, Barbara. 2012. Crow. New York: Random.

Grade 7 and Higher
Abeel, Samantha & Charles R. Murphy. 1994. Reach for the Moon. Pfeofer-Hamilton.

Abeel, Samantha. 2005. My Thirteenth Winter. New York: Scholastic.
Engle, Margarita. 2012. The Wild Book. New York: Harcourt.
Hesser, Terry. 1998. Kissing Doorknobs. New York: Laurel Leaf.
Lowry, Lois. 2013. The Silent Boy. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.
Mass, Wendy. 2008. A Mango-Shaped Space. New York: Knopf.
Mikaelsen, Ben 2010. Petey. New York: Hyperion.
Mullin Jill. 2012. Drawing Autism. Mark Batty Publisher.
Palacio, R.J. 2012. Wonder. New York: Knopf.
Philbrick, Rodman. 2001. Freak the Mighty. New York: Scholastic.
Rees,Celia. 2000. The Truth Out There. DK Press.
Trueman, Terry. 2004. Cruise Control. New York: HarperTeen
Trueman, Terry. 2000. Stuck in Neutral. New York: HarperCollins.
Zimmer, Tracie Vaughn. 2007. Reaching for the Sun. Bloomsbury.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

New Children's Books in 2012

from Guacamole
Alexander, Elizabeth. 2012. Praise Song for the Day: A Poem for Barack Obama’s Inauguration. Illustrated by David Diaz. New York: Katherine Tegen Books.
Argueta, Jorge. 2012. Guacamole: Un poema para cocinar / A Cooking Poem. Illustrated by Margarita Sada. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
Ashton, Dianna Hutts. 2011. Dream Something Big: The Story of the Watts Towers. Illustrate by Susan L. Roth. New York: Dial.
Barnett, Mac. 2012. Extra Yarn. Illustrated by Jon Klassen. New York: Balzar & Bray.
Cline-Ransome, Lesa. 2012. Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass. Illustrated by James E. Ransome. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Dunbar, Polly. 2012. Arthur’s Dream Boat. Cambridge. MA: Candlewick.
Elschner, Géraldine. 2012. The Cat and the Bird: A Children’s Book Inspired by Paul Klee. New York: Prestel Publishing.
Evans, Shane. 2012. We March. New York: Roaring Brook Press.
Fishman, Cathy Goldberg. 2012. When Jackie and Hank Met. Illustrated by Mark Eliot.Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish.
Frost, Helen. 2012. Step Gently Out. Photographs by Rick Lieder. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick.
Hole, Stian. 2011. Garmann’s Secret. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Books.
Kalman, Maria.2012. Looking at Lincoln. New York: Nancy Paulsen Books.
Kamkwamba, William & Bryan Mealer. 2012. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon. New York, Dial.
Klein, Leonore. 2012. Henri’s Walk to Paris. Illustrated by Saul Bass. Universe.
Krishnaswamy, Uma. 2012. Out of the Way! Out of the Way! Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
from Henri's Walk to Paris
Lewin, Ted & Betsy Lewin. 2012. Puffling Patrol. New York: Lee & Low.
Lujan, Jorge Elias. 2012. Con el sol en los ojos / With the Sun in My Eyes. Illustrated by Morteza Zahedi. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
Lyon, George Ella. 2011. All the Water in the World. Illustrated by Katherine Tillotson. New York: Atheneum.
Maclear, Kyo. 2012. Virginia Wolf. Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. Kids Can Press.
Manning, Maurie J. 2012. Laundry Day. New York: Clarion.
Mason, Margaret, 2011. These Hands. Illustrated by Floyd Cooper.  New York: Houghton Mifflin.
Messner, Kate. 2011. Over and Under Snow. Illustrated by Christopher Silas. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books.

Nivola, Claire A. 2012. Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Novesky, Amy. 2012. Georgia in Hawaii: When Georgia O’Keeffe Painted What She Pleased. Illustrated by Yuyi Morales. New York: Harcourt.
Ogburn, Jacqueline, 2012. Little Treasures: Endearments from Around the World. Illustrated by Chris Rashka. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.
Paschkis, Julie. 2012. Mooshka, A Quilt Story. Atlanta, GA: Peachtree.
Rocco, John. 2011. Blackout. New York: Hyperion.
Rosenstock, Barb. 2012. The Camping Trip that Changed America: Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir and Our National Parks. Illustrated by Mordecai Gerstein. New York: Dial.

Shange, Ntozake, 2012. Freedom’s a-Callin Me. Illustrated by Rod Brown. New York: Amistad.
Shapiro, Jane, 2011. Magic Trash: A Story of Tyree Guyton and His Art. Illustrated by Vanessa Newton. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.
Singer, Marilyn. 2012. A Stick is an Excellent Thing. Illustrated by LeUyen Pham. New York: Clarion.
Springman, I.C. 2012. More. Illustrated by Brian Lies. New York: Houghton Mifflin.
Tate, Don. 2012. It Jes’ happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. New York: Lee & Low.
Trottier, Maxine, 2011. Migrant. Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. Toronto, ON: Groundwood.

Viva, Frank. 2011. Along a Long Road. New York: Little, Brown Books.
Wallner, Alexandra. 2012. Susan B Anthony. New York: Holiday House.
Winter, Jonah. 2012. Jazz Age Josephine: Dance, Singer—Who’s that, Who? Why That’s MISS Josephine Baker. Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman. New York: Atheneum.
Young, Ed. 2011. The House Baba Built: An Artist’s Childhood in China. New York: Little, Brown.
Zoehfeld, Kathleen Weidner. 2012. Secrets of the Garden: Food Chains and the Food Web in Our Backyard. Illustrated by Priscilla Lamont. New York: Knopf.