Thursday, April 9, 2009

Books to Inspire Teachers: Work Hard, Be Nice.

I was delayed at the Los Angeles airport yesterday, on my way home from a short holiday to sunnier lands. I wandered into a bookstore & spotted this book: Word Hard. Be Nice: How Two Inspired Teachers Created the Most Promising Schools in America by Jay Mathews. I finished half the book on the plane back to Victoria and am so excited for Easter weekend when I can finish the other half.

The book tells the story of two inspiring young teachers with a vision that "All Children Will Learn," and that inner city schools can produce incredible minds and talents. Mike Feinberg & Dave Levin started the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) where students attend school from 7:30am until 5:00pm, on Saturdays and for 3 weeks in the summer. It sounds very similar to the academy schools in the UK, although I have yet to finish the book so I'll report more on that later.

One of my favourite aspects of their teaching is their use of songs & chants to teach all things - times tables, capitals, science, behaviour...They tap into their students lively & active learning by using songs. I wrote a bit about my own personal experience with singing in this blog post.

Here is my favourite chant that the KIPP teachers use:

The more you read, the more you know.
Knowledge is power,
Power is money, and
I want it.

You gotta read, baby, read.
You gotta read, baby, read.

No need to hope for a good-paying job.
With your first-grade skills you'll do nothing but rob.

You gotta read, baby, read.
You gotta read, baby, read.

You'll rob your momma, you'll rob your friends.
Don't you know you can learn?
Don't you know you can win?

You gotta read, baby, read.
You gotta read, baby, read.

(page 116, Word Hard, Be Nice by Jay Mathews).

It's a very American chant, so wouldn't really work in London and probably not in Canada, but I love it anyway.

What do you think? Do you have any recommendations for great books to inspire teachers? Please share below.

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1 comment:

  1. Songs are great a great way to teach; I guess they literally resonate within us all. However, judging from the words in this song, not many of these students will be choosing education as a career :(


Thanks for sharing your two pence!


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