Another book that has sat unread on my shelf for a year or two – probably closer to two… But there was a thought provoking gem that I’m glad I finally cracked open. Eric Hardie and I never crossed paths even though we may have taught in the same district for a number of years, this fact made his references to schools a little more interesting as I could envision the school and area. It isn’t often that I read an educational pedagogy book that reflects a connection to my own student-life. I grew up in the Ottawa, Ontario area and he writes using schools and experience that reflect my own.

Where does this book fall though as a teacher worthy book?

I appreciated the way this book was written. Six steps to transforming the classroom to make it more real world learning experience. Each chapter reflects these steps and surprisingly (based on comparing to other books) hits on the many of the concerns I could think of. As I read one idea and thought of the issues I might have, Hardie was good at narrowing the concerns and giving solutions.

The book walks teachers (and possibly administrators) through how to change the classroom experience. It not only reminds teachers that making real-world connections is important to making education worthwhile, but it also supports the new ideas of developing challenges through questions.

Some of the key ideas I am definitely taking away include (but are not limited to): 1) allowing students to see the standards and decide how they can learn and show learning; 2) create bigger community connections in a multitude of ways; and, 3) having planned with ‘no plan’. I don’t want to give away all the author’s work. There are so many great ideas and reflective pieces to think about as we reconstruct the classroom experience.

For me, the one ‘disappointment’ (if I can even call it that), was some of the vague commentary on the specific examples and the fact that I teach in an environment with an end state exam – missing were the ways of meeting such situations (however, that doesn’t mean I’m not creative enough to finesse the experience). There was also the continual thinking that the book was written primarily for middle school or younger classrooms where all content is taught. Again, I believe in the connections of learning, so I’m hopeful to interweave not only STEAM but language arts.

A worthwhile read for any teacher who is looking for support and ideas. Especially, if the teacher believes in the bigger change of the educational system, this is a great book to read quickly and get started with small or big changes.

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Summer Reading Review: The Relevant Classroom

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