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Showing posts from November, 2018

Review: Teach Like Finland: 33 Simple Strategies for Joyful Classrooms

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Teach Like Finland: 33 Simple Strategies for Joyful Classrooms by Timothy D. Walker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Walker provides a good collection of tips and considerations about the ways in which one might try to blend some of the best features of Finnish classrooms with American classrooms. Acknowledging that to completely model the Finnish education system, a system that has been heralded as creating amazing changes in teaching and learning in the last few decades, is unreal since the US does not have the same values or mechanisms to transition, Walker delves into thinking about the smaller pieces that teachers themselves can easily practice or incorporate into their teacher. His advice comes from spending several years teaching in Finland after he had taught in the US. Some of his tips are as simple as getting students up and moving or make sure there is fresh air, while others require rethinking one's practice and being a bit more mindful in the moment. While not all may be applica…

Review: Introducing Baudrillard

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Introducing Baudrillard by Chris Horrocks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Chris Horrocks and Zoran Jevtic set out to explain the range and complexity of Baudrillard's works mixed with specs of biography through a mixture of exposition, quotations, and largely, reproduced or augmented images. The book (or graphic novel or mix-media, depending on one’s definition) is ambitious in its attempt to explain Baudrillard solely within his words and direct sentiments or that of other critics while simultaneously playfully mixing in images of and depictions of his discussion and Baudrillard, himself.

The book begins with several pages raising the question of who is Baudrillard and why is he important before switching into a short one-page biography that glosses over largely the first 37 years of his life, from his birth in Algiers to studying at the Lycee and his intellectual forefathers (Satre and Lefebvre). From there, the book hops about and often sprints through a series of topics that it both trie…

Data for Dollars: Apps that Pay

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In the last two years, there's been a handful of apps that I've picked up on my phone that contribute to a trickling of money or gift cards back to me.  I wouldn't call it free money but it is easy'ish money.  Some require a bit of extra work (answering short surveys of 8-10 questions, taking a photo of receipts, choosing between different options); but others just require you to set it up and then run a bit on their own.  

As I hint in the title and in the previous paragraph; there is an exchange going on here.  I'm exchanging various personal data (purchases, preferences, and health data) over to these companies.  Of course, we all know that we're all doing that in myriad ways already.  In these cases, I'm at least getting something more substantial in return.  But I would definitely emphasize that if you're uncomfortable with such data exchanges, some of these will not be of interest.  But since we're approaching the time of year when spending goe…

Review: The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class

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The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class by David R. Roediger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Roediger's text is a fascinating and powerful read in thinking about whiteness and its implications for the 21st century. While it is focused on the 18th and 19th century, it seems like so much of its discussion around how whiteness itself is fused into conceptions of work and identity and purposely contrasted against non-white identities (primarily African American in this case but applicable beyond that). Through the book, he identifies interesting tensions that were parsed out through language, law, and even violence to meld together a white consciousness with American conceptions of working class. He shows in innumerable examples a conscious effort by whites who often performed the same labor as African Americans to assert their distinctness in a game of "I may be working class but at least I'm not black"--a refrain that has historically been inten…

Review: Bring Back the Bureaucrats: Why More Federal Workers Will Lead to Better (and Smaller!) Government

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Bring Back the Bureaucrats: Why More Federal Workers Will Lead to Better (and Smaller!) Government by John Diiluio
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is one of those small books that manages to say a good deal in order to start a meaningful discussion about untried or reconfigured ideas. Diiluio puts forward an argument that while, numerically, it looks like the government is massive, the reality is quite different. When one accounts for all people that receive some type of check for services, the number is large but when you actually look at how many people are actual government employees, this number has been stagnant at best for decades. He argues that part of why we have so much waste is because we have contracted and subcontracted work out further and further while adding on more and more responsibilities to so many agencies as well as increasing demands for accountability measures (which in themselves, require more time and effort to manage). He argues that the rise in professionalism o…

October's Bookshelf

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Well, I may not have gotten to as many physical books as I wanted (I'm almost done with one--does that count--also, it's 700+ pages, so it's slowing my average--hahaha), but I definitely reviewed a lot more books this month, finding that if I write up the reviews right after listening, I've got a lot to say (no surprise there, right?).  It's another month of fascinating reads and I invite you to try some of these great books!
Powers of Darkness: The Lost Version of Dracula by Bram StokerShortly after the original Dracula was published, it was translated and published in Iceland. However, this version is a significantly different version of Dracula than what readers are familiar with. This version focuses about two-thirds of its time on Thomas Harker (as opposed to Jonathan in Stoker's original novel) and his time spent traveling to and in Dracula's castle. Within the castle, readers are exposed to entirely new plot threads that include a seductive female vam…

Review: American Gods

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American Gods by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Note: This review was originally written in the early 2000s and published for a no longer running website: AudiobookCafe. 

This review is focused on both the book and audiobook. Poor Shadow can’t catch a break. After doing three years in prison, he is released early to find that his wife died in a car accident. He also discovered that his wife wasn’t entirely faithful to him during his time in prison. The car accident also took his best friend’s life; the same friend who had lined up a job for Shadow upon release and the same friend, Shadow discovers was sleeping with his wife. In a matter of days, Shadow has lost his love, his best friend, his job, and pretty much all hope. That is until he meets a god who seeks Shadow’s employment as his personal liaison.

Neil Gaiman weaves an amazing tale of gods and goddesses, new and old who are battling each other to gain a higher peg on the metaphorical totem pole of god-worshipping. Their strugg…