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Teaching Forum - Book Review

A Journal of the the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Sunday October 26, 2008 Edition

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Book Review
Teaching Outside the Box: How to Grab Your Students by the Brains

By Glenda Jones
University of Wisconsin-Stout

Teaching Outside the Box: How to Grab Your Students By Their Brains, published by Jossey-Bass 2005, was written by LuAnne Johson the author of the New York Times best-seller Dangerous Minds. Johnson is also the author of seven nonfiction books, including The Queen of Education and The Girls in the Back of the Class. At the time Teaching Outside the Box was published in 2005, Johnson was a community college instructor. This book is targeted to an audience of new teachers and people who are contemplating teaching as a career, however, I found it very useful as a tool to examine my current assumptions about teaching and to look at what I'm doing with a fresh eye. The content of Teaching Outside the Box was designed to enhance teaching at the secondary level, but there are many applications for higher education as well such as suggestions for creating and grading student portfolios. In Teaching Outside the Box, Johnson ask the question "Why do so many teacher candidates ace their education courses, read all the latest journals, carefully observe good teachers, shine like stars during their student teaching, and then crash and burn during their first year in the classroom? Because education, desire, intelligence, passion, and talent do not automatically enable you to communicate complex ideas to other people." To help those wanting to improve their teaching techniques, the book includes eleven chapters: (1) Are You Teacher Material? (Reflects on the pros and cons of teaching and what it takes to be a super teacher); (2) Do Your Homework (Offers a framework for helping teachers define their own teaching philosophies); (3) Preparation, Preparation, Preparation (Gives advice for organizing your classroom, your paperwork, and yourself); (4) Make the First Week of Class a First-Class Week (Offers suggestions and specific activities for creating a dynamic classroom); (5) Discipline is Not a Dirty Word (Provides techniques for designing rules and creating a positive discipline environment); (6) Motivation & Morale Boosters (Offers Practical suggestions for motivating and inspiring students of all ages and abilities); (7) The Three R's: Reading, Reading, and Reading (Offers suggestions for motivating students to read, improve comprehension, and teach poetry); (8) Teachers Talk: Q&A (Q&A from teachers on topics that may not be discussed in teacher preparation courses; (9) Students FAQ (Friends, siblings, parents, staying cool, bullies, and more); (10) Time and Energy Savers (Advice for save time, reducing stress, & focusing energy on teaching instead of busy work); and (11) Twenty Years From Now (Letters from readers who write about their teachers). An appendix includes resources, books, and websites. This book is heavy on practical skills and light on theory. I wish I had had the book available to me when I was in my first years of teaching.

CopyrightUW System

Glenda Jones is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Stout.