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Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives 64927th Edition
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"Introducing a spelling test to a student by saying, 'Let's see how many words you know,' is different from saying, 'Let's see how many words you know already.' It is only one word, but the already suggests that any words the child knows are ahead of expectation and, most important, that there is nothing permanent about what is known and not known."
— Peter Johnston
Sometimes a single word changes everything. In his groundbreaking book Choice Words, Peter Johnston demonstrated how the things teachers say (and don't say) have surprising consequences for the literate lives of students. Now, in Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives, Peter shows how the words teachers choose affect the worlds students inhabit in the classroom, and ultimately their futures. He explains how to engage children with more productive talk and to create classrooms that support not only students' intellectual development, but their development as human beings.
Grounded in research, Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives shows how words can shape students' learning, their sense of self, and their social, emotional and moral development. Make no mistake: words have the power to open minds – or close them.
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From the Publisher
Stenhouse Honors Teaching
Stenhouse provides quality professional learning resources by teachers, for teachers. All of Stenhouse’s resources, ranging from literacy and math instruction to classroom practice, are grounded in a philosophy of education that respects both teacher and learner. They are designed to integrate theory, research, and practice in an accessible manner, enhancing educators’ professional knowledge and building their students’ skills as readers, writers, and thinkers. Stenhouse is a subsidiary of Highlights for Children.
About the Author
Peter Johnston grew up and taught elementary school in New Zealand before coming to the United States to earn his Ph.D. at the Center for the Study of Reading at the University of Illinois. At the time his plans did not include staying in the United States let alone getting married and raising a family. He now lives in Albany, New York, with his wife Tina, and a cat left behind by one of his (three) children returning briefly from college.
Peter's research and writing spring from his fascination with children's learning and, no less, teachers' teaching. Perversely, he believes that education is not simply about delivering information to children. He thinks it is more about building a just, caring society and that doing so will not detract from our more obviously pragmatic educational goals. In his most recent Stenhouse book, Choice Words, he uses his fascination with the relationship between language and learning to show how this works moment to moment in the classroom.
A professor at the State University of New York at Albany, Peter and his colleagues Becky Rogers and Cheryl Dozier recently researched their own teaching of beginning teachers in Critical Literacy/Critical Teaching: Tools for Preparing Responsive Teachers. Knowing Literacy, his most recent book on assessment, arose from his interest in the ways assessment teaching and learning are linked. His research on assessment has given him reason to be skeptical of high-stakes testing because of its effects on teaching and learning.
When asked to describe himself as a writer, he says that he "binges." While not recommended, this approach has resulted in some eight books and about fifty research articles, along with occasional awards from professional organizations. Some of this, of course, is accounted for by age. The departure of his youngest daughter into a teacher education program, along with his recent election to the Reading Hall of Fame, asserts his "old fart" status.
Beyond his family, research, soccer, singing, and humor sustain him. Failing that, a glass of chardonnay helps.
- Publisher : Stenhouse Publishers; 64927th edition (January 10, 2012)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 160 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1571108165
- ISBN-13 : 978-1571108166
- Grade level : Kindergarten - 8
- Item Weight : 9.1 ounces
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.45 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #405,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Johnston is interested in far more than “just teaching.” He believes that teachers have a responsibility for helping their students mature into responsible and concerned citizens who are equipped with the academic, social, and emotional skills to effect real change in the world.
This book will benefit anyone interested in social justice education—that is to say, anyone who is interested in meaningful education.
In Opening Minds, Johnston covers a wide range of issues, from more skillful ways to work with motivating students to ways of developing social intelligence (or, as he calls it, social imagination). Johnston does this in ways that hint at how he hopes others will teach. That is, he never hits us over the head with "shoulds" and "must-dos", but gives examples that help lead us to developing more thoughtful approaches.
I especially liked his chapter on praise. In it he points out how relying heavily on praise (which is a popular approach in this era of self-esteem boosting) has some downsides, such as creating an arms race around what is real praise and what is faint praise -- and ultimately keeps us in an externally-motivated rewards and punishment system. Instead, he gently leads us to see the greater value of taking a real interest in your students work. By asking questions that bring out greater depth, the student learns depth and intellectual probing is most important, and that you genuinely care; all this, without setting up a dynamic that leads the student to look for praise. The work itself becomes the reward. In retrospect this makes obvious sense: in a way, praise can be an easy short cut, while really paying attention and putting yourself in the student's frame of mind takes more work and effort. What I especially liked about this chapter is Johnston got us there in such a gentle way, that I wasn't left with the feeling of "what a dope I'd been in the past." This approach leads by example.
It's hard to imagine a teacher not benefitting from this book, and non-teachers too for that matter. Since we're all kids underneath our adult facade and protective layers, we can communicate more clearly with his gentle but thoughtful approaches.