Monday, June 19, 2017

Free Textbooks for Secondary and College English

Budgets are being slashed and whether you teach high school or college the cost of textbooks and materials keeps growing. The phrase "textbook affordability" is thrown around a lot where I'm from. And it can be frustrating because as educators we have very little control over how much a publisher charges.

Frankly, in the high schools the issue wasn't for the students but on us instead. I know that my first year teaching I had about 7 books for 120 students! This included a stack of pages that had fallen out of the text books. I'd often have to say "If you can't find the page in your book try the stack of extra pages!"  However, luckily for us, our options for free open source resources are also growing.

Check out these 5 amazing sources for free resources for you and your students to use.

1. Frameworks for Academic Writing  This pdf download has lots of different styles of writing from argument to personal to business and everything in between. The author has the permissions set to allow you to change what you need to. Just make sure to give her credit and to not sell it as your own!

2. The Process of Research Writing This takes you to a site where you can access each chapter individually. I love this resource because it has literally everything you might need to help your students complete a major research assignment. It's great for taking a little bit or a lot from! You can also create your own materials using this and still be in the clear due to the Creative Commons license he has on it!

3. Writing Spaces Vol 1 and Writing Spaces Vol 2 These two are collections of essays about writing in college. You can download the complete collections or each piece individually. My favorite piece to use in my classes is "Annoying Ways People Use Sources" from volume 2. It's a fun look at what not to do when integrating source material into a research paper.

4. American Literature Before 1860 While this material is already accessible via the common domain it's nice that this e-book has already put it together for your in one package with an easy to navigate table of contents.

5. The Compact Anthology of World Literature I am currently using this as the primary textbook in my World Literature Course. There are three volumes and more literature than you could hope to go through. Due to the nature of copyright there is not any modern work and no real Latin American works but it is still a valuable resource for many other great texts!

If you're just looking for pieces of literature online this might be a great place to start.

So, have you jumped into the Open Education Resources yet? Are there great ones that you've used? How do you feel about digital textbooks? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Book Reviews

In another life I blogged about YA Lit. It was a passion of mine. I still love me some YA lit but I haven't been good about blogging about it. I've decided to share some of my previous reviews here for you all because I do think they're worthwhile for you.

So I'm going to start with: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein because it was a more recent book and I think it has an insane amount of potential for the classroom.

It was a book that captivated me and I think has great crossover appeal to adults. I wouldn't hesitate to use it in my college classroom were I presented with the opportunity to do so. I also like how it has a bit of technical information about planes and such that makes it have appeal to males as well as females since it's a female-centric book.

Original post below:

I really enjoy historical fiction.  Not only do I get to read a great story but I get to learn in the process.  I also love books with strong female protagonists.  This book truly delivered on both counts.  Told from the viewpoints of two different girls during WWII this book has action, intrigue, female bonding and so much more.
Some of the things I loved about this book:
TONS of literary and historical allusions.  This book is for smart people!
A new take on WWII.  I've read lots of books focusing on the plight of the Jewish population- which of course is very important, but this takes a different angle.
A Complete Guide to Vocabulary Comprehension and PlotYoung women in positions of importance.  This is definitely a book that proves can be/do anything.  Even pilot planes during war time!
I truly think this would be a great book to use in the classroom.  Check out this novel guide on Teachers Pay Teachers that I created. It helps students with the vocabulary, allusions, and general comprehension.
The Lowdown: (via Scholastic)
Interest Level: Grade 10
Reading Level: Grade 6  (While this may be technically true, the dual narrator, and the allusions, along with some of the content make this book appropriate for high school. I would not teach this below high school due to content.
Michael L. Printz Honor Book
Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Young Adult Novel
Golden Kite Honor
There is somewhat of a sequel available too which I have yet to read.

Have you read the book? What do you think? Do you use it in your classroom?
Thanks for reading!