HomeIDIOM #52. n2 reviewsProfessional Reading

The Artful English Teacher

The Artful English TeacherEditors: Erika Boas and Susan Gazis
Publisher: Australian Association for the Teaching of English (AATE), 2016, 312 pages
RRP: $49.95

This book is an excellent resource for English teachers at all stages: graduates, early career and experienced teachers alike, because it has over one hundred evidence-based practical strategies, tools and examples with supporting theory that English teachers can implement within their own classrooms. This book aims to create reflective, insightful and resourceful English teachers which, through the use of the strategies and tools provided, is very possible. Boas and Gazis have ensured every chapter has a guiding question to frame the chapter, a brief background, links to the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers and then looks at the theories and pedagogies behind the various strategies before examples of the various activities are given.

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The Book That Made Me

The Book That Made MeEditor: Judith Ridge
Publisher: Walker Books, 2016, 256 pages
RRP: $19.99

Judith Ridge’s charming collection celebrates the indisputable connection between reading and writing and the transformative power of books. Her foreword cites Jeanette Winterson’s memoir and its suggestion that ‘books, and reading, can not only make a life, they can save it’. And save it they do; the 32 personal stories shared within The Book That Made Me are certainly testament to that fact.

Tales of survival – surviving adolescence, parenthood, alienation and break-ups - and of power – the influence of storytelling, shared experiences, voice and agency – feature within this compilation. However, the overwhelming theme present within these stories is that the books that ‘make us’ are the ones that serve as a source of validation or a realisation that we are never truly alone. To reference but one of the wonderful vignettes of this collection, Randa Abdel-Fattah’s entry illustrates this well. As an Australian-born Muslim, Abdel-Fattah felt isolated by the Anglo-centric fiction that left minorities largely unrepresented in children’s fiction. She talks of being ‘socialised…into subconsciously discounting’ her own story. That was until she read Melina Marchetta’s Looking for Alibrandi, a book that spoke to her own life. Many other writers here share similar sentiments, of finally experiencing an affinity or comfort within the pages of their chosen book.

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Put it in Writing. Context, text and language

Put it in writing smallAuthors: Joanne Rossbridge with Kathy Rushton
Publisher: PETAA (2015), 152 pages
RRP: $39.95

If you are familiar with the iconic text Exploring How Texts Work, you would know how it has shaped the teaching of genre writing for primary teachers and maybe not a few secondary teachers as well. This text, Put it in Writing, follows a similar format but with a few additions and elaborations. The text commences with some solid foundation about the functional model of language and genre theory so that teachers can understand how students perceive and approach writing. It is firmly ensconced in the Australian Curriculum, stating that having knowledge of texts and how language works enables meaning to occur.

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