November 30, 2012

Take Five! Links for Language Arts by Kaye Hagler

Take Five! for Language Arts: 180 Bell-Ringers That Build Critical-Thinking Skills

Kaye Hagler s unique bell-ringers for language arts help you transform the first chaotic five minutes of class into authentic opportunities to practice critical-thinking skills.

Students in grades 6-12 exercise their mental muscles as they work collaboratively, warming them up to tackle your standards-based lessons.

Whether your students are inventing secret codes, concocting potions, rewriting history, making conjunction paper chains, or thinking like newspaper editors, these diverse and creative prompts will have them looking forward to the part of the day when they re asked to Take Five for critical thinking.

The 180-plus prompts set up your teaching day from the minute that students step into your class.

Each ready-to-use prompt includes: corresponding standards, supply lists, language arts links, teacher tips, assessment options, rubrics, and digital connections that add more than 100 extension lessons.

Begin every day of the school year with a burst of critical thinking and fun with this comprehensive resource. Ready? Set? Take Five!

My Thoughts:

Before I begin this review, I would like to inform y'all that this isn't a normal review. I can't compare, contrast and analyze literary elements since this book is an education book. This means that I'll be talking about general ideas the author has about what to incorporate into the classroom. In this case, I'll focus on the bell ringers since the author has provided in the book.

Additionally, I'm going to make this review short and sweet since I couldn't actually incorporate these ideas into my classroom. But I'll review this book as best as possible.

Now onto the review!

Now most bell ringers that I've known are simply drills in a not-so-clever disguise. And if they are not drills, and new teachers like me try to inject some fun activities, then it can be seen as not part of the curriculum and be forced back onto the drill cycle.

Fortunately, the author has found a balance between having the students learn something in the first five minutes of class (or even as a filler) but not make it boring.

The Take Five prompts and activities have a lot of hands on and SOL (Standards of Learning for us Virginian Teachers!) ties that would be great for my students. Unfortunately, like I mentioned before, I was unable to try them with my kids for a variety of reasons (inject plenty of excuses here). But I really think the kids would have reacted positively to them.

Especially some of the hands-on activities. I know that they would have loved to play with play-do (sorry if I misspelled it) and have a good excuse for it. Especially in the name of English class. It's almost like the author took the needs of the students into consideration when creating these bell ringers. The author thought about the teacher what a teacher could do to prepare for it easily and effectively. 

Some bell ringers require up to maybe a list of supplies but others only require items from the student, which is nice since that means it would be easy to implement.

The only problem I saw that was very glaringly obvious: The bell ringers were WAY too long. Even for high school students.

I think the author has to remember that students have a short attention span. They don't want to read a whole three paragraphs just to get to the fun part. My students complain about reading more than a paragraph. So obviously having most bell ringers have two paragraphs worth of instruction isn't very convenient for me, as the teacher, since I'll have to go back and shorten them to a link that my students will be able to read through (and we're not even talking about the vocabulary and rewording it for my students either).

Considering everything, would I still recommend this book? 

Absolutely! This book has very valuable bell ringers that every English teacher should take into consideration. The thing I most worry about is the length, but over the summer, that can be taken care before starting any bell ringers in class. Therefore, despite the extra work involved, I think it's completely worth it.