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Getting Closer 24 July 2007

Posted by Jason Bowman in Announcements, Reading.
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I apologize for not posting some puzzles today, but I will post some later this week. The puzzles have become a popular feature, so I intend to continue creating them and sharing them with students, parents, and teachers. I have some different puzzles to post in addtion to cryptograms, word mines, and sudokus, so look for them this weekend.

Have you read a great book lately? Visit the Book Reviews page to browse the few reviews that are already there and to submit your own. One of the best parts of reading is sharing books with others. Mrs. Bowman, her mother, and her sister frequently pass along books to each other, sometimes borrowing the others’ library books — this occasionally leads to overdue books! I enjoy listening to them share their reading with each other. Find out what your friends and family are reading; ask your librarian for suggestions. Or — perish the thought — ask your teacher. Then share your reading with others (send me a review on the Book Reviews page)! One of my biggest goals this year is to increase not only the quantity of your reading, but also your enjoyment of it.

Are you ready? The first day is getting closer. We rode our bikes to football practice last night and watched the Eagles — great practice, guys. David and I are ready for football season, but more than that, I think we are all eager for school to start. I know Sarah is excited. In less than four weeks (less than three for me) … It’s getting closer. Lesson plans, lesson plans, lesson plans. Before students even show up for orientation, I must be ready with lesson plans and a decorated room. What happened to “summer vacation” — it’s the middle of July, I’m at home with two great children (who keep my busy), and I feel like I am already behind. But I wouldn’t have it any other way — I love school, I love teaching, and I even love the anticipation, the slowly building tension (i.e. stress), and the thrill of the first day. At practice last night, I saw a handful of Senior girls hugging; they had missed each other and were glad to meet up at practice. There is just something about being back together — I am definitely looking forward to the first day. It’s just so exciting.

Several readers (mostly teachers) have given positive feedback on my two website(s). Thanks, thanks, thanks. This website was created as — and still is — a companion to the classroom. The target audience is my students, other high school students, parents, and teachers. It’s wonderful that so many teachers are visiting the site. I am delighted that you have visited this site and I truly hope you find what you are seeking here (if not, send me an email). Please, keep commenting and keep emailing. Keep asking those questions. Use whatever you find here to help you with English and Bible.

Greetings to PCCS students and special kudos to the Class of 2007. What are you doing this Summer? I am always glad to get email from students. A couple of you have written me already and I cherish our friendships. You will probably never understand how special students are to their teachers — it’s one of our secret joys. I miss you. We keep you in our prayers, and even though the Bowman family has moved to another town and another school, you will see us sometime this Fall; we’re still Crusader fans!

Lesson plans, lesson plans, lesson plans. It’s getting closer.

Better Than a Tea Party! 24 July 2007

Posted by Jason Bowman in Book Reviews, Reading, Teacher Book Reviews.
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Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes, is an outstanding historical novel. The main character is fictional, of course, but Forbes sets him in Boston at the start of the Revolutionary War. So the reader meets Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and John Hancock and is swept into the excitement of the Boston Tea Party and the first shots at the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Tremain is a captivating protagonist and young readers will connect with his struggles in the book.  The chapters are short; readers will have no difficulty reading this book in short spurts — always a great plus for classroom settings and for students with busy afternoons.

I enjoyed this book so much, I read it over the weekend.  I am sincerely looking forward to sharing this book with my 8th grade English classes this coming semester!

Reading Level: 6-8 | Rating: 4 stars

In His Steps (Summer Reading) – Chapter 3 21 July 2007

Posted by Jason Bowman in Charles Sheldon, Literature, Reading, Study Guide.
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In addition to the reading and the written assignment, students in my classes should expect a quiz the first full week of school on Charles Sheldon’s In His Steps. I am also reading the book and I will make a study guide available for it in a couple of weeks. The quiz questions will come from the study guide. Here are the questions for chapter 3, and students are not expected to submit their answers for credit:

Recall

27. What was the decision which faced Edward Norman, the editor of the Daily News, after he accepted Maxwell’s challenge?
28. Who opposed Norman’s decision?
29. What was the response of the reporters to the decision?
30. How did the newsboys respond?
31. What happened in the delivery room?

Interpret

32. What reasons did the managing editor give for not running the paper as Norman intended?
33. Why was Edward Norman hesitant to take more actions?
Why did he buy the unsold copies of the paper?

Analyze

34. What are some examples of foreshadowing in this chapter?
35. What type of character is the managing editor?

Connect

36. What kinds of events or stories should Christian newspapers refrain from printing?

Other Chapters: Chapter 1 | Chapter 2

In His Steps (Summer Reading) – Chapter 2 17 July 2007

Posted by Jason Bowman in Charles Sheldon, Literature, Reading, Study Guide.
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In addition to the reading and the written assignment, students in my classes should expect a quiz the first full week of school on Charles Sheldon’s In His Steps. I am also reading the book and I will make a study guide available for it in a couple of weeks. The quiz questions will come from the study guide. Here are the questions for chapter 2, and students are not expected to submit their answers for credit:

Recall

(The question numbering is continued from the previous chapter.)
14. Who volunteered to have the man stay in her home (or parents’ home)?
15. Where does the man stay and what happened to him?
16. Which of the man’s family came to visit him and when did they arrive?
17. What did the man say to Henry Maxwell regarding the minister’s care for him?
18. Identify the occupation of each of the following characters:

a. Edward Norman
b. Alexander Powers
c. Donald Marsh
d. Milton Wright
e. Jasper Chase
f. Virginia Page

19. What was the minister’s proposition to the First Church of Raymond the morning the man died?

Interpret

20. Why was the attendance in church great on the second Sunday in the story?
21. How did the congregation respond to the minister’s proposition?

Analyze

22. What elements of the story’s structure does the chapter contain?
23. What, if any, conflict has the author revealed in the story so far?
24. What purpose does the death of the man serve in the story? Why is it necessary for the man to die?
25. How do you think the story will unfold in the coming chapters?

Connect

26. Do you think the minister’s proposition is a reasonable form or means of discipleship? Would it work in your church?

Other chapters: Chapter 1

A Bad Review 16 July 2007

Posted by Jason Bowman in Book Reviews, Reading, Teacher Book Reviews.
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I hesitate to post a negative review of an author’s work. Generally, if I do not enjoy a novel, I just put it down and find another. However, from time to time, it’s helpful to identify the characteristics of novels which I do not like and will not recommend to students. Publishers, please, pay attention! I am reading, not only for personal enjoyment and development, but also because students often need guidance in choosing their own reading materials. I won’t recommend a work to students if I find it offensive or inappropriate.

Now, I know the arguments against censorship, but there are certain standards I expect. To use cursing, for example, is often unnecessary and risky — why offend the audience needlessly? This what I asked on page 2 (!) of Mary Hershey’s The One Where the Kid Nearly Jumps to His Death and Lands in California, published this year by Penguin. I love the title and the excerpts on the cover were very interesting. It looked to be a good read, neatly displayed in the young adult section of the Leon County Library. So, I was quite shocked and very disappointed to find an unnecessary curse word on the second page. The author could have omitted the word or she could have chosen a different word altogether to convey the speaker’s thoughts.

Instead, I am left with a book I refuse to read and to recommend to the young readers who expect their teacher to suggest really good books they can trust. Why did the book’s editor let the author use that word? To needlessly offend a whole segment of your target audience is crazy! I can’t recommend that book to my students because of that one word on page two – and I have not even continued reading it for that reason.

Don’t argue “realism.”  Tough “street” kids can be portrayed without offensive cursing.  It doesn’t take a verbatim report of the dialogue  to convey the roughness of a character.  You can convince me of a character’s frustration or tough exterior in more subtle ways!  Besides, there’s a difference between realism and shock.  Mark Twain could use words we find offensive today, because those words were far less shocking to his audience and (sadly) more commonly used across the whole of society. There was a compelling reason behind Twain’s word choices.  The same does not apply to the word used in this case.

Come on, authors and publishers, think about the classroom!  There needs to be a compelling motive behind cursing in a book for me to gloss over it my reviews.  Remember that teachers answer to parents and ultimately to God for their choices.  If you want a recommendation from teachers, the book needs positive qualities and the absence of negative distractions.  And there are some negatives (in this case, needless cursing) which can not ever be overcome by any amount of positive qualities.  No matter how good the characterizations and how neat the plot, I will not recommend to my students any book that needlessly offends me or those students!  Before you publish certain words, think about the classroom.

Research On Charles Sheldon 13 July 2007

Posted by Jason Bowman in Charles Sheldon, Literature, Reading.
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Here are some links to help you research Charles M. Sheldon, who wrote In His Steps:

If you find other useful resources related to Charles Sheldon, please leave a comment.

In His Steps (Summer Reading) – Chapter 1 12 July 2007

Posted by Jason Bowman in Announcements, Charles Sheldon, Literature, Reading, Study Guide.
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Hopefully most NFC middle school and high school students have started the Summer Reading and nearing completion of it. (If YOU haven’t, pick up the assignment sheet from the high school office and get started.) In addition to the reading and the written assignment, students in my classes should expect a quiz the first full week of school on Charles Sheldon’s In His Steps. I am also reading the book and I will make a study guide available for it in a couple of weeks. The quiz questions will come from the study guide. Here are questions for the first chapter, and students are not expected to submit their answers for credit:

Recall

1. What kind of people attend the First Church of Raymond?
2. What was the Rev. Henry Maxwell doing when the man rang the doorbell?
3. Who interrupted the church service?
4. Who was the first person to ask, “What would Jesus do?”
5. Why did Dr. West leave his pew?
6. Why was the man out of work?

Interpret

7. Why was Rev. Maxwell’s sermon “interesting” to his church?
8. What was the man seeking from the church?

Analyze

9. What elements of the plot structure are revealed in chapter 1?
10. Why does the author not tell us the denomination of the church? Why does he not disclose the name of the state where the city is located?
11. What does the author use to make the story plausible to the reader?

Connect

12. What was the man’s accusation against the church and how accurate do you think the accusation is for contemporary Christians?
13. When new technologies in manufacturing reduce the number of workers required to make a product, what responsibilities should manufacturer have toward workers who lose their jobs?

Next chapter

Reading Record 10 July 2007

Posted by Jason Bowman in Announcements, Reading.
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I have added a new resource for English students: a form called the Reading Record for reporting the materials read for sustained silent reading (SSR), which will be an integral part of all my English classes this school year. It is available on the English Resources page as either a Microsoft Word document (.doc format) or an Acrobat Reader document (.pdf format).

A Shadow of Great Things 9 July 2007

Posted by Jason Bowman in Book Reviews, Reading, Teacher Book Reviews.
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Elizabeth Alder tells a wonderful story in The King’s Shadow. Set in England in the years preceding the Norman Conquest in 1066, the several tribes of Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Welsh are united by Earl Harold of Wessex (who becomes King Harold II). At his side is Evyn, a peasant boy who discovers his purpose in life as he overcomes outward and inward struggles. The author’s use of the historical setting and its figures, mingled with bits of Old English stories and lore, make this a riveting tale. Its central message is provocative for young readers looking to define who they are in the midst of change and questions: Evyn is pointed in the right direction by a friend who says, “… That was your old life … Why God has allowed this [the difficulties in his life] I do not know. But I do know that now it is your duty to serve …”

Reading Level: 7-8; Rating: 4 stars

Submit your own book reviews to The Précis here.

David Reads in His Chair 7 July 2007

Posted by Jason Bowman in Family, Reading.
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David Reads in His Chair

Instead of nap time today, David and Sarah were supposed to lie in their beds and read. David asked for a compromise and rested in his chair with a book. It worked, however, and David sat there for over thirty minutes with two different books!

Indeed, Sarah and David both really enjoy trips to the library. We were there today and we were impressed with the number of families who visited on a warm Saturday afternoon. Reading together and trips to the library (and book stores, too) are an important part of our family life — and essential, I believe, to helping our children become lifelong, avid readers.

New Feature Added to the Website 6 July 2007

Posted by Jason Bowman in Announcements, Book Reviews, Reading, Student Book Reviews, Teacher Book Reviews.
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I am very excited to introduce this new feature to The Précis website: Now, students can submit book reviews to me directly from the website! Student and Teacher recommendations will be published online to help middle and high school students find great books to read. Check out the Book Reviews page for more information or click here to submit a book review now!

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Mr. Bowman Reads Mockingbird 12 June 2007

Posted by Jason Bowman in Family, Harper Lee, Literature, Reading.
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Daddy (Mr. Bowman) Reads Mockingbird

Mrs. Bowman snapped a photo of me before I could really turn and smile. It’s proof, nonetheless, that English teachers read. In this photo I am reading Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee by Charles J. Shields. One of the most important aspects in this work is Shields’ repetition of Lee’s public statements concerning To Kill a Mockingbird, including the statement that Atticus Finch’s view of life is “the heart of the novel.” No doubt this biography of Harper Lee will impact the way the novel is taught in high school and college; I certainly have gleaned some insights which will find their way into my lesson plans.

Visit the Index to find my other posts on Harper Lee.