Chain Gang Story of the Week: Newt would call it an “internship”

Apparently, they’re making middle schoolers clean out toilets as punishment in Charlotte, NC. Surely Newt Gingrich would approve, since it’s putting kids to work. But since they’re not getting paid, let’s calll it an internship. But you know what the kids and parents would call this kind of work. Those whiners. Newt and toilet in the same sentence. Hey, get used to it.

Here’s the story.


Goodreads giveaway of Chain Gang Elementary papberbacks

I’ve set up book giveaways at Goodreads for both Chain Gang Elementary (10 copies) and Brambleman (5 copies).  Read the latest review of just-published Brambleman. And here’s the review page for Chain Gang Elementary, which was named “Book of the Month” at Indie Books List. If you’re a Goodreads member, sign up to win a copy today. If not, then become a member. It’s free!


Recommended books on education

From ASCD’s Learning Loop:

Richard Whitby tweeted, asking people to recommend education books. This is the result, in no particular order. The ASCD website contains the Amazon buying links.

 · Outliers, Malcom Gladwell
· The Connected Educator, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Lani Ritter Hall
· Mosaic of Thought, Ellin Oliver Keene and Susan Zimmermann
· Talks on Pedagogics, Francis W. Parker
· The Global Achievement Gap, Tony Wagner
· I Read It, But I Don’t Get It, Cris Tovani
· Horace’s School, Ted Sizer
· The Book Whisperer, Donalyn Miller
· There Are No Shortcuts, Rafe Esquith
· The Knowing Doing Gap, Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton
· Drive, Dan Pink (@DanielPink)
· Study Driven, Katie Wood Ray
· Write Beside Them, Penny Kittle
· Deeper Reading and Write Like This, Kelly Gallagher
· First Days of School, Harry Wong
· Results Now, Mike Schmoker
· I’d Rather Teach Peace, Colman McCarthy
· A Different Kind of Teacher, John Taylor Gatto
· What’s Worth Fighting for in the Principalship, Michael Fullan
· Five Minds for the Future, Howard Gardner
· Getting Started, Robert Eaker and Laura Lipton
· Differentiation in Action, Judith Dodge
· The Brain and Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman (@DanielGolemanEI)
· The Art of Problem Posing, Stephen Brown
· The American Scholar, Ralph Waldo Emerson
· Stop Stealing Dreams, Seth Godin (@ThisIsSethsBlog)
· Let’s Put Kids First, Finally, Charles Achilles
· Curriculum 21, Heidi Hayes Jacobs (@HeidiHayesJacob)
· Disrupting Class, Clayton Christenson
· In the Middle, Nancie Atwell
· Switch, Chip and Dan Heath (@heathbrothers)
· The Basic School, Ernest Boyer
· What Great Teachers Do Differently, Todd Whitaker (@ToddWhitaker)
· Catching up or Leading the Way, Yong Zhao (@YongZhaoUO)
· Fertilizers, Pills, and Magnetic Strips, Gene Glass
· The Hurried Child, David Elkind
· Art as Experience, John Dewey
· If You Don’t Feed the Teachers, They Eat the Students, Neila Connors
· Choice Words, Peter Johnston
· Homo Zappiens: Growing Up in a Digital Age, Wim Veen
· The Leadership Challenge, James Kouzes and Barry Posner
· Among Schoolchildren, Tracy Kidder
· The Writing Workshop, Katie Wood Ray
· Reframing Organizations, Lee Bolman and Terrence Deal
· Where Good Ideas Come From, Steven Johnson
· Good Questions: Great Ways to Differentiate Mathematics, Marian Small
· They Call Me Coach, John Wooden
· When Kids Can’t Read – What Teachers Can Do, Kylene Beers
· How People Learn, John Bransford and Rodney Cocking
· Mindset, Carol Dweck (@Brainology)
· Overschooled but Undereducated, John Abbott
· We Can’t Teach What We Don’t Know, Gary Howard
· Teach Like a Champion, Doug Lemov
· Finnish Lessons, Pasi Sahlberg
· Restitution: Restructuring School Discipline, Diane Gossen
· Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire
· The Disciplined Mind, Howard Gardner
· Whatever It Takes, Paul Tough
· The Book of Learning and Forgetting, Frank Smith
· The Tone of Teaching, Max van Manen
· The World Is Flat, Thomas Friedman (@NYTimesFriedman)
· Freakonomics, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner (@freakonomics)
· Fair Isn’t Always Equal, Rick Wormeli (@RickWormeli)
· A Whole New Mind, Dan Pink (@DanielPink)
· Chain Gang Elementary, Jonathan Grant (@Brambleman)
· Making Learning Whole, David Perkins
· How Children Fail, John Holt
· Differentiated Instructional Strategies, Gayle Gregory
· Managing People Is Like Herding Cats, Warren Bennis
· Creating a Digital-Rich Classroom, Meg Ormiston
· The Virtual Student, Rena Palloff and Keith Pratt
· An Anthropologist on Mars, Oliver Sacks
· 21st Century Skills, Bernie Trilling and Charles Fadel
· Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath (@heathbrothers)
· Linchpin, Seth Godin (@ThisIsSethsBlog)
· Pathways to the Common Core, Lucy Calkins
· Why Do I Need a Teacher When I’ve Got Google?, Ian Gilbert
· Tongue Fu! at School, Sam Horn
· A Place for Wonder, Georgia Heard
· What It Is, Lynda Barry
· The Death and Life of the Great American School System, Diane Ravitch, (@DianeRavitch)
· The Motivation Breakthrough, Richard Lavoie
· Teaching with Intention, Debbie Miller
· Never Work Harder Than Your Students, Robyn Jackson (@Robyn_Mindsteps)
· Zapp in Education, William Byham
· Heading for Home, Kent Stock
· The Read-Aloud Handbook, Jim Trelease
· Now You See It, Cathy Davidson
· The Element, Ken Robinson (@SirKenRobinson)
· Left Back, Diana Ravitch (@DianeRavitch)
· Spark, John Ratey
· How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie
· Leaders of Learning, Richard DuFour and Robert Marzano (@robertjmarzano)
· Teach Like Your Hair Is on Fire, Rafe Esquith
· Make Just One Change, Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana
· Subtractive Schooling, Angela Valenzuela
· Coaching Conversations, Linda Gross Cheliotes
· Unequal Childhoods, Annette Lareau
· Brain Rules, John Medina (@BabyBrainRules)
· Fires in the Bathroom, Kathleen Cushman
· The Five Dysfuctions of a Team, Patrick
· Writing for Real, Ross Burkhardt
· Blink, Malcolm Gladwell (@Gladwell)
· The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell (@Gladwell)
· The Courage to Teach, Parker Palmer
· Teaching as a Subversive Activity, Neil Postman

Review of Brambleman: “extremely well-written”

“I’m not from around here, and I’ve been places you’ll never want to go. Unless you’re even stupider than you look.” — Trouble

Elizabeth A. White has posted her review of Brambleman. Hers is the first cohesive, independent review of the book, and I’m happy to report that she read what I wrote. (For many writers and reviewers, this isn’t always the case.)

In summing up, she writes:

Like his first novel, Chain Gang Elementary, Jonathan Grant’s highly ambitious and engaging second novel, Brambleman, once again took me somewhere I wasn’t quite expecting. Though the book presents a tremendous amount of historical information about the events of 1912, by constructing the story around the premise Charlie is himself working on a text about the events – a book within the book – it all flows naturally. Indeed, as he did in Chain Gang Elementary Grant demonstrates once again that he is particularly adept at weaving hard-edged sociopolitical topics into the fabric of his fictional narrative without being heavy-handed, never sacrificing his storytelling to “just the facts.”

Brambleman goes far beyond “just the facts” actually, as there is a decidedly supernatural element to the tale, one that becomes more pronounced as the story unfolds. In fact, before you know it Grant has taken what initially appeared to be the simple story of a down on his luck writer and turned it into a reflection on personal spirituality, vengeance, and destiny. Because of the topics it touches on, both fact and fiction, Brambleman is not exactly a “beach read” kind of book. What Brambleman is, however, is an extremely well-written book that will both entertain and inform. And you can’t really ask for more than that now, can you?

Brambleman is available from Thornbriar Press at Amazon and Barnes & Noble (ISBN: 978-0983492122).

You can read her entire review here.

You can read her review of Chain Gang Elementary here.

Theocratic crackdown at Georgia college puts faculty members in job hunt

Faculty morale can’t be good at Rome, Georgia’s very Baptist Shorter University. The administration’s theocratic crackdown has left the majority of people looking for new jobs, if the results of an anonymous survey conducted among faculty members are accurate.

You see, in order to remain employed at Shorter next year, faculty and staff members must sign the schools “Personal Lifestyle Statement.” The statement requires that signers be Bible-believing Christians who are active members of a local church. Who can’t use or sell illegal drugs. Also, faculty and staff are banned from the public consumption of alcohol. (Q: What’s the difference between Methodists and Baptists? A: Methodists say “Hello” to each other in the liquor store.)

Here’s the section of the statement that’s tearing everything up: “I reject as acceptable all sexual activity not in agreement with the Bible, including, but not limited to, premarital sex, adultery, and homosexuality.”

In other words, only people who condemn homosexuality will be allowed to work at Shorter.

Shorter has been on its way to becoming more and more religiously conservative (the administration calls it “intentionally Christian”) ever since the school lost a state Supreme Court case over control of the school to the Georgia Baptist Convention.

The new rules were adopted in October 2011. (Click here for background.) They are not especially popular among the people who will be required to sign them. According to the survey results, published in the Rome News-Tribune, only 10 percent of survey respondents support the lifestyle statement. Another 36 percent say they’ll sign the statements to keep their jobs, while 42 percent say they won’t sign the statement.

Administrators say the survey is inaccurate and don’t like the fact it was anonymous. Faculty members say they fear reprisals if they speak out. If you read the Rome News-Tribune’s article, I think you’ll see not only discontent, but denial and disconnect, as well, when a spokesman for the policy change says, in essence, “Bless the dissidents’ hearts. They’re not productive.”

Check out the News-Tribune’s article for yourself.

I want one!

When you need to write that techno-noir thriller, nothing else will do.

Chain Gang Elementaryy falls under the heading of “Required Reading” at PTO Today and was also named “Book of the Month” at Indie Books List, which called the novel “(what)‘Desperate Housewives’ wishes it could be.”  Find out more, read a free sample, or buy it now and spread the word!


hat tip to Dave.