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Educational Book Reviews

40 Active Learning Strategies for the Inclusive Classroom
Linda Schwartz Green
Diane Casale-Giannola

 When the opportunity comes to buy a new resource, we teachers are a smart bunch.  We fervently read and try to visualize how the tip or tool will fit into our imperfect world.  We want to know HOW we can do ‘this’ tomorrow.  If a teacher is going to spend money on something, it better be useful and worth the money.  Our shelves are full of resources that looked good at the time. 

I approached this resource with optimism, but claiming to have 40 activities to make an inclusive classroom is a high goal.  I continued on however.  The story in the first chapter was encouraging.  ‘The Blueberry Story’ was a great opener.  Even though it often doesn’t reflect it, education is not a business and yes, we accept all the blueberries!  I was encouraged enough to keep reading.

The second chapter gives a helpful table of the strategies found in the book and highlights which learning characteristics they best suit.  At this point I noticed that each chapter has a summary.  This is another great feature for those busy teachers who get easily distracted, finding themselves at the end of the chapter without paying attention.  The highlight of chapter 3 is a review on how to group children.  This is a great reminder to mix it up so your groups stay dynamic. 

Chapter 4 begins and we are introduced to the Active Learning Strategies.  The strategies are set up like a lesson plan – an explanation, materials, directions, sample applications, considerations, and learning differences.  So often this is how educational resources are presented.  In this resource however, we are given a sample activity.  The sample activity is then followed by a real life scenario to show how the activity works for a specific grade and topic.  By the time I have read the plan, the sample and the scenario, the activity is very clear in my mind.  I can easily decide if it will work for me – tomorrow!

So not only are the activities all laid out in a way which helps a busy teacher easily understand, but there are some really simple and innovative ideas here that I, Pinterest lover and workshop guru have not seen before or thought of previously!  I plan to use a lot of them.  ‘Acrostic Topics’ is one that is so simple, but the way it is explained, a teacher could easily administer with virtually no prep beforehand.  It literally made me sit up as I was reading and grab my phone to jot down the concept.  ‘Classification Capers’ is another one that I will use in the library for multiple grades.  How it is explained for kindergarten is simple, effective and fits perfectly with the inquiry focus that is an important part of their learning.  Other activities are found here that you may have heard about before, but each one has a twist or a concept that is new and fresh.

And yes, I could use this resource tomorrow.

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