Sunday, June 11, 2017

Review: Thinking with Theory in Qualitative Research: Viewing Data Across Multiple Perspectives

Thinking with Theory in Qualitative Research: Viewing Data Across Multiple Perspectives Thinking with Theory in Qualitative Research: Viewing Data Across Multiple Perspectives by Alecia Youngblood Jackson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I would highly recommend this book to those who are interested in data analysis through poststructural theory. I found it helpful and insightful, and it gives pragmatic examples as well as a more in-depth explanation of theory.

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Review: Good Video Games and Good Learning: Collected Essays on Video Games, Learning and Literacy

Good Video Games and Good Learning: Collected Essays on Video Games, Learning and Literacy Good Video Games and Good Learning: Collected Essays on Video Games, Learning and Literacy by James Paul Gee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was one of the best scholarly books I've read in a long time and gave me helpful ideas that contributed to my dissertation research. I am very interested in the concept of affinity spaces and how this concept can be brought into my research as well as classroom settings. I still have work to do in this area, but this book helped me to explore the concept in more depth. The chapters were both interesting and accessible. I believe educators of all levels as well as scholars interested in Internet learning spaces would benefit from reading this book.

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Review: Reality is Broken: Why Games Make us Better and How They Can Change the World

Reality is Broken: Why Games Make us Better and How They Can Change the World Reality is Broken: Why Games Make us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Really, I would give this book three and a half stars if I could. I appreciate it more now and in retrospect than when I was reading it and discussing it with a colleague and friend. As I was reading it, I appreciated the ideas of it, and I had a greater appreciation of gaming culture, one of the only nerd cultures that I do not engage with much personally. However, the book seemed to go on too long and be redundant, and I wished the editor had encouraged more edits. As an educator, I was more interested in the psychological benefits of gaming than I was in how gaming can benefit the business world, so I focused more on those chapters. I want to continue to think about how students' interest in gaming can be brought into my middle school and college classrooms. As I played Super Mario Brothers with friends on a rainy Saturday this weekend, I thought about my reactions to the video game experience and how it related to the research of this book, which shows that her ideas were thought provoking for me. Overall, I found it a worthwhile read.

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Review: Spill Zone

Spill Zone Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked this novel. I wouldn't say I LOVED it, like the Uglies and some of Westerfeld's other works, but I enjoyed the read. I thought the art work was brilliant, and there were a lot of subtle details that helped the narrative arc of the story. I thought the central idea of the story was interesting and timely, as it is important to consider the effects of environmental damage and corrupt leadership. I felt like I wanted to get to know the main character better, though, and overall, I thought the character development was a bit lacking. The end of the book definitely has hinted at a sequel, though, so I hope to get to know the characters better. I did enjoy the plot line overall, and the suspense of the story kept me reading. It was an intriguing blend of Dystopian fiction and horror, two of my favorite genres. Also, I loved the idea of photography as a form of narrative, an idea I want to continue to explore in my writing and scholarship.

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Review: Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture

Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Overall, this book was a solid critique of the "girl power" culture of the 90s, when I was growing up, and with the princess and girly girl expectations of women. I think some groups were left out of the conversation, and the book was definitely more focused on White middle class straight women. But some chapters and sections were insightful and worthy of study in secondary and post-secondary classrooms. Specifically, I appreciate Orenstein's insightful thoughts about why people are drawn to the Twilight series and the positive and negative attribute of this YA series that has received much attention. Also, I agree with her assessments as to why children need fantasy and play; I cited Bruno Bettelheim in one of my comprehensive exam essays so appreciated that part of the discussion. Overall, the book is a worthwhile read. In teaching it, I would cherry pick sections, but I'm glad I added it to my repertoire of feminist readings.

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Review: Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I listened to this book on my iPhone through an Amazon program, and it truly helped me understand the science of exercise. Through studies done on schoolchildren, Ratey makes a convincing argument for encouraging exercise and fitness programs not as a form of competition, but for improving the body, mind, and spirit. Students should be pushed to achieve their individual fitness goals more so than to compete against others, and if they do, they are more likely to exercise into adulthood. I had mixed experiences with gym classes as a kid growing up, so I appreciated this book. Truly, it proves that exercise is beneficial to the body and to the brain. For us walkers, runners, and exercisers out there, this book provides further encouragement not to live a sedentary lifestyle.

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Review: Reading in a Participatory Culture: Remixing Moby-Dick in the English Classroom

Reading in a Participatory Culture: Remixing Moby-Dick in the English Classroom Reading in a Participatory Culture: Remixing Moby-Dick in the English Classroom by Henry Jenkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book really was food for the soul, in addition to increasing my academic and pedagogical knowledge. I have developed a true passion for fan fiction as both a creative writer and as a scholar, so I really enjoyed reading about how to integrate fan fiction and popular culture into classroom settings, as related to the study of literature. I was less interested in the parts of the book specifically related to Moby Dick, but I understood why that context was there. The ideas the book suggests really can apply to any primary text, though. I enjoyed learning more about New Literacies and Henry Jenkins's work as related to the English Language Arts classroom. If you're interested in multimodality and fan fiction, I would definitely recommend this book.

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