Reviews for Teaching Matters : Stories from Inside City Schools

Book News Reviews
Falk and Blumenreich (early childhood education and childhood education, City College of New York) take readers inside 15 kindergarten and elementary classrooms in urban schools to show how teachers learn to develop their skills and abilities as they engage in inquiry about their practices. Stories are drawn from their review of about 400 studies produced by teacher-learners who participated in a two-semester course they teach on inquiry research at the City College of New York and demonstrate the process of inquiry as it leads them to learn and grow as professionals and benefits the learning of their students. They relate stories that emphasize the themes of how to be responsive to cultural and linguistic diversity, including immigrant experiences and homophobia; how to differentiate instruction, including for students with learning differences and English language learners; how to establish home/school partnerships, such as supports for early literacy; and how to address the constraints of current educational policies and mandates, with discussion of active learning, incorporating physical activity, and improving the climate for learning. No index is provided. Annotation ©2012 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Choice Reviews 2013 April
Based on studies from the course on inquiry research that the authors teach at City College, this book recounts changes resulting from the research of urban teachers who investigated various problems. Divided into four sections on culturally responsive teaching, school-family relationships, differentiated teaching, and the constraints on urban teaching, respectively, this brief volume illustrates well the authors' claim that "teaching is a process of research." Observing children's behavior and giving them opportunities to make learning meaningful to them is a recurrent theme. These accounts should encourage other teachers to engage in a similar process. At the end of each chapter, the main ideas gleaned from the teachers' experiences are outlined. Respect for the professionalism of educational practitioners is evident throughout, as teachers find creative ways to assist children's learning within an educational system that seems to respect neither children nor teachers. Besides demonstrating what is possible within the limitations of current educational policies, the book might well be required reading for the politicians who advocate a rigid curriculum and standardized testing to the detriment of actual learning on the part of students. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers; upper-division undergraduate students and above. General Readers; Graduate Students; Researchers/Faculty; Two-year Technical Program Students; Professionals/Practitioners. S. Sugarman emerita, Bennington College,Vermont State Colleges Copyright 2013 American Library Association.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 June #2
Educators Falk and Blumenreich (The Power of Questions: A Guide to Teacher and Student Research, 2005) present case studies of kindergarten and elementary school classrooms that, although located in economically stressed urban areas, have found creative and intelligent means of making education effective. Few cultural and social arenas have managed to dodge the divisiveness that has overtaken modern political discourse, and education is not one of the exceptions. Standardized testing, long proven to be ineffective at best and incredibly damaging at worst, remains the driving force behind assessing student progress; the distractions of technology and social media continue to spread further into kids' lives; the promise of a decent, reliable job based on academic performance is no longer taken for granted. The difficulty in crafting a solution is that one solution won't suffice. Falk and Blumenreich compile case studies that approach some of the problems from a micro, rather than macro, perspective. Whereas educational policy might suggest that one particular methodology is superior in a majority of situations, these case studies provide a more eclectic set of approaches to dealing with issues. A handful of the case studies, and the conclusions from those studies, overlap each other in content; this ties into the overall thrust of the book. Issues of immigration sensitivity in children just starting school tie into the importance of drawing from the strengths of a multicultural classroom. The authors take the studies further than standard liberal boilerplate issues, however, wading into the animosity of parent-teacher relationships and providing constructive insight into the failings and strengths of both groups. Flying in the face of national standardized testing, three studies explore the strengths of differentiated teaching. As often happens with thoughtful consideration of a problem, the solutions raise more questions, which the authors strive to explore without getting lost down a rabbit hole. A valuable book for urban educators. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2012 August #1

Like Marcus A. Winters's similarly titled Teachers Matter, this book is about the importance and value of good teachers. Falk (early childhood education, City Coll. of New York; Teaching the Way Children Learn) and Blumenreich (childhood education, Sch. of Education, City Coll. of New York; The Power of Questions) feature the stories of teachers who have succeeded in challenging environments. Each of the 15 chapters is based on a single teacher's study of his or her own classroom or school environment with the aim of better understand an issue he or she was facing and to propose solutions. These studies were done as part of a project that Falk and Blumenreich assign in their teacher-preparation course each year. The chapters are organized into four broad categories that mirror the focus of the teachers' inquiries: culturally responsive teaching, school/family partnerships, differentiated teaching, and constraints of urban teaching. VERDICT This informative look at the process as well as the practical results of action research in the classroom will be of interest to practicing teachers and those pursuing (or thinking about) a career in education.--Sara Holder, McGill Univ. Lib., Montreal, Quebec

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