Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Burke's Reminders

Jim Burke is the author of the English Teacher's Companion, Writing Reminders, and Reading Reminders.

Summary: Burke's book includes many resources. The chapters are short and may include procedures for a certain strategy and an accompanying scoring guide. Writing Reminders and Reading Reminders are both set up like this. I feel like a practicing teacher would find these books very handy. They could pull the book off the shelf, photocopy a checklist, or revise a checklist, and use it in class the same day. There is little theoretical emphasis in the book.

Strengths: It is user friendly. It is concrete. It is practical.

Weaknesses: No theoretical underpinnings. Not much research to explain why you would or should try the strategy, but I understand that's not really it's purpose. This is a handy how-to with concrete and practical tips. That is both a strength and a weakness.

We talked about using Burke's Writing Reminders book for the Literacy Academy this summer. The Literacy Academy was aimed for Middle School teachers. There were some high school and early middle school teachers there as well. Here's the reason why I did not choose Burke's books: This book provides great strategies in short and easy to read "sound bytes." A teacher can open the book and in five minutes present something to the class. The book does not really reflect on the research or require the reader to reflect on their practices. I felt like this book would be good for a person who has already philosophically and theoretically "bought into" a reading and writing classroom, but it won't help a teacher to think about where they are and where they want to go.


hickstro said...


I agree that this is a useful text, although may not be as productive for introducing writing workshop concepts as reiterating. However, I often use sections of it with writing across the curriculum workshops, and that makes things very concise and practical for content area teachers.

Good to see you blogging again.


Keri said...

Hi, Troy,
It's good to hear from you. Thanks for the feedback. I've had to do so many of these annotations, and I've been writing in a vacuum, so to speak.

I wonder why I didn't do this earlier.

I agree with your comments. Which sections do you find yourself using with WAC?