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Method to the Madness

A Common Core Guide to Creating Critical Thinkers Through the Study of Literature

B.H. James and Elizabeth James

This book is ideal for the thousands of teachers who entered the profession in the last ten years and taught prescribed curriculum geared toward end of year bubble testing. Its intent is to empower districts and their teachers to create their own (free!) curriculum that will exceed the expectations of Common Core assessments, as well as create life-long learners that are college and career ready. By employing inquiry based units of study that insist on the use of iconic literature at the center, students will be more prepared for what awaits them with Common Core exams. « less more »
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 200Size: 6 1/4 x 9 1/2
978-1-4758-2537-4 • Hardback • April 2016 • $70.00 • (£47.95)
978-1-4758-2538-1 • Paperback • March 2016 • $35.00 • (£23.95)
978-1-4758-2539-8 • eBook • March 2016 • $33.00 • (£22.95)
B.H. James is the author of Parnucklian for Chocolate, a finalist for the 2014 PEN Center USA Literary Award in Fiction. He has spent the last ten years teaching English to sixth through twelfth graders at a title I school in California.

Elizabeth James has spent the last eight years teaching English to all ability levels. She spent the last four years as coordinator for the prestigious International Baccalaureate program at her title I school site. She and B.H. have two amazing sons.

Visit methodtothemadnesscommoncore.wordpress.com

Chapter 1: Writing for Critical Thinking and Logical Cohesiveness (Or, How to Survive the Shift to Common Core)
Chapter 2: Begin with Close Reading
Chapter 3: The Great Gatsby: Applying the Skills of Close Reading
Chapter 4: The Taming of the Shrew: An Introduction to Shakespeare
Chapter 5: Teaching Hamlet: Or, How to Approach the Most Important Piece of Literature Ever Written
Chapter 6: Teaching Fiction Writing: The Importance of Allowing Students to Create, Revise, and Publish
Chapter 7: Slaughterhouse 5 and The Things They Carried: Appreciating Postmodern Approaches to Fiction
Chapter 8: Toni Morrison’s Beloved: Recognizing and Evaluating Theme and Purpose in a Complex Text
Chapter 9: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Abraham Lincoln: Designing a Cross-Curricular Unit of Study
About the Authors
As we know, it's up to our high schools and the English teachers in them to figure out how to develop the critical thinking and deeper learning promised by the new set of English language arts skills that most states have adopted. Method to the Madness provides details for high school English teachers in any high school on the rigorous reading and literature curriculum the authors worked out for "credit recovery" classes in a California magnet high school, as well as the discussion questions and essay-writing activities they used to engage their students and develop their college readiness skills. What are some of the complex literary and non-literary texts English teachers can use for students like those in the James's cred recovery classes? Read Method to the Madness and find out what worked for these authors.
Dr. Sandra Stotsky, professor emerita, University of Arkansas

There are three tests for any book designed to help teachers be better teachers: first and foremost is how carefully it maintains a focus on the students’ experience in the room; second, how well it lays out practical solutions to the ever-present challenge of keeping the teachers’ workloads manageable; and finally, how well it can defend itself to the current education standards. Elizabeth and Bill James’ book Method to the Madness: A Common Core Guide to Creating Critical Thinkers through the Study of Literature passes all these tests, and even rocks the bonus question: How can we get our students to read and understand challenging literature? This is, in the end, an excellent textbook about teaching kids to think.
Karen Gettert Shoemaker, PhD, author of “The Meaning of Names”