Monday, January 7, 2013

Changing Tomorrow 2: Leadership Curriculum for High-Ability Middle School Students Grades 6-8, by Joyce VanTassel-Baska, Ed.D. and Linda D. Avery, Ph.D.

Changing Tomorrow 2:

Leadership Curriculum for High-Ability Middle School Students
Grades 6-8
Authors: Joyce VanTassel-Baska, Ed.D. and Linda D. Avery, Ph.D.
Editor: Jennifer Robins
Publisher: Prufrock Press
Publication date: November 1, 2012
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Changing Tomorrow 2 outlines an entire unit plan for teachers on the theme of leadership, with lesson plans that include in-depth study of several famous leaders, including Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher, Pablo Picasso, Charles Darwin and more. Students are asked, through a series of lessons and projects, to learn more about each person and assess the ways in which each does or does not exemplify the qualities of leadership. This leaves a lot of room for class discussion and critical thinking because even though all of the people included in the book are exemplary in many ways, even great humans have their flaws and their detractors. The lesson plans in the book encourage students to ponder whether a person's positive contributions to society outweigh their bad decisions, or whether it is even necessary for them to do so in order for us to rightly admire them as great leaders.

VanTassel and Avery also include helpful explanations of how their unit plan aligns with U.S. common core state standards in gifted education, 21st-century skills and English Language Arts. For Canadian educators I can also attest that these lesson plans could easily be applied to Canadian provincial outcomes in English Language Arts and Social Studies. In Nova Scotia, for instance, the junior high (middle school) Social Studies curriculum focuses on the idea of empowerment, so these lessons would fit easily into that theme.

I found this book to be well laid out, straight forward and easy to use. And of course, as always, I asked my resident curriculum expert--my partner Mike, the junior high English and Social Studies teacher--to help me assess the book's value. We ended up spending two days discussing the lives and legacies of some of the people featured in the book, thereby inadvertently completing some of the assignments recommended for high ability students.

In a way, that's its own endorsement!

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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for the purposes of writing a review, though the review did not necessarily need to be favourable, just honest. I frequently read and review books for this reason, but I am always very truthful (and, I hope, fair) in my reviews. Therefore any opinions expressed are strictly my own (except in the case of educational resource books, in which case I often consult other educators to help me assess the books, which I usually mention in my reviews).

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