Tag Archives: books

Good Books for Christian Teachers–The Chosen by Chaim Potok

As an English teacher, I am often called upon to select appropriate books to teach in my classes. Since I am the lead teacher in my department, selecting high school novels falls upon me, and this task I take very seriously. As a Christian teacher, I understand that my job requires sensitivity, detailed consideration and a logical rationale for each selection. Each book must be carefully read and selected with a Christian worldview in mind. However, each book must also strive to fulfill the academic requirements of my school as well, which has high expectations in mind. Students should be prepared to survive in an AP Literature and Composition course, which requires strong critical thinking skills and an ability to read discerningly.

One of my favorite picks is the novel The Chosen, by Chaim Potok. What can I say about this book? I love it! Not only does it relate to my students in Panama, it is perfect for discussing a different religion and religious tolerance. It is also excellent for use in a World Literature classroom since it provides so much opportunity for discussion of European history, especially history concerning the Jewish populations. In summary, The Chosen is a book narrated by a young Jewish boy named Reuven Malter, whose father is a professor who write articles about Jewish commentary and interpretation. At the beginning of the story, Reuven meets Danny Saunders, who is the son of an Hasidic Tzaddik rabbi. Although they meet under circumstances that should divide them concerning religion and identity, they somehow make a very unique friendship that helps them survive the coming-of-age process and coming to terms with their own roles within the Jewish faith. This book allows for critical discussion of the following topics:

–What should be the relationship between religion and the secular world?

–What are some Jewish beliefs and traditions? How are they similar/different from Christianity?

–What are the percentages of Jewish people residing in the U.S.? In Panama? In your particularly country? How did they get there and what type of Jewish religion do they practice? Are they Orthodox? Reformed?

–Why can we say that the Jewish faith is the “root” of Christianity? Knowing that, students will be able to develop a respect for Judaism.

–How can we maintain faith even when there seem to be “bad things” happening in the world? (For example, Reuven is living in NY city during the period of WWII.) What is our relationship to God, and how do we see Him?

This book is very multidisciplinary, as it allows students to look up statistics of Jewish populations and create graphs, research historical backgrounds to Zionism and WWII, learn a little bit about psychology and Freud, delve into the intricacies of a major world religion, write thoughtful journal entries and critical papers, and reflect upon a coming-of-age process that they themselves may be going through personally. If you haven’t yet read novels by Chaim Potok, check it out!


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The Teaching Mom

Now that I am currently around 9 weeks pregnant, the topic of motherhood and working in the field of education has crossed my mind more than once. This manifests itself in two different ways: 1. I find myself wondering how women find the time to be teachers, mothers and wives all at the same time. 2. I find myself growing excited about the prospect of being able to be the first and (in my opinion) most important educator in my child’s life.

Firstly, my belly is growing, and the nausea is definitely up and running. Not only am I concerned about getting through my hectic full-time teaching schedule without throwing up during the day, but I worry about how much I will be able to keep up with these special projects that I have given myself to do this year. (AKA take on a new English Honors class for the first time.) But I think that the fear goes beyond that. I know that as a single woman I found it difficult to balance my time between work and my husband. Household chores piled up, paperwork piled up, and some days I was just very tired from the stress of juggling it all. Keeping up with grading and lesson planning takes work, and even after 5 years of teaching and finding different shortcuts, it is still a daunting task. Will I be able to be a full-time teacher and a mother at the same time? On this level, I admire women who not only have the choice to stay at home with their kids, but also homeschool and therefore more efficiently combine both motherhood and education into their lives. As for those of you who are full-time teachers and new moms at the same time, feel free to give me tips on how to survive this! 🙂

2. My husband laughed at me and said, “Our kid already has a library, and he/she hasn’t even been born yet!” It’s totally true. I was 2 months pregnant when we went to the bookstore and started searching for the best kid’s books of all time. I bought magnetic letters and numbers, and a friend gave me some Baby Einstein CDs… I recently read and commented on a website that discussed the necessity of preschool, and I guess it just depends on how much energy I can give to my baby to make sure that he/she reads as soon as possible. (I’m an English teacher, so the reading thing is important–can’t you tell?)  Again, readers, feel free to give me tips on the best books/tools of all time to help your baby get the best headstart possible!


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Audio Books Part 2

After communicating via email with the Recorded Books people, they explained what their company had to offer in terms of resources. So, as a follow up, I decided to post the email that was sent to me on this blog so that you could see for yourselves what Recorded Books can give you and how it will help your particular child or student to succeed in school.

From: “Jean Stephens” <jstephens@recordedbooks.com>  Add Mobile Alert
To: “‘Anna Drake'” <anna_drake22@yahoo.com>
CC: “‘Jennah Watters'” <kjennah@recordedbooks.com>
Subject: Recorded Books for ESL
Date: Tue, 20 May 2008 12:46:52 -0400


Thanks for visiting our blog. I enjoyed your site. Stimulating ideas and a very nice look.


No, Recorded Books does not have any teacher guides oriented towards religion.


As for ESL, we think the best application of audio is the listen-and-read strategy with an unabridged audiobook that matches the print book word for word. This multisensory approach lets the narration support students with weaker reading skills, or, alternatively, the reading along in the book can help students transition from the spoken word to print text. Often the listen-and-read approach allows striving readers to access books they might not be able to handle without audio support—and that means you don’t have to “dumb down” their material and students are spared the insult of trying to learn with books that are too immature for them.


We’ve also got popular K-12 fiction recorded at slightly reduced speeds to give ESL learners a little more time to run their eyes across the print page (SteadyReaders) and we have some very slow recordings of specially written short books for older students whose English is at an early elementary level (SmartReaders.) These and some other ESL tools can be seen at our website: go to www.recordedbooks.com/school, click on Special Products, and start with the Overview at the top of the menu.


Thanks so much for mentioning us at your site. Looks like we share some of the same concerns and objectives. Look forward to hearing from you again.


Jean Stephens

School Marketing Manager

Recorded Books, LLC

1 800 638-1304, ext. 1144




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Recorded Books and Lesson Plans with Recordings

Some teachers are trying to find new ways of incorporating technology into their lesson plans in a way that is fun, inviting and reaches out to auditory learners. I happened across this blog site that contained some very interesting lesson plans using audio recordings and books. I invite you to check it out. In particular, audio books can help struggling readers learn new vocabulary, read faster at home and improve their comprehension levels. It is strongly recommended that they listen to an audio recording of the reading and follow along in their books. In terms of usage, it is not appropriate for students to just listen to an audio book recording of their text without having the words in front of them as well. However, for fun in elementary classrooms, students can have a story listening corner using audio recordings. It may also help students comprehend Shakespeare a little better in the secondary classroom. What I noticed first, however, was the lesson plan title for listening to the sounds of bees and insects. The title was “Make a Joyful Noise.” That is one way to introduce praise and worship to God as Nature also has its own ways of showing praise. 🙂  I hope that the site will be helpful to you. I will also post it in the handy links section under Teaching Methodologies as “Audio Recordings and Lesson Plans.”

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