Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives (Paperback)

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"Introducing a spelling test to a student by saying, 'Let's see how many words you know,' is different from saying, 'Let's see how many words you know already.' It is only one word, but the already suggests that any words the child knows are ahead of expectation and, most important, that there is nothing permanent about what is known and not known."
— Peter Johnston

Grounded in research, Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Livesshows how words can shape students' learning, their sense of self, and their social, emotional and moral development. Make no mistake: words have the power to open minds – or close them.

Following up his groundbreaking book, Choice Words, author Peter Johnston continues to demonstrate how the things teachers say (and don’t say) have surprising consequences for the literate lives of students. In this new book, Johnston shows how the words teachers choose can affect the worlds students inhabit in the classroom. He explains how to engage children with more productive talk and how to create classrooms that support students’ intellectual development, as well as their development as human beings.

About the Author

Peter Johnston grew up and taught elementary school in New Zealand before coming to the United States to earn his Ph.D. at the Center for the Study of Reading at the University of Illinois. At the time his plans did not include staying in the United States let alone getting married and raising a family. He now lives in Albany, New York, with his wife Tina, and a cat left behind by one of his (three) children returning briefly from college.

Peter's research and writing spring from his fascination with children's learning and, no less, teachers' teaching. Perversely, he believes that education is not simply about delivering information to children. He thinks it is more about building a just, caring society and that doing so will not detract from our more obviously pragmatic educational goals. In his most recent Stenhouse book, Choice Words, he uses his fascination with the relationship between language and learning to show how this works moment to moment in the classroom.

A professor at the State University of New York at Albany, Peter and his colleagues Becky Rogers and Cheryl Dozier recently researched their own teaching of beginning teachers in Critical Literacy/Critical Teaching: Tools for Preparing Responsive Teachers. Knowing Literacy, his most recent book on assessment, arose from his interest in the ways assessment teaching and learning are linked. His research on assessment has given him reason to be skeptical of high-stakes testing because of its effects on teaching and learning.

When asked to describe himself as a writer, he says that he "binges." While not recommended, this approach has resulted in some eight books and about fifty research articles, along with occasional awards from professional organizations. Some of this, of course, is accounted for by age. The departure of his youngest daughter into a teacher education program, along with his recent election to the Reading Hall of Fame, asserts his "old fart" status.

Beyond his family, research, soccer, singing, and humor sustain him. Failing that, a glass of chardonnay helps.

Praise For…

"By combining rich descriptions of classroom interactions with research to back up his claims, Johnston writes convincingly and paints lasting images of effective ways to engender agency (the will to act), positive self-theories, and constructive perspectives to change lives within our classrooms." - Language Arts

"Johnston’s thinking is transformative. He has created a layered effect of ideas and theories that form a solid path to becoming a master in the apprenticeship of children into humanity." - MiddleWeb

"It is brilliant. Just as in Choice Words, Johnston packs a ton into a small book." - A Year of Reading blog

Product Details
ISBN: 9781571108166
ISBN-10: 1571108165
Publisher: Stenhouse Publishers
Publication Date: January 10th, 2012
Pages: 160
Language: English