I (Cathy) find myself skeptical of books or articles that use the term ‘activities’ in reference to assigning work to students in the classroom. I was once told the term activities infers no purpose or goal and can be viewed as ‘busy work’. Instead, I was instructed to use the term ‘task’ which infers a specific result must be achieved to accomplish the work. I was therefore skeptical of a book I recently encountered titled, Pump It Up: Literacy Activities for the Classroom. However, the caption on the book jacket read “specifically aims to help pre-service teachers learn to implement hands-on lessons for their content area.” So I decided to take a closer look. I quickly recognized the editors Joanne Kilgour Dowdy (Kent State University, Ohio USA) and Yang Gao (Kent State University, Ohio) required the contributing authors to include learning objectives for each learning ‘activity’ included in the volume. I also realized the editors use the term activity to refer to a series of tasks that comprise a lesson. For example, the activity depicted by contributing author Jessica Wilson explains, “This activity is devised to demonstrate how literacy and creativity can be achieved through all disciplines including science” and describes a free write lesson designed to encourage students to interpret key vocabulary words and develop appropriate syntax and discourse of key terms.
I was delighted to discover the activities or lessons in the book explore an array of disciplines and topics (e.g., health and physical education; drama and other arts; social justice; multiculturalism through children’s literature; literacy/language arts; and mathematics) and the disciplines appear to cross (e.g., using dram to explore science and journaling to explore mathematics). Further, I was intrigued by the sections earmarked Becoming an Artist and Embodying Social Justice.
Well, having now moved past my fear of the term ‘activities’, I have ordered a copy. I proved to myself I not only should not judge a book by its cover, I also should not judge a book by its title! As I will be teaching pre-service drama next semester and plan to include as many cross disciplinary ‘activities’ as I can , I am hoping this will be a nice addition to the book collection I will provide for my teacher candidates. Can’t wait for it to arrive!
Click here for a sneak preview of the book: