Principal's Bookshelf: March/April 2015

Awaken the Learner: Finding the Source of Effective Education.
Darrell Scott and Robert J. Marzano. Marzano Research Laboratory, 2014, 182 pages.

More than 15 years have passed since the tragic shootings at Columbine High School. This event, and subsequent school shootings, has left educators and communities wondering why such violence befalls our schools. It is clear that a call for transformation is needed. In Awaken the Learner, two very different voices come together to inspire educators to develop new approaches that help students become caring individuals. It empowers educators to find ways to ensure students become confident and invested in their own learning.

This book is divided into two parts. The first is authored by Darrell Scott, whose daughter was the first student to be killed in the shootings at Columbine. Scott gives a voice to his daughter, Rachel, through her poetry and art work. We learn how caring, special, and wise beyond her years Rachel was. Her message is meant to inspire teens and educators alike.

Scott shares how he has used his daughter’s message to form the organization, Rachel’s Challenge. Scott has visited schools throughout the country, sharing his message and inspiring students to use Rachel as a role model for compassion and care.

Scott also embeds his own poetry within an explanation of the basic origin and development of our educational system, employing a narrative approach that is rarely present in professional texts. Through a narrative, the reader gains an understanding of the role of meaningful instruction in schools, and its impact on learning.

In part two, Robert J. Marzano guides readers through a research and theory-based approach. He introduces an educational design that explores cognition, motivation, and student engagement. Marzano provides ideas to teach content while also teaching students to become thinkers and decision-makers. The reader is provided with the language and necessary approaches to make learning and thinking accessible to all students. This part of the book is filled with easy-to-follow guidelines, tables, and charts, making application accessible to the reader.

The most enticing and compelling aspect of Awaken the Learner is how both parts come together to provide the practical and application-based approach educators want, with the inspiration we so often long for.

Reviewed by Sylvia Zircher, principal of Ethel McKnight Elementary School in East Windsor, New Jersey. NAESP MEMBER


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