Readings 2017

1) Shatner, William with Fisher, David (2016).  Leonard:  My fifty-year friendship with a remarkable man.  New York:  St. Martin’s Press.

A biography of Leonard Nimoy from the perspective of his Star Trek co-star.  Interesting discussion of differences in styles between the Boston and Montreal natives, the life of character actors in the earlier day of television, and the rise of the Trekkies and their influences on their lives.   Read during the winter of 2017, while screens kept me from reading book pages.  

2) Abba Eban (1984). My People: The Story of the Jews. New York: Random House.

A wide-ranging history from the perspective of Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations.  This re-reading left me with a greater respect for the changing fate of the Jewish people.  Once 10% of Rome’s population and living throughout the empire, by the fifth century CE the population was less than one-half million with small populations in Israel.  This book was part of a gift to Zoe Faye Lachter upon her becoming a bat mitzvah in Allentown in July 2017.  I had given Zoe’s mother, Jessica Cooperman, my first cousin once removed, the same book upon her bat mitzvah in 1984.

3) Whiteside, Aimee L;  Dikkers, Amy Garret; and Swan, Karen (2017).  Social Presence in Online Learning:  Multiple Perspectives on Practice and Research.  Sterling, VA:  Stylus

This text discusses three differing perspectives of social presence in online learning – “social presence as technologically facilitated, as learners’ perceptions, and as a critical literacy.”  The Social Presence Model (SPM) arises from “affective association, community cohesion, instructor involvement, interaction intensity, and knowledge and experience” to become “the predominant concept in understanding and learning to maximize learning in online and blended environments”.  Technological facilitation – via such tools as online video, digital storytelling, Twitter, Facebook, messaging, personal learning environments, and online and networked learning environments – need to be experienced and practiced by both learners and teachers, with allowances for individual differences in learning.  The learners’ perceptions of their own development of social presence within a Community of Inquiry are important for student retention, satisfaction, and learning.  The SPM envisions the cultivation of social presence as a critical literacy essential for “advancing and sustaining successful, meaningful learning experiences.”  The researchers also discuss blended face-to-face and online learning, personalized learning, overcoming online isolation, and technological advancements like synchronous communication applications and microblogging that would influence further metacognition about social presence research and development.  They conclude with “never stop learning because life never stops teaching.”

4) Wiesel, Elie (1964).  The Town Beyond The Wall:  A Novel.  New York:  Atheneum.

A young refugee’s life in Paris and return to his hometown to find that it would not be the setting for his future.  Through an internal monologue with Pedro, the author discusses the role of the Divine and the Other in the terrible years during the war.  He also describes his relationships with a young woman who was a caretaker to a dying village elder, his study of the Kabala, his return to Szerencsevaros – the city of luck, Hungary, and the parable of a man who switched powers with Gd for a second but not return them.  Read on 9 b’Av while listening to internet resources on the day.  

5) Tolman, A.O. and Kremling, J. , editors (2017).  Why Students Resist Learning:  A Practical Model for Understanding and Helping Students.  Sterling, VA:  Stylus.

A collection of essays that examine factors influencing student resistance to learning, including societal and environmental conditions, negative classroom experiences, student metacognition, and campus culture’s influences on resistance. To be discussed at a book club meeting on pedagogy on September 9.    

6) Oz, Amos (1991).  Fima.  San Diego:  A Harvest Book.

A delirium of a novel about life for a lonely man in Israel in the late 1980s.  Issues of nationality, sexuality, and sanity are raised through diverse character development.  A difficult book to follow without social and political backgrounds of urban Israeli life.  Borrowed in the summer and skimmed completed while in recovery on December 1.