Harvard Educational Review
  1. Making School by Hand

    Developing a Meaning-Centered Curriculum from Everyday Life

    By Mary Kenner Glover

    Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English, 1997. 138 pp. $19.95 (paper)

    In Making School by Hand: Developing a Meaning-Centered Curriculum from Everyday Life, Mary Kenner Glover, principal and second-grade teacher at the Awakening Seed School in Tempe, Arizona, uses the metaphor "making things from hand" (p. xix) to reveal how her childhood memories connect with teaching and learning in a unique text that combines reflections on practice and curriculum studies. The author states, "If we are to begin viewing school as a handmade process, we have to give our students daily opportunities to use their hands to help them construct an understanding of what they come upon in the world" (p. xx). Glover begins the "handmade" process by acknowledging the children's prior knowledge, interests, and needs as she and her students create a community of learners in the classroom. There are examples of how Glover and her students create curricula based on the children's everyday experiences, including such topics as the environment, homelessness, and AIDS. Illustrations of students' work demonstrate "making things by hand" through a variety of activities, such as an air pollution board game, a report on the immune system, and heat-making experiments. Through her students' discovery and imagination they are supported in becoming readers, writers, environmentalists, and scientists.

    Through the many examples in the book, the reader becomes aware of how children are empowered to make meaning, and to construct their learning in ways that are relevant to their daily lives. This reflective and thoughtful book will be helpful to classroom teachers and administrators who want to empower students to take more ownership of their own learning in authentic and meaningful ways.

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