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Gordon Eldridge (Brussels, Belgium)
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Driven by Data: A Practical Guide to Improve Instruction
Driven by Data: A Practical Guide to Improve Instruction
by Paul Bambrick-Santoyo
Edition: Paperback
Price: £21.24

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A narrow view of assessment, 10 Aug. 2014
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The book is divided into two sections. The first describes how to implement the author's view of what a data-driven school looks like. The second section outlines a fairly comprehensive professional development plan for leaders so that they can become competent to implement the vision in their schools. The book contains some very good ideas, but in the end, the vision of assessment is extremely narrow. The author's main suggestion is that schools create a set of interim assessments that lead up to U.S. state assessments. He suggests that not only these, but also classroom assessments are created to mimic the format of state assessments. Doing this would leave very little room in a school's assessment plan for contextualized assessments and I believe that it is precisely these contextualized assessments that are likely to lead to success in the world beyond school. The narrow focus on preparation for U.S. state tests, which is the only measure of success mentioned in the book, is actually quite disturbing.


The Lost Battles: Leonardo, Michelangelo and the Artistic Duel That Defined the Renaissance
The Lost Battles: Leonardo, Michelangelo and the Artistic Duel That Defined the Renaissance
by Jonathan Jones
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly readable, 11 Jun. 2014
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Jonathan Jones weaves together details of the lives and art works of Leonardo and Michelangelo to create a highly readable narrative which really captures much of the spirit of the Renaissance. The reader can really sense the spirit of rivalry and feel the emerging sense of individualism that defined the era. In creating such a readable account however, Jones often strays into overuse of emotive, hyperbolic language. He also tends to ascribe specific motivations and states of mind to his two protagonists that are based on very tenuous inferences. If you can overlook this, the book is a very enjoyable read. If that kind of thing annoys you, steer clear.


Ritual and Domestic Life in Prehistoric Europe
Ritual and Domestic Life in Prehistoric Europe
by Richard Bradley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £25.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overabundance of evidence, 4 Jun. 2014
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Bradley's main argument is that the line between domestic life and religious ritual is much more blurred in prehistoric Europe than many archaeologists would like to believe. He makes some very powerful points and quotes some fascinating evidence. If I were to base my rating of the book purely on the points made I would rate it more highly. The argument is sometimes difficult to follow, however. Bradley often presents multiple pieces of evidence without always making clear exactly how they connect to the ongoing argument he is making. He also has a tendency to relate an abundance of detail about the particular archaeological sites he uses as evidence when only some of that detail is relevant to his point. The concluding chapter and summaries at other points of the book alleviate this to some extent, but a more tightly presented argument would have made for much more enjoyable reading.


Leonardo da Vinci : The First Scientist
Leonardo da Vinci : The First Scientist
by Michael White
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A different view, 3 Jun. 2014
We remember Leonardo mostly for his paintings and sketches, but Michael White makes a convincing argument that Leonardo should perhaps be remembered more as the first scientist. The conception of what it means to be a scientist is very recent and Leonardo may not have practiced science as it conforms to our 21st century notions. However, White makes a convincing argument that Leonardo was the first to seriously break away from Aristotelian worldview where experimentation was not valued and to begin using both detailed observation and experimentation as a means of developing theories.

White makes use of abundant direct quotes from Leonardo himself and from contemporaries, which both bolster his argument and give the reader a feeling for Leonardo the man and the context and which he lived. Occasionally, White attempts to bring Leonardo to life by attributing emotional states and attitudes to him that we have absolutely no way of verifying. This ever so slightly detracts from an otherwise very enjoyable and informative read that will give you insights into aspects of Leonardo da Vinci that are often barely covered in other biographies.


The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance
The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance
by Paul Strathern
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Renaissance figures come to life, 12 May 2014
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Strathern really brings the historical figures in this book to life. The history of the Medici is full of fascinating examples of greed, ambition, jealousy and power and Strathern narrates these in such an engaging way that I was unable to put the book down. The book goes beyond being merely a history of the Medici family themselves. Strathern has succeeded in using the stories of the main figures from the Medici family to tell a coherent story of the Renaissance period as a whole. Reading this book gave me a very good understanding of what made the Renaissance such a unique period in human history. A thoroughly enjoyable and informative read.


Leonardo Da Vinci: The Flights of the Mind
Leonardo Da Vinci: The Flights of the Mind
by Charles Nicholl
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.54

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Detailed and thorough, 30 April 2014
Whether you enjoy this book will depend on the level of detail you are looking for in a biography. This one is extremely detailed. In general I found the detail to be helpful in constructing a picture of what Leonardo's life was really like. Details such as descriptions of places he lived, descriptions of the countryside at particular times of year etc. really help transport the reader to Leonardo's world. At other times I found the details tedious - long descriptions of the history of the succession of owners of a particular painting or manuscript and where it has been housed over the centuries since Leonardo produced it were not of interest to me, though they may be to others. Having said that, it is possible to just skim read the bits of detail that do not particularly interest you personally. Overall, the book is incredibly well-researched and Nicholl is meticulous in giving us his sources so that we can chase up any that interest us. The reason I rate the book as 5 stars is Nicholl's success in giving us a rich picture of Leonardo from many perspectives - Leonardo the man, the scientist, the lover, the artist, the genius. We get a feel for the type of person he was, for how he interacted with others and for his deep attachment to his work.


Shamanism and the Ancient Mind: A Cognitive Approach to Archaeology (Archaeology of Religion)
Shamanism and the Ancient Mind: A Cognitive Approach to Archaeology (Archaeology of Religion)
by James L. Pearson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £21.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 23 Mar. 2014
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Pearson begins with a history of archaeological thought in America. This part of the book is not as coherent as the rest. It is somewhat repetitive and not always logically sequenced. Personally I would also have liked to see more about the thinking beyond America. Though European schools of thought are touched on, they are not explored in detail. The main section of the book is an extremely well argued investigation of the evidence suggesting that shamanism and the hallucinogenic substances often associated with shamanistic practices played a role in the creation of ancient rock art. The evidence is drawn from multiple sources, including examinations of and comparisons of bodies of rock art, laboratory studies of responses to hallucinogens and ethnographic material from a variety of locations. The final section of the book attends to all the counterarguments which have been raised by others with respect to the proposed connections between shamanism, hallucinogens and rock art. Pearson's final conclusion is that he believes that the proposals he makes take account of the greatest amount of evidence available and are therefore the best available theory.This book truly makes fascinating reading for anyone interested in prehistoric rock art. With the exception of some of the jargon associated with the history of archaeological thought in the first section, it is also a very approachable book and does not require an in-depth understanding of archaeology.


Structural Knowledge: Techniques for Representing, Conveying, and Acquiring Structural Knowledge (Research, Special Publication; 30)
Structural Knowledge: Techniques for Representing, Conveying, and Acquiring Structural Knowledge (Research, Special Publication; 30)
by David H. Jonassen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £44.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some useful strategies, 16 Mar. 2014
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The book is built around the theory that there are three kinds of knowledge - declarative knowledge of facts and concepts (knowing that), procedural knowledge ( knowing how) and structural knowledge of the relationships between facts and concepts, which the authors believe mediates between declarative knowledge and procedural knowledge. In other words, if we are to be able to use our declarative knowledge to solve problems we need to also have structural knowledge ( knowing why).

The book contains 23 different strategies for representing/assessing, conveying and learning structural knowledge. The strategies are organised around the purpose they are best used for. The procedure for employing each strategy is explained, along with examples and a summary of the key research related to the use and effectiveness of the strategy. Some of the strategies are merely variations of other strategies already described and a few of the strategies require the use of complicated statistical procedures and are therefore not practical for the average classroom teacher. Overall the book contains some very useful strategies, however.


Legionnaire (Exiles of Arcadia)
Legionnaire (Exiles of Arcadia)
Price: £2.28

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A ripping yarn, 9 Mar. 2014
A good novelist creates ongoing plot complications and then feeds you just the right amount of information to get you turning the pages as quickly as you can to find out what happens next. Gawley does a pretty good job of this. The plot is varied and interesting. I had thought at first that the novel was set in ancient Rome, but discovered fairly quickly that while borrowing enough cultural traits from the Romans to give the novel the flavour of ancient Rome, Gawley has constructed an independent story which does not depend on any particular episode of Roman history.

Beyond the plot, Primus, the main character is intriguing and complex, the language is rich and evocative and the novel is overall a very enjoyable read. The only problem is that the plot is cut off suddenly and the reader must await the sequel. If this annoys you, I would advise that you wait for the next in the series to come out before reading this one.


The Roles of Language in CLIL (Cambridge Language Teaching Library)
The Roles of Language in CLIL (Cambridge Language Teaching Library)
by Ana Llinares
Edition: Paperback
Price: £22.68

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More analysis than advice, 9 Mar. 2014
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Where this is the right book for you will really depend on what you are looking for. The book uses a corpus of transcripts from CLIL classrooms in a variety of countries across Europe. Extracts from these transcripts are analysed to investigate the roles which language is used for in these CLIL classrooms. The analysis is interesting and often leads to some advice for practitioners. The advice almost never extends to 'how' a teacher could actually put things into practice in their classroom, however. If you are looking for a 'how to' manual, this is not the book for you. For example, one piece of advice is that "students should be introduced to different ways of presenting logical connections". This is important advice, but there are no indications at all as to how this might be done effectively.

The analysis is carried out with reference to a number of very useful models of language. Occasionally, however, this makes the book overly theoretical in the sense that more time is expended on classifying uses of language into typologies than on analysing what really works to support student learning.

It is also important to note that because the book is based on actual practice rather than ideal practice, there is a tacit assumption that classrooms are places where a 'transmissionist' approach to pedagogy is the norm. Though there are places where group work is examined ( in a very undifferentiated way), the authors largely ignore how language roles might change in a true inquiry-based classroom.


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