American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau | Edited by Bill McKibbin | Published by Literary Classics of the United States (2008)
We all have experienced reading something that has stirred us to action, and American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau represents an outstanding collection of such moving texts, spanning the development of environmental awareness from the 1800s to the present day. With essays and writings ranging from Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold to the book's editor, Bill McKibbin, this work would be worth the read just to re-connect with great authors and icons in the environmental arena. However, this book also comes with a teacher's guide that has excited my interest in designing English Language Arts-focused workshops again. Given this combination, all educators with an interest in the environment should have this book on their shelves, and the best part is that the Teacher’s Guide is downloadable and free.
As an environmental educator with a background in science and a science educator, I have been strong on the application of science standards while providing a nod to language arts during my career as a workshop leader. I did not have the techniques that language art teachers need to help students understand and dissect text. The terrific Teacher’s Guide showed me how to phrase discussions and coach teachers to use literature for deep content comparisons in the frame of language arts, with science as the secondary connection.
American Earth and its Teacher’s Guide are designed for use with students in grades eight through 12, correlating the book’s writings with standards and useful teaching techniques. It also inspired me to take what is applied in high school and move the skills down to elementary levels using the same ideas of how text is approached and content is dissected to assess skills in understanding. In addition, the Teacher’s Guide opened up an understanding of how reading and language arts are taught. Both the guide and the book expanded my concept of what can be used to teach language arts by including song lyrics, illustrations, speeches and federal bills, as well as essays. I completely enjoyed it and have used it repeatedly in workshop planning and program design.
I highly recommend American Earth: Environmental Writing since Thoreau both on its merits of compiling so many great pieces in one book and for its inclusion of the Teacher Guide for its quality of educational approaches.
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